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Christopher Rowe

Fiction and Excerpts [3]

Fiction and Excerpts [3]

Telling the Map: “Jack of Coins”

Kentucky gets dystopian—or just plain weird—in Christopher Rowe’s debut collection of stories merging realism and science fiction. Available now from Small Beer Press, Telling the Map collects ten stories, including one readers have waited ten long years for: in new novella The Border State, Rowe revisits the world of his much-lauded story The Voluntary State.

To celebrate the collection, we’re pleased to reprint “Jack of Coins,” acquired for by consulting editor Ellen Datlow. Originally published in May of 2013, the story is about a strange, amnesiac man who is befriended by a rebellious group of teenagers living in a repressive city…

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Five Books About Sleuths

Who doesn’t love a good sleuth? We both do, which is one of the reasons we ended up writing a new series together about three kids that solve mysteries together in a hotel for monsters (or, in our terminology, supernormals). In book one of the Supernormal Sleuthing Service, The Lost Legacy, we introduce readers to a secret governing body called the Octagon and culinary alchemy and the Hotel New Harmonia with floors specifically for the undead and a dragon in the basement and, of course, lots of mysteries. Meanwhile one of us (Gwenda) also writes a series of YA novels about Lois Lane as a teen sleuth/reporter. We like a sleuth, is what we’re saying.

What is it that fascinates us about them? It’s hard to narrow it down for the length of a post… particularly when you’re exploring it at book-length. But we’ll give it a shot. For starters, there’s something so universal about a story driven by people solving a mystery—sleuthing, as it were—that we can all identify with, even though we may not be recovering our family’s magical cookbooks, taking down villains, or solving murders (well, at least no one in our house is). What we do all do is puzzle our way through our daily lives, which are made up of endless mysteries as far as we’re concerned. Where do socks go? Why do we have a zillion bookmarks but none where we need them? Why do people eat licorice? And, of course, the heavy, existential crisis type questions: Why are we here? What are we supposed to do? How can we be good people? And though many sleuths end up enforcing the rules, just as often they break them to do it. There’s a sense of being in service to the higher calling of the truth, and so (at least in fiction, if not in life) bending the rules to find out crucial things becomes a part of the sleuth’s art. Sleuths are often outsiders. They often say and do things most of us don’t or can’t.

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Series: Five Books About…

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