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The Will Castleton stories have come together a bit haphazardly. At first Will was simply a paranormal P.I. who appeared in diverse, mostly unrelated tales in various magazines and anthologies. If an editor needed Will to fight vampires, fine, here’s “Nighteyes!” You need him for a ghost-hunting anthology? Great, here’s “Samantha.”
But then, as interest in Will Castleton grew, I decided he needed an official origin story and chronology. I am still working on the tales and novels that will fill in said chronology, and I probably will be for years to come. Stories from various periods in his life might crop up at any time.
Here’s the chronology for what’s been released thus far. I’ll update this list on my blog as I add to it.
Rookie U.S. Marshal – DEATH SIGHT
Green River Sheriff’s Deputy – PURGATORY (Coming soon), “Homeward Devils (flashback scenes), “Blood Glaze”.
Re-instated U.S. Marshal – BLOOD TIDES
Paranormal Investigator – “The Bridge,” “Samantha,” RETURN TO ANGEL HILL, “Nighteyes,” THE HOUSE IN CYRUS HOLLER, THE MAN WHO NEVER STOPPED RUNNING (Section 1 of a future novel, exclusive to The Bain Insiders Club).; BEWITCHING THE WEIRD SISTERS (novella in progress, exclusive to The Bain Insiders Club).''
("Homeward Devils," "Blood Glaze," "The Bridge," "Samantha," and "Nighteyes" appear in THE CASTLETON FILES.)
I’m having a great time filling in the gaps in Will’s chronology. And I love that my readers are patient and seem to be enjoying the stories! Thanks for sticking along for Will's strange journey through space - and especially time!
I was honored to write the introduction to C. Dennis Moore_'s story collection WHAT THE BLIND MAN SAW. You can read it here!
WRITING AND READING AND SEEING BLIND
Leave it to C. Dennis Moore, writer of some the sharpest short horror fiction around. _What the Blind Man Saw is the perfect title for a collection of short stories.
Because every writer goes into every story totally blind, no idea where they’re going, no idea of the exact size or shape of the thing directly in front of them. This might change very quickly - on the best writing days the entire structure and scope of the tale might present themselves to you in a flash. But you still have to sit down and write the thing, flailing until you find the specific keys, groping around until you can finally make out and choose the specific words, feeling your way until the overall pattern of the thing emerges, fingering your way into and pulling your way through the story and caressing every inch of the outer edges until it will not reveal even one more nuance.
And even then you, the writer, have only your experience of the story, your take on it, a mental image of the piece. You’re still blind, after all.
Because then, like the blind men in the fable about the elephant, others will come along and read your tale and their experience of the thing will also be unique despite the image you hold in your mind’s eye - they’re all reading the exact same words on the page, but some reviewers will give your story five stars and others will lament that they have to give it even one. We’re all blind when it comes to fiction, and no two minds’ eyes will ever see exactly the same story.
There’s another reason I think What the Blind Man Saw is a perfect title for a short story collection - and a particularly perfect title for a C. Dennis Moore collection.
So many writers - especially horror writers - never grow or expand in their vision. It’s like they sit down to their keyboard on the first day they ever write a story, and they pick their favorite horror movie poster and tack it up on the wall nearby. And then they write about that poster for their entire career. It’s fresh at first, maybe, but eventually it gets predictable and safe - both for the writer themselves and for their readers.
And it’s worth noting that many hacks have scribbled their way into very comfortable incomes by writing about that one single poster for decade upon decade.
For writers like Dennis, on the other hand, there’s no poster. Or, rather, there’s a different poster for each and every story, one that they themselves write into existence. They approach each story as a blind man might approach a new and unfamiliar object.
For me, this is the joy in writing - and in reading short stories.
I don’t want safe.
I don’t want predictable.
I want stories of the richness, variety, depth and range crafted by Moore and others who see the way the blind see.
But why do short stories at all?
I mean, Moore has several novels under his belt - and they sell far better than the shorts! So, why, dammit, does he continue to waste his time on the things!
