Mild spoilers for Chasing Crows Chapter 3.
You might want to read the chapter before you read the blog about it.
You could say that Morrison is the one that convinced me to write this book. The idea for the original 19 Crows book was cool and all, but when I started to write it I found that it was way too uncomfortable to write a story that felt so close to what was going on in the real world. In fact, the next project I started to work on had the same problem. I started writing a thing, and then some of the bad stuff I had written in my story started happening in the real world.
In both cases it wasn't any big surprise that the things I was writing were coming true because it was current events that made me think of the stories in the first place, but I had somehow thought that our reality wasn't going to follow the worst parts of my fictional storylines. I turned some of the useful lessons from that second story project into a talk at HOPE this past July. But the characters from the 19 Crows project just kind of stuck around in my head, evolving in new ways as characters are wont to do when you don't actually write their stories.
Eventually, I decided that these characters needed an outlet and that writing the story as if it were fan fiction about the original book would provide me a comfortable buffer between any unreasonable badness in that other world and whatever is going on in this world. Instead of accidentally predicting the path of terrible legislation, mobs of White supremacists, and court decisions that turn back human rights in the US in our world I'd just follow the path of what's really happening here as it happens while I'm writing and process that through this relationship with people who have already won some important battles against much worse in their own world.
So, what does that have to do with Morrison, right? Well, as I turned my ideas over and over in my head, two different authors came to mind. One was Ursula K. Le Guin and her admonition to write about worlds that we'd like to see rather than about dystopias we would like to avoid. The other was Grant Morrison who once gave a now famous talk at the Disinfo Con in 2000 about magick. Among other things that they discussed in that talk was an admission that The Invisibles was a longform sigil to do magick in their own life, and tales about how the events in his graphic novel came true -- for good and for bad. So, my sorcerer character got a new name. He's Dr. Stephen as both a hat tip to Marvel's Doctor Strange comic books as well as a critique of Marvel's Sorcerer Supreme. But he's Morrison in recognition of the fact that storytelling is a kind of magic(k), whether you mean it to be or not. In this case, I do mean it to be exactly that.
One layer of that magic is self-therapy. Again, this is something that lots of writers acknowledge that they are doing when they write stories. Writing a story with a self-insert character is a way to engage in a bit of fantasy fulfillment, and it's also a way to process things that are going on in your head. I'm processing how I feel about the political environment in my country and in the world around me. I'm processing how I feel about the last few years of my life. I'm processing how I feel about the future. I'm wrestling with the loneliness and isolation of being in a small town where I had a pretty limited social life even before the pandemic hit. I'm contemplating my own gender transition and how that affects any potential for future romantic relationships. There's a lot there. And, and, and!!! I'm also having fun in this fictional world as I create the story itself.
The day that I wrote chapter 3 of Chasing Crows I went through a lot of emotional ups and downs. I got very personal and very vulnerable in my conversation with Morrison. I had to go back several times to edit out bits that I didn't want to share with the rest of the world, but the act of writing that conversation was really powerful for me. When I was done with the chapter, I realized that what I'd just done internally was have a conversation with myself in which I allowed myself to give loving support to myself. Morrison isn't a self-insert, but writing his words and his attitude toward Uriel was absolutely an act of self love and self care.
I almost edited this whole chapter out of the book, because it felt like maybe this relationship thing went too fast. Maybe I should leave some tension in their relationship for a while? But then I thought, no. I HATE that kind of thing, especially when it drags out for ages. I dislike the feeling of having a crush on someone and not being sure if they feel the same or not, and my distaste for watching other people going through that experience in fiction is equally strong. Why should I do that to myself (and to Morrison!) when these two characters have a currently active telepathic connection that would plainly give away the fact to at least one of the two that there is a mutual attraction here. And also... I'm writing a fantasy story here. I can just enjoy the new relationship energy between Uriel and Morrison.
Of course, there's more to the story, and this relationship turns out to be beneficial to the overall narrative for more reasons coming down the pike. No spoilers, though. You'll see it when you see it.