Most of these stories were not originally published as young adult and some may find them unsuitable for teens.
“Thinner Than Water”
I’ve been working on this story on and off for well over a decade. It’s based on various Demon Lover ballads and, I realised recently, stories, too. Like this one by Elizabeth Bowen, which I read many, many times as a teenager. And various ones by Shirley Jackson collected in The Lottery and Other stories, which I didn’t read till well into my twenties. You can find the complete story in Love is Hell edited by Farrin Jacobs and published by Harper Collins.
Pashin’ or the Worst Kiss Ever
I wrote this story in about ten minutes. It was dead easy to write because it’s a story I’ve been telling for years. It was written for Cylin Busby’s most excellent First Kiss (Then Tell): A Collection of True Lip-Locked Moments. We were all asked to tell the story of our first kiss. I don’t remember mine but I had this excellent story of someone else’s first kiss. I thought my sister told me the story about one of her friends. She says no. So I have no idea of the story’s provenance but I’m dead sure that it’s true. And gross. So. Very. Gross. Don’t read it if you have issues with GROSSNESS.
“Where Did You Sleep Last Night?”
Another story set in Sydney, specifically in Annandale and Glebe. This one is also ballad-influenced but it’s not a close retelling like “The Cruel Brother”. It’s more of a riff on Thomas the Rhymer and similar ballads where a human disappears into a hillside and winds up in the court of the faery. I started it in 1996 when I was on a big Leadbelly kick. (Hence the title.) It was first published in my friend Cat Sparks‘ anthology of mostly Australian writers, Agog! Smashing Stories, out of Wollongong, NSW in 2004.
This is my first young adult story though I didn’t realise that at the time. I started it back in the—oh my, surely not that long ago?—1980s. It’s one of the first stories I wrote that was set in Sydney. It was published in 2002 in Say . . . Was That a Kiss? a small zine published out of Lexington, Kentucky by my friends Gwenda Bond and Christopher Rowe.
“The Cruel Brother”
This was my first short story sale. It’s based on the English ballad about a brother who interferes with his sister’s wedding because she did not get his permission to marry. I’d been working on the story since 1997 and it went through many drafts before Strange Horizons finally published it in October of 2001.