In early October 2013, I came across the Authorquest website and had another moment of nostalgia.
The Dark Crystal was a big part of my childhood, as the year it came out, my parents elected to move from Hampshire to Devon. We never really settled and a year later moved back.
I saw the film and had a great booklet with photo stills in it, which I treasured. On reflection, the film was fairly dense stuff at the time, but it had layers, letting you appreciate it as a straight forward quest and struggle of Good verses Evil, or engage on a deeper level.
Later I got the book adaptation by A.C.H. Smith and despite the low page count, fell in love with the ideas all over again. The tight, lyrical prose enhanced my vision of this strange world, with its divided masters.
Over time, I learned more about the film and its production process. I watched Labyrinth some years later, which other friends liked better, but never lost my preference for the world of Skeksis, UrRu and Gelflings.
So, when I found out Jim Henson's daughter was looking for an author to write a prequel and the chosen writer would have a publishing deal with Grosset & Dunlap (a Penguin Imprint no less) it was another of those opportunities I couldn't pass up. At the time, I was finishing a book and editing another, so up to my eyes in work, but I marked the page and re-watched the film. Then left it, hoping some time would open up.
In early December, a friend posted the page up on Facebook, reminding me. I realised I'd have to make the time to get it done, so started work and some proper research.
Turns out, artist and co-creator of Thra, Dark Crystal world, Brian Froud was born in Winchester, the same as I was. It also turned out the conceptual work he and Jim Henson had done on developing this fantasy was far beyond what I'd recalled from childhood. The more I delved, the richer the content became.
The people at the Authorquest website had also been busy and compiled an excellent downloadable guide to Thra and its people. There was some setting information for the story they wanted and some predetermined events that would need to be worked in. All great stuff.
Being me though, I went a bit further and picked up some more books. The big illustrated World of the Dark Crystal had been something I'd owned years ago. I found a nice hardback copy and mined its pages. I re-read A.C.H. Smith, looking at the writing style and little details (terracotta tiles!), all the while shaping up a submission for the competition.
On December 29th, a day or so before the deadline. (Have to think about timezones), I submitted my entry. Eight thousand or so words, knocked together in a few weeks with a decent cliffhanger ending (hopefully).
Through the process, I noted a few other friends were writing for the competition too. In the end, Authorquest announced they'd had around five hundred entries and would be posting the results in March.
Well, best forget about it till then hadn't I?