How did this story come about?
The same way most stories come about: It occurred to me that this premise could make a story and I somehow managed to keep my enthusiasm up until typing, “The End.” Sorry to be flip, but that’s about as much as I have to say on this one.
The ending was delightfully unexpected, but it was a hard re-entry into reality. What is your hope for readers when they finish a story of yours?
My ambitions for different stories depend on the story, from, “Okay, that was mildly diverting,” to “This will bother me for a long time.” My ambitions for this one are much closer to the latter than the former.
Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about “A Place Without Portals”?
This one’s based on a feeling that I sometimes get about fantasy: that sometimes it’s an escape in all the wrong ways. Please don’t think I’m saying I’m above it. I wrote a six-volume series of middle-grade portal fantasy. But every once in a while, the nagging question comes: Are these stories, with their easily identifiable villains and ultimately solvable problems, a denial of the world as it is, an abdication of the sad truth? That we are watching evil be defeated while our civilization is being nibbled by ducks? If you don’t have that nagging thought at least part of the time while inhabiting these products of our imagination, you have no leg left in the reality we also inhabit. The story dwells within that nagging thought.
What’s the best twist ending in a story you’ve ever read?
“Best?” There’s no “Best.” Ask me on any day and I will give you a different answer than on any other day. You want one that comes to mind, that I happen to love? The Subterranean Season by Dale Bailey. A Lovecraftian horror novel melded with one of those mainstream stories about a randy, dissatisfied academic trying to hold it together. It’s a hilarious work that, all of a sudden, on its very last page (don’t bother looking ahead) makes perfect retroactive sense.
Any news or upcoming projects?
I write this while daily complaining on my Facebook page about the eight floating balloons (career developments) that have been teasing me for months that I am not currently free to talk about. This has been going on for about a year. Progress is visible, but not in the direction of being able to talk about them. The one thing I can say is that I have completed my mainstream thriller, which might or might not end up being called Behemoth, and it will be making the rounds shortly.
Spread the word!