Anthropophagy

The man-eater crouches in the corner of his room and stares at me. All he can see are my eyes as I peer through the thin slat cut high into the iron door.

His hair hangs short and ragged about his face, his skin is as pale as blind earthworms. Father once explained that this sort of creature abhors the clothes of men, and to tie his own trousers and lace on boots was what he taught the man-eater first.

He still strips naked before meals, though.

Of all the things Father collected this is my favorite. It exasperated Father that rather than play the golden harp or admire rainbow diamonds and butterfly lace, rather than groom the razor swans and cuddle the exotic blue cats, I’d lean this stool against the iron door to climb up and watch the man-eater.

When I was younger I didn’t believe he was dangerous. He was only a skinny boy my age, putting together intricate puzzled on the stone floor of the tower room. He didn’t read, but surely it was only because no one ever taught him. One morning I watched him flip through an illuminated book so carefully and eagerly that I stole the key from Father’s study and arrived with an alphabet primer under my arm and candy in my nightgown pocket.

As I slipped in, he stood and backed up to the wall, those large dark eyes of his locked to my face. I smiled, offering him the primer. He reached out with one lanky arm and curled his fingers around it. Dried blood stained his cuticles, and I nearly dropped the book. But I straightened my shoulders and strode to his small desk as confidently as I was able with bare feet. I set three pieces of candy onto the table, red and gleaming like rubies, and said, “I thought I should teach you to read letters.”

The man-eater slunk beside me, his mouth firmly closed. This near to him – nearer than I’d ever been – I could see the gray sleepless hollows beneath his eyes and the gentle blue veins at his temples. He stared at me, just taller, but skinnier, and then slowly, slowly, put the primer onto the desk. He reached for one of the candies and brought it to his mouth. When he slipped it between those pink lips, I glanced away.

I opened the primer and smoothed the old parchment. “Here is A.”

Ay,” he whispered.

“Yes! Good!” I smiled proudly, and the man-eater smiled back.

His teeth hooked like fangs, every last one of them sharp. I felt my face drop and my fingers splayed flat against the primer. The man-eater closed his mouth and focused onto A. He traced it with his finger, giving me time to calm.
Continue reading

THE CURIOSITIES ARC CONTEST WINNERS!

Thank you all for your enthusiasm! We got a ton of entires, and it was a thrill to see our awesome cover up all over the internet!

But I won’t make you hold your collective breath any longer. Our winners are:

Jazmin of Wonderful Bookshelf of Jaz

Anna Schmahl

Claudette the Future Librarian

Winners email me at tessa.gratton@gmail.com with your address and we’ll send out your prize! CONGRATULATIONS!!!

Giantkiller

We were standing on the corner of Grant and 23rd when this guy came sidling up to us. He had on a long skeezy coat and was talking out of the corner of his mouth in that mumble where you can’t tell if he wants to beg a ride or a dollar or sell you drugs or what. His had a lumpy scarf wrapped around most of his face and under it, he could have been twenty-eight or thirty-five or sixty.

My brother Jack said, “Is it sold out?” and after he said that, I could kind of backtrack the guy’s mumble and break it into words.

Tickets. The guy was holding a pair of show tickets. They glowed paper-white under the streetlights. You boys need tickets?

I shook my head, but Jack was already digging around in his pockets, searching for his wallet.

No!” I said, and I said it fast and loud, grabbing for his elbow like that might actually stop him from doing whatever the hell he wanted.

Jack only laughed and pulled his arm out of my hand. “Hey, what’s the problem? You love Giantkiller, right? And you’ve been yowling all day about your stupid guitar, so this makes us square.”

magic guitar

I just looked at him. Square would be my Fender back.

Square would be if I could have a new brother.

He looked right at me, smiling in the way that when we were little always meant he was about to hold me down in the swimming pool or take my candy bar or lock me in the basement. “Acting like a whiny little bitch isn’t going to get your guitar back.”

