-- Story one, May 1, 2018: "The Warden"
-- Story two, May 2, 2018: "Drowned: A Different Kind of Zombie Tale"
-- Story three, May 3, 2018: "Since the Sky Blew Off," the short story.
-- Story four, May 4, 2018: "We Who are His Followers"
-- Story five, May 5, 2018: "Thunder Rise"
-- Story six, May 6, 2018: "Freddy and Rita"
-- Story seven, May 7, 2018: "God Can Be a Cruel Bastard"
-- Story eight, May 8, 2018: "The Work of Human Hands"
-- Story nine, May 9, 2018: "Coming of Age"
-- Story ten, May 10, 2018: "Wolf Hill: An Essay About a Boy"
-- Story eleven, May 11, 2018: "Toy Wars"
-- Story twelve, May 12, 2018: "King of Hearts"
-- Story thirteen, May 13, 2018, Mothers Day: "Remembering Mom"
-- Story fourteen, May 14, 2018: "My Adult Life"
-- Story fifteen, May 15, 2018: "Men and Speed"
-- Story sixteen, May 16, 2018: "The Xeno Chronicles"
-- Story seventeen, May 17, 2018: "Snyder"
-- Story eighteen, May 18, 2018: "Since the Sky Blew Off," the screen treatment.
-- Story nineteen, May 19, 2018: "On the Lake," a documentary movie.
-- Story twenty, May 20, 2018: "Behind the Hedgerow," a documentary movie.
-- Story twenty-one, May 21, 2018: "Coming Home," a documentary movie.
Introduction to #33Stories:
Memory can be an unreliable thing, but mine tells me I wrote my first story in grammar school, perhaps as early as third grade, although more likely in fifth or sixth. It did not result from a class exercise or homework assignment, but rather it emerged unprompted from my imagination. Reading was big in my home, so really, no big surprise. In a 1997 interview coinciding with my book Toy Wars, I described it as “a story set under the ocean with sea creatures, who had a little community, a little home, it was a fantasy; it was an octopus, it was a fish.”
Whatever. High school found me writing incessantly, and my first published story was an essay in the fall of 1968 in The Paper, the newspaper at St. John’s Prep in Danvers, Mass., where I was a freshman. My first fiction was published there, too, under the nom de plume of G. Wayne Poe.
Yeah, I know.
But I was a teenager, and having escaped parochial school, I was discovering the literary world. Edgar Allan was a big favorite, as soon would be H.P. Lovecraft and, a little later, Stephen King. King remains my favorite fiction writer. I once had the honor of interviewing him, but I digress…
Long story short, haha, I kept writing – through high school and college, while touring Europe after graduation, while smashing bags for Delta Airlines at Logan Airport, a time during which my mother sometimes remarked “we sacrificed to put you through Harvard for this?”
No, not for that, but for this: the chance to eventually support myself with the pen. Which I did full-time starting when I was hired as a reporter with the North Adams (Mass.) Transcript in August 1978, after a brief but successful freelance period. Been a journalist ever since.
But I never stopped the “other” writing, which long-windedly brings us to #33Stories, a retrospective of some of my non-newspaper work timed to coincide with my first major sale of a fiction piece, which was published in May 1985.
Every day this May, I will publish an excerpt or an entirety of a work produced away from the day job from 1985 through this year, roughly in chronological order, and with background as appropriate: short stories, books, screenplays, treatments and films. Some were previously published, others not. So some days, you get to look into the trunk.
Thirty-three years ago, #33Stories. A bit contrived, yes. A bit interesting, hopefully.
Of course, May has 31 days. I will publish no. 32 on June 1, and no. 33 on June 12, a day of particular significance to me.
Finally, for now: Why?
I wrote and write because I have to, as I am hardly the first storyteller to remark. During my horror/mystery/fantasy/sci-fi days, I wrote to entertain – to stoke the imagination, to scare, and amuse, to put flesh and blood on the bones of characters born in the wind. But in many of these earlier stories, as with my entire body of newspaper journalism, you will also find a fair dollop of reflection and commentary on social and cultural issues, including religion, politics, the treatment of women, and the stigma surrounding those living with mental illness and intellectual disability, among others. Sometimes, fiction best illuminates reality.
Please come back tomorrow, for #1 in #33Stories: “The Warden,” published in the May 1985 edition of Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.
And as the month unfolds, I will be building the #33Stories table of contents on this post, see above.