If you didn’t notice the addition to Our Books [BTW: there are now drop-down menus too], here’s a feature on The Fountain. It’s a collection of short stories by John Maberry. He has made the transition from memoir to fiction.
For those of you who are fellow writers, take note—many readers are in a hurry and don’t want epic novels. They don’t even want average sized novels all the time. What they seem to be interested in today, is short fiction that they can read on the run. Waiting for a plane or a train—or even while riding on one or the local mass transit, few want heavy stuff. Read one story in a collection and read others later. But if, like the author, you want to be writing longer fiction, at least consider an occasional collection of short fiction as well. That’s The Fountain, seven short stories amounting to about 25,000 words or one-quarter of a typical novel.
Did you see Snippets from Novels to Come in the April Quarterly? It highlighted SIX novels that John Maberry, author of the is or will be working on. Sometimes, the most effective way to get something written is to alternate from one to another rather than getting stuck in the weeds of what could be an impenetrable story. The first full novel to be published will be The Vacation of My Life, targeted for release ahead of the 2018 holidays. In the meantime, let’s get a look behind the scenes of the seven stories from The Fountain.
Back in the day, a now somewhat passé idiomatic phrase, the author watched “The Twilight Zone.” A little later, he read most of the books of Carlos Castaneda—who described the odd education he received from Don Juan, a Yaqui sorcerer who viewed the world through eyes of ravens and other creatures with the benefit of certain hallucinogenic mushrooms, etc. Whether you watched Rod Serling’s show or read any of Castaneda’s book, (or never heard of either) you’ll appreciate the painful end to the lead off story, “The Fountain.”
Like everyone around the world, the author has seen his share of vampire movies and TV shows. He also has loved one with a fairly common digestive disorder that’s easily handled by a pill. Voila, “Alfred’s Rare Blood Disorder” offers a little chuckle rather than a scare about a vampire.
A family adopts a Golden Retriever. The author’s daughter had one, so he knows all about them. What if the one the family took in had some special talents? Find out why in “Lily, an Amazing Dog.”
Did you read Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll’s sequel to Alice in Wonderland? Even if you didn’t, you’ve seen movies about passing through mirrors. “The Closet Door,” is something like that, but just a little different. It’s set in coastal Maine, a place where the author’s family spent some time. The author has also been to Malibu, so he knows how different those coasts are. Read the story to learn what happens when Dan sees an unfamiliar face in the vacation cottage mirror.
An aging wizard must do a good deed to free himself from an oath he made to a ruler. The spell he cast works well for a princess of the realm, but has some unexpected consequences for him. Oh well, spells don’t always work out the way you wish. Just another period piece with a twist. Check out “The Wizard,” to get another perspective on fairy tales and magic.
The Outer Banks of North Carolina, another frequent vacation spot for the author’s family, is the setting for “The Flame.” He saw plenty of seagulls, pelicans and the occasional trawler far off shore past the treacherous sandbars. Never saw any flames rising from the water, though. Still, it popped into his head one night, an idea for a story. What could it be? Something for the Coast Guard to worry about? Maybe or maybe not.
Are you a Trekkie? Even if you’re not, maybe you’ve seen or heard of the Tribbles, who posed a problem on the original Starship Enterprise. “The Fribble” rhymes, but it’s a little different. An odd first encounter, with a somewhat bored and somewhat burned out pharmaceutical company employee searching for new drugs in the Amazon Rain Forest. The author’s never been there, but he did watch Star Trek and Medicine Man, a Sean Connery movie that might have offered some inspiration for this extended story. If enough people like it, the author will continue it on to a longer piece.