(Guest Post by Lorina Stephens)
The last collection of short stories I published was in 2008. It’s an eclectic mix which I entitled And the Angels Sang, named for the lead story. To my delight, it’s met with quite a bit of positive reaction from both readers and reviewers.
In the ensuing years, I’ve crafted a number of other short stories in between operating a publishing house and all the demands of being an administrator in our other business, one which pays the bills. A lot has happened during that time: our son married his life-buddy, three major surgeries, a failed attempt at elder care, renovating this old stone house which was built c1847, and as I write this, into the second year of a global pandemic.
And somewhere in all that still writing, still exploring ideas and what-ifs. I do have to admit a reluctance to writing short fiction. The literary form seems so restrictive to me, perhaps more having to do with the fact I have too much to say and want to make an epic out of everything. But short story writing is good discipline.
Having said that, I’m giving you 10 short works of fiction in this collection, spanning the boundaries of science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, magic realism and absurd fantastica. Apparently, I don’t much like writing in just one genre, either. Creative fences drive me batshit crazy, although I do very much appreciate fences around this sanctuary we are privileged to call home. But there is a theme to this collection, a common thread I think you will find through all the stories. What it is, I will leave up to you to decipher, and thus we will have a silent communication.
I’ve arranged the stories in some loose graduation of dark to light, and again have chosen to use the lead story as the title for the collection. But the title Dreams of the Moon is more, because as a child, and then an adolescent, I firmly believed if I arranged myself just so in the bed, so that when the moon shone in my window, something wonderful would happen. It never did. But I still felt compelled to answer the call of that pale, eerie light.
And then there were all the moonlight walks in the deep of the night which took place well into adulthood. Wonderful moments. Moments I remember with clarity and wonder, whether moonlight so bright on a winter’s night that the trees by the river cast indigo shadows across the snow, or a brace of geese rising up and across that silver face. And as with all things, there is the dark side of the moon: a sleepless night fraught with sorrow and a desperate attempt to rescue someone I dearly loved.
All of these moments influence and underscore what I write. It’s there in these 10 stories. Darkness and light. Wonder and sorrow. The ambiguity, sometimes, of reflected light. Dreams of the Moon.
So, let me introduce you to the eponymous story of the collection, Dreams of the Moon.
Mythology is fascinating. Why? Because it’s very much a reflection of culture, of how people think, how their societies are structured. Christian mythology very much fascinates me, particularly the legends of the societal hierarchies of angels, and those who fell because they not only wished the freedoms of humans, but also lived among, and interbred with, God’s most beloved creations.
That fascination then evolved into discovery of one particularly powerful angel known as Sariel. He was known as one of the ten Watchers, one of the chosen ten captains of tens, who had governance over the phases of the moon, and was also known as the Prince of Death. Fascinating stuff.
Which led to the question of how Sariel would have felt when all that beauty and power and belief came crashing down around him, when paradise was indeed lost. What if the angels were, in fact, human-like beings, an advanced species who lived among the early tribes of humans? How do you react? Do you accept? Do you obliterate? Do you forget? How to deal with extreme crisis?
Thus I spent months researching this ancient, cultic mythology, all to write an extremely short story about Sariel’s fall, an exploration of despair and futility.
Dark stuff with which to start a collection. But I guess that’s also just part of life. We’re forever shifting through the phases of the moon, from dark to light and back again, so although these stories are firmly in fantastica, they are also metaphors for how we live out our days. While other writers are exploring the outer reaches of space, or the expanse of escapist fantasy, I’m forever plumbing the depths of what makes us tick, and how we fit into our past, present and future. Wherever we go we always take our dreams, and our fears. It is the constant in our universe.
Dreams of the Moon is available in trade paperback and ebook, either directly through my website or through your favourite online bookseller wherever you live in the world. It’s also available through elibrary services globally.
Lorina Stephens has worked as an editor, a freelance journalist for national and regional print media, and she is the author of ten books.
She can be found at: fiveriverspublishing.com