Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Guest Visit and Giveaway - Enchantment by Thaisa Frank

Enchantment: New and Selected StoriesEnchantment
New and Selected Stories
by Thaisa Frank
Paperback, 320 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by Counterpoint


The short fiction of Thaisa Frank has captivated readers for two decades, and now many of those pieces are collected in one volume, along with several new stories. In the title story, a lonely mother and housewife orders an enchanted man from a website called The Wondrous Traveler, who arrives with instructions for use and a list of frequently asked questions about enchantment. In �Thread,” two circus performers who pass through the eye of a needle become undone by a complicated love triangle. In �Henna,” a young writing teacher must contend with an exotic student who will not write, her hands covered in dye and her fingers �sprouting innumerable gardens.” And in �The Loneliness of the Midwestern Vampire,” the undead descend upon the heartland of the country and become accustomed to its friendlier way of life, attending barn raisings and feasting on cattle in an attempt to normalize their darker passions.

These are vibrant, compelling stories that examine the distance between imagination and reality, and how characters bridge that gap in their attempt to reach one another.

I am very happy to welcome Thaisa Frank to Colorimetry!!  This collection of stories is unlike any I've run into. For one, there are little two-pagers with "small, jeweled worlds of wonder" just as the back cover raves. These stories come from a unique perspective, catching me off guard.  I find myself snorting or laughing or gasping outloud (since I was graciously given a copy to enjoy for this post - thank you!!) It's perfect for that odd moment when my imagination needs a bit of a jolt. Only I shake my head and pick another story to read... and then another!  If you don't believe me, read the excerpt at the end of this post. A strange mail order delivery... "mist twice a day". Lol. Who thinks up this stuff?!  I give you... Thaisa Frank... 

Frank, ThaisaWhen readers ask me where my stories come from, I have to explain that the imagination is mysterious to me. I never know where the imagination begins or ends because the seeds of my stories have a “given” quality and I can’t make them happen. It’s as though there’s a pneumatic tube of the imagination and I hang out there when other writers are occupied so I get weird and cryptic assignments: It could be a title, like The Loneliness of the Midwestern Vampire. Or the image of a girl with feet that can see. If I play with the assignment long enough, characters appear and they make the image or title earthbound. It interests me most when my characters are bound by the laws of gravity and deal with an ordinary world. Everything in this world is slightly tilted; but the characters still have to keep appointments and worry about their families. You might say that real time and space have been invaded by one alien thing–a Midwestern vampire, a man who meets an angel who has lived his life.

It sometimes takes me a long time to find the link between the image or title and characters who are grounded in the mundane world. For example, The Loneliness of the Midwestern Vampire started with only a title. The title wouldn’t let go of me. But all I had was a first sentence: Tonight he will fly for human blood.  I sat with the sentence for a long time until a judge in the small Midwestern town showed up and began to bother the vampire about getting citizenship. Then I knew that he had to bend to life in the heartlands and this was not the usual vampire story.

In Enchantment, a child has too many mothers to remember, a man is introduced to an angel, and two circus-performers turn themselves into piece of two-ply thread to go through the eye of a needle. But not all of my stories are triggered by surreal images. I’m also fascinated by people, relationships and obsessions. Enchantment has a story about a character who wants to get a piercing (I did all my research online!), a woman who visits an old boyfriend, a cat that acts as a comforter, and two people who think they are soul mates. It also has two semi-autobiographical novellas with roots in my own life. These were hard stories to write because I had to invent and surprise myself to discover a universal element (Once more the use of the imagination!). After I finished, I felt as if I’d dived into a shipwreck and come up having lived a slightly different life.

Whether I write about what’s apparently “real,” or something more surrealistic, I have to feel captivated and enchanted myself or I don’t feel motivated to write the story. As a kid I had a viewer that held discs so you could look inside and see three-dimensional scenes. I remember looking at Little Red Riding Hood, poised in the dark forest with her basket. I could feel the quiet of the woods and she seemed real, alive in another realm. I wanted to find a way to reach her. So when I talk about feeling enchanted, I’m talking about a feeling that started when I was very young. Perhaps all resonance to fantasy and what seems impossible happens when we’re young. If this is the case, part of fantasy fiction isn’t an escape at all, but a return to a time when we dreamt and imagined more freely.