I could say something like “Well, Dennis is a true artiste; he’s blind to the almighty dollar!” Except that’s bullshit - the part about him being blind to money, I mean. Not the part about him being an artist.
And yet maybe it’s not bullshit. Maybe money and sales aren’t everything. I’ll tell you this: I don’t fully trust any writer who doesn’t do short stories.
Make that: any writer who doesn’t routinely do short stories.
As in any writer who doesn’t routinely have a short story going in addition to any novel-in-progress.
And I’ll also say this: I fully trust C. Dennis Moore as a writer.
Here’s a bit of news for every Amazon wannabe critic who has ever left a one star review because they “really loved the story, but it was only twenty pages long! Thank God I got it for a borrow/free/99 cents!”
The regular production of quality short stories requires more discipline, more craft, more confidence and more blood, sweat and tears than a novel. 80,000 words of short stories - like the volume you now hold in your hand - are generally the result of much more effort than an 80,000-word novel.
It’s unfortunate that most readers are blind to these facts. I think the general reader sees “short” and thinks it’s the equivalent of a banal television sit-com, and they see “long” and think it must be an Oscar-worthy epic blockbuster. Not so. Not even close.
A writer who regularly produces stories of the quality you’ll see in What the Blind Man Saw is a writer you’re lucky to be reading - they’ll provide you with more visions in a few sentences than you might encounter in eight entire volumes of cranked-out full-length Kindle serial novels.
Here’s what I love about short stories. You go into them blind, usually not knowing at all what to expect, and the best of them fill your head with a novel’s worth of visions in under an hour of reading. A novel is like keeping watch, like keeping a lookout, like continuously scanning between here and the horizon - and don’t get me wrong, I do love novels, staying with a vision, a vista, for the long haul, unblinking, seeing what wonders might pop up in the larger landscape. But the best short stories give you insights, truth, surprise and revelation in short order, each piece filling a formerly dark, empty space with an awe and amazement that you can look back on and return to for a lifetime.
I hope C. Dennis Moore keeps writing novels for a long time. But I especially hope he never gives up on the short stories.
And, most of all, I hope he continues seeing like the blind man sees.
The book is available in Kindle and paperback editions at Amazon, with an audiobook coming soon.
For quite a while now, my writing partner C. Dennis Moore and I have been trying to define why the proliferation of the WRITE BOOKS FAST!!! and WRITE SHORT BOOKS FOR QUICK CASH!!! and HOW TO PUMP OUT SERIALIZED FICTION FOR SKEEZE AND PROFIT!!! attitude amongst the self-publishing culture really pisses us off.
After all, on our best days, both of us write fast. This year we've both pumped out at least a book a month. And we both have some very short books. And we both have series characters out there. It looks like we're the biggest damn hypocrites on the planet!
But it was a short essay on Bruce Springsteen, written almost a decade ago, that finally defined for me what's wrong with the write-short-serials-fast-for-maximum-bucks attitude.
You have to be something of a businessperson to be an indie writer. The nature of selfpub simply requires it. But there's an inherent trap. The problem is the focus on writing as commodity, as product. And the problem, for me at least, lies in how so many authors view their audience.
Back when all the WRITE 10,000 WORDS PER HOUR!!! ebooks first started coming out, my initial thought was "Why the hell would you want to?" I've had a few great writing-marathon days, sure - days when no one else is at home and the story just pours out. But, God, I wouldn't want that regularly. As Truman Capote said (I think wrongly) of Kerouac, "That's not writing, that's typing."
To me, writing fast is like screwing fast. The end result is reached, the desired goal is achieved - more or less - but will you feel it an hour later? Will you ever really look back on it? Oh, sure, you can go back and edit your words; you can cuddle in the sweaty rush of post-exertion, but the afterglow of that fully-realized, fully attentive, three-hour, all-morning session can freaking change who you are - both as an individual and as a bonded unit.
