Mix Tape for The Girl & The Fox Pirate

Yes! There’s a song for every story in the collection.

Listen along on the Spotify Playlist, and check out some liner notes below.

1. Now They Would Behave – The Act We Act by SUGAR

You can lower yourself and bathe in the churning mood of this song, and only find true release from its agitation at the bridge. I find comfort in the relentlessness of Sugar’s music when I struggle with the weird energy of family relationships. In the opening story of my collection, that energy takes physical shape and becomes a dragon that must be controlled. The act we act is wearing thin for Darcy as she tries to counteract bad dynamics with a new ritual, but patterns are hard to break.

2. Ruby Throated – New Mistake by JELLYFISH

The bumbling cheerfulness of this tune pushes against its tale of accidental pregnancy and generational errors, and includes excellent visuals like polliwogs swimming from a pen and lovers on roller skates. In Ruby Throated, Calla is a weary NICU nurse, and Antonio is her patient artist who brings forth a flock of birds with his drawing pen. I think of couples navigating their level of commitment and future plans as practicing a magic of faith, like hummingbirds flying across vast expanses of water with no land in sight.

3. Things to Do While Listening to Your Brother on the Phone – Arsonist’s Lullaby by HOZIER

Don’t you ever tame your demons/But always keep ‘em on a leash is a shapeshifting challenge in any given moment in your life. In this very short piece, a sibling struggles to support her brother handle his.

4. Maps – Swim Good by FRANK OCEAN

One more mile t’ill the road runs out…Kick off my shoes and swim good/take off this suit.

5. Radioactive – Timeless Melody by THE LAs

In Radioactive, the narrator’s alcoholic sister finds comfort in the stories of helpless animals because she can’t face her own past. “I never say what I want to say” might be the truest thing about Rose. Is it the drinking that’s keeping her from speaking her truth?

6. It Grew to a Certain Size – Are You All Right? by LUCINDA WILLIAMS

7. National Treasure – To Be Without You by RYAN ADAMS

I wrote this story after I received a photograph of an older woman holding a monkey from the wonderful lit mag People Holding. I decided the woman was holding the animal as she cradled pain. “I feel empty, I feel tired, I feel worn.” She never really had her man and she lost her baby. The drinking and obsession here are of course coping mechanisms, and we’re left wondering why she couldn’t move past these losses and forge a more satisfying life.

8. Flight Helmet – Cure for Pain by MORPHINE

9. Nightshade – Jesus, etc. by WILCO

Bitter melodies turning your orbit around strikes me as a fantastic description of a teenager becoming aware of the authoritarian machines controlling her life. Everyone in Nightshade seems concerned about Laurie’s odd behavior at church, but their attention to her reveals an inability to recognize their own conformity.

10. Baby Dreams – Henry by SOCCER MOMMY

Fun fact: Many of these stories were edited on the sidelines of soccer fields.

11. Yes vs. No – Answering Machine by THE REPLACEMENTS

The desperate, sexual, jangly anger of this particular song has feels like the voice of the narrator’s brief love interest in “Yes vs. No.” He’s upset she’s rebuked him and when threatening letters don’t work, he begins leaving messages. “How do you say I’m lonely to an answering machine?/I hate your answering machine.”

12. Fat Girl Lament – Der Kommisssar by FALCO

13. The Girl and the Fox Pirate – New York by RICHARD ASHCROFT

14. Sexpot Mermaid – The City by THE 1975

The 80’s John Hughes soundtrack vibe of this whole album reminds me of adolescence in New York, where I practiced my tennis swing against a concrete handball wall of my junior high. When I was too lazy to walk around I climbed the chain link fence and tore my thighs to shreds. I tried to bake the confused desperation of teen relationships and the gritty possibility of sex on asphalt into this story.

15. Young Blood – Flesh Without Blood by GRIMES

The bridge of this song pulses with the underwater thud of a heartbeat, a wooshing through a vein towards the engine of all things. I’ve dissected sharks with fourth graders twice now, and there’s always something new to learn.

16. Our Grief is a Receipt of Our Love – Wednesday/No Se Apoye by MIKE DOUGHTY

I just want to stay this joyous hour/your sorrow is beautiful/to me tonight. This dreamy, experimental piece is weird and cold, full of fear of abandonment and loss of control. Don’t lean against the door—you might fall through.

17. Cheerleader – Jungle by PARROT DREAM

The couple in Cheerleader is the same as in Ice Cream Truck. When Storychord published the latter, the editor paired. Parrot Dream’s lush song with it. Jungle’s mood evokes this second Paul and Gina story too.

18. Give Me Your Hand and I Will Pull You Up – Stop Talking by CHRIS PRICE

This story germinated from some strong visuals at a good friend’s 30th birthday party, including a fabulous polka-dot dress. Price’s frenetic commands in Stop Talking capture the energy of the narrator’s desperate need to control his ex girlfriend and see patterns in his life. I’m always seeing signs that there’s more to life than being next to grace…Stop talking about life/I’m already dead.

