My short story, “The Wanderer King” is now available at Podcastle for your listening pleasure.
We steer clear of the mines–that’s Fixer territory. The Wanderers are dangerous, too, ever since they came fighting back around Day 30. But there’s always been less of them–less in all, and less because they scatter through the woods on their business instead of fixing to the towns and mines.
We step along to the city, fitting the crown on all we come across. We sleep in the darkest part of the day when the sky dips to dark blue. At first, in the country, there aren’t many heads to try. But we come up on the city, and we slow. We even try it on Fixers because Pansy says the King is the King and it doesn’t matter whose body he’s in. “The King is for all,” Pansy says. “Anyone can carry the King.”
I was lucky enough to have my winning story, “Everything You Have Seen,” interpreted by two marvelous dancers at the Writers of the Future Awards Ceremony in April. I like this performance more every time I see it, and if you haven’t already, you should definitely check it out. [And if you’re curious about what I look like in make-up and sequins, pretending to be glamorous, my acceptance speech follows the performance.]
I sometimes work as a photo researcher in order to earn money to buy ridiculous quantities of fresh fruit*, and I come across all kinds of fabulous, kooky, mysterious, sad, inspiring photos. I like to share my finds, and since I recently wrote a story that takes place in a pawn shop, that’s what you’re going to get.
In my teen years, I spent a lot of time rummaging through second-hand and thrift stores, usually looking for some appalling seventies hostess gown that I could dissect and, with my very rudimentary sewing skills, Frankenstein into my idea of fashion. I loved the lives and ideas and the *history* that welled up in me when I walked into one of those places. The friction I felt was like walking into a library, all those second-hand and gently (and not-so-gently) used goods were just PACKED with stories. I could feel them. I swear. They were stories that I was going to gruesomely cut up and make into new stories, sure, but isn’t that what all good stories are? Little pieces of history and experience stitched together in a new way.
Once, I was shopping with a friend who liked to think he was all goth, and he said, “Eww, maybe the person who wore that is dead. Doesn’t that creep you out, to wear a dead person’s clothes?” But, I kind of liked the idea. They were dead, but their clothes were still here. And I was going to take them out of the closet and show them a good time.
I thought I was good with the second-hand market until I had a boyfriend who dragged me into a pawn shop looking for old tube amps. Now, *that* was a creepy place. It might have been full of stories, but they weren’t good stories. Instead of the bored/dotty/nosy/grumpy old lady behind the counter there was some big guy in a sleeveless T-shirt and a handlebar moustache. At the time, I don’t think I understood that “pawn” meant a place cash-strapped people went to raise money. I just knew it was a place where I didn’t feel welcome.
*Peaches are the best fruit there is in the world ever, and Monkey** agrees.
**Relevant bit at 10:03
Photos courtesy the Library of Congress and the National Archive
My historical fantasy story just won First Place in the Writers of the Future contest (2nd Quarter, 2012). This is the only story I have ever written in a single sitting. I was floating around in the pool on a hot summer day, and I kept thinking about a little girl and an owl*. I paddled around, and the details trickled into my mind. Eventually, I had to drag my butt up out of the delicious water and go inside to sit at my hot desk because this story wasn’t going to go away. I wrote longhand in my notebook until I thought my fingers were going to fall off, but after a couple of sticky hours, I made it all the way to the end**.
[I’ve edited this post from the original, since it seems I’m maybe not supposed to give away the title or any details of my story that could identify it to the judges. So just pretend I am waffling on here about my research difficulties, and how since I sometimes earn my money for life’s necessities*** by working as a photo researcher, I like to use places like the National Archives for looking into the past.]
I’ll re-post the original content sometime next year, when all danger of judging is past, and when the story comes out in the WotF anthology.
*The owl didn’t make it into the final version.
**Neither did the original ending. Or the next one. Or the one after that. Or the one after that.
***Peaches, cat food, and blue ink Pilot G2 Extra-fine point pens