Thanks so much to all the authors!
Thanks so much to all the Electric Spec staff.
And, especially, thanks so much to all the readers!
One piece of writing advice that has always stuck in my mind is to blend at least two different ideas. Ideas are everywhere, and chances are pretty good that another writer has already written my first idea. But if I take another idea (the more different the better), and twist it into the first idea, then I’m more likely to come up with something unique.
This is what I tried to do with "Lusca Bait."
My first idea for that story was to write about a monster. Hardly an original idea! I went searching for a different type of monster. When I found out about the Caribbean's legendary "lusca," I decided that was what I wanted to write. The lusca gave me the setting, too, but I had no idea what the story would be. I put the idea on hold.
Some time later, a writer from the Oregon coast challenged me to write a
story about one of the antiques collected by the somewhat eccentric
innkeeper of a haunted hotel. Several tempting ghost stories came to mind,
but I tossed them out when I came across a treasure chest, which I’m pretty
sure could've belonged to a lusca in another ocean...
Although Morcant is a creature of war from 4th century BC Caledonia, she navigates the common experience of motherhood, the loss of a baby, and piecing together survival beyond both. She’s also a wonderfully unreliable narrator who thinks detachment and killing are her strong suits when she’s hungering for connection, and desperate for something to live for. I loved making her world as realistic and broad as possible while never moving beyond one setting and scene.
Many thanks to Electric Spec for agreeing to publish this story. I hope you enjoy a peek into a mythical alternate history where Alexander the Great still builds his empire in the East, ancient Ireland remains isolated, but inhuman creatures are woven into the fabric of it all, and they’re not so different from us.
There are few people in this world that I’m still friends with who knew me back when I still had my natural hair color. But Mariangelica and I have been besties for over 30 years now and, as she likes to say, “We know where each other’s bodies are buried.” Despite our drastically different personalities, backgrounds, and politics, there is no one in my life I trust more than her.
When the summer of 2016 hit Americans (and, dare I say it, the world?) like an 18-wheeler, Mari took me on a road trip. I needed it. She knew I needed it. I had just spent the better part of the previous 18 months reeling with an alphabet of emotional and behavioral diagnoses for my then-7YO. In addition to the stress that divided my country, I suddenly had to help a first grader adjust to yet another new school (his third school in less than a year because we’d just moved), put him on meds, drive him and his 3YO brother half an hour each way to therapy once a week, and self-educate on IEPs and therapeutic toys. How could I be the best parent possible for his needs? What did he need from ME? Was he going to be OK?
I needed self-care and, as much as I love my children more than life itself, I needed a break. So while we were in Miami visiting my parents anyway, Mari shoved me into a car and drove four hours, non-stop, to Universal Studios, Orlando. Did I mention that I had also broken my foot a week before? Yep. She spent two whole days pushing me around in my wheelchair and only occasionally bumping me into people, mostly not on purpose. In Florida. In August. Uphill both ways.
Everyone needs a friend like that.
A story about a special needs child and a unicorn had been bouncing around my brain for a while, and that trip gave me the structure I’d been looking for. If the two of us can be friends, if she could be there for me in ways no one else could, if she was my Person with a capital P, then maybe two characters like us could help a fictional child with special needs get a happily ever after. If we could find a way to still be friends despite the world telling us we should be enemies, then maybe others could, too. Optimism doesn’t come naturally to me – I’m usually a horror writer – but yeah, I just said that. It’s Mari’s influence.
The story is set during the Great Depression because I enjoy historical fiction and that era seemed to fit the themes of my story: swindlers, bad luck, desperation, overcoming impossible odds, and of course, unicorns. Because if anyone deserves a unicorn, it’s those who keep getting beat down yet rise up to fight another day again and again…with a little help from their friends.
And by the way? My special needs kid is now almost 11, and he’s happy, healthy, and thriving better than ever.
The stories in hold-for-voting were more diverse than ever. And the editor's favorites were more diverse than ever, as well. :) This makes picking stories for the issue more difficult. In the past, there might have been fisticuffs, loud vigorous debate, possibly feats of strength, or magic spells to break the deadlock. This time, we just let each Editor edit their favorite stories. Problem solved.
It will be interesting to see what the overall feel of the issue is with such diverse stories.
We couldn't even agree on what the overall theme of the submissions had been. One editor thought it was love. I thought it was more like death and depression since many stories had protags die or fail in the end. You'll have to draw your own conclusions from stories published.
Of course, all this means authors should hear a final decision from us early this week about their stories. If you don't hear from us, your story may be lost in cyberspace. :(
Hopefully, we'll start getting some fun blogs from authors soon!
Be sure to check out the new issue on August 31, 2019!