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“A Careful Fire” — Beneath Ceaseless Skies (October 2015)

My short story “A Careful Fire” appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies in October 2015.

beneath-ceaseless-skiesFirst line: Every night from her room in the master’s house, Mabella listens to the calls of the wingèd women as they soar through the smoky evening air.

Inspiration: This may make people think less of my marriage, but I thought of this story on my honeymoon. I saw a woman in a windowless room, listening to bird-like creatures fly and sing outside, wishing she could join them. I’d been in a state of stress, reading too much of the news, tired of story after story about people being shitty to one another, and I wrote a dark story in response. I affectionately call this one Bonnie’s Breaking Bad story.

Read it for free: http://www.beneath-ceaseless-skies.com/stories/a-careful-fire/

Art by Jennifer Stufflebeam

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“Everything Beneath You” — Beneath Ceaseless Skies (January 2015)

My short story “Everything Beneath You” appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies in January 2015.

beneath-ceaseless-skiesFirst line: You don’t know me, but I changed the world.

Inspiration: In the late winter of 2014 I was having a rough time with depression. I wasn’t feeling excited about anything I wrote, and that combined with a break in therapy and the lack of sunlight brought on the worst funk I’ve experienced. Fed up with feeling awful, I decided that I needed to force myself to grab hold of any opportunities that presented themselves. When my sister asked me if I wanted to go with her to a local Lantern Festival, I said yes even though it felt like the last thing I wanted to do.

Each lantern display at the festival had a plaque. Most described Chinese myths. The myth that stood out the most to me was about seven fairy sisters. Having to keep up with my nephews, I took a picture of the plaque to read again later and moved on. I stood on a lantern boat shaped like a dragon. It cost money to board the stationary boat, and my partner only had enough for one of us. As I stood there looking at the water, I told myself I’d turn it into a story, partly as a thank-you to him for letting me have the experience over him and partly because I had to do something, anything, to lift my spirits.

The beauty of the festival–the bright lights, brisk air, and the presence of family–brought me out of my depression just enough to allow me to start the story. I wrote about a woman who felt confined to a body and a world that constricted her. I wrote about a woman with grand ambition; she wants a ship of her own, a body that she can alter as she pleases, love. Once I finished, I felt invigorated. Though the depression hadn’t completely gone, I was inspired to keep working. I pledged to write a novel within the year. I did. And when Beneath Ceaseless Skies took the story, I completed another goal: publication in one of my favorite magazines.

Read it for free: http://www.beneath-ceaseless-skies.com/stories/everything-beneath-you/

Art: Whisper by Jennifer Stufflebeam

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“The Damaged” — Interzone (January 2014)

My short story “The Damaged” appeared in the January 2014 issue of Interzone and was reprinted online in January 2015 on Story. It was released in audio by the podcast StarShipSofa in January 2016.

Art by Ben Baldwin
Art by Ben Baldwin

First line: “I can’t escape my job.”

Inspiration: I wrote this during my time in grad school at Stonecoast. I don’t remember the inspiration, but I do remember when I turned it into mentor Elizabeth Hand, she commented on the obvious inspiration from Philip K. Dick’s replicants and the whole Blade Runner/Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? story. The problem: I’d never seen or read either. Embarrassed to admit that, I rented the movie and was surprised at the similarities.

Praise for “The Damaged”:

Buy a copy of Interzone, the high quality British SFF magazine where “The Damaged” first appeared (Issue 250): http://ttapress.com/interzone/backissues/

Read it for free on Story: http://www.storymagazine.org/2015/01/20/the-damaged/

Art: Oh Simple Things by Jennifer Stufflebeam

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“Sleepers” — Interzone (March 2014)

My short story “Sleepers” appeared in the March 2014 issue of Interzone and was reprinted online in the December 2014 isssue of Fantastic Stories.

Art by Martin Hanford
Art by Martin Hanford

First line: “The newscasters say that the sleepers came without warning, that one day they weren’t here and the next, they were.”

Inspiration: In February of 2013, my partner had spinal surgery. On my birthday one day later, I broke my ankle in a car crash. This left us both rather helpless in a 700 square foot duplex, but it also gave me six free weeks of writing time and some misery for inspiration. Naturally, I wrote about a young woman struggling with panic and the drawn-out death of her father in a hospital.

Praise for “Sleepers”:

Buy a copy of Interzone, the high quality British SFF magazine where “Sleepers” first appeared (Issue 252): http://ttapress.com/interzone/backissues/

Read it for free on Fantastic Stories: http://www.fantasticstoriesoftheimagination.com/short-story-sleepers/

Art: The Tempest by Jennifer Stufflebeam

Stink of Horses

“The Stink of Horses” — Hobart (September 2014)

My short story “The Stink of Horses” appeared on Hobart on June 27, 2014.

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First line: “I don’t understand anything about the ballet; all I know is that during the intervals the ballerinas stink like horses.”
— Anton Chekhov

Inspiration: I read the above Chekhov quote in a magazine, maybe The New Yorker, and couldn’t get it out of my head. This was one of those stories where I started with the tiniest of ideas — what if the ballerinas stunk of horses because they were horses? — and started writing with only that thin sliver. I’ve always been obsessed with dance, likely because I’ve never been able to achieve a dancer’s grace. Thus, I suspect this story was hidden inside me, as it was one of the easiest, and most fun, I’ve ever written.

Read it for free: http://www.hobartpulp.com/web_features/the-stink-of-horses-excerpts-from-the-marina-golovina-controversy-by-the-ballet-book-series

Art: In a Different World by Jennifer Stufflebeam