Short Story: Pitman House

The Devilfish Review is a quarterly short fiction e-zine featuring mostly speculative fiction. Their fifth issue was released yesterday featuring one of my stories, a sort of neo-gothic horror tale titled Pitman House.

The genesis of this story is a rather odd tale in itself. One night around the time I was about ready to begin re-working my new novel, I had a very vivid nightmare in which I was walking alone in a city at night, and saw the ghostly apparition of a woman cross the street and enter a decrepit building. In a highly uncharacteristic move, I followed her inside, and what I found there scared me so much that I woke up immediately, thinking not “I’m glad that wasn’t real so that I’m still alive,” but rather “I’m glad that wasn’t real so I can write a story about it.”

Since I felt like I had to turn the dream into fiction no matter what, it freed me to experiment a bit. I started thinking about who the protagonist was; what was his connection to the ghostly apparition he encounters? A lover perhaps, from long ago? How long are we talking? What if the main character of the story, who I named Ethan Harkness, was actually hundreds of years old, a member of a mysterious race of immortals who live in plain sight among us (I’ll admit I have sort of a facination with immortal people, as the aforementioned novel features them heavily as well; maybe it was watching Highlander too many times growing up, or my obsession with Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon and Baroque Cycle books featuring Enoch Root, or maybe it’s just from watching too much 30 Rock)?

I figured at best what I’d end up with would be something a little different, a story that could be at turns frightening, as Ethan confronts the literal ghosts of his past, as well as funny, as we watch Ethan stumble about in a present day he’s not entirely comfortable with. At worst, I could just shrug it off and say hey, I had a scary dream, but I never claimed to be a horror writer, did I?

Luckily for me, Sarah and Cathy at the Devilfish Review seemed to understand whatever it was I was doing, and I really appreciate all their feedback and hard work making a free magazine which rivals or surpasses any for-sale sci-fi or horror magazine in quality (seriously, just read it and you’ll see I’m right). Since they don’t ask anything in return for their labor, show them some love by forwarding a link to their zine around to anyone who might be interested.

As for me, it’s back to work on that novel…

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