Flash Fiction: Hunting Day on Medium

birch autumn

Here’s another little piece of flash fiction I’m sharing on Medium. This one is about a son remembering his father. Hunting Day.

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Flash Fiction: The Symbol for Human on Medium

fox forest

I have a new piece of flash fiction on Medium, a fox fairy tale called The Symbol for Human. It’s inspired by Japanese kitsune stories. This one is locked to members only (so Medium will pay me), but non-members can read 3 locked stories a month. You can read it by clicking the link.

Flash Fiction: Emotional Labours

hauntedhouse

Some gothic horror fun for Hallowe’en. Cross posted from Medium. Happy Hallowe’en to everyone who follows this blog.

There are subjects in every family which are not spoken of. In mine, it is my father’s death. Since my father died when I was five, spending time with my family has been a chore. The manner of his death was ridiculous, because my father cannot do anything that is not ridiculous, but also more ridiculous is the pretence his death never happened. Inevitably the whole charade will slip, he’ll walk through a wall without thinking or drip the ectoplasmic remnants of the puddle he died in all over the hall floor and my mother will loose another piece of her favourite china at the kitchen wall.

We have always spoken of my mother’s nerves but really it is my mother’s anger that hangs over us and makes my father’s death an impossibility. I suspect they would both be happier if he were simply allowed to pass in the ordinary way. She has always found him the most infuriating person and her anger has always brought out the worst in him. But I’ve noticed as I get older that people are prone to falling into habits and in time those habits become cages. So it was with my parents.

Those of you who are eldest children will understand there are certain emotional labours which befall us, to which our younger siblings are blithe, if not entirely oblivious.

Unfortunately, my younger brother and sister had invited me to a family get together which I felt obliged to attend.

My sister, Millicent, sent a handcrafted invitation to each of the family, even though most of them are still in residence in the old family home. My brother, Algernon, phoned me to ensure I’d received mine and spent a painful fifteen minutes extracting praise from me which he would pass on to her. She included my partner, Francis, but I refuse to involve him in our ludicrous affairs, having carved out a small niche that is entirely apart from them.

I suspect my siblings have become somewhat deranged over the years, maintaining their blithe spirit.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to fix them for you?” Francis asked, as I picked up my sword cane and made for the door. Outside, the rain poured down in a solid sheet and the taxi driver tapped the steering wheel impatiently.

I stood on the threshold and sucked in a breath. “They’re still my family.”

“Is that not rather the point?” Francis asked. He did away with his own many years ago without a great deal of fuss. The police have still to find any suspects, though they nebulously blame the act on occult practices. He considered me from under his heavy brow and then with a wave of a hand, added, “Well, if you change your mind….”

“Of course,” I said non-commitally. He is wont to fly into a funk if he thinks I’m at all critical of his life choices.

I found some consolation in shutting down all small talk on the taxi ride over. I caught myself sliding the blade from my cane absent-mindedly when it winked at me in the streetlights.

Milly and Algy crowded me as soon as I was through the door of our old pile, deluging me with hugs and kisses which I tolerated for a few moments before setting them both aside.

“Did you like my invitation?” Milly asked. She was dressed as some kind of witch, with her hair teased into a demented fuzz around her head.

I slipped the grey card from my jacket pocket and ran my finger over the real spider she’d trapped there under a plastic coating and the ‘Trick or Treat’ she’d scrawled across the top in someone’s blood. “Charming,” I assured her. “Very inventive.”

“Papa’s in disgrace, again,” Algy confided. He’d favoured a vampiric costume for the evening. “He keeps re-enacting his death. I don’t think he can stop, poor thing. It’s driving Mama wild.”

“Do you think you can fix him?” Milly asked. Francis’s offer ran through my head. Milly meant it in a completely different sense, of course.

“Oh, do try, Gus,” Algy pleaded. “You were always ever so good at that sort of thing.”

I nodded and went through to the sitting room, my cane tapping lightly across the ornate hall tiles. My father lay hovering an inch above the floor, face down in a puddle of blueish-grey fog. He was particularly insubstantial.

His words came back to me from that day. You can drown in a puddle of water, Gus. Only takes a couple of inches.

And of course, I hadn’t believed him. And of course, he had to demonstrate.

I walked over to the centre of the room, where he lay. A spectral chill cooled me to the bone. What had I said?

Nothing. I’d giggled. And then he’d turned blue and my mother had looked up from her roses and seen us. She’d come flying across the lawn.

“What are you doing, stupid man?”

I turned to her now, standing in the doorway. Yes, that’s just what she’d said that day. And then she’d pushed me aside and hauled him up by the back of his tweed jacket. But it was too late, of course.

I knelt down by his side, as I had that damp autumn day, and pressed my palm down on the back of his head. Just so. And she came flying across the room.

Flash Fiction: Memory Box on Medium

I’ve put my magic realism flash fiction, Memory Box, on Medium. The story originally appeared in Crannog Magazine. It’s a story about memory and dementia and children trying to understand their parents.

I’ve locked it to members only for now (because that allows me to get paid, as part of Medium’s new system), but everyone can see up to three stories without joining. Click on the link above if you’d like to read the story.

