This is one of my favourites, of the kinden stories I’ve posted up here, although it is something of a change of pace.
There are three people in particular I should acknowledge, on the road to Queen of the Night. The first is a Mr Mozart, of whom you may have heard, whose contribution to the story is, hopefully, obvious. (If it’s not obvious, but you have a burning desire to know, see here.)
Secondly, my wife, who has soprano’d an opera or two in her time (1) and who came up with the basic idea, that then sat around in the lumber room of my subconscious for a couple of years until I realised it was a kinden story after all.
Thirdly… well, thirdly is technical. First person prose is something of a special treat for me. I save up for it over months of writing before I let myself indulge. There are, in my book (2) a couple of unacknowledged masters of the first-person perspective. Gene Wolfe, of whom I’ve oft writ, is one, and he has perhaps explored the explicit nature of the first person account more than any other writer, especially when it comes to the innate unreliability that creeps in whenever anybody is telling their own story. Perhaps the highest expression of this is the diary of the amnesiac Latro inSoldier of the Mists (4)
However this story is not a Gene Wolfe story. Instead its style owes more to another favourite author, Peter S. Beagle. Shockingly few people seem to know Beagle, whose best known work is The Last Unicorn (5). Mr Beagle, like Wolfe, is a short story teller, as well as a novellist, and he has a particular penchant for first person narratives, where his skill shines in giving the teller a very individual voice (6). Beagle is one of those writers who taught me a lot when I was slowly piecing together my own writing style, and this story is something of a homage to his writing. So, enjoy!
Oh, yes. The story can be found here.
(1) Meaning that she’s sung the female high part, not that she’s had a rival family of opera singers gunned down.
(2) As I now actually have a book I should probably stop using this phrase willy-nilly (3)
(3) Another phrase I should probably stop using.
(4) For those that wish to read this, and you really should, it has bee reprinted with the second volume of the series, as Latro in the Mists.
(5) Although, if you can find a copy, my absolute pick of his books is The Folk of the Air.
(6) Beagle’s first person magnum opus is The Innkeeper’s Song, a novel pieced together from the interwoven accounts of over a dozen separate characters.