June 17, 2013
Flagler College English Professor Kim Bradley is a strong believer in the power of setting, and used that strength to anchor her most recent story, “Hurricane Machine,” right here in St. Augustine. “Hurricane Machine” will appear in this fall’s edition of Natural Bridge, a Journal of Contemporary Literature, published by the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Bradley’s sixth published short story, centers on Francis Pellicer, a 25-year-old full-time caretaker of his 20-year-old mentally handicapped brother, Emory.
If you’re a true St. Augustinian, you should recognize the surnames of most of the players in this story, but Bradley assures that no one is based off of an actual person—with the exception of Emory. Her late sister-in-law was also mentally disabled in some ways similar to his character.
“Some of those ‘Match Game’ dialogues (I use in the story) I took verbatim from her,” said Bradley, who also directs the Writing Center at Flagler, a student-staffed tutorial center for students across all majors. “She would recite the reruns perfectly.”
She wasn’t Bradley’s only personal influence in spinning this yarn. The use of the hurricane machine came from an encyclopedia belonging to Bradley’s son.
“He would just pick a volume and start learning all kinds of trivia about things starting with that letter,” she said. “When he talked about hurricane machines, I knew I had to use it in a story one day. As the concepts for this one simmered in my mind, it fit together perfectly.”
Bradley says that those wishing for the same type of success she’s had need merely to follow this advice: don’t give up. “Hurricane Machine” suffered four rejections before being accepted for publication, which Bradley says was a surprisingly low amount.
“Sometimes stories sit for months or even a year or two before being accepted somewhere,” said Bradley. “But I find it’s best to target journals that publish the type of stories I write.”