At SleuthSayers, Paul D. Marks hosted his fellow finalists for the Macavity Award for Best Short Story to talk about the inspirations behind their nominated tales. The finalists here include Lawrence Block, Craig Faustus Buck, Greg Herren, Joyce Carol Oates, Paul himself, and me!
This is a terrific bunch of stories, and I’m honored to have my own “Parallel Play” listed among them. Here’s my contribution to the post:
My story “Parallel Play” centers on new parenthood, both the stress and anxieties surrounding it and then the idea of parental protectiveness—the thought that most parents will do whatever it takes to protect their children. The opening to the story is set at a kids play space which I call Teeter Toddlers, and the idea of the story actually first came to me when I was taking my own son, Dashiell, to his weekly Gymboree classes. I was the only father who regularly attended, and while the moms there were certainly welcoming to me, they did seem to form quicker friendships, share more quickly, with one another than with me—some small gender divide, I guess, and probably not surprising, but I did start wondering about various dynamics and situations, letting my mind wander (as we crime writers do) into darker twists and turns. Another inspiration was the prompt from the anthology Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning, which required weather to play an important role. The Gymboree had big plate glass windows surrounding the play space, and I remember one day watching a thunderstorm roll into view. That image plus one more element—a forgotten umbrella—and the rest of the story was suddenly in motion. I hope that readers will appreciate where it all goes.
Check out the full post here for the rest of the contributor’s notes—behind-the-scenes on some fine short fiction. (And the picture above is an older Macavity Award, obviously—love the cats, always!)