I'm quite happy to announce that my short story "Not the Grand Duke's Dancer" will appear in issue #5 of The Dark, an online magazine of dark and strange fiction. This is my first Odyssey story to find a home-- the story began its life as a much shorter piece that I read at the Odyssey Science Fiction and Fantasy Slam. This is a tradition at the workshop where halfway through the hectic six weeks of writing and critiquing, Odyssey students take a break to road trip from Manchester, N.H. to a Barnes and Noble in Nashua, N.H., where they read flash fiction pieces. This was one of my first experiences reading my writing out loud, and while it was nerve-wracking (my parents were there!), I do think it's an essential skill for any writer to develop. At any rate, when I returned home from the workshop, I expanded the piece to its current form, and here we are.
This story contains many of my favorite things: bones! Train travel through Europe! A veiled reference to Rasputin! It also switches settings quite a few times in its 3400 words. I'm a very visual person/writer, and I love designing sets and settings and scenery for my stories. When I was writing this story, I referenced several places and cities that I've visited. As a preview of the tale, I thought I'd include some of the photos that I used to write the story:
Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, an important setting in the story.
Also pictured: 18-year-old me, imagination whirring, no doubt.
Hot air balloons rising over Stockholm. This image has always stuck with me--I took this picture on a lazy summer evening, at about 9 p.m., because it stays light quite late in Scandinavia in the summer. I was sitting with one of my best friends by the water, eating violet ice cream. I'm glad I was able to insert such a happy memory into a story.
A view of Munich. One pivotal scene in this story takes place in a cursed church in Munich, which I based on the Frauenkirche, the church on the left in this picture, which has several interesting legends attached to it.
Highgate Cemetery in London, which I visited when I was studying abroad in London, because I do love visiting cemeteries (to no one's surprise). Karl Marx is buried here, and many people believe it inspired several scenes in Bram Stoker's Dracula.
Of course, this story isn't all fun and games and frolicking through Europe on a magical tour. I also drew on negative and bittersweet experiences--especially those involving relationships-- to write this story. Which just goes to show you that the old cliche is true: no experience is ever wasted for a writer.
Anyway, I'm pleased this story found a home, and I hope you enjoy it when it comes out in August.