There never seems to be enough time…
For the last couple of years, I’ve posted either a short story on this site every two weeks. It’s been fun (and often challenging), but I think it’s time to take a break. I’m working on the third Shadows novel, and I need to do more on the marketing/business side of writing and publishing. Add in other work and family, and I need to consider how to use my time and energy most effectively—and so the short stories will be put on hold for a while.
But I still want to keep posting here, so over the next few weeks I’m going to write about some of the older stories—a little background information and so on. This does mean that these posts might contain spoilers—but you can always click on the links (titles) to read the stories first.
I’ll start with some of my favourites.
I think this is the story I’m proudest of. It’s also one of the few I’ve written that deal with reality.
It’s hard to escape the seemingly increasing news reports of a lone person killing many innocent victims, either with a ‘proper’ weapon (and school shootings spring to mind here) or utilising something like a vehicle as a weapon. And, of course, we’re shocked by what happens. We watch the images on TV and internet, and we hear about the lives lost. We ask how something like this could ever happen.
And then we go about our lives. Because, really, what else can we do?
But for some people, this isn’t an option. Maybe they were there, and they struggle to come to terms with what they experienced and witnessed. Or maybe they lost loved ones, and every waking moment is now a reminder that their family member or friend is no longer around. These are the real victims—the ones who survive, only to repeatedly face the tragedy as they struggle to come to terms with what has happened.
I have never been in a situation like this, and I doubt I can fully imagine what it must be like. But Waiting is an attempt to do that. And it’s a way to remind myself that, for every incident like this, the number of people it affects is far larger than those present.
This was fun to write, so having a title that quotes Lewis Carrol made perfect sense. It was also tricky—there’s a lot that happens, and editing it all down to under a thousand words took some time. Having each section start and end mid-sentence helped here—it’s surprising how much we fill in the blanks when we read.
There’s also a nod to Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. For all the flack he gets for the endings of his books (and I have to agree that many of them leave me pretty non-plussed), I did like how that series (spoiler alert) ended with the realisation that it was cyclic.
I though this could work well for a sort-of-horror short, with someone trapped in a loop but not realising it. I hope it works, and I’m pleased with how this story turned out.
This was one of the first shorts I wrote for this website, but it’s still one of my favourites. It started with an image—an old man, standing on his back step at dusk, calling for his cat. That was all I had, and I started writing whatever came to mind.
I’ve done this kind of discovery writing for a few stories, and it’s always interesting to see where they go. With this one, the discovery of what had happened to his wife was a surprise, and hopefully it works as a surprise for the reader too.
I went for a kind of retro sci-fi vibe with this, like Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (one of my favourite films). But the story itself was influenced by Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. I only got round to reading this book recently (I know, I know—but there are so many books to read!), and I found myself wondering how book burning would work in the digital age. It’s easy to grab paper copies and destroy them, but with the internet, digital files can be everywhere, and they can be replicated over and over. If books were to be ‘burned’ now, there would not be bonfires in the streets, but simply data being replaced with a string of zeroes.
So, a few of my favourites. Next week, I’ll tell you about some of the stories that link in to my Dominions series, and how writing those shorts helped me discover more about the characters in those books.
But before then, there are over fifty stories free to read here, and, as always, I’d love to hear what you think.