My problem is that, for me, speed-writing and plotting-for-the-public fundamentally change how I see the work. I'm not even sure it affects the quality - but it affects my relationship to the work, to the audience, and it doesn't seem that's what I want out of art in the long run.
Here's the quote fromlegendary music critic Geoffrey Himes, writing about Bruce Springsteen, which I immediately forwarded to Dennis upon reading: "Popular music treats the listener as an object, as an ATM machine that will spit out money if you punch the right buttons. Populist music treats the listener as a subject, as a protagonist whose struggles deserve the catharsis of a musical mini-drama. Springsteen has lived up to the ideal of populist music better than anyone of his generation."
Himes put it in perspective for me. I write in a pulp tradition - psychic detectives, time-traveling cowboys, technology-wielding wizards. I don't live in some ivory tower fantasy. I like money. I like selling books. And I love hitting two or three thousand words on a good day. But when I write too fast, when I plot too commercially, I feel like it's pop music. I feel like I'm treating my audience like an ATM. What's worse, I feel like I'm Mr. Burns from The Simpsons, toggling some secret camera hidden just above the ATM, seeing how many of the pleb's pennies he can grift.
But you know what? In the end, there's nothing wrong with pop music. I know people who will, but I won't turn off a catchy tune just because it might have been written by committee in a corporate building rather than by an acoustic guitar-wielding Strummer for Righteousness.
And in the end, my books and stories might not even be any better than the hyperspeed scribes and give-em-what-they-want plotters. After all, who am I to say?
But I will say this - hang out too long on the wrong side of the pop/populist or art/product equation and you start phoning it in. You start looking for the easy fix. Your soul thins.
Look at it this way - Springteen's Born in the U.S.A. was, in so many ways, a calculated conglomeration of button-pushing songs designed to transform him from cult wonder to superstar. From the cover art to the song order, that particular album, classic as it is, had "corporate product" stamped all over it. And it worked.
But I'll conclude with another line from Himes' essay: "Whether it was the tragedy of “The River,” “Born in the U.S.A.” and “Atlantic City,” the comedy of “You Can Look,” “Glory Days” and “Fire,” or the dozens of brilliant songs in between, Springsteen has never kept his fans outside the song, gazing in at a fantasy life as if their noses were pressed up against a store window; he puts his listeners inside the song where their losses and triumphs, blunders and hopes become the subject matter. There’s no greater songwriting accomplishment than that."
By David Bain
The following is a prose-poem essay regarding the long genesis of my first novel, GRAY LAKE. I wrote it shortly after completing and self-publishing the novel, which has now reached thousands of readers. I still can’t believe, a couple years later, that the book is finished, and I’m humbled by all those who are saying they enjoy it. The essay mentions several completed and as-yet-uncompleted projects that, at the time, were all in the future. Time is a writer’s bane. I fully intend to eventually complete every idea mentioned in the last section of the essay – let’s just pray that time agrees…
Gray Lake: A Sort of Memoir
It’s 1985. I’m sixteen. I’m driving down a long, straight road in my ’79 Mustang. The dark of night. There is no moon. “Soul Kitchen” by The Doors is on the radio. The headlights are fuzzy and I have to squint to see through the fog starting to roll in from the sides of the road. A book is sitting in the passenger seat. It’s the book I want to write about the strange, wonderful summer I’m experiencing. Two of the protagonists of the book are Brian and Iggy, guys my age, who have a ghostly encounter on the shores of Gray Lake, just like my best friend and I had (or convinced ourselves we had) only a few weeks ago. I realize the road I’m on is Lakeview, and that the lake which is the title of the book I have yet to write is my destination. I frown a little as I look at the paperback. The cover is a picture of the lake with a lady’s regal eyes opening just at the horizon. I love reading; I especially love Stephen King and H. P. Lovecraft and this newly emerging guy, Clive Barker, who’s just insane. But the sad truth is I have absolutely no idea how to write a book. And besides, even though I don’t know it, I’m still experiencing the stuff I want to write about. And there’s a lot of road up ahead.
