Story notes for “It Begins in the Garden” & “Three Pieces of Gold, Three Pieces of Silver”

It’s been a busy time, lately. In the last couple of weeks, four of my stories have been released into the wild:

Here, I’m sharing story-notes for two of those stories.


I originally wrote “It Begins in the Garden” in 2016. It took a while to find a home, and it took a while for me to shape it just right, but here it is, out in the world 2 years later, which is kind of trippy.

It’s a story about two girls and the very peculiar ladybugs they find in the garden.

This story has two main points of inspiration. First, Ray Bradbury’s short story “Boys! Raise Giant Mushrooms in Your Cellar” from the short story collection The Machineries of Joy. I love Ray Bradbury, and this story and Machineries is one of my favourites of his many short story collections. It was probably one of the earliest science fiction short stories I ever read, since my dad had this collection at home when I grew up. What stuck with me right from the beginning, was the creeping sense of wrongness, of people changing in almost imperceptible ways as they are being invaded without even realizing it. That’s one of the things I wanted to capture in the story, that Bradbury-esque thing of childhood being warped by something weird and ominous.

The second inspiration for this story was a really strong childhood memory of playing with some neighbourhood kids and building a dirt-enclosure for some ladybugs outside the apartment building I lived in way back when. I was maybe five or so when this happened, maybe younger?, but the memory of it is very strong. The sun, the dirt, the ladybugs, how focused I was on building the walls…

Writing this story, I really wanted to go for a “quiet weirdness” vibe, and I hope I at least got close to that.

Aliterate is a biannual print journal dedicated to “literary genre fiction”, and you can support them on Patreon, or by buying issues of the zine.


I wrote “Three Pieces of Gold, Three Pieces of Silver” earlier this year, specifically for the “Heroines” anthology submission call. I was so happy it was accepted, because I loved the theme – women and re-imagined fairytales.

Sometimes I see a submission call, and a story or character just pops into my head. That was the case this time, and the idea turned into a story about a mother and her three grown daughters who have to leave their home when the war approaches. It’s a story about sacrifice, and what we are willing to give up to save the people we love. It’s a story about refugees, about giving up your treasures one by one in order to stay alive, and it’s about what you’re left with in the end.

I can’t quite explain where this story or the main character, Alma, the mother, came from, but the story arrived quite forcefully with this opening line:

The day Alma hears that the War has devoured her husband, she knows it’s past time to leave the village. In all her lifetimes, she has never stayed this long in one place, and she hopes it’s not too late to make it safely to the coast and find passage across the sea.

Heroines: an anthology of short fiction and poetry is available via Neo-Perennial Press: buy the book.

(The ladybug photo is via Wikimedia Commons.)

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