Interview with writer M.D. Neu

Writer M.D. Neu joined me to talk about his upcoming novella, The Reunion, and writing gay fiction.

MDNeu pic

You have a novella, The Reunion, coming out later this month – a creepy tale for October. Tell me about your story.

The Reunion came about several years ago based on a larger game some friends and I played.  After the game ended I decided to write a reunion with a majority of the characters coming together one last time. The story takes place twenty years after the events of the game and was only meant to be a final goodbye.

Originally the story started out as a small 3000 word short that I got accepted to TallTaleTV.com (you can hear the short here: http://talltaletv.com/?s=The+Reunion ) but as I played with it over time the story got larger and more detailed.  I continued to work the story expanding and changing the characters.  Also, I added some new elements to round out what happens and make it creepier.  The one thing I never changed was the paranormal and ‘creepy’ aspect. In fact I amped it up. When the novella comes out on Oct 23rd (thank you to NineStar Press for accepting the story) it will be a full 21,000-word short story. You can pre-order it here: https://ninestarpress.com/product/the-reunion/ . I’m proud of the final product and I hope folks enjoy it.

Here is the summary of the story:

It’s been twenty years since the quiet Midwestern town of Lakeview was struck by tragedy.  But every year on the anniversary of the event Teddy returns home for ‘The Reunion’. Lakeview, like Teddy, has secrets and not all mysteries should come to light.

TheReunion cover

You have a passion for speculative and paranormal fiction with gay characters. Is representation a big motivating factor for your writing?

As a gay man who grew up with little queer representation in media I wanted to change that as a writer.  When I was a kid if you saw a gay character on TV or in the movies they were always there for shock value (remember the lesbian kiss on Roseanne, or Ellen coming out on her show, the media and people went nuts) or they were tragic characters (Philadelphia ring any bells) or campy fun.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love campy.  I love over the top gay. I love Drag Queens.  I love, as Harvey Fierstein once said, ‘Sissies’.  And I love the beautiful gays we see on TV now. But that isn’t only who we are.  We’re everyone.  We’re everywhere.  We’re from every walk of life, and I wanted… no I needed to show that in my writing.

In ‘The Reunion’ the main character, Teddy, dresses in drag and he lived with his partner, Lane.  They have a son, Nate, as well. Teddy is also a hairstylist. Did I hit some stereotypes, yes, but what I want people to know is that wasn’t the intent.  Teddy is based on two people from my life, a friend who passed away (hairstylist and drag performer) and my mom who also passed away (she was a hairstylist).  That is where Teddy comes from so he may be a bit of a stereotype, but for me that’s okay because I’m honoring two important people in my life.

Also, in this story I wanted to introduce a trans character. Issues of acceptance are so important these days that I absolutely wanted to include a member of the trans community and I hope I do her justice.

Lastly, why I think representation is so important is I remember reading Anne Rice’s ‘Interview with a Vampire’ in the 80s  (the book came out in the 70s) and for it’s time the gay undertones were very much there.  However, it was never mentioned and it kind of hurt, because I got to see two men raising a daughter.  Sure it was all shades of messed up, but think about it, had anyone every done anything like that before in a high profile wildly successful novel. I don’t think so.

Sorry, I know I got on a bit of soapbox, but your question was important and I wanted to really explain things.

Do you have any recommendations of things you’ve enjoyed reading that have done this well?

I mentioned Interview with a Vampire. I think did a good job for its time.  There is a lot of new stuff coming out that I think approaches the subject well, however, a lot of it is romance and erotica, which is great, but for me I want to read things that aren’t romance or erotica. I want adventure and to be frightened.  I don’t mind aspects of romance, but I don’t want that to be the focus. There is another author I know. JP Jackson’s new book, Daimonion, is excellent. The queer undertones are there and it’s not a romance, which makes it a nice change.  I’m sure there are tons of others, I’m just not thinking of any at the moment.

Like me, you’re a fan of vampires and I think you have a vampire book coming up too. What’s appealing about vampires for you?

Oh, my gosh I love vampires. Yes. My debut novel, The Calling, is all about vampires, as well as a nerdy shy, not very attractive gay man.  It comes out Jan 1st 2018.

For me vampires represent the fringe of society.  Some can pass as ‘normal’, but they don’t fit in and they never will.  Vampires had to learn to work within the confines of society, but because they are different they have to live in the shadows and hide.  Throughout history they’ve always been there, but for most people they have no clue.  Vampires either hide or fit in and hide that way.  You see where I’m going with this, right? Vampires are the perfect metaphor for queer society.  The other thing about vampires I find so appealing is, of course, they are sexy as hell (well at least mine are).

What are your biggest writing influences?

My biggest writing influences, wow I have a lot.  I love Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Stephen King, Alfred Hitchcock, Harvey Fierstein, Anne Rice and Kim Stanley Robinson. All these people have shown us various worlds that I find exciting and appealing.  I can only hope that my works can stand in their company.

Thank you for having me.

