Authors’ Commentary on “Tribe of Hell”

Lawyers in Hell Authors’ Commentary on
»Tribe of Hell,«
 a story in Lawyers in Hell

zur deutschen Übersetzung When The Spirit Moves You
I kept seeing Almighty Kur, lying in a pool of hot tar, bubbles bursting under his backside.  His wings were unfurled and I had no idea at first why he was the key image for my story.  I thought about it.  I had told myself to write the story of Lysicles, who’d been executed in life for leading a thousand Athenians to their deaths at the Battle of Chaeronea, while his commander was exonerated of wrongdoing.  Lysicles had a bone to pick.  He was angry.  He was the perfect character to bring before Erra and his peerless Seven, personified weapons of destruction.  So who was this big red guy with the wings and the spiky tail?

Lawyers in Hell I tried to banish the image of Kur from my mind, hoping for some vision more directly related to the trial of Lysicles by Erra and the Seven.  Chris and I were in agreement about the plotline.  The characters were lined up:  Hammurabi, Draco, Alexander III of Macedon, and T.E. Lawrence.  I knew how I wanted the story to go, knew the tale I wanted to tell about Erra and the Seven descending into hell to make sure that Injustice was served.

But when I get a first image, that is the key image for the story, and the story refused to start anywhere but with Kur in his pool of tar.  Then into the tar pool splashed little black Eshi, the Kigali boy, and Ki-gal leaped fully formed into my mind with Eshi’s first words.  Eshi’s every question enthralled me:  I fell in love with Eshi.  And the story was lost to its genius, totally in control and out of control simultaneously.

As usual, in these stories, the characters understood where we were going long before I did.  I wrote what I saw, what I heard, what I felt and smelled and tasted on the mountain slope with the sulfurous wind blowing down from its peak.

Janet Morris with ChristineThus begins the Tribe of Hell, a title taken from Iago’s line in Shakespeare’s Othello.  Soon I realized I was describing a framework for hell that must have been there forever, only we readers had never known about it before.  This short story insisted on being a braid of three viewpoints, a difficult task for any writer who does not have faith that the Muse is singing the right song.  In such a story, there is no room to spare for anything not critical to a tale’s telling.  Yet this tale could be told no other way:  I was committed to Lysicles, to Erra and the Seven on the Downward Road , but the genius of Hell was equally committed to the Kigali.

And so Chris and I have two tales in Lawyers in Hell (one at the beginning and one at the end) – of Kur and Eshi of Ki-gal, hell’s landlords; and of Erra and the Seven from Emeslam, come down from heaven to make hell more hellish; and of Lysicles, a bit rash, but a lost hero in the classical sense, wronged and thirsty for revenge, trying to get to his loved ones on Elysion.

Come along with us, into the depths of hell.
Tribe of Hell, ©Janet Morris; Perseid Publishing, 2011
2011© Lawyers in Hell (Janet Morris), 2011, all rights reserved

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