All about A Peel
(Go HERE and follow links to free download or Twisted Tales)
I was so pleased to have my story A Peel taken by both Raging Aardvark and Ether Books in honour of Flash Fiction Day. I am sometimes asked where I get my ideas from and this story is actually a rather good example of how I write flash.
It started with a prompt, as many of my stories do — another week in the world of WriteWords; and I love Sundays when I get that brand new prompt that sets me thinking — another person reaching out to animate my mind.
This story was just something to do with a bell and to be honest, at first I felt a little dispirited. ‘Oh No! Not another BELL’ because I had done bells recently and I had done bells before but a prompt’s a prompt and I would need a Microhorror story soon so I thought ‘Hell’s Bells’! And that was the working title for this piece.
There is no way to start writing. You have to simply start and the rest will follow as dusk follows day. That is what I always do – each week – I make a start. Sometimes the story has an end an no beginning, sometimes a beginning and no end, sometimes – mostly a character in a place. I see the place. The person has to have a name. In this case he was Jake and the place of course was Hell.
I thought of how it would be, to be able to hear the bells of Heaven in Hell — how that would augment the agony. Bells and augmentation. Depth and irritation. I had height and depth and Jake – a worthy guest in Hell – a murderer doing a task well suited to his crimes. I saw the scene, then Datchet, his demon (we all have them) appeared, working his will on the damned (we all are).
I wrote the story and it was a story of damnation. However – at four o’clock in the morning, unable to sleep again, panic attack! In bed! Nowhere to go! I felt a bit like Jake.
I lay there pondering — How far can you trust a demon? And when Hell says it offers no hope – is that the truth? Can Hell speak the truth? And can God lie? And if that is the not case, is anyone irrevocably damned? It is an old question – older than Calvinism, older than Methodism, older I think than the Bible can answer. It is the question that answers all religion. What is truth?
As I lay there awake, I repented me of Jake’s damnation. I needed another ending. What if his compassion was enough? What if, just as he can hear the bells, Heaven can still at that point hear his thought, his spirit of contrition? What if, even in Hell, there’s an appeal?
A PEEL? I woke. The title had changed and darkness turned to light. I had the ending in my mind. It had become a story of redemption overnight! Tolkienesque U-catastrophe, unrecognised ‘til now. The trouble was it was no longer suitable for Microhorror. It wasn’t horror any more. It was a twisted tale and so I sent it to Annie Evett and it got accepted to Twisted Tales, introduced me to Raging Aardvark and Ether Books and already a whole new bunch of new writing friends.
The moral of the story? WRITE. Whatever the prompt, however many times you’ve touched on that theme — you haven’t written that story/that chapter yet. And unless you begin writing – you never will. That’s bound to ring a few bells for some of you.