Yesterday I asked my wife Kim if it was possible that we were living in a horror movie. And the reason I asked her that was because I received in the mail -- with no return address (postmarked London, England) and no explanation inside -- this scary-looking book in some bizarre-looking language:
Next I figured all sorts of tragic and unexplainable events would begin to befall us, and no matter what we did -- burn it, bury it -- we could never get rid of the cursed tome.
But then I started thinking, ya know, that dragon doesn't really look all that scary. And from there I was able to figure out the mystery.
I had a short story published in the June 1999 issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction. It was called "Sing a Song of Sixpence, a Bottle Full of Rye" and it featured my fish-out-of-water detective Jack B. Goode who has since appeared in a couple more stories in that fine publication. In this story he was investigating the attempted murder of Prince Charming at the behest of Princess Cinderella. That story was later anthologized in this book:
There was also a British version of the Mammoth Book of Comic Fantasy which I received at the same time as I received the above American version. That was a couple of years ago and I kinda figured that was it as far as that goes, until it dawned on me that this was the Russian version of the Mammoth Book of Comic Fantasy. I can't read a word of Russian, but I was able to pick out my story because it was prefaced by an italicized nursery rhyme:
If you are not handsome at twenty,
If you are not strong at thirty,
If you are not rich at forty,
If you are not wise at fifty,
You never will be.
And because my simple hard-boiled nursery crime story requires footnotes in Russian. For some reason, the word being footnoted is in English, and Prince Charming's brothers Winsome and Alluring are explained as are the words "nimble" and "quick," the expression "to eat crow"
"Simple Simon" and the word manqué (which is a word I like and it pops up a lot in my writing -- heck, it was in the column I just wrote, see previous entry) And at the end of the story is three pages going into detail about such concepts as "Hickory, Dickory, Dock" and who in the heck Tom, Tom, the piper's son was.
Somehow I have some concerns about how well the humor survived the translation.
Oh well, it was cool to see my name in Russian and to know that this same book was sent to Neil Gaiman.