V.P. Writing Exercise

Here’s my writing exercise from the Viable Paradise writer’s workshop. Each of us was assigned to work up a piece for a notional short story anthology, as well as given a surprise toy that had to be included. My anthology was “Poe 3000”, a sci-fi homage to Edgar Allan Poe. My toy prop was… well, I bet you can figure it out.



The Annabel Lee at Ganymede

Sam Ryoshi asked once more, to make sure. “You got her a nose?”
Kishore Patek nodded, eyes flickering over the thruster display. “A plastic one–”
“A plastic one…”
“With a sharpener inside it.”
Ryoshi studied the copilot before pushing off the wall and floating over his head. “So do you plan on ever having sex with her again?”
“What? Yes! I mean of course. Dude, it’s a novelty item –”
“It’s a nose.”
“- It’s a gift.” Patek continued. “I got it at Mare Imbrium. It’s from the Moon. She’ll love it.”
Ryoshi settled into the pilot’s seat and pulled himself toward the steering yoke. The HUD released a spray of bouncy phantom alpha-numerics. “You got it at a kiosk in the Arrivals Concourse, Terminal C. It has a pencil sharpener up one nostril.”
“Bita is a writer,” Patek exclaimed. “You wouldn’t understand.”
Ryoshi leaned forward and tapped up the main display. “Right. ‘Cause nothing says ‘literary’ like a plastic nose pencil sharpener.”
“Shut. Up.”
Ryoshi at the helm, the large flat screen at the front of the cockpit cabin bloomed to life. Software enhanced and colorized the bow camera’s view. Ganymede’s cratered surface filled the lower half, an arc of pocked granite slashed with jagged ice-white lines. The display’s upper portion was inked in deep black with a scattering of hard, bright stars.
Ryoshi zoomed in on the center field until the orbital appeared- a knobby spindle topped with a spoked wheel of linked hab-units. At the tip of the spindle at the wheel’s center he could make out the white blister of the Command Module. It’s hull lights illuminated the bristling comms array. Everything looked intact.
He moved the reticle down to the bottom of long knurled axle. Mining drones rose and fell from the moon’s surface – ‘Hop Frogs’ in company parlance – swarming like silver gnats around the lower collection bay. Everything seemed normal there too.
So why was there no answer? Why was the docking arm still retracted?
Ryoshi adjusted the focus one more time; the docking lights were still blinking on standby: yellow-red, yellow-red, yellow-red.
He frowned and tapped the bow thruster icon to slow their approach. “Hail him again, Kishore.”
The copilot complied. “UMC facility ‘Raven 119-09’, this is the UMC supply ship ‘Annabel Lee’ requesting permission to dock. We’re here for your three month check-up. Over?”
Ryoshi waved for Patek to try again.
“UMC facility ‘Raven 119-09’ this is the supply ship ‘Annabel Lee’. We’ve got that fresh food and water you’ve been waiting on. And beer, Raven 119-09. We brought beer. Sorry for being late but we are on approach now, and requesting permission to dock. Please respond. Over.”
Both men craned forward expectantly. Silence.
Patek leaned back and shrugged. “Maybe he’s in the head.”
“He’s supposed to have his comms on at all times.”
“Can’t a man shit in peace three-hundred ninety million miles from home?”
Ryoshi peeled off a thin smile. “We’re five days late. File says it’s this guy’s first rotation on a mining station. Solitary type or not, ninety-plus days alone in a can floating in the Big Empty, I’d be climbing the walls waiting on my resupply. Even if it was just to get a twelve pack and see our mugs for twenty-four hours.”
“So then he’s down in the drone bay,” Patek suggested. “You know, actually earning his pay and fixing something.”
The Annabel Lee was closing fast and the station was expanding on screen. Ryoshi zoomed the display out and grabbed the steering yoke with both hands. “Usher Mining Company redundancy the shit out of all their deep-space platforms. B-grade A.I., mining robots… the place runs itself. Supervisors are props to comfort investors. Management is convinced the human touch adds confidence. Creates the illusion constant oversight. Plus the photos give quarterly profit reports that ‘rugged explorers on the final frontier’ vibe.”
Patek pumped his fist. “Onward robot exploiters.”
“Exactly. Ah! There we go.” Sam Ryoshi pointed with his chin toward the screen. “He’s back.” The docking lights had turned steady green. The umbilical began to unfold.
Patek grinned. “Last stop, here we come.” He hunched over his work station and began queuing up the Annabel Lee’s automated cargo transfer.
Ryoshi hit a series of buttons on his own console, then released the steering yoke to let the ship’s autopilot guide her in. “Hey – maybe you can get her something from Jupiter. Something romantic. Like, I dunno… a pen shaped like a –”
“Dude – Shut. Up.”




