Ron Fritsch


I grew up in rural northern Illinois. My father and mother were hard-working tenant farmers who loved to read. So did my siblings (one older sister, one older brother, one younger sister) and I.

I obtained a bachelor’s degree with honors from the University of Illinois (major: history; minor: English literature) and a law degree cum laude from Harvard Law School.

I became a public-service attorney representing indigent and disabled adults and abused and neglected children. All during my life as a lawyer, I spent most of my time writing arguments on behalf of my clients, in the trial courts as well as the higher appeals courts.

I live in the Andersonville neighborhood in Chicago with my partner of many years, David Darling.

I’m a member and director of the Association of Independent Authors.

This is an interview I did with Feathered Quill Book Reviews following its highly favorable review of Promised Valley Peace, the fourth and last novel in my Promised Valley series:

Today we’re talking with Ron Fritsch, author of Promised Valley Peace.

FQ: It is clear to me that you devoted much heart and soul toward character development and depth. How difficult will it be to turn out the light and close the door on Promised Valley and begin a new project?

FRITSCH: Your assumption about devoting “much heart and soul” in writing the four Promised Valley novels is absolutely correct. I published them in successive autumns from 2010 to 2013 (Promised Valley Rebellion in 2010, Promised Valley War in 2011, Promised Valley Conspiracy in 2012, and Promised Valley Peace in 2013). But even before I published Rebellion, I’d spent several years living with my characters night and day. I already miss them greatly. It’s as if a large group of friends—the “bad” guys as well as the “good” ones—suddenly went missing from my life. But it hasn’t been difficult to begin working on a new project. I’m apparently addicted to having characters in my mind and writing their stories. My new “friends” are getting as sassy and bold with me as Blue Sky, Rose Leaf, Wandering Star, and all the others in Promised Valley did.

FQ: In our previous interview of Promised Valley Conspiracy, I asked if you had plans to develop Promised Valley for the ‘big screen’ to which you said you would. How are your plans coming along?

FRITSCH: At the time of our previous interview I thought I might finish the four novels and immediately start writing screenplays for them, one film for each novel. After my partner and I, enticed by the first three seasons of the BBC’s Downton Abbey, viewed the entire Rome series on DVD, we began to wonder if one-season-per-novel television screenplays might better serve the complexity and many characters of the Promised Valley tale. Because we haven’t answered that question yet, I’ve started writing a stand-alone novel (more about that later).

FQ: I cannot help but think you must have experienced many moments throughout writing the series where you dreamed about your characters. Which character resonated most with you in Promised Valley Peace and what actor (or actress) would you envision playing the role (and why)?

FRITSCH: You’re so right again. My Promised Valley characters showed up in my dreams almost every night. And they still do. Every time I view a film or television drama that draws me in, I imagine the actors playing roles in Promised Valley. Wouldn’t she (Reese Witherspoon, say) be wonderful, I ask my partner, as Rose Leaf? My protagonist/main character is clearly Blue Sky, but playing him will be as difficult as acting gets. Severely suffering from what we’d call PTSD, he goes into a strange trance and fights on, killing whoever needs to die next. Can I suggest three related characters and the people who should play them? The Jake Gyllenhaal of Brokeback Mountain as Wandering Star. He shamelessly manipulates Blue Sky and admits he needs him in the same breath. Susan Sarandon as his mother, Dancing Song. Despite having seen it all, she’s still in love with life, letting “joy itself,” as she says when another character suddenly dies, “guide her feet in dance and her voice in song.” Tom Cruise as his father, Lightning Spear. Maimed and vindictive at the pinnacle of his youth, he’s now as cracked as his kingdom.

FQ: Horses play a more prominent and significant role in Promised Valley Peace. Why wait until the final novel to portray this premise?

FRITSCH: I wanted to show how the Promised Valley people gradually learned to use horses. Blue Sky’s grandparents acquired the first of them from the river people, as stronger but more wilful substitutes for oxen. Blue Sky, Rose Leaf, and Morning Sun secretly defy their parents and ride them. When the valley people face extinction, they use them for the heavy hauling they need to defend themselves in their upper valley. After two hill-boy refugees devise a way to ride horses in their hunts, riding them in battle becomes the obvious next step. Horses are to the Promised Valley people what nuclear weapons, guided missiles, and drone aircraft are to us. They’ll win you every battle you fight—but only as long as your enemy doesn’t have them.

