Michael T. Banker is one of the award-winning authors featured in the latest edition of L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 31. As with the other writer winners, I asked Michael to provide some background information about his story, and this is what he had to say:“My story ideas usually start with a concept (rather than, say, a character, setting, or conflict). In ‘Wisteria Melancholy,’ the concept is that one’s insecurities take on physical manifestations. I came up with this idea a while ago and I don’t remember what prompted it. My ideas come from random places or nowhere at all. This was a fun one, though, and I ran with it.
“I knew right away that one of my characters would literally get heavy when depressed. Sometimes it’s difficult to sympathize with depressed characters in a story. You want to slap him and say ‘snap out of it!’ But a depressed character who literally gets heavy, who can be shown to physically struggle against the weight of his depression? It seemed to me that there was something there. This became my protagonist. Then I added two characters who disappeared because they were shy, another one who did just the opposite—she shut everyone else out, so that she literally couldn’t see or hear them. And finally a minor character who exploded into smoke when scared as a sort of defense mechanism.“The last piece of the puzzle for me before this started to become a coherent story was who these characters were. I decided that the protagonist, an adult, was admitting himself into live-in counseling, which was inhabited by children. This was just enough catalyst for me to start asking myself questions about who and why and the plot began to take shape.
“This story was a fun one to write. There are a lot of adjectives I’d use to describe writing (e.g. challenging, fulfilling), but ‘fun’ isn’t usually one of them. At the same time, the story has a serious core. I enjoyed writing it, and I’ll remember to try to keep the fun in my writing in the future.”
For the anthology, Illustrator of the Future award winner Michelle Lockamy was selected to do the art for Michael’s story. Little did any of us know at the time, but his story would be the inspiration for the illustration that would garner the grand prize—the Golden Brush Award. Michelle had this to say about the story:“I wanted my illustration to reflect, for me, the turning point of the story. The main character (Jason) feels a sense of weightlessness that he has never experienced before, and I thought that such a surreal and impactful scene needed to represent the story as a whole. The feeling of awe and wonder was what really helped inspire me, especially following the turmoils of the character beforehand. It was an awesome story to work with, and I’m so glad Michael was my writer.”
The story and artwork produced a great synergy and we look forward to seeing more artistic endeavors from both Michael and Michelle.
And to Michael and Michelle,
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