Patek squeezed past Ryoshi in the docking tube. “Nah, this isn’t creepy at all.” He peered toward the spindle’s central shaft, then turned back, eyebrows lifted in mock alarm. “What the hell is he doing?”
No one was waiting in the docking chamber when they disembarked. The entire level was dark. And silent. Red emergency lights smouldered every six feet along the narrow passageway, and the hiss-thunk of the airlock sealing behind them had actually echoed.
“What’s this guy’s name again?” Patek asked.
A twitch of the fingers and Ryoshi’s data pad flared with a company mug shot, personal data, and clearance levels. “Perry, Edgar A. Temp contract. No immediate family. Middle-of-the-road psych and performance evals. Degrees in robotics and low-g engineering. No surprise there.”

“Well, big surprise here,” Patek exclaimed. “Edgar A. Perry, sci-nerd and all-around loner turned out the lights.”
Patek exhaled and jutted his chin at his breath plume. “Turned off the warmers too. I say that psych eval missed something. I mean, what brand of stupid turns off the heat eight hundred million miles from the Sun?”
“Good question.” Ryoshi crinkled his forehead. “Same kind that buys his girlfriend cheap novelties in spaceports, maybe?”
Patek grinned. “Mock away Sam, but chicks dig sensitive guys.”
“Oooh, so that that’s your secret.”
Ryoshi pointed toward a ventilation grill on the ceiling. “Well Casanova, the air is still on, so Perry must be here somewhere.”
An enormous metal groan cut him off. The station shivered, then a mechanical thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump started up, like someone was tapping a hammer on the hull. The beat echoed throughout the station.
Patek’s eyes widened for a fraction of a second. He started breathing through his nose. “Water transfer,” he said after a moment. “I set Annabel to auto-trans once she’d hooked into with the station. That’s what that is.”
Ryoshi spit out a laugh. “I think I peed a little.”
“Me too,” Patek said. “So we leave now, right?”
“In the movies, two ‘creepy space station’ cues means our heroes are pretty well hosed unless they bail right then.”
“Except we’re not in a movie.” Ryoshi nudged the copilot with his shoulder. “C’mon. Let’s go find this poor bastard. The sooner we find him, the sooner we can leave.”
Patek let himself be nudged along. “A stray micro-meteor holed one of the rechargers, forced Perry to scale down to critical systems. That’s why it’s dark, right? He’s in one of the hab units, eating cold ramen, wrapped in a foil blanket.”
“Exactly,” Ryoshi said.
Patek kept talking. “I mean, I’m living the astronaut’s dream: playing hide and seek in a deep space meat locker with a recluse engineer.”
“Oh, the places you’ll go,” Ryoshi said. “At least this way, you can tell Bita you’re a real hero.”
Patek squared his shoulders. “Heh. Like I’m not already.”
A dozen more steps and they reached center shaft. A wide, heavy-duty ladder was bolted against the interior wall, the cord in the space station’s spine. The aluminum ribs of its safety cage blushed in the dim blood-light before disappearing into dark holes above and below.
“Heaven or hell?” Ryoshi asked.
Patek swung out and grabbed a rung. “Cargo Bay of the Robotic Damned for me. You can scour the heights for our wayward sheep.”
“Fine. Keep your comms on though.”
Patek threw up a quick salute as he started down.“Aye aye, captain.”
Ryoshi almost returned it, then stopped. Ceremony doesn’t carry in a vacuum, he reminded himself. Only competence.
He waited until Patek’s head vanished, then started to climb toward the Command module.


