Cell Division

written with Rene Appel

Rene Appel is known as "the godfather of the Dutch psychological novel." I first "met" him by email in 2005, when EQMM editor Janet Hutchings asked me to find and translate a Dutch story for the magazine's "Passport to Crime" feature, and my old friend Theo Capel recommended Rene as the right person to approach. My translation of Rene's "Bloody Hot" appeared in August 2006, and I later translated another of his stories for EQMM, one for AHMM, and one for The Mammoth Book of Best International Crime (Robinson, 2009). We also collaborated on a story, "A Woman's Place," which was in the September/October 2017 issue of EQMM. In 2016, Akashic Press commissioned us to co-edit Amsterdam Noir for its City Noir series of anthologies, and we wrote a second collaborative story, "Starry Night," for that volume.

Sometime in 2019, Rene sent me a draft of something new he'd begun playing with, wondering if I might want to work on it with him. I thought what he sent me had an interesting premise and a lot of promise. We went back and forth about it via e-mail and, as we'd done on our two earlier collaborations, we eventually wound up with a story we both liked. I titled it "Cell Division," and it wasn't a crime story but a sort of combination of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Since Rene and I are both crime writers, neither of us had any idea where to market it. I submitted it to several science fiction magazines, and the editors were gracious in their rejections....

Finally, I sent "Cell Division" off in response to an open submission call for a book to be titled Strange Days. Editor Trevor Denyer accepted it, and the book was published in June 2020 by Trevor's Midnight Street Press. You can watch and hear me talk about the story and read the first page here, and you can order the book here.

In June 2023, "Cell Division" was reprinted in the online-only Science and Sensibility issue of the Indelible Literary Arts Journal.

A year later, in April 2024, an updated and animated version of the story was included in the Storiaverse cellphone app. The second image at the left is from the app's table of contents.

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