HOW I CAME TO WRITE THIS STORY: Mark Hull "Friday Night Dining with Marianne"
from Deadly Treats
When Theresa Weir (Anne Frasier) told me she was putting together a Halloween anthology and invited me to submit a story I was thrilled and flattered, having long been a fan of both Ms. Weir and her work. The parameters were 1000 - 3000 words, a Halloween-based theme, and we were to have fun writing the story. So, it was right up my alley except for the 3000 word limit -- I do tend to go on. And on. And on. But it would be good discipline for me, I thought, and I love discipline. So I scratched various organs of my body while I tried to come up with story ideas, and actually came up with two in very short order.
The first idea was a little (well, a lot) too gruesome for what Theresa had planned for the anthology, so I went with my other idea, which was to do a story inspired by a Halloween game we used to play as kids: we would turn off all the lights in the room, then pass around things like peeled grapes and say they were "eyeballs", boiled noodles and say they were "guts", and so forth. Of course we all needed years of therapy as adults from indulging in this pastime, but I decided to go with it anyway.
I imagined a fine-dining restaurant that served up people parts as their cuisine ("Soylent Green is PEOPLE!"), and from there it was a short step to needing a food critic to visit the restaurant. I sat down to begin the story and wrote the following opening:
"See ya, Hazel, have a good weekend!"
So said a coworker to me on his way out the door late one Friday. My name is Marianne Hazlitt, and I think that my coworkers call me Hazel in an attempt to endear themselves to me. That attempt fails. I hate my coworkers.
I have no idea where any of that came from, which is what I love about writing, but all of a sudden I had a character who I REALLY liked, and I couldn't wait to hear more of her story as it revealed itself. After some thought, I chose to write the story in a faux-Gothic manner to emphasize Marianne's repressed primness and to contrast with the more fantastic elements in the story (vampires, werecreatures, and so forth). I note in passing that I hate writing in the first person unless it really is about me, but this story seemed to call for that -- in fact, Marianne demanded that -- so I bit the (silver) bullet and wrote it in the first person anyway.
So that's how I came to write this story. The only thing I have to add is that, upon re-reading the story, I think I would alter the ending of the story somewhat for stylistic reasons, but both baby and bathwater are now in print so there you have it. Oh yeah -- my favorite phrase in the story? Glad you asked:
It had become an atramentous and tempestuous evening....*snicker*