It’s 1988. I’m nineteen. Same road, feels like the same night. Guns n’ f—in’ Roses is cranking on the cassette deck of my killer Chevy Nova – did I have a little accident with the Mustang back down the road a ways? Why, yes! Yes, I did! And I’ve discovered various fun substances which may or may not have contributed to that little fender-bender, and I might have been in a little bit of trouble because of those substances, but who cares because my car is full of girls and friends and the smoke in here is thick as the fog outside. The book is still sitting there on the stained passenger seat, but who has the time to write it? The headlights stutter, they flicker and seem to fade. The night is getting dark and I’m losing focus. Too much beer, too much smoke, too many friends who really aren’t friends at all – and suddenly it goes dark. Suddenly I’m alone. And I can barely see now. I flick the one remaining headlight to bright, but I’m going slow, slow, able to see only one yellow stripe ahead on the road. I feel around. The book is still there. Its shape is comforting. And it starts whispering to me, urging me on to my destination.
It’s the early 1990s. I’m in my mid-twenties. I find myself quite a bit further down the road, in a rusty AMC Hornet. A shit car if ever there was one. There’s nothing good on the radio; it seems everything is crap. I lost the Nova back down the road a ways and had to walk for a long stretch, but I read and learned a lot and managed to stay out of further trouble – did four years of college fly by somewhere in there? – and in some blink-or-you’ll-miss-it slowdown along the way I apparently realized that poetry might save my mortal soul. I’m traveling the road not taken – the road I thought I’d never take, that is. And it’s good for me. But it’s also lonely, terribly lonely, nothing but fog and cold and dark, though the headlights are working better. I feel around and find the book is still there on the passenger seat (the Hornet has a bench seat – dull, tan vinyl), but the book – and the whole passenger side, in fact, are buried under a heaping mound of loose typewriter paper – poems and short stories, many of which have sold or been published. Sheets of white paper stained with scattered words and letters are spilling over into the footwell, are blowing out the window which I’ve left slightly open; sometimes a draft gets in and they billow and fly about the car, making it hard to see, and in the end, all of it amounts to little more than … me, driving alone on this never-ending road. It seems somehow that I’m teaching at the local community college and doing every other sort of odd job, from working in sawmills and trailer and baby food factories to selling men’s suits and driving roads much like this one, checking the growth of endless fields of corn in order to support myself and keep this piece of crap car – is it a long hatchback or a short station wagon? – running. I swear this shitkicker car will nickel and dime me to death! And meanwhile there’s no sign of a destination, not even a rest stop or any hint of dawn on this endless night, this murky, forlorn road.
It’s later in the same decade and I’m in a zippy silver Celica. It’s bright out, blue skies for once, and I can see the lake glimmering in the distance, out there on the horizon! I’m suddenly a journalist, so I must be on my way to cover a story, but it seems Gray Lake is also my destination. My wife? My wife to be? Either way she’s in the car with me, and so is the book. It’s fifty pages long, one-hundred, two-hundred! It’s growing day by day, writing itself, a treasure trove of ideas – it isn’t whispering to me, it’s singing! Look! The book has grown to nearly four-hundred pages! But hey. Hey, what’s this curve in the road ahead? The lake’s on the left side of the road, way up ahead there by the horizon. So why is the road turning right? Why is Gray Lake suddenly nowhere in sight? The book’s whispering to me again as a colorless, depressing mist starts settling over the scenery. The book whispers that it doesn’t want to be longer than It orThe Stand or Swan Song or, hell, Proust. It whispers that, if we’d stayed on the particular path we were on to Gray Lake, that’s what would have happened. What it does not say, but what I’m coming to understand as I drive on into the mist, is that while I might have the skills to drive a sleek Celica, I’m not up to commandeering a rampaging two-ton semi quite yet.
