I’m thrilled to announce that my 4,100-word cozy fantasy story “Epilogue” appears in the inaugural issue of Wyngraf Magazine! It features eldritch wine, delicious leftovers, reminiscence, glimmers of magic, and long-overdue kissing.
Have you ever been so immersed in an epic fantasy world that you never wanted the story to end? Because ending meant a return to the ordinary world, without magic, without purpose written in prophecy, without thrilling possibility? What if the characters in that epic fantasy felt the same way?
This is the purpose of epic fantasy epilogues. They’re a place to linger, a slow off-ramp from the story world. They show readers who have invested sometimes years of emotion and imagination that the world continues, it remains a place of wonder, and there are stories yet to be told–even if it is only in the readers’ own daydreams. The epilogue is where the story is passed on to the readers.
I find these movements immensely satisfying, and I wanted to write a story that captured them. But I didn’t want to write the multi-volume epic fantasy series to earn that moment. Is that possible? That was my experiment. I wanted to write an epilogue to an unwritten epic, from the point-of-view of a secondary character for whom the epic was the greatest thing to happen in his life, and leaving it behind for an better-but-ordinary world was hard. The pandemic was starting to take hold, and I also wanted to write something self-indulgent–comfort food for myself, with yearning, melancholy, wine, food, kisses, and the comfort of a moment I knew couldn’t last. “Epilogue” is dear to me for those reasons.
This story needed to sell that Sajun and Tankrit have history together, and that history is epic. I leaned into fantasy and mythology tropes to give readers (at least readers read the same things as me) familiar scaffolding. I learned from early Star Wars (before corporate licensing canonized the fan fictions of hundreds of writers) that just a few details could create a rich story that existed in invested fans’ minds–the so-called “headcanon.” The handoff to readers’ imagination that epilogues perform is a future-facing headcanon. This story had to construct both future-facing, and past-facing headcanon. It asks a lot from the reader. Maybe more than any reader will grant. But the exercise helped me to imagine a lot of the unwritten epic, and what could come after it. I don’t know if I managed to paint the picture in the readers’ heads, but it’s vivid in mine. I’m proud of the experiment.
There is another genre of writing that excels at building headcanon: narrative songs. Two songs in particular ran through my head as I crafted this story of Sajun reconnecting (for, perhaps, the wrong reasons) with Tankrit. “Little Earthquakes” by Tori Amos and “Suffer the Fools” by Belly are both about relationships that may have outlived their joy, but the couple traps themselves by being unwilling to move on from their shared history. I tweaked that a bit, but that yearning for a romanticized past is still there. If you enjoy Easter eggs, see if you can find all the lyrics that became plot points. Like I said, I was feeling self-indulgent.
I’m grateful this story found a home with Wyngraf. Their mission statement aligns almost perfectly with mine for this story. Most editors who read this were more interested in the unwritten backstory than the one that happened twenty years later. Indeed, my story’s protagonist would agree. I love the big action-packed fantasies. But I also love their endings, and the sense that the road goes ever on. I wrote the story I wanted to read. In that way, this experiment was a success.