Adam’s Stepsons: The Professor and Sam Adams

beerfridgeThe main character of my new SF novella Adam’s Stepsons, Dr. Johann Heimann, was modeled after a professor at my undergraduate college named…ah…let’s name him Professor R. He had the biggest office on campus, and he kept Sam Adams in a small fridge tucked under his desk. And he shared them liberally with students who stopped by. And he told great stories about Chevy Chase. A perfect model for a fictional scientist.

Prof. R. was a teacher of social economics. Which is why he spent all his free time keeping careful track of tiny pieces of paper from the 17th to the 19th century detailing who was responsible for maintaining what part of what county and state roads in nearby towns.

By “careful,” I mean of course hundreds of cardboard boxes haphazardly stacked around his office and often mislabeled or labeled with handwriting so cramped that medical doctors would be proud. Couldn’t help wondering if Sam Adams were to blame. Continue reading

Adam and his stepsons: Raising Seth

AS-FinalFrontCvrIt’s been a productive couple of winter months. I got over my sickness (contracted from my daughters), finished the academic year (classes end in mid-January here), brought a group of students on a study abroad trip to Hawaii, and completed editing my long-awaited novelette/novella, Adam’s Stepsons.

Long-awaited in the sense that the nucleus of the story was written in 1994. So if anybody complains, “This has been done before,” you can tell them, “Yeah, but he did it first.”

Clones are nothing new in science fiction. In fact, the idea of creating human-like beings dates back literally thousands of years. The concept of the golem influenced ideas in Adam’s Stepsons; golems have been made famous in popular culture through D&D and fantasy games, but originally stem from Jewish mysticism. Continue reading

Notes from the Nineties: Upstate is…where, exactly?


This is the fifth and final preview of my upcoming collection of short stories and poems, Notes from the Nineties. In the first part, I explained the background behind the first story and poem pair, Cois Fharriage and Ag an gCrosaire. In the second part, I took a look at some of my experiences in Japan that informed Asian Dreams and Training the Mountain Warrior. In the third part, I delved into the “true story” of The Lost Bunny Shrine of Annandale. The fourth and penultimate part, I talked 
about my brief experience with occultism and the wisdom of teeth that led to The Four Teeth of the Apocrypha.

DSC00484I’m from New York. No, not New York City. No, not Niagara Falls (the Canadian horseshoe looks better, anyhow). Yes, there is something in between. An awful lot of something, actually. In fact, the oldest and still largest state park in the US comprises most of Upstate New York.

Yes, I’m from the Adirondacks. But it’s more complicated. Continue reading

Notes from the Nineties: Cois Fharraige / Ag an gcrosaire

From now I’ll be spending some time on the blog briefly explaining the background of some of the stories and poems in my new book Notes from the Nineties (already available for pre-order! Only $1.99!).

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The first story in the volume is called “Cois Fharraige,” which used to be subtitled “or, By the Sea,” which is the meaning of the Irish Gaelic (Gaeilge) title. The poem that follows the story (“Ag an gcrosaire,” which means “at the crossroads”) stems from the same time period and experiences.

From 1995 to 1997 I studied creative writing, literature, history, and Irish language in the University of Notre Dame MFA program. (Actually, when I entered the program it was an MA but changed to a “terminal degree” at the end of my first year, but that’s another story…). When I told my roommate that I was studying Irish he first said “don’t the Irish speak English?” And then he added, “Gee, that’s going to improve your job offers” (or some such words). Continue reading

September to April

A couple of weeks away from submitting Notes from the Nineties to the online proofing system…

Here’s a sample poem to whet your appetite (story excerpts coming soon!)


September to April

September

I want to do a creative graduate thesis, he said.

In that case, you should keep a diary, his advisor suggested. Write every day.

OK, he said.

And bring me a story or two to look at.

OK.

October

These aren’t stories, his advisor informed. These are more like diary entries. Continue reading

What’s “creative non-fiction”?

Yes, this is a real lake and not fictional.

Yes, this is a real lake and not fictional.

This past week I’ve been scouring through some short stories of mine that have been sitting collecting Microsoft dust for years now…in preparation for putting out a collection of stories and poems later this year or early next (tentatively titled “Notes from the Nineties,” which lets you know how long I’ve been sitting on these files). Some of the earliest versions of the stories were written so long ago that MS Word consisted of a single 3.5″ floppy.

What’s a floppy? To quote George Carlin, next person who asks that gets stabbed between the eyes with a pencil.

As I began the tedious process of converting the files to newer, editable forms of word processing software, it occurred to me that much of my fiction is really very thinly-disguised non-fiction. Kind of. Continue reading

High school or college? Regardless…

One criticism that came early in the workshopping of what turned into Approaching Twi-Night was the fact that several of the players went to college. “Everyone knows that baseball guys go straight from high school,” was a typical comment (not an exact quote, mind you; this was something like 18 years ago). “Athletes wouldn’t use this kind of sophisticated language” was another. (This was in regard to descriptions in some of the alternating chapters that don’t use quotation marks for dialogue and call the main character “John” instead of “Ditch.”) So, uh, athletes are dumb? Pardon me for breaking the (undeserved, insulting) stereotype. Continue reading