I am pleased to present a guest post by fellow speculative fiction author Lorina Stephens. Lorina has worked as editor, freelance journalist for national and regional print media, been a festival organizer, publicist, lectures on many historical topics from textiles to domestic technologies, teaches, and continues to work as a writer and artist.
Her short fiction has appeared in Polar Borealis, On Spec, Strangers Among Us, Postscripts to Darkness, Neo-Opsis, Stories of the Deluge, and Sword & Sorceress X. You can check out her website or visit her Amazon page.
The last collection of short stories I published was in 2008. It’s an eclectic mix which I entitled And the Angels Sang, named for the lead story. To my delight, it’s met with quite a bit of positive reaction from both readers and reviewers.
In the ensuing years, I’ve crafted a number of other short stories in between operating a publishing house and all the demands of being an administrator in our other business, one which pays the bills. A lot has happened during that time: our son married his life-buddy, three major surgeries, a failed attempt at elder care, renovating this old stone house which was built c1847, and as I write this, into the second year of a global pandemic.
And somewhere in all that still writing, still exploring ideas and what-ifs. I do have to admit a reluctance to writing short fiction. The literary form seems so restrictive to me, perhaps more having to do with the fact I have too much to say and want to make an epic out of everything. But short story writing is good discipline.
Spanning the boundaries
Having said that, I’m giving you 10 short works of fiction in this collection, spanning the boundaries of science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, magic realism and absurd fantastica. Apparently, I don’t much like writing in just one genre, either. Creative fences drive me batshit crazy, although I do very much appreciate fences around this sanctuary we are privileged to call home. But there is a theme to this collection, a common thread I think you will find through all the stories. What it is, I will leave up to you to decipher, and thus we will have a silent communication.
I’ve arranged the stories in some loose graduation of dark to light, and again have chosen to use the lead story as the title for the collection. But the title Dreams of the Moon is more, because as a child, and then an adolescent, I firmly believed if I arranged myself just so in the bed, so that when the moon shone in my window, something wonderful would happen. It never did. But I still felt compelled to answer the call of that pale, eerie light.
And then there were all the moonlight walks in the deep of the night which took place well into adulthood. Wonderful moments. Moments I remember with clarity and wonder, whether moonlight so bright on a winter’s night that the trees by the river cast indigo shadows across the snow, or a brace of geese rising up and across that silver face. And as with all things, there is the dark side of the moon: a sleepless night fraught with sorrow and a desperate attempt to rescue someone I dearly loved.
All of these moments influence and underscore what I write. It’s there in these 10 stories. Darkness and light. Wonder and sorrow. The ambiguity, sometimes, of reflected light. Dreams of the Moon.
The ninth story in the collection, Fall Arrest, was the result of the convergence of two quite unrelated occurrences. One was a call for stories around the theme of Alice in Wonderland. The other was frustration with the bureaucracy of the Worker’s Safety Insurance Board. It was kind of like that moment when chocolate hit peanut butter, or salt spilled into caramel. What if Alice ended up being a safety training instructor in Wonderland? What if she had to teach a remedial class on fall arrest training? And what if that class was for one important and specific character seemingly doomed to fall?
Alas, the story never made the cut for the anthology. And it would seem I just never got around to sending it elsewhere because of closed submissions, and life’s demands, and, and, and. So, here it is in my latest collection, in all it’s ridiculous glory.
Well, at the risk of being coy, you’ll have to read the story in order to find out how all of that resolves itself.
Dreams of the Moon is available in trade paperback and ebook, either directly through my website or through your favourite online bookseller wherever you live in the world. It’s also available through elibrary services globally.