The first version of this one was one of the first stories I wrote. My original concept was to tell the story around Mitochondrial Eve, the woman who all living humans are descended from. She must have been fairly prominent in her society to give her gene line the sort of head start it must have needed to squeeze out all the others, and I started from the assumption that prehistoric politics was as dishonest as modern politics, albeit with a bit more head splitting. To emphasise the point, I put her in an oppressively patriarchal society that she would have to deceive and manipulate her way to the top of.
I don’t think the concept was terrible, but the story was. I can only thank my lucky stars that I realised how awful before showing it to too many people. I left the story to sink into the obscurity it deserved, but the character I’d drawn up for Eve wouldn’t let me go. It must have been two or three years after I’d first given up on her that a post-apocalyptic novel stirred the thoughts I needed to bring her back into the light. I think it may have been David Brin’s The Postman but I’m not sure.
I was living in Scotland at the time and as I looked around, I saw a much better setting for a post-apocalyptic society than anywhere to be found in the USA. The countryside was littered with castles and forts built for the sort of tribal squabbling that forms the basis of so much post-apocalyptic fiction. I don’t mean post-apocalyptic fiction set in Scotland is automatically superior to post-apocalyptic fiction anywhere else, just that the environment was already shaped for the needs of the hostile tribes that populate so much post-apocalyptic fiction.
Eve was reborn into a future where, instead of becoming the ancestor of humanity on the rise, she joined humanity in terminal decline.
Of the other ideas went into the story, one that sticks in mind was a comment by a friend on a picture of a Celtic engraving of a woman holding her vagina open. It was captioned as a fertility goddess. My friend said one day, archaeologists will excavate a stack of pornographic magazines and being unable to read the captions, conclude that they were the artefacts of a fertility cult. It was such a pertinent observation that I had to use it.
Rainfire by Night was published in the Warrior Wisewoman 2 anthology.
Cover by Manda Benson.