New story day! Or, well, new story day was several days ago, but I am Highly Disorganized and was waiting on some stuff.
The story is called ‘The Moving Stars’ and is up on the Drabblecast! I was solicited by one of the editors a few months ago, which was as exciting as anything, because it is only the second time in my entire writing career (of uh, three years and a bit) that I’ve been solicited for new fiction. (More on the first one in a bit.)
I wrote the story based partly on ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ (which I had recently re-read) as well as ‘The Bad Seed’ (which I had recently read for the first time). The two stories have very different tones and themes, but there’s something about them — something about motherhood and associated expectations, something about the ways patriarchy can be subtle as well as blatant — that spoke to me as well as (I thought) to each other.
I thought: It’s one thing if you think there might be something wrong with a woman. It’s another to think there might be something wrong with a mother. Then, suddenly, it becomes an entirely different bag of worms.* First, it has to be established beyond a shadow of a doubt that there’s really something wrong; then of course, you have to protect the child first and foremost; and finally, maybe, the mother might be helped.
So it became a case of Sally insisting that her baby was unusual, special somehow, but in the story not making it entirely clear (despite the insistence of an editor — not mine, I think, but someone else) that the baby might or might not be. The only indicators could be things that could be completely innocent. Unusually coloured eyes (but what colour were her grandparents’ eyes?) or lack of crying (well, how much do babies usually cry?) or things like that. Sally might be desperately grasping for straws to prove that she’s not really losing her mind; or the baby might really be special somehow. To the doctors and her husband, her word is not enough. Cannot be enough: she’s probably hysterical, she needs to be separated from the baby before something (God forbid!) happens to the poor little thing. I changed the ending a couple of times but in the end it was very much a case of ‘Can I do this to her?’ and discovering that I could not (so maybe I avoided a literary ending, but I got the ending I wanted).
Anyway, the story went up, and I listened with great excitement before realizing that… several sentences were missing entire clauses, and my bio was wrong on the page, and the wrong version of the story had been put up, and the wrong excerpt. So I contacted the editor, and they fixed the bio, but not the excerpt, and then eventually the correct (I think) version of the story went up, but formatted all wrong, and with essential italics and even sentences missing, and the audio was still wrong, and now I’m just like… fuck it, whatever, I’m not excited any more. I’m disappointed. I wanted to like it (the voice actress is amazing) and I worked hard on the story, but whatever. Bleh. I didn’t even yell about it on Twitter and no one else did either.
I spend a lot of time saying “I don’t care if anyone reads my stuff; I just want to get paid,” so this was a good opportunity to find out whether it’s true or not. (Results so far: It’s somewhat true. Not 100% and not 0%.) So yeah. Check it out if you want. It’s probably still not the version I wrote, but I don’t care any more. Maybe I will put the correct version up on Curious Fiction at some point or something.
Then, excitingly! (And accurately!) There was a tiny announcement about ‘The Secret Guide to Fighting Elder Gods,’ an anthology edited by Jennifer Brozek, in which I also have a story! It was solicited in early 2016 and turned in sometime in 2017 (!!!!), so it was fun to re-read the story in proofs late last year and be like “WTF, who wrote this” because my writing has changed so much. To me, though, the really interesting thing is that it’s in the same universe as several other stories, and indeed is an almost (but not quite) sequel to ‘The Evaluator,’ which is one of my favourite stories ever and appeared in ‘A Breath From The Sky,’ the anthology centered around HP Lovecraft’s ‘The Colour Out of Space.’
It has recently occurred to me that I really love writing shared-universe stuff. The sly little nods and digs, the gentle recycling of characters that didn’t get their time in the sun, the ease (the impossible ease!) of writing in a world I know. So far that’s ‘Willing’ and ‘The Evaluator’ and ‘Us & Ours’ and ‘Below the Kirk, Below the Hill,’ and (peripherally) ‘The Honeymakers.’ I suppose one day I might have enough for a shared-universe collection, which would be very exciting.
Anyway! We are allowed to share the cover (below) and the table of contents (also very exciting! look at the company I’m in!) and apparently it will release sometime in April, so I will yell about it more then!
“Away Game” by Seanan McGuire
“The Icarus Club” by Weston Ochse
“Stormy Monday” by Chesya Burke
“Pickman’s Daughter” by J. C. Koch
“Us and Ours” by Premee Mohamed
“The Art of Dreaming” by Josh Vogt
“Visions of the Dream Witch” by Lucy A. Snyder
“The Tall Ones” by Stephen Ross
“Just Imagine” by Tim Waggoner
“Holding Back” by Lisa Morton
“The Mouth of the Merrimack” by Douglas Wynne
“The Geometry of Dreams” by Wendy N. Wagner
“Being Emily-Claire” by Jonathan Maberry
*I can’t remember what this idiom is. I was going to say ‘barrel of fish’ but I think that might be about shooting; and ‘can of worms’ is about opening, and ‘bag of cats’ was also an option but I don’t think that’s actually an idiom. Send help.