Wow and double wow! My fiction is presented today at Hobart online. You can read "Shade", which runs just over 1,000 words, here.
I am so pleased and honored to be featured at Hobart. I love what they do, and it's been a goal of mine to have a piece there since around 2008. So, kids, follow your dreams. You can reach your goals. I am living proof.
I wrote this story as an exercise in the fall of 2014. It was well-received by the class for which I wrote it, so I fiddled with it a bunch to smooth off its rough edges and sent it out. It was rejected, the editors said, because the ending was too abrupt; I consulted with a writer-friend, she told me what was going on there, I fixed it, and voila. It isn't always so easy, but I got lucky this time.
The impetus was a warehouse like the one described in the story that I saw by the side of the highway. I was driving back into Los Angeles from the Santa Clarita area on highway 14, and I saw the lower legs and skateboards of a clutch of teenage boys buzzing around under a corroded roof. The story was not fully formed after I saw the warehouse, but the characters of the boys were, almost. (Who would go way out of town to a dangerous warehouse to skateboard? These boys, that's who.)
The social divide between two of them in particular came later. For Ray I was thinking of a boy I knew in high school whom I desired largely because he wasn't rich and preppy like the other boys. But for the pair of them, Ray and Colin, I was thinking of how young people can misunderstand the differing values of privilege and popularity when they're still in the closed terrarium of high school.
And that long long long sentence when Ray falls off his skateboard? I'd been reading Absalom, Absalom! and wanted to see how long I could make a sentence, whether I could make a single sentence draw the reader into the emotional peak of the story and then pull her back again.
I hope you enjoy "Shade". If you do, c'mon back here tomorrow. The timing of this week means I'm posting again on Wednesday, and there will be fiction then, too.