My latest short story, “A Good Teacher,” was one of four finalists in Signal Horizon’s May flash fiction contest. The theme for this contest was “Weird Classroom.” I read this prompt and thought: What would happen if school lock down drills in the future are meant to keep people safe from whatever is inside the school?
Update: The contest may be over, but the story is still available to read. Enjoy! https://www.signalhorizon.com/single-post/2019/05/21/Finalists-For-May-Flash-on-the-Horizon-Contest-The-Weird-Classroom
Last Sunday I drove to the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa to enjoy a live reading from master storyteller Neil Gaiman. Gaiman read passages from Good Omens, his short story “Click Clack the Rattle Bag,” and his poem “The Day the Saucers Came.” In between readings, he answered audience questions with his usual charm and wit, speaking about the production of the upcoming Good Omens series on Amazon Prime and his friendship with Terry Pratchett. This was my second time listening to him live (his last show was in 2017) and it was just as wonderful as the first. Gaiman has such a wonderful voice and his stories are a joy to listen to live.
After the show, I bought a signed copy of Art Matters: Because Your Imagination Can Change the World with illustrations by Chris Riddell. It is a thin book of four short essays by Gaiman, each one presenting a compelling case for the importance of art. There are autobiographical moments in each essay, similar to Stephen King’s On Writing, but Gaiman’s book focuses less on craft and more on why all art matters. One of my favorite passages comes from the essay “Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading, and Daydreaming”: Albert Einstein was once asked how we can make our children intelligent. ‘If you want children to be intelligent,’ he said, ‘Read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.’ Speculative fiction can be entertaining and teach us a lot about the human condition, which is why I enjoy these genres so much. Furthermore, art can heal and speak truth to power, which is something desperately needed in these interesting times! Art Matters is an inspirational little book that I would recommend to all writers and artists.
That evening with Neil Gaiman was a joy and gave me a much-needed creative shot to the arm. I left Santa Rosa excited to return to my own writing and editing projects. I do not know if I will ever be as famous as Neil Gaiman (hey, a guy can dream, right?), but I will continue to make my own art and help other writers do the same because it matters regardless of the money or fame.