There was an empty Schlitz can lying in the middle of the sidewalk and I kicked it hard so it went bouncing along the gutter and down into the storm drain. “If you’d have just stuck to pawning your own shit, I wouldn’t need to get it back. And yeah, I liked Giantkiller in the eighth grade. ”

Jack shrugged and smiled like none of that even made a difference. He handed the guy a couple of twenties and punched me on the arm. “Stop moaning about the guitar. We’ll get you another one.”

He passed me a ticket. It was crumpled and worn soft from being held in the guy’s gloved hand all night.

Also, Jack is an asshole.

*****

Inside the club, the crowd was packed in all the way to the back bar. The whole place was dim and smelled like stale sweat and old beer and drying blood from the mosh pit.

Jack pushed straight through the swarms of people like they weren’t even there, and everyone just let him, even though two feet away, I saw a guy get punched in the face just for trying not to get crushed against the wall.

When Mason Tyler came onstage, the crowd screamed like they were being eaten alive. keep reading…

THE CURIOSITIES COVER REVEAL!

We, the Merry Fates, are super excited to share the cover of our upcoming not-quite-an-anthology, THE CURIOSTIES: a collection of stories.

We are so happy with the cover, and with the final product! 

A vampire locked in a cage in the basement, for good luck.

Bad guys, clever girls, and the various reasons why the guys have to stop breathing.

A world where fires never go out (with references to vanilla ice cream).

These are but a few of the curiosities collected in this volume of short stories by three acclaimed practitioners of paranormal fiction.

But The Curiosities is more than the stories. Since 2008, Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff have posted more than 250 works of short fiction to their website merryfates.com. Their goal was simple: create a space for experimentation and improvisation in their writing—all in public and without a backspace key. In that spirit, The Curiosities includes the stories and each author’s comments, critiques, and kudos in the margins. Think of it as a guided tour of the creative processes of three acclaimed authors.

So, are you curious now?

But it’s not just our stories, it’s full of our own brand of craziness and fun: 

And cartoons we’ve personally drawn!

 

Woo hoo! But wait, there’s more! Our publisher, Carolrhoda Lab, made a trailer in which we babble with slight coherency about Merry Fates and one of us has obscene amounts of eyeshadow. LINKY LINKY!

You can also watch the making of the book itself and our shenanigans here: WHEN THE FATES COLLIDE WITH MAGICAL PENS!

TK

This week the Merry Fates are gathering together in order to work on our not-quite-anthology with Carolrhoda Lab! We’re super excited and promise to get at least SOME work done.

Involving these things:

 

AND…. on Friday there will be a Hilarious Vlog as proof that we did, indeed, work. See you on the flipside!

2011 Wrap-up!

We made it through another year here at Merry Fates! We’ve all got one more book out (or in some overachiever’s case, two more)! We’ve done our very first official Merry Fates Live Event where all three of us get together in public just to talk about short stories!!! We’ve welcomed 11 awesome guest writers to write on the blog! There are 33 new stories from myself, Brenna, and Maggie!

In short, we win!

But it’s December, which means hiatus time. While you suffer through the holidays (I mean, of course, have a wonderful solstice), here are our top stories from 2011:

********************************************************
BRENNA:

“Dead Ringer v. 1”
At first it was little things—how he always wore the watch I’d given him, even though it left a raw spot on his wrist and he’d never worn one before. More…

“Cuts Both Ways”
I hate Baz Crandall. More…

********************************************************
TESSA:

“Three True Things”
For my entire life, Mom and Dad insisted they did not believe in the Piercy family curse. More…

“Mask of Petals, Mask of Thorns”
Every night before we retire, he gently takes my hand, leans in, and stops a breath away from me. “Will you kiss me with your eyes open, Beauty?” he asks. More…

********************************************************
MAGGIE:

“Hel”
It’s hard not to feel bad for the prisoners, but I guess that’s because I don’t know what they did to get in here. More…

“Deep Subject”
On Tuesday, we discovered the dragon in the well. More…

And when we return in January… we’ll be starting the Epic Countdown To The End. That’s right, May 2012 will be 4 years exactly that Merry Fates has been around, and just before our Not-Anthology comes out with Carolrhoda Lab at the end of the summer, we’re gonna go out with a bang!

