Making The Numbers Add Up: 2


Here we have a little bit of insider info on the next four stories in ‘Unlucky Numbers’, having gone over the first four in an earlier post. Just a few thoughts on where the ideas came from and any issues or diversions along the way. I know this isn’t for everybody (a bit like TV shows talking about other TV shows) but it’s here if you want it. Remember, better to read the stories first, just in case there are SPOILERS!

HALCYON: Here was another story written to a forum prompt, but also keeping in mind my quest to have stories that had a ‘numbers’ focus. The prompt was something to do with opening a box, so I decided to stray away from the unexpected gift idea that a number of other writers explored. It made me think what else a box could be used for, and how the same box might be used multiple times. Then I thought of one of those hidden camera TV shows where they tell a kid he mustn’t look in the box but then leave the room. Of course, that wouldn’t give me the creepy, psychological edge I was after, so I relocated it. The ending initially was going to have Carraway shoot Usher, and the purchase done without him, but I had a change of heart. See, I’m a nice guy really…

CALL THIS NUMBER: I’ve often wondered about some of these phone numbers you see, like at accident spots or crime scenes, or even the ‘How Am I Driving?’ numbers on the back of vans; wondered how often they get called and whether it ever leads to anything much. Then, of course, I get to thinking about whether it wasn’t what you expected when you rang… perfect for ‘Unlucky Numbers’. I enjoyed creating Norman – I thought he was quite an interesting character. Unfortunately I always knew the outlook wouldn’t be good for him. What I didn’t know straight away was exactly what was going to happen to him. I’d created the set up but not the punchline. In the end I went with what I did as something that seemed the best fit. I was pleased with Sebastian’s little contribution at the end though.

TOWER WHITE: This is the first story I’ve written inspired by a picture prompt. Here it is:

From this then came the idea of the fog being permanent and that life had to exist purely on the rooftops. Of course, life is likely to be slightly different in the shiny white tower, so that was where my story had to head. It was only in the process of writing it did I decide that the fog wouldn’t go all the way to the bottom. At first, it was going to be the elite still living it up (or down) on the ground, with the lesser classes left above. It was only when I got to that point in writing did it strike me to invert that idea, and I think it makes for a better tale.

THIRTEEN: One of two stories in this collection that I published initially as bonus material in ‘A Very Bad Year’. However, once I started doing this collection, it was obvious – from its title – that this story had to move. The idea? Well, as a writer you’ve always got the personalities of your characters swirling around in your head, particularly if you’re writing a novel. Got me thinking then: what if a writer fell ill and couldn’t distinguish between their personality and one that they had previously created. Then, once I’d decided that this writer would switch to a different character from a different book each day, it was then a case of what could be the worst possible character she could be at the end? What would be the most nightmarish scenario? Obviously, what I wrote is what I came up with. I did toy with the idea of extending it, seeing her in action, but in the end I thought that might be best left to the readers’ imaginations…

There you go: four more. I’ll be back with the last bunch in a few days’ time.

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