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Bone Shop is a free, serialized online novella by T.A. Pratt, supported by donations from readers. Pay whatever you like.

If you like this story, visit to learn about the novel series.

Notes for Chapter Two

So how does one go about writing several scenes that involve an underage girl working in a topless bar?

Very carefully.

One avoids describing the exposed boobs in any level of detail, for one thing. One acknowledges the fact of the situation without trying to wring titillation out of the scenes. And one has a good reason for writing about an underage girl working in a strip club.

For one thing, it's an established part of the series continuity, as mentioned in a couple of places in the existing books, that Marla worked at a topless bar in Felport before she got into magic. So I couldn't change that. Moreover, that bar is the place where she met her mentor, Artie Mann -- and there's a reason he hangs out in places full of naked women. I mean, beyond the obvious reasons. There's a magic-related reason. As shall be revealed in Chapter 3.

Artie Mann was first mentioned in my short story "Haruspex" -- the first ever Marla story, published in a now-defunct webzine, and not available to be read anywhere at all, except maybe through poking around on the Wayback Machine. Nor do I expect to ever reprint it. Don't be sad. You aren't really missing much. I'm going to have to recount all the events of "Haruspex" in the course of this novella, anyway, since it was a formative part of Marla's development, though I doubt I'll use more than a few lines of the original novelette. The tone of "Haruspex" was definitely more gritty horror than anything else: brutal, joyless, and violent. The new depiction of those events, coming in a few chapters, will be brutal, funny, and violent instead. More snark, less brooding.

Artie Mann was... offscreen, let's say... for most of "Haruspex". I know a lot about the guy, but have never actually written any scenes involving him before, so it's very fun seeing what he says and does. He's crude, but he's got a certain style. That business with the magic cigar; that was pretty cool.

Back to Chapter 2

T.A. Pratt lives in Oakland, CA, and works as an editor for a trade publishing magazine.