The Stories Behind the Story: In the End was the Word

Okay, I’ve updated twice in the span of a month. Still not great, but better than once a year, right? Anyway, here is the latest in my series about the stories behind the story.

In the End was the Word

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN ANOTHER 100 HORRORS (JUNE 2013)

Photo "Sacred And Profane: Bloody Typewriter" © Bryan Bruchman

“Sacred And Profane: Bloody Typewriter” © Bryan Bruchman


Read “In the End was the Word” now.

There’s honestly not too much to this story. I had heard the call for submissions for the Another 100 Horrors anthology and thought it sounded like a fun diversion: Write a horror story in exactly 100 words.

Of course, I realized that this meant my story would end up as nothing more than a gimmick. Once I realized that, I embraced it and the gears started turning.

I was taking a bath (a great solution for restless leg syndrome, btw) when the idea hit me. What if a doctor told me that I only had 100 words left to live? Of course, the solution is simple, don’t write. But for a writer, you might as well kill them right then and there. What is a writer that can’t write?

Did I do the idea justice? Nope. Did I have fun with it? Yup. Sometimes that’s all that matters. As for the title, it also came to me while I was in the bath. I rushed out, wrote the whole thing in about five minutes, and that was that.

Sadly, the story is out of print. I’m thinking about putting together a nice little PDF of the story and releasing it here for free. It has been done. Check the top of this post.

The Stories Behind the Story: The Devil’s Hat

After almost a year of no updates I think it’s about time I continue my “stories behind the story” series.

The Devil’s Hat

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED BY INTERSTELLAR FICTION (OCTOBER 2012)

buy_amanita_fly3_zpsfd93eecd

Read “The Devil’s Hat” now.

Ah yes, my foray into something resembling cyberpunk. This story started life as a submission for an anthology call. It didn’t make the cut, but that’s okay, because it still found a home and that’s all that matters, right?. I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure out which anthology it was originally written for.

I knew I wanted to write science fiction, because I hadn’t written much sci-fi previously. Once I had the idea for a far future where the real world and the connected world could be traversed seamlessly, it all fell into place. The politics of the internet in the US — especially in regards to net neutrality — inspired much of the backstory that is only briefly mentioned. I wrote pages of notes. This story generated more world building than I had ever done before. Orelli, his corporation, the wars, the technology, the priests, all have very specific backgrounds.

I’m always been quite fond of writing stories inspired by songs (see the story behind The Lady Electric) and while this story wasn’t directly inspired by a song, I was listening to the debut album, It’s Always Something, from Taxes pretty obsessively. I spent much of my later teenager years listening to singer Robby Cronholm’s previous band, Crumb, so when I found his new band was pretty happy. One lyric in particular from “Acquaintances, Accomplices” worked its way into the story.

Friends and spun-out fiends / They were cut from the same cloth

Don’t worry, I asked Robby for permission, which he kindly granted and from there we formed a bit of an e-mail acquaintanceship which is a post for another day. Nevertheless, I’m very happy to have that bit in my story from someone who inspired me all those years ago.

Lastly, I’m not a fan of the ending. I re-wrote it a few times and was never happy with it. Now that I’m older and maybe a little wiser I think I should have gone with my gut and trunked the story rather than published something I wasn’t completely happy with. But perfection is impossible and if I would never get anything published if I only strove for perfection.

The internet has changed even more since I wrote this story; net neutrality, Snowden’s leaks, digital privacy, all topics that form the themes of this world. There’s a lot I could write about and I hope to revisit this world in the future. I have a basic outline for at least two more short stories and a novel. Some day…

What’s My Excuse?

Updates have been a bit sporadic on the blog lately and may continue to be for some time because I’m crunching on stories right now. (Yum!) I’ve finished two stories in the last couple of weeks (and I’m still editing one for them). I also wrote 80% of a third story and 20% of a fourth story. I’m revising an old bit of flash for a new market and writing a handful of drabbles because they’re fun. Oh, and I wrote a poem recently, too! My first poem since I was a teenager. I have five stories out to market, which is wonderful because a month ago I had zero.

All this to say that I’ve been very, very busy. Did I mention I have a six week old at home? (He’s super awesome, thanks for asking.)

Ink Contest Results

Thanks to the always-fair random.org, a winner has been chosen and contacted. I won’t announce it here until everything is confirmed because sometimes people supply bad e-mail addresses (or in this case, none at all) so a little guesswork is involved. I’ll update this post accordingly when I make contact.

Thanks to everyone who entered and extra huge big thanks to Damien for spreading the word on the contest.

Update: Vitina Molgaard is the winner! Congratulations and thanks again to everyone who participated.

Women in Horror: Recommended Short Stories (Part 3)

I’m feeling generous so today I bring you three horror stories by women, all worth reading.

“Broken” by Mercedes M. Yeardley

This story is not available online, but can be read in Mercedes’ first short story collection, Beautiful Sorrows. It’s only twenty-one words long, but it is everything you need for a horror story. Every time I step on a twig, I shudder and think of it.

“Secretario” by Catherynne M. Valente

Can be read here. This is the story that introduced me to Catherynne’s work. I’m not sure if it qualifies as a horror story, but then again I find that sometimes horror works better as a component of a story rather than a genre since “horror” as a genre carries a lot of baggage. But really, you shouldn’t need an excuse to read a fantastic tale so just go do it.

“Dreaming Like a Ghost” by Kat Howard

Read it here. This story was just published today so I’m still processing it; it’s poetic, haunting, and violent in a way I did not expect.

Go forth and read, my friends.

Women in Horror: Recommended Short Stories (Part 2)

Better late than never, here are two more wonderful short stories in celebration of women in horror month.

“Need” by Lisa Tuttle

Available to read here here. A foreboding piece of “quiet” horror. When I lived in Ohio, we were within walking distance of a cemetery that we found ourselves visiting quite often. The images of Corey walking through the cemetery remind me of that cemetery and has caused this story to stick with me since I first read it.

“Construction Project” by Desirina Boskovich

Click here to read this one. A claustrophobic piece of fiction that seems to close in on the reader as they venture further into the story. The first story I read in Nightmare Magazine, which ended up cementing my love for the market.

Just a few more days to win a copy of Damien Angelica Walters’ debut novel, Ink.

Women in Horror: Recommended Short Stories (Part 1)

To continue with the celebration of women in horror, I’m going to post a few of my favorite short horror stories by women. Please take no offense if your favorite author is not on this list, I’m actually working on a much larger list to be posted at a later date. For now, here are my first two recommendations.

“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Read it here. I don’t know when I first read this story — sometime in my late teens, I think — but I fell in love with it immediately. This is one of the few weird stories that the general public might be familiar with (besides Poe, or maybe Lovecraft) because it is assigned reading in many higher-education classes. It’s an important work of 19th century feminist literature and maybe the first instance of feminist writing in the weird genre. (Do feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.)

“A Redress for Andromeda” by Caitlin R. Kiernan

Sadly, this one isn’t available to read online, but that shouldn’t stop you from seeking it out. It can be read in The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, a fantastic tome that everyone should already have on their shelf. “Redress” exemplifies everything I love about Caitlin’s writing. I would say more but Desirina Boskovich has already said everything there is to say, and so much more eloquently than I could.

Now go do your reading, friends. Expect a couple more short story recommendations each day until the end of the month.

Don’t forget, there’s still time to win a copy of Damien Angelica Walters’ debut novel, Ink.