FQ: You pose an interesting concept to the reader in your analogies of how the people are guided by the “gods.” What is your philosophy toward the “gods” guiding humans and your take on the notion of: “there are no coincidences in life”?

FRITSCH: In this telling of the Job story, the supernatural deity or deities who supposedly rule the universe lose out to human reason. As Blue Sky insists, his grandparents didn’t exchange most of what little they possessed for a river trader’s unwanted animals, i.e. horses, because some gods in a faraway, unseen heaven had asked them to. They did it because they were the desperate victims of a foolish king.

FQ: There are many complexities to the story as well as an abundance of key characters. How did you keep track of who was doing what during the writing process?

FRITSCH: I lived with these characters and their stories night and day for years. I came to know them—and I continue to know them—as well as any actual humans I’ve ever met. I dutifully maintained lists of characters and scenes throughout the writing of all four novels, but I rarely had to consult them to answer who did or said what at some earlier point in the story. I almost always knew. The lists were useful to assure me I had everything right.

FQ: You’re quite descriptive toward the Promised Valley landscape and the diversities between the hills and valleys. Is there any particular real place you spent time to develop the lay of the land in your fictitious Promised Valley?

FRITSCH: Even as a child, I knew I wanted to write a story about people peacefully occupying an exceptionally fertile river valley surrounded by mountains keeping out their enemies. Whenever I took auto trips with my family and friends through mountains and saw such a valley—always within the United States—I’d think it was the valley in my story. As I describe it in the Promised Valley series, though, it would have to be located in a temperate area in Eurasia or northern Africa.

FQ: I want to thank you for the pleasure of reading Promised Valley Peace. I’m looking forward to your next adventure. Would you care to share what that may be?

FRITSCH: And I thank you for the pleasure of reading your reviews of Promised Valley Conspiracy and Promised Valley Peace. I like to think of the novel I’m presently writing as fitting within a “Midwestern Gothic” genre, if there is such a thing. It’s set in a mostly German-American farming community in northern Illinois in the middle of the Twentieth Century—the Forties, Fifties, and Sixties. After the Second World War a young boy’s mother runs off with the lover she openly consorted with while the boy’s teenage father was fighting and drinking his way across northern Africa and western Europe. The boy’s father kills himself, leaving the boy in the care of his grandfather. The community suspects that man, however, of committing fraud and even murder on his way to ownership of the largest farm in the county. I best not say more!

To learn more about Promised Valley Peace, please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Smashwords Interview

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
"The Little Engine That Could." Wikipedia says: "The story is used to teach children the value of optimism and hard work." Well, yes, "I think I can."
How do you approach cover design?
My approach for my first four books is, without question, the wrong way to go about designing a cover. The books begin and end my allegorical Promised Valley series, in which prehistoric hunters and farmers fight wars over a fertile river valley their gods promised them in return for their good behavior and obedience. So I found a photograph by Brett Charlton on of a beautiful river valley in England, and I bought the right to use it. Using free Gimp software, I put the titles of my four books and my name on it, and those are my covers. The only thing that changes from cover to cover is the third word in the title: "Promised Valley Rebellion," "Promised Valley War," "Promised Valley Conspiracy," and "Promised Valley Peace." I admit what I've done is profoundly "unprofessional." On the other hand, I love what I see. My father always told me I was "contrary."
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Ron Fritsch online

Where to buy in print


Promised Valley Peace
Series: Promised Valley, Book 4. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 86,700. Language: English. Published: November 7, 2013. Category: Fiction » Literature » Alternative history
Promised Valley Peace is the fourth and last novel in Ron Fritsch’s Promised Valley series. The conspirators and their allies from the first three novels give up on the gods and discover how to use horses in warfare. They prepare to employ them in a last battle to bring the prehistoric enemy hunters and farmers together as one people in a “new kingdom” and end warfare between them forever.
Promised Valley Conspiracy
Series: Promised Valley, Book 3. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 84,780. Language: English. Published: December 18, 2012. Category: Fiction » Literature » Alternative history
Promised Valley Conspiracy is the third novel in the four-book Promised Valley series, which is set at the end of prehistory and asks whether civilization and history might've begun differently. The first novel is Promised Valley Rebellion; the second is Promised Valley War.
Promised Valley War
Series: Promised Valley, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 80,220. Language: English. Published: November 25, 2011. Category: Fiction » Literature » Alternative history
Prehistoric farmers inhabit a fertile river valley they believe their gods promised them. Their enemies, hunters roaming the barren hills beyond the valley, believe the gods gave it to them. The persons among both peoples most curious about their "eternal" enemies and most willing to treat them as equals nevertheless set the stage for what they fear more than anything else: another horrifying war.
Promised Valley Rebellion
Series: Promised Valley, Book 1. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 80,670. Language: English. Published: October 19, 2010. Category: Fiction » Literature » Alternative history
Prehistoric farmers inhabit a fertile river valley they believe their gods promised them. Their enemies, hunters roaming the hills beyond the valley, believe their gods gave it to them. When the farmers’ king refuses to allow the prince to marry the daughter of the farmer who saved the king's life in the last war with the hunters, her brother leads a rebellion to correct the flagrant injustice.

