Dear Fellow Writer,
Something a bit different this week because I'm proud to announce the release of my very special short story collection, Nine Tales of Terror.
I've been working on getting this released for over a year now - collecting (and re-typing!) my published stories from anthologies, magazines and web posts. I'd lost all the originals in a computer crash - my guess is you know what that's like!
The article today explores the writing journey that ended in the creation of Nine Tales of Terror.
Your Success is My Concern
Your Success is My Concern
THIS WEEK'S ARTICLE:
The Making of a Short Story Compilation
One of the things about being a writing teacher is that you're often asked about your own writing. It's understandable. Writers want to be convinced that your advice is solid. And that you 'show' your teaching and don't just 'tell'!
In Nine Tales of Terror I hope I can demonstrate that some of the tips and techniques I teach actually do work!
A few years back I took a course on character creation and worked hard on creating a character that would become a hero for some of my stories. Enter Patrick Whynowski (pronounced Wonnoff), a rock musician of Irish/Polish descent who, along with Detective Inspector Theresa Maddox, explore supernatural crimes.
My original intention was to create a compilation of Patrick and Theresa stories entitled the Bad Blood Chronicles. I wrote about a dozen - many of which have since been lost. But three of the stories remain in Nine Tales.
Dead Time - the violent murder of a beautiful teenager was committed fifteen years ago. The only witness is now a ghost that resides within the walls of a recording studio. A young psychic is on the trail of the killer - until she too is brutally slain. Ex-rock star Patrick Whynowski and Detective Inspector Theresa Maddox form an unlikely alliance to solve the crimes before the killer strikes again.
Writers often ask me about writing software. Sometimes it seems as though what people desire is for the software to do the writing for them! I wanted to put together a story where that actually happened!
Download - when Ken takes off time from his family and job to finish his novel, he doesn't expect his computer to have other ideas. Locked in a caravan with only his thoughts and his writing skills, Ken must use all his wits - and then some - to fight the software download that might just end up being the death of him.
I picked up a police magazine from my step-mother's house (Robyn's brother is a cop) and read about an horrendous case that was so awful I felt nobody would believe it actually happened without some exploration of the characters involved, hence:
Unpaid Loan - All she wants is her money back but Shirley is a spoilt young rich kid who doesn't know about life on the other side of town. Loosely based on a true event, this story explores the depths of human depravity.
I visited Cambodia some time ago and was struck by the fact that there are so many children there - 86% of the population is under thirty - mainly because most of their parents were killed in a war that lasted over thirty years. It was a bit like being in a bizarre Peter Pan movie. The Naga came out of that.
The Naga - Jimmy takes a trip to Cambodia looking for peace and maybe something more spiritual amongst the ancient ruins of Angkor Watt. But there's a serial killer on the loose - or perhaps it's the dragon god of the Khmer people, wreaking revenge.
I read that one of my writing heroes, Graham Masterton, collects stories of mythological creatures and legends from all over the world for his stories and novels. I kind of do the same - which is how I heard about a stryga - a witch type creature who can become a beautiful girl to seduce men and then kill them after sex.
The Stryga - Something vicious is terrorizing Patrick and his rock band. The Stryga mates with guys and then rips them to shreds. Is this creature from beyond the ultimate cure for infidelity?
Talking of ancient legends - I've always liked the idea of re-writing nursery rhymes into horror stories. You know how it is - certain stories we tell kids have important messages - like Little Red Riding Hood. (Don't trust strangers etc) Hansel and Gretel is one of those stories (Don't get lost in the woods!)
Strange Brew - When a couple go for a hike in the woods, they lose their way and end up in the house of a witch. Sound familiar? Yep, it's Hansel and Gretel brought into the modern age, with more terrifying and more graphic consequences.
Again, looking for ancient legends, I found reference to an irish spirit called a 'Puca" - a kind of ancient shapeshifter. Add in my hero, Patrick, and his family and you get:
Lair of the Puca - In Ireland there's a legend of a shape-shifter called the Puca. It can take any form it chooses. Now, it's chosen to become a savage killing machine bent on destroying Patrick's family. This is the third installment of The Bad Blood Chronicles.
I used to belong to a writer's group and they were almost all science fiction writers. They dared me to write an SF story. Now, SF works (usually) on the presence of a hi-tech artifact around which the plot revolves. I chose an animal!
Common Ground - In the future there will be nowhere left to roam. All the land has been taken by a civilization struggling to exist in hi-tech pods. But amidst the people, there's love for Shenmi and Jonto, despite the interference of Dnez, the gorgeous star of Shenmi's new play. On Regus, people bond for seven cycles and have a pet that monitors - and feeds off - their affection.
Finally, I wanted to think of a horror premise I hadn't seen before. There's been haunted houses and scary basements but I though, what about a haunted cupboard?
The Closet - Imagine you have a cupboard in your house where everything you put disappears. What would you do? How much of your life would you want to get rid of? And how many people could you safely dispose of?
I hope you enjoy my enchanted foray into the supernatural and bizarre. Take a look at my new collection of short stories by clicking on the link below! Also, after you've read them, could you leave a review on Amazon?
I'd appreciate that very much!
The Easy Way to Write
The Easy Way to Write
THIS WEEK'S WRITER'S QUOTE:"God made man because he loves stories." Rabbi Nachman