Hey, I just wanted to give a heads-up that I've got a new short story published in Wednesday's Happy Hour 5 (comic story by Peter Milligan and Michael Montenat). Mine's called "On the Beach/In the Bedroom," and it's about a moment during the start of the Trojan War. If you get it, I hope you like it! Here's what the cover looks like. 

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Happy Hour #6 shipped today with Rob's story "Sweet Revenge" about an unsuccessful pasty chef and the vengeance taken by "a thousand discarded pastries." What form could such "Sweet Revenge" take? You'll have to read the story to find out! I would like to know "the story behind the story," though. Is it a metaphor? 

Thanks, Jeff! I'd meant to mention again that this one was out today... and if you can't find a copy, you can also read the story on Ahoy's website, here!

It's not really a direct metaphor for anything, actually -- when I wrote it, the idea came to me quite literally. I was at a country line-dancing club my niece had invited a bunch of us to. It was the birthday of one of the regulars, and there were a bunch of desserts there, including a big sheet cake with HAPPY BIRTHDAY written on the icing. A couple of her friends displayed the cake to the crowd, then went back to put it on the table so they could cut it. But somehow the thing slid off the tray and flipped over, landing facedown on the carpet. They had to scoop it up with a snow shovel. But still there, on the carpet, was this faded impression of the icing -- basically, it looked like the ghost of a cake. And I thought... how would a cake become a ghost? And what would it want??

And by the time we'd made it home that night, I'd had the story mapped out in my head. The one remaining thing that took some time to work out was the change in perspective in the last quarter of the story. I was having a hard time making the ending work until I bit the bullet and did that. 

Rob, I just finished reading all three of your stories. They were thoroughly enjoyable! Well done! 

Great story, Rob! Glad I finally revisited this thread and read it.

Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) said:

Thanks, Jeff! I'd meant to mention again that this one was out today... and if you can't find a copy, you can also read the story on Ahoy's website, here!

It's not really a direct metaphor for anything, actually -- when I wrote it, the idea came to me quite literally. I was at a country line-dancing club my niece had invited a bunch of us to. It was the birthday of one of the regulars, and there were a bunch of desserts there, including a big sheet cake with HAPPY BIRTHDAY written on the icing. A couple of her friends displayed the cake to the crowd, then went back to put it on the table so they could cut it. But somehow the thing slid off the tray and flipped over, landing facedown on the carpet. They had to scoop it up with a snow shovel. But still there, on the carpet, was this faded impression of the icing -- basically, it looked like the ghost of a cake. And I thought... how would a cake become a ghost? And what would it want??

And by the time we'd made it home that night, I'd had the story mapped out in my head. The one remaining thing that took some time to work out was the change in perspective in the last quarter of the story. I was having a hard time making the ending work until I bit the bullet and did that. 

Oh, thanks, Tracy! Thanks, Mark!

I've got three more (well, two stories and a poem) on deck -- I'll let you know when they're published!

My next story, Seeds, appears in Ahoy's Black's Myth #2, out next Wednesday! Here's a preview of the comic.

Oh, and I think going forward I'm going to revise the title of this thread to reflect the newest book I'm in. 

I think that's a good idea. I was going to suggest it myself, but then I thought, "It's your thread."

I just finished reading "Seeds" for the second time. Just to do something different, instead of asking you where you came up with the idea, I was going to guess, but all I can come up with is maybe you saw Invasion of the Body Snatchers recently. And what did the food court and the sandwiches have to do with it?

Do you have any input about the accompanying artwork, or is that strictly assigned by the editor? 

Thanks for reading, Jeff!

I haven't seen Invasion of the Body Snatchers recently, but the Donald Sutherland remake (the first version I ever saw) was one of the first grown-up movies I saw in the theater (holy cow, just looking at the release date for that, I was EIGHT!), so it's in the deep mud of my DNA. I guess maybe the last time I saw it was 5 years ago, and it's VERY different with adult eyes. There's a lot of paranoia and satire in that movie, and as a kid, you take it all at face value, especially if the hokum is coming from Mr. Spock.

But aside from the sci-fi elements, it's a true story. I woke up in the middle of the night, on a family vacation. The sandwich dream was my dream. I went to the bathroom, and had a weird, grisly flash that I'd find Kathy's body in the tub, even though I knew she was in bed. And then the idea came to me -- there's a body in a tub in the 70s Body Snatchers remake, that's probably what made the connection in my synapse -- and I decided to write instead of going back to sleep. And the rest was all conjecture, aside from maybe a general lonesome feeling of being the only one awake in a house full of people.

I planned to revise the sandwiches -- it was just something I could grasp onto to get me started writing, and usually the first things I put down get cut -- but in this case, the mismatched bread and meat, the idea that things aren't quite what they should be, seemed to have some thematic resonance to the story, so I kept it in. 

