A new story, Hollow Edge, is now published and online at Poor Mojo's Almanac(k). The story is a nice companion to some of my more recently written and published short stories, especially White. But, unlike those stories, Hollow Edge has a long and troubled past. Hollow Edge began life as a very different story around 1999 or maybe 2000 and was titled Heuristic. I was really into one-word titles back then. At the time, I was working on a short story collection that, although meticulously planned, never quite eventuated into print. Looking back at that collection, Heuristic was more than a little out of place.
The story was inspired by the drive between Brisbane and Bundaberg where I worked for a time back in 1997. Somewhere on the highway, in one of the blip towns, was a small housing estate. Evidently a parcel of farm land had been developed into an estate, flanked with billboards, draped with bunting, and offered to the public at bargain prices. One house had been built there. Construction had started on another. By the time I had finished my Bundaberg tenure, the second house had been completed, though a third had stalled partially completed. The billboard images had faded and the edges were peeling. The bunting hung from the street lamps, limp and sad. A failed estate is truly a sad place to see, even from the window of a speeding car.
From there, Hollow Edge took shape as the failed estate to end all failed estates.
I tried a few times to interest various magazines and journals in Heuristic, but, despite a few enthusiastic responses, no one took it on. I tried a tighter redraft about five years ago. Still, little response. So the story languished.
I picked it up again at the end of last year and immediately identified what had been going wrong with the story: superfluous crap. You know when they make three-hour movies with some kind of present-day top and tail scenes (think Titanic or The Green Mile)? Superfluous crap (although The Green Mile was otherwise a great film). So it was with Hollow Edge. Half the word count concerned itself with a rambling account of how the narrator got himself in the middle of nowhere. It didn't pass the so what test, so it was excised along with a great number of awkward words and phrases, the kind of howlers that make me embarrassed I ever offer the story up to an editor.
The resulting story was clipped and tight. Lovely. Off to Poor Mojo with you.
So, if you want to read it, here it is, in glorious black and white. Hope you like it.