Craft: A Discussion on Process


JEN: I’m Jen. I write about shape-shifters and kissing, apparently, but not exclusively.

ANNE: Bonjour! I’m Anne, and I write the things in my dreams. Also things that have happened to me. Also things that are bloody. Also, I like to say also.

JULIE: I’m Julie and I write about whatever strikes me, and often that is relationships, gender, and things that don’t exist in real life. Sometimes wolves.

AUDREY: Hello! I’m Audrey and I write YA fiction.  I like to write romance and dark things, preferably together.

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“El Petó de la Mort” by Jaume Barba Inspires Julie

El Petó de la Mort by Jaume Barba

El Petó de la Mort by Jaume Barba

Bone White

I’m cradling him in my arms, but at my touch he shrinks away, though his breath comes in shallow, pained gasps. I thought I saw a glimmer of recognition when he first beheld me, then terror. I winged out of the ether, calling his name—a croak, a breeze, a grinding of bone against bone in this deathly form of mine. There he was, beautiful as ever, at the edge of the lake.

His eyes, blue as its waters, begin to cloud. His leg is twisted beneath him. He rests on a pile of stones at the bottom of the incline where he fell, in his panic.

“Cassius,” he groans, and though I no longer have the faculty to feel warmth, to feel anything, I can imagine that my heart would surge at the sound of my name.

I brush aside the hair that has fallen across his forehead and he winces, tosses his head.

“Be gone,” he says, and blood wells between his lips.

I came to bid him farewell, for I feared he had forgotten me. I was wrong, and I see now that I’ve sealed his fate, too. continue reading…

“El Petó de la Mort” by Jaume Barba Inspires Anne

El Petó de la Mort by Jaume Barba

El Petó de la Mort by Jaume Barba


No matter how hard I try, I can’t escape summer in Paris. Full-bloom irises mingle with Nutella crêpes on the sticky breezes. Tourists from far away lands rush into shoppes shouting their lazy vowels to be understood. Dragging the language through the mud turns the owners into the very stereotypical French snobs, but the business is good—very good—and the tourists don’t understand their subtle jabs. Schoolboys dart past me, bringing a dash of salt and dirty hair to the air. Underneath it all, Paris herself reeks of revolution warring with peace, the spilled blood of enemies and brothers, and the thrill of living. I swallow it all down. It lingers like good wine at the back of my throat.

A sandy-haired boy with thick glasses and dirty knees stops, looks perplexed, and says to no one in particular, “When you imagine yourself as a cannibal, you never think about eating babies.”

The other boys shake their heads, laughing, and continue breaking up handholding couples and hurdling over shivering toy poodles. An older man wearing a linen suit and cap shakes his cane at the boys, but they’re already crossing the street. I hug the old man. He doesn’t know I’m there, but through my black singlet his heart beats faster as if to deny me. My gloved hands tighten on his shoulder blades before I let him continue his life, unmolested. For now.

One touch of my bare hand, and this man, those boys, and the sour shoppe owners would be reduced to rotting meat. My psychopomps fly to my touch like bees to nectar to collect a mortal’s essence. I’ve been reticent today, taking only the sick when I run comforting fingers along their cheeks and brow. That final breath comes with or without a loved one holding their hand. I haunt the places where humans generally die: hospitals and nursing homes. It’s summer after all, and people should be allowed to enjoy themselves without my interfering touch. My psychopomps grow restless. Hungry. continue reading…

“El Petó de la Mort” by Jaume Barba Inspires Jen

El Petó de la Mort by Jaume Barba

El Petó de la Mort by Jaume Barba


My mother always painted a grim picture of death. Death should be bony and have talons dark and dry as the hulls of beetles and probably have some sort of awful smell like chicken crap or moth balls or the two mixed together. Death is gross. He’s a thief and a manipulator and he’s the shoot-first-ask-questions-later type. To be avoided, surely. Nobody likes death, but if you do, he takes you without a fight.  It’s a lose-lose situation.

Luckily for my mother, I had no intentions of looking for death.  I didn’t drive too fast or climb trees or hunt bears. Mostly because I spent most of my time taking pictures of other people driving too fast or climbing trees or hunting bears. My friends were the brave ones. I was always slightly to the left, removed. My photos were my social saving grace because my idiot buddies loved their own triumphs, and I was the hero who was close enough to the action to get the money shots. They were the risk takers. I was close behind, but always just out of death’s creeping reach. Maybe it makes me a coward, but I hoped it just kept me alive.

Death was a hungry thing. Lincoln High was having a bad year. Death was never satisfied with us.
The morning of Olan’s funeral was full of sun and a breeze that was just enough to make the trees whisper. The sun was a betrayal, and it looked weird to see so much black under a bright blue sky. I think my whole school came, though I bet only a few actually knew him. Death in a small town makes you famous. It was a sea of kids in suits that didn’t fit crying over a boy they probably gave the knee-jerk “Have a great summer!” bullshit at yearbook signing time. continue reading…