Once in a while, I’ll have an idea that captivates me. It’s all that I can think about between waking up and going to sleep. My mind constantly spins, refining and adding to that idea. It’s been years since I felt like this. So, when that idea hit, I was beyond elated. I’m speaking of a linked story collection that I’m calling Stories from the Infinite City.
Stories from the Infinite City
The idea for this setting came to me when I was still in single digits: a seemingly endless city full of crime and corruption on a demonic plane. Over the years, it’s evolved in my mind, but I didn’t know what to do with it. Until now.
The collection will be made up of a novella and 4 or 5 short stories, all set in the “infinite city” known as Cancastle. Is it sci-fi? Fantasy? Horror? It’s all three in fact. I think it best fits under the aegis of weird fiction, which amalgamates those genres.
I’ve started the first story already, entitled “Subbasement C.” It’s an exploratory mission to see exactly how this setting can be turned into fiction. I’m having oodles of fun with it. The story, however, has a mind of its own. I’m at 5400 words right now with no end in sight. I’m fully prepared that it may enter novelette territory.
Why does this project excite me so much? This setting has been stewing in my mind for over two decades, just waiting for something to click. I know the city and its inhabitants, its intrigues and secrets, as if I’ve been living there all this time.
Realistically, it will take 5 to 6 months to plan, write, and edit. The true difficulty will be finding a publisher. Weird fiction is a bit of a niche genre and collections are hard to sell—especially a collection where none of the stories have been previously published. I may send out a couple of the stories to publications to see if I can get my foot in the door.
One dismaying fact: when I first started working on this a couple weeks ago, I thought the idea of a dark, supernatural city on another plane of existence was hugely original. But since then, I’ve discovered that several weird fiction authors have written just that, including Jeffrey Thomas’s Punktown, China Mieville’s New Crobuzon, and M. John Harrison’s Viriconium. Still, I think my concept is unique enough that it won’t seem derivative.
Other Short Stories
Since last we spoke, I finished editing “The Installation” and sent it off the editors of the anthology. While I enjoyed writing it, I don’t think it’s strong enough to be accepted. I should hear back within the next 60 days.
This October I’m submitting one of my favorite stories “Slime is a Dish Best Served Cold” to a sea-based horror anthology. While technically both “sea-based” and “horror,” it skirts these at times. Hopefully, the story’s strength will keep it afloat.
On a total whim, I wrote a piece of flash fiction called “Soup”—a bizarro fiction tale about a tidal wave of tomato soup striking Seattle. It involves barricading the sea wall with grilled cheese sandwiches to absorb the tsunami. I have no plans to do anything with the story. It was just fun to write.
As you can tell, I’m experimenting with a lot of different things, jumping between genres, styles, and lengths. I need to feel things out. Am I a horror writer? A bizarro fiction writer? Or even a weird fiction writer? I won’t find out unless I try new things.