The Story Behind the Stories
"The Late Mr. Folsom's Luminosity Shop" by Megan Beals
The Late Mr. Folsom's Luminosity Shop has had a long road to publication, that ended nearly
where it started.
With apologies to the Medicine Show, when I first wrote Luminosity Shop, I was trying to fit an
anthology call. I don't usually write to anthologies because they're usually so specific that there's
no way to sell the story if the anthology passes on it, but I liked the design of this one. Each story
was set inside a shop on a specific street like Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter books, and the
writer was given free rein to tell whatever fantasy they could imagine living just inside their
chosen storefront. I obviously did not make it into the anthology because you are reading
Luminosity Shop for the first time here, and I think it might be because I made too many
assumptions about the world outside my storefront.
While I was disappointed that Mr. Folsom didn't fit the anthology, I still loved the story. Both
Florence and Oren were passionate in their extremely narrow focuses, and the crossover between
those interests allowed for a deep friendship to develop. Completely unconsciously, I wrote the
sort of relationship that I wanted to see in more stories. (I think most authors do this, but
probably more authors are conscious of the decisions they make with regards to narrative.)
Anyway, I thought the relentless optimism of this story would eventually find another market, but
because I read way too much into rejection letters, I thought it would first need more story.
I was wrong. I tried very hard to turn this into a novel, filling in unnecessary details about the
luminariums place in the wider society, designing guilds that controlled the city, even a system of
defense against rogue mermaids. It got very big, and very far away from the humble Luminosity
Shop, and the sweet and simple friendship between Oren and Florence. So much so that I changed
all the names in that novel and decided that it lived in a different universe from the luminosity
The story I had written initially only needed a light scrubbing. I think it even ended up with the
exact same word count as the draft that was previously rejected. And I am so happy to share it
here at Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show. Thanks for reading!
Megan Lee Beals lives in Tacoma, Washington with her husband and one-eyed cat. She works in
a bookstore and collects hobbies like they're Pokémon. At the moment, she's knitting a sweater,
cutting stencils, and rebuilding a 1970's camper van with her husband. Her fiction has appeared on
The Iowa Review, Cast of Wonders, and The Toasted Cake podcast. You can find her (and a
myriad of illustrations for her stories) on Instagram @meganbeees or at
Read more of The Story Behind the Stories