Another in my series of posts about the genesis of my longer works of fiction, and maybe also about how a couple of shorter ones came about as well. I apologize if I’ve told these stories before, and if you’ve read them before. (Which doesn’t seem terribly likely, in any event.)
I often get ideas from reading other stories. I mentioned that I had the idea for one of my works-in-progress after reading Bryan Smith’s Last Day. In his story, an asteroid is going to hit the Earth, and so the crazies and criminals decide they can do what they want to do with impunity. I thought, what would happen if the Moon was going to hit the Earth? So I set out to write a similar story, but it became something different very quickly.
My story, The Never Ending Night, had its beginnings in a Richard Laymon novel, much like The Cave did. I don’t recall the name of the novel, but it was about a night that doesn’t end. So is mine. One day the sun just doesn’t come up. Laymon’s story focused on a girl who does whatever she does during this odd time. Mine focuses on a neighborhood block, told through the eyes (mostly) of a teenage girl. I give Laymon his props for the story’s idea, even though my work is really nothing like his.
Another horror author I’ve read is Edward Lee. He wrote a book called City Infernal in which Mephistopolis is a literal city in Hell. I liked the concept and started writing something with Hell as a real place, powered by human suffering. And those who cause extreme suffering are agents of this place. The story became Reciprocal Evil, a short novel of maybe 52,000 words. My story focuses on a college kid attending a Jesuit university in Chicago. I’m not sure I name the city and I know I don’t name the college, which allows me a bunch more artistic freedom with locations and things around campus. This kid is studying the nature of evil in his own way, and is searching for meaning in his own life. But along the way he attracts a particularly unsavory character — a serial killer. Again, it really has nothing to do with the Edward Lee story, except for the fact that I started with the idea that Hell is a real physical place, though not in our dimension.
Odd Man Out might be my favorite of my five longer works. As I’ve stated before, it began as a short story, which was written for a contest called THE PUBLICAN BRIEF. For that story, we were given an opening sentence and six random words, and we had to write a story around them. My own was this short story, which came out to about 1,600 words in length. The story was okay. It didn’t win the contest, but people liked it. I liked it; I thought it had an interesting premise: that one of a group of friends was going to eliminate another because of a conflict over a girl. I thought there was a longer story in there somewhere, and one day I started to write it.
Honestly, I thought it would be about seven or eight thousand words when I was done. But it got longer. And longer. Pretty soon it was over thirty thousand words. I think it ended up at something like 37,000 words. I couldn’t leave it where the short story ended, so it became a complete story, and is probably the one I’m most proud of.
I may have one more of these “Ideas” posts in me. I had kind of an interesting experience trying to write a short story, and maybe it too will become a novella or even a novel some day. But for now, I’m going to end this post with the usual comment that, if any of these sound interesting, the links to the Amazon ebooks are right there on your right. The Never Ending Night is $0.99, and both Odd Man Out and Reciprocal Evil are priced at $2.99.
If you read the post called Ideas, you see that I do have some finished stories that just aren’t ready for publication yet. If you’d like to hear about them when they’re released, please sign up for my mailing list. The link is over there at the right, near the top of the page. Or click here: Mail List. Thanks.