Jennie Del Mastro on Crossed Spaces

Posted by Rhiza Edge on 11th May 2021

Jennie Del Mastro on Crossed Spaces

Light Club

For Crossed Spaces

Light Club came from a random image in my mind: a burning candle inside someone’s chest. I played with the idea, imagining how it could work, and what it would mean. A dark, cold world grew around the light, somewhere so bleak that the bare idea of warmth and beauty would be almost irresistible. At the same time, Linton’s character began to develop, with his yearning to belong and his unforgettable visions. But other characters needed to see things differently, so the club formed, and Ages crept out of the shadows.

Light Club was in an early draft form when I saw that Rhiza Edge was looking for stories for Crossed Spaces, a sci fi and fantasy anthology. I started to polish the story and tried to make the speculative elements more believable and tangible, by adding features and scenes that belonged to real life. One of these was the club’s hand slap game.

I played the hand slap game with my kids when they were younger, in queues and airports and cars. It creates a friendly, cosy little space where everyone belongs; it can keep a group entertained for hours; and it needs no cards, dice or equipment of any kind. But like most games, it also has the potential to be abused, with opportunities for ostracism and power trips. When I was writing, I remembered the game and realised it was perfect for the empty, lonely world of Light Club, where there’s nothing to do and nowhere to go, and everything seems to revolve around being part of the club.

I’m reluctant to talk about Ages, lest I give too much away. But I’m curious about whether readers find it easy to see who and what he is. It seemed inevitable to me that he would turn up once Linton left other people behind.