As I like to do with all my collections, I thought I'd offer here some story notes for each of the stories in the collection.
"The Cursed Anthology" - This tale concerns a horror anthology where all the writers who contributed begin to die from various causes in the exact order in which they appear in the table of contents. It is a confessional story, meaning it involves just two characters talking, revealing the story. I like this one because I feel it has a nice creepy atmosphere and a bit of a twist at the end. Thought it would be a nice story to start out with.
"Out of Time" - Anyone who reads this story would probably be able to tell I was watching a lot of The Twilight Zone when I got the inspiration for this. I like to write stories that deal with time travel or time anomalies, and this one deals with time being experienced out of sequential order. This story was a particular blast to write, because the structure was very important and I had fun working it all out.
"Good Guys with Guns" - A topical story about what has unfortunately become one of America's favorite past times, the mass shooting. I feel we are a society of people who think they are modern-day cowboys, and if they had been in the middle of the event with a gun of their own, they would have known exactly what to do. That kind of misplaced ego I think could prove dangerous in its own right, and wanted to explore it in this story.
"Redman" - This is my tribute to the late great Jack Ketchum. After his passing, a publisher was putting together a tribute anthology and I wrote this story in answer to that call. That anthology never came to be, but I'm still very proud of this story. My favorite Ketchum novel is Red, and I used that as inspiration for this homage. I don't pretend it comes even close to capturing Ketchum's greatness, but it's an expression of love and appreciation for the work he left the world.
"What's Lost Can Never Be Found" - A non-horror piece, one of what I think of as my more "emotional" tales. This one deals with an old man going to the book-signing of a famous author, but he holds a secret to the author's past. However, sometimes there are certain doors that people don't want opened, and it asks the questions, can you reach a point where it's too late to make amends?
"If Wishes Were Horses" - A very odd story, and I never thought I'd write a tale about centaurs. However, this one called to me. It all started when I found out my friend Amy used to live in just such an apartment as described in the story, a converted hayloft in a working barn with horses right beneath her. I knew instantly I wanted to write a story about a character who lived in such an apartment, and the idea came to me almost full-blown.
"Dead Baby Blues" - Sometimes my husband likes to throw out odd phrases and say I should write a story with that as the title. He does this half-joking, but sometimes I take him up on it. The phrase "Dead Baby Blues" was very evocative, and I started to get an idea of what story could fit with such a title. Something dark, something that would speak to our attention-hungry society. I carried the idea around for a while before finally putting it to paper.
"Unfinished Business" - An emotional ghost story, this one began when I was thinking about the fact that I own so many books that I'll never possibly read them all before I die. Morbid thought, I know, but I was thinking that there will be a final book I read, and quite possibly one I'm in the middle of when I go. The idea of dying with a book unfinished seemed ripe for a story.
"I Molded a Man from Dirt and Clay" - The first poem of the collection. This one was rather spontaneous and stream-of-consciousness. I started with just the first couple of lines, and I let it flow from there, creating a alternate version of the origins of life, Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden. A story about love and betrayal and bitterness.
"Mutation" - In college I wrote a story called "Survival of the Fittest," a post-apocalyptic tale that I envisioned as a series. Only I never wrote anymore. Eventually I published that story in my collection FLOWERS IN A DUMPSTER, and that reawakened my desire to make a series of stories in this world with those characters. So I wrote a second, "Evolution," and included it in my last collection BOOK HAVEN AND OTHER CURIOSITIES, and "Mutation" is the third in that series. Took 20 years, but I'm making good on my desire to dip back into this world time and again.
"Life/Story" - This one deals with loss and grief, and the imagination. The imagination is a gift, for sure, and it has gotten me through some hard times in life. But I was thinking there is also a flip side, that the imagination can be a way to avoid things that need to be faced, to refuse to accept unpleasant realities. That all sort of mingled together to create this tale.
"Idol" - Another non-horror piece, this was inspired by what I feel is the tasteless way some authors can publicly bash other best-selling authors. I made me think, what if the author being bashed is a fan of the author doing the bashing? How much must that hurt? It would be like Stephen King giving an interview and saying, "That Mark Gunnells writes utter trash!" So I used that as inspiration for a story, which I think may be the jumping-off point in the future for a novel.
"Red Wave" - This is a little post-apocalyptic tale that also serves as a commentary on the political scene in America these days. Nothing terribly overt, I hope, but it is more metaphorical. One thing I love about storytelling is how you can shine a light on issues that are important to you, and still tell a bang-up story!
"Second Time Around" - Another story that deals with time, and another story where I feel the hand of The Twilight Zone is evident. I return to my alma mater of Limestone College here, to tell a story of regret where a man revisits the college he went to in his youth and gets a second chance to do it all over again, but he isn't sure he wants to. What if he can't really change anything, and he only experiences the same disappointment and frustration again?
