It occurred to me recently that I can trace my desire to write short genre fiction pretty clearly back to a certain time in my youth, and that in fact I can go further than that: I can pin it down to the two books that introduced me to just what short fantasy and science-fiction stories could accomplish and how awe-inspiring that could be. They were anthologies by the now apparently long-defunct Chancellor Press, who used to have a thing for knocking out cheap but rather brilliant editions of classic work: these two books in particular had the imaginative titles of The SF Collection and Great Tales of Fantasy and Science Fiction. And only recently, as I was hunting around for some strong opening paragraphs to share at my Nine Worlds short fiction-writing workshop, did I realise just how terrific those books were, and how much they'd lit the fuse on my passion for genre stories. Looking back, I suspect there was a part of me, even then, that longed to see my name in a book like that, in the company of all those awesomely talented individuals.
Cut to the present, when I discovered that Flame Tree Publishing, (who seem to be doing not dissimilar things to Chancellor Press, though in infinitely classier fashion), had opened submissions for three anthologies that would mix classic fiction with more modern work, in outrageously sexy deluxe hardcover editions. Needless to say, I went for it, though without much hope of getting in, and I suppose also needless to say since I'm blogging about it, I did in fact manage to land a story in one of them. That particular story was one of my all-time favourites, (and yeah, I know I shouldn't have favourites, but what can you do? I bet even people with loads of kids do the same), Jenny's Sick, as originally published in Lightspeed back in December of 2010.
Anyway, we're now mere weeks from publication, and here's what those puppies are going to look like:
Now I guess what I'm trying to say, in typically roundabout fashion, is that this is pretty much a dream come true. These are just extravagantly beautiful books; I mean, if you want to get an idea of how gorgeous they are in the flesh - um, the paper-flesh - no, wait, that sounds worse - then you can read about it here. But as much as that's a big deal, (and this is, after all, the first time I've had anything out in hardcover), it isn't the big deal, and it certainly isn't what got me thinking about those old Chancellor Press books. No, that was more to do with some of the names I'm going to be in there with. Like I said, all three editions have a mix of classic and more recent work, and those classic stories - well, there's a few people in there I'd heard of, let's put it that way. Like, in the case of the Science Fiction volume, oh say, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Or H. Rider Haggard. Or Jack London. Or Jules goddamn Verne.*
So ... beautiful book, amazing company, possibly the story of mine that I'm most proud of. Yup, this is pretty much the short story sale to end all short story sales. Wait, no, I shouldn't say that, that makes it sound like I'm never going to sell anything again ever. Or that I'm going to die. Fortunately I just did - sell another story that is, not die - but even if I hadn't, this would have been a hell of a note to end on. As it is, I'm just thrilled to be a part of something that would have made the teenage book-geek me go weak at the knees, and maybe think that growing up to be a writer might not be the absolutely worst idea in the world...
* I'm reliably formed that this is how Jules Verne used to introduce himself. Jules Verne was kind of a hardass.