Bone Swans: Stories
A swan princess hunted for her bones, a broken musician and his silver pipe, and a rat named Maurice bring justice to a town under fell enchantment. A gang of courageous kids confronts both a plague-destroyed world and an afterlife infested with clowns but robbed of laughter. In an island city, the murder of a child unites two lovers, but vengeance will part them. Only human sacrifice will save a city trapped in ice and darkness. Gold spun out of straw has a price, but not the one you expect.
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This collection is dedicated to John O’Neill and Tina Jens.
Picture me sitting in a small used-book shop with a banana cream pie on my lap. The young man reading at the lectern has given us a short-short story that is certainly publishable and has now launched upon one that that is not. We have had the poetry that suggests a poor article in Reader’s Digest cut up into uneven lengths, and the heart-wrenching personal memoir of the sister of a soldier killed overseas. And others. You know.
The readers are kept in order by Claire Cooney, a startling young blonde with a smile capable of lighting up a good sized theater. At last she reads herself, a poem that rhymes and scans and grabs you from the opening line. The hero is a disfigured corpse floating down a city sewer, and it is funny when it is not horrible. (And sometimes when it is.) She chants it, and her voice is clear and musical. I couldn’t be prouder of her if I were her father.
I met Claire when my friend Rory Cooney brought her around to see me. His daughter wrote, he explained, and he felt she had talent. Would I be willing to coach her a bit? I read some short pieces she had written and promised to do it. She was eighteen at the time.
Most writers begin by imitating some favorite writer, H. P. Lovecraft imitating Lord Dunsany for example. There’s nothing wrong with that, provided the beginner grows out of it and finds his or her own voice. If Claire began by imitating somebody, she had already grown a long way out of it at eighteen. She wrote pure Claire Cooney. (Try to define that when you’ve finished the stories in this book.)