Wild Weird West

Last year a publishing company named Abaddon had a window for open submissions, during which I submitted some work. The company publishes work-for-hire novels in shared universes named things like The Afterblight Chronicles (post apocalyptic sci-fi), Pax Britannia (steampunk alternative history) and Twilight of Kerberos (heroic fantasy) and authors were free to write within an existing world or create their own.

I opted for the latter choice, creating a hybrid setting mixing fantasy and western, which I dubbed Wyrd West. The idea was that crafting my own world rather than using one of Abaddon’s ones would make my work stand out from the crowd a bit, and a setting like that was different from anything they had thusfar published. Unfortunately, several dozen other people had the exact same thought process, meaning I wasn’t being quite as original or trendsetting as I thought. However, the commissioning editor did take the time to send out each rejection individually and also bothered to write back when I responded. It’s nice when they can be arsed acknowledging your existence. Next time, assuming there is one, I’ll try something slightly more esoteric. This was my pitch for the world.

A synopsis, a story breakdown and a 2,000 word sample were required for each submitted story. I entered two, both based around a bounty hunter named Juliet Steel. The idea for her was primarily inspired by the character of Cad Bane from The Clone Wars, imagining someone just as ruthless and manipulative, but more sympathetic and possessing an actual sense of humour.

The synopsis of the first story, Badlands Bound, is as follows:

Several months after a mass break-out from Rift City prison, bounty hunter Juliet Steel is contracted to track down one of the few remaining criminals still at large, a disgraced army captain hiding out in the Badlands. Finding him took long enough, and when the railroad is put out of action, the pair face a trek across the inhospitable terrain back to civilisation.

Jove would have been content to drink himself to death in the dive bars of his self-imposed exile, when the crimson-haired gunslinger crashed into his miserable life to return him to whatever fate awaits him.

However, it soon becomes clear that there is more to the contract on Jove than it first appears. Why was Juliet’s employer so keen for Jove’s capture? Why was she insisted upon for the job? And why do they both have a niggling feeling this isn’t the first time they’ve met?

The first chapter can be read here.


This is the synopsis of the other story, Theories of Punishment:

The Gravedigger is not someone you want to anger. The power to stop a person’s heart with nothing but pure hatred has turned a quiet mutant into a dangerous killer, and one whose ability has already taken several lives. It seems anyone who has ever wronged him should stay out of his way.

With the local sheriffs’ mistreatment of mutants making them just as susceptible for cardiac implosion, Rift City’s marshal brings in bounty hunter Juliet Steel to track down the killer and determine how he can be neutralised.

However, when Juliet digs into the backgrounds of the people the Gravedigger has been targeting, their dubious histories make her question if bringing him in would be the right thing to do. And in a world where strength is often the only law, who truly has the right to administer justice?

The sample of this can be read here.

I have every intention of finishing off the stories at some point. But then, I say that about everything I write.


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