How I Came To Love the Short Story
"On a Field, Sable" in the FREE anthology Eternal Spring is my fifth published short story and my third (of five) in 2012, but I kind of went backwards in my publishing career. Most people in speculative fiction start out writing short stories and progress to novels. I did it the opposite way, publishing seven novels before a single short story hit print.
But I love them! In fact, if this were still the golden age of shorts and I could make my living writing them (as F. Scott Fitzgerald once did, charging up to $4000 for a single short story in the Saturday Evening Post) I might leave the realm of novels altogether. There's something so satisfying to me about writing short stories. I can experiment with format, style, and voice in a way that isn't always sustainable for an entire novel. I can explore other facets of a world I develop in a longer series, as I did in the "Secret Stories" on my website that show the perspective of other characters in my Secret Society Girl series, or all the "killer unicorn" shorts I've been publishing in anthologies, that either show some of the long history of unicorn hunting (as in "Errant", another free online short, or "The Hammer of Artemis" in the anthology Cast of Characters).
"On a Field, Sable" is one of the latter. It's a story about Melissende, who is a very unlikeable character in my novels Rampant and Ascendant. But though she and the novel heroine, Astrid, constantly butt heads (and occasionally cross swords), Melissende has her own reasons for doing things. She's fiercely loyal to her sister, and more than a little afraid that their mission will end up killing them. What drives a person like Melissende, who isn't, by any stretch of the imagination, a "nice girl?" What would it take for us to understand where she's coming from? Those are the questions I tackle in this story. Writing it actually made me like Melissende a whole lot more, which surprised me because she's usually such an antagonist to my poor heroine Astrid. But, as they say, once you walk a mile in someone's shoes...
And I'm not the only one who chose to explore a longer series in this free anthology. There are several other authors who are giving us a taste of what you can get in our longer works, like Stephanie Dray with her ancient-Egyptian tale about Queen Arsinoe, and Amanda Brice, who returns to her dancer Dani Spevak. If you're curious about our works or just looking for a bunch of great short reads to entertain you between dips in the pool this summer, you can't beat this free read!
And, I feel I would be remiss if I didn't mention my other free short story out there: "Among the Nameless Stars" is a free online prequel to my brand-new book, a post-apocalyptic retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion entitled For Darkness Shows the Stars. Check it out!