Today on ShadowSpinners Press Eric Witchey is here to share a snippet from his story featured in ShadowSpinners: A Collection of Dark Tales and to answer a few questions about the story and his writing in general.
First up, the teaser:
Codependent Spectral Disorders
Eric M. Witchey
THE FIREMEN WERE COMING. THAT’S ALL I’D GOTTEN from my son. My heart grew colder under layers of sonic snow, each layer made of another second of hissing silence on my cell. Pinching the phone between my shoulder and ear, I plucked another HO model train wheel-and-axle set from the loose pile on my vinyl work mat. The snow storm hiss assaulted my ear while I examined the wheels and set them into the plastic sorting tray compartment I had hand let-tered, “HO. Wheel. RP25. Freight. 33 scale inches. Metal. Flat black. Blunt axle pin.” While my hands moved, my mind worked the puzzle of talking to my son.
“Use his full name, our family therapist, ‘Cassandra Victoria Fanterri, Ph.D. Please, Call me Cassie,’” had said.
“His name can cut through the fog of his sensory overload,” Cassie had said.
“Be firm, not angry. That means level tone and relaxed facial muscles.”
Except, I didn’t need to worry about the face thing because I was on the phone.
I picked up another set of wheels and took a deep breath. “Ran-dall Phillip Crawly. Was anyone hurt?”
I hoped my stern use of his full name would shift his focus—jump whatever mental train he had going onto a new track.
I needed him on my track. I didn’t have time for his spectrum problems. Not now. Once emergency services arrived, Randy would overload like an antique Rivarossi headlight on DCC rails. He’d get bright for a second, then he’d go dark.
I located the wheels’ compartment in the tray—HO Wheel. RP25. Freight. 33 scale inches. Metal. Flat black. Pointed axle pin. I had a Bettendorf truck frame it would fit.
If he would just tell me what had happened, I’d know what to do next. If he would give his mother the phone—
I picked up another wheel set.
HO. Wheel. RP25. Freight. 33 scale inches. Silver. Pointed axle pin.
I wanted to scream a dozen questions into my cell. I wanted to know about Alma, Randy’s mother, but I held my tongue. Before Cassi had insulted Alma and given up on us, she had taught me that if my son were going to come around to what I needed, I had to wait. Speaking again would only give him an excuse to retreat, to get back on his track and lose any progress that following the therapist’s sug-gestion had given me.
Somewhere, wires crossed or microwaves tangled. Faint voices held ghostly conversations just beyond my ability to understand. I sorted wheels and waited for my son to answer.
A woman laughed. Even ghosts laugh. In her distant voice, I heard flirt and hope. Guiltily, I wished she were my wife—that I was talking to her. Alma’s voice had lost that tone long ago.
Waiting for Randy to speak was a war. The winner would be the one who held his tongue longest.
Eric, welcome to our shiny new blog! Thanks for being the first guest on ShadowSpinners Press .
What was your inspiration for Codependent Spectral Disorders?
The story came, as my stories often do, from totally random influences on my life and consciousness. In this case, a land line phone call I had with my sister included the whispering voices of other people on other lines talking. I was reminded that the phenomenon of ghost voices had been common when I was young and had pretty much disappeared from the phone calls of today. When we were kids, sometimes the ghost people could actually hear you, too. I once had a ten minute conversation with a ghost woman. I was on hold in Ohio. She was in Iowa. Neither one of us had an open line to the other, but we could both make out what the other person was saying. It was quite funny and spooky. About the same time, I had put together an HO train layout on a 4×8 sheet of plywood for a friend of mine’s son, who is a high-functioning autistic kid. I added my own grief at the loss of my mother and a bit of OCD and train passion to the mix. The result was the story.
What was the first piece of dark fiction that really resonated with you? Or alternatively, what story or book do you feel has had the most influence on your career as a writer?
The first, and in many ways the most important dark writing in my world, was Poe. I was sick, and my father brought home an Illustrated Classics book that contained The Masque of the Red Death. I was 7 or 8 years old, and I am perpetually grateful for the, by today’s standards, questionable parenting choice he made. Poe is forever my go-to-guy for dark, psychological did-it-first fiction. To this day, “The Raven” and “The Tell Tale Heart” are among the scariest stories I know because in both the horror comes from within the character rather than from without.
