Crows caw to awaken the village of Slippery Slope to the first official thaw of the new year, and as the pale snow melts, it reveals the body of a little girl who has been missing for three months. Not even a mile down the road, her paisley print scarf flutters around the neck of Old Mayor Crickshaw's scarecrow. Through the haunting voice of a communal narrator, the story of Slippery Slope is uncovered. Children are not allowed to play outside until they reach a certain age. Mysterious deaths have been occurring in the village for over fifty years. Most villagers seem unaffected by the deaths. A black congregation of crows pervades the story in the same way that words flock and squawk on the page and in our imaginations. It is important to note that a group of crows is also known as a "murder of crows," an image which is felt on many levels throughout the narrative. The story of Slippery Slope is more of a mystery than a murder mystery, exploring the consequences of mob truth and how people will cling desperately to a constructed ideal rather than stare a horrible truth in the face.
In 2001, I spent many nights writing my creative thesis (A Murder of Crows) in the darkness of my apartment. I turned off all of the lights and sat in the flickering glow of a couple of candles, relishing the thrill of my heightened senses. Frankly, I scare easily. At night, when it’s dark, my imagination becomes super-charged.
So, when writing my thesis for my first Master’s degree, I read a lot of poetry (for the cadence and music of the language) and tried to make myself as “on edge” as I could. I listened to Gregorian Chant music and allowed myself to only write by candlelight.
The story I wanted to tell needed to have that kind of energy.
It’s an allegory, a novella, not an easy thing to try and publish. I never tried, really, already knowing that it was probably a lost cause for someone to publish this thing that seemed to have no real fit anywhere. Not quite genre. Not quite “serious” enough for literary fiction. Not quite long enough.
For ten years, this story that I love sat dormant in my files, passed from computer to computer, from back-up disk to back-up disk.
A month ago, I decided that I would self-publish it through Amazon to see what it can do. I’ve already sold quite a few copies—it helps to have a lot of Facebook friends and many, many cousins! Nothing to crow about yet but definitely something worth trying.
The marriage of this story to the convenience of self-publishing on Amazon seemed too perfect to ignore.
I am still working on my “serious” writing, but, in the meanwhile, this has been a fun experiment.
You can find my story on paperback:
I used Amazon’s program to design the cover. The picture is from a cemetery in Wilimington, North Carolina. It was a gothic, Southern cemetery with hundreds of fascinating histories chiseled into the weathered granite headstones.
I also made the story available through Kindle:
This is a fascinating time to be a writer. Each day offers new technologies, new avenues for offering your work, and new opportunities to find readers. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?