We’re a little more than halfway through the Kickstarter for An Atlas Of Bad Roads, and while it’s more than met the goal Cirsova set for it, I would really like to see it go farther. Not just for myself, but also because it will help the magazine buy more quality fiction for upcoming issues.
As always, I spend a lot of time going over the stories in a collection when it gets close to publication, both searching for elusive typos and in second guessing myself–why did I decide on this story, shouldn’t I have gone with that one instead?
Leaving my inevitable self-criticism aside, though, this really is a good collection. And while we decided to go with the Atlas conceit and focus on the locations of the stories, it could have easily been called, Want Ads For Bad Jobs.
The theme of identity through employment is a strong one in my work, as it has been in my life. Men, in particular, tend to define themselves by their trades. We spend a large percentage of our waking hours working, and it is, for most of us, the way in which we provide for ourselves and our family.
I go against the current somewhat in this. Modern writers tend to focus on personal relationships even in Action/Adventure Fiction. It’s rare to find a Police Thriller where the case doesn’t involve a threat to the cop’s family or romantic partner. Fantasy Fiction is full of blessings and curses bestowed by bloodlines. Characters find themselves struggling to prevent cataclysms not because it’s the right thing to do, but because the potential collateral damage includes spouses or children.
I went into some detail on this topic in a post a while back called “It’s Personal Every Time”. It’s something I feel strongly about. Sometimes a man finds himself rising to extraordinary heights for the seeming quotidian reason that it’s his job, and it’s a job that needs doing, and there’s no one else to do it.
And while most of us don’t have to fight actual monsters in the course of our professional lives, I think it’s a sentiment that will resonate with anyone who has had to leave a warm bed in the middle of the night to deal with an emergency at the work site because somebody had to do it.
In An Atlas Of Bad Roads you will encounter workplace hazards such as:
- A surveyor who discovers strange and deadly squatters in an abandoned mall.
- A railroad cop encountering a powerful evil force on a train.
- A maintenance man tracking down an electrical problem the originates beyond the grave.
- A convenience store clerk dragged into a battle between unseen entities and an unlikely paladin.
- A groundskeeper who becomes aware that the cemetery he cares for is more than it seems.
- A stoner whose career change is a symptom of a deeper, deadly change in identity.
- A butcher facing a customer from a past he’d rather forget.
And nine more stories besides. Not every single one is about encountering the uncanny on the job, but I do have a strong blue collar esthetic and most of my characters tend to punch clocks and favor Carhartt over Brooks Brothers.
I could give you a lot of reasons why you should support this Kickstarter, and talk about the importance of Indie Publishing as an alternative to Random Penguin Megacorp Press, but honestly, I want you to buy because they’re good stories, and I think you’ll enjoy them, and they might just give you a shiver that will have you looking over your shoulder the next time you have to run into the shop for a night call.