"The Dancer at the Red Door" Interview: Q #3
Mark Leslie Lefebvre interviews me on Facebook regarding my Aurora-nominated story, "The Dancer at the Red Door"...
MARK: It's funny, I'd been planning on asking you what your inspiration for this story was and whether or not you write your stories in a linear fashion or jump around -- I think it's fascinating that you normally jump around but wrote this particular story straight from beginning to end after finding the appropriate details from that first inspirational scene of the dancer. Which leads me to ask: How many other notebook "scenes" have been part of your short fiction in this manner?
DOUG: Quite a few. I'll mention a couple. I remember taking my youngest son to the circus one summer, and we managed to get ringside seats this time. Great view of the performers--so close that I noticed something I might not have from further back. The same people who would come out in spiffy spangly uniforms and do the trapeze or high-wire acts would show up again later in coveralls pushing a broom behind the elephants and horses. That gave me an idea for a down-and-out circus of aliens, barely scraping by, moving from planet to planet. The idea went into the journal, but it was a while before I added other elements around it to make a story, and even then it took me about six attempts before that idea finally became "Scream Angel," the story that won the 2004 Aurora (I have "Scream Angel" up on my web site for the rest of April, btw, if anyone would like to read it).
One more example. I used to train in karate with my oldest son, and we were at a karate camp at Wasaga Beach one summer weekend. In a strange coincidence, I'd spent my summers as a child at the very same place where we were staying for the camp. It brought back memories of getting up early and having the entire beach to myself as a kid, sharing it only with the waves and the seagulls. That led to a single strong image, that of a strange bird and a warrior on an empty beach, an image that eventually turned into a 14th century Japan martial arts / romance story called "The Red Bird," which was an Aurora finalist in 2002. Anyway, there're probably at least another dozen stories that started with a journal entry around a single image or sometime a single line, but which didn't turn into a story until quite some time later.