Ron Fritsch’s tag cloud

Smashwords book reviews by Ron Fritsch

  • Amgalant One: The Old Ideal on Feb. 19, 2012

    Amgalant One: The Old Ideal is the first novel in Bryn Hammond’s historical fiction trilogy set in northeast Asia in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. Hammond’s protagonist is the person we know as Genghis Khan. One of the many delights I encountered in this novel was that it’s written from the point of view of the Mongols. We speak of the Great Wall of China as if it were a single smartly executed defensive structure built by the civilized Chinese to keep out their “barbarian” neighbors to the north. Maps of the “Great Wall” reveal that it’s actually a number of mostly parallel east-to-west walls. The Mongols and their allies viewed these walls as offensive movements by the Chinese to bring more and more “barbarian” territory into China. Thus: “these ghastly dead gigantic insects that crept across the steppe. . . . These ugly mean-spirited possessions of our mother earth, these worms, these anti-liberty flags and wind-blown banners to imprisonment, these thistles in the grass, these lines of poison. A nomad can do poetry, on walls. The Wall is what we hate. Civilization is what has done us wrong.” Another joy for me is Hammond’s unique style, which isn’t meant for quick reading but for reading and contemplation. Here are some tidbits: “‘Too stupid for battle. Is that a sort of oxymoron?’ His uncle the khan fixed an eye on him. ‘An oxymoron’s the other thing.’” “At the worst news in the Mongols’ history, she wept for joy.” (She’d also learned that the man she loved had survived a disastrous war fought against both the Tartars and Chinese.) “Survivors, for their punishment, have the worst sight.” “Even a suspect action can have a nice consequence.” “There’s a funny trick with knowledge of the future: you’re not meant to act and twist things up. You’re almost meant to know and then forget—go on as if you didn’t know.” “The world’s early kings were sacred kings and had to be. Religious awe: tried-and-true to subjugate minds and overthrow the insistent, rowdy equality of tribes. In general, religion is found hand-in-glove with despots.” And I’m so glad to see these “uncivilized” Mongol “barbarians” portrayed as people whose humanity and intelligence equal, when they don’t exceed, our own. The son of a chieftain and his brothers abduct the bride of a member of another clan. They’re pleased when the groom makes no futile attempt to fight them off. They didn’t want to harm or kill him. The bride, who’d invited her abduction by staring approvingly at her abductor, wastes no time in deciding she’d rather have him for a husband than the man she’d been promised to. The new couple’s first child, born on the worst day of that disastrous war, is Genghis Khan. This is the kind of historical fiction I love. I greatly enjoyed the time I spent with Hammond’s Mongols.
  • Being Anti-Social on June 16, 2012