M.D. Neu is a LGBTQA Fiction Writer with a love for writing and travel. Living in the heart of Silicon Valley (San Jose, California), he’s always been fascinated with what could be. Growing up in an accepting family as a gay man, he always wondered why there were never stories reflecting who he was. Constantly surrounded by characters that only reflected heterosexual society, M.D. Neu decided he wanted to change that. So, he took to writing, wanting to tell good stories that reflected our diverse world.

 When M.D. Neu isn’t writing, he works for a non-profit and travels with his biggest supporter and his harshest critic, Eric his husband of eighteen plus years.

 Links:

www.mdneu.com

https://twitter.com/Writer_MDNeu

https://www.facebook.com/mdneuauthor

Interview with Poet Kristin Garth

hand shadowHere’s an interview with poet Kristin Garth about her recent work. You can read some of her poetry linked in the interview below and more on her blog (also linked below).

You’re a self-proclaimed prolific vixen and have had lots of poems published recently. Which are your favourite three, why and where can we read them?

The prolific vixen job title (my occupation I list on Scribophile, our mutual writing site) is not actually a self-proclaimed title. One of my best friends called me that one day, and I loved it so much that I adopted it as my occupation. The prolific part fits for sure. The vixen part is aspirational, but it sounds great.

As for my three favorite poems I have written, this is a hard question because I truly love all my sonnet offspring. Slut Shame, Slender Secrets and Maudlin Mermaid are three current favorites. Slut Shame I love because it speaks to how women are so easily scapegoated and shamed. Slender Secrets I wrote from the point of view of a teenager with schizophrenia, a girl who attempted to murder a friend for the Slender Man. I’m proud because I felt a real responsibility to nail these, and the response they get makes me feel I lived up to that.

Maudlin Mermaid, I love because she is new and was an easy birth in a bubble bath. I stayed in a bubble bath extra long until she was done, and she was scooped up and adored by a publication right away. She has a message, a fable about girls who are dark and sad sometimes. Perhaps we live in a world that is dark and sad, and we are sensitive enough to realize that and acknowledge it.

Slut Shame is available on Occulum: https://occulum.net/2017/09/13/two-poems-by-kristin-garth/

Slender Secrets you can read here on Anti-Heroin Chic: http://heroinchic.weebly.com/blog/poetry-by-kristin-garth1296483

Maudlin Mermaid will be published in The Mystic Blue Review, Issue 2, in late October. Here’s a link to their site:

http://themysticbluereview.weebly.com

What are your main artistic drives?

Oh, I have a lot of drives. I’m a complicated girl. I was a victim of sexual assault who is also very sexual, so I embrace and write everything from erotic poetry to transgressive to feminist themes to sexual bondage and submission. I even write horror, erotic horror and true crime. My main drive is to write every day, but I never know what’s going to come out on that screen and stare me back in the eye.

Who are your main influences?

My favorite male writer of prose is Bret Easton Ellis. I love his dark sensibility and the way evil and privilege are almost mundane. Joyce Carol Oates is my favorite female writer. She’s the role model of prolificness, and she has a gothic tone and a dark eroticism to a lot of her works that I’ve always been obsessed with. As far as poets, 99 percent of my works are Shakespearean sonnets so Shakespeare is my literary master, of course. Though I have a huge affinity for Poe and e e Cummings.

Your work is often sexual. Have you come up against resistance in portraying female and submissive sexuality and what do you feel about this?

This is an excellent question. I absolutely have struggled in some venues of publishing for my subject matter. I think it’s the combination of my writing in a formal style that isn’t commonly used for provocative art. I wrote a sonnet called Rejection (Translation) in which I reference this dilemma I face: some of the people who would like my subject matter don’t like what they consider to be a conservative, restrictive form. And sometimes the formalists don’t really like my subject matter.

The way I have broken through this is sheer persistence. I am as prolific in my publishing efforts as I am in my writing. I send something out at least every other day. Recently I had one of my most politically incorrect poems My Sex Has No Safe Spaces published in Quail Bell Magazine. Quail Bell is very feminist. The editors are women, and they ran my ode to submission. I’ve managed to find people who get me, but I’m always looking for more.

Trauma plays a big part in your work, which can be challenging subject for writers. What approach do you take to conveying trauma?

I’ve written a lot of poems about trauma, some personal, some invented and some belonging to other people. When I write about my own trauma and abuse, it’s a fine line you know between being maudlin and being honest. I am sure I’ve failed but I strive to err on the side of relaying information and not caving into the obvious emotion. That’s the goal.

When I’m writing someone else’s experience, especially a real life individual I feel the pressure even more. My nightmare is to write about someone’s pain and it be totally inauthentic to them. It’s the kind of fear that can make you not want to write, so I have to eventually let that go and do my best. I think that pain is universal and having lived through a lot of trauma, it gives me a shorthand in speaking this language. But I always write from a perspective of respect to the victim.

Kristin Garth is a poet from Pensacola, Florida. Her sonnets and other poetry have been featured in Anti-Heroin Chic, Quail Bell Magazine, MookychickInfernal Ink, Digging Through the Fat and No Other Tribute: Erotic Tales of Women in Submission, an anthology.  Follow her on her blog at https://kristingarth.wordpress.com/ or at twitter.com/lolaandjolie.