I first met Allison Spooner nearly fifteen years ago, which doesn’t seem like a sentence I should be capable of writing.  Time flies when you’re mysteriously and inexplicably leaving your youth behind, only to find yourself being flung by the universe into an adulthood you didn’t ask for.

(*Enter existential dread*)

Way back then, fifteen years ago — something I’ll have to forget to fight off the dread, I was a delivery driver and she was a dedicated pizza artist.  We both were slaves to an Aramark owned Papa John’s franchise on the grounds of Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan.  For me the best perk of that job was the ease in which I could scam free pizza.  Towards the end of the night I would get my roommate to call in fake pick-up orders under an assumed name (usually an extra-large pep and a cheese bread).  Any leftover food items were up-for-grabs at closing time.

The joke was on us, we gained a ridiculous amount of weight from this practice.  I should probably apologize to Allison for that (the scam, not the weight).  No doubt she made several of those pizzas.

I’m sorry, Allison.  But you did make a tasty pizza — so you are not blameless here.

Another perk of this job was getting to chat with Allison about our mutual love of Harry Potter, and our shared desire to become writers.  She was the first person to challenge me to participate in novel writing month; I never did successfully complete a novel during that time of my life.  But I did put a lot of words on paper.

Our paths eventually diverged.  But through the power of Myspace (yes, we’re that old), and later Facebook (which my students tell me only old people use), we’ve always managed to to stay in touch.

Over the years we’ve randomly connected on projects, we once worked cooperatively on a blog, and we have actively encouraged and supported one another as we’ve written.  All of this has happened with varying degrees of success and failure.  Such is the life of a writer.

Given our history, it is so satisfying to be able to write this: I love Allison’s stories.  In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed writing my first Amazon review for Allison’s story “The Last Cry,” which was just published in the anthology Future Visions Volume 2:

I purchased this anthology thinking it would be a quick, mindless, time filler. I was wrong. These stories are windows into our possible future. “The Last Cry” was especially jarring, it reads like an episode of Black Mirror — both shocking and beautiful. It’s an empowering experience which I thought played with gender roles in an intelligent and unique way. Best of luck to all of these writers on their blooming careers. And congratulations to editor Brian Walton on excellently curating these stories.

Allison’s latest work, Flash in the Dark – A Collection of Flash Fiction, is a brilliant composite of her penchant for short, memorable, endearing stories.  Often less than five-hundred words, but always unique works of art, Allison’s flash fiction is impactful.

At the heart of Flash in the Dark, however, is Allison’s ability to give her characters a resourceful agency.  On full display is the role of women of all ages in society.  No work better exemplifies this than “The Roles Women are Forced to Play,” which nearly caused me to cheer out loud by the end.

The themes Allison chooses for her storytelling are obvious, but they are crafted so subtly that the lines between truth and fiction blur.  Often I was left contemplating exactly how much insight I had been given into the author’s life.

Are we reading her observations on the world?  Absolutely.  But also I think we’re given glimpses into the parts of Allison’s life which have hurt, brought joy, and lust for hope.  Each story is a new experience, and a stunning jaunt into a budding artists mastery of the short-short story.

I cannot recommend Allison’s debut book enough.  Read it.  Give a copy to a friend.  And enjoy the richness of Allison’s unique voice.  The paperback version goes on sale October 19th, the kindle version is available for pre-order now.

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