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Strangers in Gilead

Posted on 2007.09.28 at 18:54
A period piece. Not typical with regards to structure, development, and vocabulary, so may not be everyone’s cup of whiskey, to be sure. I will claim it is ’avant guarde.’ Oh, and there is sex in it, but nothing that will make anyone *is ded*. And swearing.


And a long piece, upwards of forty thousand words. No, really. It was recommended to me that given the sheer volume of verbiage, I should mount the Story, the Epilogue and Afterward as PDF files. For those that love the feel of the printed page over the glowing screen, this should make for a more enjoyable and printable reading experience. In any event it should make for less clicking.

Many, many thanks to Simpatico, Mamajamallama, Anthrophile and Arcfire for many, many hours of discussion regarding the nature of writing fiction (pro, fan, porn, fiction, non), grammar, punctuation, concepts, cruel truths, Supernatural, and stuff. More said in the Afterward.

Strangers in Gilead

Strangers in Gilead - Epilogue

Strangers in Gilead - Afterward

An addition: For those not enamored of PDF, here is an HTML version:

Strangers in Gilead - HTML


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vaznetti at 2007-11-23 13:14 (UTC) (Link)
This was an incredibly enjoyable read -- I loved the use of the outsider perspective, the way the plot unfolded, the strangeness of Sam and Dean in the past, and how well they fit it. Lovely and lush, and it's always good to see something worked on so long come out so well.

re: your afterword, you might, I think, have overcome the language of Deadwood to enjoy it -- that's the sense I get from what you've created here, at least.
Corvus Imbrifer
corvus_imbrifer at 2007-11-26 15:29 (UTC) (Link)
So glad you found it worth the long read. The language did make for a long write. I've watched 'Deadwood' since, of course, a wonderful show, but wanted to avoid doing a 'crossover.' (That requires equally intimate knowledge of both shows.) Thanks indeed.

tabaqui at 2007-11-28 04:38 (UTC) (Link)
Absolutely and utterly wonderful. Really. I skip headers, and no clue what, exactly, it was all about - got here on a recommendation from a flist person, who's name i, alas, cannot recall.

So the sudden drop of *Alice Copper* into the mix made me squeak with joy and then... Lovely! Just lovely.

It actually reads a bit like Deadwood sounded, the 'f' word aside - our semi-hero Al was given to nearly Shakespearian soliloquys about his fellow man and the state of life and you Miss Rose had just such a turn of phrase.

Really, just an amazing story and a wonderful characterization of the boys. Their new 'selves' fit quite nicely, and i felt as disappointed as Dean when they couldn't stay... And as happy as he did, upon reuniting with the Impala. And Sam, with his arm back up on the seat...

Wonderful stuff.
Corvus Imbrifer
corvus_imbrifer at 2007-11-29 22:51 (UTC) (Link)
How fun that it was a surprise! I wouldn't have expected it to sustain a reader who sat down without knowing exactly what to expect.

And having set up the scenario of 'they have to escape before time runs out,' I realized I had committed the very sin I flog TV show writers for doing: contrivance. I, too, found myself hoping they could stay and be happy.

But as Sam pointed out, there were some downsides.

So glad you found this and enjoyed it.
isoldam at 2007-12-01 21:23 (UTC) (Link)

Text or HTML file?

I saw "Strangers in Gilead" recommended over on tabaqui's LJ and I'm really excited about reading it. Do you think you could post a copy in HTML or text file format so that I can read it on my e-book? (I have an old 'Rocket' e-book that does not use pdf files.) I really can't afford to print fanfic out and the library computers that I use limit time to 30 minuets, just long enough to download fics to my e-book. :-)

Corvus Imbrifer
corvus_imbrifer at 2007-12-06 20:37 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Text or HTML file?

I've rebound into HTML, page one is here:


I hope that works properly for you. Do let me know if there is something else I can do (zip the files up?) and do let me know your thoughts of the writing. Thanks!
cellia at 2007-12-03 05:39 (UTC) (Link)
Man, now *that* was a tale!

Sam and Dean were beautifully handled, but what vaulted this way up beyond most fanfiction for me into "a great story, period" was Marie-Rose--her beautiful language, her musings on women and waiting--and the historical setting--from details like the brothers' surprisingly white teeth to the "gaggle of geese... stumping for votes."

