Ragnar's Saga

The Story Behind the Story

Taking Jenny Seriously

Posted by Christopher Hivner on March 28, 2010 at 11:24 PM

Let’s set the mood before we begin our story. Turn off the lamp and light some candles to bathe yourself in shadows. Your musical accompaniment should be something like Bach’s Toccata in D minor or some doom metal like Beyond Black Void. I’m going to tell you about the first story in my book.

 

Taking Jenny Seriously is a zinekiller. I didn’t know when I wrote her that her dark spirit would reach out for so many others. Shortly after her creation I started sending Jenny out to get published and it didn’t take long for her to be accepted. Explosive Decompression turned out to be Jenny’s first victim. A few months after receiving my tentative publication date, I received another letter informing me the zine had folded. Jenny was free. I sent her back out into the world and a few months later she was accepted by a zine called Necropolis. I’m not actually sure what Jenny did to this one, as it disappeared without a trace. After my publication date passed with no copy forthcoming I sent several missives over a six month period and received no answers. I asked Jenny but she would only smile.

 

Stubbornly wanting to see my story in print I sent it back out. Several zines escaped the swinging axe by rejecting Jenny. Oddly the rejections didn’t bother her but then she was accepted again, this time by a zine called . . . The Reaper. Surely this zine would be able to control her. But, alas, Jenny proved stronger than Death itself and The Reaper was gone. I should have stopped for the good of the small press world but damn it, I wanted to see Jenny in print, she deserved it. So I sent her back out. Frightmares was her next suitor. A few months later, she was four for four. Frightmares gave in to her peculiar reverse charm and folded.

 

I know you now think me a madman to continue sending Jenny back out but I needed to see her in print to prove she wasn’t in control. The fifth acceptance would prove to be Jenny’s kryptonite. She was taken into the rotting bosom of Bare Bone. What followed was an epic struggle of evil forces. Bare Bone wouldn’t fold. Through delays and format changes spanning several years, with Jenny still in their holding cell, it wouldn’t go under.

 

Finally the day came when I put my collection together. I knew I wanted Jenny to be the first story readers would encounter. Bare Bone had not published her yet so I withdrew her, meaning she was still winning her battle against being published. But that all ended when The Spaces Between Your Screams was published by eTreasures Publishing.

 

Taking Jenny Seriously had finally been published. I thought that was the end to the frissons of dread she would cause but I was wrong. My friend Deb stages a canine freestyle show every November. I volunteer at the show as scorekeeper. Last year she was nice enough to buy copies of my book to give away as a door prize each day of the show and the winner could bring it to me to be signed. Saturday’s signing passed without incident but Sunday was another story.

 

I was talking to my brother when the winner walked up and asked if I was the author. I responded yes and then she said, “Something strange just happened. I opened the book to the first story, Taking Jenny Seriously. The character’s name is Jenny Brawley.” She paused, and then said in a hushed voice, “My name is Jenny Brawley.”

 

While a chill ran through me, I also thought it was pretty cool to see one of my characters come to life before me. For the real Jenny Brawley, well let’s just say she and her husband were a little freaked out.

 

Jenny has that effect on people.

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