Well, actually, it's an old short story that has been re-published as an ebook. As Lev Raphael said, ebooks allow us to keep our backlist in print. This story, The Big Dance With Death, appeared in FUTURES in 2001. FUTURES was a small magazine with limited circulation so not many people had a chance to read it. As an ebook, it will have a potentially larger audience. That's one of the advantages of ebooks. They can correct for an earlier failure of the market. The story is currently available for Kindle and other devices through Smashwords. Eventually, it will be part of the collection of stories called Game Face, which should be ready next month.
Compared to other stories, this one was particularly difficult to write. I struggled making all the parts fit together. I don't recall how many drafts I did before it was accepted by FUTURES, but that wasn't the end of the struggle. Three editors worked on it. Each editor had a different take and suggested changes that would send it in a different direction. I'd make the changes and return it only to discover that the editor had left and a new one had come on board. Earl Staggs might be the only FUTURES editor who didn't work on it. By the time it was published, I was tired of the story. I didn't read it again until I decided to put this collection together.
To be honest, I didn't expect this story to hold up well, so I was very surprised to find, when I read it again after ten years, that it's still something to be proud of. There are some hard-boiled elements that I'm very pleased with. At the time, I was experimenting with hard-boiled themes and menacing antagonists. The experiment seems to have worked.
As I said, I struggled to make all the parts fit. It wasn't until I added the main character's backstory that everything fell into place. I introduce the backstory as a conflict between the main character, Val, and another woman, Carol, in the opening scene, which takes place on a college basketball court. Carol is the head coach of the team and Val has just signed on as her assistant. The conflict is some unfinished business between the two of them. The last time the two women had met, sixteen years earlier, was on that very court. They were the stars of rival college teams meeting in a game that was highly anticipated by the two of them, by the teams, and by the fans. The game would determine which woman was the best. Unfortunately, Val made a mistake which kept her out of the game. Her team lost and Carol went home with a hollow victory. The loss had haunted Val for all those years. Now she was back because one of the current team's stars was making the same mistake Val had made and Val has to stop her before she ruins the team's chances again.
If you do happen to read it, I would like to know what you think about it. David Shackelford (firstname.lastname@example.org) did the cover. He'd like to know what you think of the cover. Do you see the death's head in there?
Hawaiian Eye blog