Have you ever wanted to read a novella and didn’t know which one to pick? Here’s a story you won’t want to miss! Guest author, Rick Ellrod, writer of Fantasy and Science Fiction, debuts his first novella, The World Around the Corner, today.
Hi Rick! The World Around the Corner has a fantastic hook. Would you share with us your inspiration for the story?
I always liked the “Shop Around the Corner”—“You’ve Got Mail” type of story, where a couple get to know each other in two different ways without realizing they’re the same person. The idea goes back to Shakespeare’s hidden-identity plays, like “Twelfth Night”—with the added twist that neither person knows the secret. The potential for misadventures and misunderstandings is just too good to pass up.
I spent a good deal of time playing World of Warcraft some years back, and it occurred to me that the same mistaken-identities device could also be used with a “massively multiplayer online role-playing game,” a MMORPG. At that point, I was off and running!
It’s always fun to hear about the creative early stages. How did you decide on your character’s names?
I love names, and I like to try to fit them to the characters. Here I was aiming at a light, playful romantic comedy. “Jeff” sounded to me like a good name for a good-natured, likable hero—polar opposite of a brooding Heathcliff type. Giving him a more iconic full name (“Jefferson”) and traditional English surname (“Stanton”) went along neatly with making him a history professor. So did his character’s name, “Badon,” which comes out of the Arthurian legends. “Dana” struck me as feminine but also a little tomboyish, distinctive enough to suggest confidence and independence. I don’t recall where I came up with her last name, “Roland”; but I did get a sort of pun out of it, since she’s got a poster of Orlando Bloom from “The Lord of the Rings” in her shop—which is an early clue to her interest in fantasy games.
A secondary character’s name actually gave me the most trouble. I named a teenage girl “Raina,” which sounded interesting and unusual. But as soon as I wrote “Dana and Raina,” I knew that would never work! I changed Raina to the more commonplace, but still pretty, “Renee.”
Do you hide any secrets in the story that only a few people will find?
Oh, yes. Love those Easter eggs! There’s at least one “in” joke that only my family will get. But when Dana and Jeff are talking about their favorite music and books, I also had a chance to toss in some slightly obscure favorites of my own—along with a few I invented. Readers can Google them and find out which are which. (Or, for a short cut on the music, check the “World Around the Corner playlist” on my Web site).
What was your hardest scene to write?
The road-trip scenes before they find out their game identities were especially tricky, because I had to show Jeff and Dana not getting along with each other—but without making either one seem like a jerk or really unlikable. On the other hand, that ended up leading into a discussion about academics and auto mechanics that I particularly enjoyed. So maybe the hardest scenes also bring the best rewards!
Congrats again, Rick! Thanks for being my guest. The World Around the Corner is available now. Honest reviews are always welcome. D. K.
The World Around the Corner Blurb: Jeff and Dana are ardent—and flirtatious—companions in an online role-playing game. Neither is aware they also know each other in real life, where they’ve clashed on multiple occasions. But when they join forces on a road trip to solve a mystery, they discover the connection between their online and everyday identities. Can their virtual relationship carry over into a a real-life adventure?