Earlier this month, my story, “The Backyard Transplant,” made its debut in the summer issue of Goreyesque, an Edward Gorey-inspired literary journal. Featuring the exploits of a little girl named Francesca, a makeshift surgeon who’s armed with safety scissors and a mallet, this is one of my lighter tales, a combination of the humorous and the macabre, not so unlike the oeuvre of Edward Gorey himself.
Ever since I first discovered Goreyesque last year, it became one of my major writing goals to place a story with the journal. After all, I’ve been a devotee of Edward Gorey from the time I was in kindergarten, his morbid illustrations always a delight to my book-loving self. As an adult, my Ogdred Weary obsession only grew and eventually took me all the way to New England where I toured his famous Elephant House in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts. Seriously, that’s how Gorey crazy I am.
All this fandom started thanks to my father, which is quite appropriate since I wrote “The Backyard Transplant” for him. Last winter, he himself was a transplant recipient. While the rest of my family sat in a Cleveland Clinic waiting room, I decided to try my best not to think about my father being cut open on a table for the twelve-hour procedure, so I instead opted to invent a gruesome yarn that I could read to him once he woke up. Consequently, as a highly trained lifesaving surgeon scooped out my father’s old lungs and put in two new ones, I penned “The Backyard Transplant.” Perhaps my task was not quite so monumental, but hey, we do what we can.
Ultimately, “The Backyard Transplant” became the first story I read to my dear ol’ dad after he woke up in the hospital room. My most vivid memory of that afternoon three-days post surgery was seeing him laugh for the first time. Indeed, I saw, not heard him laugh because he still had the obligatory post-transplant feeding tube, so he couldn’t actually speak or make any sound at all. But that didn’t stop him from laughing, knee slapping and all.
So for the remainder of my writing career, “The Backyard Transplant” will hold a special place in my heart. And having it appear in an Edward Gorey-inspired journal? Well, that’s just icing on a very morbid cake.