Frank Coffman, editor of the ambitious new publication JOURN-E (“The Journal of Imaginative Literature”), included my short story “The Old Man of the Mountain” in his inaugural issue, published on the vernal equinox. A call for submissions to the next issue (autumnal equinox) appears on the journal’s home page.
This innovative magazine includes fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and illustration, all geared around what Coffman calls “the genres of the high imagination”: Adventure; Detection and Mystery; Fantasy; Horror and the Supernatural; and Science Fiction. In its first issue, the balance among stories by genre is about even, with most sections checking in at around 50 pages.
My short stories mostly have “and it all worked out” endings—not necessarily happy, but some measure of situational control reestablished, and not leaving the reader in need of therapy, either. Except this one. I started working on it several years ago, and quite a few drafts were needed to get it into publishable shape.
The experiences in the story could apply to any tragic wartime situation and its lingering impact on those left behind, the so-called “survivors.” Although the enemy who wreaked havoc in my story is the long-gone “Nazis.” Now, perhaps, one could substitute “Putin.”
I also drew on a frightening experience from my college years, when I was working at a summer theater near Pittsburgh. The theater manager put her interns up in a bedroom in her basement. The other intern hadn’t arrived yet, and I slept down there alone. It was very dark. Very dark. And one night I felt like the dark was palpable, suffocating me. Of course, after a moment of frightened paralysis, I got up and turned on a light. Problem solved. But the feeling of oppressive blackness was something I resurrected for this tale.
I must mention Dominique Bibeau’s story, “Russian for Beginners” in the March/April Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (translated by @JoshPachter), which brought that frightening claustrophobia back once again.
What a fabulous way to use the experiences that leave one emotionally spent. Congratulations on your publication. That publisher recognizes talent!
It doesn’t surprise me that the editor chose your short story. You’re a master of the form. Congratulations one again.
Thanks so much. Means a lot coming from you, who is no slouch yourself!