Autumn Is Coming


Just got word from Mike Davis that my story "Cul Du-Sac Virus" is going to be included in his Autumn Cthulhu anthology. As an avowed lover of Autumn (there really is no better season) I'm both honored and excited to have one of my stories among the leaves.

 

 

 

 

Main | My Unreal Month(s) »
Friday
Aug182017

Before and After

It's always a weird experience to reread (or re-listen in the case of podcasts) to a story years after your wrote it. A lot of the time, I avoid my stories once they've been published--if only to spare myself the visceral cringe when I come across a poorly constructed sentence, repetitious phrasing, uninspired simile, purple description, or other tidbit of hackwork nestled like a viper in the awkward bosom of my prose (yes, that applies to blog posts, too--if you're wondering).

Seldom does a story I wrote actually hit me in a different way than when I wrote it. I mean, I'm all for interpretation as a facet of art, death of the author and all that, but, being said author, it's strange to read into a story in a way I hadn't intended.

Case in point: my story, "Survival of the Fittest" that just came up on the Tales to Terrify podcast. It's a nihilistic little Lovecraftian yarn written for an anthology dedicated to exploring what it'd be like if the Great Old Ones came rumbling up from their respective sunken cities, demiplanes, and cyclopean tombs and take over the earth.

I wrote the story back in 2014, married and childless. The main character, a soldier returning from a tour of duty in Hastur's Yellow Guard, to try and reconnect with his wife, child, and friends. Strangeness and sadness ensue.

I'd written it from the perspective of a military brat, myself, whose father was routinely away. Not that I fault him, but there was always a period of adjustment when he came back after being away for a week, or a month, or longer. Additionally, I tried to work in generational themes--shifting boundaries, priorities, etc., and how new generations can seem strange, even alien to previous ones. Add to that the stress of adapting to an inescapable and repressive regime, and well, I don't want to say it's a presentiment of the Trump presidency (I couldn't have even conceptualized that back in the halcyon days of 2014), but it definitely feels timely.

So, I'd expected all that to come back when I listened to the podcast, not realizing that I'm a totally different person than when I wrote the story.

It hit me as a father--what it would be like having to leave your friends and family, then returning to find them changed--or perhaps unchanged. It's a feeling I've (thankfully) never had to experience with my wife and son, but one I've dealt with in the past with old friends, long parted.

It's a strange thing to sit down with someone you once knew but who has become a stranger. You talk about what old times you remember, reminisce, catch up on where your lives have gone, but there's always that awkward moment (at least with me), where you realize you're not the people you were, that those people are as good as dead.

Not to mention, that the main character in my story mentions having to kill kids.

As a dad, I've developed a lot more of what I like to call "hooks." For instance, before my son while I certainly found the injury and/or murder of children abhorrent--now I feel it on a deep, visceral level when I come across news, or pictures, or even think about kids (even imaginary kids) getting hurt. I'd meant the reference as a shock, as something horrible to truly hammer home how different and terrible the world has become. The fact that they were evil kids notwithstanding, the line still hit me.

I mean, logically, I know I've changed, but it's weird to be confronted so directly with evidence of the fact. Sort of like reading the diary you kept as a teenage or running across old videos of yourself as a kid and not recognizing the person at all.

Jarring.

 

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