A Personal Milestone
Guest Blog by Jack Bates
I reached a personal milestone with the inclusion of ‘Bonne Chance Confidential’ in Grimm, Grit, and Gasoline. The mash up of Gatsby, Cinderella, and Poe marked the thirtieth time I had a story appear in a print anthology. If I include ebook anthos, I’m probably closer to forty. Sometimes I marvel at the names of authors I’ve appeared with in print. Three times I’ve appeared with Lawrence Block. In one Foreword, Ken Bruen said I wrote ‘a pip of a story’. In 2018, I had a story appear in FLORIDA HAPPENS, the official anthology for Bouchercon in St. Pete. Not too shabby for a guy who ‘got serious’ about writing back in 1980 after he picked up his first rejection letter from a popular, late night, sketch comedy show. Undeterred, I kept writing.
I have at least one copy of each anthology I’ve appeared in on a shelf in my office, a tiny room with yellow walls and pink carpet from when it was my daughters’ playroom. My office used to be upstairs in the loft but one of my now teenage daughters has deemed the adjacent space we used for a library as her new bedroom so I moved downstairs. Didn’t matter where I was. I kept writing.
1980 to 1987 were college years. A campus literary magazine ran a semi-autobiographical short story I sent it because—in my opinion—the story filled the last page. 1988 to 1998 were new career in education years, first marriage years, personal hardship years, creative growth and change years. And through it all, I kept writing.
2000 to now saw remarkable success in a variety of creative outlets. I optioned a screenplay. I had a short-lived web series. I had a YA horror novel published along with a Middle Grade steampunk novel and a holiday picture book. I wrote a series of P.I. novellas and a four part western series. I had many more rejections but still I kept writing.
I realized appearing in my thirtieth anthology that I’ve never NOT been writing. (Yes, double negative but this is a blog and I like how it sounds.) From ‘The Tales of Running Deer’ that I wrote in First Grade to ‘Bonne Chance Confidential’ in Grimm, Grit, and Gasoline, I’ve either had pen in hand or fingers on the keyboard or I was thinking about a work in progress or dreaming up a new one. If there’s one thing to remember about being in an anthology for the thirtieth time, it’s this:
I’m still writing because being in thirty-one would be even cooler.
About the Author
Jack Bates is a three-time finalist for a Derringer Award from the Short Mystery Fiction Society. In 2007 he co-wrote WHITE OUT, a horror screenplay that had its option picked up twice by Triboro Films in New York. His stories have appeared at crime sites such as Near to the Knuckle, Shotgun Honey, Beat to a Pulp and many others. He has also appeared twice before in Mystery Weekly. Most recently his short, ‘The Fakahatchee Goonch’ was included in the Bouchercon 2018 anthology, FLORIDA HAPPENS.
Drawing on his experience as an educator, Bates sets his Cinderella based story in the Hudson Bay region of New York. The homage to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is not accidental. After deconstructing both stories, certain tropes and themes align. Re-inventing self is major component of each story. Both characters yearn to be free of their poverty level lives. One takes matters into his own hands while the other has a chance encounter. Either way, fate has a way of putting a twist on the final outcome.
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