Like many other people, I’ve read a few Stephen King novels, and watched a few scary movies, particularly around this time of year. And yes, perhaps I have a greater appreciation for zombies than most of my co-workers. And okay, I don’t flinch away from putting the darkness in dark fantasy, and I feel that no honest war story can fail to convey the horrors of warfare.
But I never considered myself a horror writer.
I knew, however, that even as a newly published author, I didn’t want to fall into a rut: the same themes, the same settings, the same sorts of characters. I decided that this year – the year after my first publication – I would challenge myself. So in addition to the military science fiction that I love, I spread my wings and wrote some stories to submit to a few anthologies outside of that genre.
The first of those anthologies was Dark Bits by Apokrupha. Dark Bits is an anthology of “52 + 1” flash fiction horror stories. I thought that a word limit of less than 500 words was a good way to try a, er, “little” something new.
It turns out it took all weekend to craft those 500 words (from someone who can routinely crank out 2000 words/day), because flash fiction comes with its own inherit challenges: you need to develop your character(s) and convey the story arc, beginning to end, in a very limited space. My first draft was almost twice as long as it needed to be; my major editing challenge was to tighten the work into the word limit, making every word count. The end result is a tiny taste of terror called The Long Haul.
The Long Haul is a story best described as “Emily Dickenson is a long-haul trucker.” Hop into the cab of a cross-country delivery gone wrong, brush up on your poetry, and hold on tight. The first few miles will be okay. Just be aware, there’s a long…a very long…way to go.
You can order your own copy of Dark Bits here: http://apokrupha.com/dark-bits/ Books are available in ebook, Kindle, paperback and hardcover formats. There’s also a 2014 weekly planner which includes a flash fiction story for every week of the year!
Bolstered by the success of “The Long Haul,” when I found out an editor I know was accepting submissions to an anthology of horror stories, I tried my hand at a longer-length tale. I’m pleased to announce that next year, you can find Mishipishu: The Ghost Story of Penny Jaye Prufrock in Fossil Lake: An Anthology of the Aberrant, coming next year from Daverana Enterprises. More gruesome details will be given closer to publication date…
If once is chance, and twice is coincidence, I’m not far away from “third is a pattern.”
I suppose that makes me a horror writer. Among other things.