November 27, 2011

Just in time for Christmas...

A short story of mine has just appeared in a new anthology by Post Mortem Press, entitled New Dawn Fades. A perfect gift for the horror readers on your list -- after all, what says Christmas more than a collection of twenty zombie stories?

Joe Schreiber, author of the Star Wars-zombie novels, StarWars: Death Troopers and Star Wars: Red Harvest, writes the introduction to the volume. He calls my story "Happy Birthday, Joshie" and the other stories of the collection "thrusts, stabs and downright eviscerations on a convention that just won't die."

I had a lot of fun writing "Happy Birthday, Joshie," and I hope it shows. The story does not play with the short fiction form, but it is still haiku fiction in that it looks at the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse through the eyes of a single individual.

Imagine a world where our loved ones need never die. Just infect them with the zombie virus and they stay the same forever. More or less. After many years, Rachel Harding finally knows what to give her brother unnaturally kept at age ten. She just needs to find a way to get her present to him in the zombie Viewing Center.
I love horror stories that make the reader wonder, who really is the monster. I hope that I pull off at least raising the question in "Happy Birthday, Joshie." The entire collection deals with the same issue, in many different ways. Again, from Joe Schreiber's introduction: "If I had to pick out a common thematic thread in these pages, it would be this: The zombies in New Dawn Fades hold a mirror up to ourselves."
Small stories, big impact is what haiku fiction is all about. I hope that you'll support the small press movement and give New Dawn Fades a try.

November 04, 2011

I'm My Own Kryptonite released!

I've just had the chance to listen to my story "I'm My Own Kryptonite," recently reprinted in podcast form at Wily Writers. The story was first published in the lamented A Thousand Faces magazine. I hope that the podcast will give the story more exposure.

The story is a superhero fantasy, but I hope with a twist. Here's the teaser at WW:

Kenley Williams’s alter ego is killing him. Literally. Is a painful life in the hospital worth everything he goes through as a superhero? Does he have to sacrifice love along with everything else?

I like to think that my writing is always getting better, but this is a tale I'm really proud of. It fits my ideals of haiku fiction perfectly, for the time at which I was writing it. I play with the tenses of the different sections of the story in a way that I hope creates resonances in the reader (or in this case, listener). This is one of the first stories where I feel that my "haiku fiction" voice is really coming through.

Nathan Crowder does an excellent job reading the story. He even pronounces my last name correctly! LOL Best of all, the podcast is a free download.

Please check out "I'm My Own Kryptonite," and let me know what you think!

March 19, 2011

What Is Haiku Fiction?

Small stories, big impact. That's the basic idea. But what does haiku fiction actually mean?

It may be best to begin by saying what we don't mean. Haiku fiction is not necessarily flash or micro fiction. Don't get me wrong. These are great genres. I encourage everyone to try them. They'll teach you how to tell a story where every word counts.

But haiku fiction can also be a short story of a more standard length. I've even seen novels that would qualify.

Haiku fiction has less to do with length and more to do with focus and precision.

We'll talk more about haiku (in Japanese, the same form is both singular and plural) in upcoming blogs. In brief though, haiku are short poems that use the natural world to cause an "aha" experience in the reader. In thinking about my own fiction, I realized that I was using techniques from haiku without even trying.

Haiku start from the natural world, but we have to be careful here. This is not some idealistic natural world. Japanese haiku authors are very self-conscious of the poetic history of every single word they use. Japanese haiku thus often depend not only on observation of the natural world but on a very sophisticated network of allusions and subtexts.

Haiku are brief. Every single word counts. If a Japanese poet achieves a true haiku, not one character could be added, not one character taken away or substituted.

Japanese haiku are evocative. Their meaning often depends on a kind of mental...triangulation between two phrases. The poems suggest a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. But they only suggest. The writer and the reader both have to work at the poem for it to achieve the desired effect.

Haiku fiction tries to take these features of haiku and apply them to fiction. Even in fantasy, it strives for a realistic, even naturalistic style. It focuses on the particular, on individuals, on specific events rather than painting with broad strokes. It may appear simple, but it is also richly allusive. It is brief and precise. It strives for every word to count. It is evocative. It invites the reader to dialogue.

That's haiku fiction. Or at least my first attempt to define it. As I continue to write and as I continue to talk with the readers of this blog, we'll work on refining that definition together.

Time to get back to writing!