It’s funny how things turn out.
When I wrote Hotshot 52, which appears in the new crime anthology, UNCAGE ME [Bleak House Books], I wanted to try something different. I decided to focus not on my usual fare — you know, obese goofballs who upper deck into people’s toilets, or paroled Raiders fans who lounge in kiddie pools all day — but instead on the troubled mind of a Silicon Valley cubicle dweller, drilling in on the inner psychology of his need to transgress, examining the emotional makeup of a man who hungers to do wrong.
I also kept going back to a certain conversation opener I always thought would be a great way to start a story — “I don’t like your face.”
I was inspired.
I wrote Hotshot 52.
I sent the piece out.
It got rejected.
Then I read an interview featuring editor Jen Jordan, who was compiling a collection of crime shorts for a new anthology to be published by Bleak House. Looked her up and sent her the piece. Waited a real long time. Then maybe six months later, I learned Hotshot 52 had made it.
That felt great.
But here’s what fascinates me …
Some people like Hotshot 52, like it enough to put it in a book that’s sold in bookstores and on Amazon. Others, however, rejected it — didn’t want it for their ‘zines and journals.
All those reactions were true and fair. I have no beef with any of them. There never was a wrong way to react to the piece. What gets me is the diversity of reaction the story has illicited. What is one reader’s plum is another’s pus bomb.
Hotshot 52 is just one of 22 stories in UNCAGE ME. So far, each story I’ve read has captured me, compellled me, has taken me someplace I never expected. And I think that’s pretty frickin’ cool. As the legendary John Connolly writes in his introduction to the book, “There may be stories in this collection that you find difficult to like, or of which you may actively disapprove. There will be stories that may remind you of your own past acts, and stories dealing with acts that you believe you could never commit. Yet each of them touches upon the basic human urge to transgress, and in this you will find a certain sense of commonality, however uncomfortable it may be.”
UNCAGE ME has been uncaged. It’s finally out there, and I’m thrilled to be included.