Free fiction–Full Voice, featuring fun with a radio psychic

I love real-life ghost story books so much that I wrote one, only it didn’t have the virtue of actually being real-life, as I felt the freedom to just make stuff up allowed me to make the ghost stories start and end the way I wanted them to, as opposed to being stuck with the dictates of reality. Two of the stories from that book–“The Portrait Séance” and “Alone with Rittenhouse’s Ghost“–are available for your reading pleasure.

The main character of those stories is a man named Dexter Prowley, who is extraordinarily good at finding ghosts but not quite as skilled when it comes to understanding people. I enjoy characters who have considerable gifts along with big blind spots, and Dexter is fun to write about because he sees lots of eerie things while also missing a whole lot of what is happening around him. He also carries himself with a certain academic detachment, which sometimes makes him as separate from reality as the ghosts he investigates.

Not long after finishing the book about Dexter I came up with a character who was a radio psychic. Like Dexter, he has considerable gifts. He’s no charlatan–he really can look into the thoughts and emotions of other people. His weakness is that’s he’s an asshole. He’s incredibly fun to write, because no one is as good at calling people on their nonsense as someone who knows the secrets they’re trying to hide. He has the arrogance of someone who thinks he’s always right, which is all the more annoying because he is, in fact, frequently right. I named him Oliver and decided he should be Dexter’s nephew.

I’ve written about Oliver on and off over the years but never published a story about him. The stories were more like plays than short stories, exchanges of dialogue to build on the fact that Oliver, for most people, exists only as a voice floating through the air. But earlier this year, some thoughts about Oliver struck me–an opening line, a way to start digging into how he thought and how he operated as a psychic in a crowded city. I didn’t know where the concept was going, but I pursued it on the page for a while, and that meant I eventually had to figure out a plot. In fits and starts, a story came together, with plenty of moments where I wrote myself into problems I didn’t know how to solve. I took several walks around the block or park to figure them out, and finally, a complete story exists. The Infinite Bard project, which offers a series of free stories from a bunch of talented writers, started up as I was in in the middle of writing the story, and I thought that would be a good home for it. And now my slot for the Infinite Bard is here, so I’m happy to finally unleash Oliver Prowley, in all his glorious abrasiveness, on the world! It’s especially fun to have it come out just before Halloween, as that’s a fine time to read about psychics, old grudges, disembodied voices, and hair-raising decisions. Click on the cover to find PDF, Mobi, and Epub versions of the story! Enjoy!

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