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Friday, October 3, 2014

Kallysten talks about Shades of Pink (volume 2) Charity Anthology

For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, 22 authors have allied for 1 cause: fundraising for research. Their gift to everyone who makes a donation? A romance anthology (ebook) titled Shades of Pink (volume 2), totaling almost 150.000 words / about 400 pages as a PDF.

During all of October, we’ll post teasers for the stories, interviews of the authors and blog posts. Find them all on Kallysten’s blog, along with a FAQ, and of course the link where you can donate and help this worthy cause.

How Benedict Cumberbatch tickled my muse pink...
by Kallysten

When I started thinking about what I'd write for this year's Shades of Pink anthology, I had just finished working on Anterograde, which is set in my Demons Age series. I was still fully immersed in that world, in the not-completely-apocalyptic-but-close feeling created by the nightly attacks of ferocious demons that come in and invade Earth from another dimension, and by the endless war waged against those demons by human and vampire fighters.

So, I had a world to play in, but what game should it be, this time? I've explored the beginning of the demon invasion and its end, written stories about what the fighters do on the frontline and what they do in their bedrooms, and Anterograde itself wasn't about fighters per se but about the doctors who patch them up. So, who would I talk about this time? What would my characters do?

And that was when I watched this...


I have to confess having a (very slight) crush on actor Benedict Cumberbatch. Very slight, really. Minuscule. It's okay, Dear Hubby knows and gave his absolution. (It helps that he's a fan of Sherlock, too.)

So, I watched Benedict (and Louise Brealey) read letters written during the war by a soldier and his lover, and my muse said, "This! This is what we're writing!"

"What?" said I, perplexed. "We're writing a story about Benedict? It's kinda iffy to write fiction based on a real person..."

"No, no, not him, there are no words to describe the colors of his eyes anyway. No, we're writing about THE LETTERS!"

Of course! Letters exchanged by lovers during a time of war! I'd never written a story based on letters, but I'd read a handful, and I'd always thought that maybe, some day...

Well, this was the day. I already had my war. One character would be a fighter on the frontline, and the other would be safe at home and writing to them. This was as much as I knew when I opened a new file and typed, 'Dear soldier,' but soon I learned more about Samuel and Angel... just as they learned about each other.

The only issue I had while writing 'No Crayons On The Frontline' was to keep the story within the 10.000 words limit, so I might have to revisit Samuel and Angel sooner or later.

And if you'd like to know a tiny bit more about them, here is their first exchange of letters, the beginning of my contribution to the Shades of Pink anthology.


Dear soldier,

Only two words in, and here I am, confronting a feeling of oddness as it occurs to me I don’t know to whom I should address this letter. I have written few letters in my life – and by letter, I mean actual letters, the kind where one puts ink and thoughts onto paper to share with another person – and every one of those actual letters went to someone I knew beforehand, someone whose face I could picture, someone who I was sure would be able to hear my voice when they read my words, who would know when I was trying to be humorous or understand references to a shared past. And so, I find it difficult to write to you today without knowing your name or age or even whether you like long missives or will already be bored by the time you reach this point.

All I know about you, really, is that you are serving on the front line of the demon invasion. You protect me, along with everyone inside our city, and for this, for the danger you choose to face night after night, for the wounds you may have suffered, for the grief you may have experienced upon losing comrades, you have my sincere and heartfelt thanks.

It seems far from enough; I can only give you words on a page and not even a handshake to remind you that those you fight for are living beings made of flesh and bones rather than the abstract concept you might have in mind. That is, unless you fight for someone specific, for members of your family or friends, and it’s their image you keep in mind every time you raise your weapon on the battlefield. Either way, please believe that there is at least one person who, tonight, will send their best wishes toward the battlefield in the hope that you will remain safe.

Warm regards,

Dr. W. S. Sherridan
* * *

Dear Dr. Sherridan,

First, let me thank you your letter. While we (soldiers on the front line) do not fight every single night as you may believe, it certainly feels like we do. Even when there is no attack underway, we’re always aware that every moment of calm is only a brief respite in the storm. And while we don’t need or expect thanks, it’s great to know we are appreciated for what we do by those we try so hard to keep safe. Myself as well as all the soldiers in my unit who were lucky enough to be handed a letter were quite happy to receive them.

Receiving letters was even more special because they came in the day after the end of a long, bloody fight against demons. I’m not sure how much people in the city are told about the siege, I’m not even sure whether this letter will be read and possibly censored before it reaches you, but let’s just say that this was one of the most brutal demon attacks that I’ve seen. I escaped my turn outside the walls unscathed, but many others were less lucky. It was a sad day in the camp, but the letters and the reminder they gave us that we’re not fighting in vain made it easier to continue. As you pointed out in your letter, we’re fighting for very real people, made of flesh and blood like we are. People who sometimes pick up a pen to write a few words for us.

But I have the same strange feeling you had when you first wrote to me: I don’t know who I am writing to either. Your words and handwriting alone tell me that your letter is different from those my men were sharing with each other, in which misspellings, cute questions and unsteady handwriting give away that the writers are children. I knew you were an adult right away, and your signature only confirmed it. But that same signature told me very little. No first name, two initials, a last name… and those two small letters, a badge of pride to all those who earn them. Here I am, writing a letter to a doctor, wondering why he (she? ) participated in a letters program involving elementary school children. That is a puzzle, and while I have a couple of theories, I would be pleased if you would reply and tell me.

Until then, I will continue making up lists of what those initials might mean. My first thought for W was William, for reasons that will become clear when you read my signature. Am I anywhere close?

Regards from the front line,

Lieutenant Angel Williams


  1. It's funny how inspiration can come to us at times! Great to know how your mind works Kally,and thank you for the awesome excerpt!