Paul A. Hamilton’s story “Oven Game” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 18 August 2017.
I originally wrote “Oven Game” as an unsolicited piece for a specific magazine with a certain quirky, dark aesthetic. I don’t usually write without any concepts or outlines at all, just stringing words together, but this story I just sat down at my kitchen table and tried to warp my imagination around something odd and a bit unsettling. Which probably explains why such mundane objects are given such peculiar characteristics throughout the story.
I was also inspired in writing the story by trying to imagine things through the lens of my young daughter if she were to suddenly find herself growing up at a noticeable pace. Specific revelations like how being able to reach things is one of the best parts about growing up came from this exercise and watching my daughter struggle with her height in a world built for adults. I was interested in how she might react if her imaginative games of house or let’s pretend could be acted out more viscerally, if temporarily. I then tried to envision a scenario in which such extraordinary insights might need to be suppressed and I quickly settled on a trauma which she might feel partially responsible for.
The magazine I wrote the story for ended up rejecting the story, but it turned out to be for the best as the piece eventually evolved to be much more streamlined and readable, especially in the early sections. I enjoyed the process of discovery writing what turned out to be a meditation on the perception of time, and I’m pleased with how the story flits through a number of genres. I’m always happy when I write a short story that feels like it’s supposed to be short fiction, as opposed to being a small tale set in a larger context or a barebones version of a longer tale. This story is dedicated to my oldest daughter, who just now happens to be the exact same age as Drea, and whom I would completely believe if she told me there was a magic portal in the back of one of our kitchen appliances.
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