The publication of my story, “A Bird, a Broad, and a Mess of Kyodatsu” in the January 2016 issue of Mothership Zeta has made me eligible for the John W. Campbell award for new writers. This is a great honor and major milestone in my writing career (I can call it a career, right?). The thought of it is exciting yet it brings with it some sadness as well.
As I wrote wayyyy back in September of last year, I hit a number of setbacks. One of them was the death of Matt VanPelt, my best friend from high school. If you follow me on Facebook, you know that Matt was a massive influence on my life. He also was a key reason why “A Bird, a Broad, and a Mess of Kyodatsu” turned out like it did. When I first conceived of the story all I had was a central idea: a tengu is forced to work as a private eye in post-WWII Japan. I didn’t know what he’d be investigating or where the story would go. I was also aware that that I risked taking the story into Cultural Appropriation Land if I didn’t perform due diligence and research. So I turned to the one guy I knew who was a) learned on Japanese culture b) an expert on World War II, and c) lived and worked in Japan. That guy was Matt. Matt was eager to help. He answered my questions on Japanese pop culture during that time frame and directed me to John W. Dower’s excellent book, Embracing Defeat. It was only by reading that book that Hideo’s story took full form.
As I wrote on Facebook back when I first learned of Matt’s death, I used to fantasize about being able to travel to whatever exotic local Matt was working in, hugging him, and being able to thank him, face to face. But now he is dead, and that will never happen. The news of my Campbell eligibility brought all those bittersweet emotions back to the top again.
And so it is with pride and a touch of melancholy that I announce that “A Bird, a Broad, and a Mess of Kyodatsu” has been included in Event Horizon 2017, an anthology that collects 75 stories from authors who are eligible for the John W. Campbell award this year. It is available as a free download over at Shirtsleeve Press. The anthology will be available until July 15th, 2017.
Thank you so much for your support.