Please help me give a warm Once in a Blue Muse welcome to my friend, critique partner, and uber-talented writer, KJ Kabza.I was fortunate enough to be a fellow student with KJ in a local SF&F writing workshop a bunch of years ago. He and I have read one another's work, and I find his voice to be striking, singular, and compelling. Since he is loathe to sing his own praises, I'll tell you his short fiction has appeared in Fantasy & Science Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review, Every Day Fiction, Daily Science Fiction, and Spek Lit, among others.His work has garnered praise from Locus, Tangent, and SF Revu, and has been reprinted in several "Best of" annual anthologies.I am an unabashed fan of his writing and am proud to be his friend.Welcome KJ!
The Valley of Short Fiction
Guest Post by KJ Kabza
I once asked a friend whether or not I should out myself to the larger writing community. "Will people be weird about it?"
His answer was immediate. "No. People won't care what you do." He drummed his fingers on the table. "They probably won't even notice. You're mostly a short fiction writer, right?"
"Short fiction is the Valley of Nobody Gives A Shit."
Perhaps the idea of nobody giving a shit is disheartening to you, but to me, it's kind of freeing. If nobody gives a shit, you've got enormous artistic freedom to try anything you like and work to please no one but yourself.
This freedom, coupled with a lot of current discourse in fandom about the need for more diversity in stories, has emboldened me to try writing from many points of view. I'm a middle class, pudgy, gay American white guy, but I've had the great pleasure of writing, and selling, stories that have main characters who are:
--Icelandic farmers ("In the Shadow of Dyrhólaey")
--orphans with cerebral palsy ("The Idiot")
--billionaires ("The Ramshead Algorithm")
--Jewish ("The Game Room")
--alcoholic ("Surface Tension")
--Chinese-American ("Nathan and the Amazing TechnoPocket NerdCoat")
--children ("The Soul in the Bell Jar")
In October 2014 I attended the Viable Paradise workshop, where Steve Gould, who had read a few samples of my work, said to me, "Well... you certainly have no trouble following your weird."
Steve's face tried to say something different from his mouth. "I mean... originality counts for a lot. People will always prefer reading a story that tries something new, even if it has noticeable flaws."
Funny. That's the kind of story I prefer writing.
After Viable Paradise, I launched an ebook entitled UNDER STARS, a self-published collection that reprints the stories I listed above (and more). To continue with the theme of me trying new things, I also put in 5 original pieces, which feature:
--poor, mixed-race kids ("...In the Machine")
--a widower ("The Land of Stone and Stars")
--a mixed-race couple ("Copyright 2013")
--working-class black kids ("Like Old People Do")
--and a vampire... in SPACE. (Because you just need to write a dumb vampire story sometimes.)
UNDER STARS is, I feel, a nicely eclectic collection. I'm pleased with the variation in there, and I'm grateful for the opportunity every story has given me: a chance to grow, a chance to learn something, and a chance to become more human. (In a good way, I mean.)
If you want to start exploring the Valley of Short Fiction yourself, I'd recommend Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Daily Science Fiction, and AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review. I've appeared in all of them, and there's some fine stuff there. Riskier and more beautiful than novels.
Or submit a story to them, if you like, and see what variety of your own you can add. Experimentation enriches us all.
And hey--maybe the Valley of Nobody Gives a Shit will someday become the next hipster hot spot.
Thank you for hanging out on my blog today, KJ!