I didn’t start out intending to take a hiatus.
Well, let me back up, I’m buying a house, managing a massive project at work, and trying to catch up with friends and family after a long pandemic absence, so honestly, I don’t know why I didn’t see a hiatus coming.
Now, if this was just as simple as “I fell behind on the story, but I’m gonna get back to it soon,” then I would probably just post a “pobody’s nerfect” gif and call it a day.
Alas, I never did like to do a thing easy.
You see, it wasn’t just being busy that slowed my progress; I also felt like I lost the spark. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE THESE CHARACTERS (more on that later), but Underworld Family Values was just not flowing.
Behold, my best attempt at articulating the problem:
I didn’t know shite about writing when I started Baking By Death, and by the time I understood the value of outlining and, like, knowing where the hell your story was going and not making promises you can’t keep: it was WAY too late. I made a ton of promises that I only just barely managed to deliver on.
And then I doubled down for book two.
It’s tough to tell a story that doesn’t suit the game’s mechanics or settings. I created this whole insane supernatural world, and being the lunatic I am, I didn’t work with what already existed. Everything from the number of characters to the “god forms” to the special effects was so much work.
I think the part that genuinely undid me was when I trapped Penny and Transmutation inside a “binding spell” and had to painstakingly remove the background from every one of their screenshots.
And listen, maybe I could have pulled it all off, but there was another much bigger problem: I wasn’t having fun.
And the things I planned to put these characters through?
The world is hard. Emotionally, it’s been a fucknut of a year (years?). When I conceived of these characters back in summer 2018/2019, the trauma I wrote into them felt right. But now, three years later, I resent being beholden to it. I love the dark stuff (I mean…have you met me?). I also value humor, fluff, romance, silliness, and long-form dirty jokes. None of that was happening in UFV, at least not for a good long while.
So what does that mean?
(literally Ferosh, please get to the thesis)
Well, once I realized the problem wasn’t just being busy, I started trying to troubleshoot. I went back to my original story notes for BBD, hoping I could just get rid of all the insane stuff—like ending with a massive God War using a game where you can’t invite more than 8 people out to dinner without a cheat.
That didn’t work, so I went back to the story that came before BBD. It had a contemporary setting, a ghost story, Bella Goth as a big-city detective. But Alice and crew ended up being a composite of those other characters (except Bella Goth), so it came out flat when I actually tried writing them.
Do you want to know how long it took me to realize I could just write an Alternate Universe of my own story using characters and relationships that I adore but otherwise feel free to craft a whole new adventure?
Good! Because as someone who already writes fan fiction, I don’t want to tell you!
So that’s what’s happening!
(finally, the thesis. Je-sus Ferosh, get it together)
I wrote a whole new story, the core of which I think can be summed up by this tweet:
I limited myself to six main characters: Vlad, Alice, Anastasia (Miss Hell), Penny, Caleb, and Bella Goth (WRITING BELLA GOTH IS SO MUCH FUN). I’ve tied in a bunch of stuff from my pre-BBD story along with themes I wanted to explore in UFV and so many procedural TV jokes I can’t even.
What else can I tell you without spoiling too much?
Gwendolyn is back as a toddler, Bella Goth is a detective, Caleb is also a (supernatural) detective. His partner is Akira, and Titania shows up constantly to give unsolicited commentary on their cases. Penny writes for the sims version of a tabloid, and Miss Hell is a vampire actress haunted by a ghost. Oh, did I mention she and Vlad were married, Caleb and Lilith are like their adult children, and it was NOT an amicable divorce? William and Morgyn are living out the HEA they deserve in Selvadorada; Alice is a bartender, but also a—
I’m giving too much away.
Anyways, I’ve been keeping this to myself because I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off. But I wrote the first four chapters already, and I’m happy to report that I’ve got my groove back!
I won’t say Underworld Family Values is done forever. Maybe in the future, I will come back to it. Twisted Mexi’s Create-a-world Tool bodes well for my ability to create the fantasy setting I want, but I know in my heart I don’t have time for that learning curve anytime this year.
In the meantime, thank you for sticking with me and for reading my shit. So many of you are talented simlit writers, and I have enjoyed the ever-living heck out of just reading your stories. You give me inspiration. And if I’ve been MIA and lurking, now you know why (besides, you know, the mountain of work and the stress of buying a home which is slowly crushing my spirit).