My First Short Story in Twenty Years

Tesseract
This is a tesseract.

Okay, it has been three weeks and you might be wondering if I was kidnapped by the Storyfest kids I mentioned in my last post. No such luck – I had to leave Hudson when the event was over. It was lovely, BTW, and if I’d had my act together sooner, I’d have blogged about it.

Instead I’ll announce one of my new publications. (I have three new contracts and I’ll blog them one at a time, so when I think, “Oh poop, is it Friday already? I should blog. What’ll I blog about?” I’ll have a ready answer for at least three Fridays. Not that it’s a lack of topics that keeps me away but, still, this plan makes me feel on top of things.)

So here goes:

My short story (not so short, really – it’s almost 5,000 words), “Team Leader 2040,” will be in Tesseracts 17: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast to Coast (edited by Colleen Anderson and Steve Vernon), to be published in October 2013 by Edge/Tesseract Books.

Tesseracts - the first anthology cover (1985)
Tesseracts – the first anthology cover (1985)

If you’re Canadian and into sci-fi, you probably know about Tesseracts. It’s not just a four-dimensional cube thingy. It’s an annual anthology of speculative fiction that has been going strong since 1985.

I am Canadian but, um, well, I’m not really into sci-fi. Or at least I thought I wasn’t. But since I grew up glued to Star Trek and the Twilight Zone, since “The Playground” by Ray Bradbury is one of my all-time favourite short stories (not quite as fave as “The Dead” by James Joyce but it’s up there), and since my novel All Good Children won the 2012 Sunburst Award (for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic), I’ve been broadening my mind. Apparently I am into sci-fi. So I’m totally thrilled to be part of the great Canadian Tesseracts tradition.

Not having known that I was into sci-fi for most of my life, I have not read any of the first 15 Tesseracts anthologies. But I did read Tesseracts 16 before I submitted my story, and I can attest that it is good stuff. (I especially loved “Gregor Samsa was never in the Beatles” by J.J. Steinfeld and “Blink” by Michael Kelly.)

Also, while looking up “Tesseracts” online, I stumbled upon Hourman’s fun blog post  about movies and culture — apparently there is a tesseract in “The Avengers,” which I can’t remember because it was a lousy movie I never could have sat through if I hadn’t been quilting on the couch while it was on TV. (On the other hand, I saw “Star Trek: Into Darkness” twice. I’m sure this says something about me but I don’t know what.)

So, about “Team Leader 2040″…

Remember how I’m supposed to be finishing the sequel to All Good Children? Remember how I wrote, oh, four versions of a sequel and didn’t like any of them because they were all so freaking depressing? Well, I have been pilfering all those drafts and making chunks of them into short stories, all set in the same future world. This has allowed me to remove the saddest and grimmest bits from my young heroes’ adventures, so that I can (a) finish their sequel without totally depressing myself and my readers (note to writers: Don’t write a sad book while experiencing menopause. Just don’t. It gets messy.) and (b) write a bunch of short stories set in a grim future for an eventual awesome collection.

Good plan, huh? What’s a couple years late in the big scheme of things?

So yeah, about that story…

This is not the sort of zombie in my short story, but it's the only zombie I have a photo of. Yet.
This is not the sort of zombie in “Team Leader,” but it’s the only zombie I have a photo of. Yet.

It’s a zombie story. But it’s not like all the other zombie stories out there. It’s a new take on zombies. Yeah, there’s gore and guns and hiding out in a shack in the woods. But really it’s about big money vs. the little guy. With zombies. You’ll see.

I wrote short stories in my teens and twenties (and published about a dozen in literary journals), but I stopped writing for a while and when I got back to it, I mostly wrote for children. “Team Leader 2040” is the first short story for adults I’ve written in, oh, 20 years. I was a little nervous submitting it. But what do you know, I got lucky. I’m back in short story form. And it feels great.

I can’t wait till October.

Expect a few zombie posts between now and then. (And a couple more announcements on my forthcoming picture book and novel.)

6 Comments on “My First Short Story in Twenty Years

  1. Congrats, Catherine! I look forward to reading your story, especially if it’s a new take on zombies. I’m fascinated by what the current trend of zombie-popularity says about our society; we seem to be preoccupied with a total breakdown in civilization. But I’m not one for gore. I can handle it in a story but not on screen. So I will be very interested to see how you take that trope and use it to tell a story about “big money and the little guy”… 🙂

      • Sure! Would love to.
        I actually have a story in Tesseracts 17 as well — this year I set out to finally break into a pro fiction market, and Tesseracts was the first one that accepted my work.

      • Congratulations! I look forward to reading it.

        Hey, I just checked out your bio on the Tesseracts 17 page – is your story related to any of the Icelandic sagas? I read the Heimskringla ages ago (in translation, natch). I’ve been intrigued by Olaf Tryggvason since reading James Reston’s Last Apocalypse.

      • Actually, my story is a werewolf tale that explores (in part) the effect of Canada’s residential school system.
        A story related to the sagas is something I’d like to do — I’ve always loved trolls (the big, nasty Scandinavian kind), and they sometimes creep out of folklore and into the sagas (like Grettir’s saga).
        I haven’t read Heimskringla, but I’ve read many of the other sagas, and especially loved Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda.

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