Well, today I’m thinking about short fiction, giving a reading at the local Anacortes Public Library tomorrow night, and the love of darker tales (yes, even with a bit more humor thrown in—life does that too), and positive feedback. I am always grateful for that.
Zippy is feeling under the weather, and I won’t be throwing the tennis ball for him today. Maybe he exercised too much yesterday. He swam in the pond like an otter. Kipling forgot how to jump into the water from shore so I had to take her to the swim dock and again teach her how to jump into the water from there (by teach I mean a gentle push).
I cracked open the two-book boxed set titled American Fantastic Tales this week, edited by Peter Straub, and began reading the introduction and the very first short story, Somnambulism: A fragment by Charles Brockden Brown, who lived a short life from 1771-1810. This is the first instance of a tale based on what someone who walks in his sleep may do when touched by darkness and was based on a real case of someone murdering another person while sleepwalking—nothing is new. From his Introduction, here is what Peter Straub had to say about the tales in the book, and his words stick with me:
“A tale may not display a great deal of structural, psychological, or narrative sophistication, though it might possess all three, but it seldom takes its eye off its primary goal, the creation of a particular emotional state in its reader. Depending on the tale, that state could be wonder, amazement, shock, terror, anger, anxiety, melancholia, or the momentary frisson of horror.
Although tales of this kind always keep their prospective readers in mind, they tend to resist easy accommodation with familiar narrative templates. Part of their appeal can lie in the unpredictability and unexpectedness of the plotting, the sheer strangeness of the characterization, and what can be experienced as the dreamlike, associational flow of events.”
When I set out to write a story, even a light happy tale, real life creeps in to balance out what is visible. There is almost always a subtext to any story, what remains unsaid between characters who only speak on the surface, and I love trying to figure out what these characters want.
I will be reading the first section of my new suspense novella, The Conversationalist, and a short story from Sandcastle and Other Stories, at the Anacortes Public Library tomorrow night (click HERE for more details), as I said, and my local bookstore, Watermark Book Company, will be supplying the books for the event. If you are in the area, please stop by. The reading begins at 7pm!
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