Of your own work, what is your favorite?
If we are talking about my dark fiction, as opposed to all the stories I’ve done, my favorite is a story called “Scare Tactic.” It first appeared in Dark Discoveries. However, I have a very soft spot in my heart for another story called “The Fix in Mr. Giovelli’s Bandit,” which appeared in the Ghosts at the Coast anthology. Both are about the darkness that results from slightly shady men trying to do a good job. I think that one of the scariest things in life is the way narrow focus can result in the destruction of our humanity.
What’s next up for you? Any books or stories coming out?
My upcoming projects include Bull’s Labyrinth, a Suspense Romance novel which will come out soon, and a collection of short fantasy and science fiction, Prof. Witchey’s Miracle Mood Cure. Ingredients: Tales of Magic, Strangeness, Wonder, and Mystery. I’m very excited about Bull’s Labyrinth because it will be the first of my novels to come out in eBook, Paper, and Audio. Of my previous novels, only Fighting Mother’s Echo came out in paper, but it only came out in Poland. Bull’s Labyrinth is story of two timelines. The ancient timeline is the tale of the master mason of ancient myth, Daedalus, falling in love with an epic beauty, Nikkis Aristos (Noble Victory in Greek). Their love is doomed by the politics of the Minoan King and Queen, and they are cursed to an eternity of reincarnation and torment. The modern story is about how they break the curse amid the backdrop of corruption and artifact smuggling on the modern island of Crete. The Mood Cure is a collection of 25 shorts, and it includes seven never before published stories selected by the editor. There has been some talk of an additional collection of my literary shorts. We’ll see.
Working in multiple genres, Eric Witchey has sold over 100 short stories and four novels into national and international markets. He is known for his ability to teach clear, useable skills that allow students to create saleable fiction. His seminars and classes grow out of his experience teaching at two universities, a community college, countless conferences, and many private seminars. Writers of the Future, New Century Writers, Writers Digest, the Eric Hoffer Award Program, Short Story America, the Irish Aeon Awards, and a number of other organizations have honored his work. His how-to articles have appeared in The Writer Magazine, Writer’s Digest Magazine, and other print and on-line magazines.
Links to Currently Available Novels:
How I Met My Alien Bitch Lover: Book 1 of the Sunny World Inquisition Daily Letter Archives. 2012. IFD Publications.
Hiding from a black ops agency bent on saving the world from a threat that may not even exist, Len Furstin has taken a job as a reporter for the Sunny World Inquisiton Daily Letter (SWInDL), a batbaby and bigfoot type tabloid. In his guise as reporter, he seeks proof of alien visitations. When a young grad student desperate to reclaim her family’s ranch offers to sell Furstin that proof, he follows her deep into a storm made up of unnatural lightning, wildfire, techno-ninjas, hormones, a soul-sick forest ranger, an coyote-hunting ostrich farmer, creepy coyotes, and a space alien. In the end, only one version of the story will be told — the one told by the survivors.
Beyond the Serpent’s Heart. 2011. IFD Publications.
Nothing ruins a first date like a kidnapping and learning you’re the Mayan god destined to destroy the world.
Pakál, raised in the U.S. by his refugee mother, ignores the Mexican kids who taunt him for being Indio and the Anglo kids who shun him. He stoically pursues his version of the American dream – a good college, a law degree, and enough money to support his mother and marry the gringo girl of his dreams. Unfortunately, he is the incarnation of the Mayan god Nohochacum, and it is his job to battle the serpent of avarice in a one-on-one smack down that will cause the end of the world on Dec. 21st, 2012. Not all gods think it’s a good idea to end the world (and give up the worshipers that will end with it). Pakál must deal with his mother’s past, his family demons (divine and human), and a pantheon of gods unlike anything the U.S. school system ever suggested possible. In the end, he must accept his mythic nature, duty, and family in order to overcome the serpent of avarice and set the world on a path that will avert disaster at the end of the Mayan calendar.
