Exploring Grief in Fairy Tales

A few years ago, after the death of my beloved uncle, my family and I traveled to be with my aunt and her daughter. Since my uncle’s death, my aunt and her daughter had taken to spending every day and night together. Their renewed connection through shared grief struck me as one of the most poignant connections I’d ever witnessed. I went home and, in my own grief for my uncle, wrote a story exploring grief of many kinds.

Not much later, my aunt died. And I went back to this story and found in it even more balm for the pain of losing someone I loved so much. Literature allows us to explore our emotions as metaphor. For someone like me, who for so many years kept a distance from her emotions, this ability to immerse myself in painful emotion slowly but honestly has been integral to healing and to breaking through that distance.

The story in question has now been published on the website of one of my favorite journals, Fairy Tale Review. And I can’t think of a better home for it.

Read “Sleeping Beauty’s Daughter” here: https://fairytalereview.com/2018/03/14/sleeping-beautys-daughter/

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“The Orangery”–Beneath Ceaseless Skies (plus some photos of trees)

Today my very first novelette publication released online for free reading! “The Orangery” is available at Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

This one comes from my fascination and repulsion with women-turning-into-trees narratives. I say fascination because I have always loved trees. For years I have taken photos of beautiful trees when I travel. In college I used to find patterns in bare branches: women’s faces, mostly, and when I felt a darkness creeping in each winter, I looked to these patterns for comfort. (When I told my mom about the women I saw in trees, she said, “You see them too?” I have inherited her strange world.)

The women in mythology who turn into trees often do so to escape unwanted sexual advance or assault. That is where the repulsion comes from. Although I have always loved trees, I never felt like these mythological women were being gifted this new form. Instead, I felt like they were being punished. As if they were being told, you can either accept every advance that comes your way or opt out of a human life altogether.

In “The Orangery,” I made a place for these women-turned-trees, the Orangery of the novelette’s title, a walled-in grove watched over by a Guardian who tend to the trees’ wishes and lives out her life within the woods. But when Apollo breaks through the wall to find and reclaim Daphne, the Guardian must fight him–and make sacrifices in the process.

Read it here.

Some Photos of Trees

to both prove my point and because maybe you love trees too, I don’t know

ceskykrumlov (11).jpgI took a trip to the Czech Republic and mostly came home with photos of trees; this one is in the village Český Krumlov

Zoo (3).JPGIt may look like I was photographing this tiger, but I was probably most excited by the juxtaposition of tiger and tree

100_1565Tree with arm-like branches in Oklahoma

100_0209Crumbled tree on Wood Island on Lake Texoma

2nd Prize in the Selected Shorts Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize

One of my favorite writers, T.C. Boyle, chose my as-of-yet-unpublished short story “Barking Dog Nocturnal” as 2nd prize in Selected Shorts/Electric Lit’s 2016  Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize. Link to the announcement–and to read the 1st place story–here.

“Sisters” in Grendelsong

I’ve always been interested in the little-explored pieces of the original Little Mermaid story: the lives of the sisters, the weird concept of souls, the sea witch’s back story. I wrote a story about all these things. Today it’s been reprinted online in Grendelsong: https://grendel-song.com/2016/05/07/sisters-bonnie-jo-stufflebeam/

“Sisters” originally appeared in SCHEHEREZADE BEQUEST.