Welcome to what appears to be the official Rich Niro issue of DargonZine. Rich had been with us for five years when he left the group this past September. During that time he printed three stories: “The Target that Eludes Me”, “Spine”, and “Touching Ol”, a story he completed when its original author and Rich’s close friend, Victor Cardoso, left the project for a while.
However, having attended the 2003 Dargon Writers’ Summit, Rich was also involved in the Black Idol story arc that we’re currently printing. Although he’s no longer an active DargonZine writer, this issue includes two of the Black Idol stories that he worked on.
The first is “Echoes off the Stone”. Back in 2003, when we divvied up the arc stories, Rich agreed to write the pivotal story where the barge carrying the cursed idol of Gow arrived in Dargon. Although Nick Wansbutter added some finishing touches to get it ready for printing, Echoes was largely as you see it here when Rich left the project.
The three-chapter “Out of the Rubble” has a more complex history. It began life as P. Atchley’s arc story, a tale about Sian Allyn and her adoptive children that showed the human side of Dargon after the barge’s arrival. In fact, this first chapter is primarily Ms. Atchley’s work. However, during a brief hiatus from the group, she turned the story over to Rich, who added the healer’s plot that will appear in part two. The final chapter they wrote together, after Ms. Atchley had returned.
However, both she and Rich had to leave the group before the stories were completed. At that point, Dave Fallon stepped in, whose “Lost Opportunity 1″ you saw earlier in the arc. Because of that, “Out of the Rubble” is the first (but definitely not the last) story in DargonZine’s long history to have three authors in its byline.
Despite the number of times its authorship changed hands, I think you’ll find it to be among the best stories in the whole Black Idol series. It also illustrates how cooperative the arc has been, and how far we’ve come since the 90′s Beinison War, when the magazine struggled for years to recover when two key writers left the group before that arc was completed.
Life events sometimes make it difficult for people to participate in Dargon’s writing project. Rich is a teacher, which leaves very little time for pursuits such as writing. This year he also became head coach of his school’s track team, which placed even more demands on his time. As if that wasn’t enough, this summer he and his wife moved to a new house and also just had their first baby boy. Things are pretty hectic in the Niro household, which is why he left the group, but we all wish him well.
Oddly, it’s been that kind of year for many of our writers. Jon Evans stepped down from the Assistant Editor role after getting married and buying a new house, and his first child is due to arrive any day now. Ironically, Liam Donahue, who became Assistant Editor when Jon stepped down, has also gotten married and bought a new house! Nick Wansbutter got married and is expecting his first baby; Trey Holliday, one of our promising new writers, got engaged; Jim Owens and Rena Deutsch have also both bought new houses; and several folks have new jobs.
It’s undoubtedly trite to say that our writers are a family, but in many ways it’s true. It’s difficult to work so closely together without forming some kind of emotional bond with other people, and our annual Writers’ Summits really cement those friendships into deep, lasting relationships. Looking back on 2005, our group has a lot to celebrate, both within the magazine and without. So congrats and best wishes to Rich Niro, to all our writers, and to our readers as well, as we continue the Black Idol story arc and celebrate the end of an amazing 21st year of bringing you fiction on the Internet.