As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Exploring Dark Short Fiction #3: A Primer to Nisi Shawl

by Nisi Shawl

Exploring Dark Short Fiction anthology
ISBN: 978-1949491098
ISBN: 978-0998938349

Praised by literary journals, news outlets, and leading fiction magazines, Nisi Shawl is celebrated as an author whose works are lyrical and philosophical, speculative and far-ranging; “…broad in ambition and deep in accomplishment” (The Seattle Times). Besides nearly three decades of creating fantasy and science fiction, fairy tales, and indigenous stories, Nisi has also been lauded as editor, journalist, reviewer, teacher, speaker, afrofuturist, and proponent and mentor of feminism, African-American fiction, and other pedagogical issues of diversity.

Dark Moon Books and editor Eric J. Guignard bring you this introduction to her work, the third in a series of primers exploring modern masters of literary dark short fiction. Herein is a chance to discover—or learn more of—the vibrant voice of Nisi Shawl, as beautifully illustrated by artist Michelle Prebich.

Included within these pages are:

• Six short stories, one written exclusively for this book

• Author interview

• Complete bibliography

• Academic commentary by Michael Arnzen, PhD (former humanities chair and professor of the year, Seton Hill University)

• … and more!

Enter this doorway to the vast and fantastic: Get to know Nisi Shawl.

Table of Contents includes:

• Introduction by Eric J. Guignard

• Nisi Shawl: A Biography

• The Beads of Ku (fiction)

• The Beads of Ku: A Commentary

• Otherwise (fiction)

• Otherwise: A Commentary

• Just Between Us (fiction)

• Just Between Us: A Commentary

• At the Huts of Ajala (fiction)

• At the Huts of Ajala: A Commentary

• Street Worm (fiction)

• Street Worm: A Commentary

• Conversion Therapy (fiction)

• Conversion Therapy: A Commentary

• Why Nisi Shawl Matters by Michael Arnzen, PhD

• In Conversation with Nisi Shawl

• Written On The Water: An Essay by Nisi Shawl

• A Bibliography of English Language Fiction for Nisi Shawl

Languages Available: English
Languages Available: English

About the Author

When I was little, I told my middle sister Julie convoluted tales of how I, a mermaid, had come to dwell in the small midwestern town of Kalamazoo, Michigan. This odyssey involved the Saint Lawrence Seaway, several of the Great Lakes, and mysterious underground passages my schoolteacher called aquifers. Her own origin was much simpler, of course; our parents, I explained, had found her in a garbage can.

At sixteen, in 1971, I moved from Kalamazoo to Ann Arbor to attend the University of Michigan's Residential College. I took several French courses, Oral History, Cosmology, and a poetry seminar that taught me ten weeks of nothing. Most classes took place in the dorm, and I got a job in the dorm's library. One day I was startled to notice an extremely short person walking towards me. They were less than two feet high. It took me several seconds to realize that this was a child.

Anyone under a certain age had become alien to my experience. It wasn't this isolation that led to my dropping out of school. I had an abortion. I became depressed. I quit going to classes two weeks from finals. I failed to finish my assignments, and left the University without a degree.

I moved into a house called Cosmic Plateau and lived with people who called themselves Bozoes. I paid $65 a month rent. I worked part-time as a janitor, an au pair, a dorm cook, an artists' model. I wrote. I performed my writings publicly, at parks and cafes and museums. I learned a lot.

I read Charnas, Russ, Delany, Colette, Wittig. I sent out a horrible story about fornicating centaurs and got a wonderfully sweet rejection letter. Then our landlady kicked all the Bozoes out of Cosmic Plateau, and I had to live by the sweat of my brow.

I worked at a natural foods warehouse. I sold structural steel and aluminum. I sold used books. I got married. I joined a band.

I kept writing. I got better.

My first science fiction appearance was in the nude. I modelled for one of Rick Lieber's illustrations for Bruce Sterling's Crystal Express (the Arkham House hardcover--I'm the Dark Girl of "Telliamed").

My first science fiction publication was in Semiotext(e) (see my bibliography for dates on this and the rest of my print oeuvre). I shared the table of contents with William S. Burroughs, J.G. Ballard, Bruce Sterling, William Gibson and a bunch of less well-known but quite cool others. I owe my part in this literary conspiracty to Crowbar, publisher of the 'zine Popular Reality.

In 1992 I attended a cyberpunk "symposium" in Detroit. Sterling, in his inimitable manner, supposed that no one in the audience had heard of Semiotext(e), let alone read it, and I was able to retort from the third row that I was in it. So I got to hang out with him, and with Pat Cadigan and John Shirley, which last professional offered to read my stories! He was of the opinion that I could write. He recommended that I attend the Clarion West Writers' Workshop, where he and Cadigan were to teach that summer.

At Clarion West I learned in six weeks what six years at the University could never have taught me.

Because of Clarion West and another writers' program in the Puget Sound area (Cottages at Hedgebrook, a retreat on Whidbey Island), I put Seattle near the top of my list when considering a move from Michigan. I'd gotten divorced. We'd sold the house. When I asked my ancestors where I ought to live, they said this was the place.

My apartment is one block off of the #48 bus route. King County Metro takes me all the way to the beach. Grey and wild, or smooth as oil, the water is unfailingly beautiful. By ways as circuitous as those I described to my sister almost four decades ago, this mermaid has returned to the sea.