As we continue our featured contributors to A Darke Phantastique, our next spotlight falls on Erinn L. Kemper.
Her story, “The Claim” sets up in Alaska:
“Over the hill and into town he came. He walked, bent and straining. Behind him a sled scraped deep gouges in the earth, stacked with leather bags, rasping along. His beard covered most of his face, touched his belt. He muttered as he trudged along the bleak, rock-strewn tundra, sled harnessed to his chest. He turned his head, looking side to side, swatting the air around him.
He was dressed in the tattered remains of old clothing he had sewn together in a jigsaw of filth-encrusted denim and animal skin. Scrapes on his arms trailed up under his sleeves, scabbed over and black. A rope held up his makeshift trousers, and tucked under the rope was a crude tool, its wooden handle tapping his leg with each step.
He stopped where the general store rose from the muddied boardwalk, hefting a leather bag, cashing in.”
She explains the intrigue:
“I wanted to write about gold—the people who hunt it and the isolation of its pursuit. The guy next door to where I was helping build a deck told me about his hobby of panning. He snuck up to a nearby river with a homemade sluice every weekend. He had even found a few nuggets. They were a lot more orange that I expected. I wondered how one would go about making nuggets from ill-gotten gold. It’s amazing how many people have come up with a process.
Originally I thought it would be a contemporary story . . . with a vampire. The final scene was clear in my mind. There would be running and blood and lots of action. As I
researched it, the story changed, the year changed, the characters changed. It became a lot more personal, lonely, sad. I cried as I wrote it.
Jason [Brock] has been mentoring me over the past year and I gave him “The Claim” for feedback. He encouraged me to make it darker, creepier, and then he gave it a home.”
Erinn L. Kemper (E. L. Kemper) grew up in an isolated mill town in coastal British Columbia Canada. From there she moved to the city to study philosophy at the University of Victoria. Over the years she has worked as many things, including an eyeglass repairer, fish farmer, cabinet maker, parks department laborer, small museum staff, bookstore clerk, home nurse, and teacher—and lived in a camper, in Japan, and on a forty-foot wooden sailboat. She now lives in a small town in Costa Rica on the Caribbean Sea, where she plans to write her first novel from her hammock.
Erinn has sold stories to Cemetery Dance and [Nameless] Digest and appears in various anthologies including Chiral Mad 2, Zombies: Shambling through the Ages, and Handsome Devil: Stories of Sin and Seduction. Visit her website at www.ErinnKemper.com for updates and sloth sightings.