“Requiem for Shiva” was the first short story I wrote as an “adult,” and, as such, I can’t remember specifically what inspired it, but it’s had an interesting history. Although I can’t say what inspired it, I can say what did not: the destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001. While “Requiem for Shiva” contains a terrorist-style attack as an important plot element, I wrote the original version of this story ten years before the twin towers were destroyed.
Originally written in 1991 (with the title “Ashes to Ashes”), “Requiem for Shiva” sat in the “trunk” for nearly twenty years before I rediscovered it in 2009. I dusted it off, stripped it to is core, and did a significant re-write to clean up several fatal flaws and strengthen Thomas Endahl’s conflict and redemption. For Endahl’s emotional core, I drew from my personal experiences, and I honed the setting from a year I lived in Jamaica.
I submitted it to the Writers of the Future contest, and it was named a finalist. Unfortunately it did not place in the top three and was not published. It went on to collect numerous personal rejections from many of the pro-rate publications, most of which had nice things to say about it, but few that actually told me why they rejected it (I suspect it had to do with some controversial material about religion and terrorism, and possibly the story’s violence, but who can say?). I nearly lost faith in the story and returned it to the trunk, but I persevered, and I am glad I did. It eventually found a good home in The Future Fire, a magazine for socio-political speculative fiction.
This is one of those stories that I did not have the world experience to write in 1991. Nearly twenty years later, I did, and I believe it is one of my strongest stories in terms of its emotional foundation. Thomas Endahl’s struggle resonates for me on many levels. It’s a story that is dear to me for many reasons, and I hope you enjoy it. If you haven’t read it yet, “Requiem for Shiva” is available in the February 2012 issue of The Future Fire.