"Test of Faith" - This is the collection's other poem, and it is also a work done entirely in dialogue, which is something I like to experiment with from time to time. I wanted to explore the Biblical story of Abraham and his son Issac which I've always found very twisted. We're supposed to admire Abraham for being willing to kill his own son without asking any questions just because God told him to? Now that's horror for you, right there.
"Dead Boy" - I wrote this one with no clear plan, just started with the idea of a boy who feels dead on the inside, like he's a living corpse. I wrote it in one sitting, just seeing where the story itself lead me. I love that experience, when you recognize that you aren't in the driver's seat, you are just a passenger and the story itself is choosing the destination and the route to get there.
"Favored" - This story was born from my musing on how parents always say they don't have a favorite child, but I suspect that secretly they sometimes do. They can't admit it, but sometimes you can even tell which one it is. That led me to wonder what you would be willing to do for your favored child, what extremes you might be willing to go to in order to protect him or her.
"Like Mother, Like Son" - I watched an interview with Richard Christian Matheson in which he stated that when he was young, his school called his father (famed author Richard Matheson) in because they felt RCM had written a paper too good for someone his age and suspected his father had written it, which wasn't the case. But I instantly got the inspiration for this tale.
"Gone But Not Forgotten" - I get a lot of inspiration just from trips my husband and I take. We were at a State Park hiking a trail through the woods, and came across a very old decrepit cemetery where most of the people died in the 1800s. I noted one of the inscriptions on a tombstone read "Gone But Not Forgotten" and I thought how that was no longer true. There was no one left who remembered that person, and I started imagining a life for them. That experience became this story.
"Dream Lover" - This story is a follow-up to my novel Outcast, a story of witchcraft on a college campus. When I finished that novel, I thought the story was complete, but since then I've had inspiration to return in a couple of short stories. First was "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden," in my collection Curtain Call. With "Dream Lover" I wanted to dip back and explore a character from the novel named Jacoby. He was my favorite character to write in the novel, and I felt like he was the kind of person to sacrifice his own happiness to help someone else.
"Fern Seed" - I learned that some Wiccans believe that fern seeds have properties to aid in spells of invisibility. My understanding it isn't a literal invisibility, like when Harry Potter throws his cloak over his head, but simply making you less noticeable so that people don't pay much attention to you. I thought of a way to use this in a fictional sense, the story of a bullied boy wanting to escape his tormentors' notice, but with unforeseen and tragic consequences.
"Perversion Therapy" - This is a story I had in mind for many years before I ever wrote it. It's a twisted, sexual story of a sick therapist/patient relationship and an unorthodox (to say the least) version of aversion therapy. On occasion I like to write these tales that are very sexual in nature, and as a writer I always believe in going exactly where the inspiration takes me. Nothing is off limits.
"Hike and Seek" - I find stories of mysterious disappearances quite haunting and creepy. I watch a lot of videos on real life disappearances, and the ones that hit me the hardest are the ones where a group is out, and one minute the person is there, then they maybe turn a corner slightly ahead of everyone else, and when the rest turn that corner, the person is gone and never seen again. I used that in this story, telling the tale from two different perspectives and two different disappearances.
"Pink Applesauce" - We've all known people who are users and manipulators, who only will be your friend as long as they can keep getting what they want from you. They feel the world and everyone in it owes them, and they will do anything to get people to do for them so they don't have to do for themselves. I won't say who, but a specific person inspired this story, and I added in some fictional fantasy elements to drive my point home.
"Representational Magic" - We all know about voodoo dolls and the idea of using such objects as representations of actual people, so that whatever is done to the doll is done to the person the doll represents. I was thinking on this, and wondering if you could use another living person as the "doll."
"If You Can Read This" - Have you seen those bumper stickers written in tiny print that say things like, "If you can read this, you're too close" or "If you can read this, get off my ass"? I find those odd, because the whole point of a bumper sticker is to be read, and it's human nature to try to read them, so if there is one in tiny script, we all try to get a little closer to read it. Well, I decided to write a brief flash piece where the bumper sticker packs more of a punch than you'd expect.
"A Rain of Autumn Leaves" - I have a fondness for end-of-the-world stories, and it's always a challenge to find new and unique ways to end the world. Here I took something I love, autumn leaves spiraling down from above, and turned it into something sinister and dangerous.
And there you go, the story notes on each of the pieces that feature in my new collection. Please consider giving the book a try, and let me know what you think of the tales.
You can purchase THE DAYLIGHT WILL NOT SAVE YOU here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07T446MD1/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i2