Awhile ago I was looking through some websites when I came across Sirens Call Publications. The second issue of their e-zine was accepting submissions for short stories based on the theme of 'horror from the point of view of the observer'.
The observer - that's interesting, I thought, but I haven't got any stories that fit right now, and the deadline is in a few days so I haven't time to come up with anything... Ah well.
Around this time I'd also been turning over a vague idea in my head about a story about a soldier in a modern day war, who did little but stare at computer screens all day like any other office worker. And about what he might see on those screens that wasn't strictly speaking there. Now you'd think my conscious mind would have been smart enough to think: computer screens? from the point of view of the observer? there's a connection there..! but no. But my subconscious, which is obviously the brains of the outfit, must have made the connection overnight, for the next morning I awoke with a story called 'Drones' in my head.
Not just the idea for 'Drones' mind you, but the whole shebang: the plot, the lead character's voice, the first lines, the last lines... This has happened to me only occasionally; when it does the story seems very fragile, like a soap bubble, and I know I have to get it written down as quickly as I can before it bursts. So I went straight downstairs, boiled the kettle, and wrote the first complete draft of 'Drones' in a couple of hours.
The next day I attempted to decipher my cramped and frantic handwriting, and wrote out a second draft; the day after that it was typed up and sent off. It's been years since I've written anything so quickly, and although the story is only about 2.5k words, it's still a good feeling.
Anyway, given that the story wouldn't even have existed without the nudge from the Sirens Call submissions page there was no messing around on Duotrope with this one - the story went straight across to SR, a few days before the deadline closed. And I'm very pleased to say they accepted it.
I really like it, as a story, but then I would say that because the writing of the story was so quick and easy - writers tend to like best the stories they liked writing best I find, rather than the ones where they've had to slog through redraft after redraft. But whether inspiration and writer's cramp or hard graft and heartache produces the best stories for readers to read I'm not so sure.
Anyway, you can read 'Drones' in Issue Two of The Siren's Call e-zine, available to purchase here. I'm off to check it out, and see what kind of company I'm keeping...
In addition, the Abominable Gentlemen have been busy in the lab again, and after much boiling of test-tubes and loss of eyebrows, I am pleased to say that fourth volumes of Penny Dreadnought is available now.
The issue contains four tales of murder, malfeasance and malarky:
Occupational Hazard by Iain Rowan
The Aerialist by Alan Ryker
Packob's Reward by James Everington
Poe's Blender by Aaron Polson
Commit your own crime by downloading it from Amazon (UK | US), Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords.