I’m in the midst of grading and need to refocus for a second (to re-energize my grading battery), so I thought I’d do another series of story notes (the first time was so fun!).
Five Fairy Tales about the End of the World was published at the lovely Gingerbread House Literary. This was part of my undergrad thesis and again connects to the concept of how violence can change a landscape and a place’s sense of history (something I’m particularly interested in regards to folklore). This contains one of my countless reworkings of my favorite folkloric trope (Death and the Doctor/Blessed Child). It also contains the details of the actual thesis I considered working on if I had gone on for a Master’s in Folklore Studies.
Gyromancy, published at Bookanista, was another section of my undergrad thesis. This is a story I feel particularly protective of. I think a lot of what I was trying doesn’t work quite as well as it should, but this is one of the pieces I wrote where I most wanted to crawl into the story and stop what was happening—a feeling I now connect with meaning that I might be writing the characters right. One of the dreams in this story is one of my own.
Sometimes the Scenery is Beautiful, published at Fiction Vortex, went through a lot of revisions before I was published. The key to finally figuring out how to revise this one was when I figured out the device I needed to tell it (it was originally first person just from the perspective of Lucy, and then third person close, and then first mixed with third person “memory” sections, and a few other variations on those). This is another reworking of the Death and the Doctor/ Blessed Child motif). This story was originally titled “Place Nothing on Ground,” after a sign I saw at a recycling plant, and which I think might be a good life philosophy.
So I love story notes when authors give them. I’m the type of person that reads introductions, footnotes, and acknowledgments pages. Thus, for fun (basically my work break today), I’d give some context to some of my stories and poems.
Telling Ghost Stories, published by Nonbinary Review, was written as an ode to one of my favorite types of ghost/fairy stories. It includes one of my favorite jokes I’ve ever made. It also includes weird reinterpretations of three stories I also wrote (A Room for Lost Things—published at Diabolical Plots, Seven Years of Crashing Waves—published at Cartagena, and one that has not yet found its home). Before this came together, though, the images first came to me while walking around UW-Madison’s campus, at night, after a concert with a friend. The place that directly inspired the story no longer exists, which is a kind of ghost story in itself.
Lover, I’ll be Waiting, published by Wyvern Lit, was written as a creative response in one of my favorite classes I’ve taken (the amazing Charo D’Etcheverry’s course on Japanese ghost stories). Each of the retold tales within this piece started with a real tale-type. I think there are something like 30 references in this story. This was the first story I ever read aloud at my MFA program.
The First to Cross the Bridge, published by The Stoneslide Corrective, was the first story I ever wrote in college. The original draft is only 4 pages. It went through something like 12 and a half revisions before being picked up (and at such a wonderful place!). Every one of the italicized sections connects back to another story I wrote. My thesis during undergrad was a collection of interlinked stories about the way that violence changes the way we both consume and tell stories. This was one of what I considered the “holding” stories that linked and looped into the other stories without making direct connections with the main act of the novel. This story also plays on one of my favorite folkloric tale-types. This story is one that means so much to me, for so many different reasons. It also has my first ever textual shoutout to my beloved Pistons. So there’s that, too.
I don’t know if I’ll do these notes again. But it was fun. So maybe?
Today at Nerds of a Feather, I discussed my list of 24 essential SFF books. You can read the list here!
If you’ve been reading this blog for more than a week, than you might well know my love for Colson Whitehead and Nathan Englander.
So this is a double-header of favorites. At Nerds of a Feather, I reviewed Whitehead’s new novel (read it here) and at Ploughshares I discussed my favorite Englander story (read it here).
Just found this old poem, which I think I wrote during my Junior year of college!
An Ode to Something
For the weight of rain as it drenched my clothing
I couldn’t shake that chill for days on end
days I spent thinking that spring was almost here but just not enough to warm me yet. This is for the café where I spent most hours sipping at hot chocolates with shots of espresso in them and the conversations where we talked around our lives, playing
at the edges like children
skirting the banks of the lake. This is to that hill which always felt endless, one day I’ll be a kick-boxing champion because of that hill, one day I’ll hear my knees pop because of that hill, one day I’ll think back on that hill and wonder why I never bothered to check the view when I got to the top. This is for the shadows under the bridge where I
would be telling stories to their friends, hushed voices carrying whispers that fill the heads of dreamers with nightmares of halls that just keep going and doors to rooms that appear from the dark where they weren’t ever supposed to be. This is to the music store where I’d buy CDs to fill my time with sound and the conversations that I’d overhear about guitarists and bandaged hands and vocalists who couldn’t keep track of the beat. This is for
Italian sodas on the way
to work and how the walk has worn my shoes down so that I feel the sidewalk through them and it always feels like I’m walking the footsteps of a thousand other people. This is to the click of a keyboard and that certain tap that the mouse makes when I hit refresh and the page blooms into something else. This is for the way the sky looked and the way the lake patterned out past my vision and became a blur and the way that cafe music always sounds best from right outside the door when I’m going in. This is, finally, to everything that I can’t quite recall with certainty but sits in my memory as some small pieces which one day will come back to
and absolutely, like stones I collected as a child and only find now, years later as I pack and they sit there at the bottom of boxes just waiting for me to pick them back up and place them somewhere new.
At Nerds of a Feather, Flock Together, I reviewed Eric Schaller’s new story collection Meet Me in the Middle of the Air, out from Undertow Publications. You can read my review here!