Sam Ryoshi was three rungs shy of the hab-ring when Patek’s voice sounded in his ear. “I thought UMC was digging for low-g mineral formations.”
“They are.”
“So why is there ice down here?”
“You mean space chill?”
“No,” Patek said. “The bay is filled with ice. The Hop Frogs are bringing up blocks of it. Not rocks.”
“You sure?” Ryoshi asked.
“I’m looking right at it.”
Sam Ryoshi reached up and grasped the hatch handle. He pushed it open, then climbed into the hab-level. “Ganymede’s got a huge subsurface ocean, but last I knew, the Froggies were scraping the Gula and Archelous craters.”
He sat on the rim of the hole, legs dangling, back against the upright hatch. “They shouldn’t be bringing up ice.”
“I’ll tell them,” Patek said. “Any sign of Perry?”
“I just got here. I went up, remember?”
“I would make a ‘climbing the corporate ladder joke’ but that would be tacky.”
“And that’s one thing you’re not,” Patek said. “Hey, that’s strange.”
Ryoshi stood, one hand on the rim of the hatch. “What’s strange?”
“The ice is melting weird.”
Ryoshi stepped back and let the hatch fall shut. “Weird how?”
“… — sticky. — ‘ll over the –ace. I can’t–…” The rest was static.
Ryoshi grunted in disgust. Of course they didn’t take inter-station comms into consideration – it’s a one-man operation.
“Kishore, forget the ice. If you find Perry, bring him up. If not, come up in ten minutes. He’s got to be here, somewhere.”
A hiss of static, then Ryoshi’s earbud went silent.
The lights were off in the hab-ring as well. It was colder too; his breath puffed out little red-tinged clouds. Space was seeping in. Heat was the priority, otherwise they would be astronaut-sicles in a few hours. More emergency lights glowed on the curved ceiling of the connection tube, vanishing around the bend in each direction. No clue which way to go first.
Right, he decided. Counter-clockwise. Not like it’s far.
The thump of the Annabel Lee’s pumps was softened up in the hab-ring. It became a measured beat he heard as well as felt, a pulse in the decking under his boots. Ryoshi walked in time with it, probing the gloom with his flashlight beam, careful and thorough as doctor checking a wound.

“Perry? Where are you, Perry? It’s Sam Ryoshi from the Annabel Lee. Can you hear me?”
The only answer was the ping and creak of cooling metal, and the deep throb of the pumps below.
There were signs of the man everywhere: stray tools, a t-shirt, a stack of food trays. Every door on the hab-ring was wide open. The storage units, supply, mess, rec-room, medical, even the hatch to Perry’s sleeping quarters was toggled flat back against the bulkhead. Ryoshi understood. He’d had done that himself his first tour – and the next two. Anything to create the illusion of room, more space.
If you didn’t have claustrophobia when you signed up for a supervisor stint, Ryoshi though, fifty-fifty you had when you left. A mining orbital was huge, but the liveable environment was less than two-thousand square feet. Sounds like a lot until you’ve paced, crawled and climbed every last inch of it. Then it was like being stuffed in a tuna can.
The agoraphobia was worse. After his first bit, it took him eight days to work up the nerve to go to a park. Thank Christ his wife had pushed him to enter UMC’s pilot program. Maybe he’d pass that on to Perry. It didn’t look like his first experience was going all that good.
Ryoshi was three-quarters of the way around, approaching the door to the Command Module.
It was shut.
He smacked the knob with the palm of his hand. Nothing. Again. The door held fast. Puzzled, Ryoshi backed up, slipping as he did. He played his flashlight across the steel grate.
The deck was slimy. Dotted with smeary footprints. “What the hell?”
Ryoshi raised his foot, watched thick gunk stretch and snap. The slime was thick like hydraulic fluid, only clear, with the oily rainbow shimmer of snail mucus.
He peered in the door’s viewport. The lights were off in there as well, but data scrolled furiously across the system monitors, jumping from one station to another.

