‘The Funeral, Ruined’ is a companion piece to ‘The Souls of Dead Soldiers are for Blackbirds, Not Little Boys’. I am still not quite sure how that happened.
I wrote the story originally for Ekaterina Sedia’s anthology, Paper Cities, a book based on an exploration of the city. I had not planned to write a ‘Red Sun’ story – that is, perhaps, one of the ways they get written – and I had certainly not given any thought to writing a companion piece to a story published in Australia for an anthology that would be published in America and organised by a Russian born editor. If I had thought about it, I might have thought that this would limit the appeal of the story, and certainly limit my ability to sell it, and I might not have created Issuer, or Linette, both of who I had a great fondness for once I began writing them. In the end, however, the story was purchased, Paper Cities went on to win a World Fantasy Award, and no one said anything about the story being a companion piece to another, possibly because no one in American had read the Australian published piece in the first place…
At times even I wonder how I’ve managed to stay in print for seventeen years.
‘The Funeral, Ruined’ is one of the few pieces of fiction I’ve read to a group. I am, by and large, not a fan of readings. I find them difficult to sit through as an audience member, and I find them difficult to do as an author, but I did both in a hotel room in New York in 2008. Mostly, it’s the performance side that turns me off. I think most authors are awful, and I think that about myself, as well. I also don’t write to be read aloud. My opinion has always been that spoken word is a different form to the read word, and that there are different tricks, styles, and needs that you ought to do when you do one verse the other. At any rate, in New York, I managed to convince a friend of mine to participate in the reading with me, and we alternated the two voices of the story between us, and I thought came out pretty well. At least, no one threw anything at us, and everyone seemed mostly appreciative when we finished, which you can read as you wish, really.
(This is a story note for my collection, Dead Americans and Other Stories, which is available now. The song is part of an illusionary soundtrack that I am putting into each of the posts for amusement, but if you owned the book, you could listen to it in the final moments of the story, if you were so inclined. If you don’t own a copy of Dead Americans and Other Stories and you haven’t read ‘The Funeral, Ruined’, then you should follow the links and buy a copy. If you’re not sure about all the American stuff, it may help to imagine a British man named Chris reading the letters of the story out.)