TS Porter is a tiny geek frequently mistaken for a collection of knobbly twigs wearing glasses. When not sleeping, they are usually found obsessively writing or baking sweet delicacies. TS’ physical location and momentum varies, but home is always online. They can be found at ts-porter.tumblr.com or on twitter @TSPorterAuthor
TS wrote “Gods’ Blood Rubies” in issue 3 of Vulture Bones. Below is an interview about their story.
The tension throughout “Gods’ Blood Rubies” is so thick. It felt like watching a really good horror movie—I was just waiting for Azulai and Fonn to find whatever it was they were looking for but wait don’t it’s going to get yoooouuuuu!! Also, the image of an immensely powerful thing, buried and bleeding precious gems, is so otherworldy. Can you talk a little bit about how this story came to be?
I’m so glad you enjoyed the tension! It was a lot of fun to write.
This story was very strongly inspired by the worldbuilding in Ursula Vernon’s amazing webcomic Digger. The concept of very old magical things becoming a part of the geological process is just brilliant. Planet Earth is old, and if our fantasy world is also old and subject to the same natural laws as well as the laws of magic, that opens up realms of possibility. The blood of a god crystallizing into beautiful rubies is just the tip of the iceberg!
I was also inspired by my love of dwarves. They tend to get a bad rap in fantasy, and rather than getting into the Deep Tolkien Lore and boring everyone to death, I’ll just say: dwarves are engineers. They must be, to mine and craft and build as they do, and they must have good problem-solving skills. If there are dangerous things down in the depths of the earth, they’ll figure out how to deal with that. It becomes yet another facet of basic mine safety. I wanted to write a story celebrating dwarves, rather than positioning them as a cautionary tale or the butt of a joke.
Lastly, I’d say I was definitely inspired by the hoaxes where people claim to find living frogs that have grown inside geodes. Clearly that’s impossible, in our mundane world, but if there was magic some lost tadpole could feed on…
So much of “Gods’ Blood Rubies” works because there is such a richness in its worldbuilding. In reading it, there is a feeling of the breadth of Azulai’s world—that there are elves, and that the elves have a different approach to handling the forces of magic, that there are different economic strata of the miners and that forces them to handle the dangers inherent in mining differently—that is hinted at but not fully developed. If there was one background detail in this story that you could dig into more, what would it be and why?
Mine Song, probably. I love the idea of it as its own wordless language, that the miners speak to each other all day as they work. It lets them all keep in touch with each other, even if they’re out of sight. That the dwarves make sure to carve their mines so even a hum carries through them perfectly, rather than only going after whatever ore they’re mining, is just another example of their love of art and beauty.
Also, if you happen to be mining things with untamed magical power whose properties you don’t understand, spoken words might have effects you were not planning on. A wordless language is a sensible precaution, even if you can’t communicate much detail with it.
Where can people find more of your work? What’s coming next?
My tumblr is a great place to find more of my work. My publications page is always up to date, and I post short fiction pretty regularly to my ‘free reads’ tag as well, if you want to get more of a taste of my writing.