By L.S. Johnson (https://traversingz.com/)
Chad Schimke is the author of “Vivified”, “Behind the Walls”, “Picker”, “Weirder”, “Hallowseve” and “Midwinter”: a quirky gaggle of grotesque, bizarre and unsettling tales for your reading pleasure. He is a founder of the Alabama Street Writer’s Group, and a regular interviewee on radio shows. He is currently working on a novel series tentatively entitled Regenerates.
Tell us a little about your story, “Vivified.”
“Vivified” is about second chances. I wanted to write a story about resurrection. Here is the blurb: When a young father doesn’t have access to his car, he decides to take a train ride. No biggie, he’s a successful businessman used to making hard decisions. But a deadly incident will force him to reexamine what’s truly important. Living his best life, and then … dead.
In a sense, “Vivified” tells us two stories: one human, one animal. What inspired you to juxtapose Cliff’s story with the hare’s?
Cliff has everything figured out, and nothing new to learn. His success has made him cocky and arrogant. He’s a selfish jerk who only cares about the bottom line. He’s got a failed relationship and a kid he sees rarely. When he stops by a toy store to buy his daughter a present, he peers into a candy egg. The interior of a diorama, inside a candy Easter egg, reveals Cliff’s opposite: the momma bunny.
The momma bunny is on the other side. She’s utterly innocent and selfless, willing to risk danger to save her babies. She faces great peril but does what’s necessary anyway. She is free from the lure of material possessions or status, because nature gives her what she needs. In essence, she puts her kids first before her own life.
“Vivified” is also the story of transformation. The title means ‘restored to life’. I think that’s what happens, on multiple levels. Cliff is changed forever going forward.
What is your relationship to California, and does California influence your work?
I was raised in rural Northwestern New Mexico and came to California over twenty years ago. Somehow I made a life here in the big city so far away from my beginnings. I’m sad to see changes which have impacted San Francisco for the worse. But I still feel San Francisco holds great promise to effect change, locally and nationally. When I wrote about Cliff’s train ride, it was inspired by the time I took Amtrak to Sacramento on a business trip. I subdued the setting a great deal and changed the name, to keep the focus on the elements I thought were more important.
As writers, we constantly use our imaginations, sometimes in terrifying ways. But can you imagine a hopeful future for California? What might that future look like?
I think California has the collective resources and imagination to do great things, and be of service to the country and the world. I am sometimes disappointed by her shortcomings, but overall California is a force for good.
Where can readers find more of your work?