Sunday, October 23, 2011

Holy Cow!

Kind of funny how time slips by. Didn't realize how long it'd been since I visited here. And it's not like I've had nothing going on - I just didn't feel all that comfortable talking about it. That's how I roll.

However, based upon the number of hits on the blog lately, apparently, people are expecting me to say something. Probably expecting me to say something stupid, because again, that's how I roll.

I suspect all the recent traffic here is because of the new project that's in presale right now -SNUTCH LABS PRESENTS: TALES FROM THE YELLOW ROSE DINER AND FILL STATION. So, as I'm rusty at the blog thing, let's discuss that.

I want to focus on one of my favorite writers in the whole world - Kim Despins. Kim is working on a novel right now, but has been a short-story specialist up to this point - a woman after my own heart. She's a writer who you forget is there, which is the best kind. You read her stories, and she doesn't step on them. It's only story you read, and when you're done, as a writer, you try and figure out how she turned you inside out and got you lost in her prose. It's seamless.

While there's a beauty in that, there's also a brutality in what she writes. Her story "Skin" is in HORROR LIBRARY IV. Where to get? Here: HORROR LIBRARY IV. I have several friends with stories in this anthology, but while Kim's might not be your favorite when you finish, might not be the most well written in your opinion (it's very well written), might not be the one that makes you pick up the book, six months after you read the anthology it'll be the one you remember.

As far as the Yellow Rose offering, Kim does what she does best. She attacks a trope in the genre and turns it upside down. Kim, I think, will freely admit she wrote a gypsy curse story. But if one does something original with a trope, it makes it all the better. Why is LET THE RIGHT ONE IN such a powerful vampire movie? I believe it's because we're all tired of vampire movies, yet they found someway to make it fresh. This is what Kim does with her story, DOSHOLO. The title translates to "guilt" in Romanian, but I'm sure you knew that.

Here's an excerpt from the second section of the story:

Rae sat smoking a cigarette in her car, an older Camry she hated because it had been her dad’s first. She flicked ashes at the cup holder, missed and left more burn marks in the upholstery. Parked outside Corey’s apartment, she waited for the throbbing in her ankle to subside enough she could press the accelerator.
Corey had gone back to the Harvest Fair for the concert.

“It’ll look suspicious if we’re not there,” he’d said. “Besides, I want to go dancing.”

“You? Dancing?” Rae had spent countless evenings trying to pull Corey out onto the dance floor at one bar or another.

“Why not,” he’d said. “After tonight, maybe we should celebrate being alive.”
He’d also threatened to break up with her if she went to the cops. That, and go to her boss about the stash of pot she kept hidden at work for her night shifts. Rae barely made rent already. Losing her job meant moving back in with her dad. They’d barely spoken since her mother and brother died.

Ma and Danny. She’d worked so hard to forget that day, to think of them as if Danny were off at school and Ma divorced and happy in another town.

“But they’re not, are they.” Rae said to the empty car. And the gypsy knew it. She lit another cigarette from the stub of the one she’d just finished. Now she was responsible for another death. I’m a curse, she thought.

“You’re smoking now?”

The voice came from the back of her mind and was no more substantial than the smoke she blew out the car window.

Yeah Ma, she thought and flicked ashes at the cup holder. Her mother’s voice frequently popped into her head, mostly when she was doing things her mother wouldn’t have liked. And it’s not the worst thing I’ve done.

A commercial played on the radio – some annoying ad for a monster trucks rally – and she turned it off. Rae slid deeper into her seat and let her eyelids drift to half-mast. She wanted to pick up Corey, drive somewhere out of reach of the streetlights, put in Pink Floyd, smoke and watch the stars. She wanted to forget.

“Cigarettes will kill you.”

She jumped and in the rearview mirror caught a glimpse of someone in the back seat. When she turned around, her mother sat amid the litter of discarded fast food bags and empty soda cans. She still wore the navy blue suit with white piping that they’d buried her in. The faint odor of formaldehyde tickled Rae’s nose.

Ma? she thought, unable to take a breath deep enough to allow her to speak.

“Oh, now you acknowledge me. I expected you to just ignore me like before.”

“Ma, I didn’t-”

“You didn’t? Then where were you when I was dying? When I needed you most? Where?”
Rae scrambled for the handle, pushed the door open and fell onto the street. When she stood, the car was empty. The throbbing in her ankle became spikes of pain. She moaned, let out a shaky breath and fumbled for her cigarettes.

“Doesn’t family mean anything to you?” Ma stood just behind her right shoulder. Her curly red hair flared out like a halo, although Rae didn’t think she looked very angelic. The sagging skin of her mouth turned down in a sneer. Tears welled in her eyes and spilled over. “You left me for dead.”

The woman who’d raised Rae and who’d never lifted a hand to her in anger pulled back and slapped Rae across the face. Her acrylic finger nails raked her cheek. Rae staggered back.

“You’re not my Ma.”


This is the example of writing I was talking about. I dropped you in a story about a third of the way through, yet you can pretty much piece everything together to this point. There's continuity. There's also a skill that drops just enough information among the action so the reader learns more about the characters with each sentence.

If you're interested in following a writer who has a huge upside, Kim would be a solid bet to check out. And do a brother a favor, check her out in a book that I have a story in, as well.