FEEDING KATE opens with his short story WAX FRUIT, and Dan's post today shares the back story behind the story of Hilary Martin's depressing paranormal-like gift, heartbreaking loss, and sweet revenge.
Why Blackbirds Don't Eat Wax Fruit
So my story for Feeding Kate… yeah, kinda plagiarized that. Well, not exactly.
Let’s back up. You’ve read Chuck Wendig’s Blackbirds, right? And Mockingbird? (Well if you ain’t, you oughta.) See Miriam Black, the protagonist of those books, she’s got this problem. If she touches you, she sees where and how and when you’re gonna die. Which, if you get to thinking about it, would kinda suck.
Thing is, I read Blackbirds and, as much as I loved it, something kept eating at me. Miriam’s reaction to her “gift” was to hit the road, become a drifter. On one level, I get it. She avoids any permanent attachments, so those folks she does touch, well, maybe it hurts less to know all the depressing details of their final breaths if they stay strangers. And besides, sometimes she finds ways to cash in on her knowledge.
Problem is, that’s exactly the opposite of how I’d react. I’d never leave home again, never touch anybody again if I could help it. I’d become a cross between Howard Hughes and Emily Dickenson. Maybe it’s a matter of personal temperament. Chuck seems a tab extroverted, seems like the sorta guy who’d happily wander the streets pantsless starting random, obscenity-laced conversations with everyone who passes. I’m half way to being Howard Hughes as it is. And not the rich genius part either. The never-leaving-the-hotel, don’t-have-much-use-for-people part.
Which gave me this problem. I had Chuck’s kick-ass death-touching premise rattling around my head, but I had this entirely antithetical take on it, which left me with a story-telling itch I really wanted to scratch. So I dropped the Chuckster a line, asked if he’d mind if I riffed in his sandbox. Chuck graciously gave his permission, and Wax Fruit was the result.
Hilary Martin, my protagonist, seems about as far removed from Miriam Black as she can get. Instead of Miriam’s hellish dysfunctional upbringing, Hilary was raised in a relatively loving home. And she’s a genius. OK, she’s got her issues, suffers her tragedies, but she’s got a lot going for her that Miriam doesn't Funny thing though, the story ends up in a place where it just might have if it had featured Miriam. I can almost hear Ms. Black giving out a dark chuckle and saying “Thought you could hide from death bitch? And you think you’re the smart one.”
Anyway, hope you like the story. Hope you like the whole collection, ‘cause it’s pretty fucking hot.
Just like the chick who inspired it.
Dan O'Shea is the author of PENANCE and the short fiction collection OLD SCHOOL along with the forthcoming novel MAMMON. Dan is represented by Stacia Decker at the Donald Maass Literary Agency. You can find him on the web at www.authordanoshea.com.
Feeding Kate: A Crime Fiction Anthology is available from Amazon. All proceeds from Feeding Kate benefit the Lupus Foundation of America.