Thursday, September 29, 2011

When Readers Make Us Think About Our Writing

The Crazy Old Lady got another encouraging review last night which made a point I found thought-provoking. “Sadie” wrote, “...the more my friends talked about this book the more I wanted to read it. As with all short stories you can't give away too much of the plot or you give away the whole story for the next person. If you like a good psychological horror/ mystery without all the blood and guts, old five story brownstone houses and a family and their servants who have some secrets to hide, then you will like this book. The only problem that I had with it was it was over too soon.”

I very much appreciated the review and I was struck by her wordsa good psychological horror/ mystery without all the blood and guts.” I was very pleased she said that because I'm no fan of blood and guts and have always been of the opinion that the most horrifying stuff is the stuff that creeps up on you gradually – the stuff it takes a few minutes to absorb. I remember when I was young and read Shirley Jackson's “The Lottery” for the first time. When it was over I sat there or a moment thinking, “Well, that was dumb.” But I couldn't stop thinking about it and when the full reality of what was about to happen finally crept up on me I was pretty horrified.

Later, when I was reading Stephen King's book On Writing: A Memoir of theCraft, I was struck by his observation that the most truly horrible things are the things that are every day, common realities – things that could happen to any of us at any time. Most of us pretty much know we are not going to be attacked by zombies, seduced by vampires, or pounced on by werewolves... but an out of control dog? Hmmmm...

Because of Sadie's comment I decided to put two of my best old psychological crime stories into a short, 99 cent e-book and offer it for Kindle and Nook. Both stories were previously published in Level Best Books crime anthologies and also in my love, murder, etc. but I thought some people might like to have just the two without having to buy the whole anthology. So last night I uploaded Home-made Pie and Sausageand Killing Julie Morris.

Both of them were written shortly after I read King's book and both of them started out as exercises in how to make a common, wholesome, every day object become horrifying.

For Home-made Pie and Sausage I started with the idea of pie. What is more common and wholesome than pie? Then how do you make it horrible. My attempt is in my story and I hope you'll read it and let me know what you think.

In Killing Julie Morris I did the same thing with the idea of baseball which transformed into a Little League team – and the story went on from there.

So, if you haven't already read those stories, I hope you'll give them a try. You can buy them for Kindle or Nook and they only cost 99 cents. Give it a try and let me know how I did.

Thanks for reading.


  1. Rumour has it that the Demon Barber of Fleet Street made an interesting pie. ;-)

    I'm sure you did something tasty with your story about a pie as well.


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