I’m on this list, at the end.
Once again in the “Glass Half Full Rejections” category, my story, “The Jet-Black Knight,” made the top 6% of over 800 submissions for The Third Corona Book of Horror Stories. The letter was one of the nicest rejections I’ve had, and unlike another publication that promised to put me in the list of honorable mentions, Corona delivered. Many thanks to Editor Lewis Williams.
This encouragement was especially important to me for three reasons:
First, the story includes a no-doubt controversial, critical portrayal of US military raids in the Iraq War, a portrayal that I believe is based on sound research. In this era of mandatory jingoism, I would like varied views regarding the US role in the world to get out there.
Second, the story is based on my son’s misunderstanding of “the jet-black night” in the Robert Louis Stevenson poem, Northwest Passage. So it connects to my feelings for my son and my memories of his childhood.
Third, a relatively prestigious publication sent me a reader’s report with its rejection, and the reader criticized my having given the narrator and main character Southern speech that the reader felt was (as I recall) distracting and ridiculous, even as she (I’m guessing) acknowledged that she would have thought a veteran wrote the piece had I not signed it, and that I had “skillz” (this is how I remember its being spelled). I know I have a good ear for language, and I do not understand how not giving the character an individualized background would have been a stronger choice.
For all of these reasons, it was good to have a reason for continued hope that this story may one day see the light of day.
Photo credit: Corona Press. P. 223 of Lewis Williams, ed., The Third Corona Book of Horror Stories. N. P.: Corona Books UK, 2019. Fair use.