And amazing how you kept the old setting feeling so real and present, but the Winchesters (even trying to fit in) so recognizably themselves. (I was even thinking when I read the "crowbait skunk" line, "hm that doesn't seem quite in character," and I should have had more faith as it became an actual plot point that was explained later!)

And at the end Rose decides to stop waiting! *punches air* Perfect and wonderful and, man, the language is gorgeous. I usually never notice the actual flow of words in a story and prefer transparent exposition, but Rose as a pov felt so complete and real and the words were so wonderful to read, but never over-the-top or purple to me. The end felt so triumphant, and the language helped carried me there.

Though this story definitely feels whole and complete, because of all the extra stuff we know about Sam and Dean, it also feels in many ways was like the missing half, the secret part... the half of the testosterone-heavy show we never see... or even the half that's left out the the classic western stories the Winchesters reference throughout... or even (most powerfully since you had the chops to take it on and do it so well) the not-usually told half of the real history itself.

I also love that Dean rode off to the Firefly theme, since I am a giant geek and perhaps have been known to sing it myself at appropriate times! :D

*thumbs way way way up*

(here from a rec on tabaqui's lj)
Corvus Imbrifer
corvus_imbrifer at 2007-12-03 19:20 (UTC) (Link)
I'm so happy you enjoyed it! And for the exactly reasons that I wanted to explore: the point of view of the Person in Peril who gets left behind, sometimes with little or no explanation of the strange events that occurred. No 'closure' for them. Particularly the women who wait. I'm also relieved you didn't find the prose purple, there were a couple of scenes I thought (being a gay male) I couldn't be less qualified to write.

I am obsessive with research and accuracy, and I discovered I had done the women of Nebraska a disservice: voting rights for women had been in the works since statehood, several years prior to the story, and Amelia Bloomer was active just down the road.

So glad you liked the characterization of the boys. It's the easy part, as we all know who we're talking about, but that's the part that can easily spoil any story if done wrong.

unperfectwolf at 2007-12-05 22:47 (UTC) (Link)
Do you have this fic posted online anywhere? Adobe fucks with my laptop enough I won't let it open PDF files. I was rec'd this, but you know.
Karasu Amagoi
karasu_amagoi at 2007-12-05 23:00 (UTC) (Link)
I thought I was so clever just putting in PDF, I didn't realize it was restrictive. I'm reconstructing it even as we speak. I didn't put it up here on my regular journal because the white-on-black is difficult to read and I'm not adept enough with LJ to figure out how to override the background colour. I'm breaking the text into digestible pieces and figuring out how to do the 'next' 'previous' bits. Should be done shortly.

So excited to have it recommended!
concernedlily at 2007-12-12 20:52 (UTC) (Link)
Nothing I was supposed to be doing this evening was as good as losing myself in this story *g*. The whole thing was just perfect; I loved the way the boys found each other, the subtle way you got across what was going on, all the Western stuff (although this is not a genre I usually care for at all) and Miss Rose was wonderful, so vividly and beautifully written.
Corvus Imbrifer
corvus_imbrifer at 2007-12-13 15:27 (UTC) (Link)
How wonderful that you found my little tale! I never thought to work in a western genre, it just happened. Glad it didn't come off like one of the tacky thematic hotel rooms the boys find themselves in. Thanks indeed.
sylvanwitch at 2008-01-04 02:39 (UTC) (Link)
Who are you, really?

Seriously, the quality of this writing is so spectacular that you either must do this for a real living or you're a hidden genius who deserves a lot more attention than you're apparently getting.

What strikes me most is the consistency of the quality of writing and the way that you use language to establish setting so that when we finally have anachronisms (such as Dean calling his brother a "brainiac" in answer to Tully's question) they are jarring in the extreme. The point-of-view is essential, the way we, the reader, are left to wait like Marie-Rose for what happens out-of-scene, the way we are forced to abide in the waiting, which drives home the main point of the story, both Marie-Rose's lot (and the lot of all women in that time) and also Sam's lot, the waiting on the other side for Dean to come back through. The tension this theme establishes, and the way you wind that tension out throughout the tale with the use of language so evocative of time and place is just spectacular beyond reckoning in words.

I can't say enough about this story. I just can't find enough words. I'm reccomending it high and low, and I hope that that's alright with you.

