Susie Moloney is the author of four novels, Bastion Falls, A Dry Spell, The Dwelling and The Thirteen. Her new book, a collection of short fiction, Things Withered: Stories, is available everywhere. Read more about it here: www.chizinepub.com and at www.susiemoloney.com Follow me on Twitter @Susiemoloney or friend me on Facebook. Or just wave when I walk by.
by Susie Moloney
I recently released a book of short fiction, Things Withered, stories published by ChiZine Publications. After decades of writing short stories and keeping them to myself, they are now out there, naked and alone, for anyone, just anyone to read.
Note: “Naked and Alone” would be a good name for a garage band.
The one question I get asked all the time now, is how writing short fiction is different from writing novels. I really had to think about that. What I decided was that books conclude, whereas short stories seem to go on and on in my mind, the characters never really leaving me, but just going on from their end point in the story, to live on forever in my mind. The realtor from “The Windemere” for instance, has her own show now, on A & E, called “Obituary Apartments,” selling apartments in New York City, directly out of the obituary page of the New York Times. The young wife in “Wife,” is remarried, and continues her nighttime trolling for weak men. And somewhere in the woods in Ontario, a young student continues to become one with the forest floor. And she waits.
I write about a lot of deadly women. But it wasn’t always this way.
About ten years ago I read an article in The World Weekly News back when there was still a print edition. Great article. The picture was of three pretty young women, dressed circa 1971, walking superhero-style across an empty field. The headline was something like “Abducted Girls Return to Earth 30 Years After Abduction.” I clipped the article and it’s somewhere in the forever files, only Lord Clorox, God of the Planet Dacron (most durable planet in the solar system) knows where.
I clipped it because I thought it would be a good story-both a fish-out-of-water and a time-travel piece, not to mention aliens! probing! super powers! It could be all-things to all people. Throw in some demonology and a love story and you’d have a steampunk, alien, erotica, horror fiction blockbuster that would break the internet AND Amazon.
I did write a book, and it was about an alien abduction, but somewhere between the love story and the aliens I forgot about the three girls with the ’70s shag hairdos. Instead my protag became a 30 something alcoholic running a 5 star restaurant, who drank to forget the pitter-patter of little Grey feet coming at her in the dark. Of course she needed a lover, and for him, I recreated a beloved character from a short story I’d written, called “Bad News.” His name was David Raptor.
Oh David. How I dream of you, my most perfect creation, my mega-man. Flawed and yearning, tender and sad, brilliant and tortured, a blueprint for disaster, hellbent on saving one woman (me) from a lifetime of mediocre lovers that left a woman empty and wanting. Oh David. Why can’t you be real.
For a few years of my life I was a little bit single. By “little bit” I mean A Dry Spell (I wrote that!) of global proportions. Mostly by choice, I admit. But it did cause the mind to wander and the writing to take some interesting twists. David Raptor was the result of one of those strange twists. Back in the early aughts I was obsessed with tabloid news. By then the internet was becoming one big conspiracy site and gossip column and I was afraid that tabloids would disappear forever. No more Bat Boy, no more Liz Taylor diet tips, no more Lucky Blue Dot. A great loss.
My David Raptor was a former success story brought low by gambling and women (and drink-always drink), finally forced to get a job at a tabloid newspaper that I created. I think I called it “The Wicked Weekly World.” Something to that effect. His specialty was aliens. He’d written a huge bestseller, did the talk show circuit, spoke at universities-where he got laid regularly-and the best part of all? He’d made it all up. David wasn’t only flawed and tender, brilliant and tortured, he was a fraud.
In the book he finds out my protag’s secret and in the course of trying to write about it-believing the whole time that it’s bullshit-he falls in love and discovers that Aliens Are Real!
Whatever. I fell in love with my wholly made up character, why wouldn’t I? He was perfect: tall, but not too tall, dark hair and lots of it, a nice set of shoulders. He was very well-read and favoured Ray Bradbury (what a coincidence!), and Poppy Bright, and felt that Robert McCammon and Liz Jensen were underrated. He loved Hammer Horror Films. He never flinched at the gore in zombie movies, and never said things like, “That would never happen.” He preferred to say, “That would be so cool if it happened.” Unlike me, he never got scared at night when something bumped outside the bedroom door, and we thought about all the terrible things we usually think about and how easy it would be to imagine that those terrible thoughts we have all the time had somehow sucked energy from us and had become sentient. He never got scared thinking about what those things-now that they were sentient-might do to us, their creator, because David never read Frankenstein (the original). David was good that way.
David, however, was obsessed with aliens and alien abduction. I fed his obsession by buying every book by John Mack and Stanton Friedman and Budd Hopkins. And the other guy. The Communion guy who also wrote The Wolfen (a superior book). I bought them all. I lovingly read every page, and afterwards, when it got dark, I made sure the goddamn windows were locked and put a home-made alarm system on every point of egress. I didn’t sleep. HOW COULD I SLEEP?!
Eventually David and I had to call it quits. His alien abduction book collection was overwhelming my collection of gothic history. And I got a real live flesh boyfriend, who granted, doesn’t like zombie movies and has never heard of Liz Jensen. Stuff scares him. But here’s the clincher-he loves aliens. And he loved that alien book I wrote. So I married him.
The only way things could be better is if he could let me get another dog, like the ones who kill in “I (heart) Dogs.” Those dogs were great.