Dawn Vogel is one of those people who seems unassuming and sweet. Then you see the catnip eyeballs she’s created or read something she’s written, and know she’s anything but. I very much enjoy every time we meetup.
Cross and Circle all started with a strange quote I found:
“Please inform me how many cars have now been marked with the cross on top or with the circle.”
This was in an actual memo from 1946. I know that it was some employee within the Bureau of Indian Affairs asking another BIA employee about goings-on on a southwestern reservation, but I didn’t record any more details than the quote and the year. Something about the quote struck me as odd, just the sort of thing that would make a good story seed. So it sat on my phone, in the notes, for a good long while.
I also wrote a little character description, possibly around the same time that I found this quote. It described an older gentleman I saw out and about, who had the sort of wrinkled, suntanned skin that told a story all its own. I didn’t originally connect these two pieces, but I dutifully added this character description to the pile of notes on my phone.
It took a while before I found the final piece that would turn these disparate ideas into an actual story, but at some point afterward, I read something about pecked crosses, which are a common petroglyph found in parts of the American Southwest, as well as in Mexico and points farther south. They can be found all over the world, though they’re sometimes called sun crosses or any number of other names. And with these three pieces in place, the rest of the idea clicked.
At first, I thought it would be a short story. But when my beta readers got to the end of the early drafts, they weren’t satisfied by the ending. And neither was I, when it came down to it. So I poked at the pieces a little bit more, and wound up with a REALLY long story—one that had reached a point of unwieldiness that went from “short story” firmly into “novelette” territory. This made it a hard sell for most magazines, who often set their upper limit for word count around 8,000 or 10,000 words, so I eventually settled on self-publishing it.
The story got a few more rounds of edits, and a new final scene, before it was really done. But I wound up pleased with what this one unusual quote, the older gentleman, and a random piece of information had spawned.
Bio: Dawn Vogel writes and edits both fiction and non-fiction. Her academic background is in history, so it’s not surprising that much of her fiction is set in earlier times. By day, she edits reports for historians and archaeologists. In her alleged spare time, she runs a craft business, co-edits Mad Scientist Journal, and tries to find time for writing. She is a member of Broad Universe and an associate member of SFWA. Her first novel, Brass and Glass: The Cask of Cranglimmering, is available from Razorgirl Press. She lives in Seattle with her awesome husband (and fellow author), Jeremy Zimmerman, and their herd of cats. Visit her at historythatneverwas.com, or follow her on Twitter @historyneverwas.