As for the art, I have no influence at all, but the piece by Dave Schoeneck is my favorite one accompanying my stories yet!

Next up (at some unspecified time, in some unspecified publication): "The Enumerated Woman" and the zombie poem "Pastoral."

Oh, and I should add: Black's Myth, the comic itself, is one of my favorite AHOY comics! A supernatural mystery starring a werewolf detective and her djinn assistant, it reminds me, more than anything, of the great Baker Street comic by Gary Reed and Guy Davis, published by Caliber in the late 80s/early 90s. 

I thought the sandwich dream was one of your actual dreams, but I didn't say it so I sacrifice the points! I can hardly wait until you get to the "Dream Curse" arc in Dark Shadows. I can see the thematic resonance of the mismatched bread and meat (now that you've pointed it out), and it reminds me of a story.

DIGRESSION #1: In one of my college classes, we were discussing Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" and the professor told a story (which may even be true) of Robert Frost addressing a ladies club (or something). The woman who introduced him gave a lengthy explication of the poem, concluding that that man was going to go home and commit suicide. I'm a big proponent of taking from literature whatever you can get from it, but she then made the mistake of asking, "Isn't that right, Mr. Frost?" to which he (supposedly) replied, "Lady, I don't know what the hell you're talking about."

DIGRESSION #2: There are actually four filmed versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers: 1) the original (1956); 2) the remake (1978); a third version (1993) titled simply "Body Snatchers"; and 4) a 2007 version titled "The Invasion" (which I learned about just this second). I saw these films wildly out of order. I saw the donald sutherland version first (but years after the fact), then the original, then the 1993 version. It occurred to me at the time that, despite them being filmed in different decades, they present a sort of cohesive narrative when watched in the order released. I'll have to make it a point, now, to watch all four in order.

DIGRESSION #3: I've never read Baker Street, but have you ever read Rick Veitch's Rare Bit Fiends? (21 issues of the artist illustrating his dreams.) I think it would be right up your alley. (Collected in three tpbs.) 

I didn't think you had any input into the illustrations that accompany your stories, but I really liked the Schoeneck one, too!

I've read a bit of Rare Bit Fiends! It was neat stuff, that I think I'd appreciate even more now. I haven't read it for ages; I should dig around in the longboxes downstairs and see how many I have. 

I don't think I ever knew about the 1993 remake of Body Snatchers -- or more likely, I heard of it at the time and I completely forgot about it. I remember the Nicole Kidman version from 2007, though I never saw it. 

And that's a great story about Frost! I hope it's true.

Continuing your digressions, Jeff..

Jeff of Earth-J said:

DIGRESSION #1: In one of my college classes, we were discussing Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" and the professor told a story (which may even be true) of Robert Frost addressing a ladies club (or something). The woman who introduced him gave a lengthy explication of the poem, concluding that that man was going to go home and commit suicide. I'm a big proponent of taking from literature whatever you can get from it, but she then made the mistake of asking, "Isn't that right, Mr. Frost?" to which he (supposedly) replied, "Lady, I don't know what the hell you're talking about."

This reminds me of the bit in one of Woody Allen’s movies. They are standing in line to buy movie tickets. The woman in front of them is inflicting her understanding of the works of Marshall McLuhan on everyone within earshot. Woody’s character has had enough and challenges the woman. She starts defending her opinions. Woody’s character just happens to have the real Marshal McLuhan within an arm’s length, and McLuhan tells the woman she knows nothing on his work.

DIGRESSION #2: There are actually four filmed versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers: 1) the original (1956); 2) the remake (1978); a third version (1993) titled simply "Body Snatchers"; and 4) a 2007 version titled "The Invasion" (which I learned about just this second). I saw these films wildly out of order. I saw the donald sutherland version first (but years after the fact), then the original, then the 1993 version. It occurred to me at the time that, despite them being filmed in different decades, they present a sort of cohesive narrative when watched in the order released. I'll have to make it a point, now, to watch all four in order.

So far, I’ve seen the first two, both of which are great. One of the scariest things I’ve seen in a movie is in the first one. The hero tells his lady not to fall asleep. When he comes back, she slowly opens her eyes and ……there’s nobody home. I don’t know how it was done, but I don’t think I imagined it.

The Invasion (2007): my go-to rental is through the DVD rental side of Netflix, since it’s a service I’ve already paid for. Apparently, this one has a long wait. I’ll stick it at the top of my list and will get it in the near future.

Body Snatchers (1993) is an odd duck. The studio apparently released it to only a handful of theaters. It exists in both BluRay and standard DVD form. Amazon will sell you either of these or will rent it to you on streaming for $3. When I’m ready to watch it I’ll pay for the streaming rental.

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