My divorce came into effect at 9:15 in the morning on June 12, 2003.
But that's not what the anniversary's about, don't worry.
At a bit of a loose end creatively, I decided to start writing again.
I've always enjoyed writing as a pastime, and have managed to publish three science fiction novels with the help of an electronic publisher. In retrospect, I should upgrade that from 'pastime' to 'hobby;' as George Carlin pointed out, the difference is that hobbies cost money.
Anyway, a friend had directed me to several stories on the Internet that were Furry Fiction. For the uninitiated, furry (or anthropomorphic) fiction involves writing where the human characters are replaced by humanoid animals. Bugs Bunny's an example.
I ran across an anthology website called Spontoon Island, set in the Northern Pacific region of an alternate Earth. The historical setting was the mid- to late 1930s. After making contact with the site moderator, I started a story titled Luck of the Dragon.
Luck of the Dragon is the story of a Chinese family who, cut off from their home and the extended clan wiped out by the local warlord in 1929, turn to crime in order to survive and settle down in a pirate haven (roughly analogous to that libertarian paradise, Mogadishu, Somalia). Adding a bit of a twist to things, I made the principal characters (the Ni Family) red pandas, arguably among the cutest-looking animals on our planet.
There are five members of the family; the father and mother were both indemnity students, sent to study abroad after the Boxer Rebellion. The father attended the University of Illinois, and is in charge of both sides of the family business (the legitimate and the criminal). His wife operates the Lucky Dragon, a combination gambling den and brothel.
The oldest son is married - to a native girl, which caused the parents a lot of concern. He stands to inherit the business. His younger sister is an amoral twenty-something who's widely suspected as a sneak thief, pickpocket, and cheater at cards. She married a fellow who her parents disapproved of as being 'not quite properly Chinese;' i.e., he's a Manchurian tiger.
The youngest child of the family is the muscle of the group. Nineteen years old, he's a cold little psychopath who's managed to kill nearly two dozen people since his twelfth birthday.
When I started writing this story, I didn't expect it to go beyond ten chapters.
How wrong I was. Luck of the Dragon now runs to 188 chapters, along with several standalone and branching stories.
And no end in sight.
So if you need a bit of escapist alternate earth world-building, complete with funny animals, seaplanes, and anarcho-syndicalist military forces, stop by Spontoon Island.