Ryoshi glimpsed what looked like A.I Core programming, but it the viewport was small and the chunks of colored data volleyed too fast to be certain.
The data flow silhouetted the command station. Someone was in the chair with their back to the door.
Ryoshi pounded on the steel hatch. “Perry, open up.”
No response.
“Perry. C’mon. Quit fucking around and open the door.” Ryoshi’s words made a string of angry clouds in the chilled, metallic air.
Nothing. Not even a twitch.
Ryoshi fumed. This shit was definitely going in his report. He pounded on the door again. Still nothing.
“Fine,” he muttered, and tore the cover off the knob casing. “Be that way.”
Ryoshi had locked himself out of a supply closet four months into his second tour over Io. UMC modules all used the same lock – the blessing of low-bid standardized construction.
Static hissed in Ryoshi’s ear bud. He yanked at the lock’s wiring. “Never mind, Kishore. I got him. Genius locked himself in the Command module. Playing some kind of game. Come on up.”
There was a squawk, then a garbled crackle of white noise.
“Don’t worry, we’ll keep the beer for ourselves.” Ryoshi said.
The temperature was dropping and he shook himself to ward off the chill that fingered his bones. Quickly, he fished in the junction box, twisted the red and yellow leads together, then touched them to the connector behind the knob. The door popped open.
“So there,” he murmured.
He ducked inside and went straight for the chair. Frantic data-lightning played across the computer screens, the thump-thump of the pumps rang the chamber like a deep, distant bell. Perry sat perfectly still.
“What the hell? You playing some kind of–”
His fingers gripped, slipped on the back of the chair as he swung it around. His mind registered the slime on the cushion, on the floor. He saw it quivering on the system terminals. Some part of his brain was half a second ahead, knew without words what he’d find.
The chair spun. Perry was dead.
The engineer’s body was locked in mid-twist under a coating of iridescent gel. An insect in glassine sap. Agony contorted his face. Confusion. His mouth gaped in one last moan, or scream, a runnel of clear viscous slime oozing out over his lips, across his stubbled cheeks, slipping down his neck.
Patek screamed. Ryoshi’s earbud squealed. “-ot me! –elp! For —- sake, get —”
Ryoshi spun, lurched back toward the hall. Behind him, a flurry of data leaped between the monitor screens. Over the door, a red light blinked three times before it thunked shut. Ryoshi heard the gasp of pressure seals.
He slid to a halt, began pounding the steel panel in time with the beat of the pumps.
“Kishore! Kishore! Answer me. What’s happening? Kishore!”
Only static.
Another spasm of on-screen data made Ryoshi turn back around. The door’s steel ribs were hard and cold against his back. Before him, Edgar Perry’s rictus howled silently as long chains of commands, blocks of logic structures stormed through the displays, flitting like vicious faeries from station to station, morphing and growing as they lashed through A.I. command system.
Ryoshi stared in horror. Panting frantic plumes in the flickering, throbbing, red-lit room, he saw the clear, alien fluid gather and slip ever so carefully towards him.
Outside Raven Station 119-09, the Hop Frogs went back and forth from the Ganymede’s frozen oceans, swarming, merging, scattering like quicksilver mites winking on the infinite deep velvet of space.
After many days, the running lights along the smooth white hull of the Annabel Lee lit up. Slowly, silently, it detached from the mining orbital, pirouetted, and headed back the way it came.


copyright Patrick Todoroff, Oct. 2015

VP19 Exercise “Poe 3000”
Oct. 2015

The Barrow Lover panel #2

12" x 12" with 18" chain for hanging.
12″ x 12″ with 18″ chain for hanging.
Managed to solder the second Celtic panel for The Barrow Lover Stained Glass Giveaway. Simple design with a Celtic knot negative-etched on antique gray glass in the center. The halo is a Kelly green antique glass with a secondary ring of clear double-chip. The arms are a very cool translucent white with an unusual gold fire when in the sun, while the corners are dark gray granite glass. The third piece for the giveaway will be similar. (Different center) I should finish it late this week.

Someone commented giving away stained glass was an unusual way to get reviews. I don’t like the Shenanigans and Review Inflation that goes on at Amazon/Goodreads, etc, but I’m convinced honest reviews are important. Of course I want them. But this is also a way to say ‘Thank you’ to readers. There are plenty of other books, plenty of other things you could be doing with your time and money. That you read my stuff is an honor. To then take the extra effort to post a review is remarkable. So while I can’t give everyone a panel or even buy you a cup of coffee, I want to express my gratitude for your interest and support. Thank you.

