In “The Thing About Shapes to Come,” a mother struggles with the challenges of caring for her unique child. Did the idea for this story originate from real life issues?
I have never had that particular challenge, no. Nor was the issue in the forefront of my mind in the same way that, let’s say, the trauma of post-traumatic stress syndrome came up in the composition of my prior Lightspeed story, “Her Husband’s Hands.” This just happens to be one of those stories where an insane idea, coming from god alone knows what part of the gray matter, suggested everything that followed, and the natural human responses just came up the way they normally would.
The harshness of close-minded parents and the little zip we all get from drinking coffee brought a degree of familiarity to a fantastic situation. How do you balance the speculative and commonplace elements of a story?
That just happens to be where the tension comes from. The commonplace grounds the speculative; the speculative gives wings to the commonplace.
You left a lot of the worldbuilding up to the reader’s imagination. Do you often find yourself leaving out background information in your fiction?
Nothing is quite the same flavor of irritating as completing a story and realizing that the two pages you did on mass transit in a given future is utterly irrelevant to the story at the center and can be deleted. I get caught by that kind of problem from time to time and it sometimes prevents me from finishing a piece, unless I can realize what it is irrelevant; witness a recent story that leads up to a certain fantastic event where I realized, with maybe two pages to go, that I would not actually have to show the event or its years of aftermath, as I’d intended. Short stories present facets. At this point in my career, I am practiced enough that most of the time, if a given issue comes up at all, I can think, “Naaah, that isn’t important,” and save myself the work.
That being said . . . care to speculate about what happened to Monica after she stepped through Di’s doorway?
That is an intensely private moment between mother and daughter and I think we should be ashamed of ourselves for even contemplating intrusion.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Some of these short stories may have already appeared, depending on when exactly this does. But so far my other 2014 fictions include “The Totals,” a horror story for Nightmare Magazine; “Just Another Friendly Day In the Antique Trade,” a fantasy for the new magazine Jamais Vu; “Hide and Shriek,” a novelette which will be appearing in the anthology Games Creatures Play; and a story that is simultaneously science fiction, horror, and some say sword and sorcery, “In The Temple of Celestial Pleasures,” which shall also be in Nightmare Magazine. In addition, the fourth volume of my middle-grade series about the adventures of a very strange but very heroic young boy, Gustav Gloom and the Cryptic Carousel, shall be released in August, and all prior books in that saga remain available. Finally, I am working on a new young-adult series yet to find a home.
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