Tuesday, November 07, 2006

In the beginning....

More than 20 years ago I read Joseph Payne Brennan's poem, "When Tigers Pass" (from his Sixty Selected Poems, The New Establishment Press, 1985. Copyright law prohibits me from reproducing that text here). In my journal on November 19, 1985, I described Brennan's work as, "...a statement about how the last tiger, because it is the last of its kind, will be deified," and added, "I'd read the poem on the Express Bus. By the time I reached my stop I was mentally outlining 'Vox Humana,' whose outline sits on my desk at home."

A 15-line poem inspired a short story that became a series....

I finished drafting the short story before the year was out, though three days after I began that writing I suspected I was really looking at a longer piece. Various critiques agreed, citing my story as "excellently crafted," "fascinating," and "powerful," but raising questions that clearly indictated I needed to do more world-building.

Various other activities and life challenges kept me from fiction for more than a decade, but the story remained in the back of my mind during my years of multiple-shift work. I returned to "Vox" almost two decades after I had drafted it. I kept some of its material but sent the rest in a new direction that addressed the questions posed by readers and editors. The original title no longer applied, and "Vox Humana" became Deviations.

Keeping one's old story drafts and critiques pays off! I am very thankful for the workshop groups I attended in both Massachusetts and Florida, and for my partner Mary's impeccable editing. Good and candid readers are invaluable.

And I am very thankful to Koboca Publishing for having faith in this story.

The pitch....

Long ago the Masari and the Yata hunted together in peace, until the species they drove to extinction included those possessing nutrients necessary to Masari survival. The Yata then became the only source of those nutrients. Deviations tells how these peoples cope with the reality of being sentient creatures forced to play the roles of predator and prey, and how several of them try to thwart long-established conventions in the hope of overcoming their biological imperative. In Deviations love triumphs in the midst of death. The series focuses on the social, ethical, and spiritual dilemmas surrounding both the literal cannibalism of the societies involved and the many ways in which their different communities feed off each other.

My novelette "Lazuli" (Asimov's, Nov. 1984) placed me on the final ballot for the 1985 John W. Campbell Award. My short story "Moments of Clarity" (Full Spectrum, Bantam Books, 1988) reached preliminary ballot for the 1989 Nebula Awards. Commenting on "Moments of Clarity" in his review of Full Spectrum in the November, 1988, Out of This World Tribune, Bruce D. Arthurs wrote, "This one story is worth the price of the entire book."

The writing portion of my resume includes my bibliography and more.

Curious? Stay tuned, and thanks for visiting!


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