Friday, January 21, 2011
I have a confession to make: I have a dark sense of humor.
And of course, it's no secret I love great writing.
So when I met author Michael Crane at a reader's and writer's forum at Amazon, I just had to have him at Fiction for Dessert to talk about and share some of his DRABBLES.
What's a DRABBLE?
I'll let him tell you . . .
K: Welcome to Fiction for Dessert, Michael. I’m excited that you are here sharing some of your 100 word shorts with my readers.
M: Thanks so much, Karen! I’m honored to be here.
K: How long have you been writing 100 word short stories?
M: Actually, I just started to write them back in October. I had never attempted them before then. I’ve done short-shorts before, but nothing like this. I think that’s one of the reasons I’m so shocked by how well LESSONS AND OTHER MORBID DRABBLES is doing.
K: Why 100 words?
M: There was an online contest awhile back on Kindleboards where you had to write a story using only 55 words, if I’m not mistaken. The title didn’t count, so long as it wasn’t very long. I participated and had a blast. It was a challenge, but it was so much fun. The great thing about a story being that short is that it doesn’t overstay its welcome. That’s always a fear of mine. That a story will go on for too long.
When I mentioned that I took part in the contest, Mary McDonald (author of NO GOOD DEED) asked me if I ever tried to write a drabble, which is a story that is only 100 words long. I never did, but I have read a couple of them. Mainly, from David McAfee’s excellent collection, THE LAKE AND 17 OTHER STORIES. I was really intrigued by the idea, so I wanted to try it out. With it being October at the time, I thought I would do horror, sticking to a Halloween theme. I thought I’d only be able to come up with one or two, and then I’d put them up on Smashwords for free… but to my surprise, I couldn’t stop myself once I started! I was having way too much fun writing them.
I figured if I could get at least 25 done, then that would make a good collection to put up on Amazon. Of course, I worked on this very quickly since I wanted to get it done before Halloween. This was all done within a month, miraculously. It was a crunch, but I pulled it off. It was thrilling to write something that was completely different from what I normally write. It’s one of the exciting things about being a writer. Trying out new things, see what works and what doesn’t. LESSONS worked, Thank God.
K: I love these stories – they are darkly humorous. I know you write other short stories as well – are they all on the dark side, or do you write different types of fiction?
M: Thanks, Karen! It means a lot coming from you. I do tend to write dark stories, but usually they’re focused on human drama. I love to write slice-of-life type stories. Raymond Carver and Richard Yates were HUGE influences on me. I just love to take an ordinary situation and see how the characters react to it. My short story collection IN DECLINE mostly deals with tragic stories about everyday things—addiction, heartbreak, lies etc. I still try to add a bit of humor to them, as well. But LESSONS is a completely different beast. I’ve never written anything like it. Think that’s why I was nervous when I first published it—and then overwhelmed by the praises and success of it.
And that’s why I decided to do a follow-up: LESSONS II: ANOTHER MORBID DRABBLE COLLECTION. I was a bit hesitant to do it at first. I was afraid people wouldn’t like it as much as the first one, but that’s a risk you have to take as a writer. My love will always be writing about human drama, but I can’t deny that I’ve stumbled onto something new for me. The 100-word stories have worked for me so far, so I can’t turn my back on them.
I’m also proud to be a part of two short story anthologies/collections. My drabble, “Apology” from LESSONS appeared in David McAfee’s A POUND OF FLASH. A completely new short story of mine also appeared in A LAND OF ASH by David Dalglish, and I’m featured with a bunch of insanely talented authors. That story was fun to do, because it was going back to my roots with human drama, much like with IN DECLINE.
K: As my readers know, I’m a huge fan of short fiction both to read and to write. What particular challenges do you find in writing short stories?
M: I don’t find them as challenging as writing a full length novel. As I mentioned before, one of my biggest fears is that a story will somehow outstay its welcome. Sometimes the execution can be the biggest obstacle. You can have a great idea, but it means nothing if you can’t execute it properly.
The real challenge of short stories and short story collections is selling them. Surprisingly, a lot of people don’t like to read them. That’s something I’ve learned. I can understand. I think people want something that’s longer. I’m the opposite. I have such a short attention span that short stories are the best for me to read. It’s hard for me to commit to a novel at times. Even if it’s good!
K: Is there a novel in your future?