19. Wedding Season – Gold by THE SHELTERS

There’s certainly an old school sunny California sound to Gold but I hear a melancholy warning of sorts to the lines (“it’s all what you make it/everything I touch turns gold”) that accompanies the complexity of marriage like puzzle pieces clicking together.

20. I See the Way Your Eyes Follow Me at Target – Shadowboxer by FIONA APPLE

This song played while my first boyfriend and I coasted down a particular canyon road in the Rocky Mountains. He always drove a little too fast. The swaying of the car and Fiona Apple’s prep for a fight have been intertwined for me ever since. Midlife is like that too, in the ways we bob and weave with strangers and our desire.

21. Underwater – Seven Sisters by THE SHOUTING MATCHES

I’ve read so many stories about the loss of self for first time mothers, but fewer about fathers. I have a fair amount of sympathy for the dad’s bravado in “Underwater.” He’s really messing it up, yearning for a carefree youth he never really had, missing his pre-baby relationship: “I can’t find my lover,” as the Seven Sisters sing. He doesn’t recognize himself anymore and he’s afraid about how his daughter will turn out with him as a dad.

22. The Motherhood Gig – Star Witness by NEKO CASE

Neko’s thick, honeyvoice comforted me while I hid under the covers in the middle of the night, nursing my first son. She is a salve and a call to arms.

23. The Wolves Within – UFOs and Angels by FONTAINE

I had the privilege of living next door to the Fontaine’s main practice locale and had a rule that if I heard them playing on a Sunday afternoon I dropped everything to sit down to write as long as they were making music. I wrote The Wolves Within shortly after catching one of their Indianapolis shows at The Melody Inn. I think I’ve heard UFOs and Angels 200 times and I’ll never get tired of it.

24. A Tender Place – Even Here We Are by PAUL WESTERERG

25. Predator Swamping – Motherless Children by ROSANNE CASH

26. Old Growth Forests – Forever Young by LIL YACHTY, DIPLO

27. XOXO – Lake Michigan by ROGUE WAVE

28. Foot Licking Bandit – Viper’s Nest KAIA KATER

29. Pineapple Pattern Cut-Out Swimsuit, Girl’s Size 7 – I’m Hungry by THE SUGARCUBES

The Sugarcubes was one of the first cassette tapes I played in my Sony Walkman when I began jogging around the reservoir as a teenager. Listen, I’m hungry/thirsty for surprises/ready for experience; like so many young women, I’ve wasted too much time confusing types of hunger.

30. Narcissus and the Beaver – Good Times Roll Pt 2 by RJD2

The woman in this story is trapped in a life loop, looking for signs that she’ll arrive at some destination. She’s running hills, dialed into the seasons, but not asking the right questions. If the beavers do speak to her, they should tell her to listen more carefully to the music on her playlist: “Part 2 Are you ready/What do you want to hear?”

31. Tests of Agility – Favorite Waitress by THE MODIFIERS

32. New Wavelengths – Who by DAVID BYRNE + ST VINCENT

33. Hey Honey, You Can Play My Flute Anytime – Done by FRAZEY FORD

An anthem I sing under my breath on the regular: I was taking every hit from you, you drive-by son of a bitch and I’m done. You have more power than you know.

34. The Luster of Minerals – Under Your Skin by LUSCIOUS JACKSON

I never saw LJ live in the 1990s but they are one of my favorite bands of the era. Their confident groove soars the way I want the message of this story to lift women away from the negative consumerism around aging and beauty.


Contact Kate


Kate Gehan was born and raised in New York City and is a graduate of Haverford College and Emerson College’s MFA program. Among many publications, her writing has appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Split Lip Magazine, Literary Mama, People Holding, and as a winner of Midwestern Gothic’s Flash Fiction Summer 2016 series. Kate read as a cast member of the 2014 Listen to Your Mother Show and her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, The Best of the Net, and Wigleaf’s 50 (Very) Short Fictions. She lives with her family in the Midwest.


Photo Credit: Susan Fletcher Conaway



The Girl & The Fox Pirate

Short story collection from Mojave River Press available from major online retailers!

Barnes & Noble



Kate Gehan’s debut collection of thirty-four stories is a wry, tender, and inventive exploration of the ways we manage relationships with our siblings, spouses, children, and even ourselves. Qualities of magic realism permeate her writing as characters navigate problems in a world where tumultuous emotions may literally burst into flight. In “Now They Would Behave” a family’s discord manifests as an escaped dragon they must tame. In “It Grew to a Certain Size,” a mother blames herself for her daughter’s death and finds solace conversing with her talking pet pig. In “New Wavelengths” a woman harnesses unexpected natural power to seek revenge on her harasser. Gehan also lasers her insight to critique narrow definitions of female beauty, ultimately inviting us to envision a more glorious society.