All the best.
Patrick Todoroff

The Barrow Lover – Advance Copy Specifics

TheBarrowLover 2 preview-1Thanks to everyone who expressed interest in the Stained Glass Panel Giveaway for The Barrow Lover and the offer of Advance Copies. According to the publisher, a late Sept/early Oct release is still an attainable goal. Here are specifics:

The Barrow Lover is a Celtic-flavored ghost story with a couple horror scenes. I say Celtic-flavored because while the setting feels vaguely medieval, it’s non-specific and contains the occasional anachronism. I chose poetic verisimilitude (yes, I actually got to deploy that term) over historical accuracy. Might be a touch shocking but there is no gratuitous gore. A novella of less than 25K words, it’s a short read. Depending on how fast you read/if you like it, you’ll be done in a night or so.

I have TEN copies to send to interested parties. Three are spoken for as of this writing. Please contact me through my gmail dot com account. The addy name is CCGlazier and I will send it right out. It is available in WORD or PDF.

I also have SEVEN trade paperback galley copies. The print formatted small, but it is the complete manuscript. If you’d like one, I’ll need your mailing addy. Send it to the above email and I’ll post you a copy ASAP.

Please understand the manuscript is slated for a final copy edit, and the advance copies contain the occasional typo.

There is none. Of course it’s copyrighted. Plagiarists will be dealt with vigorously through appropriate channels. I request any advance reader refrain from posting spoilers or excerpts before the official release. (Although opinions or encouraging words are always welcome.) I’ll be sure to announce the release date once I know more. Reviews at Amazon/Goodreads would be very much appreciated, but readers are under no obligation. This is a ‘no-strings-attached’ offer.

Foil-wrap construction, the panel measures 20.25" x 20.25"
Foil-wrap construction, the panel measures 20.25″ x 20.25″
To promote the book’s release and encourage those all-important Amazon Reviews, I will be giving away a total of three (3) Celtic-themed stained glass panels. Two will be smaller hangers, similar to pieces in my Etsy shop. I will post pictures once they are complete. The third piece is the 20.25″ x 20.25″ panel pictured here. To see more of my glasswork, feel free to browse my Studio Website.

The pool of contestants is strictly limited to readers in the Continental US and Canada who post a review of The Barrow Lover on the US Amazon.com website. All reviews will receive equal consideration; an honest review is worth ten ‘shill and gush’. Three names will be drawn at random once the number of qualified reviews reaches fifty. Winners will be announced here at my Blog and on Facebook. The panels will be packed, insured, and shipped free of charge to the winners’ confirmed address. I will consider a second giveaway once and if the number of reviews exceeds fifty and reaches 100.

Please contact me with any questions or requests for advance copies.

Thank you,
patrick t.

Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse

Day of the Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Diary of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead (great movie!) The Walking Dead… we have quite the appetite for rotting flesh, don’t we? *snirk*

Fellow genre writer Jack Flacco’s debut novel “Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse” continues in this fine tradition with a story about a grizzled survivor, a rusty pick-up, and his trusty 12-gauge. Protecting fellow survivors, uncovering an insidious conspiracy, and above all, blasting away at hordes of shambling undead is what this is all about.

The genuinely refreshing thing is while RM is fraught with tension and action, (and zombies) it keeps from decomposing into ponderous, grim darkness with a salting of black humor and a light tone. Thankfully, the book keeps on the side of a good old-fashioned Saturday morning cartoon rather than descending into a relentless, dreary tale of survival. It’s the undead with their tongue firmly in cheek. If you’re looking to waste some time with some good old-fashioned Zed-blasting, this is the book for you.

Be sure to click through to his Website to stay notified of the release date. I’m looking forward to more from this guy.

* Full Disclosure: I know the author through online venues and received an ARC of Ranger Martin.

MDBT Guest Post – Mark Carver

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A while back, I read an article that admonished writers to stick to one genre. Of course my initial reaction was, “How dare he tell me what to write!” but I soon realized that the article was largely correct. The most successful authors are those who write in one genre, since their fans know what they want and the authors are happy to give it to them. Of course this isn’t a one-size-fits-all rule, but the fact remains that an author has to establish themselves as a brand and this means carving out one’s niche, rather than diluting their brand by dipping their wick into too many genres.

