Free (Audio) Fiction by Me

(OMG a purple HP Lovecraft peeking out over a small town!)

This story was previously available in print, but I’m VERY please to say they have produced it in audio as well! I am always happy when I can share a story for free to a wider audience!

As long time readers know, I love the horror genre to death, but I write precious little of it these days. So if you’re in the mood for something creepy, see how this strikes you:

It’s an alt-history, steampunk (ethanol-punk?) Civil War / Lovecraft mashup in epistolary format. So if Civil War-era mechs battling tentacle beasts from space is something that sounds like it will appeal to you, 1) you should check this out, and 2) you’re my kind of person.

Listen now!

Free Fiction by me – The Wizard of 63rd Street on Podcastle

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.

Welcome to Night Vale

I listen to a lot of audio fiction, and there is no podcast bigger right now than Welcome to Night Vale. Clearly the rest of the world doesn’t need me to tell them about Night Vale (since they’re, yanno, more downloaded than This American Life). But too bad, I’m going to tell you about them anyway.

Welcome to Night Vale is the greatest thing of all time, ever. FACT.

I actually learned about Night Vale first by following them on twitter. They would just send these random, awesomely strange tweets, such as:


Most of the fiction podcasts I listen to follow the same formula: host intro, short story, host outtro. Night Vale is…something different. It’s more like an old radio show, where each episode builds into the next one. The writing is stellar. Anything mentioned in an episode is highly likely to show up again and again in subsequent episodes.

Night Vale is an interesting place. It’s sort of like every episode of the X-Files were true, and everybody knew it, so it wasn’t even worth remarking upon. It’s Orwell meets Lovecraft, and your host Cecil just reports on the daily ins and outs, traffic reports, weather reports, and community calendar. There are Vague, Yet Menacing, Government Agencies, secret police, Lovecraftian hooded figures on the city council, angels, a literal five headed dragon running for mayor, and sentient glowing clouds.

In their own words:

WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE is a twice-monthly podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather, news, announcements from the Sheriff’s Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, and cultural events.

Turn on your radio and hide.

Thank god for Night Vale community radio. How else would we know the dangers of the summer reading program? Who else would inform us on the awful goings on in Desert Bluffs? Remind us not to go to (or think about) the dog park?  How would we know where to hide on street cleaning day?

My favorite parts are the ads. Just to give you a taste:

You cannot see.
You grope around wildly as your footing is also unstable.
You feel a thin liquid filling in your shoes.
It is not water, you can tell.
A pungent smell of brine or anxiety. Your hand strikes something solid – a wall, you think. It is soft, leathery, but also wet. You keep your hands to the surface and it’s moving in and out, like it is breathing. No. More like spasms.
You hear a dull rumble from above, a gurgle from below, you still see nothing. The walls jerk back quickly, you lose your balance and slide down to the floor which is the same surface, but now the liquid is sloshing past you, something grabs your leg. Something is grabbing your leg, you are being pulled down you cannot see which way madness. Which way madness. You scream but no sound comes from your stubborn lips, your impudent throat. You reach. For what, you do not know, only that you reach. A blinding flash. A moment of understanding. You are in an empty store room, tied to a chair.
There are others, but they are hooded and limp. You recall this living nightmare, you take comfort in its familiar pain. You smell fermentation and can hear a dull unending beeping. Someone shouts in a language you do not know.You love your family. You. Love. Them.
Welcome to Red Lobster.
Come see what’s fresh today!

And, one for Subway:

A thousand ways in, no way out. Eat fresh. Eat so terribly, terribly fresh. Terribly, awesomely, gruesomely, terrifyingly fresh.

And finally:

Got a home improvement project? Need help?
Having feelings? Strange feelings? Feelings you’ve never felt?
Is your body filled with hot blood, waving curves of sinew, and skin? Can you feel all that blood? Is it even your blood? How can you be sure?
Are you dizzy from it all, all of this? What are your hands doing?
Where are your hands now? Where have they been? Where are they going? Where are you going?
Have you ever broken the surface of something with a hammer? Ever channeled sublime thought into sandpaper? Ever wanted to touch something because you feel things, because touch is the only sense you trust?
What is trust? Is making a thing proof that you exist? Is fixing a thing proof that you have transcended mortality? History?
Feel things? Feel things?
You can do it. We can help. The Home Depot.

