Imagine a New York City with parking spot conspiracies, hair being stolen by a co-worker, dog-human hybrids prowling the streets and people growing from the ground like daisies.
Karen Heuler, a professor at the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, invited readers to consider a world where oddities are realities in her new book, “The Inner City.” Released on Feb. 26, Heuler’s latest novel is a series of short stories that thrive in the realm of the strange and absurd. Though dog-humans may seem strange, the oddball story carries an empowering message, letting readers know that they have the power to create a positive change in their everyday lives.
“[The book] deals with change, with evolution in the course of a lifetime, with the need to adapt [and] with the impossibility of knowing what the right change is,” Heuler said.
Integral to her writing process is the ability to see occurrences in everyday life as metaphors.
“I keep asking what does this thing mean, what’s the message behind that thing,” Hueler said. “As a result, I tend to see the explanation and find the metaphor for it. Someone steals one character’s hair and it’s the opening to a story about an identity that is being changed drastically.”
ChiZine Publications, the publishing house releasing “The Inner City,” is known for signing authors who write sci-fi, fantasy and horror genres. Samantha Beiko, ChiZine managing editor, says the publishing house is now looking for works like Heuler’s that push the genre’s limits.
“Our aim is to help shape the new frontier of speculative fiction, and Karen’s writing exemplifies that,” Beiko said. “Every story from her collection ‘The Inner City’ excited us because they had resonance and were unique, and that’s what we are most interested in putting out there.”
Heuler’s novel, one in which a new servant class made up of hybrids between dogs and humans fills its pages, the kind of imaginative work ChiZine is looking for. Not only are the stories unique because of their out-of-the-box storylines, but also because they resonate with people. And that combination is rare in the literary world.
“These stories beautifully transfer you into uncharted territory, leaving you with the coveted feeling that most short-fiction authors strive for — you don’t want your experience to end,” Beiko said.
Keerthi Harishankar is a staff writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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