Thirteen Days to the Suicide Woods: Day 1 — The Call of the Void

I love to get a peek behind the scenes of creative work. I read liner notes on albums, I listen to movie commentaries, and I especially love when they release those “P.S.” editions of novels with questions and interviews with the author at the end of the book. This blog series over the next thirteen days is going to be my attempt at a P.S. appendix of my upcoming short story collection from ChiZine Publications, 13 Views of the Suicide Woods.

Along the way, I’m going to relate a few little details about individual stories in the collection, my motivations and intentions, and background about choices I made, all while trying not to spoil anything for you. For those of you like me, who like to read the liner notes, I hope you enjoy it. 

Since we’re barely on the way, I’ll start with the title. Our first stop on the road is,

why “13 Views of the Suicide Woods”?

Originally, when I sent the proposal for this collection to the editors at ChiZine Publications, I’d had a different title in mind. I hadn’t necessarily wanted to tie the book conceptually to a single story, but I liked the thematic element of one in particular and wanted it to reflect on the collection as a whole. So, I submitted the manuscript as, L’appel du Vide. It’s one of those French sayings that there isn’t really a good translation for in English. Literally, it means “the call of the void” (and I probably should’ve just called it that). It’s that feeling you get in your gut when you stand on the edge of a high place and have the urge to step out, even though under no other circumstances are you looking for a way to end your life. It’s just that feeling. L’appel du Vide. I’ll get into my lifelong relationship with the call of the void later down the road, but suffice it to say now, I had this very bad idea to title a book of short stories by an American author, published by a Canadian press, in English, something French. Fortunately, my editors are smarter than I am.


Sandra Kasturi and Brett Savory, the co-owners/editors of ChiZine were right to reject that title. Brett said to me, “You ought to call it the same thing as the title of that one story.” Although there were 16 stories in the collection I’d pitched, and he hadn’t mentioned one in particular, I knew exactly which title he meant. “Thirteen Views of the Suicide Woods.” When ChiZine accepted the collection, the title changed to 13 Views of the Suicide Woods, likely because it looks better on the cover that way (though the title of the story within is unaltered). I’ve never regretted a second of the change. They were absolutely right, and I think I always wanted to title it that anyway, but my literary pretensions get the better of me sometimes. Everyone needs an editor.

By the way, NO, there are not thirteen stories in the book, or sixteen. There are nineteen. Four of which have never been published before. I hope having more than promised doesn’t disappoint you.

Eventually, I’ll tell you where the individual story title came from and why it means so much to me that’d I’d name a whole book after it. But before we get there, we have a few other stops to make along the way.

The Woods Have Been Waiting

NEXT STOP: Endings and Beginnings.


~ by poǝןɔɐɯ uǝʞɔɐɹq on 01/03/2017.

One Response to “Thirteen Days to the Suicide Woods: Day 1 — The Call of the Void”

  1. Reblogged this on The Nothing-Space and commented:
    Go check this out, friend-Os (and thanks for Jessica McHugh, since I just appropriated that term): Bracken’s my main man–I lavished praise on his novel STRANDED in my last post–and he has his own collection coming out this month: 13 VIEWS OF THE SUICIDE WOODS. (We promised each other that our next collections will have sunnier, if still evocative, titles). Over the next few weeks, he’s going to be giving some inside-baseball on the stories, which is something that I always wanted to do, but I’m lazy. Bracken is not lazy. Bracken is the main man. Go dig in.

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