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The stories in this collection span roughly two years of creative production—from late 2009 until just before Christmas of 2011.
I can’t pinpoint a unifying motif in these tales. The literature students I work with at the college often arrive at our first session operating under the assumption that there’s this secret tribe of writers and scholars that possess the keys to understanding what a story really “means” (whether Sigmund Freud said it or not, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and that saying holds true for stories as well).
The way I see it, stories should move readers. That statement is pretty broad, of course, but for my tastes, I like to be entertained. I like a story with artistic sensibilities, and I like to learn new things. If a story does any of these things (or, in the best cases, all three), then that’s a win in my book.
And just as there’s no magic bullet for gleaning meaning from fiction, there’s no special explanation for where the stories come from.
That’s not to say that there isn’t excitement in the act of sitting down to write a new tale. Certainly, that moment of inspiration that sparks the creative process is a thrill. As I mention in the story notes at the conclusion of this collection, I’ve had to drop everything and get to a word processor on more than a few occasions.
But writing is also hard work. You just…well, you just sit down and chip away at it, I suppose.
Tim O’Brien describes it this way: “If you want to be a writer, you’ve got to learn to be an eagle soaring up above and a mule who keeps climbing and climbing.”
That’s about it, really. You’ll have good days at the word processor, and you’ll have days where the dam just won’t break and you’re better off mowing the lawn.
It’s all part of the deal.
But if you commit to telling a story and you give it an honest run, you’ll probably create some fine narratives.
How about writer’s block?
I’m often asked about that as well, and I think thriller author Joe Konrath has a pretty fine answer for that one. Farmers don’t get farmers’ block, and doctors don’t get doctors’ block. When a student asks me about writer’s block, I don’t have a solution any more profound than write something else.
And now, on to The Silver Coast and Other Stories. These tales are speculative in nature. They take place in familiar locales and worlds very different than our own. Thanks very much for giving them a look—I hope, as always, that they provide you with an entertaining escape.
~ Jacksonville, Florida
January, 2012

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