I have written several short stories that feature a young woman named Cassie Zukav. She was introduced in a story called “How You Can Prevent Forest Fires…” in the 1997 anthology Urban Nightmares, an collection of stories based on urban legends co-edited by me and the late Josepha Sherman. A grad student in San Diego, she finds herself haunted by stories about divers being found burned alive in forest fires.
Cassie seemed to die at the end of that story, but she’s a hardy woman, and I brought her back in 2011 for the short story “Ragnarok and Roll,” which established that she’d gotten her Masters degree and moved to Key West, Florida.
I first visited Key West in 1993 when my ex-wife and I went for our first anniversary. I’ve been back many many times since — it’s a magical place ($1, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), and it’s full of nifty ghost lore and weird stories and fantastic history. It’s the perfect place to set urban fantasy stories, and since 2011 I’ve written more than a dozen featuring Cassie as she learns that she’s a Dis, a Norse fate goddess. She spends her days as a dive-master at the Seaclipse Dive Shop, her nights hanging out at Mayor Fred’s Saloon in Old Town listening to the house band 1812 play. She also encounters several Norse gods, the ghost of a wrecker captain (and a few other ghosts besides), an immortal barfly, a musician who steals people’s soul (singular deliberate there), a nixie, a water fae, a mermaid, a possessed doll, and more.
A good entry point to the Cassie stories is “Down to the Waterline,” which is available for free online at BuzzyMag. And if you like that one, you’ll probably like the others, nine of which are available in the collection Ragnarok and Roll: Tales of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet. Here they all are, in chronological story order:
“How You Can Prevent Forest Fires…” (Urban Nightmares, 1997; reprinted in Ragnarok and Roll, 2013)
“Down to the Waterline” (BuzzyMag, 2015)
“Ragnarok and Roll” (Tales from the House Band Volume 1, 2011; reprinted in Ragnarok and Roll and also in Apocalypse 13, 2012)
“I Believe I’m Sinkin’ Down” (Tales from the House Band Volume 2, 2012; reprinted in Ragnarok and Roll)
“Undine the Boardwalk” (Bad-Ass Faeries: It’s Elemental, 2014; reprinted in Ragnarok and Roll)
“Love Over and Over” (Ragnarok and Roll)
“William Did It” (Story of the Month Club, 2015; reprinted in A Baker’s Dozen of Magic, 2016)
“Rán for Your Life” (Unearthed, 2019)
“Cayo Hueso Part 1: A Farewell to Cats” (standalone eBook, 2013; reprinted in Ragnarok and Roll, collected in limited-edition Story Bundle eBook Cayo Hueso: A Tale of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet, 2015)
“Cayo Hueso Part 2: The Buck Stops Here” (standalone eBook, 2013; reprinted in Ragnarok and Roll, collected in limited-edition Story Bundle eBook Cayo Hueso: A Tale of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet, 2015)
“Cayo Hueso Part 3: Twisting Fate” (standalone eBook, 2013; reprinted in Ragnarok and Roll, collected in limited-edition Story Bundle eBook Cayo Hueso: A Tale of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet, 2015)
“God of Blunder” (Ragnarok and Roll)
“Fish Out of Water” (Out of Tune, 2014)
“Seven-Mile Race” (Without a License: The Fantastic Worlds of Keith R.A. DeCandido, 2015)
“Behind the Wheel” (TV Gods: Summer Programming, 2017)
And I have more burbling in my head, worry not. Cassie’s not going anywhere, and I already have an agreement with Plus One Press (publishers of the first collection) to do a second collection once I have enough stories for it, to be titled Ragnarok and a Hard Place.
(There are also two Cassie vignettes available to folks who support my Patreon: “A Windy Night in December at Mayor Fred’s Saloon,” which takes place between “Fish Out of Water” and “Seven-Mile Race,” and “Papa’s Pool,” which takes place in 1938.)