Somehow I’ve driven into a new millennium. I’m cranking Jimmy Buffett. Life’s not bad. The weather is fair. I can’t complain. The minivan I’m driving has cruise control and the three kids in the back, though always making their presence known, aren’t being too loud. At least not usually. The stack of small press short story anthologies, diverse magazines and literary journals on the passenger seat are nice companions, and the book is taking form again, starting to peek through the pile. I’m headed for Gray Lake once more – there it is now, back in front of me, on the approaching horizon – but I’m also heading for Chicago. Columbia College in Chicago, to be exact. My goal is to return to teaching, by way of a master’s degree in writing. There are developmentally disabled people in the vehicle and me helping them seems to be paying for the minivan. These folks want me to write a book about them, but I tell them I have another destination, other promises to keep before I can do that. The book that’s been my longtime companion has distinct weight in the passenger seat – the upholstery is sinking around the book’s edges. The lake comes closer into view, its waves sparkling, suggesting mysteries only I can uncover. Teachers, compadres, writing associates come and go from the van as we crest a final hill. Another half-mile to the shore. The book sits fully formed. We’re almost there, my friends.
Summer 2011. My PT Cruiser is sitting on the shore of Gray Lake, but it’s soon to be replaced by a Hybrid Honda Civic – gotta watch the gas mileage these days…. I’ve been teaching at a community college for about five years now, and I’m only stopping here for a quick breather on my way home … and yet it seems I’ve spent more than a quarter century just driving, driving, driving to this spot to drop off the book. There are countless tire tracks here on the shore. Lots of people stop here. It seems a good place to say goodbye to this novel and leave its fate to others to decide. The road goes on from here. There are lots of other stops I want to make. Along the way I’m going to pick up a guy named Will Castleton and spend a lot of the trip with him. There’s another lake where a guy’s been kidnapped and is staring out a special window. Another stretch has indie rock concerts at almost every stop, and I get to report on all of them. Pretty soon I’ll pass a van containing a couple developmentally disabled people about to start down their own road with a slightly off-kilter social worker. Yet another stretch of my road home is rife with zombies and a post-apocalyptic landscape.
There’s lots of adventure, heartache and excitement coming up.
I can’t wait to get going.
You can buy Gray Lake: A Novel of Crime and Supernatural Horror at Amazon
I wrote “The Mold of Memory” in a science fiction workshop run in 2006 by Nebula and Hugo finalist Phyllis Eisenstein.
It was a rather flighty assignment, as I recollect. Phyllis showed our group a number of her personal collection of prints by Ed Emshwiller, one of the premier artists of the Golden Age of sci-fi. Our assignment: Write a story based on one of them.
The picture I chose involved a scantily clad, buxom woman: I don’t think Emsh - as he was known - ever drew a female not shaped like a bell curve. She was barely dressed and in distress - because some sort of he-man astronaut/scientist type was coming for her and was in the grip of … apparently some sort of flowering multi-colored dust.
Columbia College Chicago, where Phyllis was giving her seminar, was hosting its annual Creative Nonfiction Week literary festival at about the same time. One of the guests that year was Joel Garreau, who gave a talk on his then-new book: Radical Evolution: The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies – And What It Means to Be Human. I was fascinated by the concepts Garreau was describing He was insisting that we’re living in a science fiction world and that many high tech, “unthinkable” solutions were already out there, but just not very exposed to or accessible by the public just yet.
I bought his book - Garreau signed it and was quite affable, hanging around after the signing, open to quite a bit of discussion, as I recall - and I ate it up in a day or two. The nanotech possibilities especially intrigued me, and I couldn’t help applying some of his ideas to the story assignment looming over my head.
People seem to generally like “The Mold of Memory” and I get emails and comments asking why I don’t write more straight-up science fiction. The answer to that is ... because I’m not a tech or science guy at heart. My science fiction training comes from the Golden Age, from Bradbury and Heinlein and the sort of stuff in Robert Silverberg’s first Science Fiction Hall of Fame volume. I reserve the right to write in in science fiction at will, but horror and crime are what my brain seems to readily return to when I get up each day...
