Who is this mysterious gentleman in the bowler hat sitting on a bench? This haunting image is from the cover of Passing Time by Ellie Garratt. Not long ago I launched my own small anthology of supernatural short stories. Now I would like to guide you through the mystical doorway that leads to Ellie’s world of strange tales. Ellie is a fellow Brit and a very talented writer with an imagination that will lift you out of the doldrums and into the Twilight Zone. Don’t let Passing Time pass you by.
And now, over to Ellie…
Thank you for hosting me, Mark. It is an honour to be passing time with you, especially as you’re passing time on my blog today as this week’s Speculative Fiction Writer.
Until I decided to release a collection of short stories, I often wondered how an author chose a collection’s theme and which stories to include and/or write. Was there some magical process by which a theme just appeared or did they have a stash of already written stories that they grouped together in similar themes or genres?
In my case, it was a combination of the two. I took all the stories I’d published or written, and put them into two groups – science fiction and horror. Then I looked for underlying themes. There were plenty of them: life, death, greed, destruction, space, and many more. Several stories soon stood out as not being suitable – they didn’t fit with any of the others – and were discarded. But what I didn’t have was the theme. And that’s when the magic struck. There was one story that was different than all the rest because it had been published online, and that story was called Passing Time.
Passing Time is a chilling tale about how our perception of time is not necessarily reality. Like the cliché of turning on a lightbulb, my theme had presented itself. Glancing through all the science fiction and horror stories I found all of them dealt in some way with the meaning or measuring of time. They weren’t written that way on purpose – it just happened. Within a few minutes of finding my theme, I had the titles for my two collections: Passing Time and Taking Time. After that, it was simply deciding which stories were suitable and which were not.
I believe the theme of a short story collection is the key ingredient. There needs to be something tying the stories together to give the reader an idea of what to expect. The theme, along with the genre, will help provide this. It will help readers decide if it is a collection of stories they would like to read, which is after all our aim as writers.
What do you think? How important is the theme of an anthology or short story collection to a reader? As a writer, have you published a short story collection? How did you decide on a theme and which stories to include?
Nine dark fiction stories that may just give you nightmares.
A man lives to regret Passing Time. A father will do anything to save his son in Expiration Date. An author finds out her worst nightmare is back in The Devil’s Song. A woman gets more than the claim fee when she takes out vampire insurance in Luna Black.
In Dining in Hell, the Death Valley Diner becomes the wrong place to stop.
A serial killer wants to add another file to his collection in The Vegas Screamer. In Eating Mr. Bone, an undertaker could meet an unfortunate end. A con man meets his first ghost in Land of the Free. And will truth finally be set free in The Letter?
About The Author
A life-long addiction to reading science fiction and horror, meant writing was the logical outlet for Ellie Garratt’s passions. She is a reader, writer, blogger, Trekkie, and would happily die to be an extra in The Walking Dead. Her short stories have been published in anthologies and online. Passing Time is her first eBook collection and contains nine previously published stories. Her science fiction collection Taking Time will be published later in the year.