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“In the Tall Grass the Rabbits Are on the Move,” in Mom Egg Review – Mother Figures – vol. 20-2022 (print and PDF only)

“Turn on Your Machines,” (mac)ro(mic) (January 2022)

“Ice Melt,” Cotton Xenomorph (August 2021)

“Remediation,” Janus Literary (Issue 4, June 2021)

“Low Pink Star,” SmokeLong Quarterly (Issue 72, June 2021)

“Maximum Thrill Level,” Fictive Dream (June 2020)

“Only the Fruit Bearing Trees,” X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine (September 2019)

“Swarm,” in Things Left and Found By the Side of the Road – Bath Flash Fiction Anthology, Volume Three (Ad Hoc Fiction – print only)

“New Ink,” Little Fiction (2018 Flash Fiction Issue)

“Secret Jungles” and “Life Guarding,” Mojave River Review (Spring/Summer 2018)

“Flight Helmet,” CHEAP POP (February 2018)

“When Amy Turned Wild,” The Airgonaut (February 2018) *A collaborative story written with Lori Sambol Brody

“Microplastics are Everywhere,” After the Pause (Volume 4, Issue 4, Winter 2017)

“Alone and Not Alone,” Lost Balloon (October 2017)

“Young Blood” and “Maps,” Mojave River Review (Fall/Winter 2016)

“A Tender Place,” Midwestern Gothic (Flash Fiction Series Summer 2016)* Round 2 Finalist

“Underwater,” Halo Literary Magazine (Issue #1, July 2016)

“Ice Cream Truck,” Storychord (Issue #123, June 2016)

“Ruby Throated,” Atticus Review (The Lost and Found Issue, March 2016)

“National Treasure,” People Holding (December 2015)

“Radioactive,” WhiskeyPaper (December 2015)

“Give Me Your Hand and I Will Pull You Up,” Chicago Literati (Damaged Goods: The Break-Up Issue, December 2015)

“XOXO,” Third Point Press (Issue #2, September 2015) *Featured on 101 Words’ Flash Fiction Sunday Edition-Issue 23

“Modern Vampire,” The Stockholm Review (Issue #4, October 2014) *Nominated for The Pushcart Prize

“Dolls,” Mojave River Review (Summer 2014)

“The Girl and the Fox Pirate,” Pithead Chapel (Volume #3, Issue #7, July 2014)

“The Motherhood Gig,” Luna Luna Magazine (June 2014) *Featured on Longform Fiction and on Ravishly’s Fiction Friday (January 2015)

“Funeral Song,” Crack the Spine (Issue #106, March 2014)

“I See the Way Your Eyes Follow Me at Target” and “Fat Girl Lament,” Literary Orphans (Issue #10: Bettie, January 2014)

“Theory of Relativity,” MetroFiction (December, 2013)

“Things to Do While Listening to Your Brother on the Phone,” WhiskeyPaper (November 2013)  *Longlisted at Wigleaf’s Top 50 (Very) Short Fictions 2014.

“Cupcakes in Wonderland,” Literary Mama (September 2013)

“The Braid,” Inwood Indiana (Issue #6)

“When You Were Six,” Muddy River Poetry Review (Issue #8, Spring 2013)

“Manic Sex and Depression,” Used Furniture Review (June, 2012)

“Woman Turning 30 Becomes Foot-Licking Bandit,” 971 MENU  (February, 2011)


“Malignant,” New Flash Fiction Review (March, 2022)

“August 12, 2010,” Past Ten (August, 2020)

“The Small Sorrow of this Magnificent Body,” Atlas and Alice (May, 2020 Special Issue: Global Pandemic X The Thing I Took for Granted)

“Five Into Forty-Nine Is a Fraction,” Pidegonholes (September, 2019)

“Top Ten Times Music Saved Me in 2018,Little Fiction (Top 10 Lists, December 2018)

“On ‘Helpless’ by Sugar,” Memoir Mixtapes (Vol. 4 B Sides, April 2018)

“It Is the Worst Nightmare,” (b)OINK (Issue 3, March 2017)

“Love Cairn,” Split Lip Magazine (Issue #15, July-September 2015)

“Neko Takes the Stage,” Sundog Lit (Issue #6, June 2014) *Nominated for Sundress Publication’s Best of the Net 2014 Anthology

“Tips for Your Mommy Blog,” McSweeney’s Internet Tendency (March, 2011)

Interviews + Readings

“x marks the heart” – Mr. Bear’s Violet Hour Saloon devoted to The Girl & The Fox Pirate (November, 2018)

Research Notes at Necessary Fiction (October, 2018)

Book Bites with Steph Post (October, 2018)

A Conversation with Kate Gehan – Mojave River Review Spring/Summer Issue (June, 2018)

Writers at Work interview at TRUE – Proximity Magazine’s Blog (December, 2017)

Mr. Bear’s Violet Hour Saloon (Boston Free Radio, 2014)

Listen to Your Mother  (Reading, 2014)

Listen to Your Mother (Cast Spotlight, 2014)

Our Stories (Q&A, 2010)