David Sosnowski

rapture origin story, part 2

October 25, 2011

Tags: rapture, writing, ideas, inspiration, ragdale

OK, so I wrote a short story about a junky sprouting wings, called it “Fix,” got it published, and got a pretty good reaction whenever I read it in public. Then what? Well, I got to thinking: what if I expanded the story by having the "wing thing" happen to more people? How would that change, well, everything? And so I started thinking about the implications, one of which was, whatever I came up with would probably have to be a novel. The only problem was, I really didn’t feel ready to write a whole novel. Short stories were what I had time for, and so I kept writing them and getting them rejected, all the while thinking that one of these days, I’d have to write that novel about people sprouting wings.

Fast forward to the New Years Eve just before the beginning of 1993. I was at a party with some friends, talking about what we’d like to do in the coming year. I decided to mention my idea for a novel about people sprouting wings and the folks around me freaked and started brainstorming all sorts of implications. It was clear that they like the idea. Luckily, two days later, I was on my way to my first-ever arts colony, called Ragdale, in Lake Forest, Illinois for a two week residency during which I intended to work on a collection of short stories. Except… well, at dinner that first night, as we were introducing ourselves and what we planned to work on, the other fiction writers all seemed to be working on novels. So, just making conversation, I mentioned the idea I’d had for a while about people sprouting… etc. And it was just like New Years Eve all over again: people – including published novelists – freaked, saying among other things that “a publisher would buy that in a heart beat.”

So, I went back to my room and thought, well, if I were to write this novel, how would I start? And the next morning, I started writing the first draft of what I called “The Angel Blues,” and which my publisher eventually called “Rapture.”


rapture origin story, part 1

October 21, 2011

Tags: rapture, writing, ideas, inspiration

I’ve been asked to write about where the ideas for Rapture and Vamped came from, which is actually too long for a single blog post so I’ll do a couple over the next few days, starting with the idea for the short story that eventually evolved into Rapture, called “Fix.” I was living in Fairbanks, Alaska at the time, attending the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, working toward my Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. I was stranded on campus during the Christmas break, when anybody with any sense had left town, leaving me the only person living in an eight storey building, subsisting for a month on Snickers, tuna fish, and vodka.

I didn’t see or talk to anyone for about a month, and had a hard time telling day from night, especially since it was pitch dark by two, whether AM or PM. I’d begun reading junky literature at the time – Naked Lunch by William Burroughs, and The Basketball Diaries by Jim Carroll – and was trying to think of something to write for my thesis, a collection of short stories.

And that’s when I noticed a book lying on the floor of my dorm room, featuring the image of a naked, sylph-like woman with leonine blonde hair, surrounded by ribbons to hide her nipples and a large wing, censoring her anatomy somewhat further south. It was such a visual non-sequitur that I had to laugh:

“Why a wing?” I laughed. “Where’d that come from?”

And then I started thinking about wings just popping in out of the blue. I imagined a young woman, suddenly finding herself with a large pair of inconvenient wings on her back. I made her a junky because that’s what I’d been reading about, and decided to use the wings as a metaphor for addiction, with the main character being forced to give up heroin (she stood out to much while trying to score) only to become just as fatally addicted to flight. I called the story “Fix,” and it was published in the Fall-Winter 1986 edition of the Alaska Quarterly Review. After that, I began reading the story at public readings and whenever I did, it always got a great reaction, once even a standing ovation.

So, I knew I had something. The question for the next ten years was: what?

Selected Works

novel
"The end of the world is the weirdest time to come of age." --47North
Novel
"A witty, clever, original debut. Sosnowski writes like – well, an angel."
Kirkus Reviews
"Put Anne Rice and Mel Brooks in a blender and you'd get... Vamped."
–Mary Doria Russell

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