There are times in life to be humble, and others when one wants all the credit due one. This is one of the latter. For I think I deserve a heaping helping of, “Oh, you’re brilliant!” for having the foresight to lure Becke Davis and her extraordinary talent and incomparable enthusiasm over to the Pink Side last year.
For by association today, we at RBTB can bask in Becke’s glory since Becke this weekend was chosen as a contender for top prize in round three of NPR’s Three-Minute Fiction Contest! NPR offers listeners/viewers a photographic prompt, then asks them to submit a 600-word max short story. NPR’s book critic chooses the contenders and winners.
Becke’s story, “Deus Ex Machina” was chosen from more than 3,000 entries, and when you read it you’ll see that Jonathan Railey of the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop had this to say about it
“Becke Davis' voice-driven 'Deus Ex Machina' is fun and meta-fictive. It's the literary equivalent of a basket of late night fried mozzarella cheese sticks.”
Now, we all know what cheese sticks are, and, since we’ve read Becke here awhile, you know how tasty her entertaining pieces can be. But are you goin, “Huh? Meta-whative?”
Well, just keep in mind as you read Becke’s short story, that within it her character refers to a literary device called “deus ex machina,” which is – simplistically put -- a kind of cheesy way an author ties up a sticky plot problem with an “out of the blue” character or solution. Because she uses the device later, her story then becomes a work of fiction that refers to a fiction device. That’s the “metafiction,” part, again, put really unsophisticated-like. Becke’s kind of poking fun at the idea of deus ex machina, then herself for using it.
Becke says she loves writing to prompts like the photo in this NPR contest, and recalls an 8th-grade teacher who inspired her love of this style of creative motivation. "It's like the event awhile back where the Romance Bandits wrote vignettes on TheRomanceDish.com," she says, "and asked people to complete them." She won that contest! And, believe it or not, Becke jammed out "Deus Ex Machina" in under an hour, thinking she was just limboing in under the deadline pole.
Becke's kind of a "Goddess in the Machine" 'round here, dropping into RBTB from out the cyberblue and helping to make things more fun along with the new RBTB team. We couldn’t be more proud of her, and are kind of bracing ourselves for when we lose her to her full-time writing career. In the meantime, we’ll look forward to more of her exceptional RBTB posts, short stories like her exclusive for RBTB, “Silver and Gold,” and to her dynamic presence here and elsewhere online.
Did I mention I discovered her?
Chat about Becke's NPR story here! Why do you love/not love the deus ex machina device? Is it ever ok to use? Like, you know, when the parish priest shows up and proves the hero's not a groom, but a duke, and the heroine's first-marriage lines weren't legal and...