Friday, December 20, 2013

Shortstack Receives High Praise from the Author

My collection of short stories, Shortstack, runs the spectrum from absurdist satire, "Hanzel and Gretyl A Boomer Fairy Tale," to amusingly personal, "Coming to New York," to wacky parody, "Genesis."

Here is a snippet from "Genesis".
Genesis by God
In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth. String Theory came later. The Earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And God said, “Let there be light.”
And Con Edison said, “We’re on it, at least between hurricanes.” And God saw the light was good, although sometimes the wattage was too much and sometimes too little. And some of the new squiggly bulbs didn’t work. And God separated the light from the darkness. And the light was called Times Square. And the Dark was named Saskatchewan. And there was evening, and there was morning, the first day....

Here is a snippet from "Coming to New York".
Marianne grips the steering wheel as if our lives depend it. I am convinced they do. From our position in New Jersey the towers of the George Washington Bridge loom in front of us. Her eyes are determined, focused a block in front of us. A miracle lands us in the lane to Manhattan. I am in awe of my wife....
Marianne swings east onto West 125th Street. She barrels forward onto East 125th Street. I text our progress. Andrew screams—all caps—onto my cell phone screen. DON’T GET ON THE TRIBOROUGH BRIDGE. I look up. Sure enough, looming a block ahead are the unmistakable towers of a bridge....

The other stories in Shortstack are listed in this table of contents.

Hanzel and Gretyl a Boomer Fairy Tale
Icarus in Space
Seldom Seen Slim’s Wild West Adventure
Lost Ring
Coming to New York
Got Tickets?
Memo to Hell
The Strange Case of the Very Absorbing Story
Deteriorata Too
The Book Review
Post Publication Depression
Serving God’s People
Thanksgiving in Eden, Adam’s Memoir
Maurice and Nick
The Astonishing Catfish of Lake Iowa
Uncle Bill’s Unicorn
The Grumpy Old Men’s Club
Rumble at the Grumpy Old Men’s Club

toasting the Shortstack, good with maple syrup

Monday, December 16, 2013

Author Interview "Poe's Black Cats"

gothic anthology from Firbolg Publishing

I was interviewed by Dr. Alex Scully, editor and publisher at Firbolg Publishing, the publishers of the gothic horror anthology Enter at Your Own Risk: Dark Muses, Spoken Silences. My short story, "Poe's Black Cats," a re-imagining of Poe's original story, reveals the "facts" behind Poe's mysterious death in Baltimore. My story received high praise from gothic reviewer Joshua Skye in Dark Media. Dr. Alex Scully's interview is reproduced here.

A.S.: Where did you go for inspiration for your story? Was it only the original tale? Did you do research beyond the story itself?

T.H.: My story, “Poe’s Black Cats” drew directly from Poe’s original “The Black Cat” for many details. This was intentional, as I wanted my tale to “reveal” the “true story” of Poe’s death. Because madmen narrate the original and my story, the reader can reach their own conclusions about the “veracity” of either. In addition to reading the original story many times, I researched Poe’s life, the circumstances of his death, and Nineteenth Century Baltimore. I paid close attention to the waterfront and the hospital in which Poe died, as well as the physician who attended him. I also made use of the controversies and conspiracies that came from his rivals after his death.

A.S.: Did the original author’s intent influence your version? What elements did you focus on from the original to draw out your character?

T.H.: In “The Black Cat” the narrator is in prison awaiting his hanging for the murder of his black cat and wife. Poe as a character does not appear. In my story, I make Poe the man who will hang. The executioner, unseen in the original, becomes the narrator in my story. The hangman, in the course of confessing his role in the death of Poe, reveals the “true” events that led up to Poe’s demise. I don’t want to write a spoiler here, so you will need to read “Poe’s Black Cats” in Dark Muses, Spoken Silences to discover my twist in the plot.

A.S.: What challenges did you encounter (expected or unexpected) in retelling such classic tales from the point of view of a secondary character?

T.H.: I considered writing my story from the point of view of the surviving cat, but that would have made my story fantasy. I wanted a madman’s narration that would have the feel and sound of the original Poe to lend credence to the narrator’s assertions. It was a challenge to write in a voice reminiscent of Poe’s Nineteenth Century style while making it readable for Twenty-first Century readers. It was important to maintain dates and locations accurate to Poe’s life to create an air of authority for my narrator. I think I wrote a story in which my character tells a surprising, yet plausible, alternative to the theories about what happened to Edgar Allen Poe on the night of August 3, 1849.

The black cat, Scout, my unpaid model and muse for "Poe's Black Cats"