The Book

9780826359087Lock & Load’s here!

 Order Lock & Load: Armed Fiction

Lock & Load: Armed Fiction examines the use of guns in literary fiction, as objects and metaphors. Lock & Load is the only such collection edited by women; women also wrote more than half the book’s “gun stories.”

In taking no political stance, the editors  conceived the book as a way to spark reasonable conversation on a subject so politicized that it’s become almost impossible to discuss, especially after Sunday’s Las Vegas shootings when we most need rational talk. Literature gives us words and ways into talking about society’s touchy topics.

Lock & Load: Armed Fiction reflects America’s interest in (obsession with?) firearms. We’re writers. We got the idea for the anthology after our own characters surprised us: they pulled guns on the page. Enjoy,  Deirdra and BettyJoyce


Lock & Load took shape in 2014 while we were residents at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Our submissions from our nationwide call showed bold, wide-ranging perspectives on the real and symbolic power of firearms. Authors used them not only as objects but essential objects, real and metaphorical, that advanced and deepened stories.

Inside Lock & Load:

  • Pinckney Benedict’s “Mercy.” Cultures and values collide in Appalachia.
  • Annie Proulx’s “A Lonely Coast.” Contemporary women deal with with guns, trucks, and trouble.
  • Bonnie Jo Campbell’s  “Family reunion” starts with a young girl’s hunger to belong, and ends in rough justice for an unforgivable act.
  • Rick DeMarinis‘s “The Handgun.” The hilariously chilling story of a fraying marriage and a .22 revolver.
  • John Edgar Wideman’s “Tommy.” Desperation drives this intelligent but aimless young African American man into a fatal confrontation.
  • Jim Tomlinson’s “The Accomplished Son” pairs this veteran’s pain with the loss of his father.
  • Thirteen more compelling gun tales told by Mari Alschuler, Daniel Cox, Mary D. Edwards, Elaine LaMattina, John P. Loonam, Deirdra McAfee, BettyJoyce Nash, Nicole Louise Reid, Sara Kay Rupnik, Patricia Schultheis, Joann Smith, Gale Walden, and E.G. Willy.