With JordanCon fast approaching, I want to take this opportunity to give a preview of what the 2019 anthology, So You Want Stories, will entail. First some background information. This is the first year JordanCon put out a call to past and present members, seeking submissions of speculative fiction short stories to feature in an anthology—with proceeds going to JordanCon Charities, which get donated to the Mayo Clinic. Twenty of the submitted stories were chosen, and some are written by authors we know and love, including Brandon Sanderson and Jason Denzel! Some, however, are relatively unknown. Leading up to JordanCon, I will feature one of the lesser known authors each week.
This week’s author is Andy Floyd, with his contribution “Doorbuster.”
First, can you tell us about your writing? Is this your first published work?
It is my first published work! But it’s definitely not the first thing I’ve written. The very first thing I ever wrote was Deep Space Nine fanfiction. I was in high school and it was just before the internet became a huge thing, so I had no idea what fanfiction was. I just thought I could write a Star Trek novel and submit it to someone to be published! After that, I mostly dabbled in song parodies and web comics until I graduated college. Then, a friend of mine (who also happens to be the one who introduced me to DragonCon and cons in general) told me I should join him for NaNoWriMo. I felt overwhelmed, but I had a blast and actually made my goal word count! All I wanted to do after that was write. Though, thankfully everything from that era is lost to a hard drive crash as it was all very, very terrible. (Seriously! I fridged not one, but TWO characters in my first novel. It’s all better off lost to the ether.) But, I kept it up until about ten years ago when for a number of reasons I just stopped. I continued having ideas, but with a very few and minor exceptions, I didn’t write them down. Then, a couple of years ago I got an idea for a novel about magic tech support. So, with motivation I hadn’t felt in nearly a decade, I sped to around nine thousand words... and then I got stuck. Fast forward to JordanCon 2018. It was my wife’s and my first JordanCon and we were blown away! Not only that, but the whole thing inspired me to write again! I picked back up that novel and tried to get back into it. But, no matter what I did, I just couldn’t connect with my characters. Then, the anthology contest was announced. I decided I had to submit something, anything to it. After a lot of thought I finally decided on a prequel to my novel. I thought it’d make a great short story, but could maybe also help me connect with my characters. It worked like a charm! As soon as I finished it, I launched into the novel and completed it as well. So, not only is “Doorbuster” my first published work, but it’s also the first story I finished after a very long writing hiatus which makes it very special to me. I’m extremely excited to see it in print!
Where does your story fall on the speculative fiction scale?
I mean, it’s probably just Contemporary Fantasy, but I like to say it’s “Suburban Fantasy.” This started off as a joke to me, because it has a lot of Urban Fantasy elements, but the whole story takes place in a big box store at a shopping center during broad daylight. But, I really liked the idea, so I googled it. I was sure someone else had used it before, but the only reference I could find with my very quick searching was, “Untitled Pixar Suburban Fantasy Movie.” I figure, if it’s good enough for Pixar, it’s good enough for me. So I’ve stuck with it and that’s what I use in my queries.
What excited you the most with writing this story?
That it got me back into the writing habit! But, really -- and actually I should clarify first -- even though my JordanCon Anthology short story “Doorbuster” stands on its own, it’s hard for me to separate it from my novel. I wrote them at the same time and one leads right into the other. So, some of the things that really excited me about writing it don’t really pay off until the novel. I’m sorry if that’s cheating, but it’s true. And those “things” were getting to explore how I felt about my day job and where I wanted to be five, ten years down the road. “Doorbuster” is about how the main character Taryn first gets into magic support, which mirrors my own story with tech support. Then, the novel jumps to five years later and we really get into her (and my) thoughts and feelings on being stuck in a job while also self sabotaging herself into not moving on to anything else. Getting all of that out onto the page really helped me not only do what I love by writing more, but it also helped me start the process of finding a different and better day job myself.
Are there any themes you want readers to get a sense of?
I’m not their English teacher! They have to do their own homework! Kidding, but not really? It’s not that there aren’t themes. There are. I mean, that keeps things interesting, right? But I enjoy genre fiction for its escapism, so that’s really the main thing I want people to get from my writing. If they get anything else out of it, that’s a huge bonus, but not necessarily the first thing I’m thinking of when crafting a story.
Is there a specific inspirational source you used for this story?
You mean apart from JordanCon? Well, my day job is tech support and I keep a Google Doc open the entire time I’m working. I’m constantly adding either transcripts or cliffs notes of calls I get. Every single “magic support call” in “Doorbuster” and my unpublished novel comes from that file. Apart from that, the characters are mostly based on friends. I tend to give them the positive traits I love from my friends and then add my own flaws and insecurities on top.
What else would you like to say to your readers?
First off, I really hope that if you can get a copy of the JordanCon Anthology You Want Stories? that you enjoy Doorbuster. Though, if you can’t get your hands on it, don’t worry. Once the publishing rights revert to me, I’ll put it up on my website. Until then, you can follow me on the tweeter (@pandrewfloyd) and check my site for other content. It’s still under construction, but I’ve got a few things up like the first chapter of Factory Defect (the aforementioned novel sequel to “Doorbuster”) and a deleted scene or two.
Second, keep an eye out for me. I’ve gotten a taste of what it’s like to see my words in a printed book, and I’m not going to stop until it happens again and again.
Thanks, Andy, for joining us at Dragonmount today!
If you would like to get a copy of So You Want Stories? preorders are available until April 8th. Check out JordanCon’s website for more information.