If you enjoyed my Bram Stoker Award-winning story “Magdala Amygdala“, I have some good news: Tor Nightfire has purchased my novel based on that tale! Sister, Maiden, Monster (formerly Apocalypse Apocrypha) is scheduled for release in early 2023.
“Magdala Amygdala” is my most frequently anthologized, podcast, and translated piece of fiction. It’s a soft apocalypse story: humanity has been irrevocably changed by a virus that radically alters its victims … and yet life goes on. I used it to explore the natures of self-identity and memory along with the fears of disease and loss of self. I also employ an unreliable narrator to provide the reader with a story that can be interpreted in a variety of different ways.
I wrote the story after a stint working the weekend graveyard shift in a computer data center. The night shift can do horrible things to your brain after a while, because often you just don’t get the right kind of sleep (if you can sleep at all during the day; I never got the hang of it), and it kills your social life dead. I felt disconnected and zombified, and my short-term memory was starting to slip.
My tale came out of that experience, specifically my wondering what if I’d been put on that awful shift precisely because I was some kind of monster who couldn’t be allowed around normal people.
Annie Neugebauer of LitReactor describes the story as, “the very best kind of what the fuck. Weird and daring and so memorable that I still remember it some six years after reading it. No punches pulled.”
Sister, Maiden, Monster is a novel that I initially wasn’t convinced I’d ever write. After “Magdala Amygdala” was published, a number of people asked me if I planned to do more with the setting and characters, and I just wasn’t sure. At the end of the story, the fate of both the narrator and the world seems pretty clear-cut … assuming you believe that her perceptions are complete, and completely reality-based. But later I started thinking: what if her perceptions and beliefs at that stage aren’t delusions or wrong, but simply incomplete? What if there’s much more happening than she realizes?
Sister, Maiden, Monster explores the planet’s disastrous transformation through the eyes of three women: Erin (the protagonist of “Magdala Amygdala”), Savannah (a legal prostitute working during the pandemic), and Mareva (a sufferer of chronic teratomas whose life and body are drastically changed by the virus).