In the introduction of Trigger Warning part three (for there are several parts) explains Neil Gaiman’s views on introductions by other short story writers:
I would respect authors who did not write an introduction, but I could not truly love them as I loved the authors who made me realize that each of the stories in the anthology was written, actually made up word by word and written down, by someone human, who thought and breathed and walked and probably even sang in the shower, like me.
Now as I’ve mentioned, generally introductions I can take or leave, this passage (and another we’ll touch on in a moment) call to mind two of my very favorite introductions. Both of which I’ve read quite sometime ago but that linger in my mind, that I recall fairly often, and make me feel like I share humanity with the authors.
I met Ray Bradbury (in text of course) the same way that most people do. We were introduce in a crowed classroom, in a public school, when the air conditioning never worked, and no one seemed to pay any attention at all. In the tenth grade the world burned at Fahrenheit 451.
So I liked Bradbury. As I aged I made a special point to read something every October, because he is a haunted dream. Sometime after leaving college I picked up The October Country Stories. And this introduction is when I found our common ground:
… Voices have been talking to me on early morns since I was about twenty-two or twenty-three. I call them my Theater of Morning Voices, and I lie quietly and let them speak in the echochamber between my ears… I jump up (slowly) and get to my typewriter before the echoes die. By noon I have finished another story, or poem, or an act of a play, or a new chapter for a novel.
Then a couple of years ago I found another. An advanced read copy on a table in the bookstore’s break room, Wally Lamb was there in She’s Come Undone. The introduction of the 20th anniversary edition gave me another glimpse at a man who believes that part of writing is just capturing magic already whispering:
Dolores Price first came to me as a voice. I was in the shower after an early morning run, hustling to get ready for my teaching day… “Well, the dork just left me,” the voice said. “Good riddance.” She was unnamed, not yet visible. But in those eight words, she sounded wounded, irreverent, and funny. I liked her immediately.
Another author who hears voices. I’ve gotten on quiet friendly terms with my readings from Wally Lamb. We lay around my apartment, we drink together. Sometimes we take in a movie, but probably an indie flick, we’ll skip the action blockbuster this time so we can stay up late and talk about the meaning of life and eat Twinkies.
Trigger Warning has a little of that same introduction. It ducks and weaves and hides behind other things, but there it is, not far past the General Apology. Gaiman explains a little bit of the origins of each tale. Within the explanation of “The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains…” He begins:
There are stories you build, and there are stories you construct, then there are stories that you hack out of rock, removing all the things that are not story…And still I wonder how much of the story I wrote, and how much was simply waiting there for me, like the gray rocks that sit like bones on the low hills of Skye.
I hear the voices too, although I haven’t set pen to paper to tell them yet. At night before sleep I can hear dialogue of people not there, telling me the tales like a bedtime story. In my dreams the dialogue has color, breaking glass, gunpowder, and tenderness. I’ve got a muse telling me stories some day I’ll have to share them.