Stories are often born in the places where your mind lives in contradiction or even open rebellion to the world in which you interact. This may be escapism for some, anger at injustice to others, a deep well of imagination for others. They can take many forms.
All my stories are based in some ways on something I’ve experienced in life — or something that’s befallen me or someone close enough to me that it elicited an emotional response from me.
But the writing itself begins when a face, a person, and then a character or two somehow arrive.
Sometimes, stories come from dreams, also, or noticing something during the day that brings with it a sudden sense of absurdity in the realm of social interaction, perhaps the artifice of how we all get along.
Having said that, none of my stories are “autobiographical,” by any means, at least in the strictest sense. I delve into the deep well of dreams and fears with a reimagining of reality along those lines, with regards to story.
My goal is to erase most of the kernel on which a story is based so that it becomes something more important than “what happened,” or “how it felt,” and becomes meaningful beyond a day or a moment or a glance.
I’m finishing a novelette (or short novella, depending on your hair-splitting) called The Faces which begins with an anonymous stranger eavesdropping on the conversation of a young man in his late twenties with a woman of similar age as they mention an upcoming party that this young man named Harold doesn’t wish to attend.
The story came from the edge of dreams for me, speaking of that street corner.
Not quite dreams; just the point where you’re about to plunge into the depths of sleep — the part of falling asleep when your eyes have only recently closed and your lids are darkened shades upon which upcoming dreams might be projected even while you’re still aware of an itch on your skin or a sound elsewhere in the bedroom.
I stood on a busy street corner waiting for the light to change when I glanced over in the crowd of people now walking with me at the crosswalk to the other side of this wide boulevard.
I zeroed in on one particular person in the crowd as if he (or she) was more interesting than any of the others, perhaps even someone familiar. Almost immediately this person stopped as the crowd moved on. The person turned and looked at me and froze in place while her or his face (depending on the night) began to melt and twist into a grotesquerie.
This has happened more than five times, let’s say, although I didn’t count up the nights. Not consecutive nights, either. A man or a woman, young or old.
Each night I opened my eyes within seconds as if I couldn’t take the transformed face any longer. Was I scared? Unnerved?
Why? Was I afraid I was losing my mind a little? Why that face? Why that strange feeling of familiarity when the person stopped and stared at me?
Why did I not continue following the crowd across the street? Why wait with this newly-born gargoyle in the dream? It was nearly cartoonish, that magma flow of face that continued to twist and transform as if there’d be an end-face, a visage finale, of a monstrous sharp-toothed fish from the deepest trench of the ocean?
Nearly around the same time I saw a photo of someone wearing a costume of an old time cartoon character. This made me think of something that was both hilarious and deeply disturbing.
The story’s first 10 pages raced out of me after that. I knew the meaning in the horror of that briefly recurring pre-dream.
Hoping to get the story out soon to my Patreon.com/DouglasClegg group. You’re invited to sign up over there if you think you might enjoy some pre-publication stories over the next 12 months.
Hope to see you there,
So I was up at 4 this morning and began finger-stomping on the Underwood Champion. Working on two different projects today, one of them being a novelette (which may become a novella) called The Faces, to be released via Patreon’s membership well-before it’s published.
I wrote or edited between 4 to 9 a.m., then hit the sack in my polyphasic sleep lifestyle, up again just after noon. Mostly tackling some business issues since then. Writing fiction ain’t all fun and games — there’s the publishing side, too.
Here’s some of the rough draft opening of The Faces. Want to read the whole thing in its pre-publication period? Be sure and become a member of my Patreon group. For all the details, click here. And yes, I’d love to see you over there.
“Fills me with dread,” came a voice in the midst of the sudden quiet of the coffee shop.
If you sat nearby you might glance to the next table over and notice the man who said this —late twenties, well-dressed in the forgettable office attire of the moment, hair smoothed back from ears, clean shaven.
From the outside, he looked anything but dread-filled.
This was Harold, allegedly full of dread yet looking perfectly normal, generally happy, possibly in his prime of life but with a smudge of despair around the eyes.
Beside him, Margaret, white streak through her thick black hair, ivory cable-knit sweater with her mother’s pearls hanging down, just enough make-up to look as if she had none, a nearly-drained mug cupped in her hands.
“Don’t look. Seriously, don’t. I think we’re being watched,” he said.
