The Story Behind the Story: The Angel of Lies

Good news today. My short story ebook, “The Angel of Lies,” has been approved for Premium Distribution at Smashwords.com. This means that sometime in the next two weeks, “Angel” may appear in the ebookstores at Apple, Sony, Barnes & Nobel, Kobo, and Diesel. (Smashwords doesn’t currently distribute to Amazon, sorry to say.) When it appears, I’ll post links to it here and on Facebook.

Hmm . . . Do I seem obsessed by lies? The title of my ebook, the title of this unblog. You’re not going to believe this, but I didn’t even have my ebook’s title in mind when I named Prevarications. Honest. (No, that’s not a lie. The next sentence is a lie. I always tell the truth.) (*computer blows up*)

Anyway, here’s some background on “The Angel of Lies”: It started with one of my childhood phobias, a phobia I carried into my 30s, and still rears its ugly head from time to time. The phobia itself is kind of boring and even has a boring name — Statue Phobia. Yes, it sounds just as irrational and as stupid as you think. Statues, especially in human form; billboards of human faces; drawings in human form on buildings; all of these form a part of this phobia. Nowadays, it’s only occasional, but during my childhood, teens and twenties, it was a lot more prevalent.

True story: A friend and I drove to a local science fiction convention in the dead of winter (local = 60 miles away). We got into town in the evening, registered at the convention site, and checked in at my friend’s crash site (bunking with friends of friends). The friend said he wanted to show me something. We piled into the Studebaker, drove through town, and parked in a residential neighborhood. As we walked to the end of the street (we parked half a block back because he wanted me to “get the full effect”), I kept asking what the hell we were going to see. Another friend? A restaurant in the middle of nowhere? What?

We got to the end of the block, turned left, and there it was. Another block away, standing under a lone streetlight.

The Black Angel of Iowa City. In a cemetery. At midnight. (That same black angel is depicted on the cover of my ebook.)

I told my friend, “I can’t go down there.” He asked why and I had to confess my childhood fear. As we trudged back to the car, he told me, “Bruce, I’m so disappointed in you.”

Phobias aren’t rational. That’s why they’re phobias. You spring a surprise on me like that, be glad I don’t do something more spazzy than freezing up. Apparently, this phobia may be rooted in a control issue, because the *next* night, after the convention had closed its doors, I suggested to my friend we try the angel again. And this time, I was able to walk right up to it and stare right into its (non)face.

I still suffered from the phobia from time to time, until ten years later I wrote “The Angel of Lies.” The phobia actually disappeared! (It has only recently started to poke through my defenses again.) I submitted the story to Twilight Zone magazine, edited by T.E.D. Klein (that’ll tell you how old the story is right there), who rejected it, but wrote “I’d like to see anything else you might have” at the bottom of the rejection letter. I submitted it to Pulphouse, where it was rejected by Kristine Kathryn Rusch with another handwritten note (“you capture childhood fears very well, but I didn’t buy the viewpoint switch at the end”). Fantasy & Science Fiction and another magazine also rejected it, so I let it languish until Joe DeRouen started an emagazine called Sunlight Through the Shadows. He serialized it as a two-parter, for which I sincerely thanked him.

Now, I’ve dusted it off, spruced it up, corrected the viewpoint switch at the end, and am offering it through Smashwords (and soon, other online ebook retailers) at a 99 cent price point. For that price, I hope everybody buys the hell out of it.

Today’s Prevarication: I expect to get rich off of one short story.

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About Bruce Diamond

Despicably proud old man. Text-extruding asshole (thank you, John Scalzi) with a skewed vision on life, pop culture, writing and general assholiness. Not a scholar, not a gentleman, not Martin or Lewis. But still trying to make life fun and funny.
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2 Responses to The Story Behind the Story: The Angel of Lies

  1. I seem to have a similar reaction to mannequins. Whenever I’m close to one I notice that I become tense and I tend to pay more attention to my peripheral vision. But it’s nothing serious. Anyway congrats on your success and I hope you have many more!

  2. Thanks for the kind words, Nathan. Oddly enough, my weird-ass phobia will also include mannequins. There was a scene in an old Night Gallery episode (if I’m not misremembering) where the lead character was chased by something supernatural into a store room full of mannequins. The mannequins, one by one, looked down at her and their JAWS UNHINGED AND SWUNG OPEN.

    That creeped me out a bit.

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