Corvus Imbrifer
corvus_imbrifer at 2008-01-04 16:43 (UTC) (Link)
Mom, how did you find my Livejournal? Oh, wait, she can just manage e-mail.

Thanks for thinking I'm anything other than one more over-invested fan. I love storytelling, language and the mechanics of writing, so that's what you must have found worthwhile. Once one gets rolling in the style and dialect of the period, it was only a matter of vocabulary-wrangling. I'm glad you didn't find it excessive. Or overblown with purple prose, which at least fits in with the style. Especially in one or two particular scenes. Ahem.

I hope you found the characters believable, that's the most important thing. It was a serious gamble, that conceit of using other names for a large portion of the story. I figured if they weren't recognizable as themselves, I had no business writing at all.

I'm thrilled you find it recommendation-worthy. You are my twentieth comment, I treasure each one. Is that insufficient attention? I don't have connections with the larger fiction groups like sn-fic. Not prolific enough. I have one other story up on my journal (a Christmas story, written last year, not as long), and a little thing in the form of an email, if you're inclined to read those as well. And poetry, which no one reads at all.

Thanks for your wonderful compliments! Encouragement indeed to start the next story.
boogirl13 at 2008-01-04 22:10 (UTC) (Link)
Wheee!! That was fun! I laughed, I was caught up, I was sad. And Chapter 19?! I'm a Deangirl, but damn. That Sam is hot!

Very nicely done. Thanks for sharing.
Corvus Imbrifer
corvus_imbrifer at 2008-01-05 03:52 (UTC) (Link)
Wait, what was chapter 19? The barfight? Was Sam hot in that?

Heh. I'm glad you were able to see a bit of the Sam side of things then, in addition to the usual Dean fun. That's what fiction is for.

So glad you enjoyed it.

faithintheboys at 2008-02-20 18:11 (UTC) (Link)
Oh wow. I just spent the course of three days reading this and I was amazed. Great job! The characters were perfect, the POV was insightful. I loved the whole thing. I can so imagine Dean and Sam on horses. I love the work you put into in establishing the characters and the town. Perfect. Thanks so much for writing this. Loved i!
Corvus Imbrifer
corvus_imbrifer at 2008-02-20 23:18 (UTC) (Link)
Three days? Either you are a slow reader or you were able to put it down. Drat, back to the drawing board.

Getting the characters right for the reader is of course vital. And the actors have done so much of the work for us already, all we have to do is not screw it up. Everything else is ornament. Very glad you enjoyed it.
liptonrm at 2008-02-26 05:40 (UTC) (Link)
Kick.Ass. I've been waiting and hoping for someone to write a long, plotty Winchesters-in-the-Old-West story and you've delivered in spades. And it makes so much sense that Dean would get lost in that particular period while Sam didn't but that they both fit there in ways that they don't in our modern world.

I really enjoyed your attention to historical detail and the strength and personality of your original characters. The image of Sam standing alone in the middle of the street, long coat whipping in the storm wind isn't one that's likely to leave me for a very long time.

And excellent, excellent story. Thank you for it.
Corvus Imbrifer
corvus_imbrifer at 2008-02-26 17:00 (UTC) (Link)
I'm so glad you found my story! I am also glad you liked the citizens of Gilead. Getting Sam and Dean right is critical, of course, but the actors and the show have done all the work there. All we have to do is not go totally wrong in how we write them. (This isn't much different than what happens on the show, script by script, of course. And look how we foam at the mouth when they inevitably get something wrong. Or something we think is wrong. Doublemint Twins. Shut up, show.)

And the historic detail is a pathologic obsession. When I tote up the time spent on research versus dialogue, I am horrified. I'm glad you found it worth the effort to wade through.

Thanks again.
just abi
justabi at 2008-04-20 18:04 (UTC) (Link)
God, you really have to watch Deadwood. You'll tune out the swearing, I swear. Anyway. This stoary is SO GOOD. Quite possibly the best thing ever. You rock.
Corvus Imbrifer
corvus_imbrifer at 2008-04-20 22:15 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for finding my little story! I did, in fact, see a bit of Deadwood, after the fact, but I want to get the full set and see it properly from the start. It looks marvelous. It was never quite on my list because (strange as it may sound to say) Westerns were never quite my thing.

