Sometimes a song plants the seed of a story in my mind. My earliest example is a songfic (in the “lyrics interspersed with prose” style of the early 2000s) for The Matrix set to When Tomorrow Comes by The Eurythmics. It’s lost to a dead hard drive from before I thought to back up my writing. My most recent song-inspired plotbunny (which I may never write) is a character study of Victor of Yuri!!! On Ice experiencing depersonalization, based on Billie Eilish’s disturbing Bury a Friend.
World Behind and Home Ahead, my contribution to Queer Sci Fi’s Migration anthology, is not a story born from a song. But several songs came to mind when I was editing and trying to decide on a title. Story titles that are excerpts from lyrics are something I’d seen a lot of recently and I liked the idea, especially because I find coming up with original title ideas difficult.
At first I tried to find something suitable from Christina Perri’s A Thousand Years. But though the song is lovely, it didn’t really make me think of my lady gays beyond a few concepts (being brave in part for someone else’s sake, undying devotion). And I didn’t like any of the lyrics for a title (One Step Closer was the closest and I didn’t feel it fit well enough).
A song that felt more thematically in line with the story was One Foot by Walk the Moon. I could envision my lady gays embodying the song’s characters, and my narrator being the song’s narrator, when I heard it a few days into edits (I took many more days editing than writing partly because I had many betas, partly because I needed a title and was indecisive). The song felt like it fit my characters fairly literally, even with the song’s characters being implied as a M/F couple, with the singer being male and referring to himself being king and his love being queen. My narrator is the kind of lady who cares little for traditional gender roles, so I doubt she’d mind being referred to as a king or queen! This song became a sort of anthem for the story, and I listened to it many times when finishing up edits and beyond.
But though the concepts (“us against the world” mentality, having each other’s backs, hearts/love protecting from loneliness/wilderness, one step at a time) fit the story I was telling, none stood out to me as a title.
I don’t recall what made me think of the line “home behind and world ahead” from a Tolkien poem/song (probably thinking of my bestie Grace Duncan sometimes using song lyrics as titles and being a major LoTR fan), but I remember having a eureka moment and looking it up to see if the opposite direction of travel was also in the song. It was. And as my narrator is traveling through the unwelcoming world to her new home with her lady love, “world behind and home ahead” became the title. Amusingly enough though, I haven’t listened to the song version of the poem since writing the story!
I hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes peek at the songs behind my lady gays!
Here’s more info about the anthology this story appears in, and where you can get a copy:
1) Seasonal movement of animals from one region to another.
2) Movement of people to a new area or country in order to find work or better living conditions.
3) Movement from one part of something to another.
Three definitions to inspire writers around the world and an unlimited number of possible stories to tell. Here are 120 of our favorites.
Migration feaures 300 word speculative flash fiction stories from across the rainbow spectrum,
About Queer Sci Fi Flash Fiction:
Every year, Queer Sci Fi solicits stories around a one-word theme. We receive hundreds of entries with almost as many possible interpretations, and we choose some of the best for this annual anthology. Migration is book five in this anthology series.
Where to find Migration:
Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TX2WMXQ
Amazon Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1732307563
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/migration-j-scott-coatsworth/1132393683;jsessionid=E570B49A0E713D6F306BCAB9F9760EB4.prodny_store01-atgap10
QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/book/migration/