New short story! "The Balance" in Pulp Literature

Cover of Pulp Literature #34I posted earlier here that I'd sold two new stories recently. New, as in not reprints. Brand new tales never before published. The first of these appears in issue #34 of the excellent Canadian multi-genre magazine, Pulp Literature, which is available now.

That name—Pulp Literature—might seem like an oxymoron, but it's an excellent description of the stories they publish. You'll find every type of genre and subgenre in their pages, including tales most typically found in the so-called pulp genres (SF, fantasy, horror, whatever), but all of them have a literary sensibility.

My story, "The Balance," is an unusual one for me. It is the first non-speculative, mainstream story I have had published. It is also a deeply personal one, since it draws from my experiences at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children (fondly known to locals as simply "Sick Kids") after the birth of our second son.

I wrote this story over two decades ago and, although I continued to submit it to short fiction markets, I had begun to believe that it was simply too personal to ever sell, that it was a story that I needed to write at the time, but it was not one that would ever see the light of publication.

So I was delighted when it sold to such a good market. I was even more delighted with the following review of the story that appeared in Amazing Stories:

"More children than we care to think about struggle to survive from the moment they’re born. It’s not fair to spend the first months of existence in an ICU undergoing constant crises and multiple operations. Exceedingly tough on the parents, of course, whose gamut of emotions range from hope to despair cycling so fast as to be kaleidoscopic in nature. Hard to remain sane under such conditions.

This story is harrowing in its authenticity. In that sense it is hard on the reader. Yet, as an exploration of every parent’s worst nightmare, both educational and profoundly moving. I truly believe reading this will in some small way help people to be better parents, or, at the very least, remind parents what miracles their children truly are.

This might be a useful story to place in a high school anthology, if only to allow teenagers to understand just how traumatic and difficult life can be for parents. Perhaps that’s a lost cause. Nobody understands parenting till they’ve become parents. But this is one hell of a glimpse for the uninitiated. Powerful story."

—Amazing Stories

And don't worry—the story has a happy ending.