Friday, March 09, 2007


C. MITCHELL O'NEAL lives and writes in Ann Arbor, MI. His speculative work has appeared in Paradox magazine, Revelation, Dead Letters, and Insidious Reflections e-zine. He received an honorable mention in the Best Fantasy and Horror of 2004 for his short story "The Moon Shone on my Slumbers." His story in this collection won first place in the Zircon Awards of 2005 and is dedicated to his own southern princess. (Editor note: this melts my damn heart every time I read it, the story and the dedication.)

For other examples of O’Neal’s work see Paradox magazine ( and Revelation magazine (

O'Neal's contribution to SUM3 is "The Farmer's Boy and the Southern Princess”, which explains the truth behind a myth in a lyrical voice sure to captivate readers. He likes to hear from readers at coneal (at)

Writing The Farmer’s Boy and the Southern Princess was a literal labor of love; please forgive the cliché, but it’s appropriate. My family has this horrid tradition of homemade Secret Santa gifts at Christmas, and a couple years ago, I drew my wife, Victoria. Since writing is the one skill that I have any confidence in, she was destined to get a story in her stocking. You can read the whole story behind the story here, at the SUM3 website:

When people read the story behind the story, two reactions inevitably arise. Women tend to get this rosy and far away look on their face and make a sound somewhere between ‘oooh’ and ‘awww.’ Men tend to get this slight smirk, which grows into gleeful grinning, followed by various comments questioning my manhood. Which raises the obvious (though certainly not new) question, can a man write romance?

The answer is, of course, yes. I’m a man, and this is clearly a romantic story, even if it doesn’t fall into the stereotypical genre of heaving bosoms and throbbing what-have-yous. In my mind, good, readable fiction is almost always about the protagonist’s struggle to get what they want. Romance is simply the most familiar version of that. We’ve all lusted, we’ve all loved, and we’ve all wanted someone else to love us back to the point that we were willing to struggle to make it happen. This experience is shared by both sexes. In writing The Farmer’s Boy, I was never faced with a character who’s emotions I didn’t understand. I was always writing what I knew, so to speak.

Perhaps the more interesting question is, what does a man offer to a genre in which most of the authors are women, and most (though not all) of the readers are women? That’s a tough one. I do not think that I “write men” any better than my female peers. I do not think that I even added anything to this genre that hasn’t been added before; I wrote a fairy tale, essentially, the oldest version of the romance and therefore nothing new. Even so, I do recognize that there is something slightly unique in my story and my writing of it. I think it may simply be the oddity, like the first time we saw female sports announcers on the sidelines of Monday Night Football and went, “that’s new.” Challenging expectations of who should write what does lead to new ways of reading and seeing a story, and I suspect that my gender gives me some privileges in the field of romance fiction simply because people want to “see what the guy wrote.” That seems patently unfair to me, but I’ll take any edge I can get.

I enjoyed writing this story, and though it’s not my typical inclination, I enjoyed writing the romance part of it a lot. Without the romance it would have been a weaker story, or maybe not even a story at all. Will I write more romance in the future? Probably not, but I do think that everything you write breathes a little bit of itself into everything else, so the lessons of the Farmer’s Boy and his true love won’t be forgotten.

C. Mitchell O’Neal

SUM3 at Amazon

SUM3 at Fictionwise

SUM3 Website Extravaganza

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