Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

Satan is in that magazine! Or, I have a new short story out

Okay, actually it’s an old story. I wrote Dark Satanic Mills more than a decade ago, sold it to Tales of the Talisman and reprinted it a couple of years ago in my self-published collection Atlas Shagged. But earlier this year the Overcast audio magazine picked it up and it’s now available to listen to for free.[edited to get the link right]

While few of my finished stories resemble the first draft, I don’t think I’ve ever had one mutate as much as this one. It started out as a dark, grim tale about why there’s so much damn suffering in the world; I forget exactly why I wanted to tackle that as a topic, but that was my intention. But then it changed. And became funny. Which is good because I’m not sure I had anything worthwhile to say about suffering and man’s inhumanity to man.

The finished story is based on the principle that lifestyle magazines are all run by Satan. They make everyone suffer by getting them to spend on $300 ties (you’ll finally get a girlfriend!) or trying the high-sugar diet (science proves the pounds melt off!) or showing how women TV stars working 60 hour weeks still manage to be the best mothers of all times and never miss a single one of their child’s special days. My bitter male protagonist became Cerise, a spunky Midwestern Satanist struggling to make it in the cutthroat world of Big Apple Satanist magazine writing. She hasn’t had much luck so far but the magazine’s most successful, handsome writer has taken an interest in working with her. Are things about to change?

The results were as much a chick-lit parody (at least chick-lit as it was in the early 21st century) as a satire on lifestyle magazines. The version in Atlas Shagged is a little different from the original, for example making it clear in one scene that Cerise isn’t too drunk to consent to sex. I went with that version for the Overcast adaptation.

This is not the post I’d planned for today, but I’m okay with that.



  1. I gave this a listen earlier today. Very good stuff! I enjoyed the premise and the execution was well done. Random bit that made me lol was the line Cerise says about how the furniture was the same too.

    I think it worked quite well read by the host, whose voice has a Stephen Colbert quality that gave the story a nice dance between gravitas and farce. I know what I mean, even if I can’t convey it well! Although as the host said at the end, you would have done a great job reading it as well.

    It’s funny, I was listening to it on my phone, and as I started it, I got a spam risk phone call coming from the Pacific Northwest, which is apparently where the show is based. Coincidence? Yes. Yes it was.

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