Somewhat paradoxically, the inspiration for my story in an anthology about the persistence of women was my son. He’s a software engineer and a long-time gamer, originally of card-based games like Magic: the Gathering and later of on-line MMO RPGs (that’s Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games, by the way) like World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, Path of Exile, and Final Fantasy 14. Both experiences, professional and recreational, have been eye-opening for a nice kid who grew up with a lot of strong women in his life and a dad who respects those women…especially when he chooses to play a female character in an on-line game.
It was talking with him about how female players are treated (and mistreated) in the gaming world, both during play and in the margins around direct play, that inspired this story—that and my eternal obsession with the social culture and dynamics of early 19th century England. Gaming (or gambling) was a major obsession for a lot of the aristocracy, so it was a short step for me to start noodling about what form a role-playing game might take in 1818…and what might happen if a girl had been taught to play that game by her brothers, just as my son taught his younger sisters to play RPGs.
From there, of course, it was just sheer catnip to write.
One of the other things I took the most pleasure in was finding a name for this story, because titles are usually a struggle for me (understatement of the week.) Alea Iacta Est works well on multiple levels, with the literal meaning of casting dice as well as the figurative one of making an irrevocable decision, as Jane Wetherby does when she steps forward to take her brother’s place at Hatton’s to play The Game.
I hope you’ll enjoy it and all the other tales of women’s persistence in Nevertheless, She Persisted.