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Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam talks “Hearty Appetites” from WAY OF THE LASER

Management: We continue our series of short interviews with the contributors to our debut anthology, WAY OF THE LASER: FUTURE CRIME STORIES. Today, we are pleased to hear from Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam!

Hey, thanks for being a part of The Way of the Laser, our first anthology. So far, it’s gotten great reviews. Can you tell our readers a little about your story and where you got the idea for it?

Bonnie: In “Hearty Appetites,” a PI investigates a mysterious activist who is pursuing billionaires on behalf of female employees with work-related health issues. I’ve written a few stories set in this world, with a couple of the same characters. I wanted to write a PI story, where the PI had to make a tough judgement call re: a morally questionable client.

Management: Do you have any upcoming or newly released titles that you would like to share with our readers?

Bonnie: My story “Barking Dog Nocturnal” recently came out in The Offing. I’ve got stories coming out in Lightspeed and a couple of anthologies as well: Weird Dream Society’s RAICES charity anthology and Castle of Horror Volume III.

Management: What’s one new book that you have read recently and loved, or that you are looking forward to reading?

Bonnie: I just finished a brilliant horror poetry book, Sacred Summer by Cassandra Rose Clarke, about a Final Boy musician who has survived a supernatural murder in the woods and a recently divorced dancer whose house is built on the same site.

Hearty Appetites 

By Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam 

The villain of this story knew what it was to die. She died every day. Power down. Her vision a pinpoint, then nonexistent. This time was no different. The doctors took her pulse on the ER stretcher and pronounced her dead on arrival. 

In the morgue, the villain of this story removed her face. She returned it to its owner, a woman who signed herself into the morgue under one of the villain’s many names. The villain gave the woman a pill. The villain stayed with her and coached her through the fading light. “You’ll be okay,” she repeated to the woman. “I do this every day.” 

Once the woman was gone, the villain signed herself out. She left through the morgue’s front doors. She let the cameras see her. They would not know her true face for the ghost it portrayed. 

Camille Maxwell had one rule: she didn’t mix love and work. When her boyfriend Kingsley slunk into her office Monday morning with a ring box packed full of microscopic surveillance bugs, Camille shook her head. 

“You know I don’t do conflicts of interest,” she said, snapping the ring box shut but sliding it into her desk drawer. “You’ll win no favors from me.” 

Kingsley had dressed in Camille’s favorite collared brown jacket and muted red sweater, the black jeans that hugged his legs. He sat in her client chair. “Please,” he said. “I couldn’t sleep last night. She’s after me—I know it.” 

Camille Maxwell knew to whom he referred: a rich man’s bogeywoman. All the tech CEOs discussed her in hushed voices at the poker nights Kingsley dragged Camille to once a month. Camille hated poker, but she loved taking Kingsley’s friends for their money. After all, she needed it more than they did. 

“She’s not real,” Camille said. “Your dumb friends are just bad people.” 

Robin Hood was a bogeywoman and a vast conspiracy. Over the last year, six tech firms had been sued to pieces by the families of various dead women. The women had all died in work accidents. The families had won each case, and online media was rife with takedowns of the powerful men whose lax safety standards cost people their lives. Instead of admitting that they didn’t give two shits about their 

workers and were now paying for their callousness, Kingsley’s friends had decided that the women were in league with one another, and that some other woman—Robin Hood—was the organizer behind it all.

 

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Categories: interview, Our Books, Short Story Collections

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