A small update on the progress of The Magpie's Tale. I started this anthology as a way to place some published stories and some trunk tales into a collection of my own. I had everything planned out to the cover, trailer and the story order. Then I hit a snag. While shooting the video for the trailer an idea struck. This tied in with my wish to have a thread or a theme that connected each story similar to my favourite Amicus films I loved watching as a schoolboy.
As with all ideas this one came with a new set of problems. Some of the stories didn't fit into any theme. When analysing them again I also realised that some of stories, mostly the published ones, didn't feel right any longer. Not that I'm dismissing them as standalone tales, just for this anthology they felt like tourists rather than natives.
So I started sketching out new ideas, some worked, some failed and some gave me the story kick in my stomach. You know that feeling a writer has when an idea feels so right they get the butterflies wearing steel toe-capped boots. These stories usually feel stolen from the idea highway that runs along invisible lines all round us. After a moment of guilt for grabbing a tale destined for another writer's brain along the road, I started to relish these sparks of inspiration.
So here I am writing an anthology that only contains two of the original stories, one previously published and one I wrote especially as a lead in. I've also ditched three full stories I wrote and two more ideas I never completed. Yet after all this hard work and brain bashing indecision I feel I'm finally onto something good, something I'll be happy to release with my name on the front cover.
I have a theme and a framed story. I have tales about a man with a terrifying tattoo that causes the world to see him as their enemy, a story about a boy who gets more than he bargained for when he completes an old jigsaw and a tale of revenge with more twists than a game of Twister with the band Twisted Sister. And many more beside those little horrors. I have a concept that finally feels right. Hopefully I will be able to send it off into the world soon. Until then here's a sample from The Dust of Hell.
'Grace wrapped her tiny hands around the hatchet resting against the broken screen door. The thud of the heavy axe head falling against each wooden step filled her with dread. She looked down at her brother, a ten year old man who had suddenly found strength in the promise of food. It gave him power and speed like a wolf striding across the plains chasing prey. John never looked back. Grace strode across the invisible meadow dragging the axe that cut channels into the dry earth behind her.
When she finally caught up with her brother she saw him standing on the edge of the hole shaking. She dropped the hatchet in a cloud of dust. John peered into the smoking pit. The impact of the sky creature falling to the earth must have pushed the soil through the ground, opening up the trap. How considerate, digging its own grave, John thought.
But he slipped back falling to the ground when the clouds uncovered the silver Moon and exposed the creature in there. It was no goose. It was a man, a man with the wings of a goose.'