Almost a year ago I released the short story Sky Horns Growling. It was relatively quick to write and I took inspiration from a variety of things including dreams, 9/11, and even War of the Worlds. A fellow author offered to read a draft and provided some feedback which really helped, and in doing so, she also challenged me to extend the story. She liked the weirdness going on and felt that there could be more to it than the “one-and-done” short I had in mind originally. The structure of the tale was intended to throw readers a new curve ball at each turn; and the more I thought about it, the more I felt drawn to see where this all led. So, that last page had a bold “To Be Continued” tag added to the end as a promise of more to come.
Sure, it probably isn’t everyone’s cup o’ tea, but I was happy with how it came out and received some nice feedback from gracious readers. The holidays came up soon after that, and it wasn’t until the new year that I began noodling with the idea of where the heck this installment was going to go next. It didn’t take too long, though, and I hatched the idea of not only this latest, upcoming part of the story, but also where it would lead from there.
Well, those ideas were just that: ideas. To really capture the tone, the language of the characters, the overarching situation they find themselves in and more meant I needed to really start doing some homework. Without giving too much away, readers are returned to this world smack in the middle of an action set piece. I wanted to make it read as immediate and jarring, but to do that I needed to really understand and carefully plan things to earn that authentic feeling I really wanted to land.
How would these characters respond in this situation? How long would this event actually last? How did they all get here? What rules had I set for myself previously that I needed to play by so as to not cheat the reader? How can I make these events, these people, this situation unfold organically?
I started with a series of in-depth searches and put out some feelers for all sorts of things. I had to brush-up on commercial passenger jetliners (of which I knew next to nothing), the mystery of human consciousness, how to honestly portray a strong female protagonist, and other seemingly disconnected topics while carefully considering how all of the various puzzle pieces would continue to fall. As a reader I expect the author knows where they’re taking me, is careful about how things are revealed to me, and how the story allows me to become invested in it. I love reading something that makes me want to instantly go on to find out what happens next. I love stories that make me stop and reconsider everything I thought I knew about what was happening on the page.
Wait. Did I mention that my wife and I are expecting a baby boy soon?
Yep – so with all of this stuff bouncing around in my head – real life continues to march on! My marriage, our soon-to-be-growing family, work, naps, DOOM, Stranger Things, and amazing pies all mixed-in and sort of delayed this latest short story much more than I’d intended. That said, I’m happy to report that I’m putting the finishing touches on it and aim to have We Are Alive Tonight release right around Halloween. To give you a sense of the vibe I had going as a wrote it, check out these tracks from S U R V I V E, and Grace Potter.
So, they say “good things come to those who wait”, and despite some radio silence I hope the next short story is a lot of fun for people and leaves them wanting even more.
More to come!