Mary Fan Visits the Crimson Keep

Want to know a fun fact? Contributing to Tales of the Crimson Keep was the first time I’d written in an already-established world. It was both exciting and a bit intimidating—as most new things are. As far as sandboxes go, the Crimson Keep was a pretty vast and flexible one. The premise of an ever-changing fortress with unlimited possibilities within the walls meant that nearly anything was possible.

At the same time, the first edition of the anthology was already out, and there’d already been many stories set in this world. The last thing I wanted was to write something that would be inconsistent with what was established.

The first thing I did was read every scrap of the first edition to get a feel for what kinds of stories fell into the world of the Crimson Keep. The answer: many kinds. Some were funny, and some were more serious. But all felt like they were skating across a glimmering pool of whimsy.

I decided to leave the established characters be and introduce the Keep to someone new: a visitor from another part of the world who, like me, was seeing the Keep for the first time. And so I created the character of Meilin, a girl who came all the way from the Far East on a quest to the Keep. How fascinated would she be by the fortress’ dangers and charms? How much trouble would she run into?

Of course, I couldn’t just let her run amok in the Keep. I had to send someone along to make her life even more different. I’m not entirely sure why I settled on a childlike, chaotic neutral spirit with phenomenal supernatural powers and the eternal mental age of a kindergartner. Maybe it was because that seemed to me to be the embodiment of the Keep’s fanciful nature.

The story’s title, “Glisk of the Keep,” is a double entendre. I’d recently learned of the word “glisk,” which can mean either refer to light (e.g. rays spilling through clouds, a glint in one’s eye) or mean “glimpse.” Somehow, it seemed to fit my mischievous spirit, who lived in the Keep and caused trouble for all within its walls. But since “glisk” also means “glimpse,” and Meilin would only get to see a small part of the fortress (since she’s a visitor and not a resident of it), it also seemed to fit with the story.

I hope you’ll check out my story in the newly renovated Tales of the Crimson Keep and have as much fun reading it as I did writing it!

Tales of the Crimson Keep – Newly Renovated Edition is now available at your favorite booksellers.

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