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Publisher's Summary

A researcher’s curiosity draws her to the dream realm of the Darkling Lands. Condemned by his own crime, an engrosser plumbs the labyrinthine depths of his firm’s building to find that he is not alone. A giant searches for his missing brother. A young woman opens a sealed house atop a crumbling bridge. A young academic moves into the house of a dead professor and finds himself trapped in a dark fairy tale.

These are five stories of yearning, curiosity, and darkness. They explore the fragile and dangerous correspondence between people and monsters. This book is Richard’s first collection of short stories.

Magpie’s Ladder comprises five stories that came to me while working on my visual art. My preferred drawing technique is stippling in ink, creating images with countless dots using a mechanical pen or brush. During those long hours, my imagination would wander, introducing strange characters and settings. The elements began to cohere into stories. Writing them down became a new path for expression and for approaching the worlds that I enjoy creating.

Short stories have a special appeal. Unlike novels (which I also love, though they are quite different beasts) they are much like drawings; intimate works that can be experienced quickly, but which can reveal more of themselves with each revisiting. Short stories suggest a broader world beyond their thresholds. Each of the stories in Magpie’s Ladder have, at various times and degrees, tempted me to longer explorations, but in the end, I chose to savor the mystery. 

Books have always been central to my life. Thinking about my literary inspiration and literary heroes lead me to authors like K.J. Bishop, Michael Moorcock, Mervyn Peake, Borges, John Banville, Brian Catling, and John Crowley. These writers illuminate with their prose, but never fear the dark - qualities I’ll always aspire to with my own work.

©2020 Richard A. Kirk (P)2020 Mark Alan Miller

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