Downsizing Pluto, now in audio!

An audio “reprint” of my story “Downsizing Pluto” is now live at the Cast of Wonders podcast. This story previously appeared in Daily Science Fiction. My story is a part of a “tiny wonders” episode that includes 2 other very short (and very excellent) stories. I recommend you listen to the whole thing, but if not, my story is 3rd and starts at about the 16 minute mark.

There is something so amazing about hearing one of my stories in audio. So far I’ve been gifted with amazing narrators. I was giggling the whole time about the professional, serious, news reporter voice of Bob Eccles contrasted with the silliness of the story. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to the point where I stop going, “This awesome voice reading my silly story?”

Cast of Wonders is a “weekly YA fiction podcast featuring a wide range of stories of the fantastic.” As far as I know, it’s the only young adult speculative fiction podcast. As a parent, I think it’s a great idea to have stories that are pre-screened for content to be age appropriate. And I have always specifically thought that this story was a good fit for YA, so I’m glad that they agreed!

Anyway, Cast of Wonders is consistently one of the best produced audio fiction podcasts, and one that I have listened to many times before being published there. If this story piques your interest and you’d like to listen to more, I recommend starting with the “Best of Cast of Wonders” list put together by Diabolical Plots.

Fiction Podcasts Part II – The Rest

Continuing on with the great “best of” audio podcast lists from Diabolical Plots, I’m now going to delve into the smaller, or less well known audio podcasts. As is often the case with things like this, these ones are definitely diamonds in the rough and deserve some coverage!

Drabble Cast – Horror-ish? (best of lists here and here)

Drabble Cast bills itself as “strange stories by strange authors for strange listeners (such as yourself)”. Well, I must be strange, because I think this is my favorite of all of the podcasts (and I’m not even through the whole list yet)! I don’t know if it is because these stories are even shorter (the longest pieces are “flash fiction”, and there is also a “drabble” (a story of exactly 100 words) and “twit-fic” (a story of exactly 100 characters). I can usually finish an episode of each leg of my commute. You can check out some of my favorites, such as Teddy Bears and Tea Parties (NOT as nice as it sounds! Very creepy!), or the science-fictional Mongoose (part I, partII). Note that this podcast is very produced, almost more like a radio drama than a simple reading of a story. At first this was distracting to me, but after I got used to it, I kind of liked it.

StarShipSofa  – Science Fiction (best of list here)

This podcast can only be described as adorable. It is so clearly by the people, for the people and the host is such a nice guy, that you can’t help but love it. However, I would definitely not recommend this for everyone. It’s a lot more than just audio fiction. Although they do include at least one story in every episode, it’s more like one feature among many, instead of the main event. The very, very long episodes contain author interviews, genre news, genre history, upcoming book releases, etc. If you’re really into science fiction in general, then there is a lot to offer here. If you just want to hear some fiction, you’re probably better off with something else. But if you’re going to listen to any random episode, why not start off with the one containing the fantastic Pump Six by Paolo Bacigalupi (if this podcast has done nothing else for me, it has at least taught me how to pronounce Bacigalupi!)

Beneath Ceaseless Skies – Fantasy (best of list here)

Beneath Ceaseless Skies describes itself as “the best in literary adventure fantasy”. I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant until I listened to some of the stories. It’s fantasy, but it’s sort of more unique fantasy. Again, we’re not talking about traditional sword and sorcery here. It’s more equivalent to high fantasy meets…strangeness or something. Sort of lyrical world building in a non-traditional setting. For example, check out Mamafield, a story from the point of view of a sentient plant, or Father’s Kill (what can I say, I’m just always a sucker for the dark ones!)

Cast Macabre – Horror (best of list here)

Maybe I’m running out of steam here, but I don’t have much to say about this one. The stories were good and I enjoyed all the ones I listened to. Definitely worth checking out.

Clarkesworld – Science Fiction and Fantasy (best of list here)

I haven’t actually listened to any of these yet, so I can’t say much about it. But there was a best of list, so I will make it there eventually.

Anybody else have any good fiction podcasts? Anybody listen to any of these and have some comments to share? Which were your favorites? Let us know in the comments!