#ShortStoryMonth Day One — Jack London’s “To Build a Fire” (and my “Heart.”)


Short Story Month

It’s May, and May is Short Story Month, and I threw together a quick month’s worth of prompts to discuss short fiction all month because—as is likely well-known to those of you here—I freaking love short stories.

If you want to play along, by all means please do! On Twitter, I’m gonna use the hashtag #ShortStoryMonth, and I’ve pinned a tweet for the month with the schedule and the images.

So. First up. “My first short story was…”

As a reader, I really had to step back and think here, but I think the short story I remember having the most impact from when I was younger was “To Build a Fire,” by Jack London, which I probably read way, way earlier than I should have. It’s not a cheerful story. It’s about a man who gets lost in the snow with his doggo, and his desperate attempts to get warm before it’s too late. The good news is the doggo is totally okay at the end of the story. The bad news..? Well, you can read it here if you want.

Now, to answer this as a writer? My first short story was “Heart,” in Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction. Or at least, it was the first short fiction piece I got published. Technically I wrote many, many short stories before that but they’re mostly lost to the ages, broken computer drives, and long-lost journals.

“Heart,” is told from the point of view of Aiden, a guy who has a gift for seeing the health of others, and who can also be a source of healing up to a point. He starts dating Miah after they bump into each other at a club, and as their relationship progresses, Miah confesses an ongoing health problem, and Aiden admits he’s been helping. When things take a turn for the worse, Aiden has to make a choice.

I reprinted “Heart” in Of Echoes Born, too, by the way.

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