I felt so unsure of myself in the science fiction realm, once upon a time, that this story didn’t see print until 2011, when my fellow Hoosier James Ward Kirk announced he was putting together a collection celebrating science fiction by Indiana authors. I’d previously published a story with him for a similar crime collection, so I sent him “The Mold of Memory.”
There was just one thing. James didn’t particularly care for the title, in what he took as the context of the story. We spent a fun hour on Facebook one afternoon shooting different ideas back and forth for a new, revised title, and we finally settled on one that sort of punned on the memory and nanotech aspects of the tale: “I NaKnow You”. I tend to give in to editorial requests, but, in the end, that title’s just too punny for me, so, when the contract expired, I returned to the old title, but with an acknowledgement and thanks to James.
"The Mold of Memory" appears in my science fiction/dark fantasy collection WORLDS COME UNDONE
Ten tales of worlds gone wrong!
"The Mold of Memory" - Nanotech run amok.
"How to Make Love Last Beyond the Grave" - Even the undead love….
"Howling" - A twisted werewolf short.
"Under an Invisible Shadow" - What happens when the dead start dying?
"Finding Tim" - Fantasy novel cover art might hold the key to one man's loss.
"Graven Images" - You might not feel quite yourself when the aliens arrive.
"Morbo the Clown Comes to Town" - A prose poem for the clown lover in all of us.
"Bookworms" - What was in the forbidden book the archaeology grad student found?
"Walking Woes" - In the future, it's the obese who rule.
"The Dreaming Gods" - A surreal tale previously in Rite Publishing's D20 zine PATHWAYS..
I don't always advertise the fact that I have an MFA in fiction writing. People expect you to be a combination of Shakespeare, Don DeLillo and, I dunno, whoever is the New Yorker flavor of the month.
But I'm just David Bain. And while I have indeed been known to read The New Yorker from time to time, my goal is more to be a combination of Stephen King, Joe Lansdale and, I dunno, whoever is currently topping the Amazon Kindle Hard Boiled Western Science Fiction Occult Magical Realism chart.
Actually, my goal is to write what I want when I want, genre and classifications and literary posturing and positioning and propriety be damned. My only self-restriction is that I never, ever phone it in. I'm relentless in giving each story, each essay my all.
It is said by those more vociferous than I that MFA programs in general sap the sap from your writing - that, body snatcher-like, they suck any last bit of humanity and creativity from your soul and leave your writing an empty, spiritless husk, your stories dead-eyed zombie clones doing the conformity shuffle into the hallowed pages of The Not Even Read by the Contributors Review.
I am happy to report that was not my experience at Columbia College Chicago. I won't go into it here, but CCC's Fiction Writing program really, truly did focus on expanding imagination and technique, genre and classifications and literary posturing and positioning and propriety be damned. (Or darned, at least.)
"War Wounds" stems from an assignment in Mort Castle's "Writing Historical Fiction" class. Can I say enough about what a wonderful man, mentor, editor - and, most importantly, writer - Mort Castle is? No, I cannot. Go buy New Moon on Water, or Cursed Be The Child and find out for yourself. He's exactly everything I aspire to in terms of scholarly and editorial work too - check out his seminal On Writing Horror: A Handbook by the Horror Writers Association or his simply stunning annotated version of Bram Stoker's Dracula or Shadow Show, one of the best anthologies (in any genre) of recent years, a collection of tales honoring Ray Bradbury, which Mort co-edited with Bradbury biographer Sam Weller.
But I was going to tell you about "War Wounds" and how I came to write it. Simply this: Mort gave members of the class odd, out-of-context snippets of real, historical documents, in my case lines of correspondence between brothers in the Civil War. Our job was then to immerse ourselves in the historical era surrounding the documents and write a piece of fiction incorporating the snippers. Yes, certain lines from "War Wounds" are lifted direct from history. I was rather pleased with the result. (And I'm humbled to say I think Mort was too.)
