The working cover for Iron Sharpens Iron, designed by the lovliest of lovelies Rachel Bostwick, was inspired by a blend of art deco and the rigid civilization Caileth was born into. Each corner symbol represents the main characters, and the central floral design is an artistic interpretation of a mountain laurel - the unassuming, yet poisonous flower the smugglers have christened themselves after. But more on characters in an upcoming entry. Let's touch on the title for a beat.
"Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens the face of his neighbor." ~ Proverbs 27:17
Why yes, the title was yoinked from the bible. And no, I'm not all that religious despite spending my fair share of school years in a private school. Nor is my story hiding any subliminal preaching - I just love the verse and the notion of tough love in implies (even if it's inaccurate from a practical standpoint.)
And sure, I incorporated that impracticality into one of the quirks of gnomish magic, but it also applies to the characters, how their personalities were shaped, and how they interact with each other. There's a delicate balance between holding to one's beliefs and being unreasonably stubborn. As the Laurels argue about what to do with Caileth, they must consider what truly makes their dynamic cohesive lest their entire operation fails. Then everyone would go to the Deep Dungeons, boo hiss. No really, I'll get to character spotlights in another post.
The verse is, of course, forever subject to interpretation (as is the source), but generally, "iron sharpens iron" is a positive implication of personal character development. It can translate to almost anything. Want those buns of steel? You'll have to put in the time and effort at the gym. Arguing with a friend? Maybe you need to hear that criticism and take an honest look in the mirror. Were you inspired to up your game after observing an associate? If you're always the smartest, most talented person in the room, are you really improving?
The idea of "iron sharpens iron" might just be the opposite side of the same coin to JFK's "a rising tide lifts all boats" comment. Pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zones is how we become better, wiser versions of ourselves. My goodness, this sounds like a familiar theme in alchemy, which I explored in my Victorian time travel novella. Fancy that.
Iron Sharpens Iron can be read for free on World Anvil's contest page. If you enjoy it, do consider giving it a LIKE, so that it will be considered for their upcoming anthology, as well as a more thorough book deal through Kyanite Publishing. Voting is open until September 21st.
Simplest way to VOTE on IRON SHARPENS IRON!
1. Create account at World Anvil & register (they won't spam your email!)
2. Create My World
3. Click Community (on left), click Challenges.
4. Click "Take Part" on the World Anvil Anthology.
5. Scroll down to find and click on the IRON SHARPENS IRON banner.
6. Click LIKE button at bottom.