Fantasy Horror Author A.F. Stewart and I talk Deviltry, Noveltry, Shipbuilding, Agony and Ecstasy

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A.F. Stewart, aka @Scribe77, did me.

Interviewed me, I mean.

 
We talked about

  • The differences between writing short stories and novels (not much from a crafting standpoint, me thinks)
  • Creating sympathetic villains (even the worst person has one humanizing detail)
  • Genre writing (I don’t believe I write in a genre. My regular readers tell me my genre is “Joseph”)
  • My incredible anthology, Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires
  • Being able to do amazing things with words when you’re an author
  • The link between Satan and Hamilton Burger
  • Getting kudos from your readers
  • Ritchie and Phyl, my incredible work in progress
  • How writing Flash fiction is like building a ship in a bottle
  • Great Opening Lines
  • My incredible scifi/military/thriller, The Augmented Man
  • Writing about characters rather than genre (the story comes first, the genre comes second)
  • Empty Sky and my standing offer; read the book, leave a review, and I’ll send you an autographed copy of the rewrite when it’s published.
  • Children growing up
  • Stories that grew out of my anthropology studies – Mani He and The Goatmen of Aguirra
  • Getting kudos from editors and publishers
  • Writing almost fantastic fantasies (okay, the story’s fantastic. It uses almost fantasy elements – The Weight)

So, yeah, we covered a few things.

Enjoy!

Man and Boy; Tennessee, 1932 (Revised for a 3 minute Fiction Slam)

I first wrote Man and Boy sometime in the early 1990s, possibly late 1980s. I remember reading publicly and the next reader, a published author, making a derogatory comment about the story’s tone and subject matter.

I’ve kept it on a backburner ever since, sometimes taking it out, sending it out to a few places then putting it back. I’ve always felt there’s something here. Maybe it needs to be longer, a full story and not a flash piece.

Last week’s The Shackled Man had been in my head for a while and I wrote it up for a flash/slam fiction class I took. I decided Man and Boy might also be a good candidate, so dusted it off and revised if from the previous version. You can get an idea of the revisions by comparing the two. Basically I cut out everything that wasn’t “in the moment” of the story, which I originally wrote as an exercise in dialogue (still think it’s a great example of dialogue carrying a story).

So, as always, enjoy and let me know what you think.

Creator and above level members can listen to my test read.

Man and Boy; Tennessee, 1932

 
“He’s a dead man, Pa. I pulled me up a dead black man.”

“First time we go fishing in a week and you snag your line on a boy’s been dead in the water who knows how long?”

“We going to get in trouble, Pa?”

“Don’t know that until we know who he is. Help me get him in the boat. God, this one’s heavy. Ain’t swelled, though.

“Look at his face, Pa.”

“Somebody didn’t take a liking to it, that’s for sure. And look at them clothes. You ever seen clothes like that, son?”

“Them’s city clothes, Pa.”

“What do you know about city clothes?”

“I seen them in the catalogue at Mr. Howard’s store.”

“What you doing down at Mr. Howard’s store?”

“I run errands for Mr. Howard sometimes and he gives me a penny so I can buy some candy.”

“You think them’s city clothes?”

“I know I’m right.”

“So this here’s a city-boy, huh? Somebody killed themselves a city-boy.”

“What we going to do, Pa?


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The Shackled Man

I’m taking a two-week course in flash fiction writing with the definition of flash fiction being “You can read it in under three minutes.” The Shackled Man is my offering. I’ve got it down to 2m46s.

Let me know what you think, and thanks.

Creator and above level members can listen to my test read.

The Shackled Man

 
Saturday mornings. That was our time.

Dad tiptoed into my room and knelt beside my bed. I could smell him before my eyes opened. A good smell, a night’s sweat just washed away.

I kept my eyes shut until I felt the bristles of his mustache when he kissed my cheek. I’d open my eyes and see the twinkle in his.

“Want to go for a ride?”

There were four places we’d go. South, Logan Airport. West, French King Bridge. North, Queechee Gorge. East, L.L. Bean.

We always stopped at a Dunkin Donuts. If we started a little late it’d be a Dunkin Donuts half way there, about an hour out, half hour at the least. Or sometimes it’d be at the edge of town, right before we hit the highway.

Dad knew where all the Dunkins were. Nobody had breakfast sandwiches or drivethroughs back then. You had to go inside. He’d get a medium coffee, two sugars, two creams, and I’d get a chocolate milk and a bavarian creme, the first bite and it oozed out and into your mouth.

And then off we’d go, listening to the radio or singing songs. Didn’t matter the weather, every Saturday morning we’d go, always sure to be out of the house by seven, no later.

West and north we’d get to the bridges. There were parking areas and we’d get out and walk around. Dad would stay close to the rails, look over. “How far down do you think that is, son?”

I was too small, I couldn’t see.

“Be a long drop from here.”

East we’d get to L.L. Bean. It was totally different back then. Only locals and hunters knew of it. How my dad knew I’ll never know.

You could talk to guides, men who knew the lakes and rivers and mountains. Dad listened to their stories, about going so far out in the woods it seemed there was no coming back, then he’d check his watch.

“Come on, son. Time to be getting back.”


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O’ Happy Day – Narration

I attended a small con in November 2019 and had a chance to read some of my flash pieces to a group of fellow writers.

I told them prior to the reading, “This will be your chance to tell a fellow author, ‘My god, that sucks!’ and get away with it because I really want to know if I have any skill or if I’m fooling myself.”

Seven folks showed up to let me know if I sucked.

I read Sanctuary, It’s a Man’s World, Grafton’s Ghost Child, Owen and Jessica, Lessons Learned, and O’ Happy Day.

You can read the story along with my narration here.

Evidently my work doesn’t suck.

Enjoy (and leave a comment. I love comments).

By the way, this work was recently rejected by a magazine. I give their reason after the narration.


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Owen and Jessica – Narration

Oh, dear! You’ve cut yourself!

I shared the written Owen and Jessica in a previous post. This recording was done at a Fiction Slam held at a local pub (I got 2nd place).

(we’re still taking a break from the steady diet of Empty Sky. I’ll return to it in next week, promise).

Do let me know what you think. Suggestions for improving this are quite welcome.

Click on the “post” above to open the story in a separate tab/window if you wish to read along side.


Greetings! I'm your friendly, neighborhood Threshold Guardian. Members can view the rest of this post by simply Logging In. Non members can view the rest of this post by joining. All posts are free to all members save certain posts in the My Work category. Enjoy!