My short story, The Gentry, is live in the Summer 2020 issue of Kaleidotrope! Alongside 6 other excellent stories and five poems, you’ll find my tale of the diner with the portal between worlds… after the owners have retired, and condos have gone up in its place, and one last fairy chevalier is still stuck on Earth.
This story has gone through a long and twisty history – it once killed the professional magazine PerVisions. But the chevalier has made it back to New York at last.
Some notes and background on the story below the fold. Contains spoilers.
I first drafted this story in 2015, in response to this twitter thread:
The eldritch diner that served as a portal between worlds has been torn down for more luxury condos. #ActuallyUrbanFantasy
— Master of Obscurity (@masterobscurity) June 17, 2015
— Benjamin C. Kinney (@BenCKinney) June 17, 2015
— Benjamin C. Kinney (@BenCKinney) June 18, 2015
A day later, I had an outline. The diner has long since been torn down for condos, but the portal remains, and the faeries who want to use that very same portal to drive the next stage of gentrification. Not even Wall Street types will be able to afford the Lower East Side after the faeries move in!
The mention of “another diner out in West Virginia” is a callout to Why I Left Larry’s All-Night Hamburgers, the 1988 Hugo Award winner, the canonical tale of the diner with otherworldly guests.
One of my favorite parts of writing this story was the Misdirection Draft. Once I figured out how to make the framing device work, and settled on the rules about how Lies Don’t Work With Faeries, I had to go through a distinct round of edits to capture the spots where Charles is misleading the Prime Minister. And the best part is, since this was years ago, I no longer remember where Charles is making those omissions and misdirections. He’ll fool the lot of us yet!
Charles claims that the optimum grilled cheese sandwich has thinly-sliced sautéed red onion between layers of cheese. This should not be taken as authorial truth. I mean, that sounds pretty good, but I wouldn’t say it’s the trick.
Charles claims that the New York attitude is “If someone’s in our way, screw them; but if they’re genuinely in trouble, we help them out.” This should be taken as authorial truth.
I make no apologies for #NotAllFaeries, nor for the line “she vanished like a dame from an Elmore Leonard novel.”