Deck the Halls: Festive Tales of Fear and Cheer

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Deck the Halls traverses the joy and jeopardy of the festive season, from Yule to Mōdraniht, Summer Solstice to Years’ End. The stories journey through consternations and celebrations, past, present and future, which might be or never were.

Along the way you’ll meet troll hunters, consumer dissidents, corset-bound adventurers, a joint-toking spirit, big-hearted gangbangers, an outcast hybrid spaceship, petrol-toting politicians, mythical swingers and a boy who unwittingly controls the weather.

Heart-warming and horrifying, the collection is a merry measure of cross-genre, short fiction subverting traditional notions of the holiday season.

My own story, “title,” was inspired by the lyric “see the blazing yule before us.” And I used that inspiration for a mild send-up of Dickens.

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Eighty-Nine

“Eighty-Nine” is the third offering from Literary Mix Tapes (a quarterly crowd-sourced short fiction anthology inspired by music), and the second one I’m a part of.

Twenty-Six original stories inspired by Twenty-Six different songs, all released in 1989. It was the year the Berlin Wall came down and Voyager went up. In San Francisco and Newcastle the ground shook, in Chernobyl it melted. Tiananmen Square rocked the world and Tank Man imprinted on the international consciousness. These Twenty-Six stories reinvent what it was like to live in a world moving from one decade to the next.

My own story, “Shrödinger’s Cat,” was inspired by the Eurythmics “Don’t Ask Me Why.” 1989 gave us the scientific hoax of Cold Fusion, as well as the beginning of the computer virus era, and these form the backdrop for what my editor described as a cyberpunk-noir must read. And that girl on the front cover…that’s Amiga…one of my main characters.

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If I Had It To Do Over Again

The Setup

Jodi Cleghorn, my pesky beloved editor, on her own blog, posed a question for me to answer.

Two years ago, she and Paul Anderson, two fellow bloggers at Write Anything, asked me if I’d like to write a story for an anthology they’d dreamed up. “It’s called Chinese Whisperings. Did you ever play that game when you were a kid? In America, I think it’s called telephone. (OK, I’ll admit that’s probably not a direct quote. I probably still have the email but I didn’t want to spend the time looking for it.) Two years later that, story has been done, plus another in the series, the eBook has been out for over a year, I’ve published another story through working friendship collaboration (with two more on the way), and Chinese Whispering is about to publish it’s first two volumes in paperback.

In case you decided to skip that paragraph…it’s been a busy two years.

The First Chinese Whisperings books was written a little bit like a camp-song sung in the round. Each author had to take their main character from the cast of secondary characters in the prior story. And now that Chinese Whisperings: The Red Book is about to come out in paperback (Oct 11, 2011, in case you were wondering), my frenetic energetic friend from across the world has put this question to me: What would I do if I had a second chance at my story? Is there another character that I whose story I would have chosen to tell?

The Response

Short Answer

No. (I could make it shorter, but I liked including the period.)

Long Answer

As I was waiting my turn to write my story (sixth out of ten) I was able to read the stories before mine as they were turned in. I remember while reading Jason Coggins’ Something Mean in the Dream Scene, wanting very badly to be the next author in line, because a story came to me almost fully formed about one of the characters. But having just reread that story I can’t for the life of remember who that character was…or what the story was.

Then when I read Tina Hunter’s Innocence I drew a blank. I didn’t want to write the story of any of those characters. But Jodi reminded me that I’m always like that at the beginning of a project. And she was right. After about ten rereads the the secondary characters of that story were all already too involved in the events of the book. I needed to look at the background characters. When I finally did choose the story it came out quickly, if erratically.

But looking back at the book as a whole, I can’t think of a character I would have rather picked up on than Simon.

Although I have to admit I was a little bummed that Jasmine Gallant didn’t tell Verity’s story. But it’s hard to hold a grudge when she did such a great job with Dash.

This will all make so much more sense to you if you’ve read the book. Don’t have a copy? Never fear. It’ll be out in paperback in less than a month.

I’d originally tagged Annie Evett as the next to answer the question, but it seems she, as well as most of the other female writers are busy. So to keep things going I’ll tag Rob Diaz.

Nothing But Flowers

“Nothing But Flowers: tales of post apocalyptic love” is the second offering from Literary Mix Tapes (a quarterly crowd-sourced short fiction anthology inspired by music)…. and I am fortunate enough to have a story included.

Inspired by the Talking Heads song of the same name, Nothing But Flowers explores the complexities and challenges of love in a post apocalyptic landscape. From plague to fundamentalist governments, comets and war, from terra firma to outer space the people on these pages face up to what it means to love and be loved when you’ve lost everything.

My own story, “There But for Fortune” is included in the anthology.

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The Ying & Yang Book

In the international terminal of a large European airport, Monday morning is about to get a whole lot worse. At 7.35am Pangaean Airlines, one of Europe’s major carriers, is put into receivership grounding all flights, stranding thousands of passengers and impounding tonnes of luggage. But all is not as appears on the surface and the sliding-doors moment of one woman deciding to retrieve her suitcase will ricochet through the lives around her.

The combined anthology contains 22 original stories, including the prologue and epilogue.

My own story, “Providence” is included in the anthology.

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The Red Book

In a small North American university town ten lives are intersecting…

Miranda reaps what she has sown…
Mitchell understands there is no resisting fate…
Clint dreams of forging a violent destiny…
Elizabeth is about to make a discovery…
Robin hides a terrible secret…
Simon hasn’t slept in ten days…
Sam is pursued by nightmares…
Susie has lost everything…
David has just been found…
Jake atones for past evils…

Ten ordinary people struggling to keep their sanity in an insane world.

My own story, “Not Myself” is included in the anthology.

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