The latest, and final, installment in my Magical Menageries series is opening to submissions very, very soon so I wanted to take a quick moment to share with you the story of how it came to be.
Some time ago–time is slippery these days and my mind can’t hold on to it well, so it could have been months but I think more likely it was years–I critiqued a story for a friend of mine, Beth Cato. As many of her stories do, this one involved horses. I’ve critiqued a fair number of stories for Beth over the years (as she has for me) but this was one of my favourites. It’s difficult to critique a story once you’ve fallen in love with it, but I did my best. I sent it back to her and Beth did, whatever it is Beth does between critique and submission, then she sent it off to Big Market #1.
The editor at Big Market #1 sent back and revise and resubmit letter. So Beth revised and sent it to me to see if I thought she’d addressed all of the editors concerns. I did. And I thought the story was stronger for it. Beth re-submitted. Time passed. The editor of Big Market #1 eventually passed on the story, “close but…”. With a shrug Beth sent the story on to Big Market #2. The editor sent back a revise and resubmit letter… so she revised and sent it to me, I thought, “Wow, this story went from great to amazing!” and she resubmitted. “Close but…”
This particular story collected more than its fair share of ‘Close but…’ emails. Finally, in exasperation, as Beth was sending the story out yet again I said, “If they don’t accept it this time I’m gonna make a freaking horse anthology so it can find a good home!”
That market accepted the story.
(I’m being vague here because Beth gave me permission to tell this story but I feel like the details are hers to divulge, not mine)
Fast forward some more time, slippery devil that it is. I had to decide what to pitch to Sarena Ulibarri for the next installment of the Magical Menageries anthology series. I thought about dragons, because, c’mon, dragons! but the first of my elemental anthologies will cover dragons. And I thought about witches but they seemed too human for this series. And I thought about going with something quite obscure but then, out of nowhere, I remembered Beth’s story and my saying, “I’m gonna make a freaking horse anthology!”. And it just felt right.
I’m not hugely into horses these days, but I spent years and years and YEARS of my childhood obsessed with them. I spent innumerable recesses playing unicorns with my best friend Linda. Basically we just trotted or galloped around and around in a circle talking about what colour of unicorn we were–I was usually black with a silver horn, or white with a gold horn that had red roses spiraling around it–and when we moved to a new town my new best friend Miranda definitely helped fuel my horse love. One of my favourite books when I was a kid was The Black Stallion, and The Last Unicorn remains one of my favourite books even today.
And also? I grew up on this:
Centaur and Pegasus, anyone?
So I thought about all of that.
And I thought yes.
And happily, Sarena thought yes too.
And that is how I decided to make Equus the final installment of this anthology series. 🙂