    Being Anti-Social, set in present-day Melbourne, Australia, is award-winning author Leigh K. Cunningham’s second novel for adult readers. Because I thoroughly enjoyed her first, Rain, I looked forward to reading Being Anti-Social as soon as she published it. I wasn’t disappointed. Mace Evans is one of five children in her family, with two older brothers and two sisters, one older and one younger. She’s 38 when the novel begins, and she’s unmarried, childless, and “anti-social,” according to her older and “unloved” sister, Shannon. She’s also a severe disappointment to her mother. On the other hand, she respects and admires her younger sister and her brothers. She considers her father “cute, cuddly, lovable, and a beacon of life.” Despite her proud independence and desire to be left alone, Mace is also one of a group of five women who’ve been friends from their high school days—but she admits she continues to like only one of them, Kimba, “the voice of reason.” Mace is “rather successful” in her “career as a finance executive,” even though she tells us her co-workers consider her “unfriendly,” “abrasive,” and “offensive.” On the other hand, she’s kind to her secretary and secretly enjoys the fights her peers so frequently engage in. The novel begins with Mace’s admission of the crucial mistake she made in her life. She fell in love with Ben, married him, and remained in love with her “perfect husband” to the end of his short life. (He’s dead from leukemia when the novel begins.) And yet she caused their separation and divorce by embarking upon an affair with another man, Joshua, who was “a star when it came to bedroom achievements.” After Mace ended the affair, Joshua vengefully told Ben about it. Mace and her siblings, friends, and co-workers journey through a few years in their late thirties and early forties. They have affairs, fall in love, marry, have children, separate, divorce, and attend funerals. Mace finds it easy to commence affairs with attractive men who ultimately prove disappointing to one degree or another. The question for her, and the reader, is whether she’ll ever find a man to replace Ben. Mace herself might not wish to claim to be a sympathetic protagonist in the story of her life, but she is, nevertheless. She insists she doesn’t care what the people in her life think of her, and yet, she admits at one point, she does. In her dealings with her family, friends, and co-workers, Mace Evans reveals an intense dislike of pretense as well as an ability to openly mock those who are guilty of it. Mace is also delightfully sarcastic in the manner of Oscar Wilde, her “mentor and life coach,” a number of whose bons mots she quotes at appropriate moments in her story. Consider this: “I might become a crazed old spinster who wears quilted dresses and odd socks, and drinks merlot yoghurt smoothies while terrifying neighborhood children—it would not be all bad.” And so I found myself laughing, time after time, as one can only do while confronting the sweet sorrow of human life and death in the world we live in and simultaneously maintaining one’s sanity. Thank you for this story, Leigh. I loved it from its beginning to its end.
  • Rain on June 16, 2012

    Rain, Leigh K. Cunningham's first novel for adult readers, is a page-turning story of three generations in a small-town Australian family during forty turbulent years from 1965 to 2005. The tale mostly, but not exclusively, revolves around a second-generation mother, Helena, and her third-generation daughter, Carla. Even as they deny they need to, they give their lives to the men and boys who are their fathers, sons, brothers, and lovers—and receive in return enormous grief. And yet this is no mindless indictment of the male characters. For instance, at the beginning Helena and her sister Grace, heiresses to their father's sawmill business, both favor the physically desirable Michael Baden. He readily returns the interest of the more attractive sister, Grace, to the point of consummating a youthful affair with her. Grace, however, has her eye on a more glamorous life than Michael can be a part of. A worker in the mill, he's a bastard grandson of the impoverished and physically abused woman who claims to be his mother. He's also a victim of severe playground abuse for nothing more than being who he is. When Grace leaves for a more worldly existence in Sydney, Michael turns his attention to the "sensible and comfortable" Helena. This reader finds it difficult to blame either of them for what follows. Abuse—psychological, physical, and sexual—dominates Cunningham's story. And yet all of her characters—no matter how possible it is to say they invite their own grief—are sympathetic. This reader wanted each of them to succeed, even as he grew in his knowledge that most of them wouldn't. The playground bullies and the gang-rapists of a fourteen-year-old girl in a nighttime cemetery are faceless, as they should be in this kind of story. Nobody has to be convinced those hobgoblins exist, even in fiction that blissfully—in this reader's humble opinion—eschews paranormality. But what this reader most admires in Rain is Cunningham's unsentimental but intensely moving style of writing. She has no need to tell you when she's touching your heart. You simply feel it.
  • Raven (The Carriena Oracles, Book One) on June 19, 2012

    I enjoy reading and commenting upon Laura Eno’s blog. So when she announced that on June 27, 2012, she’d launch Wraith, the second book in her series “The Carriena Oracles,” I decided I’d read the first book, Raven. Because it’s billed as a “romantic space opera,” I’d ordinarily reject it out of hand. Still, why be so narrow? And if Laura wrote it, why shouldn’t I give it a chance? So I did—and I’m damned glad I did. Three thousand years in the future, Raven owns and pilots a spaceship, with the able assistance of her co-pilot Ben, an android she’s bought. How she came to own a spaceship and an expensive android is part of a heart-breaking back-story I won’t reveal in this review. In any event, she and Ben, perhaps the most intriguing character in this series, are mostly alone in space. Then she picks up a paying customer, Mikael, from an archaic world, Algora. This is his first time in space. He’s looking for stone Oracles like the one on Algora. Many Algorans consider their Oracle a god. But if, as it seems, there are other Oracles on other worlds, what then? Mikael’s quest is to discover what Oracles are. That would be mine, as well. Mikael is also physically attractive. Ah, perfection—brains and brawn in the same man. What’s Raven, the smart and commanding loner guiding her spaceship with Ben, to do? Hah, what would I do? I fell in love with Raven, Mikael, Ben, and the other three quirky passengers they pick up along the way. This is a story with sympathetic characters willing to fight to death to know the truth in their universe. Laura, you took me in. You seduced me. I anticipate Wraith with open arms and mind.
  • Wraith (The Carriena Oracles, Book Two) on June 27, 2012

