Authors’ Commentary on “Remember, Remember, Hell in November”

Lawyers in Hell Authors’ Commentary on
»Remember, Remember, Hell in November,«
 a story in Lawyers in Hell

Writing and Remembering in Hell
I fell into the Lawyers in Hell project almost as one falls into hell itself; suddenly, unexpectedly, and incredibly. How I came to know and collaborate with Janet Morris was simple happenstance, if you believe in that sort of thing, or fate, which I am more inclined to accept. I had been leaving comments and referencing quotes on The Sacred Band web site and facebook page and had caught Janet’s attention. This being her other  series of stories and novels that I have loved reading over the years, I was happy to contribute what I could and thrilled to be able to correspond with her.


Lawyers in Hell Imagine my surprise and elation when she said she was bringing back the Heroes in Hell series with a new book, Lawyers in Hell, and asked if I wanted to write a story to submit for possible inclusion in the book! I think my response was, “Hell yes!” Janet Morris created the Heroes in Hell shared-world anthology series twenty-five years ago and I remember reading the books when they were first published and loving the concept and the stories. Twenty-five years ago if you told me that one day I would have the chance to write for the Heroes in Hell series and work with Janet Morris and her husband and collaborator, Chris Morris, I would have said you were crazy. Now it was all really happening.

Working with a group of writers on a shared-world anthology project is very different from just composing a story on your own. We try to interweave the individual stories together to connect them to the over-arching theme of the particular book. In this case it was the auditing of hell by Erra and the Seven to ensure injustice, suffering, and punishment was being meted out unilaterally throughout all the hells. Some of the stories shared characters as well, with either cameo appearances or larger roles within the stories to connect them to each other. One of the more prominent characters who makes numerous appearances in the book is His Satanic Majesty, The Devil, with his demonic familiar, Michael. I featured them in my story, since he is my favorite of all the characters from the series and really fun to write. Also one of the things that makes the Heroes in Hell series really interesting is that all of the characters are required to be either mythological or historic figures with very few exceptions to this rule, that must be approved by Janet. This means there is a lot of research involved to get the personalities, and “voice” of the characters true to the original persona. The historic figures also have to be dead, otherwise we can’t use them as characters. For some reason, most living people get offended when you put them in hell, even if it’s just in a fictional story. When I first signed on to the project I didn’t know who my characters would be or what the basic premise and plot of the story would involve, but that would change quickly as I jumped headfirst into hell.

As I began talking to the other writers, finding out what their ideas were, and how I could intertwine my story with theirs, I began to develop a basic premise for my story. I had also chosen my main character: Anton LaVey, founder of the Modern Church of Satan, who would be selling fake holy relics in a clothing and antiques shop as part of his punishment in hell. Who better to send to hell, than this man? Then came the fifth of November,  and  Guy Fawkes Day, celebrated in England as remembrance for the treasonous actions of Fawkes and his twelve conspirators to attempt to blow up the House of Lords, House of Commons, and Westminster Palace, and with them, King James the First, and all the members of parliament. The Gunpowder Treason and Plot, was an effort to overthrow the Anglican church and King, in favor of rule by a Catholic monarchy. With Guy, I had another main character for my story, and a title: “Remember, Remember, Hell in November”. The premise of the story is that Fawkes, being damned to hell for his deeds, declares he should be expelled from hell and ascend to heaven as a martyr for the Catholic Church. Satan declares that Guy can appeal his sentence of damnation through hell’s Hall of Injustice legal system, if public opinion changes in his favor, and once he has served part of his time required for his punishment.

Larry Atchley Jr, photo by Sussie AtchleyFor legal representation for Guy Fawkes’s appeal I wanted to go even farther back into the time vault of history, so I chose an Icelandic law-speaker from the late tenth century named Eyjolf Bolverksson, whose last name means evil-worker. How appropriate! I would round out my list of characters with a few shared from other writers’ stories, such as Parsival, the grail knight, Jonathan Swift, English satirist, and Yuri Andropov, former General Secretary of the Soviet Union, a character featured in the original books of the Heroes in Hell series. Another notable character is The Welcome Woman, who introduces the newly damned to hell, and one of the few fictional characters from the original series. She’s one character whom I know you’ll never forget once you read my story.

I should add that this is my first published fiction short story, and to have it appear in such a wonderful series as Heroes in Hell, and such a beautifully composed anthology as Lawyers in Hell, is truly an honor and a privilege. When I told my wife Sussie, that I was going to have a chance at getting a story published in the book she said, “This is your big break, Larry, so don’t blow it!” Well I didn’t blow it, sweetheart, your husband is now a published author. It has been so rewarding and fun working with all the other writers who are great people, have become good friends and have helped me a lot throughout the process of writing my story. I am also eternally grateful to Janet Morris and Chris Morris for giving me this chance and for all their support along the way.
Remember, Remember, Hell in November, © Larry Atchley, Jr; Perseid Publishing, 2011
2011© Lawyers in Hell (Janet Morris), 2011, all rights reserved

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