Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Scarecrow: Out Now

Back in February, I wrote that one of my stories had been accepted for World Weaver Press’ latest anthology, Scarecrow. Today, I am delighted to announce that this short story collection, edited by Fae’s Rhonda Parrish, has been released.

First of all, here’s a description of Scarecrow, from World Weaver Press’ website:

Hay-men, mommets, tattie bogles, kakashi, tao-tao—whether formed of straw or other materials, the tradition of scarecrows is pervasive in farming cultures around the world. The scarecrow serves as decoy, proxy, and effigy—human but not human. We create them in our image and ask them to protect our crops and by extension our very survival, but we refrain from giving them the things a creation might crave—souls, brains, free-will, love. In Scarecrow, fifteen authors of speculative fiction explore what such creatures might do to gain the things they need or, more dangerously, think they want.
Within these pages, ancient enemies join together to destroy a mad mommet, a scarecrow who is a crow protects solar fields and stores long-lost family secrets, a woman falls in love with a scarecrow, and another becomes one. Encounter scarecrows made of straw, imagination, memory, and robotics while being spirited to Oz, mythological Japan, other planets, and a neighbor’s back garden. After experiencing this book, you’ll never look at a hay-man the same.

My tale in this anthology is called Only the Land Remembers. It tells the story of Grace, a girl who volunteers to be the ‘Scarecrow’- a protector figure who must ward off the ghoulish ‘Crows’ that are haunting her town. Below is a short extract:

The Crows are gathering. 

Grace is curled up on the window seat upstairs, her arms around her knees, her fingers picking at the loose hem of her sleeve. This is the only spot in the house where she can watch them; it is just high enough to see over the town wall.  
They are smudged in the crisscross of panes, the glass distorting the almost-human shape of them, so that if Grace moves her head even a little, they seem to lurch from side to side. But even blurred those dark spirits are unmistakable, and she knows that, for now at least, they stand perfectly still beyond border.   
It calms her to sit here, taking stock of them: three by the gate, eight in the orchard, the rest away in the fields. Yesterday, there were two dozen; now she counts twenty-nine.  
After a while, her vision relaxes and she leans forward, a cold kiss lingering where her brow touches the window.  
‘Shoo,’ Grace whispers, her breath fogging the glass. ‘Get away. Shoo.’

I’d be lying if I said this had been an easy story to write. The plot changed significantly from my initial ideas, which is unusual for me, as I’m a compulsive planner. The number of drafts I struggled through, not to mention the endless hours I spent writing them, doesn’t really bear thinking about (a shout out goes to Joely Badger here, who unpicked the plot with me on multiple occasions, and never grew tired of my asking, ‘But what if…?’).

Needless to say, it was a huge relief to eventually wrestle my thoughts and ideas into a story I was pleased with, and when I received the postcard from Rhonda telling me I’d been accepted for Scarecrow it definitely felt as though all of the effort had been worth it. So today, as I look back on the whole experience - and I look forward to reading the rest of the anthology - I can't help but feel especially proud to finally see Only the Land Remembers published.

Scarecrow is available to buy as a trade paperback direct from the publisher, or as an ebook from the usual suspects. More information can be found here.