Thursday, July 13, 2006

Author's Note: "Five Hundred and Forty Doors"

Today is our official Internet launch party for Twenty Epics! In celebration of this beautiful book, with all the kick-ass epic tales (in 10,000 words or less) by lovely and talented writers, we're tossing links around like shuriken and telling the stories of our stories. This is my first piece of fiction writing to show up in an actual bound book, and as you may be able to tell I'm pretty damned excited.

The story behind my contribution, "Five Hundred and Forty Doors," is this:

My mom was born in Evansville, Minnesota, a small town just north of Alexandria. Be warned, if you have any plans to visit the area, that it is overrun with Scandinavians. Evansville was a Norwegian enclave, and the Burros clan, at least down to my mom's generation, are full-blooded Norwegians. (The Swedes lived in the next town over, in Brandon. If you get my mom talking she'll tell you how "those Swedes burned down our church." Long story.) What do you get when you get a lot of Norwegian farming families? You get a lot of Norwegian bachelors. Not, in this case, bachelor farmers--I'm not necessarily clear on what most of my great uncles did for a living. A fair amount of their time seems to have been spent chasing each other around with shotguns. (I exaggerate. Some.) Do you remember Fargo? Some people (not Minnesotans) tried to tell me that the dialect in that movie was exaggerated. Ha. Come and meet the Burroses that still live up in Evansville, and you'll see. Hell, after an hour with them I'll be talking like Jerry Lundegaard.

My great uncles on the Burros side included Uncle George, Uncle Martin, Uncle Sidney, and Uncle Burt. After Grandpa died and Grandma moved into town, she lived up the street from Uncle Burt. He lived in a tiny house that had an old man smell, but we always walked over to visit him when we were in town, because our parents made us and because he was nice and because he always served us blueberries with cream and sugar. Good stuff. Try it sometime.

What does all of this have to do with my story? Well, after many visits and many bowls of blueberries, Uncle Burt died and I grew up. I went to college and majored, eventually, in Scandinavian Studies. I read sagas full of laconic warriors and old, head-trippy poems about the end of the world. I learned that Uncle Burt had been in World War II. And by the time I read that David Moles and Susan Marie Groppi were putting together an oxymoronic anthology of short epics, I was ready to write a story about the Battle of the Bulge, Ragnarok, and brothers with guns, all in a thick Minnesota dialect. I don't know that Burt or his brothers would approve--in my experience the Norwegian Lutheran sensibility sees fantasy as anathema--but I wrote it for them, nonetheless.

To buy Twenty Epics, visit either Amazon or Lulu. If you've already read it, post a rave review! To read more Author's Notes, visit Mr. Moles; he's collecting all the links.


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