    Wraith is the second book in Laura Eno’s “romantic space opera" series “The Carriena Oracles.” I recently read the first book, Raven, and gratefully gave it a five-star review. Three thousand years in the future, Raven owns and pilots a spaceship, with the able assistance of her co-pilot Ben, an android she’s bought. How she came to own a spaceship and an expensive android is part of a heart-breaking back-story I won’t reveal in this review. In any event, she and Ben, perhaps the most intriguing character in this series, are mostly alone in space. Then she picks up a paying customer, Mikael, from an archaic world, Algora. This is his first time in space. He’s looking for stone Oracles like the one on Algora. Many Algorans consider their Oracle a god. But if, as it seems, there are other Oracles on other worlds, what then? Mikael’s quest is to discover what Oracles are. That would be mine, as well. The adventure takes Raven, Mikael, Ben, and their three passengers to Wraith, a moon of Seaward. I can’t reveal too much about what happens there without including spoilers in this review. But I can say we meet Jeffrey Hamilton, a would-be ruler of the universe who needs Mikael’s knowledge of the Oracles to achieve his purpose. Hamilton takes Raven, Mikael, Ben, and their three allies as his prisoners in order to get what he wants from them. His mistake is to assume that he’s more clever than they are. Despite his vast power over them, can they escape him and Wraith? Laura made me fervently hope they could. Can a reader ask for more from a writer? I look forward to Laura Eno’s next book in her series. I’ll no doubt begin reading it the very day she publishes it.
  • Immortal Desires (a Well of Souls novel) on July 24, 2012

    Immortal Desires is the first novel in Laura Eno’s fantasy series “The Well of Souls.” When I read fantasy or scientific fiction, I first want to find myself in a well-constructed alternate world. That means I don’t want to read a story where anything goes—where the author feels free to interject any kind of ad hoc magic or paranormality to advance the plot. Immortal Desires easily passes that test. Two competing groups of immortals secretly inhabit our world, appearing to be as mortal as any other human. The Aeneas are committed to order. (I wonder if Aeneas is a reference to the founder of Rome, the apotheosis of order.) The Conrí worship chaos. (With these characters, I wonder if their name signifies “contrary.”) The Aeneas guard the Well of Souls, where the souls of mortals go to be recycled and meet up with their soul mate in their next life. Which sounds like a joyful kind of reincarnation to me. Unfortunately, the Conrí damaged the Well of Souls a millennia ago, causing some souls to be lost, unable to connect with their soul mates again. But certain guardians of the Aeneas attempt to find these lost souls and recycle them in the Well of Souls. One such lost soul is Deanna Cameron, whose betrothed leaves her at the altar alone in 2011 America. A guardian finds her and reluctantly, rather than recycling her, sends her back to early 16th century Scotland, where she meets her soul mate, Ian Mackay, supposedly the last “laird” of his clan, whose lethal opposing clan bears the name “Cameron.” Does Ian die an early death on September 9, 1513, on Flodden Field in dubious battle with the English under Henry VIII, as his tombstone suggests—or doesn’t he? And what about Deanna’s and Ian’s soul-mate sexual obsession with one another? Does that save Ian’s clan from ignominy? And what does it do for Deanna? I loved this story.
  • A Dragon's Lament, Jewels of Chandra series, book 2 on April 21, 2014

