Back in February I had one of those moments. Some writers will know what I mean: the moments when you can’t write, when the blank screen and page becomes overwhelming, when you begin to think that you will never write again.
Except this was the sort of moment that stretched into days.
At about the same time, I realized that Nin Harris was still searching for a second story for the third issue of Demeter’s Spicebox, a fairy tale zine that had earlier featured my short story Sister and Bones. The writing prompt called for a retelling of “The Mouse who was to marry the Sun,” set on an island, with a magical spicebox, using the items from the previous stories. I could use that as a writing exercise, I told myself. Even though — perhaps especially though — the folktale has never been one of my favorites.
I read the folktale through once. Twice. Three times. I read variants. I thought.
I’m never going to write again.
And then I thought of islands. More specifically, a trip to the Florida Keys that I’d taken years ago.
The final result is a bit of a switch for me: a fairy tale that combines reality and fairy tale. Parts of this story are very real indeed: the island itself, the fire coral, the boat, the storm. I’ll let you decide how much of the rest of the story is real.
This third issue of Demeter’s Spicebox also has other marvels: an illustration inspired by my previous story for the zine, Sister and Bones, and short stories by Alicia Cole and Bogi Takacs. Enjoy.