M: Right now, I am working on a novella, although the drabbles have kind of gotten in the way. But that’s not a bad thing. You have to go with what’s working at the moment. The novella I’m working on is GOODMAN’S BAD DAY. It’s something I’ve been working on for years. I never got around to finishing it when I was at college, so after I discovered eBook indie publishing, I ended up completely re-writing what I had. I’m close to finishing the first draft, but as I said, I get easily distracted!
K: Thank you so much, Michael, for stopping by Fiction for Dessert and for sharing your “drabbles.” I’m a big fan of your work. Maybe you’ll stop by again sometime and share a bit of a short story?
M: It’d be my pleasure, Karen! You know how to get in touch with me. I doubt you’ll have to drag me kicking and screaming! This has been a real honor, and I’m glad I was able to entertain you with my writing. I love it when I hear positive feedback from readers, and to receive it from a fellow author makes me very happy.
Michael has been gracious enough to share a few of his DRABBLES from both collections. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
“There isn’t a monster under your bed,” Daddy says.
“Bradley, I’m not going to let you stay up late because you’re making up stories about monsters and whatnot,” he says, folding his arms and frowning.
“Look under there, and if there isn’t a monster I’ll go to sleep.”
Daddy laughs and shakes his head. “Fine. If that’ll make you feel better.” He gets down on his knees and sticks his head underneath my bed.
Then there’s a scream and a loud chomping noise. I see the color red spill on the floor…
Daddy doesn’t have a head anymore.
Chucky gave his mother the evil eye as he sat on the bed. His arms were folded and he gave a wicked scowl.
“Sweetie, I know you’re mad at me,” she said.
He huffed and his eyebrows became one.
“You’re right to be mad. I’m mad at myself, too. I hope you can forgive me.”
Chucky said nothing as he continued to stare. His lips closed tightly, forming a straight line.
“I swear, next time you tell me there’s a monster in your closet, I’ll believe you.”
He looked down at the stump, where his right leg used to be.
Joseph’s arm hurt from writing, Ms. Elroy is not a monster a hundred times on the chalkboard. He tried to stretch, but he only felt pain.
Old Ms. Elroy and her funny glasses stared at him. “Have we learned our lesson?”
“And that is?”
“That you’re not a monster?”
“Can I go home now?” he asked.
She gave an answer by growing yellow, sharp fangs. Her eyes became blood-red.
“Go?” she hissed. “But you’ll miss the fun!”
“Help! Let me in, Dan!”
I open the door and see that George’s eyes are all big and wide, like he’s seen a ghost.
“Billy and his goons are chasing me! Might’ve called them a few names or something. I need shelter!”
I let him in and look outside for a moment to see if they’re around, but there isn’t anybody out there. Were they hiding?
It’s after I close the door that I feel sharp teeth biting into my neck.
The last thing I hear George say is, “Sorry, Danny. Needed you to invite me in somehow.”
His wife was screaming about zombies. How retarded was that?
“There’s no such thing, Ellen. Calm the hell down.”
“They’re here! They’re on their way here!” she screamed as she gripped his arm, with her nails digging into his flesh.
“Ouch, goddammit! You’ve watched too many horror movies. They aren’t real.”
“But I saw one!” she shouted. Her nails dug deeper into his arm.
He shook her off. “Probably some homeless bum. Trust me, there ain’t no zombies.”
Cliff thought his wife was bat-shit crazy. That is, until she turned into one.
Now, he doesn’t do much thinking at all.
Michael Crane is an indie author and scribbler of inane babble that can sometimes end up as stories. He went to Columbia College Chicago where he earned a BA in Fiction Writing. He is the author of IN DECLINE and LESSONS AND OTHER MORBID DRABBLES, and he also might've written two books while he was in high school, but he refuses to own up to them and that's why they aren't included on this page. His work has appeared in A POUND OF FLASH by David McAfee, and A LAND OF ASH by David Dalglish. He lives in Illinois and is always trying to work on something new, unless he's battling stupid writer's block.
Some of his favorite writers are Raymond Carver, Richard Yates, Kurt Vonnegut, Chuck Palahniuk, Bret Easton Ellis and Hunter S. Thompson. You can learn more about his works by visiting his AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE.
I have also had the pleasure of reading some of Michael's short stories from his other collections and recommend them highly as I am truly a fan!
Other works by Michael Crane: