Okay, so I mentioned there was a new writing project marinating in my head. It’s actually been marinating for quite a long time. Since 2013, actually.
I was listening to the What You Missed In History Class podcast, and this particular episode was about the Chesapeake Bay Oyster Wars. It’s an interesting episode and I recommend listening to it, but here’s the quick digest. Oysters were an important part of the food supply for in the Northeast after the civil war, but people took too much and left too little so the oyster population plummeted. And as these things usually go when demand is high and supplies are low, people fought and crime rose. States struggled to keep neighboring states from fishing oysters in their waters. And thus followed oyster pirates.
Oyster. Pirates. Let the ridiculousness of that sink in. OYSTER PIRATES.
But it gets even better. Some poor schmuck got assigned as commander of Maryland’s newly instituted—get this—State Oyster Police in 1868. (Fun fact, that oyster police force got renamed multiple times and eventually became today’s Maryland Natural Resources Police. It is the state’s oldest police force and the 5th oldest police force in the country!)
But back to our commander of the oyster police. I mean, how embarrassing, am I right? And not only does it sound completely inane, he was assigned this position with no significant support or resources. So it was literally just him riding a decrepit little tugboat against all of the oyster pirates in their fancy ships. Who did he piss off to get assigned this suicide mission?
This whole story grabbed me from the moment I heard it. It’s got tension, suspense, humor, and a certain degree of hopelessness, does it not? And I realize that’s what attracted me to this story, the hopelessness of it all from the oyster police’s point of view. It’s the perfect setup for an underdog story!
So that’s where I started in May, with nothing but the nugget of an idea: a retelling of the Chesapeake Oyster War in space. In space, you wonder? HECK YEAH! Everything is better IN SPACE, including a story about oysters, obviously. It only makes sense! And while I’m at it, let’s add an all-girl space oyster police crew, because HECK YEAH! It’d be just them against all of space. And right there I found my working title: JUST US AGAINST ALL OF SPACE.
This is how normal people make decisions, right? By brainstorming and then picking whatever idea makes them go “HECK YEAH,” right? Right?!
Anyway, that’s what I’ve been doing for the last couple of weeks. Just obsessively brainstorming 24/7 and having people wonder if I’m okay because I always seem kind of distracted and lost. Oh sorry, I’m in space aboard a decrepit ship with six 13 year old misfit girls who were assigned, more or less as a direct punishment for various infractions, on this hopeless mission to fix the space-oyster piracy problem on Europa. Will the power of their budding friendship and their combined grit be enough to save them against all of space?
Yeah, I’m totally sane.