Friday, April 27, 2012

The story behind "Dead Things"

I have a little story in a short story collection called, “Dead Things.” It can be found in THE GATE 2: 13 Tales of Isolation and Despair, which was edited by the fantastic Robert J. Duperre. I wrote a little bit about how the story came about at the very end, but thought I’d go into a little more detail in this blog.

When I started out writing at a very young age, I had this idea in my head that I’d write thrillers, action/suspense novels, horror novels, and so on. My early writing sucked because I was always trying to come up with over complicated plots. I was good at fleshing out characters, and I was really good at writing dialogue. But when I would try to come up with a story idea, I’d always fall flat because I was thinking too much about the plot. I started a lot of stories and never ended up finishing most of them.

Things changed at college when I was introduced to Raymond Carver. I remember when we first started reading his stories, I was completely baffled. At first, the ending felt abrupt and I couldn’t see much of a plot. But the stories stuck with me and the more I read, the more I fell in love. As I read more of his stories, I said to myself, “These are the stories I want to write.” You didn’t have to have a complex plot. You needed characters that seemed real. They could be flawed as hell, but so long as you made them interesting enough for the reader, you were set.

I think that’s when my writing really started to take shape. I was no longer bogged down by plots that didn’t work out. I simply wrote about everyday issues with everyday people. Most of the stories were sad. Many of them didn’t offer happy endings. Yet, they seemed to work.

Jump ahead a few years and not only am I writing slice-of-life fiction, but I also find out that I can write dark humor and horror in a form called “drabbles,” which are 100-word short stories. I had a lot of fun with the drabbles, but I also needed a break from them so I could focus on my true love, which is slice-of-life fiction.

I wrote this story a few months back before Rob contacted me and asked if I wanted to be a part of his collection. It was originally called, “Childish Matters,” although truth be told, I was never completely happy with the title at the time. That first title just came about because of a conversation that takes place between a father and his son when they’re talking about an old lady neighbor who is losing her mind. I’d read a story about a woman who wasn’t all there in the head beforehand, and I thought it’d be fun to write a character like that in a story. I knew she wouldn’t be the main character, nor would she be the main focus of the story. But it was a starting point. It started off in my head as an old woman knocking on her neighbor’s door, screaming about zombies.

Then the story focuses on the father and his son. The wife is no longer in the picture. At first, I wasn’t sure why. I just thought that maybe she wasn’t ready to be a mother and just walked out forever. I also knew that these so-called zombies that the old woman was screaming about were actually stoned teenagers on a playground.

And then it hit me; what if the father’s wife ended up becoming a drug addict? When I realized that, that’s when it made seeing the drugged-out teenagers even more powerful to me. It had a more devastating effect.

And that’s how the story came to be.

So when Rob asked me to be a part of the short story collection, I was trying to come up with some really complicated horror story. Again, going back to when I was little.

Bad, bad Mikey.

He told me I should focus on what I do best, and that’s slice-of-life. It didn’t have to be a horror story, so long as it fit the theme of the collection, which was “isolation” and “despair.” I told him I had this story that I finished not too long ago. He told me to send it over, so I did.

He loved it. He really, really loved it. And that was a huge compliment, because I really do think it might be one of the best stories I’ve written so far.

Rob fine tuned the story here and there, as editors do. I was happy to see that he didn’t think it needed any major changes, although I was prepared to have an open mind in case if changes needed to be made.

One change he made was the title. He also extended the ending just a little bit, while still staying true to the very last scene I had in my head. When he told me the new title, I fell in love with it. As I said, I was never happy with “Childish Matters,” but at the time that was the best I could do.

“Dead Things” is a much different story for me. While it helped me return to writing what I love, it was a bit different from what I normally write. Usually, my stories are very depressing and don’t offer happy endings for the characters. And while this story is indeed bleak and sad, it does offer a very touching moment. While there are no sure answers as to what would happen in the future, there was a little light at the end of the tunnel and it didn’t end as a downer.

 I wouldn’t have it end any other way.

Friday, April 20, 2012

So, this is how Friday begins for me...

Happy Friday!

That's right... this is how the morning began for me. Two effin' paper cuts at the same time. Even for me, that's pretty amazing. It's a new record, that's for sure!

If you ever wanted to know where I came up with the inspiration for the drabble, "Solution," where a character decides to deal with paper cuts in an extreme manner... well, now ya know!

Although, I don't think I'll take things quite that far.

(and yes, that's an instagram of said paper cuts that you're looking at. that's how I roll)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Something random...

I love to tweet.

I didn’t at first. When I started out, I didn’t have any books out and only a few of my friends were following me. I treated it like a mini-blog at the time. I think I had twenty followers, or something like that. It was small, whatever the number was.

After a while, I lost interest and stopped. I still liked to follow tweets from others, but I stopped tweeting.

When I started publishing books on my own, my friends told me that I should reconnect with Twitter. It can be a great marketing tool. So, I grumbled and forced myself back on. Then, I started getting followed by fellow authors and suddenly I was in triple digits.

Big whoop, I know. But for somebody who only had twenty following him at the time, that’s a pretty big fucking number!

Now that I’ve become more comfortable on Twitter, I find myself having fun on it. Too much fun, perhaps. While I do plug my books here and there, I mostly just write a bunch of nonsensical tweets. They range anywhere from corny to downright random. I’m not sure if I’m really entertaining anybody out there, but I know I’m enjoying the hell out of it!

Maybe the main reason why I love to tweet more than do actual blogging is because I can be random with it. I don’t have to have an agenda for the day. I don’t have to put deep thought into what I’m going to write. I just throw it out there. If it gets a laugh, cool. If not, no biggie. I try not to have my page look like nothing but tweets with links in them. Not trashing anybody who does that. If it’s working for you, groovy. I just know for me personally, I tend to tune out when I see nothing but links and promoting. So I do my best to avoid that on my page. I’ll plug a few times, don’t get me wrong, but for the most part I try to tweet about things that aren’t necessarily tied to my writing and books.

I come off as a goofball… because I am a goofball. And proud of it, dammit!

Twitter is probably a better representation of me than any blog entry I end up writing. When I blog, I feel like I have to have an agenda. That there has to be a reason for me writing a particular entry. And it’s hardly ever random, which is sad. I don’t know why I feel like it always has to be about my writing and books on here when I don’t do the same on Twitter.

After all, you can only take so much when it comes to listening to somebody talk about writing and their current projects. That doesn’t really give you a good insight into the person. If you just went by my blog entries here, you’d think all I did was write and try to sell books when that’s the furthest thing from the truth.

Is there a reason for this blog entry? Honest answer? No. I just thought I’d be completely random today, much like I am on Twitter. There’s no reason why I can’t have fun on here like I do on Twitter. The only person preventing that from happening is me.

(for more goofy inane babble, you can follow me on Twitter!)