There was, oh what there was in the oldest of days and ages and times...
Once upon a time, we asked authors with published or forthcoming novels from Casperian Books to contribute a short story representative of their writing to an anthology. The resulting ten short stories have been collected into this book.
You may recognize some of the characters and settings of these stories as old friends: Jack Ballard's "Requiescat in Pace" is an outtake from his mountain-climbing action novel Rock Dance, Lily Richards' "Strays" is an epilogue of sorts to her literary novel Mouth of the Lion, and William Walsh delivers a vignette set in the fictional town of Ampersand, also the setting of his fictional biography Without Wax, in "Ice Water." Other characters and settings will be brand-new: Gary Clites' "Vegas Strip" takes on the adage "Whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" thriller-style, Chris Owen's "Check Your Mirrors" is a jaunt through the day of a personal assistant to the rich and powerful with one hell of a punch line, and A. F. Rützy's "Who Needs Bobo?" is a satirical romp through the life of a down-and-out mechanic. Yet other stories are thematically similar to the authors' novels, though the characters, settings, and plots are completely different: Paul Elwork explores the origins of ghost stories and an urban legend in the thoughtful "The Riders and the Shadow Man," Peter Ohren revisits the theme of Michigan's economic decline in "Golden," Sybil Baker explores the alienation of American expatriates in Korea in "Dog House," and Curtis Smith tackles disability and family relationships in "Without Words."
Taken together, these stories lead us into the familiar, hilarious, surprising, and sometimes frightening complications of being human--the common predicament that makes us want to share stories in the first place.
Click here to read the opening paragraphs of each story.
About the Authors
Sybil Baker spent twelve years teaching in South Korea prior to accepting a position as an assistant professor of English at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. During her extensive travels throughout Asia, she became increasingly interested in the allure and alienation of American travelers and expatriates, and this has heavily influenced her writing. Her novel, The Life Plan, a story about this very theme, is forthcoming from Casperian Books in 2009. Her fiction and essays have appeared in numerous journals including, most recently, upstreet and Alehouse. Her essay on American expatriate literature appeared in AWP's The Writer's Chronicle in September 2005. Her website can be found at www.sybilbaker.com.
As a long-time outdoorsman, Jack Ballard Jr. has been involved in guiding, teaching, and working in the wilderness and mountains of the western U.S. for over thirty years. He was first invited to join Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue as a civilian volunteer and has been involved in SAR operations in Colorado since 1996. These experiences formed the basis for Rock Dance, a novel about industrial espionage in the Rocky Mountains to be released by Casperian Books in 2008. He is finishing his PhD at Kent State University and teaches music production at Malone College.
While Gary Clites was a student at WVU, the college's scuba team discovered a body in Cheat Lake, and the police eventually determined that criminals had been using a backwater of the lake as a dumping ground for stolen cars, bodies, and other illegal materials for years. That experience served as the inspiration for his thriller Seneca Wood, which will be released by Casperian Books in 2009. When not writing fiction, Gary Clites teaches journalism in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland, and serves as technology columnist for the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund's Adviser Update.
Paul Elwork loves a good ghost story. His work as an editor in the fields of archaeology and historic architecture allows him continual contact with the remains of the past, and all the weight of cultural memory behind them. His interests in history, ghost stories, and the complexities of grief and belief come together in his novel The Tea House, released by Casperian Books in October 2007. His fiction has appeared in Philadelphia Stories, Word Riot, Quiet Feather, and other journals. For more information, please go to his website: www.paulelwork.com.
Peter Ohren is an attorney and the author of three novels and numerous short stories. His work has appeared in Timber Creek Review, Arizona Literary Magazine and Lansing City Limits, amongst other journals. His most recent novel, Motor City Blues, a darkly funny, Hunter S. Thompson-like tale set in the crumbling heart of inner-city Detroit, was published by Casperian Books in 2007.
Primarily known for writing gay erotic romance, Chris Owen took a step back when writing Adagio, which was released by Casperian Books in 2006. While definitely a romance about gay men, Adagio is part coming-of-age story, part coming out story, and part travelogue. A story about journeys, the physical travel within the book is a based upon Chris' travels through the Australian Outback. Please visit Chris' website for news: http://www.chrisowen.net.
Lily Richards has been writing fiction in various professional capacities for many years, including a stint as the illustrator and writer of user manuals for medical testing equipment, a year as the webmaster of a politician's website, and several semesters as a high school art teacher. Contrary to popular belief, the report cards involved much more creative writing than the politician's campaign materials. "Strays" is an epilogue of sorts to Lily Richards' novel, Mouth of the Lion, released by Casperian Books in 2006, that is set about ten years after the novel ends.
A.F. Rützy is a Finnish freelance writer specializing in corporate publishing and custom magazines. He has worked in sales, corporate training, and quality management, which he describes as the most traumatic period of his life and, paradoxically, his source of inspiration. Rützy's satire End Credits, released by Casperian Books in 2008, blends black humor with the madness of urban American life. His short stories have appeared in C/Oasis and The Cynic Online Magazine. He welcomes feedback at www.afrutzy.com.
Curtis Smith has been teaching special learning students at a public high school outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, for the past twenty-five years. His career has greatly influenced his writing, and his work often deals with the human condition in terms of disability and loss, themes evident in both this story and his novel Sound + Noise, to be released by Casperian Books in 2008. Smith has published widely, counting among his credits four other books, as well as stories and essays in more than fifty literary reviews. You can find him at www.curtisjsmith.com.
William Walsh writes stories that are at once artificial and realistic. He applies realism to theme, tone, and setting, but he liberally uses artifice to construct character, dialogue, and point of view. His first novel, Without Wax, released by Casperian Books in 2008, uses oral biography and other narrative techniques to serve up a bildungsroman set in the world of adult film. Walsh's short fiction and derived texts have appeared in New York Tyrant, Juked, LIT, Caketrain, Rosebud, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and other journals.