I’m not a prolific writer of short stories (I’m not a prolific writer of anything, in fact) but I have written enough that with the creative team at the House of Pomegranates we were able to create my first short story collection, Discovering Japan. It’s available as an e-book and contains the stories listed below, plus an unpublished story and an excerpt from the novel in progress.
“Consent”, Deathport, Pocket Books, September 1993
This story was inspired by the furor over the publication of Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho and my experience reading several well-known horror anthologies, in which only 2 or 3 of 20 authors were women and a large number of the stories had to do with the murder, and the justification of murder, of women. Having written such a story myself (Exodus 22:18), I have a lot of conflicting opinions on this subject, which I attempted to work through in this story. I worked on it for a couple of years until the HWA anthology was announced and then, oddly enough, the haunted airport was the thing I needed to make it work. I like the story quite a bit, but it never did fit very well in that anthology.
“Cold Sleep”, Northern Frights, October 1992
This story is the original inspiration for the character of Dimitri Rozokov. Set in Mt. Pleasant cemetery in the middle of winter, it was actually written sitting beside the swimming pool. Northern Frights is an excellent series of horror stories (mostly by Canadians) edited by Don Hutchison.
“Exodus 22:18”, Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine, June 1989
– Reprinted in Northern Frights 3, October 1995
My serial-killer-with-a-twist story. My musical influences at the time (notably Siouxsie and the Banshees) are clearly on display. This is also one of several of my stories that feature song lyrics I’ve written (or co-exist with them). In this case, I wrote the song first.
“The Party Over There”, Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine, June 1988
– Reprinted in Northern Horror/Canadian fiction Anthology 2000
This was my second entry in Twilight Zone’s new writers contest (I got an encouraging note back the previous year). The story received an honorable mention and Tappan King encouraged me to make a few changes and resubmit it for publication. I didn’t do anything about it (mostly because I didn’t actually agree with him about the changes) until he phoned me at work to ask me why I hadn’t resubmitted it. I explained my reservations and he said “Then tell me I’m full of shit and send it back.” So I changed a few words and that’s what I did. They published it as part of their TZ First series. I lost the year-end contest for best new story, but since Elizabeth Hand won, I could hardly complain.
I also wrote a song based on the same concept.
“Into The Black”, Cadre 1, 1982
I wrote this story for my final assignment for the Science Fiction Literature course I took as an undergraduate at the University of Toronto. It, like “Exodus”, was heavily influenced by my musical tastes at the time. The title is taken from the Neil Young song “Rust Never Sleeps”. It was published in a small press magazine called Cadre, created by Kim Kofmel, who several years later, when we finally met in person, became one of my best friends.
“A Terrible Beauty is Born”, Cadre 2, 1983
This is, in its own odd way, one of the seminal stories of my life. I wrote it in university, based on characters I had invented (some in conjunction with friends) in high school. I keep saying someday I’m going to write a novel about the main character, as soon as I have an actual plot. In the meantime, writing the parts of the novel that aren’t plot is one of my favorite writing “warm up” exercises.
As an aside, it took me a long time to recognize that “A Terrible Beauty” would be the perfect title for my third novel because I’d already used it for this story. The phrase is from the W.B.Yeats poem, Easter 1916.
“Admit One”, Cadre 3, 1984
The closest thing to a standard horror story I’ve ever written. The setting is based on the old roller coaster at the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition).
Originally published as part of my second novel, Blood & Chrysanthemums, this new book contains the extraordinary diary of the vampire Sadamori Fujiwara.
From the seductive nights in the imperial court of the eleventh century to the horror and tragedy of the darkest days of the twentieth, Fujiwara’s story is a tale of poetry and violence, of delight and despair.
Exquisitely illustrated and designed by the artists of the House of Pomegranates Press, this edition stands alone as an evocative exploration of being a vampire in a world that has no word for what you are.
Available in hard cover and as an e-book.