Links to Currently Available Short Stories and Novelettes:
Shadow Spinners: A Collection of Dark Tales:
“Codependent Spectral Disorders” Ghost. Just after an autistic son and his slightly less autistic father lose the mother and wife who has held their family together, she returns to them as a voice in the static on an open phone connection.
ROAR Vol 6:
“Hold the Moon.” Fury Fantasy. Paper and eBook available. An ancient cat who holds the moonbeams to the Earth must choose her successor before she walks up the silver bridge to the place where all cats hunt freely and without pain.
Link to Print Version:
Timberline Review. Premier Issue: Summer, 2015:
“Tequila Volcano.” Literary. An angry father, a man of history and traditions, stands on the shoulder of the Tequila Volcano in Jalisco State in Mexico and seeks revenge against money, cartels, and politics for the random shooting of his daughter.
Link to Print Version, Direct from Publisher:
Independent Ink Magazine Issue 12, Jan. 2014.
“Goodbye Home.” Literary. A man’s home is a broken stone more than it is a bank asset.
Link to Electronic Version, Direct from Publisher:
Short Story America Vol 2:
“Lost Island Story Hour” Literary. Print, only. A shipwrecked librarian’s assistant tries to keep his insane mentor and traditions alive while attempting to escape from a lost island in the Pacific.
Link, Direct from Publisher. Also available at Amazon.com.
Short Story America Vol 3:
“The Cell Door Opened” Literary. Print, only.. A convicted prisoner relives the fateful moment of his bad choice over and over in an attempt to find his lost humanity.
“Bosque Circular” Magical Realism. Print, only. Third Place for the Short Story America Prize. A young man faces his fears, leaves his home, and ventures out into a dark, unforgiving world. There, he finds his way and unknowingly passes on his own fears to the next generation while trying to create a better life for them.
Link, Direct from Publisher. Also available at Amazon.com.
Short Story America Vol 4:
“Forgotten Lore” Literary. Second Place for the Short Story America Prize. An aging writer weathers the storm of his own mortality with his friends—a couple of seagulls and his books.
“Fly, Denora Bird” The magical world of a girl is shattered by her brother and repaired by the neighborhood crones who believe that every little girl should be able to fly.
“Cascade Summer” The moment at which a mother releases her daughter and the daughter begins to understand her mother.
Link, Direct from Publisher. Also available at Amazon.com.
“The Apple Sniper.” Literary. IFD Publishing short story stand-alone ebook.
It takes a village to raise a sniper. This contemporary short story by award-winning writer Eric M. Witchey explores the nurturing relationship between the village and the aspiring warrior. It is one of a dozen or so short stories the author affectionately calls “The Neighborhood Stories” because of their loose relationship to the neighborhood in which he was raised. Each explores the relationship between developing children and the adults they will become. “The Apple Sniper” follows the exploits of an aspiring killer and his younger brother.
“Beware the Boojum…” Scifi. IFD Publishing stand-alone ebook novelette.
If love conquers all and the standard model only accounts for 5% of the universe, then…
This scifi novelette by award-winning writer Eric M. Witchey pits loneliness and love against the forces of corporate greed and narrow-mindedness. When isolated, almost totally insane asteroid miner Bracken MacFie sets his sights on being reunited with the lost love of his life, who is absolutely, totally batshit nuts, he must overcome the ambitions of the man who separated them and the avarice of institutions. Luckily, he’s nearly insane and incapable of knowing he should lose.
“To Build a Boat, Listen to Trees.” Fantasy. IFD Publishing stand-alone ebook novelette.
The deepest magic in the world is that magic of listening to the heart. Award-winning writer Eric M. Witchey penned this novelette in which compassion, heart, and attention to the whispers of the natural world create love, thwart enemies, and save a kingdom. Port Corwald, A peaceful maritime city state in the mists of the distant past, is threatened by warring nations on all sides. An old carpenter, a young mute, and a princess band together to save their home.
“The Tao of Flynn.” Contemporary Fantasy. IFD Publishing stand-alone ebook novelette.
Sometimes, a liar can be the most honest man in the room. Magic surrounds us all the time, but Richard wouldn’t have believed it until he met Flynn, a self-avowed lying salesman who makes his way in the world by giving people what they want.