I've used this technique several times since - if not quoting actual documents, then using them as inspiration. The story of the past is more or less firmly written in the history books and in the primary source documents remaining. But the fictional past remains endlessly plumbable, endlessly viable, endlessly fascinating and alive.
"War Wounds" appears in David Bain's in-progress collection HISTORICAL HORRORS
The in-progress collection is an exclusive ebook, available only to members of The Bain Insiders Club.
David Bain brings you stories from the dark side of the past, weird tales of the occult and supernatural that look back on horrors personal and historical. When we look into the dark mirror, we see the present, but reflect on everything that got us there - for there are always shadows in the mirror, shadows deeper than those in the surface reality the glass allegedly reflects, ghosts going back and back and back...
The collection also includes:
Tom & Huck's Trade - A gross-out take on Twain's classic tale...
My story “Black Cab” stems directly from the lyrics of the song of the same name by the Swedish musician Jens Lekman.
“They might be psycho killers but tonight I really don’t care.”
“Take me home or take me anywhere.”
There you are.
I really don’t need to write much else.
I listened to the song on a CD in the car on the way to work one morning, and the idea simply gelled. I had some time before work and I wrote it pretty much in one sitting, in an hour or two.
You want to listen to the song for yourself? It’s a totally free (and legally so) mp3 - you can download it right here, in fact, along with a bunch of other Lekman songs. There doesn’t seem to be an official video, but I’m really amused by Lekman’s deadpan, sword-wielding, hand-clapping, armor-wearing, just-got-busted persona in his video for “You Are the Light.”
I always find it interesting that people who associate me strictly with horror presume I must listen exclusively to industrial/metal/tortureporn/sadomaso-rock.
Truth be told, I listen to some, but not much of that - but I do try to listen to music without prejudice.
Inspiration can come from anywhere.
Want to know one of my biggest failures as a human being? Well, I’ll suck it up and admit it right here: I can’t play or read a single note of music. For now at least. I’m a proud lifelong learner and music is something I’d like to tackle before I kick it - music is the background of almost all my waking life (unless I’m listening to an audiobook).
Basically, when it comes to music, I look for wit and talent. I find some death metal full of wit and talent. I find some (but not much) disco full of wit and talent.
And I certainly find Jens Lekman full of wit and talent.
I tend to use the same credentials for fiction, for art, for movies and TV, etc.
The genre matters not.
My egalitarian art lecture aside, “Black Cab” has an interesting publication history. The evening after I wrote it, I sent it off to Mike Kelly, a writer I knew from his excellent stories as well as his presence on various message boards which I was a member of - perhaps this tells you a little about the age of the story, given that message boards were still a thing. Mike had recently acquired the editorship of City Slab Magazine, which had a great, long-standing rep for dark urban fantasy.
Mike accepted the story in short order.
Soon thereafter I saw a copy of City Slab in my local Hallmark store, and was triply excited, as I’d never appeared in any locally-available magazine before.
Then, sometime later, Mike e-mailed me to say the issue had been shipped to the printers.
And then, the very next day, there was an email saying the magazine had folded.
Ah, yes, the mid-to-late '00s. So much quality print died - and so often it was sudden like that, like a hitman had crept in during the middle of the night and slit the faithful ‘zine’s throat in the name of a thousand “submit-for-exposure” copy-and-paste online wannabes.
It was right around this time that I ran into J. A. Konrath’s blog. Konrath was talking about this revolutionary form of self-publishing, claiming the stigma was slipping away from the term, claiming he was making oodles of money.
So I decided to try it. Just happened to have a new story sitting around, after all.
Thus “Black Cab” became my first self-published piece (sometime in early 2011, I believe). I still pursue publishing in many different forms, but self-pub’s been pretty decent to me. I could probably create or buy a better cover for this one, but that’s my original first effort, and I keep it around for nostalgia’s sake.
David Bain - Writer.