Very glad you enjoyed it.
seerargent at 2008-05-05 21:58 (UTC) (Link)
Just followed a req by tabaqui here. For which I owe her endless thanks. This was absolutely superb! A brilliant, original character, and a seemless interweaving of SPN with a historical situation. I don't have enough words to say how much I enjoyed this. It is something I will be coming back to again, and again, I love it so much. Thank you
Corvus Imbrifer
corvus_imbrifer at 2008-05-06 01:13 (UTC) (Link)
I'm so glad you found it! And found it worth slogging through. It just kept getting longer... And high praise from an accomplished (and prolific) writer, too, I'm honoured indeed.

Wait, what you do mean 'you don't have the words...?'

I'm so pleased you liked the milieu, and hope you found the Winchesters believable, because that's the main thing, really, isn't it?

Thanks again!
(Anonymous) at 2008-07-07 01:42 (UTC) (Link)


Wow, really.

Just when I thought I couldn't love this story more you go and have Dean sing lines from Firefly!

This has restored my love of fanfic. What a beautiful job you've done with the characters. I loved everyone of them. Is it wrong that I think you captured the boys souls better than the series has of late?

On a side note- did I detect a hint of Justin from QAF in Tully? I'm not sure why that image came so strongly to me, but it did, and I just had to ask.

Thank you for this, it's definately one of the most enjoyable fics I've ever read. I told my daughter this story is canon as far as my heart is concerned, and she's reading it next!
Corvus Imbrifer
corvus_imbrifer at 2008-07-07 16:22 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Wonderful

I'm so pleased you found my tale (I'm not good at advertising) and even more pleased you enjoyed it. Particularly as you are able to recommend it, and to your daughter, no less! That's high praise indeed. I was concerned about writing from the point of view of a heterosexual woman (I am neither of those, as it happens), and feared certain passages might be too 'purple prose' or inauthentic.

Regarding Justin: So close! Yes, there is a very similar streak of directness and forthrightness that I had hoped to convey, though I was actually picturing Greyson Fletcher, from 'John from Cincinnati'. Same age, similar qualities. Very interesting comparison.

As for the love of fan fiction, well, that's also a good thing. There is so much remarkable work out there, just have to wade through the rest. Though I personally had hit a stumbling block due to what you so diplomatically mention as 'the show capturing the boys souls'. I was, how to put it, not at all happy with the direction of Season Three, and found it unmotivating. (Reality: My friends refuse to let me talk about the show any more, as all I do is make sounds like you hear when they are staking the Brides of Dracula in the Hammer movies.) In fact, should you be inclined, I wrote a little piece: when the inestimable Samantha Ferris asked for ideas on her blog about 'What happened to Ellen,' I ended up with something of a manifesto.


I hope your daughter enjoys it also, of course. (You did see the Epilogue and Afterwards, didn't you? Sometimes they get missed.)

Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. It makes it all worth while.
Re: Wonderful - (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Wonderful - (Anonymous) Expand
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Corvus Imbrifer
corvus_imbrifer at 2008-07-21 23:12 (UTC) (Link)

Re: wow

I'm so glad you found my little story. I'm not part of the mainstream lists, so I have to live off word-of-mouth. However did you come across it?

And while I wouldn't want you to spend all day, of course, I wouldn't want you to limit yourself either. We're all about freedom of expression and... Yeah, yeah. I'll shut up.

I'm so glad you were able to pick up on the Alias Smith and Jones reference. I'm sure it whizzed right past a large portion of the 'Supernatural' readership. And just between us: Pete Deuel. Deep sigh.

Thanks for reading and taking the moment to reply.
(Deleted comment)
debbiel66 at 2009-05-23 20:41 (UTC) (Link)
Oh lord, I adored this. Absolutely adored this. I used to write western fanfic oh so long ago, and this was just perfect. The boys just had so much fun. What a romp - thank you!
Corvus Imbrifer
corvus_imbrifer at 2009-05-23 21:27 (UTC) (Link)
How wonderful that you found it! (I don't get much readership, and I really didn't like Season 3 so I don't write much.) And a writer of Westerns, that's quite a compliment then. It isn't my area at all, so it was all quite an adventure to write. Thanks so very much! (You did see the Epilogue and Afterward, didn't you? Some people overlook them.)

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