Thursday, September 20, 2012

Story Notes for Bedtime Stories for Carrion Beetles


WARNING! Potential SPOILERS ahead. It is recommended you read this AFTER reading the book.

A GOOD GAME: I’m pleased with how the transitions in this story turned out. I don’t think the kids were necessarily evil in this story. They’re a product of the violent video game generation and are desensitized.

YOU DON'T KNOW JACK: I went to a wax museum in Deadwood, SD many years ago. Wild Bill Hickok resembled a Viking warrior. His assassin, Jack McCall, was portrayed as a simpering Howdy Doody. This rubbed me the wrong way. No one in real life is all good or all bad. I decided to turn the legend upside-down. Real events are woven throughout. One thing I deliberately got wrong for the purpose of the story was that in real life Jack arrived in Deadwood before Hickok.

CARRYING ON: This short one was partially inspired by the double meaning of the phrase “carrying on”. I went back and fixed some lazy writing about the science of the asteroid. And I hope I fooled you at first with the checkers.

SWOLLEN TICK: I had a mental picture one day of a guy who routinely cleaned out his refrigerator, throwing away unopened items. Naturally, I had to write this story to find out why he didn't eat! There's also a brief bit that is my imagined explanation of spontaneous combustion.

TOMORROW'S HEADLINE: This one started with a bizarre trip to my local drug store. Most of everything prior to the arrival of the green-eyed stranger (who I secretly call 'Hopper') matched what I actually saw that day. My favorite band and my favorite toy as a kid both get secret mentions in this one.

SOLITARY MAN: I thought the title “Ghost Writer” would be too obvious. I had a distant relative who spent years in a coma after getting hit by an 18-wheeler while riding his motorcycle. He woke from the coma, only to be killed months later. He was hit by an 18-wheeler while riding his motorcycle. No joke.

WIND, WINTER, WENDIGO: The legend of the cannibalistic spirit known as the Wendigo is a favorite of mine. I tackled it—and small town hypocrisy—here.

COLD FEET: I did a lot of research during the writing of this, but I chickened out when it came to visiting a mortuary. The musicians/composers mentioned are among my favorites and often played while I write.

TRANSFORMATIONS: Initially, the dad was going to be a zombie, but I abandoned that once the zombie craze really took hold. Instead I went for more of a psychological horror tale.

INCIDENT ON ALKALI ROAD: This one started out partially inspired by one of my bachelor uncles, as well as a pair of abandoned farmhouses my wife and I explored a few years ago.

THE RED PATCH IN THE SNOW: This story rattled around in my head for a few years before I actually wrote it. Sometimes, after arguments, I torture myself by envisioning the worst. I don't have a gun in the house, which is probably for the best.

THE RESTORATION ROOM: I admit it. This is a zombie story, but I did my best to keep the zombies out of sight. The anthology this first appeared in has one of my favorite covers ever.

HYDROPHOBIA: This was one of my oldest stories that never quite worked until I chopped off the beginning and rewrote the ending—twice! It’s partially based on actual experiences inside an abandoned tourist attraction in the Black Hills. And, yes, they left the water in all the pools! Further details are omitted to protect the guilty, though I promise no murders were committed.

A STORY ABOUT MONSTERS: For abused kids everywhere. I wish they all had the protection that this fictional little girl had.

THE ARTIST AND HIS SUBJECT: Before discovering horror, I went through a long “classic literature” phase. I treasure many of those books and wanted to say a twisted “thank you” to those authors I enjoyed so much. Plus I always thought a taxidermist would make a good character in a horror story.

THERE'S NO WORD FOR IT: I accidentally swallowed a bug once and the worst part was how it scratched the back of my throat. As a kid, I saw a woman's car absolutely covered in mayflies. Those memories, and the fact that it took me two years of letters and phone calls to get my insurance company to pay for an emergency room visit, combined to inspire this one.

BOOTLEGS FROM BOSTON: With apologies to the ladies, here’s one of my darkest, unflinching stories. The original published version included a mistake made by the editor that affected the ending. The baseball stats are real for that season, and so are the tragedies at the concerts.

THE BIGGIN HILL DUEL: This started as a Sherlock Holmes pastiche. Then I read a few steampunk stories and, inspired, decided to move my tale to another reality. This was selected to be the cover story for the spring 2012 issue of Big Pulp.

WAITING FOR INSPIRATION: Some days I can’t seem to get in the right frame of mind.

The biggest challenge was finding a title that wasn't already in use! BEDTIME STORIES FOR CARRION BEETLES came about because I wanted to convey my love for creepy/weird/dark fiction. As a kid I read the old Alfred Hitchcock anthologies (the best ones were edited by Robert Arthur). In these, the likes of Robert Bloch, Roald Dahl, Ray Bradbury and Joseph Payne Brennan rubbed shoulders with more traditional mystery authors like Bill Pronzini, Jack Ritchie and Fletcher Flora. To this day, anthologies make up the bulk of my book collection. With every story I write, I try to duplicate the thrill I felt when I read horror and mystery as a kid. For me, the thrill is still very much there.

Thank you very much for reading. I appreciate it.

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