Neliza Drew has a pretty good knack for telling stories. Her ability to create interesting characters clearly comes from the wide range of people she's been able to associate with throughout her life, and the people she tells you about in her blog post are the kind that I love to read about. In fact, the world needs more characters like Davis, Neliza. So, you know... get on it! I have to say that my only disappointment with Neliza's short story in the Feeding Kate anthology is that it was just that; a short story.
The story that ended up in Feeding Kate had been in the works, in
fits and starts, for months before the crazy idea to do anthology happened on
Twitter one morning. At the time, it was more a collection of notes, snippets
of dialogue, the sorts of things “writers” build stories out of and I collect
in notebooks like a word-hoarder. Doing
the anthology pushed me to actually pretend to be a writer and assemble the
word piles into something resembling order.
Laura Benedict was gracious enough
to offer her editing support and without her input the thing never would've come together. It would have never found enough structure to call itself a
story. She is fantastic and I won’t let anyone tell me differently.
As for the content, the characters,
the snippets that eventually found themselves mashed together and forced to
play nice? It grew out of characters I’d met and characters I’d built out of
random traits and behaviors. It’s always all about characters for me. Rarely
does an event or plot come to mind so much as these fully-formed, or close to
it, people appear in my head and demand to be acknowledged.
This time, one of the main “people”
was a drug dealer who was a combination of a former neighbor’s pot connection
from years ago – a guy who sold just enough to buy a canoe – and the vegan
speaker who used to do presentations at my school. Merged, this guy I’d never
met (only heard about) and this guy I’d seen, but never really talked to became
the pot-and-pill dealer.
Davis, on the other hand, has been
living in my head so long, she’s like her own person – which can be hard to
explain to non-creatives. “Oh, no, there’s an imaginary person who lives in my
head. No, I don’t need medication. I’m fine.” Yeah, right. See, I've written
several longer “stories” about Davis, but none of them have escaped my
computer. Maybe one day. I like her. Well, I like her as long as she lives in
my head. If she were real, we’d probably never cross paths and if we did we’d
have nothing to say to one another. She’s dangerous and kinetic. I’m a lazy
bookworm who lacks coordination.
Her boss, Tom, grew out of a
private investigator I met years ago during my brief stint as a receptionist
for a bi-polar attorney. Tom’s inspiration was near retirement and used to hang
out in the spare office the attorney couldn't seem to fill with anyone else
because of his emotional outbursts and emotional abuse. I asked him one day why
he hung out in there. He told me he’d been a cop before he retired and he’d
already heard it all. It was cheaper than renting an office and it was close to
most of his clients, who were all other attorneys.
Come to think about it, Davis was a
little inspired by a former stripper who’d been the lawyer’s secretary for a
couple of years. She told me one day, after he’d called her a lazy stupid slut,
that she’d heard worse and every time she threatened to quit, he offered her a
raise. By the time I started there, she was making enough to put one whole
check a month into savings and had nearly paid off her condo. “As soon as it’s
paid off, I’m out of here.”
Other than that, she had very
little in common with Davis, whose past is largely a product of having spent
nearly a decade listening to kids in “juvie” tell me about their lives. Her attitude comes from a place of having been
a survivor in a landscape where everyone else was, too, to some extent or
another. It’s a fatalism combined with a resourcefulness and stubbornness that
expects to go down, but won’t do it without a fight, and probably a long, nasty
And by now, I think this post is
almost as long as the story and probably not as interesting.
There are, however, much better
stories in Feeding Kate and if you
haven’t already picked up a copy, you should do so. Not only does it benefit a
great cause, but it’s a good way to meet Thomas Pluck’s former-convict, Jay,
who I hope you’ll be seeing again. Johnny Shaw’s tale is damn funny yet
heartfelt. Stephen Blackmoore’s is the sort of gonzo L.A. story I think we've all come to expect out of him. And Holly West makes being a good employee seem
like the creepiest thing ever.
NELIZA DREW has worked with crazy lawyers, crazy boat captains, crazy advertisers, and crazy students. She lives in Florida with her husband and furry minions (okay, they’re cats). When not writing for the dust bunnies in her desk drawer, she’s a delinquent wrangler, awkward martial artist, and infrequent blogger (nelizadrew.com). She eats a lot of tofu, but makes up for it with booze and swearing.
Feeding Kate: A Crime Fiction Anthology is available from Amazon. All proceeds from Feeding Kate benefit the Lupus Foundation of America.