In the late 1970s, my screenwriting career took off and I found myself with little time for writing fiction. Not wanting to abandon my first love, I started a number of short fables and fairy tales, all slightly skewed to appeal to my warped imagination. Because film work is by nature collaborative (someone is always giving detailed notes to the writer) and designed to appeal to a large audience, I determined that these brief fictional exercises would be utterly uncommercial, created for my own personal amusement. I’d write them and stick them away in a drawer. The first two (“Bad Karma” and “The Rattlesnake Convention”) were written in a single afternoon. In both cases, I began with just the title in mind, making up suitable stories off the top of my head.
Life is nothing if not a sequence of surprises. When Stathis Orphanos and Ralph Sylvester got in touch with me in 1980, asking if I’d be interested in being included in a series of signed limited edition fiction that they were publishing, I jumped at the chance. What they had in mind was a single short story (Sylvester & Orphanos already had books out by John Cheever, William Styron, Paul Bowles, Graham Greene, Nadine Gordimer, Joyce Carol Oates and Donald Barthelme) but I immediately suggested doing a collection of my tales and fables. The prospect of a real book made me want to write more stories and it wasn’t until 1985 that we finally had a volume in print. And what a beautiful book it is, slipcased, letterpress, watermarked mouldmade Arches paper and, best of all, wonderful illustrations by Vance Gerry. Although the edition was limited to 330 copies, it was not cheap and the publishers still have plenty for sale. Tales & Fables is available directly from the publisher, Sylvester & Orphanos. Purchase inquiries should be directed to: firstname.lastname@example.org