At the start of 2021, as the UK came out of Covid lockdown and I finished my Black Archive on The Talons of Weng-Chiang, I decided I wanted to get some more short stories published. I like writing short stories, and I’d realised that I was only really writing them now when people asked me if I would, and that averaged out at around one a year. Short stories are - you’ll be unsurprised to hear - quicker to write than novels or book-length essays on 1970s television programmes, and frankly if I liked writing them there was no good reason why I couldn’t produce them faster than that. I’d also started listening to the Escape Pod and Clarkesworld podcasts, and that opened my eyes to how many places there were out there looking for the kind of stories that I liked to write.
I’d written a couple of stories prior to Joy that had been rejected from both those podcasts and more, but I was still trying. In July 2021, Escape Pod announced they were looking for submissions on the theme of “Joy”, and I resolved to have a story ready for them.