Thursday, October 6, 2011

"The Calendar of Saints"

I am extremely excited to tell you that I have a new short story out, "The Calendar of Saints," in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. I am very pleased to be in such a great magazine, and incredibly grateful to Editor-in Chief Scott Andrews, not least because he said it reminded him of one of Ellen Kushner's Riverside stories, which is on the short list of nicest things anyone has ever said about my writing.

"The Calendar of Saints" was an unusual story for me. I wrote the first draft in the late winter or early spring (they blend together to a rather appalling extent in Minnesota). It was the first time I tried experimenting with structure, and it was about twice the length of what I normally wrote. I knew it had issues when I finished it, but I wasn't sure what, and I sent it to my beta readers. They were very helpful, and after I read all their comments, I trunked the story.

I had no idea how to fix what they said was wrong. I knew they were right, but I couldn't make the changes. 

Then, earlier this year, out of the blue, I woke up, and I knew how to fix it. I made the changes, and knew I wanted to send it to Beneath Ceaseless Skies. And lo, I did. Scott asked for a rewrite, and this was my first time doing that, but he bought the revised story. And his editorial work was fabulous - he was a keen-eyed reader who was willing to talk to me to help me get the best story I could write.

I am really proud of this story. I hope you like it.


  1. Liked your story so much that I had to Google you. The descriptions of the saints reminded me of Peter Greenaway's film "Prospero's Books." Throughout the movie, he introduces scenes by describing a volume from Prospero's library. It's beautiful done.

    I look forward to your next story.

  2. Thank you so much - what a beautiful compliment. I love The Tempest, so I really should watch that film.

  3. It's a one-of-a-kind adaptation. Finding a copy is the real trick.

  4. Finally read it.

    I guess what I liked most is the way it starts in what looks like a realistic scenery and gradually adds elements of "defamiliarization" (not sure I can use this word here) we go from "ok, honor and truth being decided by the sword, I get that, it's the Middle Age" to "hey, 'God Herself', I believe there was a typo here", to "I don't think Tycho Brahe is a saint" and then to "What do you mean with teological thermodynamics".

    Then, in a second reading, this spiraling down of fantasy/alternate history seems to reflect Jeanne's own inner journey, as her path drives her into tougher challenges, both to her body and to her soul. That was BEAUTIFUL.

    Also, I enjoyed very much the way she equals faith to skill. At first I just couldn't understand why she said "I do not possess the faith I believe your Order would require in the wielder of that blade", since she was a Secret Blade (and a good one). Then it made sense to me as faith in her own ability to wield the blade.

    Great work, congratulations.


  5. Yes, and "Prospero's Books", definitely. I remember how the sheer beauty of it astounded me when I saw it. Though at some point I thought Greenaway was kind of bluffing.

  6. Thank you. I'm very glad you liked it.

  7. I too had to google you after reading this story... absolutely beautiful.

  8. Thank you, Brittany. I'm so glad you liked the story.