Sparks and Shadows (ISBN: 978-0-9792346-1-3) is a limited-edition trade paperback written by Lucy A. Snyder. It was published in May 2007 by HW Press, and is 356 pages in length. Artist Deena Warner created the cover, and the book contains an interior illustration by Alexandra O'Neal. World Fantasy Award-winning author Nalo Hopkinson wrote the introduction
The book contains four humor essays, seven poems, and seventeen short stories. The essays and several of the poems and stories first appeared here at E2, and most of the stories debuted in various print and online publications over the past ten years. Two of the short stories are absolutely brand new: "Feel the Love" and "Burning Bright".
I broke the book into seven thematic sections introduced by each of the poems. The first section that begins with "Dime Novel" contains humorous science fiction with dark undertones. "The Monster Between The Sparks", a poem about living dark matter, introduces an SF/horror story. "The Fish and the Bicycle" leads the humor essays, all of which deal with sex/gender issues. "Permian Basin Blues" introduces what I think of as my "angry young woman" section; the first two stories in the group are outright satire. Next comes the erotica section ushered in by "The Jarred Heart"; conveniently it's right in the middle of the book so that a casual reader cracking it open might see the most steamy scenes in the collection. I'm perverse that way. The section starts out with erotic horror and ends up in erotic science fiction adventure. "Photograph of a Lady, Circa 1890" introduces three horror stories that deal with ghosts and familial love. The final section in the book opens with "glowfish", a poem I wrote about my mother's death. The four stories in this group are strongly centered on family relationships and range from surreal horror to to mainstream fiction.
Several noders own the book and have read it; I expect some of them will post reviews. Various sites and magazines have reviewed the book; the reviewer whom I think most understands what I was trying to do published her evaluation at Green Man Review.
In short, this book will not teach you anything especially practical, like how to take photographs. However, I hope it will entertain you. I've heard from several female readers who mention that a couple of the stories in the middle section kinda, you know, worked for them. Ahem.
Sounds great - where can I buy it?
Sadly, Amazon.com wants a 55% commission, so the book isn't available there because the publisher didn't want to give the book a crazy-high markup to compensate. And because it's a limited edition, it's mostly not available in brick-and-mortar bookstores; the guy at your local Barnes and Noble will probably look at you funny if you ask for it. It is available at small specialty online distributors like Shocklines and Bloodletting.
If you want to read this book for cheap, I have some shipping-damaged copies that I can send to interested noders for free if they're willing to help me with shipping costs. The insides of the books are intact and perfectly readable, but these copies are partially or entirely missing their covers and some have slight wrinkling from water damage. It costs me about $3.50 to get a padded envelope and send a copy via media mail to someone in the U.S. It's $7 to send a book to Canada and $11 to send a copy to the UK, Europe, Australia, etc. Message me if you'd like one of these books.
So, how did this book come about?
I met Horror World publisher Nanci Kalanta at a couple of conventions. She'd seen some of my nonfiction online and one conversation led to another; she invited me to be a paid columnist at her site. She got a kick out of my columns, and consequently started to read some of my online short stories. When she mentioned she was starting up HW Press and publishing the U.S. release of Steven Saville's Laughing Boy's Shadow, I asked her if she might be interested in a short story collection. And she said yes.
Almost exactly one year later, the book was in my hands. Selling a short story/poetry collection is a lot more difficult than you might think, and I sold Sparks and Shadows to a publisher who has never been an open market for manuscripts. So, the take-home message here is, never doubt the power of networking. Or the power of the Internet.