The title story in Enchantment began when I had an image of a woman on her porch getting a UPS delivery of an enchanted man she’d ordered from an online site. He came from a castle in England along with instructions.  But where was the grounding? Where were the other characters?   Read the excerpt below to see if you can guess. Or buy Enchantment and find out!

 About the Author:

Thaisa Frank
Thaisa Frank grew up in the Midwest and the Bronx, the granddaughter of a Presbyterian theologian and a Rumanian Chassid, who consulted each other about Aramaic texts. Her fiction, sometimes characterized as “domestic magical realism,” draws on a bi-cultural childhood, in which she lived in a sedate suburb of Illinois for two-thirds of the year and the colorful, immigrant world of New York for the remaining third. In her stories a child has too many mothers to remember, a woman orders an enchanted man from a mail-order catalogue, a circus performer has feet that can see, and a lonely vampire adjusts to life the heartlands. Her novellas are about the journey of a daughter and her parents.

Thaisa wrote her first story when she was eight—an “unremarkable story, except it made me feel connected to a vast world, far beyond my family.” She majored in philosophy of science and perfected her writing privately, turning down fellowships and working as a copy-editor, ghost-writer, and psychotherapist. One interviewer has claimed she once gave psychic readings, but this was only a rumor, started by one of her characters. 

Read more of Thaisa's published stories and accomplishments on her Website.

Find & Follow:
Get Your Copy:



WIN a print copy of Enchantment by Thaisa Frank! International giveaway (will be e-Version, if won internationally, print if within the USA), must be 13 or older. See all my giveaway rules under About Me.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Excerpt from Enchantment (story titled Enchantment).

         She was able to open the box as soon as the shipping company left because the children were still in school. He was bundled in bubble-wrap like a mummy, and when the wrappings came off, he looked just like the catalogue promised: He had dark velvet britches, a green jerkin, and a blouse with billowing sleeves. His blond hair fell across his face and he was handsome in spite of an overbite. A nimbus of light floated around him. 
         There was a square of cream-colored paper tied to the bubble wrap with a black velvet ribbon:  Hello, it said, My name is Lars and I come from an undisclosed castle in England. If you follow the instructions, I am yours forever: 
         Mist me twice a day.
         Do not probe, fondle, or startle me.
         Keep me in low light.
         Never kiss me anywhere.
         Keep me hidden from your family.
         It was sent courtesy of the online mail order house called The Wondrous Traveler and before she decided it was a general message sent to everyone, she was unnerved to think that an online mail order house knew she had a family. Even so, it magnified her fear that a pervasive consciousness recorded everything she bought online, including her copy of The Secrets of NASA, which she’d been amazed she could order although she had only wanted to see pictures and if she was ever asked would say the same about Lars: Photographers could justify almost anything. 
         Small children with their mothers were riding lavender-colored plastic bicycles on the sidewalk and a few mothers waved. She shut the front door and dragged Lars and his box to her studio, a small room next to the living room. It was a hodge-podge of computers, digital cameras, tripods, various cameras, barely-used developing trays and chemicals.  The space was so cluttered and the box so long, she was afraid it might look like a casket. But once she put it in front of her worktable, it looked like a shipping crate. Thank god she still had blackout curtains. She put them up and looked at Lars.
          His body emanated light--a little like marsh light—and this cast the room in an underwater haze so objects went in and out of focus. She could see a glowing blanket, phosphorescent papers, an illuminated wastebasket. According to the catalogue, enchanted people accrued this light because they hadn’t done anything for at least one hundred years. The catalogue said this was the same people consumed every day—lavishly, unthinkingly, so by the time they went to sleep it was all used up.  Now and then one could see a nimbus around babies when they were sleeping.
          When she confirmed her order by phone they had explained about the light all over again. There were no animated voices. And the real voices had been kind. What color hair did she want? She chose blond. What country would she like? She chose England.