So, basically, they like to play with genres…and elicit story from those who do not always feel comfortable or at home in the genre being explored. The upcoming ALLUCINOR anthology (the second anthology from ID PRESS) is all about ROMANCE. And, yes, I have a short story in this antho. I’m very proud to have a story in this book. Why? Because it was hella hard to write it. I kept giving up and returning to the drawing board, actually. Then, at the 11th hour, I said, “ENOUGH!” I knew if I wanted a story in this book, I needed to step completely outside my comfort zone…but also NOT THINK ABOUT WHAT I WAS DOING. I kept thinking, ‘I can’t write romance, I can’t write romance” without even thinking about the goal. It was a block for me. So just before figurative (and almost literal) midnight on the submission date, I let all the baggage of genre slip away and I got down to writing. I’m so happy I persevered. Today, as I look at the beautiful cover for this anthology, I’m so pleased to be a small part of it.
On the heels of another short story acceptance from ID Press, I recently reflected on how difficult it is to write in a genre that is new to me and outside my zone of comfort. The whole idea of this boutique/micro press is to explore genre…and have submissions from writers who are exploring genres which are new to them. They get their contributors to break down walls and push at the barriers of their genres of choice. I believe ID is perchance making me a better writer.
But I have been kicking and screaming every step of the way. Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light has become Do not go gentle into that new you, Old genres should burn and rave at close of page; Rage, rage against the leaving of the safe. Or something like that.
ID Press’s first anthology was all about HORROR…and the stories in it were written by those who don’t normally write it. I was thrilled to have a short story in PURGATORIUM. I waited to hear what ID Press would come up with next. And then it was announced. ROMANCE.
My first thought was, ‘Well, that’s a HORROR!”
We all have a genre or two of choice, both as readers and as writers. Some shy away from certain genres because they think they’re feeble, or silly, or too incomprehensible, or too complicated or shallow or fantastical for them. There’s really no explanation for taste. We read what we like because we like it. We write what we write because we like it. It’s pretty much as simple as that.
It’s when we are pushed beyond these boxes which we put ourselves into that the fun begins. Or horror. Or fear. Or personal expectations of failure.
I was given the genre and a deadline. And boy howdy, did I write! One thing after another. Full stories, partial stories, first lines, last lines, tidbits, thoughts, ideas, etc, etc, etc. I wrote so much. And then I gave up. My hope to finish a story by the submission deadline evaporated. There were a couple of days left and I still had nothing. Everything I attempted missed the mark. And not just missed it…I knew each time from the first word on that what I was writing was not going to be enough.
I gave up.
And then I kept thinking of those ‘sis-boom-bah’ emails I was receiving along the way, from Tobin Elliott of ID PRESS. They were little reminders of the looming deadline that served as little jagged knife wounds to the frustrated writer in me. JAB JAB JAB—2 months to deadline! POKE POKE POKE—Just 1 month left to go!
Once I gave up I began to see those emails as something softer than the harsh pokes and jabs I had originally taken them to be. I felt like they may have been badges of honour, instead. ID PRESS wanted me. I was on their radar and they invited me to submit a short story to them. How often does that happen? How often does a writer have that kind of an opportunity?
There was a day or two left to go. What could it hurt to give it one last go? I enjoyed my previous experience with this press. I wanted in. I tried to ignore my 32 previous goes at the genre. I tried not to say, I HATE ROMANCE! I mean, seriously, who can hate romance?
I released all expectation to the wind. And I hopped on a bus with a sketchpad and sat behind a girl. It was a cross-town bus.
My short story, originally over-titled as The Half-Drawn Girl on the Crosstown Bus, but which has now become The Half-Drawn Girl, will appear in ID PRESS‘s 2nd anthology of short stories—Allucinor – An Element of Romance.
What I struggled with for months came sliding onto the page almost the moment I stopped trying, worrying, second-guessing, over-thinking, questioning, fighting, genre-bashing, genre-shaming, panicking, etc.
If you write short stories, do yourself a favour. Give a new-to-you genre a spin. Just close your eyes and jump into it. Don’t overthink it. Don’t fight against the chosen genre because of your past experiences with it, or because you have biases against it. Change is growth, even in genre-writing.
This is a thank you note of sorts, because I love that I was pushed to the brink of I CANNOT DO THIS! by Tobin Elliott and the rest of the folks at ID PRESS. They helped me to grow as a writer…to push beyond my perceived abilities and look beyond genre. I look forward to seeing this anthology in the flesh. All the little worlds it will hold…a new one with each and every short story contained within its covers. Anthologies are magical that way, aren’t they. So many different trails to wander.
