The Exchange Students anthology is available now. The stories in this book marry the concept of its title to the vast possibilities that speculative fiction provides. Aliens? Fantasy creatures? Time travel? Homework? You bet.
My tale, “A Coral Study,” first appeared as “Exchange” in Factor Four Magazine. I’ve mentioned before how my dad’s undergrad experience helped inspire it. Well, last summer my parents went to lunch with my dad’s college roommate and his wife, and they shared my story with them. The roommate replied, “Her story makes me think of the late night study breaks and your regaling all in our room with stories from Ecuador.”
I was also inspired by my memories of wandering through the aquarium aisles of pet stores as a kid and admiring all the little sunken ships and other décor. One day I asked myself what if someone had decorated their living space with those types of ornaments, and the writing sprang from there.
My husband and I had promised to take our boys to the beach sometime this winter, so today they got to experience all the gloom and fury that is the Oregon coast in February. Turns out there was a windstorm while we were there, exacerbating the usual cold. But we had fun overall, thanks to mostly indoor activities.
We made it to the Seaside Carousel Mall, and of all the carousel steeds, one of my sons chose – Seahorse! After the ride he asked me if I liked the animal he’d chosen, and I told him about my latest story.
Speaking of marine life, my story “Exchange” appears under a new title, “A Coral Study,” in a new anthology of speculative fiction called Exchange Students. It’s available for preorder now, in paperback or ebook. The official release date is this Tuesday!
This tale came about when I was mining my childhood memories for story ideas, and I recalled visiting a double-decker carousel at a theme park in Santa Clara. Whenever my family did our annual summer road trip to visit my grandparents near San Francisco, we’d alternate going to either California’s Great America (then called Paramount’s Great America) or Six Flags Marine World (then Marine World/Africa U.S.A.). I ended up making my fictional carousel a single level to keep it focused and to reflect the majority of carousels in the world (I didn’t find out until I was older that two-story ones are rare). I also based a character on my favorite steed at the Seaside Carousel Mall on the Oregon coast, the hippocampus.
At one point I got stuck on the draft of this one. Then I saw that a local library was hosting a presentation on the history of carousels. Jackpot! The speaker, Darrell Jabin, introduced concepts such as the romance side of a steed and the term “stargazer.” The draft came together soon after that.
My story “The Menagerie Machine” will soon be available in the winter issue of Rendez-Vous, as well as from Short Édition Short Story Dispensers, which produce (for free!) printouts of short stories and poetry at the push of a button. That’s right, you’ll be able to get my story about a machine, dispensed from a machine, and if you think about it, any book published in an automated way comes into the world through machinery. A dispenser expedites the process, the ultimate in print-on-demand. Their locations include airports, universities, and other places where people are passing the time and could benefit from some free, curated reading material.