I HATE FOREWORDS, so I’ll keep this brief.
Nobody reads fiction anymore. The novel is dead. No one has time to read made-up stories these days. We’ve been told these lies for years. And to a certain extent these lies are true. While genre fiction—vampire, teen, paranormal, and the like—may have given birth to a new kind of readership, not nearly as many people read serious, literary fiction in today’s busy, entertainment-saturated world.
This is unfortunate, but I’d like to posit to you that this “problem” is more the author’s fault than the reader’s. With television and movies and video games and internet and iPods and iPhones and iPads and iWhatever, people have more options than ever. This is good news for people, but bad news for writers.
It’s bad news because authors are no longer competing solely with other authors. Instead, we are competing with an entire world of designers and directors and developers of new, hip, slick products. And all of us creators are vying for the same thing: your time and attention.
For me, however, this is actually good news. It is a test of sorts. Competing for your time means that my burden of proof as a writer has been radically increased, and thus I must work incredibly hard to create something that is both enticing and entertaining, while still providing a payoff that cannot be found anywhere else.
I believe that fiction can provide this payoff unlike any other art form. When it’s done well, literary fiction is the only creation that can provide an exchange of consciousness between its author and its reader, conveying raw emotion and internal feeling far better than Hollywood movies or trendy apps or even narrative nonfiction. It is this exchange that brought me to literature in the first place, and it is this exchange that still makes reading and writing fiction the most thrilling thing in the world for me.
Because I am vying for your time, I made this book succinct (somewhere around 9,000 words, which in traditional print is less than 40 pages). My test herein was to create a book for two types of people: something demanding enough for people who love serious literature and also something accessible to people who are curious enough to dedicate a sitting or two to reading my prose. Hence, this book is short, but it’s also reasonably difficult; it can be read in a few sittings, though you’ll also be challenged by its more rigorous aspects like, for example, the 714-word sentence that ends the first chapter—a sentence I spent a month crafting.
I labeled Days After the Crash a novella because it follows the traditional arc of a novel, albeit appreciably shorter. It’s worth noting that this book was partially tweezed from my forthcoming novel, As a Decade Fades, which is significantly longer and more complex.
Ultimately, I cobbled together the following pages in an attempt to convey the emotions I felt during one of the hardest times of my life, emotions like loneliness, depression, overwhelm, despair, and, eventually, hope. It is my belief that these highly personal, highly individual emotions can be accurately conveyed only through a story and its characters.
Much of my fiction is autobiographical in the sense that many of the events and emotions in my stories actually happened to me. The characters in my stories, however, are clearly not me. Or are they?
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