Family destiny calls a young man to the ocean in this story that perfectly balances love and horror, “The Late Bloomer” by Jamie Ferguson.
This story encapsulates a lot of what I love about Jamie’s fiction. It’s not flashy or fast-paced, but it takes on core inner truths that most people wouldn’t touch with a thousand-foot pole, or that they would simplify and make easier to digest. Fools may rush in where angels fear to tread (and get their butts kicked in the attempt), but Jamie explores it moment by moment and gets the job done. She takes on some really dark themes and makes them look like light paranormal romances and mysteries. This isn’t the darkest story she’s written, but it touches a sore spot in many people’s hearts, I’m sure.
As Jamie says below, we’ve known each other a fairly long time–I want to say since 2012? I can’t remember–and not only is she my friend, but I love working on projects with her. Nothing goes smoothly, everything is chaotic yet obsessively organized, and behind the scenes is a lot of whining, complaining, overwhelming life drama, and empty spots where we’re both too tired to care. And yet we just keep going! It’s amazing.
You can find “The Late Bloomer” in Amazing Monster Tales #4: Into the Briny Deep, out now!
How do you feel about the ocean? Any particular memories you’d like to share?
I’m not a water person—I’d much rather float around on a raft than swim. But there’s something magical about the ocean. I love listening to the sound of the waves, whether they’re crashing against a rocky shore, or making soft shush-shush sounds as they gently wash up against the sand. I love listening to the seagulls, breathing in the smells of salt and seaweed, and feeling the sand squish under my bare feet as I walk along the beach.
It feels like I need to go to the ocean—it doesn’t matter which one—every year or two. It’s like every once in a while I need to watch the waves and look out at the horizon for a while in order to reset something inside of myself. I haven’t been to the ocean in three years, and I really miss it.
One ocean memory that stands out is going to St. George Island State Park back in college. I lived in Florida at the time, and one of my sisters came to visit for a week. We drove out to the beach with my then-boyfriend, two of his friends, and the woman one of them was dating. My sister and I built a giant sandcastle and splashed about in the water; the other woman sat on her towel in her bikini and lipstick (yes, lipstick). I don’t think she went into the water a single time. The guys couldn’t keep their eyes off of her. I remember thinking: she looks beautiful, but I’d rather play in the sand with my sister. 🙂
What is your favorite media (stories, nonfiction, video, games, music) about the ocean?
Mythology. I love reading about legends and folklore related to the sea. I recently learned about a sea monster I’d never heard of before: Hafgufa, a Norse monster so large it’s often mistaken for an island. (I wrote about this for the monster fact in the last Amazing Monster Tales newsletter.)
What monster did you bring to your AMAZING MONSTER TALES story in this issue? Why?
I started my story with the goal of creating something Lovecraftian. I’d never written anything like this before, so I wasn’t sure how it would go. It turned out to be one of those stories that just writes itself. When that happens, it’s almost like I’m reading the story as I’m writing it. 🙂
My story centers around a man who grows up in a family of monsters, but no one ever explains what’s going on to the children. As they grow up, each kid reaches a point where something kicks in and they know what to do about their secret side…except the protagonist is a late bloomer, so it takes him a really, really long time to figure things out.
I wanted to write a story where the monstrous part was subtle, so you could get into the character and care about him, and then empathize with his horror and dismay when he finally learns what everyone else in his family has known for years. This particular monster (actually a whole family of them) were really fun to write in part because so much of what you see is them as real people, but real people who clearly have a strange and unusual secret.
Bonus question! Anything you’d like to share with the readers, promotional or otherwise?
I’m working on a super awesome project with DeAnna Knippling! We’re calling it The Mystery Project, and I can’t say anything about it right now other than it’s a lot of fun! DeAnna and I met years ago at a writing workshop in Lincoln City, Oregon (yes, right by the ocean!), and we’ve been friends ever since. We collaborate on Amazing Monster Tales, and have talked about doing other things together for several years, but neither of us had enough bandwidth until now. This particular project is interesting because it’s taking an approach neither of us have ever tried before, and it’s really fun.
[SO FAR VERY FUN!–Ed.]
I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. We moved around a lot when I was little, so I can easily pin down my age based on where we lived, which means I was maybe six when I first made this proclamation. My writing has changed quite a bit over the years, although I am still proud of the short story I wrote in 8th grade about an orangutan named Inconspicuous (I was quite taken with that word).
My writing focuses on characters. I’ve created stories about ghosts, clones, monsters, escape artists, mermaids, circus performers…I’m all over the map. But in every single story I do my utmost to get into the minds and hearts of my characters. I love to put them in awful situations to see how they feel, and how they think. I want them to agonize over their choices, and I want what they choose – or don’t choose – to matter. I want the reader to feel joy when a character succeeds, and to cry when they don’t – just like I do when I’m writing the story.
Writing is far more fun and rewarding than any other job I’ve ever had, and I’ve been fortunate to have some good day jobs. None of them have ever had the appeal for me that writing does.
My ‘free’ time is spent in a futile quest to wear out my two herding dogs since I haven’t given in and gotten them their own herd of sheep.
You can find Jamie at: