Story Notes: My Dear, Like the Sky and Stars and Sun

Clarkesworld 129 cover

Cover Art for Clarkesworld 129 by Matt Dixon

Like “Whatever Tower, However High,” I wrote the first draft of “My Dear, Like the Sky and Stars and Sun” in The Brainery‘s Sci-Fi and Fairy Tales workshop taught by Carina Bissett last summer.

This one finds its roots in the unsettling fairy tale, Donkeyskin, in which the king tries to marry the princess (his daughter) after the queen dies. She delays by asking for three impossibly beautiful gowns, the color of the sky, the sun, and the moon. Eventually, she runs away and more typical  fairy tale hijinks ensue. It’s a strange dichotomy and leaves the original conflict between the father and the daughter largely unresolved.

Of course, remixing is not about fixing elements we find problematic, but instead means exploring the ways in which they’re still relevant to us today. (Abuse certainly hasn’t vanished, for one.) In fact, when I bring a fairy tale into contemporary or futuristic worlds, my hope is that, while you might recognize the trappings from time to time, the original narrative itself will fade into the background, and the story of these characters will hold your attention.

So when I point out a story comes from such and such fairy tale or literary work, it’s never to nudge you to make sure you got the reference or offer up the key to “understanding my artistic intentions.” (It wouldn’t be a very good story in that case.) I only mention it to acknowledge the soil in which a particular work grew.

If that enriches your experience of the story, great. If you prefer not to know…feel free to skip story notes.

“My Dear, Like the Sky and Stars and Sun” appeared in issue 129 of Clarkesworld. Support them and speculative short fiction on Patreon or by subscribing.

3-Day Novel Postmortem

The 3-Day Novel Contest has officially concluded, friends, and I am relieved to say that I survived. (Fingers are still a bit tender, but they’re recovering.)

Over three days, I wrote 97 pages, or about 29,000 words, of a novel(la). It was…a singular experience, grueling at times, but there’s something to be said for pushing yourself that hard, and I now know I can write over 13,000 words in a day if I really, really must. (Hopefully not in the near future. Ow.)

Other relevant metrics:

–About 125 Oxford commas, by my count.

–12 caffeinated beverages consumed.

–20 hours of sleep.

–Six ideas discarded before the one I ended up writing.

–One celebratory playing of Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer.” (What? I was halfway there.)

If you pledged, let me know when you fulfill your pledge, and I’ll update the main page. Also, if you contact me with your address, I’ll send you a thank-you note!

If you didn’t pledge, but still want to donate, here are the charities one last time:

Many thanks to everyone who supported this project and patiently followed along via Twitter. (Or politely ignored me.) And lots of love and appreciation to everyone who pledged.

3-Day Novel Update

Friends, the 3-Day Novel Contest starts at 12:01am on Saturday. Hard to believe it’s almost here. I’m mostly not panicking…

You’ll be able to follow my during-contest adventures and lamentations on Twitter (#3DayNovel). I’ll also post another update here after the fact.

As for the fundraising, we’ve done remarkably well, with between $611 and $758 in total pledges (some variability for length and other conditions).

I wanted to note that for anyone who would prefer to make their donation to a comparable organization in Houston or elsewhere in east Texas, that is absolutely fine by me. However, I would encourage you to stick with local groups and, of course, do as much research as possible.

Otherwise, this is the current division of pledges (again with some variability):

Remember, the goal is $250 each and there’s still time to pledge!

With that, I will see you on the other side…

Story Notes: In Which Liz Frankenstein Lives

JDP 92 cover art: “Satan Sowing Tares” by Felicien Rops

What can I say about this story?

For one, writing it was a kind of therapy.

A year or so ago, I completed and defended my Master’s Essay: an exploration of how Rousseau’s theories of education and personhood manifest in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. This is not to speak negatively of that experience–it was overwhelmingly  positive–but I definitely needed some time to process my feelings about how gender plays out in Rousseau’s treatise, Emile (grrr), and subsequently in Shelley’s novel (I argued, as a kind of commentary and/or satire).

What better way to purge said feelings by rolling out a time travel story for Jersey Devil Press‘s Victorian Mash-Up special issue?

In addition to giving some neglected women characters just a little bit of justice, I’m always delighted to turn Victorian queer subtext into actual text. Frankenstein is one of the subtextiest of them all, so this is as gay and bi and gender fluid as I could make it in 3700 words.

Also Nikola Tesla. How do you write a mad-as-all-hell Victorian adventure without Nikola Tesla?

(And, yes, if you’re wondering, I did dare myself to include references to as many Victorian or Victorian-adjacent works as I could. I won’t provide a list–where’s the fun in that? But do tweet me how many you found.)

Ultimately, though, sometimes we just write things for fun and out of affection for other things. Because I do, and have always, loved these stories, whatever their flaws and my frustrations.

Rousseau on the other hand…

“In Which Liz Frankenstein Lives,” appeared in the Victorian Mash-Up special issue of Jersey Devil Press. Support their unique flavor of weird fiction by donating or by purchasing one of their anthologies.

New story

Jersey Devil Press released their Victorian Mash-Up Special Issue today. It includes my short story, “In Which Liz Frankenstein Lives, Makes New Friends, Saves Nikola Tesla, and Fixes What She Can” (“In Which Liz Frankenstein Lives” for short).

You can find it, Dan Morey’s delightful Little Women/Moby Dick mash-up, and Jen Fawkes’s excellent meditation on Professor Moriarty here.

Thanks for reading!