This week's free fiction highlight comes with a bit of context; if you're not too concerned with context, I recommend you head over to The Edge of Propinquity
right now and start reading. The Edge of Propinquity
is a well-established zine with a significant back-catalogue and multiple recurring universes. As the lead-in goes, it's "a series of short stories from four different authors in four different universes exploring the world that lurks just beneath the surface of everyday life. It is the world of the unexplained, supernatural, magic, horror, duty, responsibility, black humor, conspiracy, unknown heritage and power. This semiprozine is updated on the 15th of every month."
The story I'd most like to recommend debuted in the 15th January edition: "Good Girls Go to Heaven
" by Seanan McGuire, set in the Sparrow Hill Road
series. It's a whole lot of America and folklore and ghost story rolled up in a pretty little dead girl package, and I can't recommend it enough if you like any of those things.
Now, let's go back...
A few years ago, I first got to listen to Seanan McGuire's Stars Fall Home
, an excellent and eclectic album that immediately earned a prize place in my usual rotation of most listened-to CDs. There wasn't a song on there that I disliked, and its overall quality and complexity ensured that different songs would capture my interest, moving to the fore or fading back depending on mood or recent media exposure or what the highway called out for me to sing, full-throated, as I rolled along the miles. And one of the best songs for eating up those miles was the ultimate song on the album: a rockin' 50's girl-quartet piece called "Pretty Little Dead Girl."
In "Pretty Little Dead Girl
," we're introduced to the urban legend of a hot car-loving, fiercely independent, no little dangerous ghost by the name of Rose Marshall. After several conversations with Seanan and reading her journal, I came to realize that there was an incredible untold story to Rose Marshall and so much more - and so much different - than the one framed in the song. The song is fun and catchy and specific and creepy, as all the best urban legends are. And, like all the best urban legends, it's neither the only story or the one closest to the truth.
In Seanan's songbook at her website, you can find several other versions or aspects of Rose Marshall's story:
"When I Drive
"On Dead Man's Hill
Each song will give you a different window onto Rose Marshall, although I recommend not reading "Graveyard Rose" until after you've read "Good Girls Go to Heaven." You'll see why. Also, I've linked to the lyrics for "Pretty Little Dead Girl" above there, although I definitely recommend picking up one of the albums
that it appears on. (Those albums would be Stars Fall Home
or Pretty Little Dead Girl
I was incredibly thrilled when jennifer_brozek
announced that Seanan would be one of The Edge of Propinquity
's resident writers for 2010, and that she would be developing the story of Rose Marshall in a series of short stories called Sparrow Hill Road
. I haven't ridden with Rose as long as some, but she's often been a companion on long drives for the past several years. I've wondered at her character, and found some roads in Georgia I just bet she'd wander along, if she ever moseyed on down south. And so, with all this, how did "Good Girls Go to Heaven
" measure up?
Oh, it measured very high indeed.
Here's the thing. Folklore is my bread and butter: it fascinates me, it's what I study, it's one of my things
. It's also one of Seanan's things
and in her bones. I trust her to have done her research (hell, to have internalized her research), and thus to be steeped enough in these tales and bits of culture and Americana that she can create compelling folklore. Further, I trust her to be able to weave that part-created, part-borrowed folklore further into excellent fantasy.
My trust is not misplaced.
In one short story thus far, Sparrow Hill Road
has managed to introduce me to an area of folklore previously unconsidered and left me considering it (i.e. truck-drivers and highway diners); evoked a believable urban legend and made the central figure of that urban legend multi-faceted and sympathetic; and enchanted me and fired my imagination with the intoxicating glimpses of a myriad of Americas, clothed in daylight, twilight, midnight. The other sides. The ghostside.
I absolutely cannot wait to see more of this series unfold and discover where Rose Marshall goes. Also, though I am always excited to investigate my best-loved field, I cannot deny that Seanan has provided me with a fresh infusion of enthusiasm for urban folklore.
Seriously: do yourself a favor and follow me into Sparrow Hill Road
.This entry was originally posted at Livejournal. You can comment here or over there.