A few weeks ago, my short story Bear was published in a collection from JWKFiction. I wrote the first draft a couple of years ago and it ended up being a different story to the one I'd planned. I knew it'd be a short piece; a short sharp shock that would hopefully linger with the reader. And I knew what the threat was before I'd written a single word.
Well, I thought I did.
That changed and it changed early. From round about the third paragraph if I remember rightly. I knew it would be from the point of view of a little boy in bed and I knew his teddy bear would play a role. I knew the threat would be seen off by the tedddy bear. Turns out I was wrong about a couple of things and the main one - the threat - hit me within a few moments. The thought was something along the lines of there are worse things than a monster about to sneak into a little boy's bedroom. There are much worse things than make-believe monsters.
Within those couple of seconds, I had my short sharp shock nailed down. After a few edits and a bit of a polish, I'd got a nasty story with one of the most vile monsters I've encountered in my fiction. The story went out into the world and didn't find a home. I gave it a few more polishes, sent it out again and it came back to me. I expanded my potential markets, or at least I tried to. The funny thing was the number of markets I encountered that specified no children in their horror fiction was a lot higher than I might have expected. OK, not everyone wants to read about kids being threatened or hurt and that's their business, but it seems to me to be a bit limiting for a genre that's supposed to horrible, after all. Anyway, that's a topic for another day. It's enough to say I had to sit on Bear for a while before it found a home. And I'm very glad it did. I consider it one of my best short pieces and it does exactly what I hoped for. It's that short sharp shock of horror that lingers.
You can buy the collection featuring Bear here. And if you like it, well, you and I will get on famously.