Mark Carver headshotI’ve come to realize that my primary genre is dark supernatural fiction, and I’m comfortable settling into this genre. But writing is a lot of work, and every author needs a vacation now and then. The question on my mind was: how can I branch out into other genres without throwing my readers for a loop?

As I pondered weak and weary, I came up with a simple solution, which I call “Two On, One Off.” Basically, I will write two books in my primary genre, and then one book in a different genre. By following this schedule, readers can know what to expect and when, and it gives me a chance to stretch my legs and exercise different muscles of my imagination.

My first two books under this plan were The Age of Apollyon and Black Sun, both of which were extremely dark and intense. I definitely needed a break after being submersed in this grim world for nearly a year and a half. Thus, Indelible was born.

While my previous books contained Christian themes and elements, Indelible is a completely secular book. That’s not to say that it’s full of four-letter words or graphic descriptions of sex and violence, but it does contain some mild language, casual sex, partying, drug use, etc. But it’s actually a pretty light and easy read, at least compared to my earlier work. There’s not a single act of violence in the entire story, though there is plenty of tension and drama. I won’t give away any details about the story, but if you’re a fan of tattoos, heavy metal, or fantasy weapons, I guarantee you’ll love Indelible.

Writing this book was an absolute joy, and I had the entire manuscript cleaned and polished in just over three months (half the time it usually takes for me to complete a book). Of course I hope that it will attract a whole new market of readers to my corner, but my main purpose in writing Indelible was just to give my mind a breather.

And it worked. Almost immediately, I launched myself into the final book in The Age of Apollyon Trilogy, entitled Scorn, which I’ve nearly completed. I don’t think I could have written the entire trilogy back-to-back-to-back, and writing Indelible gave my imagination the rest and rejuvenation it needed to finish strong.

Indelible cover

So if you’re looking for something a bit different from my usual fare (or anyone else’s, for that matter), check out Indelible when it releases in just a couple of weeks. I think you’ll be very surprised, and that’s exactly what I’m hoping for.

Author Jess Hanna: Mega-Dark Blog Tour #2

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Next Installment of the Mega-Dark Blog Tour. Now up: Jess Hanna


More about Me
This is a continuation of my first post on the Mega Dark Blog Tour. In that post, I focused on where I came from, when I knew I wanted to be a storyteller, and the origins of my fascination with the supernatural. This second post will continue along that vein, providing further insight into what motivates me to write. But before I dive in, I would like to thank Patrick Todoroff for hosting me on his blog.

After I got saved, I saw the world with an alarming new clarity. The supernatural things that interested me before now took on a more sinister tone. I found that the majority of it (Ouija boards, the occult, ghosts, aliens, etc.) was meant to lead me away from the truth of God. Don’t get me wrong, I was still fascinated by these things, but the way I viewed them was not longer with fascination, but as tools of the enemy.

It wasn’t too far into the future that I stopped writing altogether. While I had an interest and felt I could write well, I didn’t see it as a viable career choice. I allowed ‘real’ life to crowd out my love of writing. I even stopped reading for many years. To fill the void I lived my life the best I could, moving from one unfulfilling job to another. It wasn’t and hasn’t been terrible, but spending a career climbing the corporate ladder is just not all that appealing to me.

Everything changed when I turned 32. While floundering in questioning what to do with my life, I felt a strong urge to get back to writing. I hadn’t written anything in so long that I wasn’t sure I could still do it. I tried to push the feeling away, to be practical, but the tug was strong. I knew I had to write, regardless of whether or not I felt the tangible benefit of it in this life.

I also started reading again and re-read my copy of On Writing by Stephen King. After I finished it, I took his advice and just started writing. Within a few months, I had written the first draft of my first book, The Road to Hell. I was so happy to just finish a full length novel at all, and let that elation carry me until I started the second draft. I found it was hard work, taking what I had written and scrutinizing it with a critical and grammatical eye.

To find out more about my experience writing my first book, along with details about my motivation and the painstaking process of multiple edits and the submission process, check out my next stop on the Mega Dark Blog Tour with Mark Carver.

