September has only just begun, and it’s already been a pretty crazy month for me. Right now, four of my short stories have been “released into the wild” and I am just thrilled and amazed and proud and, well, basically jumping up and down with excitement.
As a reader, I love reading author’s story notes that give a bit of background to books and stories, so I thought I’d put together something like that for these four recently published stories.
First up is SCENT – published in the September issue of Flash Fiction Online (I share the TOC with some amazing authors and stories: My Mother’s Death – A Sonnet by John Guzlowski, Muse by Nicola Belte, and Jericho by Joy Kennedy-O’Neill.)
The seed of this dark fantasy story was the memory of my own mother’s perfume hoard. I can remember, as a child, looking at all those beautiful glass bottles, in all different colours and shapes, with their carved stoppers. That sensory memory was what triggered the story. Some stories I have to work at for quite a while before they find their proper shape and tone and vibe, but this one was one of those happy instances when a story appeared in my head and in writing, in pretty much its final state. A dark fairy-tale was what I was going for, and I think that comes across in the finished story.
Btw, if you like the stories you read in Flash Fiction Online, consider buying the issue, subscribing, or supporting them through Patreon.
Next up is TUNGUSKA, 1987 – my contribution to the well-received alternate history anthology ‘Tales From Alternate Earths’ (available now from Amazon).
This story weaves in a lot of my own family history into the tale: there’s a dog called Ajax (my dad had a dog called Ajax when he was a child), and there’s a squirrel hunting grandfather (my grandfather did hunt squirrel), and there’s mention of the northern Swedish village Lappvattnet, which is also part of my paternal grandparents’ history. For more on this story, check out the interview I did with Quiet Fury Books, and the author spotlight at SciFi Roundtable.
Finally, the most recent release (yeah, this has been a busy month!): my two stories in the new anthology ‘People Are Strange’ (available from Amazon). This is the fifth book in The Mind’s Eye Series, and the concept is that each poem and short story is inspired by an accompanying photograph. It’s a fantastic collection of prose and poetry and photography, and I was so happy when I was approached to be part of it.
LONG AS I CAN SEE THE LIGHT is a science fiction tale (kind of a psychological scifi thriller/horror story) about a man who survives a mysterious alien invasion of Earth. Like ‘Tunguska, 1987’, this story also touches on the problems with Utopias (it seems I’m very suspicious of Utopias… maybe that’s partly due to reading a lot of George Orwell: he didn’t trust them much either!). The story is set in and around Vancouver, which is where I live and I really enjoyed placing it so close to home. The Downtown East Side is featured, and so is Coal Harbour, and Stanley Park. Friendship, suspicion, fear, guilt – all these things haunt the main character of this story, and it was a blast to write. I wrote it last year it has a special place in my heart because it was one of the first stories I wrote that really set off my current wave of creativity.
My second story in ‘People Are Strange’ is THE BREAKING OF THE WORLD. This one was so much fun to write that I was worried it came too easy… It’s a bit of a romp, I guess, and it’s heavily inspired by my love for MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games). Through the years, I’ve played Ultima Online, Everquest (1 and 2), World Of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, Dark Age of Camelot, Asheron’s Call… and so on, and so forth. (Currently, I’m only active in GuildWars 2.) For the most part, ‘The Breaking of the World’ is a straight-up adventure / fantasy tale with a healer, a caster, a ranger, a few warriors, and a druid – all getting together to fight some monsters. And yes, maybe that’s not all it is…but that’s how it begins!
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