History Has Layers: Announcing Wild Spaces by S. L. Coney

Tordotcom Publishing is thrilled to announce that Ellen Datlow has acquired short fiction author S.L. Coney’s debut novella Wild Spaces, a foreboding coming-of-age story as rich and humid as the Carolina coast in which the corrosive nature of family secrets and toxic relatives assume eldritch proportions.

An eleven-year-old boy has spent an idyllic childhood exploring the humid coasts and wetlands of South Carolina alongside his parents and their dog Teach. But when the boy’s eerie and estranged grandfather shows up with no warning, cracks begin to form as hidden secrets resurface that his parents refuse to explain.

The longer his grandfather outstays his welcome, the more the boy feels something within him changing—physically—into something his grandfather welcomes and his mother fears. Something abyssal. Something monstrous.

Said author S. L. Coney:

Wild Spaces began four years ago with an image and the desire to write a story about childhood and imaginative play, but the deeper I dug, the more I realized it was also a story about secrets and how innocence isn’t the only thing that’s lost when we hold onto them. It’s a dark story, but I hope it’s not only a dark story. There are monsters, but there’s also beauty, and sometimes the two are the same thing.

Said editor Ellen Datlow:

When author/editor Richard Thomas contacted me saying he had read a “powerful and unique” novella by his student and thought I might like it, I told him I’d take a look. Well—I was blown away by S. L. Coney’s Wild Spaces and so was the rest of the Tordotcom crew. It’s a beautifully written rendering of a boy’s coming of age story in a family full of secrets. Coney’s description of their novella as H. P. Lovecraft meets Robert McCammon’s Boy’s Life is simply perfect.

S. L. Coney obtained a master’s degree in clinical psychology before abandoning academia to pursue writing. In addition to making up stories, they tutor students in software development, and mentor them in preparation for jobs in tech. Shaw has ties to South Carolina, roots in St. Louis, and are still deeply disappointed their gills and fins never grew in. Shaw’s work has appeared in St. Louis Noir, Best American Mystery Stories 2017, and Gamut Magazine.

Wild Spaces will arrive from Tordotcom Publishing in 2023.


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