Nine Horoscope-in-Catsup Stories, Wicked Good book 1 is a collection of short stories previously published in magazines and anthologies. Included are: Horoscope in Catsup, Alakar’s Lover, Lorna Doomed, Apprentice Gone Bad, Sweetest Boyfriend, Neat Alyssum. Bearly Old Enough, Undead in a Dead Town and the popular Guard Dog?
Bio: Phoebe Matthews currently writes three urban fantasy series, Mudflat for BookStrand, the new Turning Vampire series for Dark Quest Books, and the Sunspinners series. Her current books and backlist books are described on her website. Phoebe has been published by Avon, Dell, Holt, Putnam, Silhouette and others.
Excerpt from the short story titled Neat Alyssum. Alyssum has asked Claire, the Mudflat astrologer, to meet her in the coffee shop.
“What do you know about Stu Taylor?” Aly asks.
“I don’t know anything about Stu except that he’s coming this way.”
Aly tucks her lips in between her teeth, like she’s sealing her mouth to keep from talking.
Stu Taylor sets down two cappuccinos at our table, leans in and smiles at Aly. Great smile, the kind that lights his whole face, except for those worry lines around his eyes.
“On the house,” he says.
Aly glares at him.
So I say, “Wow, really? Thanks so much. Very kind of the house.”
“You’re Claire, right?”
I nod and mention that I was in the same class with his sister. We chat for maybe thirty seconds and Aly still hasn’t unclamped her mouth so he heads back to the counter.
Plunking my elbows on the table, I lean toward her. “What’s the deal?”
Aly waves her hand at the coffees. “That’s the deal. The house does not give away drinks. He paid for them himself.”
I don’t know a reason in the world why Stu Taylor should buy me coffee so I have to figure he’s trying to impress Aly. Okay, I also saw the way he looked at her.
“Is that what you’re calling stalking, Aly? Because I don’t call a couple of coffees stalking.”
“He’s everywhere I go. He stops by my office and drops off a coffee and pastry. I told him not to do that. So now he comes in and leaves them on my desk while I’m busy talking on the phone to a client.”
As I am a coffeeholic, this sounds to me like a stalker I’d encourage. But that’s me. “Are you afraid of him?”
“Yes. No. I mean, he isn’t threatening me or anything. But I need you to tell me how to get rid of him.”
This is so not the usual question I get. But, hey, it’s her life. She gives me both their birth dates. I go ask the cashier for one of those little catsup packets they hand out with sandwiches. Then I go back to the table, tear the packet open, dip my finger in catsup and draw two circles on the Formica tabletop.
From the dates she gives me, I mark the planets and pop in the placements of sun and moon.
With a catsup-stained finger, I jab at the horoscopes. “You two aren’t a bad match.”
“I don’t want to know about matches. I want to know how to turn him off.”
“None of my business,” I say, “but is there any special reason?”
She nods. “He’s Mudflat. He’s a Taylor.”
Ho hum. Here we go. I live in Mudflat, the neighborhood in Seattle where old magic hangs out, passed down in families who have been here for generations. A bit of witch in one kid, a shade of wizard in another. The Taylor parents both have minor magic.
I look her in the eyes. “You think he has magic? Could be. What’s wrong with that?”
Interview with Phoebe Matthews
What will readers like about your book?
Short stories are easy to read on ereaders, especially on the commute bus to work.
Why did you self publish?
Most of the stories in this book were originally published elsewhere, either in magazines or anthologies over the past couple years. Most of the stories are based on characters in the Mudflat series. Some Mudflat fans asked if the stories could be put together in one place.
What is your writing process?
With short stories I am often asked for a short story to match a theme. CrossedGenres magazine asked for a cross of fantasy and contemporary reality. The result was Neat Alyssum. The story Lorna Doomed was written for Pill Hill Press for an anthology of zombie stories.
How long does it take you to write your first draft of a story?
With short stories, some take a few hours and some take weeks. All get put away for a while and then rewritten and polished several times. A story is done when I am completely satisfied with it. Also, I have an editor friend who does a careful check before the story goes to the publisher's editor.
What inspired you to write this particular book?
Requests from readers. The collection has been so popular, I am continuing it. The second Wicked Good book is titled Steampunk Man and More, and is available now. The third collection will be ready for release in October.