January, February, March, and April, we’re going to write our stories to a common prompt, and end each month with a contest. Then in May, we will have the grandmother of all epic contest giveaways as we ask you to help us celebrate all the fun and stress and awesome creating this website has brought us.

Contest Winner!

Hey, all! Sorry this is a couple of days late – it’s been hectic around here!

The winner of titles contest is……..

…..

…….. MAIA! Of Pen and Ink: The Persimmon Journals!

Maia, email me at tessa.gratton@gmail dot com with your address and we’ll get your AMAZING PRIZES SENT OUT. “What I Call Memphis” was our favorite title, and the rest were quite good, too!

A couple of honorable mention: I loved “As I Die, Nothing More” by Azra as a title for my “Girl, Waiting,” and Amber from A J Breadcrumbs made Brenna and I laugh with “#honestlygeorgia”

Thanks for playing! We had so much fun going through your titles!

HALLOWEEN CONTEST!!!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

This week is the kick-off for our last 2011 contest! And it’s a doozy!

All you have to do, dear readers, is pick your favorite Merry Fates short story of ours and tell us what YOU WOULD have titled it!

Titling is tough stuff – sometimes it takes almost as long to title as story as it does to write it! Sometimes we get desperate and settle. Sometimes the story BEGINS as a title! So do your best, and enter as many times as you want, with as many stories/titles.

We’ll pick our favorite title on Friday, and doll out the prize!

Prize is signed copies of our books:

BLOOD MAGIC
THE SPACE BETWEEN
A SHIVER TRILOGY PACK
THE SCORPIO RACES

Looking Back

Since it’s a fifth week, but we already did a contest this month, we’ve got something different for you today! We decided, in honor of shifting Merry Fates over to wordpress, to look back at the very first stories we posted… way back in May of 2008. In the three years since then we’ve each posted something near 100 short stories (!!!) and have learned SO MUCH. Not just about communicating with the internet and entertaining you, o readers, but about ourselves as writers.

Below, find links to our first stories, and a brief paragraph from each of us about what we think we’ve learned! Next week the schedule resumes as normal, with fiction every Monday!

Brenna’s first: Alternative Hypothesis

The first story I wrote for Merry Fates wasn’t actually a story—I just didn’t know that at the time. I was very conscious of rhythm and enjoyed the business of carefully placing one word after another, but I really had no way of distinguishing between stories and vignettes. Things my first story lacks that most stories have: Characters. Setting. Plot. Things it has in massive quantities: Voice. The thing I’ve learned since starting in 2008: Voice is a nice tool to have, but only once you can brush it on like lacquer over all those other pieces.

Tessa’s first: Beast

My most pointed reaction to rereading this first story is amusement that it’s proof I’ve used Merry Fates as a place to experiment from the very beginning. I think I’ve learned how to turn my experiments into an actual story, with beginning, middle, end, character arcs, and world, but I can still see what I was trying to do back then: play with form, and tell a story by answering a single question over and over again. It’s still so very me when it comes to language, though, and fairy tale tropes. The more things change…

Maggie’s first: Holes

I remember very clearly that this first story took me an entire week to consider. An entire week of thinking of one slight story. Back then, I still think building instant characters was my strong point, but that was literally all I knew how to do. I picked a fairy tale retelling because I couldn’t imagine how to create both new people and a new world in just one week’s time. What have a learned since May of 2008? How to build worlds in the time it takes to make a pot of rice.

What do YOU think about our first stories? Think we all still sound like ourselves? I hope you’ll agree that we’ve just gotten better. It was part of the original goal of Merry Fates, after all – to improve!

photo credit: Natalie C Parker, 2010 The Merry Fates at St. Vincent de Paul Cemetery, New Orleans