I’m delighted to share a new book by my Story Empire colleague Denise Finn. She lives in the magical forests of Northern California among the bears and coyotes, and she writes in a wide range of genres from middle-grade fantasy to horror, from speculative short stories to poetry. I hope you enjoy this introduction to her latest release. Take it away, Denise.
Thank you for having me here today, Diana, to discuss my short story collection, In the Tree’s Shadow.
“Effervescent Potion” was part of my personal short story challenge. I’d request a word from a family member and then use it to find an image to work from. I asked my son, Jeffry, the youngest of the children, for a word. Our biology graduate from Oregon came up with effervescent.
Bubbling pictures popped up, and from there, I went to a potion in a lab. What if it wasn’t a routine experiment?
Poor Arnold is forced to work in a lab for a cruel man he is forced to call Sir Charles. Although he and many others are prisoners, Arnold may have a surprise for Sir Charles.
A collection of short stories where dreams and nightmares coexist.
Nestled inside these pages, you’ll meet a couple in their golden years who take a trip with an unexpected detour, a boy desperate to give his brother the Christmas gift he asked for, a girl with a small glass dragon who is at the mercy of her cruel uncles, and a young mother who has a recurring dream about murder. You’ll be introduced to worlds where people get second chances and monsters might be allowed their desires, while angels and dragons try to help. Happy endings occur, but perspective can blur the line between good and evil in these twenty-seven tales. Since the stories vary between 99 and 12,000 words, whether you have only five minutes or an entire evening to settle into reading, there is something that will suit your time and taste.
The round man in the white lab coat dropped a blue pill into a glass beaker. It immediately burst into a rush of bubbles racing to the top of the water. The man dabbed the sweat off his forehead and offered a tentative smile. “It works as soon as it hits the liquid, sir.”
A deep scowl crossed the taller man’s thin face. “I can see that, Arnold, and I prefer Sir Charles. Will it do what I want it to?”
Arnold gulped loudly as the water turned a bloody red and boiled with no heat source. Its froth spilled over the beaker like a volcano exploding. “Yes, Sir Charles. The test is going exactly as planned. We will test it in its chocolate form tomorrow. Its reaction will happen in the mouth and stomach, but we are confident it will succeed.”
Sir Charles’s thick black eyebrows hovered over the bloodshot eyes that defined his madness. “Good, good. I need it to be perfect for Halloween. You understand?”
“Of course, Sir Charles. We will test it tomorrow.”
“On the rats, I assume?” His black-clothed body sank into the shadows, but the clinical lighting from the high ceiling shone directly on his displeased face.
Arnold tugged at his itchy white collar. “Yes, it’s wise to try it on the animal subjects first because—”
Sir Charles slammed his fist on the white Formica counter. The beaker containing the roaring concoction tipped precariously but stayed upright and held its precious elixir. “This potion is meant for humans, not rats. I can’t believe I have to think of everything. I will bring some healthy young specimens from the holding area.”
Readers who enjoy speculative fiction and short stories will find a lot to like in this book. The tagline refers to dreams and nightmares, and I found plenty of both in the read – well, maybe more nightmares and monsters than angels, but they’re both here within this eclectic and generous collection of 27 stories.
The stories cover a wide variety of speculative fiction subgenres, including horror, sci-fi, paranormal fiction, and fantasy. In the darker tales, readers will find Bigfoot, ghosts, demons, and human villains. Some of the apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic stories were my favorites, including “In That Moment” and “The Last Ride of the Night.”
But the collection isn’t all doom and gloom by any means. There are plenty of stories about animals and angels and the renewal found in nature. Some of my favorites were “End of the Road” about a woman’s recovery from abuse, “The Bench” about the way animals come into our lives, and “The Bike” a tale about kindness. Many of the stories offer original twists on old spec fiction tropes, and the final story, a sci-fi novelette titled “Stranded,” is no exception. I’m happy to recommend this read to fans of speculative fiction short stories who enjoy a wide variety of tales.
FUN FINN FACTS:
- The astronauts walked on the moon for my seventh birthday. I believed it was a gift to me.
- I love being a part of the underwater world. It is so peaceful and beautiful.
D. L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 she relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to Nevada City, in the Sierra foothills. She immersed herself in reading all types of books but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations include children’s books, adult fiction, a unique autobiography, and poetry. She continues on her adventure with an open invitation to all readers to join her.
D.L. Finn Links: