Broken FateJennifer Derrick
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: April 18th 2016
Genres: Mythology, Romance, Young Adult
Zeus gave her one simple job: Kill every human. Atropos—daughter of Zeus and the third goddess of Fate from Greek mythology —spends her eternal life snipping human lifelines when their mortal lives are over. As if being a killer doesn’t make life miserable enough, she and her Fate-wielding sisters must live amongst the humans on Earth thanks to a long-running feud between their mother and Zeus. Living on Earth means they must mingle with the mortals, attend the local high school, and attempt to fit in—or at least not stand out too much.
Killing and mingling don’t mix, which is why Atropos’ number-one rule is to avoid all relationships with the humans. Caring for the people she has to kill is a fast track to insanity. However, when Alex Morgan walks into her first-period English class, she knows she’s in for trouble. He’s the worst kind of human for her to like—one with a rapidly approaching expiration date. And he makes Atropos want to break all the rules.
I turn off my desk lamp and computer, starting to get up, but then sit back down. My curiosity about Alex has been building all day. I’ve tried to tamp it down, to forget him, but I can’t. Even Chloe’s chatter couldn’t take him out of my thoughts. I boot the computer back up and give in to temptation.
I search for Alex’s record in our database. What I’m doing isn’t forbidden, but I rarely bother to check on the humans once I assign their manner of death. I forget them until I see them again on their date of death. However, tonight, I want to see what kind of fate Lacey devised for him and refresh my memory about how and when he’ll die.
I find his file but just as I’m about to double click and open it, I pull back. Do I really want to know what Lacey has planned for him? He’s already faced grief and loss. What if his fate gets worse than that? Do I want that knowledge?
I think for a few moments and decide it doesn’t really matter either way. He and I aren’t going to become friends. I enjoyed our afternoon together, but that has to be the end of it. If his fate is bad, I can live with it. He is, after all, just another human. Easy come, easy go.
I double click on the file. His entire past and future lies before me. I scroll down to the end of the document, looking for the relevant part, the date of death. I don’t have to scroll far.
May fifteenth of this year.
I read the page again. The date doesn’t change. May fifteenth is a little less than two months from now. I quickly scroll back up, looking for the details on how he will die. I’m furious when I find them.
Author Bio:Jennifer is a freelance writer and novelist. As a freelancer, she writes everything from technical manuals to articles on personal finance and European-style board games. Her interest in storytelling began when she was six and her parents gave her a typewriter for Christmas and agreed to pay her $.01 per page for any stories she churned out. Such a loose payment system naturally led to a lot of story padding. Broken Fate, her first novel, earned her $2.80 from her parents.
Jennifer lives in North Carolina and, when not writing, can often be found reading, trawling the shelves at the library, playing board games, watching sports, camping, running marathons, and playing with her dog. You can visit her at her official website:www.JenniferDerrick.com.
Whenever people ask me where I get my ideas, I say, “Anywhere and everywhere.” Almost anything can be the seed of an idea for a story. Yet for all that I mine for ideas in every aspect of my life, even I never expected to get an idea at a funeral. But that’s exactly where Broken Fate first appeared in my head.Funerals, Book Ideas, and Other Odd Behavior
It was the funeral of a relative who died way too young. Like any sane person, I hate funerals, even more so because I tend to be a snotty crier. Once the tears start, it gets embarrassing. I do everything I can to keep myself together until I can cry in private. So there I was, trying to distract myself from thoughts of death, when I found myself thinking of, well, death. Specifically, what kind of nonsensical, cold, cruel system would claim someone so young?
I remembered the unit on Greek mythology from my freshman English class. That was where I first heard the myth of the three Fates: The first spins human lifelines, the second assigns them their destinies, and the third kills the humans by cutting the lifelines.My brain locked on the third Fate. How bad would that job stink, I thought. All you do is kill people, day after day. And you’re immortal, so it never ends. You’re just a cog in the business of life and death. After a while, you wouldn’t even care any more. Your days would just be snip, snip, snip. It’d be like working on a never-ending assembly line.
Beyond the fatigue, you couldn’t possibly have any relationships with humans because loving people you have to kill is insane. “Hey, let me love you so I can kill you and then be sad.” Um, no. But what would happen if one day you did fall in love with a human, and that human had a very short shelf life?
There it was: The idea for Broken Fate. I spent the rest of the service working it out in my head, thus averting the snotty crying crisis.
I wanted to write it down, but that’s not cool in the middle of a funeral. After the service, I reached for my phone, but since we’d carpooled to the service it was still in the car back at the house. I dug around in my purse for a pen but I didn’t have one.
I kept chanting, “Fate, Fate, Fate,” in my head until I caught up to my cousin at the reception.
“I need to use your phone to send myself an email.” I said.
She looked at me strangely, but fortunately my family is great at overlooking weird behavior. She handed over her phone and I sent myself the following:
“Fate, business, crappy job, how could you love someone if you had to kill everyone, person with rapidly approaching expiration date.”
So a novel about death was born at a funeral. Since I can’t separate the funeral from the book, Broken Fate has become a weird, bittersweet, and humorous last memory of my relative. That’s strangely comforting.
Fate’s Not in Kansas Anymore
I’m a sucker for abandoned places. They feel suspended in time, as though they’re just waiting to pick up where they left off. Abandoned amusement parks are especially interesting to me. When places that were so full of life and joy go silent and are left to rot, it seems especially poignant.
The Land of Oz theme park in Beech Mountain, NC is one such place. It wasn’t a theme park in the sense that we think of them today. It didn’t have huge rides, for one thing. It was more of a themed hike through the woods with opportunities to visit locations from the film and interact with the characters. It was only open for ten years before it closed, the victim of larger parks, economics, and changing tourism patterns, among other things.
After it closed, everything was left to rot. As you’d expect, it became a target for vandalism and theft. What the vandals didn’t destroy, nature did. But then something wonderful happened: In the 1990’s, a development group decided to build houses on the property and, as part of that development, resurrect some of the park. Reopening it as a theme park wasn’t feasible, but neither did it have to suffer such pitiful neglect.
The developers, with the help of former employees and visitors, have since restored parts of the park. My favorite part of the restoration story is the official “brick amnesty.” The developers asked anyone who had any bricks from the Yellow Brick Road to please return them. No questions would be asked. All they wanted were the bricks. They received a surprisingly large number of them back.
Today Oz opens for one day every October and welcomes visitors, former employees, and Oz fanatics for a celebration of the park. Proceeds help with further restorations. You can also rent Dorothy’s house for short stays, have a birthday celebration in the park, or even get married in Oz. Here’s a short video that shows a bit of the park:
When I needed a location for some of the most significant scenes in Broken Fate, the idea of using the park popped into my head. It was especially appropriate for Alex and Atropos, both avid readers and lovers of the original Oz books. It’s fitting that some of their happiest and saddest moments happen in a place that saw much joy, but also its share of sadness.
I took some liberties with Oz in Broken Fate. For one thing, the characters experience some locations that were destroyed and no longer exist. For another, the scenes in the book are written as though the park is still an abandoned ruin, not the improved version that exists today. I used the park as a metaphor for the idea that everything, no matter how awesome, dies eventually. I hope I captured the tension that exists between remembering what was, accepting what is, and finding beauty in the difference.
If you want to learn more about the park and see some great archival photos, you can visit the developer’s website. http://www.emeraldmtn.com/LandofOz/landofoz.html
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