Friday, April 18, 2014

Wyrd Worlds & The Road to the War(s)

One of the blessings of self-publishing is the ability to write and publish whatever you want. I don’t have a publisher to tell me No. I can explore genres at my whim; let the muse off its leash and let run where it will. Therefore, in the file where I collect writing ideas (cleverly titled “Writing Ideas”), there are the spores of science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories among the standard literary fare. I’ll even admit that some following year you may find a Star Trek-TNG fan-fic novel - seriously.

But my science fiction story “Separate Wars on the Same Street” isn’t strictly a new story, flaunting my freedom from editorial pressure. In fact, in many ways, it was my first story.

I was a good student in high school. Though I never took any honors or AP classes, I was accepted to every college I applied to. (Honors and AP classes certainly would never have let me finish that last sentence with a preposition). So my non-honored high school self had the opportunity to take Creative Writing as my Senior English Class, where the class’s final project was publishing a class literary journal. Of the two finished short stories I wrote for that class, “Separate Wars on the Same Street” was far and away the strongest, and in a box somewhere in my garage is a copy that holds the original version of the story. When the Smashwords Authors Group I belong to on Goodreads got the idea to collaborate on an anthology I took the story out, stripped it to its bones, and built it back up to breathing to submit.

Since the story relies heavily on irony, especially situational, it’s hard to talk  about it without revealing spoilers. But I think I can safely give some background on the story of the kind I like to learn about the stories I enjoy reading.
My junior and senior years of high school were years of great transition, of course. One of the experiences that greatly affected me was the death of my friend Tommy. Tommy liked loud music, and had big headphones to accommodate this; I think this was why he didn’t hear the train coming as he was walking the tracks on the way to his job at Taco Bell. I was near to the accident without knowing it: the tracks flank the gym where I was having basketball practice, and though some of my teammates say they saw it happen, it didn’t become real for me until I got home. As soon as I got in the house there was my mother asking if the boy they were talking about on the news was my friend, and telling her Yes was the most awful thing I had had to do at that point in my life.
I had to wait for the national news to end before seeing the story on the local news, and besides the reporter standing besides the tracks, there was intercut footage from the news helicopter, footage of men carrying the yellow body bag that held my friend away.
“Now why do they have to show that?!” my Mom yelled, the tears starting up again. This question, and the long process of considering it during and past the process of my grieving changed the way I viewed the news. I had trusted the news to show me what I needed to see as a citizen, and so had always watched with both eyes, directly; the footage of aftermath, serving no purpose besides being lurid, reached out and pushed my head away, so that I have never been able to view the news again with the trust of both eyes, but always afterward at a wary angle. It was this viewpoint that combined with an affinity for mech-suits (Sigourney Weaver in Aliens; Robotech) the next year for the finished story; and was still present when I rewrote it over the summer of 2013.

Read my story, “Separate Wars on the Same Street,” as well as thirteen other excellent, interesting works from an international team of indie & self-published authors. All the links you need are over there on my side bar. The price is right (it's free), and if you read something there you like, help us out with a review saying so.

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