“Feral Boy Meets Girl”: What to know before the reading

By Avery Wickersham (TheLorian)

Loras College’s Professor William Jablonsky, M.F.A., just released his short story collection, “Feral Boy Meets Girl.” The public book reading will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 18, at 7:30 p.m. on the third floor of the MARC. It will be in person and on Zoom. For the URL link, email Dr. Koch at Kevin.Koch@loras.edu.

In preparation for his book reading, Jablonsky provided some preliminary information about his collection, including his inspiration for the book, some highlights and lowlights, and his plans for future works. Jablonsky is an Associate Professor of English at Loras College and the Faculty Advisor for Catfish Creek, Loras’ national undergraduate literary journal.

“Feral Girl Meets Boy” is a story collection that contains characters Jablonsky refers to as “freaks and weirdos.” He comments:

“Freaks and weirdos seem to be my favorite type of people and most of the stories are centered on that.”

The inspiration for the collection changed quite a bit during the early stages, but Jablonsky said that the final product “ended up being about alienation and outsiders as it took shape, and what to do in such situations.”

When asked about the highlights of the collection, Jablonsky said:

“Well, I can tell you that actually writing the stories, initially, was a lot of fun. There’s a couple in there that I just had a blast writing them and perfecting them. There’s one—it’s called ‘Minutes of the Pine Valley Residence Board’—which is the oldest one in this collection. That was great fun because it allowed me to exorcise two demons at once […] That one was super fun. The last one in the collection was also super fun to write because I started it off as a choose-your-own-adventure story. Well, it didn’t quite work. Also, as it turned out and as Netflix found out, that’s copyrighted. So, I converted it to an instruction manual in terms of how to have a relationship with a man who is emotionally and psychologically broken and also haunted by a pooka.”

Jablonsky reiterated how fun and enjoyable the writing process was for multiple stories, and he hopes that his readers can pick up on that and have their own fun with the stories. However, even with the delightful writing process, there were definitely some lowlights, which Jablonsky explains:

“The lowlights were actually trying to find places to send it to. The publishing landscape, especially for short story collections, has really changed. You used to be able to count on a lot of university presses that publish short fiction being out there and independent presses. A lot of those are gone. A lot more of them basically run one contest a year where the head editor is the judge. Which is, you know, a little fishy […] A lot of the bigger, independent publishers don’t really read outside submissions anymore, or if they do, it’s one month out of there. So, that part was really frustrating. It took a very long time to find someone to send it to.”

Jablonsky would like readers to know that his sense of humor is “strange and dark.” He comments that:

“I like to take familiar things and make them not familiar anymore. If you’re looking for, you know, happy endings where the characters are gonna kiss in the rain at the end while Taylor Swift plays in the background, then this is probably not the book for you.”

While “Feral Boy Meets Girl” is an incredible accomplishment, Jablonsky is already moving ahead and working on new writing. When asked if he is working on anything new, Jablonsky replied:

“I am. Actually, two things on the back burner. I need to get back to it and revise a screenplay. I’ve written a feature-film script. Just for fun, really, but the reviewers on The Blacklist actually liked certain things that they saw and suggested some revisions because there’s an audience for that sort of thing […] The big project is a novel that is currently called ‘The Air Swimmers’ which is about two teenagers with a science fictional disability, which is to say they have a disability that renders them intangible.”

For more, make sure to attend Jablonsky’s reading of “Feral Boy Meets Girl” on Wednesday, Nov. 18, and keep your eyes peeled for his future works.

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