Thursday, May 9, 2013

"Do you have any happy endings?"

So, Astral Imperium And Other Stories is out, and available on Amazon.  It was a great relief to get that published, and now I can focus my energy on getting the memoir ready for print.  But, of course, my family is reading the collection and quoting the whole thing back to me on a daily basis at this point.  Which is... disturbing.  Not that I don't like my own work -- I think it's great and I'm certainly proud of it.  But sometimes you need to distance yourself from something you've worked so hard on, in order to regain perspective.

My mother asked me today why none of my stories had happy endings.  I'd honestly never thought about it, until now.  "Do any of your stories have happy endings?" she asked.

"Uh..." I was stumped.  I tried to run through the checklist in my head... "No... no... well, umm... not quite?  Then, umm... maybe?  Probably not though... And I guess not.  Hmm... definitely no, there... Oh man."  So it's a dark collection, even in its lighter moments.  But that was sort of the point, I feel -- getting the darkness out of my head and onto the page.  Writing involves at least a partial transmutation of the psyche, and I think I've definitely accomplished that with this collection.  It represents the period of darkness in which I wrote it.  All of this is entirely possible.  It's also possible that I am a sick, sick individual who will never ever write a story with a happy ending.

But why should endings need to be happy?  Life isn't happy, exactly.  We go through it drearily, for the most part, grasping at moments.  These moments could be perceived happiness, or they could be fairy tale certainties, but in general we stumble around in pursuit of them, while ignoring where our pursuits are actually leading us.  More often than not, the greatest things in life are the ones we stumble onto while pursuing something else.  And it takes guts to reach out and grab the thing before it leaves you, stumbling toward the next great thing you might miss.  The stories that I like the best, and the ones I like to write, mirror that pursuit, and amplify the flaws in the collective character of the human race.  That innate search for something powerful that distracts us from what's actually important.

If that sort of thing interests you, you just might enjoy the stories I've written -- the ones that apparently don't have happy endings.  That isn't true exactly... I think some of the endings, although they can't be called "happy" exactly, are possibly hopeful, or reflective, or maybe even refreshing.  But some of them are indeed -- simply not happy.

You can find a description of the book on the Find My Books tab of my website, and follow the "Buy It" button to purchase it on Amazon.  Or, follow the link on the sidebar of this blog.

And if you think one of the endings is actually more happy than not, please let me know, and I will throw it in my mother's face.  I'm kidding, I'd never do that (Yes I would, but she reads this blog so let's pretend).


  1. ROFL!!!!! I am currently reading your collection of shorts stories. The only question I have so far is..... do you plan on turning any of them into a novel? I have a ton of questions that where left completely unanswered by one of the stories I've read thus far. I'm hopeful one day you will.

    As I'm reading them what keeps going through my mind over and over is, how did he write while going through chemo?

    I could barely remember my own name let alone write it. I had a trial of bio-chemo (4 drugs altogether at once) nasty stuff! I had always enjoyed reading and I cried when I couldn't comprehend words on a page. I taught myself how to read again.

    It makes you see that everything has a reason. I might never have met you if I didn't have melanoma in common with you and now I can read again, I can enjoy your stories.

    See a happy ending for your Mother.

    A happy ending for you too, maybe your brush with death has made you a better author and person too.


    1. Natalie, thanks for reading! I actually had planned on turning some of them into novels. I have a bit of a novel written about the title story, and I was thinking about certain other ones too. Which one were you thinking of?

      I had a really hard time concentrating on words during my year of interferon. Even watching TV was hard. It was difficult to hold the words in my head. But for some reason, writing them was much easier. I actually wrote a large part of the memoir during my first month of interferon, when I went into the hospital every day to get the lion's share of treatment. Focusing on writing gave me an outlet, and a welcome distraction. I basically tried to get as much in as possible every day before the chills and everything else set in.

      That's certainly a happy ending, thank you! And I do wish for one for myself, and for you also. Mostly, I do hope that my brush with death has made me a more worthwhile person, overall, and also better at what I do.

  2. When I am done reading all of them I will DM you. I read a story before bed every night.

    The title story definitely would make a nice novel! Are they in a zoo? If so whose zoo? What about the girl, did she really die? More! I want more. Have you published any other work? I'm looking forward to your memoir on your first life. One day, when you are old you will have to do another on your second life.

    I know my brush with death made me a better mother. I left my career behind and focused on what mattered the most, my son. I think that is what life is about, learning through our experiences to evolve and become better human beings.


    1. I look forward to the DM! I'm glad you're into the collection. So, I obviously know a lot of the background and events prior to and after the stories take place, but I think it's a delicate balance to figure out how much of the world to actually include in a single story. That's why I like writing stories so much, because they can be open-ended and subject to a reader's interpretation.

      Aside from the upcoming memoir, I have written a previous book that I can't really talk much about yet. I'm also working on a follow-up to the memoir, and then a novel version of the title story.

      I completely agree that our experiences should teach us about what's important, and that we should pursue those things relentlessly, and never ignore them.