Pankea is a world decades in the making, and parts of it still evolve and expand to this day. The world began back when I was thirteen. Back then it was just Quaz City plus a few surrounding cities and towns in a nation called the Land of Quaz, and the cast of characters began, like most such worlds, with the usual archetypes. But in time the world expanded and began to take on a life and personality all its own: its own history, its own cultures, its own unique monsters (such as the vintervolgs, gorlaks, and the Bloodstone Skeletons). And even the “stock” races evolved over time. The magic system had to get retconned once I introduced the Barrier, the Mystic Field, and the possibility of spells going awry or “backlashing.”
At around the age of 15, I had this bright idea that maybe, just maybe, I could write short stories and novels set within that world, and perhaps actually sell them. By 25 I gave up on that notion and started creating other worlds to write in, often developing such worlds at the spur of the moment. While I like all my stories, the worlds that were not Pankea never felt as familiar, as intimate, as my first fantasy world. For one, none of those worlds had a poster-sized map of themselves hanging on my wall (which a cat, who shall remain nameless, later tore down and pissed on, so I had to throw it away). Ironically, my first published short story, “Treecutter,” was set in Pankea at a time before the Great Catastophe forced the Archaians, Hamadans, Vangaardians, and the other non-natives to migrate to the continent-sized island. Later published stories were all set in the current Pankea timeline (around the 1014th year since the birth of Arcus Dragonslayer, or “A.D.”).
When the idea for the Gifts of the Magi anthology was brought to my attention, I was excited. An anthology themed around series? WOOT! And a charity anthology at that? Double WOOT! But the majority of the writers were writing stories based on their novel series, and I’ve yet to have a novel published. Would the editors be okay with a story set in the same world as my other separate but related short stories?
The answer was yes.
So now all I had to do was come up with a Christmas-themed story in a world with no Christmas. But Pankea does have a Winter Solstice celebration. Indeed, Pankea has a lot of holidays, especially in Quaz.
I woke up one morning with the idea of an evil, demon-possessed snowman rampaging through the streets. But the streets of what city? And who would the protagonists be? Eventually I decided the location would be in Raka, the “capital” (and only dwelling) in Wizardreach—a semi-autonomous outpost under the protection of the Land of Quaz, much like Necro and Elvawood Manor. In this way I could provide cameo appearances of three characters who often get mentioned but have never yet appeared in my short stories and trilogy-in-progress: Chancellor Rakeem, Archwizard and Lord of Wizardreach; High Enchantress Larana, Lady of Wizardreach; and General Thalas son of Thorus, Descendent of Arcus (whose great grandfather was the protagonist in my story “Shilak’s Gift”).
Naturally, the protags would be Arnelda Verina and Roland Fornebank, who have an established history with the above characters back when they all adventured together. Also, any story with those two in it is guaranteed to end up with hilarious hijinks and general fun-filled chaos. And I wanted this story to be fun.
That is how “Freezy the Snow Demon” developed for the anthology, Gifts of the Magi, to benefit Indy Reads, making this the first story I’ve written for a charity benefit to a worthy cause. I hope you enjoy my story and all the other awesome stories in it.