    A Dragon’s Lament is the second of a projected six novels in River Fairchild’s fantasy series, Jewels of Chandra. I greatly enjoyed reading the first novel, Diamonds and Dust, and looked forward to the publication of this book. It turned out to be another page-turning read. Chandra is a world that once had five kingdoms. One of them, Shaylar, ceased to exist as a kingdom many years ago. The highborn, including the thanes and the nobility, possess magic. The lowborn don’t. Many of them, chafing under the rule of the thanes, hope for the restoration of the kingdom. David Alexander, who fell into Chandra from earth, is an heir to the throne of Shaylar. So is his father, John. In A Dragon’s Lament David, who is in his middle twenties, leads a party of nine characters, including John, into the Fire Kingdom. They seek the return of the magic the four other kingdoms stole when Shaylar fell. Since dragons rule the Fire Kingdom, David and his followers face one crisis after the other. They become involved in a struggle between the ruling dragons and a shadowy group of dissidents. Human slaves are another part of the mix in the Fire Kingdom. In the first two novels in her Jewels of Chandra series, River Fairchild has constructed a compelling world in which humans regularly cross paths with wizards, empaths, satyrs and now dragons and shape-shifters. I enjoyed my second visit to Chandra as much as I did the first. I can’t say too much about one of the new characters, Alanyth, without including spoilers in this review, but I can report she is a welcome addition to the Jewels of Chandra. I look forward to reading the subsequent novels in this series.
  • Living the Afterlife, a Death and Chronos flash fiction collection on May 05, 2014

    I’m quite fond of River Fairchild’s Death and Chronos stories collected in Living the Afterlife. That Death, otherwise known as Thanatos, and Chronos, otherwise known as Time, are “sidekicks” shouldn’t surprise us. And with the fate of the world and all mortals in their hands, their doing what male buddies do so well—goofing off—causes big-time disruption for the other gods and goddesses and endless amusement for the reader. What’s not to love about these guys? Most people see peanut-popping Death as “a nice-looking young man,” if they see him at all. “Only those whose time has come would see the skeletal visage.” And with this character, “Death on a Harley” acquires new meaning. When Chronos decides to remove his anachronistic green shag carpet, embedded with the peanuts that get away from bony Death, he chooses to replace it with gold shag. Angry at Evil for making time go backward, Chronos tells him all we need to know: “You can’t screw up time this way. That’s my job.” The other characters in these delightful adventures of Death and Chronos include a butt-kicking War, a cherubic Eros, an earth-loving Gaia and the Fates, the three sisters who spin the thread of one’s life, measure it and cut it. Did I mention River Fairchild’s writing? This is her description of Nyx (Night), the goddess Chronos is in love with: “Midnight hair swirled about a gown made of starlight.”
  • The Fall of Shaylar on May 11, 2014

    I’ve enjoyed reading the first two novels in River Fairchild’s Jewels of Chandra fantasy series, Diamonds and Dust and A Dragon’s Lament. Now Fairchild has favored her readers with a prequel novella, The Fall of Shaylar. Once again, Fairchild doesn’t disappoint. Chandra is a world that once had five kingdoms. One of them, Shaylar, ceased to exist as a kingdom a thousand years ago. During the time of the first two novels in the Jewels of Chandra series, the highborn, including the thanes and the nobility, possess magic. The lowborn don’t. Many of them, chafing under the rule of the thanes, hope for the restoration of the kingdom. Now Fairchild lets us know how Shaylar fell. It’s peaceful and prosperous under King Narmek and Queen Meelate. Then she gives birth to twin sons, Camon and Sanrev. And wizards, anticipating a royal sibling rivalry, plot to steal Shaylar’s magic. The Fall of Shaylar is the kind of yarn I’ve come to expect from River Fairchild. Which flawed prince will win and which will lose? What will the wizards win, if anything? What happens to the other four kingdoms? If Chandra itself collapses, what will be the fate of the sister world to which it is tethered, the one called Earth?
  • Darkest Days, Blackest Nights on June 07, 2014

    The six short stories in River Fairchild’s Darkest Days, Blackest Nights are delightfully dark. In “Brush Strokes” an artist’s last painting of her garden exacts revenge on the art world that snubbed her during her lifetime. In “Blast from the Past” a fortune teller encourages her customers to take what she knows will be tragic “missteps.” “She reveled in the chaos of sending them straight into the downward spiral.” In “Enter the Light” the aging ruler of a walled city-kingdom discovers how to regain youth for himself from his subjects’ need for vengeance. “He reveled in their despair. It fed him. It gave him life.” In “Man in the Moon” an “Institute for Behavior Modification” turns out to be just as ominous as it sounds. In “No Strings Attached” a prostitute—working for the other side, one might say—takes far more from her johns than they bargained for. In “Time in a Bottle” a homeless man learns how to time travel to alternate stories of his life, each of them more horrific than the one that came before. Does Fairchild leave us without a happy ending in sight? I’d have to say she’s left us with six.