(A slightly altered version of this text first appeared as the afterword for my short story collection Love, Werewolves & Algorithms)
I’ve been writing short stories and selling them for fourteen years. I’ve been married now for a little over seven. The stories contained in this slim volume originate and were developed along several different points in that continuum.
Throughout my writing practice, I’ve had people comment on how they were particularly interested in this or that story of mine in light of what was happening in my life; a sentiment that has been shared, certainly, concerning some of the love themed stories contained in Love, Werewolves, and Algorithms. Personally, I feel as though there’s not a whole lot (directly) about my life in my fiction; at least my realtime life rather than my ‘life’ as dredged up from the murk of misremembered past. I feel somewhat vindicated in this thinking simply due to the fact that -generally speaking- when I write fiction there’s a lag of about 2 years between me first attempting to draft a piece and anyone else seeing it.
If there is ‘me’ in these stories, I think it’s through this particular lens; having a great relationship built on honesty and communication (and having a really freaking hot wife) allows me, and encourages me, to imagine the inversion. The instinct to write fiction usually develops, I think, from obsessively creating alternative history versions of the writer’s own life. I’ve spent far, far too much time conceiving of the world’s lamest ‘What if?’ stories; mostly concerned with what if I hadn’t done that (still) cringe-worth embarrassing thing in middle school.
Oh, so in my marriage we talk about our problems? What would happen if we didn’t? Throw in some werewolves and we’re good to go.
Considering the short stories I included in LWA, if there is a common thread to these relationships gone wrong (and hence a clue to what I feel, think, and am) it’s that all the relationships discussed are interrupted by some form of mediation, usually driven by fear of direct communication and the inherent vulnerability that attends it. In fiction it’s mediation via data mining by next year’s social network or scheming D’jinn; but in the real world there seems to be no end to the amount of ways (and the money to be made) in catering to people not directly talking to each other.
The only ‘happy’ ending here is the one where the mediation is brought to an end, so some teenagers can make out.
If I have advice, it’s to learn to relate to the people who are important to you without an intervening institution, mediation, or mythological being.
Even when it’s difficult.
Especially when it’s difficult.
Or at least it’s always worked for me. But then, I’ve always been lucky in love.
I hope you get lucky too.