Today, the good people at The Citron Review published by short story “The Storyteller” in their Summer 2013 issue. In this fairy tale, a young woman meets a dentist who wholeheartedly believes that his mother wrote all the stories in the world. At first the protagonist is dumbfounded by this naive belief, but eventually she is inspired by his willingness to believe.
I can’t remember when I first came up with the idea for this story or why I wanted to write it. I write one fairy tale for every two or three realist short stories, so there is usually some triggering moment of magic in my life that inspires me. I suppose this story is personal to me because, as a writer, I believe in the power of stories and in the act of telling a story.
I’m currently reading through Karen Russell’s fantastic and fantastical story collection Vampires in the Lemon Grove. In the titular story, ancient vampires quench their thirst for blood by sucking on lemons. At one point, the protagonist recounts his early days as a vampire, when he followed all the classic vampire tropes–staying out of the sun, wearing a cape. He never knew that he didn’t need to follow these rules to survive because he believed the stories that had been passed down to him. At one point the vampire looks at some children and reflects, “You small mortals don’t realize the power of your stories.” I found that line to be incredibly profound. Although the story is more focused on his marriage to his vampire wife and what it means for love to last centuries, I really found that to be the standout moment of the story.
Stories stick with us. They affect us. They change us. Sometimes we need to believe them in order to survive.
I hope you’ll enjoy “The Storyteller.” I’m proud to say that it’s one of my few stories without a sad ending.