So where do these batshit ideas come from?
If these books were movies on Blu-Ray or whatever they’d probably have some sort of talking head feature on as an extra telling you how they were made, how everything panned out during filming and how ‘everyone is just one big happy family on set.’ Okay, that last one was from pretty much every ‘making of’ feature ever released, apart from maybe any James Cameron movies and definitely the last Hellboy one.
I can’t guarantee too many bonus features for everything here, but there are definitely stories about the stories – so if you’re interested in that sort of thing then I’ll leave them here.
There are spoilers though, so be warned…
Joey by David
I wrote the first version of this a very long time ago – somewhere between 1996 and 98 – not just a different lifetime for me personally but a different millenium and everything. Ffs, we’d just managed to get shot of Britpop and Labour were in charge at No.10.
Anyway, I remember around that time reading an article about a a true crime – a murder where one child had seemingly carried out a premeditated murder on another a few years before and hadn’t seemed to show or feel any remorse for what they’d done.
It really affected me. I wondered how a child do something like that and just not be affected? The job I did at the time occasionally put me into real life murder scenes, sometimes not long after the crime had actually happened – and I remember one in particular which was which was so brutal and gruesome that again I had to think, how could anyone do something like to another person and not care?
I imagined they probably genuinely believed it wasn’t their fault. Someone or something else made them do it. Disassociation. After all, we all know people who spend their lives blaming everyone else for their problems, dont we?
Dissassociation isn’t a new idea – Robert Bloch wrote Psycho in the 50s and dissasociative behaviour was at the heart of that – so could it be possible to speak about that in the voice of a child? After all, if the traumas that lead to that kind of behaviour mostly begin in childhood, surely it wouldn’t be too far off the mark to speak about their beginnings with a child’s voice?
Maybe I’m going too deep here, as all I really wanted to do was just write a creepy story that kept you guessing til the end – but I thought all those points were valid just the same.
Couple of other bits of trivia about this story – when I was sending stuff to agents back in the days of traditional publishing, I remember getting two replies from different agents saying how much they enjoyed this story. They still didnt offer me a deal (horror wasnt selling at that time apparently), but one did ask me if I could write a crime thriller instead. Didn’t fancy that much though, it would have been too much like my day job at the time.
Also, my confidence in this tale was further boosted when an old chum of mine who had become an english teacher and whose opinions I’ve always held in high regard, asked if she could use it as a story to work on in her secondary school classes. Probably completely inappropriate and maybe even slightly terrifying for the kids – but wow, yes please!
If i dont shut up here this will end up being longer than the actual story…
One last thing, the decision to publish a short story before the novella I’d been working on all summer came as a complete surprise, even to me. But if you’ve ever sat down to try and work out how publishing on kindle works and looked at the amount of opinion and advice as to how to self publish, you’ll know its just too much for the human brain to process.
So I decided in the last week of October 2019 that rather than risk having a damp squib of a release for the novella, I’d fire out JbD as a short story and see what I could learn from the experience – plus I always wanted a Halloween launch for one of my books.
Long story short, I re-edited it a couple of times, added a couple of minor details bits that made more sense to my slighly older brain – and managed to get it live on the Kindle site about twenty minutes before midnight on October 31st. And I’m glad I did as I’ve learned a hell of lot from doing it – all of which I’m hoping will help make the next effort more successful.
I’ve written a short essay at the end of Club Med to explain where it came from, why it took so long from first version to get into print and why I blame Harry Potter for stealing all my kudos at the time of writing. But thats another story…
But briefly, this was a short idea I came up with when I was writing my first ever batch of short stories which was set in my favourite part of Edinburgh and featured some characters and a payoff I thought would have been fun.
Because it really lived alongside a bunch of other short stories i tried to sell it all as a collection and for one reason or another, it didn’t go anywhere. Then life happened, work, relationships, kids were born, blah blah blah… Long story short it sat in the wings for many years.
Then when I finally had a change of career and decided to do writing seriously, I revisited all my old stuff to see if there was anything worth reviving before I went to work on the newbies.
This one and Joey by David both leapt out at me from the rest – so these were the starters for ten, as they were already written, although by no means polished or exact.
The idea of two friends having a disastrous night out came from many of my own experiences – although my nights out tend to have lower bodycounts. However, the best ones are always spent in the cave-like clubs and labyrinths in Edinburgh’s Old Town, preferably with great music and good friends.
I don’t want to do any spoilers here – which is kind of limiting – but there were a few other weird and wonderful ideas I ended up throwing in, especially a link to a famous french painting I once saw in The Louvre which always struck me as a depiction of real horror.
In any case, as I type this its not quite released yet but feedback has been good and I’m doing all the right things with marketing and social media etc, so here’s hoping. In fact, feedback has been so positive that I’ve rearranged my schedule to work on the two sequels Ive had planned for ages rather than a young adult book I have in second draft.
So for those who have wondered what happens exactly after the first book – i can tell you that – it’s complicated…
What’s next I wonder..?