Some weeks back, the good folk at Severed Press asked me to submit a short story to their new horror anthology DEAD BAIT II which is, obviously enough, a follow-up to their DEAD BAIT collection. He wanted a story from me there to help in promotion for THE LIVING END (which makes sense). So I asked about the anthology guidelines.
"Horror story that involves fishing," he told me.
Well, that's pretty simple. I figured I could have a go at it.
My initial thought was to come up with something within the world of THE LIVING END. I had a partial of what was to have been a chapter in that book and decided that I could flesh it out and at least connect it in some way to fishing, even if it was in an oblique manner. So I turned it out and sent it in.
Well, it was too oblique. I had to admit that the fishing connection was tenuous. It bounced back. No problem.
I decided to take another jab at it and came up with an idea, then turned it into a plot and got to work. In pretty quick order I had the story up to 1800 words. This one more closely attuned to the concept of fishing, even if it wasn't--strictly speaking--the kind of fishing most people think of when the activity comes to mind. I was feeling pretty good about the tale.
I hit a brick wall.
That may be putting it lightly. More like a wall of pure neutronium. The more I worked on the story, the more it just wasn't going to gel. I have to like a story to finish it, and I just didn't want to spend any more time with this. I agonized over it and was getting pretty desperate.
Then ye editor emailed asking if I was finished. He had a deadline looming. A publishing deadline, folk, which is a lot different from a writing deadline.
I stressed a bit. I thought.
And suddenly I recalled the plot of a fishing story I was going to write and never did. I'm talking like twenty-five years ago. Back before my son was even born a friend had asked me to write a story set in a shared fantasy world he'd concocted and I jotted down what I figured was a good idea and the project never came to light. And I pretty much forgot about the plot. Until, of course, I needed it.
But that was all it was--merely an image of a beggar with an atrophied arm and a warrior adrift on a vast lake fishing for something a bit more nasty than a trout. With that picture in my noggin I sat down at the keyboard at 7:30 pm and began writing. The story came flowing out the way they do when everything is perfect. By 11:30 pm I had a 4500-word story that was there, solid and just about perfect. I emailed it to my editor. I didn't tell him it wasn't the story I'd been working on previously, but something that had just been created minutes before.
The next day I made some very minor adjustments and sent him the (slightly) improved version. I'm really damned happy with the story, which I called "The Krang".
Look for it in DEAD BAIT II coming from Severed Press.