Thank you, ID PRESS. I needed the push onto that bus.
Today is the release day for the amazing anthology of Horror from ID Press called PURGATORIUM! Click on the cover below to be taken to AMAZON to get your copy of PURGATORIUM!
I am thrilled to be one of the authors featured in this anthology. I have now had the opportunity to read Purgatorium from cover to cover and it was thoroughly enjoyable. You can pick it up yourself today from Amazon.
A fun fact for me, having the distinction of having the first story in the collection, is that the LOOK INSIDE feature at AMAZON gives potential purchasers a glimpse into MY story! Here’s the first page from the LOOK INSIDE feature on Amazon…
Dubious was such a fun character to create. Doing so took me out of all of my norms. I went into a fantasy reality where everything shifted and began to appear not quite right. It’s a lot of fun to let down your hair. For me, in this instance, it was about writing something that wasn’t simple contemporary fiction. It was a challenge to bring in the magical and the surreal…but I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
There are 11 stories in this anthology. All offer a slip into the dark-side…all challenge reality. All are worth the price of admission. Pick up Purgatorium today! You’ll be happy you did so.
And keep your eye on ID Press. They promise to continue to challenge the norms of genres and offer up some great reading moments for your future enjoyment…
Back in October I did some fun Proustian Questionnaire Interviews with all of the contributors to Purgatorium. By clicking on the links below, you can read all of those interviews:
My last visit with the Purgatorium Anthology contributors! Amanda Tompkins is always a delight in person, and I find her endlessly interesting. She makes me laugh and she’s also über smart and tells fascinating stories. I’m really looking forward to her words in Purgatorium. I will not soon forget the motto she leaves us with here…one I think I may take as one of my own. “Expectations are just mind forged manacles”.
Don’t forget to mark your calendars for the release date of this sumptuous anthology of horror! November 19th, Purgatorium will be here!
IN FACT! If you come to BOOKAPALOOZA from 10am-3pm at Durham College Centre for Food/Bistro 67 in Whitby on November 19th, you can pick up a copy of PURGATORIUM…and there’s a good chance you’ll be able to get quite a few of the authors to sign it for you! Bookapalooza is a free event and it’s ALL ABOUT BOOKS! You won’t want to miss it! It’s also the place where the Purgatorium Anthology launches!
And now, Amanda’s responses to my Proustian Questionnaire…
Prugatorio Dialogues – X – Amanda Tompkins
1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Curled up in my easy chair, with a good book in my hands, and my dog at my feet.
2. What is your most preferred genre as a writer?
3. What is your greatest fear?
4. What is your most preferred genre as a reader?
I’ll read just about anything, but Fantasy is my favorite.
5. Which horror writer do you most admire and why?
I’d have to say Mary Shelley. She did amazing work and faced a lot of opposition.
6. What was your idea of horror prior to setting off on this adventure into Purgatorium?
Taking the mundane, the familiar, and making it threatening.
7. What do you consider the most overrate virtue?
Patience. Who needs it?
8. What is your idea of horror now that you’ve been to Purgatorium?
Word count limits.
9. What else have you written?
A few short stories, and several works in progress.
10. When and where were you most afraid?
When I realized that nothing is forever, and you can lose the people you love most.
11. Which talent would you most like to have?
I’d love to be able to read/speak every language.
12. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
Something large and predatory. That probably says more about me than I’m strictly comfortable with.
13. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Being forced to watch a loved one suffer, and knowing there is nothing you can do.
14. What are your three deserted island books?
‘To kill a mockingbird’, by Harper Lee. ‘War for the oaks’, by Emma Bull. ‘The interior life’, by Katherine Blake.
15. Who are your favorite writers?
Usually whoever I’m currently reading.
16. Who is your hero of fiction?
17. What sound grates on you more than any other?
People chewing loudly with their mouths open.
18. How would you like to die?
Ideally, not at all. Realistically, in bed having just finished the last page of a good book.
19. What sound brings you deep joy?
The click of my dogs nails on the tile as he runs to greet me.
20. What is your motto?
‘Normal’ is a subjective judgement call, and expectations are just mind forged manacles.
LIFE IS CHANGE
Children become adults. Summer becomes winter. The old pass from life to death. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
But to some, life is purgatory. A place of temporary suffering between this world and the next.
In these eleven stories, every painful, frightening transition is driven by a single element.