The Big Idea: J. Dianne Dotson

In The Shadow Galaxy: A Collection of Short Stories and Poetry, author J. Dianne Dotson explores spanning multiple genres and styles within a small package.


Back in the 1980s, I moved to a place called Gray. Its name essentially summed up my initial ambivalence for it, until I fell in love with the slender train tracks close to my home, the expansive dairy farm next to those tracks, and the strange and tangled little path between them. This was my own private universe, full of mystery and wonder and unsettling shadows, cave-ins, wizened neighbors, and strange tiny tunnels hinting at other realms.

As I explored this rural wonderland, I took note of every leaf and stone and bird, and I came home nicked by briars and stained by vivid purple pokeberry juice (smeared with sticks on everything, marking my territory). I pelted upstairs to a little loft room and began to write. But in that same room, I also began to read more, and some of that reading included Ray Bradbury and a gold-edged book of classic fairy tales. I had a big idea, a grand one, to write an epic space opera. And I did! But I kept coming back to smaller stories.

In a way, living in the country is a collection of short stories. You live at the mercy of seasons, of neighbors either nosy or intimidating in their mystery, of quickly spread rumors, of being thought of as a weird kid (which I was). Gray was in many ways my version of Bradbury’s Greentown, and I felt a kinship to his many tales, some terrifying, some wondrous. In my boredom, I imagined magical realms and creatures, owing to the literary backbone of my book of fairy tales. (Many of L. Frank Baum’s Oz stories also seeped in.)…

The Shadow Galaxy: A Collection of Short Stories and Poetry: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Powell’s Books|Mysterious Galaxy Books

J. Dianne Dotson’s website. Follow Dianne on Twitter and Instagram.

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