As I may have mentioned, I have my first professionally-published short story coming out next month. It’s called “Errant” and it is part of Trisha Telep’s KISS ME DEADLY anthology. It’s also the subject of what may be the best Kirkus review I’ve ever received:
Can true love die if you’re already dead? This tantalizing collection of 13 short stories by some of the best writers of paranormal fiction in the United States and Great Britain explores “the other side of love.” Whether it’s an old-fashioned ghost story, as in Caitlin Kittredge’s “Behind the Red Door,” in which Jo wonders about the dashing resident of an abandoned house and a string of mysterious murders; a story with a twist, as in Michelle Rowen’s “Familiar,” in which a reluctant witch discovers that her chosen pet is a shapeshifter in disguise; or a story with dark humor, as in Sarah Rees Brennan’s “The Spy Who Never Grew Up,” in which a slightly older Peter Pan connects with Wendy’s granddaughter to fight evil in Her Majesty’s Secret Service, each story features a paranormal kiss. Fans who can’t get enough of their favorite authors will also be thrilled to find a back story to Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth, a Generation Dead companion by Daniel Waters and more killer unicorns from Diana Peterfreund.
I was reading my pal Sarah Rees Brennan’s blog the other day, and she mentioned that her story was a “very weird story in a super-romantic anthology” (she neglected to mention that it was fourteen varieties of awesome), which is funny, because I wonder sometimes how “Errant” will come across to people in terms of the anthology as a whole and especially to those who have never read my books before.
“Errant” is actually a bit of an outlier in terms of my fiction. It is written in dueling third person narrative, and it’s a historical, unlike all five of my published novels (or the sixth that’s coming out this fall). Though it’s set in the same world as Rampant and Ascendant, it stands alone and takes place almost three hundred years ago. Since I often read reviews of Rampant whereby the readers express initial surprise that the book is NOT set in historical times (My favorite line in that review: “Though now I have to reflect – why is it that werewolves and vampires have become normal, but killer unicorns make me hesitate?“), I wonder if readers who come to my unicorn books after having read only “Errant” are going to be more likely to startle at see Astrid using a cell phone in chapter one.
I am fortunate in that I’ve been given two opportunities to write for anthologies this year where I could write stories set in the killer unicorn world. With Zombies vs. Unicorns, which is the one I wrote first (even though it’s coming out a month later), it was a no-brainer. Since I was definitely writing about unicorns, it only made sense to write about my unicorns. With Kiss Me Deadly, my editor asked if I wanted to write about unicorns, because she was trying to compile a range of paranormal creatures in the antho. Since I talk so much about the historical hunters in my full-length books, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to showcase one of their stories.
Some writers in the antho (like the aforementioned Sarah), wrote utterly stand-alone short stories, while others (like Carrie Ryan) set their anthology stories in their respective full-length worlds. Carrie, I think, has an easier time presenting relatively “historical” stories — a few of hers are set hundreds of years before the setting in her books — because of the post-apocalyptic nature of her world. Her historicals are really contemporaries, or near-futuristics, while her regular books are “far-futuristic.” Additionally, most folks who read apocalyptic or “dystopian” novels are reading specifically to draw comparisons between our world and the world in the book — to figure out how they got there. My “historicals” are exactly that — “Errant” is set in 18th century France. However, a running theme in Rampant and Ascendant is the idea of lost knowledge and how the actions and philosophies of the historical unicorn hunters have left a legacy on the modern world and the characters in it. I want readers to be curious about the old hunters, and in “Errant” I get to present someone who has lived the life that Astrid and her friends are questioning, and show how, as times change, the acceptability and even desirability of that lifestyle can also change.
We recently received our first blog review for Kiss Me Deadly, from Lexie at Poisoned Rationality. About “Errant” she writes:
“This is set in her Unicorn Hunters Universe, which I haven’t read. Gitta arrives at the chateau for the traditional Unicorn Hunt to celebrate Elise’s upcoming marriage, but in a household of secrets no one wants what they say they want. This didn’t read like a short story to me, it read more like a novel. The pacing wasn’t rushed, the two characters who meant something–Gitta and Elise–were both well developed and quite a bit happened in the relatively few pages. The ‘love’ in this story is less of a romantic nature and more of kindred spirits I think.”
I really liked this. One of the big complaints i often read about short stories is that the writers tried to do too much with too little space, so the fact that this reader thought my story was very full and rich without being rushed makes me very happy. This whole short story thing is a new medium for me.