The trees see everything, hear everything, know everything. In Lurkers in the Leaves, a man takes does all he can to stay away from them, but it never works for long. Eventually, she catches up to him, and it’s off with his head. Now she is upon him again, her acorn gaze fixed on him. Can he escape this time?
Tell us a little bit about what inspired “Lurkers in the Leaves”.
I wrote the first line of the story before there was a story, and it sat in my random notes file for a long time, probably years, before the rest of the connections fell into place. Ever since I first encountered tales of King Arthur, I’ve always had a bit of fondness for the story of Gawain and the Green Knight. Prior to drafting “Lurkers in the Leaves” I read Walking with the Green Man by Dr. Bob Curran. I’d had a few thoughts about trees and myth and adventure that I thought might all fit together within the framing of that bit of folklore and how I wanted to meld them. When I poked my nose back into that random notes file, there was my story’s first line, blazing like the sun. Obviously, I was also inspired by various trees I met in my misspent youth.
What do you hope readers get from reading “Lurkers in the Leaves”?
All I ever really want is for readers to enjoy my words. If they do that then maybe they’ll find some meaning in the story too.
How has your time in the Prairies influenced your writing?
It’s everything. All of my published novels are set on the prairies and many of my short stories. I’ve never lived anywhere else, so all of my touchstones are here. I love the vastness, the openness, and the feeling that anything might be lurking just over the horizon. I’ll probably never be done with writing about the prairies.
What do you feel anthologies and short stories accomplish that novellas and novels don’t?
As a reader there’s no better way to discover a new favourite author than a book that collects so many different voices. As a writer, I love them because I don’t feel I’m a natural short story writer, so interesting anthology open calls force me to write a bit outside my comfort zone and experiment with characters I wouldn’t necessarily hang an entire book on.
What other work would you like the readers to know about?
I’ve had two short story publications in 2021, “‘Til Death is Done” in Arcana and “Midnight Man versus Carrie Cthulhu” in Water: Selkies, Sirens, & Sea Monsters, both edited by Rhonda Parrish. My short story “All Cats Go to Valhalla” from 2020 was nominated for a Prix Aurora Award for Best Short Story this year. All three are quite different from “Lurkers in the Leaves” I think, and tie more directly to the worlds from my novels, but if you enjoy this story, you’ll probably enjoy those ones too. I hope so!
What are you working on now? What can readers look forward to next?
I don’t have any projects with a firm publication date right now, but I have a lot of things on the go. I’ve been experimenting with writing for roleplaying games, and right now I’m trying to clear my desk of a number of short stories that I started pre-COVID (or much, much earlier). I’d also love to finish up a novella that’s been on my mind. September 2022 will mark the tenth anniversary of Thunder Road’s publication, so I’m hoping to do something to celebrate that milestone next year.
Chadwick Ginther is the Prix Aurora Award-nominated author of the Thunder Road Trilogy and Graveyard Mind. His short fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including Parallel Prairies. He lives and writes in Winnipeg, Canada, spinning sagas set in the wild spaces of Canada’s western wilderness where surely monsters must exist.
Alternate Plains: Stories of Prairie Speculative Fiction is available wherever books are sold like Amazon, Chapters Indigo, through our publisher Great Plains Publications, and local booksellers like ours, McNally Robinson Booksellers.