I Can’t Promise That No One Gets Killed

Rosalie Morales Kearns

Publisher’s note: This is the introduction I wrote for our short story anthology The Female Complaint: Tales of Unruly Women (Shade Mountain Press, 2015).

There are so many stories behind these stories.

First, the anthology’s title phrase, with its multiple meanings that can’t be pinned down. The term “female complaint” evokes nineteenth-century patent medicines. It hints that femaleness itself is some kind of malady. It speaks to the patriarchal tendency to dismiss outspoken women as complainers.

Then there’s the story of why I chose this theme, which is connected to the story of why the pieces are all by women writers, and that’s connected to the story of why I started Shade Mountain Press. Some readers may remember a glorious wave of women’s anthologies in the 1980s and early ’90s, titles like Midnight Birds: Stories by Contemporary Black Women Writers; Dreams in a Minor Key: Tales of Magic Realism by Women; and What Did Miss Darrington See? An Anthology of Feminist Supernatural Fiction. I was in my twenties at the time, and I devoured these books; I was starved for them. The canon was skewed male; most of the work I was assigned or encouraged to read had been by male authors. Now it seemed that just over the horizon was an era when this exclusion of women would be a thing of the past. Continue reading