I am very pleased to announce my story, “The Wizard of 63rd Street” is now available on the audio-fiction magazine, Podcastle.
This story is intensely personal to me, and I poured a lot more of myself into this one than I usually do. This is the story I was writing so hard that I missed my train stop (at 63rd of course) and went all the way to 115th.
From the show notes:
This story is set in my neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, where gang signs and gun violence are a part of life. The people and streets in this story are, unfortunately, very vivid to me. I wish there were real life wizards who could paint a mural and make the problems go away. Barring that, I wish there were easy solutions that could unravel the thorny knot of generations of systematic discrimination and poverty, education and politics.
In the end, though, I went with an optimistic ending, even though it’s hard sometimes to feel optimistic. I don’t have wizard powers like Russell, but if my writing has any power at all to influence the universe, I would like to use it for the people trapped in tough circumstances who don’t have the privilege to escape like I do.
2 thoughts on “Free Fiction by me – The Wizard of 63rd Street on Podcastle”
I really loved reading this story. I’m very drawn to the idea of signs having power — both metaphorically and literally. And sadly a lot of the issues from 1973 are still relevant, as you point out so beautifully. Do you have other stories available online that you feel you poured as much of yourself into?
Also, I’m curious, if Russell was the “gardener”, how did he acquire the “job” — how did the neighbourhood become his responsibility? Did he just step up because no one else wanted to, and he happened to have the skill? Where do you think his ability comes from, and why is he stronger with it than anyone else? What did he use it for before everything went wrong in 1973?
Sorry if these are too many questions, I’d love to read more if you ever return to this concept!
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Thanks so much for your lovely comment. You can see the list of all of my published stories here, but I might particularly encourage you to check out Ten Things Sunil and I Forgot to Prepare for, When Preparing for the Apocalypse while it is available for free!
I kind of imagined that the gardener responsibility was sort of randomly assigned once per generation, and Russell was chosen because he cared about the neighborhood so much. Unfortunately, after the events of 1973, Russell wasn’t doing his duty anymore, which left the neighborhood without a caretaker. I imagine other neighborhoods would each have their own gardener…now that I think about it, maybe there are some more stories there! How would the Wizards be different depending on the character of their neighborhood? Does their power manifest differently than Russell? Do they ever fight, or work together? Has there ever been a city-wide enclave of Wizards?
I love it when a story sparks questions!