There's nothing quite as exciting as finding dozens of little pieces of yourself on your doorstep.
In Laini Taylor's delicious new fantasy, Strange the Dreamer, Chapter 16 is titled "A Hundred Smithereens of Darkness." It is one of the many hundred things I adore about Taylor, that she titles each of her Chapters in the most scrumptious ways. These titles aren't just poetic, they are teasing little morsels, always directly referenced at some point during that Chapter as it unfolds.
Now, I wouldn't exactly describe bits of myself as "Smithereens of Darkness," but there is an element of the dark in much of my work.
Before we get to the subject of my work, I simply must tell you more about Strange the Dreamer.
Those Smithereens, they belong to Sarai, Taylor's new female protagonist. Sarai is Godspawn, blessed (or cursed) with a magical gift. She is the Muse of Nightmares and every night she yawns one hundred tiny, beautiful moths made up of the stuff of bad dreams. The delicate creatures light upon the brows of sleepers, allowing Sarai's consciousness entrance to the sleepers' dreams. During the nightly yawn, Sarai is omnipresent, seeing through each moth as he flies, peering into each dream the dreamers dream. She can manipulate these dreams into something sweet or into something terrifying. But each moth, each Smithereen, Sarai recognizes always as a tiny part of herself.
..."salt and soot."
It is that way, seeing for the first time dozens of copies of your work, bound and neatly ordered, baring your printed name.
The book, my book, is called Tributaries: An Anthology of the Savannah Writers Group. And while my dream is to one day birth a fantasy novel that might sit on the same shelf (or at least some shelf very near) as the work of Laini Taylor, it is still pretty fantastic self-publishing a volume of stories and poetry from local authors.
...and seeing so many of them looking handsome all in a row.
The title Tributaries was partly inspired by the wickedly curving arms of the salty, marshy rivers in the Savannah area, which snake like lightning through landscapes painted by the sunset. They're reminiscent of the bundles of tangled Spanish Moss, which hang from creeping boughs downtown, casting shadows deep with history and intrigue.
The Anthology is packed with fifty pieces, all penned by authors (over twenty of them) who call themselves members of the Savannah Writers Group. Many of the pieces pay tribute to a person, a memory, a mystery, a genre... Thus carrying a double meaning.
Tributaries: An Anthology of the Savannah Writers Group is on sale now in soft cover and e-book format on Amazon and the Savannah Writers Group is working on plans for a formal book launch this autumn.
The role I played in the conjuring of this volume was mostly as an organizer and point of contact. I stumbled along, gathering hard workers to help me, creating a process, a method for collecting, curating, and editing the works we ultimately published.
I have one poem and one short story in the Anthology. My "Smithereen of Darkness" is called "The Artist."
Here is an excerpt:
It was Ahmed’s turn, and he had been giving very serious thought to which was his favorite animal. A guinea pig would not do. When Peaches appeared and sat down beside him; however, wearing a grin, he couldn’t speak. Ahmed, usually prone to arguments, was sure he was going to marry Peaches Blair some day and always gave the girl her way.
“Hello, Sydney,” Peaches said brightly.
“It’s my birthday tomorrow. Can you draw my name with some butterflies all around it?”
Sydney glanced at Ahmed. His lips seemed glued shut. “Okay,” she agreed.
Peaches placed a pack of colored pencils on the lunch table. “I brought you these to work with.”
“Thanks,” replied Sydney, who began work right away.
Cursive was not Sydney’s strong suit, but she rigidly scrawled Peaches’ name in loops at the center of a page. Then she drew butterflies all around the letters and colored them in. Peaches was in Sydney’s class but was not among the artist’s best friends, who were Ahmed, Colin, and Stacie. Peaches didn’t know what Sydney could do with her animal drawings.
Stacie recognized the look in Sydney’s eyes and smiled knowingly, stealing a glance at Ahmed, whose silent face held gentle anticipation. They both knew what would happen next.
Sydney was coloring one butterfly black and gold and began her mental chant. I wish you real, I wish you real. Without delay, a golden butterfly outlined in black floated down to the lunch table. Stacie and Ahmed made small smiles. Peaches laughed like the trickle of a fountain.
“Wow, look at that! A real butterfly. Cool.”
Peaches no doubt believed the incident to be a simple coincidence.
If you find you like my short speculative fiction you will also love "Snakebit," which re-imagines the Greek hero Perseus and the Gorgon Medusa as a modern day criminal profiler and serial killer. Snakebit takes place in the south and pays subtle tribute to the work of filmmaker Michael Mann. You can find it also on Amazon in an Anthology called 9Tales From Elsewhere.
...Now that I think on it, Snakebit would also be a spectacular episode of The X-Files.