Some years ago Greg van Eekhout and Heather Shaw and I started working on what we called our “alphabet collab,” conceived as 26 flash fiction pieces, one for each letter of the alphabet. (You know — “A is for Airport,” “B is for Banyan Tree,” “C is for Caltrops,” like that.) The vague plan was to compile the whole set and try to sell it somewhere, but that never quite happened, mostly because we never wrote all the letters. We did however perform some of the pieces often at readings, to general delight — they’re short, and often funny, which are good things to be at a reading. After a while we all ended up selling some of the individual stories — my own published ones include “Caltrops,” “Fiddle,” “Uchronia,” and “Incubus”. Greg even expanded some of his into longer stories.
Then, several weeks ago, something cool happened: Jonathan Laden, an editor at Daily Science Fiction, which published one of my flash pieces from the alphabet collab, asked if we’d be interested in letting him publish the whole set — assuming we could write new pieces to fill the gaps where we’d sold the original stories. About the same time — maybe a day later? — Dave Thompson of Escape Artists (which does the Escape Pod, Podcastle, and Pseudopod fiction podcasts, which have published many of the original alphabet collab pieces) asked us if we’d sell him the whole set, to offer as special downloadable content.
Greg and Heather and I were happy to oblige… except we needed to write new pieces. Lots of them, since most of the originals had been sold already. So we drafted Jenn Reese — who excels at flash fiction — to help us compose new letters. Then we talked and worked for about a month.
The result: The Alphabet Quartet, over 15,000 words of swift fictions, coming to you soon from Daily Science Fiction and Escape Artists. DSF will start publishing them, one per week, in January 2011, starting with the longest story in the bunch, “A is for Arthur”. The Escape Artists edition — which may be a paid download featuring audio versions of every story, or a subscriber gift, or something else — will probably be available a few months after that. EA is also planning to publish B-sides, variant letters, reprints of the original letters, and etc. as teasers and treats.
So there you go: half a year of stories by me, Greg, Jenn, and Heather. It’s awesome. I’m thrilled. This is one of the coolest projects I’ve ever been involved in.