In our new author series, we’ll be offering a clairvoyant peek behind the veil of who and what makes up TRANSCENDENT. Here’s a glimpse at Belinda Stoner and her story “Karma Books.”
ABOUT THE STORY
What inspired your story?
One day when I was sixteen, I was thumbing through my paperback copy of Dictionary of Dreams by Lady Stearn Robinson. My uncle, who was visiting, asked, “What’s that?” I told him it was a dictionary that supposedly explained what individual dreams foretold. He said, “Look up what a dream about fishing means.” “‘An unexpected increase in income,’” I read. A couple of weeks later, my uncle called me. “That book was right,” he said. “I got a raise!” After that, everyone in my family—including myself—was fanatical about looking up their dreams. The interpretations were wrong about half the time, but that didn’t stop us! Now, nearly forty years later, the battered, cover-less copy of the book still sits atop my nightstand. I can’t say I totally believe in it, but I still use it. After my recent breast cancer diagnosis, I had a dream about—of all things—mucus! And according to my dictionary, this foretells good health. I’m hoping this turns out to be one of the accurate interpretations. (Of course, if the meaning had been something less positive, I’d have told myself it was one of the wrong ones!) Sometimes, we look for encouragement wherever we can find it.
Did you have to do any research? If so, what kind? What did you learn?
My story gives the interpretations of several dreams, but I made up most of them to go along with what was happening in the story. I tried looking up dream interpretations from many sources—both in print and online—and learned that if you look up the same dream from five different sources, you’re likely to get five different interpretations!
Can you tell me a little bit about your protagonist?
The protagonist is an ordinary suburban housewife who finds herself in an extraordinary situation. I think all of us (even non-suburban housewives) can relate to this.
Tell me about the setting you chose and how it influences your work.
The story takes place in Cincinnati, my home for the past sixteen years. It’s a medium-sized city made up of many diverse neighborhoods. I attempted to show this diversity and at the same time communicate that despite our differences, most of us aren’t really so different. Those of us who aren’t total sociopaths have done things we feel guilty about. And all of us—even the sociopaths—fear the possible payback we might suffer as a result.
What would you like readers to take away from your story?
Trouble is everywhere, and everyone is bound to get more than their share at some point. All we can do is lead the best lives we can and try not to worry too much about the future.
Which phrase are you most proud of in this story?
“From what I’ve seen, the universe doesn’t dole things out fairly.”
If your story was front-page news, what would the headline be?
“FLEA MARKET FIND RESULTS IN WELL-DESERVED PAYBACK!”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
The best money spent for any writer is money spent on books.
If you had to put your name on someone else’s book/story, which would it be and why?
I’d put my name on anything written by Stephen King, because he’s awesome!
When did you decide to take writing seriously?
I’ve dreamed of becoming a writer since I was a young girl. But I was continually told by parents and other family members to go into a field that was more reliable. After many miserable years spent in health care and as a public school teacher, I began writing for fun. It didn’t take long to sell my first story. I’ve sold a total of seven, have almost finished my first novel, and hope to someday make writing my career.
Belinda Stoner lives in Cincinnati. Her work has previously appeared on “Flash Fiction Press” and in FATE Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and Reader’s Digest. “Karma Books” is based on true events: she did accompany her friend to a flea market, and she did purchase a book while there.
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