Roy Trumbull has just posted his latest installment in his podcast readings of science fiction stories, and for this one he’s chosen my story “To Market, To Market: The Branding of Billy Bailey,” which was published in my first short story collection A Place So Foreign and Eight More. Roy really nailed the reading — this is one of my more comic stories, about elementary school kids who worry endlessly about their personal brands and sponsorship opportunities.
Billy and Principal Andrew Alty went all the way back to kindergarten, when Billy had convinced Mitchell McCoy that the green fingerpaint was Shamrock Shake, and watched with glee as the little babyface had scarfed it all down. Billy knew that Andrew Alty knew his style: refined, controlled, and above all, personal. Billy never would’ve dropped a dozen M-80s down the girls’ toilet. His stuff was always one-on-one, and possessed of a degree of charm and subtlety.
But nevertheless, here was Billy, along with the sixth-grade bumper-crop of nasty-come-latelies, called on the carpet in front of Andrew Alty’s massive desk. Andrew Alty was an athletic forty, a babyface true-and-through, and a charismatic thought-leader in his demographic.