Friday, May 26, 2006

On the Collection - it's about love, its workings and failure.

The first story in my collection is called "Threnody" it was the first story I ever sold, sold it to Eidolon in 1994, the day I got the acceptance letter was one of the best moments of my life up until that point - I've still got that letter. Threnody is about love, and the failure of love, and grief, the grief of a community for a lost child and the grief of the traveller who offers them succour. It was set in a post apocalyptic Australia on the North Coast of NSW - a part of the world that I adore.

Because this is my blog -and I get to pretend I am brilliant, and that everybody else agrees. I can also fly here, too - here are the first few para's

**

They waited for her on the outskirts of town, smiling wanly at her approach, waving as she came down out of the hinterland. She saw them and waved back, before wiping away the sweat that had run onto her brow, blinking it out of her eyes. She walked slowly, picking her way through the rubble, the broken scab of the black and steaming road, hidden in places by thickweed and lantana. Her steps were careful yet confident.

The sun sat heavy in the sky and shadows had become mean little things incapable of solace—drought shadows, dead shadows.

But she was prepared, had travelled so many roads, and the failure of shade was not enough to bring her pause.

The wide-brimmed leather hat she wore was brittle and old, the face beneath it weathered, though young. Young as anything was these days.

“Hello, Threnodist.” One of the townspeople called, when she was near enough to hear with ease. He was a man, tall and bulky, his wide face shadowed beneath his hat, his belly encased in taut flannelette.

She smiled and it was a weary thing.

“My name is Sal; please call me that,” she said and the man grinned back at her.

“As you wish, Threnodist. You heard our call and we are pleased.”

“I hear all calls. I come when I can. What is this place named?”

“Alst, this place is...A tidy town, please wear your seat-belt.”

“Alst, yes, I have heard of it.” She smiled a little vaguely and glanced eastward.

The man was pleased, his head nodding, eyes flicking to the others. She knows of us, see. Others know of this place.

“Come now, out of this sun. We have lodgings for you and food and drink. And talk, you must hear our story. Know our lives and...”

“I know my job, man.” She snapped. The man’s eyes widened, a little stupidly, then he grinned. He grinned a lot; his face was creased with smiles.

**

It's clunky, there are breaks in the rhythm of the story, on a sentence level, and the dialogue doesn't work for me now - a little too portentous - but I am still inordinately fond of this story, and the Shaun Tan artwork they paired it with, and the fact that it was in an issue of Eidolon (15) that had stories by a young hotshot called Sean Williams and a less young hotshot called Simon Brown, both writers that I'd admired from stuff I'd read in previous eds of Eidolon and Aurealis.

So that's the first story. And I still think it holds up okay.

Hey, it's friday, time to go do stuff.

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