Thursday, April 6, 2023

Galaxy's Edges and the Fiction Factory



 I have stories in the January and March issues of Galaxy's Edge. Or, rather, I have a total two-thirds of a story in these issues, since both stories are reprinted collaborations I wrote with Gardner Dozois and Jack Dann. 

"Touring" (in the January issue) was the first collaboration I ever did, so it was an important story for me. Jack had come to town and was staying at Gardner's apartment. I went out to dinner with them and Susan Casper and then the three writers (Susan's surprise reveal as a writer came years later) spent the evening talking big and laughing loud and, ultimately, plotting out a story about a posthumous concert where Janis Ian, Buddy Holly, and Elvis Presley get to sing together. Janis because I'd recently written "The Feast of Saint Janis," so I'd already done the research on her. Elvis because Jack was a big Elvis fan, and Buddy Holly because his biopic had just come out recently, so he was on our minds. So we talked out the plot, waving our hands excitedly in the air, talking over each other, freely changing what we'd already agreed upon as new ideas struck us. I jotted it all down.

Originally, I was going to write the Janis Joplin parts, Jack the Elvis sections, and Gardner would have Buddy Holly. But, as would be the pattern in our later collaborations, I took the notes, wrote a full draft of the story, and sent it to Jack. Who rewrote it top to bottom and sent it Gardner. Who did the final polish. Tinker to Evers to Chance. It was as simple as that.

"Afternoon at Schrafft's" (March) came about on another of Jack's visits. This time, dinner took place in Marianne's and my house. Marianne cooked a dish she'd invented in his honor, Metaphysically Referential Chicken. She de-boned a chicken, stuffed it with vegetables and roasted it. It went over very well, and about a year later, renamed Chicken Marianne, was published in the letters page of Gourmet.

After dinner, we retired to the library for aperitifs and conversation. Jack mentioned that he'd always wanted to set a story in Schrafft's Restaurant in New York City. I suggested we plot out the story on the spot. Jack, of course, was immediately up for it. Gardner, however pointed out that we didn't have an idea for the story.

"My idea is that the story should be very short," I said. "Because we've all had a couple of glasses of wine and our attention span isn't up to anything long." 

Jack and I started plotting out the story. Since Jack and Gardner had contracts for three new anthologies for their Exclamatory series--Magicats! Sorcerers! and Dinosaurs!--I suggested we write something with a cat, a sorceror, and dinosaurs, and then sell a reprint of it to each of them. Jack thought that was a swell idea.

Gardner was quite dismissive of the whole process. But he couldn't keep himself from correcting us wherever he thought we were going astray. Before he knew it, he was in full collaboration mode. 

Marianne and Susan watched with amusement.

Ultimately, the story sold of course. Everything the Fiction Factory sold, and often to very good markets. This one went to Amazing, a perfectly respectable sale. Ultimately, it was reprinted in Magicats! but not in the other two anthologies. Gardner had too much self-respect for that.


1 comment:

Jeff Baker said...

My gosh! I got that book for my late Mom & Dad when it first came out! It's one of the books I saved! Thanks for the inside scoop!