Saturday, January 15, 2011

In which the writer actually (gasp!) talks writing...

It's been a while since I mentioned any new stories here, but that doesn't mean I haven't been working on any. Time was, I'd finish a story, write a post on what inspired it, and then send it unsteady and downy-feathered off into the world, fingers crossed someone would take it in and give it a good home. Lately, though, I've been fortunate enough that folks are actually (for some ungodly reason) asking me for stories, which, though gratifying, makes for less compelling blog-fodder. ("The inspiration for this leprechaun-gold-heist-caper is someone asked me for a leprechaun-gold-heist caper, and then I wrote it."*)

To be clear, I don't think these stories are in any sense inferior to those whose premises I plucked out of the clear blue sky; in fact, I kind of love the challenge of taking an assignment and making it my own. But it does make the process a tad less sexy. (Less sexy than surfing the web in your PJs with bedhead until some random bit of nothing catches your interest? That, my friend, is crazy talk!**)

Anyways, the point I've been lazily circling for like two hundred words now is I've recently written a few new stories, and I figured I'd talk a bit about them here. No, I won't tell you when and where you can read them, because a) I'm not entirely sure when they're coming out, b) I consider any project top-secret until the editor of said project goes public with it, and c) as far as I'm concerned, the folks I wrote them for are under no obligation to publish them, should they, uh, hate 'em or whatever.

So yeah. Three new stories. As follows.

"The Man in the Alligator Shoes" is a flash piece (depending on your definition, since it comes in three words shy of 1,000) about a decent man corrupted by the loss of his wife, and determined to exact revenge. It was inspired, in part, by my recent bout of unemployment, the sad state of the economy, and the broken, corrupt machine that is our health-care system. Kind of a lot of baggage for a flash piece, I know, but too often, flash ignores character in favor of a rug-yank of a twist (I see flash as similar to jokes in structure -- all setup and punchline), and I wanted to see if I could write a character-driven story within the confines of the word-count. Whether I was successful or not, I'll leave to the audience to decide.

"The Putdown" is a 3,200-word bit of country-fried noir, and it features the best opening scene I think I've ever written. It's the story of a man looking back at a life spent in the thrall of a best friend he's slowly come to realize is a charismatic sociopath. For those who've read my Ellery Queen debut "The World Behind" (available here with seven other tales for the rock-bottom price of $0.99!), I sort of think of this story as what might've happened had things worked out differently for its antagonist, Billy McMahon, and his wheedling sidekick, Mike Harrington.

And last but (hopefully) not least, "An Open Door." "An Open Door" is a creepy little ghost story inspired by the cheesiest, awesomest, bro-I-got-chills-havingest show on all of television: Ghost Adventures. This story differs from the other two in that it wasn't written with a market in mind; it sort of popped into my head fully formed (borne no doubt of my full-on obsession with this equal parts terrifying and hilarious show). Two days and 3,000 words later, it was done. And speaking of creepy, not an hour after I finished it, I got an email from an editor friend asking if I'd be interested in submitting a 3,000-word horror story. Weird, right? Oh, and just for kicks, "An Open Door" centers around an abandoned mill fans of "Seven Days of Rain" might find eerily familiar...

So that's what I've been up to. Details on the wheres and whens as I have them. As for what comes next... I've got another short or two I'd like to bang out, and then maybe, just maybe, a new novel -- 'cause damn do I have a hell of an idea for one. Looks like whatever mojo problems I've been struggling with are in my rearview...

*This example is fictitious. Don't go stealing it, though, 'cause OMFG I NEED TO WRITE A LEPRECHAUN-GOLD-HEIST-CAPER.

**Who, exactly, am I addressing here? 'Cause it sort of reads like I'm talking to myself, but as someone else. Speaking of crazy talk. Seriously, it's half-assed self-indulgent parentheticals like this one that keep editors gainfully employed.