Just about exactly one month before The Innocence Treatment hits bookstores! Preorder your copy now!
The book launch will be Friday, October 27 – 7 p.m. at the Metrotown Chapters – details to follow. I’m also speaking at a panel at the Vancouver International Writer’s Festival on October 17 (which is the actual release date of The Innocence Treatment.)
I also just heard that I sold my short story “Real Estate Listing” to The Intergalactic Medicine Show. That’s exciting as it’s my first sale to that particular market, and the first short story I’ve sold in something like six years. (I haven’t written many short stories lately, as I’ve been working on novels, and … you know, life. Still, every once in a while, a short story emerges, seemingly on its own.)
One of the cool things about publishing with The Intergalactic Medicine Show is they let you write ‘the story behind the story.’ This is particularly cool (and easy) with “Real Estate Listing,” as I don’t know that I’ve ever written a story with such a coherent back story.
I’ve lived in Vancouver, Canada, for the last decade or two. During this time period, housing prices have gone through the roof. The real estate industry has basically become THE industry of the city and the surrounding area. It’s also the primary topic of conversation in the city: how long will the bubble last? Who do we blame? Have I told you about my latest renovation? Blah blah blah.
The story’s called ‘Real Estate Listing,’ so clearly all that is simmering in the background of my mind when I wrote the story.
This really happened, too: a few years ago my (then) wife and I bought a place together — a little 1200 square foot duplex in east Vancouver. The unit had a little detached garage behind it. We didn’t think much about the garage — we glanced at the garage, saw that it existed, and that was about it. The home inspector spent a good deal of time looking at the actual duplex’s attic, but the garage attic? I don’t think anyone even realized the garage had an attic. I certainly didn’t – not until a week or so after we moved in, when I was moving our stuff into the garage, and noticed the ceiling panel in the garage.
“Hmm,” I thought. “More storage space?”
I dragged my ladder over to the panel, climbed up, and poked my head into the tiny attic. It took me a while to make sense of what I was seeing. There was a huge, stainless pot up there, and it was filled with some kind of liquid. Even with my flashlight, it couldn’t make out what kind of liquid it was. There were also a half dozen enormous, empty containers of Crisco vegetable oil. And finally, there was some kind of apparatus on the ground that looked a little like a hot plate you might use in your college dorm room.
I threw the plastic bottles down and put them in the recycling bin, but the pot full of liquid was too heavy for me to wrestle down the ladder on my own. Instead, I waited until my brother-in-law came over. Working together, the two of us managed to get the massive pot out of the attic without injuring ourselves, nor spilling oil everywhere. Because, of course, the pot turned out to be a deep fryer filled with used oil.
So to recap – someone had brought gallons of oil and a deep fryer up to the tiny attic of a tiny garage. Why would anyone put a deep fryer in an attic that you could only access with a ladder, that you shouldn’t even climb into, that had no structural support, and certainly wasn’t designed to take the weight of a single person, let alone a single person using a huge deep fryer? Also, who cooks in the unventilated attic of an unventilated garage?
Clearly someone who was trying to hide their cooking from someone else. Maybe someone had a health-conscious partner, and this was the only way they could satisfy their deep yearning for fried meat? Maybe the workmen who had been putting up the duplex four years earlier?
Your guess is as good as mine. But that situation – the attic, the oil, the overpriced duplex, a real estate market where everyone wants to be a winner, where everyone is a winner … until they’re not — all of that was simmering in the back of my brain, when one morning I sat down and wrote the story “Real Estate Listing.”