fantasy fiction football (soccer) historical fantasy Lethe Press novelette novella Rahab SF short stories spec fic

book news

Long ago at the beginning of time—in 1976, that is—the first piece of fiction I was ever paid money for appeared in print. If I remember correctly, that story paid for my first electric typewriter. I’d written it longhand in a prep-school spiral-bound notebook, then typed it up on a portable manual Hermès that might be worth some money now if I still had it.

Let me do the math: Sometime in 2016 I will have been a Published Author for forty years. How is that even possible?

To mark the anniversary, I thought, how about a collection of stories, new and old? Not quite as old as forty years—I reread some of that apprentice work from the 1970s and ’80s. I don’t hate it (much) but don’t feel like preserving it either. Let future scholars and heirs do that after I’m dead. So the initial date I chose is 1990, the year I acquired my first computer (an Apple Macintosh SE of blessèd memory) and determined once for all the name I wished to be known under.

I brought the notion to Gentle Publisher, who agreed with good grace (although he nixed my proposed cover in no uncertain terms) and surprised me utterly by saying, “I’ll find somebody interesting to write an introduction.” I am as curious as you are who that will be!

At any rate, barring unforeseen mischance, out in July 2016 from Lethe Press will be a massive tome entitled Not Here. Not Now. collecting thirteen stories and novellas from a quarter century’s work in (and out of) multiple genres.

table of contents

  • “Composition with Barbarian and Animal” [written 1992/published 1994]
    Science fiction, a tale of barbarian merchants in the strange worlds of the far future.
  • “You Deserve” [2013/2013]
    Contemporary dark fantasy about a teenager and his dads, dreadful impulses and dreadful powers.
  • “Michael in the Library” [1991/1998]
    Quasi-historical fiction set in Roman Alexandria, concerning a scribe at the famous library and his lover, a novelist.
  • “Seb and Duncan and the Sirens” [2010-2012/2014]
    Contemporary fantasy: American tourists. Greek island. Sirens.
  • “A Handbook for the Castaway” [1996/1997]
    Quasi-historical fiction, the shipwreck narrative of an eighteenth-century pirate.
  • “A Portrait in India Ink by Harry Clarke” [2013/2013]
    Semi-historical* romance revolving around an Irish artist’s gorgeous illustration for a minor Poe story.
    *(do the 1960s count as history?)
  • “Dramma per musica; or, The Frenzy of Alexander” [1995/previously unpublished in full]
    Faux-autobiographical fiction containing, as in a matryoshka, a narrative of Baroque-opera castrato erotica.
  • “Three Men I Want” [1995/1997]
    A non-fiction short story, deceptively autobiographical, ambiguously confessional.
  • “The Hyena’s Blessing” [2012/2013]
    Quasi-historical fantasy set in eleventh-century Egypt, involving an assassin, a caliph, and, well, zombies.
  • “Captain of the World” [2010/2011]
    Contemporary sports fiction. No, really. Narrated by a Turkish-American soccer goalkeeper.
  • “#duranperi” [2013/previously unpublished]
    Contemporary fantasy, a kind of fairy tale taking place at the edges of the Gezi Park protests in İstanbul during the summer of 2013.
  • “Two Dead Men” [2012/2012]
    Secondary-world fantasy, a supernatural love story set during and ten years after a vicious civil war.
  • “The New People” [2008-2009/2011]
    Science fiction, an exploration of the society evolved on an isolated colony world three hundred years after all the women died. And a love story. And a fan letter to Israeli singer-songwriter Ivri Lider.

fiction football (soccer) short stories Turkey YA

praise from an unexpected quarter

Have just seen an advance review of Steve Berman’s inspirational YA anthology Speaking Out from Kirkus Reviews, notorious in book circles for brutal negativity. The one-paragraph review disappoints, not for its expected negativity (Kirkus doesn’t think much of the book) so much as errors of fact—the book has more than one transgender protagonist, Kirkus; the (slim but definite) majority of characters are female; and it’s the reviewer’s innate bias that reads most of the boys as white, not anything in the text.

Still, my pleasure in the following line is not diminished:

In Alex Jeffers’ standout “Captain of the World,” a gay, Turkish Muslim goalie fights back against both racial and sexual harassment on the soccer field.

Bold Strokes Books will release Speaking Out in September.

fiction football (soccer) short stories YA

march writing update

This time with real writing!

Last fall my friend Steve Berman sold an anthology idea to the good people at Bold Strokes Books. Speaking Out would collect new stories of YA GLBTQ pride. He asked me to write one of them. Specifically, he said, “Write me a story about a gay Muslim at an American high school.”

So I did! In less than a week! 5400 words about a deeply closeted Turkish-American soccer goalkeeper and the circumstances that lead him to come out to his straight best friend. Some of my writing buddies (who know nothing about soccer and care less) really liked “A Shot on Goal.”

When I sent it to Steve, unfortunately, it turned out that the “deeply closeted” part was deeply problematic for the book he had in mind. My character was too conflicted to be proud of himself. Steve and I went ’round and ’round a bit until I got irritated by his utopian leanings and said, rather dogmatically, that the kinds of characters he was looking for were kids I could admire and sympathize with, sure, but not empathize or identify with, so I expected I couldn’t write a story to fit his brief and didn’t wish to try.

Come 23 February. Steve’s deadline to turn in the manuscript of Speaking Out is barrelling down—book needs to be finished by 28 February and he still has holes. Still irritated—I thought “A Shot on Goal” was a great story and I wasn’t likely to sell it anywhere else—I told him again, no go. Not from me.

Then I tried to take a nap. Hadn’t slept for thirty hours. Now, I’m an heroic insomniac if it’s dark outside but put me in bed during daylight and bang! Last Wednesday excepted. Steve’s problem and my intransigence are rattling around. What if…? What if…? What if the catalytic event during the soccer match in “A Shot on Goal” went slightly differently?

New story—in two and half days! “Captain of the World.” 6700 words. Shares eight or ten paragraphs, some stray other sentences, and the basic set up with “A Shot on Goal” and the characters have the same names. But it’s a different story (more soccer! yay!) with different aims, and after a few tiny changes this one met with Steve’s approval.

Bold Strokes Books’ Soliloquy imprint will issue Speaking Out in November.