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simon collis

musings of an omnivorous biped

First off, I have no real idea what inspired me to call this one “The March Society”. The idea that a music journalist wouldn’t see the name and immediately think of John Philip Souza and other purveyors of vaguely military-style pieces in two-four time is nonsense. Second, the idea that someone who was opera mad wouldn’t question that either is a bit silly. I can only hope that people will assume the character is either changing the name of it and it originally had nothing to do with the word “March”, or that the narrator has chosen to skip over that no doubt hilarious misunderstanding.

I actually started writing this one on the Monday, which is early for me. It’s a story idea I’d had years ago, at least the first part: the idea of something hideous, so sinister looking you can imagine it haunting Lovecraft’s nightmares, and yet all it wants to do is to sing, and you listen to its amazing, pure, delicious voice and suddenly all the other singers you’ve ever known and loved sound like ashes in your mouth and you can’t stand them any more is like catnip to me. But the question I didn’t have resolved in my mind was how to end it? I’d thought about having the society break up, be exposed… in the end, something so pure just wasn’t made for this world. (Did I really write that? Maybe I’ve got a career writing Mills and Boon beckoning…) Read more

The clichéd question that every writer gets asked is “where do you get your ideas from?” Well, I’m not sure, but for the last few weeks the ideas haven’t really been flowing freely. In fact, this was the third attempt to write this story. I started off thinking I’d bring back Mr Munro of the antique shop, but re-reading Elkwood just made me want to fix the problems I saw in that story. Besides which, I couldn’t then think of a decent scenario to use them in. So that was enough of that one.

The next attempt to write it was actually a resurrection of the very first idea that I came up with. I won’t expound on that one as yet, for the simple reason that I probably will end up writing it before the year is out and I don’t want to give any spoilers out. But suffice to say that this time I didn’t even get as far as the first time, and that was particuarly galling.

In a bad mood, I ended up some time on Friday evening trying to come up with something. Finally, I came up with the title, and the rest – as often seems to happen with me – flowed naturally. Read more

When I first wrote If, Never three weeks ago, I didn’t think it would have a sequel. Even in my wildest dreams did I think it would turn into a trilogy (and some of those dreams and pretty funky, thank you for asking.)

The initial premise of the first story was expanded on, and I enjoyed writing the second and coming up with another twist. But the next question was whether that was the last twist, or whether there was another twist somewhere to be had. I realised from some of the comments I’d had in person that some people were a little confused what had happened, and even thought that the carrier bag had been hidden outside. That made me realise that there was still some scope in these events, and that maybe that second twist should be resolved. Read more

Having written last week’s story “If, Never”, I started reading it through for the final proof, and wondered not only why Jenkins was murdered, but how. And so the idea of writing the story again, this time from the view of the murderer, started to take shape in my head.

It was actually easier to write this one than the original story, as I had the outline already written. I came up with most of the major plot points over the week, but during the actual writing on Friday and Saturday, I had to be careful to make sure that the dialogue matched exactly between the two, although the reactions to the same dialogue across the two stories are quite different, which was fun.

My big question was how the trick was achieved, how they deceived Carson enough to be able to use him as a fall guy for their crime. Read more

Sorry I’m a little late with this one – things got in the way, as things tend to do…

I came up with the title first. I began writing, and came up with the idea of the main character being a fantasist straight away. I remembered “Billy Liar” about halfway through. I actually did do the book at school, during English lessons – we read the book, watched the film, and read the play. The three versions are mostly the same, only diverging at the end to show three different versions of the Liz character.

Mostly the writing of this one was easy. Once I started, the pieces started falling into place. I was worried that it would need a lot of editing and fixing, but coming back to it, I found that it was fairly solid. Whether I’ll still feel like that after this weekend I don’t know, because the next story is planned as a sequel, of sorts.

The post “Behind The Scenes: If, Never” first appeared on simoncollis.com and is Copyright © Simon Collis 2018. All rights reserved.

The themes of the story, of loss, and death, and love, are universal ones. The genesis of the story really lies with our own cats and dogs, each one of them unique and special personalities. I still miss dogs I haven’t seen for years. I still miss people I haven’t seen or spoken to for years. I guess I’m saying cherish those you’ve got. Nobody can live forever. Read more

Grimgreen actually started around the 7th January. Alyssa Evetts – an author in her own right who also has a regular feature interviewing authors (which is always interesting in itself) – posted a quote:

The fact that the real world could have involved dragons, unicorns, magic, time travel and insane adventures but instead has things like taxes is why I read so much

Another classic quote from that great author, “Unknown”. (I must look up some of their other work sometime). Anyway, my reply was that in such a world, surely the fantasy fiction involves accountants. And during my recent spell away from the office, the story took shape in my head. Read more

Spoiler Alert: read Florence first, if you haven’t already…

This one was quite fun to write, although I suspect it might not be quite as much fun to read as I had writing it. I actually wrote the first draft straight after writing Doctor Fog, knowing that I was going to be away and wanting to try and make sure that I had a story for every week. Read more

Spoiler alert: read the story “Elkwood” first, if you haven’t already

This one would probably work quite well as a radio play, to be honest. I was aiming for something more Victorian gothic horror, and I think I almost got there in one or two places.

Elkwood was the name I originally came up with, and I didn’t really realise where it fitted or whose it was. And then I finally realised it was the old man’s name. I didn’t use it more than once though, because I was using the name “Munro” so much. Perhaps that was a mistake, perhaps not – I’m not entirely sure.

The shopkeeper was originally called “Munro”. If you want a model for him, watch the film “Northfork” – Cup of Tea was predominantly in my brain for him. Read more

This was a hard one to write. It’s actually the third attempt I’ve made to write it over the last twenty years when I first came up with the idea. The idea that appearances can be deceptive is always a fascinating one for me, and the notion that there really is a monster in the cupboard and that’s a good thing was too much of an idea to miss.

That said, the actual scene was hard to do. I didn’t want to go too far, and make something that was too graphic, mainly because this is an area in which I have no personal experience (fortunately for me). The device of the boy watching the monster rather than the molester, then, seemed the best way of keeping the action flowing without stepping the wrong side of a line I wasn’t sure I could see properly. Read more