“Here we go,” she said.
“If I had a dime for every time you said that…”
Someone did in fact glance over at the two of them, but who it was Harold couldn’t say. The stranger seemed familiar yet not at all. Harold wondered if this might be a forgotten classmate from college or someone noticed for no particular reason in a crowd downtown or from the bus or at his barber shop.
He rarely forgot a name or face, but couldn’t place this one at all. Perhaps someone of note? Politician? Local celebrity? Someone from a morning news show?
Harold would’ve examined the stranger’s face a bit longer but Margaret tugged him back to their purpose.
“It’s a Halloween party, which means costumes and masks,” she said. “We have forty minutes before the junk shops close. Shall we allez?”
◊ ◊ ◊
Excerpt copyright 2019©Douglas Clegg. All rights reserved.
Want to read more?
Among the thorny grasp of roses
Near aconite and pale foxglove
Far past the red anemone
‘Neath fruiting manzanilla tree
At temple of Persephone…
She came from Japan
My father, on business,
Saw her in a shop window…
When I turned nineteen I fell in bed
With a boy my age.
Should I call us young men?
Did not feel like it.
We were naive
And living underwater
Swimming in underwear
With the world above our heads…
There are points in time
When specific people come together
To vandalize chitinous shells
With ancient vulgar graffiti…
In villages dark
When spies the night moon
On All Hallows’ Eve
The witches festoon
Dim trees with bright lanterns
And with artful resolve
Beat drums to a mystery
No one can solve…
For St.Valentine’s Day
I rip out my heart
And beg young bully Eros
The use of a dart…
Ready for some new dark fiction?
My new Patreon.com/DouglasClegg offers you an inexpensive magazine-like subscription for my fiction before anyone else sees it.
Each month (or less*) I’ll deliver to you one NEW story of varying length in digital download that is among my best.
Scroll down to look at some of the titles and covers:
There are more but you’d be scrolling forever. I’ve been working on some of these for years.
I will give you my best.
Horror. Gothic. Supernatural. Psychological Suspense.
*My goal is once per month but realistically some of these stories run long and may take 2-3 months before they’re ready. Those are likely to be at or close to the novella lengths.
I’ll post some covers for stories I’m creating for first publication to my Patreon community before they go up for sale or reprint more widely. These are to entice you into my
web of depravity Patreon page at Patreon.com/DouglasClegg.
I won’t mention what the story’s about but I think you’ll enjoy reading it.
I have never been so excited about completing the stories, novelettes, novellas and novels I’ve worked on for years than with this.
But I shall say no more. Click the link and find out.
Go to Patreon.com/DouglasClegg
The first shipment of The Poisoner’s Garden & Others is in! We’ll be shipping out signed & inscribed copies over the next two weeks. Be sure to get your order in soon at DouglasClegg.com/signed-books under the “Just Published Editions” area.
Excited to announce my first collection of poetry, The Poisoner’s Garden & Others
Meanwhile, some screenshots from within the paperback. 22 poems in all, 110 pages in print. Click any of the images below for larger versions on a separate browser screen:
Alkemara Press just published a very special signed edition of Funerary Rites, a novelette (long short story) that runs roughly 60 pages in print, with an Afterword.
Get it at the Signed area of this website, under “Just Published Editions.” Also, if you order 3 or more print books in one order from DouglasClegg.com, get this signed chapbook as a free extra by way of thanks from us to you.
This novelette is also in the collection, Lights Out.
To get it unsigned, hit this link to Amazon.
➡ NOTE: I will not be signing copies bought unsigned at Amazon. I’m sorry. This would actually end up costing you more than if you just bought the book from me directly.
Lights Out, the mega-collection of stories, is now out in a beautiful trade paperback edition (as well as in ebook editions). Get it at the Signed area of this website, under “Just Published Editions.”
To get it unsigned, hit this link to Amazon.
➡ NOTE: I will not be signing copies bought unsigned at Amazon. I’m sorry. This would actually end up costing you more than if you just bought the book from me direct. For signed books, this is the page you want: DouglasClegg.com/signed-books
700+ pages, includes a Foreword, a never-before-collected novelette, 32 tales in all, plus an afterword and listing of first publication of the stories.
I’m very proud of this edition from Alkemara Press. It’s a beautiful trade paperback with very readable typeface.