Don’t forget to check out my website for more about me and my writing.


Blog Tour with Author Michael Brookes

Mark Carver, Overlord and Grand Anarch of the Mega-Dark group at GoodReads organized a Blog Tour for August. So in the coming weeks here at HSSJ, I’ll feature posts from five other authors. First up is Michael Brookes.


Writing An Odd Quartet

‘An Odd Quartet’ is my first collection of short stories, the next, ‘An Odder Quintet’ will be revealed later in the Mega-Dark Book Blog Tour. In this post I’m going to talk about what motivated me to write each of the stories in the first book.

As the name implies there are four stories in the book. The first is called ‘The Yellow Lady’. This story is based on a tale I heard around a camp fire as a young boy. The origin story of the ghost, the grave with the metal spikes and the legend of Heartbeat Tree are all true. I remember being terrified sleeping in the tent with a few other boys in the night, our tent right next to the graveyard with the corroded metal cross with spikes through it.

The scary thing about ghosts is that they keep coming back. With this story I wanted to do something a little different and that comes from the main character, a young man who makes his living by grave robbery. He’s also heard the story of the Yellow Lady and of the secret treasure. Naturally that brings him to the attention of the ghost, but he deals with the situation in a most unusual manner.

The twist in the tale is the central theme to the stories. I enjoy reading a story that ends in an unexpected way. I like writing stories like that even more!
In second story, ‘This Empty Place’ the inspiration came from the H P Lovecraft (one of the greatest horror authors) quote “And with strange eons even death may die”. I imagined what it would be like for an entity charged with the task of death and what they would feel as the universe drew to a close.

‘Forced Entry’ was an idea I’d had for some time. The idea was to have a hostage rescue team, highly trained soldiers, enter a house and encounter an evil way beyond what they were trained for. I decided to tell this story in a slightly different way. I wrote it as a series of radio communications between the soldiers.
Interestingly this story has divided many readers, some love it, others no so much. It’s also one of the stories that will be continued in the new collection.
‘The Reluctant Demon’ is possibly my favourite story in the collection. Previously I’d written a story for an anthology called ‘A Splendid Salmagundi’ about a demon taking his wife on holiday. Holidays take place within unwilling human hosts. It was a slightly comical look at Hell and one I wanted to develop.
For this story I wanted to feature a young demon who like other young demons wanting to become the best, have to become a possessor. To gain this they have to pass an exam. He doesn’t really want to become one, but is forced to by his father. Naturally the story doesn’t quite end as you’d expect.

So that is the history of how I wrote ‘An Odd Quartet’, if you haven’t read it yet, than I hope you’ll do so.

An Odd Quartet
A quartet of dark short stories (10,000 words total) each with a twist in the tale. The drabble enhanced edition also contains some of my favourite drabbles (100 word stories).

The Yellow Lady
Grave robbing is a dirty business, in more ways than one. When he disturbs the grave from a childhood scary story he discovers it’s not always treasure to be found.

This Empty Place
At the heat death of the universe, Death contemplates his existence.

Forced Entry
Terrorists seize an average suburban house. A Special Forces hostage rescue team is sent in and encounter more than they were trained for.

The Reluctant Demon
A young demon prepares to take his possession exam.


Buy now from:
Amazon (US): http://www.amazon.com/An-Odd-Quartet-ebook/dp/B009QJMMPC/
Amazon (UK): http://www.amazon.com/An-Odd-Quartet-ebook/dp/B009QJMMPC/
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/an-odd-quartet-michael-brookes/1046494250?ean=2940016693453
iTunes (US): https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id636526301
iTunes(UK): https://itunes.apple.com/uk/book/id636526301
Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/An-Odd-Quartet/book-IW9-ulByxE-fcgKdLgZT8Q/page1.html

About the Author
Michael Brookes considers himself a fortunate man. By day he works as an Executive Producer making video games for a leading independent developer, and by night he writes fiction in the horror and science fiction genres.
He is also very active is supporting indie authors from all genres through interviews and guest posts on his blog. He also runs a monthly short fiction contest that is open for everyone.

Follow him on his blog: http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/
You can also follow him on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/TheCultofMe
And on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheCultofMe