Off The Map

I read a lot of non-fiction in my teens – wilderness survival guides, bushcraft, plant and animal identification books. Anything to feed my insatiable desire for autonomy. I wanted facts. Stories felt like a waste of time.

It was Edgar Allan Poe who ruined me. Specifically, A Cask of Amontillado, read as a gap-filler by Mrs Stevens in Year 9 English. A gut-punch of a short story about revenge that left 15-year-old me short of breath.

One hit and I’m hooked. Short stories are compact and complete by their nature, and for me they were a gateway drug to longer and more nuanced fiction. The first piece of my own writing I ever liked was a short story written for Mrs Stevens.

This collection represents more than a decade of beach-combing for cool ideas. Some have been published in other forms in other places, most have never been on display. Many washed up in the wake of larger works as fully formed narratives that didn’t fit the project at hand.

The stories have rubbed against each other and left their marks. There are hints of common settings, characters and plot. In their own way, each one peers into uncharted territory.

It’s my hope that these short stories will offer educators a sandbox full of literary playthings and adolescent readers a chance to fall off the map.