I think it was Cowboys and Aliens or maybe that Doctor Who episode set in the Wild West that first triggered the desire to bend the sci-fi and western genres. Never a huge fan of westerns, I just let that notion slide to the back of my mind and there it quietly lurked.

When approached with the invitation to submit a western—a strangely different kind of western—I must admit, at first, I was intimidated by the idea. I mean, writing a western was way, way outside of my comfort zone. Still, I was oddly thrilled by the prospect of trying something new, taking that step into the unknown.

At first, I desperately tried dredging up those ever so vague memories of every cowboy movie or television western I’ve even seen. The movie, Young Guns quickly came to mind but I was drawing a blank on everything else. I was, I admit, at a loss for a while. Then it came to me, not exactly in a flash but real steady like water that suddenly comes pouring out of a tap.

It started one day when I was humming along to The Real Folk Blues after re-watching an episode of Cowboy Bebop. I think it was after the ending credits, just before the fadeout, I watched as the nostalgic words flickered on the TV screen “See you, Space Cowboy…”

I suddenly knew that my story would be a sci-fi western and it would not be set on Earth. Almost instantly, my mind reached back to an old piece of flash fiction about shape shifting alien beings on some faraway planet that humans had colonized. I remembered wanting to explore that particular story idea just a little bit more. This seemed like the perfect time.

I started writing and in no time at all, Ephemera, a story about grave diggers leading the charge to re-colonize an alien frontier, sprang to life.

Ephemera is merely one of the thirteen stories in The Nettle Tree anthology. In this awesome collection, tales from the past, present, near future and far future collide. From gun-toting robots to aquarium-bound zombies, I—along with twelve amazing authors—bring forth a medley of colorful characters who delight, perturb, and plumb the depths of the human soul.

Read Ephemera online.

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