My short story “Hungry Boy That Close To Danger” was just published in PANK. Yeah! Like all stories, this one took a while to place, and I’m really happy it got accepted by a magazine I like so much.
Hungry Boy is one of those stories that came hard and fast. Well, sort of. Actually, the premise behind the story came from the one and only time I ever attempted to write and illustrate a comic.
When I was in my early 20s, my somewhat-boyfriend-mostly-best-friend was a very talented, entirely self-taught comic book illustrator. He used to pen these amazing sharpie tattoos on my back which would take weeks to fade. I was in awe of his talent, especially because stick figures are even a challenge for me to draw.
When I was a kid, I tried to overcome my utter lack of drawing talent by checking books out of the library with titles like “Drawing for Clumsy Dummies”, “Unlock Your Hidden Inner Artist And Draw Like a Pro”, “Drawing, Yes You Can!” with those step-by-step instructions on how to draw dogs, daisies and dragons, but no dice. As I tell my daughters when they ask why I really can’t draw (they both can): “Well, it’s not like I can be good at everything.”
Seriously though, at around 21 I did get inspired to write and illustrate this one page comic. The story began in a similar way to how Hungry Boy starts. An unnamed narrator talks about how they went to school with this girl who has the world’s smallest paper shredder above her lip, what kinds of things she shred and how the kids reacted (they laughed). Unlike Hungry Boy, the comic ended with the narrator wondering what had happened to the girl and imaging she went around kissing strange men and shaving off just a bit of their tongues which she later sold in her “tongues of famous poets” salads at the farmers market, shouting out “We have Shelley, we have Keats!” More goofy than dark really.
The illustrations weren’t good of course, but they did have a sort of naive Lynda Barry charm about them (btw, Lynda Barry was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant this year. Go Lynda!)
My somewhat-boyfriend was impressed. “Wow, this is really good. You should totally see where this goes.”
But I said, “No, come on. I can’t draw. I don’t even know where this came from.”
But I held on to the comic. Last year I found it somewhere and the narrator Hungry Boy and the rest of the story was born.
On a side note, this story was the one where I noticed that I have a very strong tendency to give important female characters in my stories, protagonists and otherwise, names that start with the letter j. Janice, Janet, Judith, Jane, Jessica, they’re all there, repeatedly, and I really don’t know why. Of course, now that I’ve noticed I suppose I’ll have to disrupt the pattern.
But not until I write a story about some chick named Jennifer. 😉
Rebeccah (Dean) Von Schlieffen