Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Story Notes: "Trial and Terror" (psst... A PUNK ROCK FUTURE comes out today!)

Somehow, the van makes it most of the way through Iowa. Then it dies all at once, spectacularly, farting out its reserve of gas like an old man on taco night in the run-down nursing home his good-for-nothing children stuck him in after he drove the family sedan into a telephone pole. 
Most of those things don't exist anymore. No nursing homes. Only a few sedans. And don't get me started on the lack of taco nights.

Another two months, another story post! My newest one is the 6000ish-word "Trial and Terror," which is my first published sequel.

When the editor of A Punk Rock Future solicited a story from me for the anthology, he specifically mentioned my Interzone story "The Big So-So" (also in audio at Escape Pod) as a story that would fit the theme. And that was when I realized that I wasn't quite done with these characters or their world of permanent ennui due to the sudden withdrawal of alien love drugs. So what did I do? I, uh, wrote a 40,000-word novella with these characters.

I am not a fast writer, nor do I really like writing or pretty much anything about the process other than the brief shot of dopamine when I see my name in a table of contents. However, I finished this novella in about three months, with over half the work squeezed into a two-week span, and I enjoyed nearly every minute of it. The story, naturally, was far too long for a short fiction anthology, so I wrote another story (the aforementioned "Trial and Terror") that chronologically takes place after the novella, which means that this is not just a sequel but the sequel to a sequel, although all of the stories can be read separately from one another and make total sense.

So, anyway! "Trial and Terror" is, as its name implies, a courtroom tale. As in all the Magic Band stories (so named due to featuring a band that is magical, because I bleed creativity from my very pores), your unreliable narrator is Syl, who's not unreliable in the "lies about murdering people" way but instead in the "has spaced five times on picking you up at the airport, will absolutely flake again" way. Not that there are airports in this acktshually decimated world. Unfortunately for them, the band encounters one of the few towns that still clings to something like law and order, and it's up to Syl to get her friend/vocalist Frank's head out of a noose. And maybe there's some romance in the mix? (There is!)

Like I said before, this story (and everything featuring these characters) was insanely fun to write and also funny, at least to me. Maybe you'll laugh too? To find out, buy A Punk Rock Future at Powell's, Amazon, or anywhere else books are sold. There's 25 other "punkpunk" stories in this anthology, including rocking tales from Spencer Ellsworth, Sarah Pinsker, Marie Vibbert, Wendy Nikel, and many more.

(And that novella? Well, I'm still tinkering away at the edits, and whether it's published by someone else or self-published it won't be out until 2021 at the very earliest. In the meantime, I'm definitely open to writing more stuff in this milieu that I love. Big hint.)