21 November 2017

from Author Lowd

We're excited about the notable November 30, 2017 issue of Electric Spec!

One of our excellent featured stories is The Fish Kite. We're pleased to feature some remarks by its author Mary E. Lowd:

When I was ten, my grandmother died from early onset Alzheimer's. At the time, we didn't know whether her Alzheimer's was of the genetic variety that would have passed down to my father, sister, and me. We've since learned that it was not. But that question cast a big shadow over a ten-year-old. I wondered what it would be like to lose my memories. I worried that was how I would eventually die. In my ten-year-old way, I found a certain kind of peace with it; a way to live under that shadow. I had to, because it wasn't lifted until nearly fifteen years later. By that time, I had a daughter of my own, and I was seriously pursuing a career (as much as that's possible) writing fiction. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a lot of my fiction dabbled with questions of memory -- what it meant, and what it meant to lose it.

The first story I ever sold, "Forget Me Not," was about a man with an addiction to memory drugs -- Leland was a character with an artificial quirk inspired by my father's own perfectly normal forgetfulness. My mother has always had an excellent memory; my father not so much, and his forgetfulness has often helped him to remember his past in ways that are more comfortable than how they actually happened. I pushed that natural dichotomy to the extreme and provided a science-fictional explanation for it. A few years later, I was shocked and delighted to learn that the mechanism I'd described for targeted memory loss had actually been backed up by real science. Sometimes when science-fiction writers stab in the dark, we can still get it right.

Anyway, one of the strongest images from that first story, "Forget Me Not," involved a fish kite that Leland had made as a child. His fish kite was inspired by my own collection of My Little Ponies. I loved those ponies and treasured them -- until I was in high school and wanted some money. Somehow though, as an adult, I could always remember treasuring them, but I had a hard time remembering I'd sold them. Hours of happy playtime figured much large in my mental landscape than a few minutes spent handing a box over for a fistful of cash. Those missing ponies haunted me like Leland's fish kite.

Fast forward another decade, and discover the wonders of eBay. As my daughter got older, when I wanted to play ponies with her, my husband ordered us old ponies -- just like the ones I'd sold so long ago -- from eBay. Now, I have a new collection of ponies, similar enough to the ones I sold that I don't go looking for them any more. I know where my ponies are -- right on the shelf where I left them. My daughter and I can play ponies together any time she wants.

I was thinking about how I'd healed my own memory wound by replacing the ponies, and I decided that it was time to revisit Leland's story -- maybe give my character a chance to heal of his own.

(For anyone interested in reading "Forget Me Not," it's available online here: http://deepskyanchor.com/forget-me-not/ It's part of an entire collection of my short stories focused on questions of memory, called The Opposite of Memory.)

Thanks, Mary! Very interesting!
Be sure to check out this story and all the others on November 30!

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