In December, Horror Writers held its first flash fiction contest, calling for submissions 750 words or less, in the realm of horror. E. Reyes stood out from the 50+ entries with his short tale “Christmas Blues”, a glimpse into the mind of a family man on the threshold of a life-changing decision. I had a chat with him about his story, the writing process, and the horror genre.
Your flash fiction, “Christmas Blues”, earned the Grand Prize in our flash fiction writing contest. What compelled you to write it?
I was compelled to write the story while watching the opening scene from ‘Krampus.’ As I watched people fighting and running like animals for merchandise, I started thinking about the people who are not fortunate enough to provide a lavish Christmas for their families. I wanted to write something that had to do with that. I put myself in the shoes of a very depressed and desperate man that would do anything for his family. And of course, a bit of myself is in that character.
I just had this image in my mind of a man with a scared and worried face, pacing a dirt road that led to a crossroad. I kept getting into that character and started feeling the way he would feel; having a family of my own. So the effort I made was getting lost in the character while I wrote it with full attention to his dilemma.
What did you edit OUT of this story? Did it start out differently?
I didn’t edit anything out. I had planned to make it longer but the story wouldn’t allow me to. When I got to the end, I left it obvious as to what decision he made.
I did a lot of research before making “Short Tales of Horror”. The first research I did to craft my writing was reading books about it. The one that I call my “bible” is Stephen King’s ‘On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft’. That book helped me a lot, and showed me mistakes I had made. I started writing in 2012, but I was nowhere near ready until 2016. Each story was different than the finished product. I edited and edited until I got feedback and felt the stories were right. I felt confident enough and wanted to release it on my own. But as far as researching for a story I use the handy-dandy Google search. I also observe people a lot. I’m the quiet guy that soaks up the audience around me for my disposal (haha)
My writing process is not where I want it to be. I plan to write 2000 words a day at the least. But in 2016 I would write whenever I was summoned to. Inspiration would just hit me. But after winning the Horror Writers contest (and getting motivated by my fiancee), I feel it’s time to really get serious with my writing. When I write, I have to have to have coffee or green tea, and music that I feel the main character would listen to; it’s usually creepy soundtrack music.
What are the worst and best parts of the writing process for you?
The worst part of the writing process is getting stuck or feeling like what I write isn’t flowing well. I end up finishing later, erasing it, or start over the next day. The best part about writing is getting excited about what’s getting written down. It feels like I’m not the one doing it. It feels like the story is writing itself and I’m just a vessel for it’s horror. Sometimes I stop while writing the story and say, “Wow.”
Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?
My favorite character this far is a young man I haven’t written about it. He’s extremely cynical, but he is an interesting character. I plan to write his story next.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
I would tell me, “Do not–I repeat–do not stop writing. Music is not going to be fun to make later on, so stick to writing. You will enjoy writing even more than you do now. Read as much books as possible and write every single day.”
So far you’ve won a writing contest and self-published a collection of stories online. Do you consider yourself a professional writer? What does literary success look like to you?
I consider myself a professional writer that needs to take it more seriously now. What I consider a literary success is getting published. I really want that.
What other projects are you working on right now?
I’m not working on anything at the moment, but I plan to write the story about the cynical young man I was talking about.
What would you like to see in the horror genre in the future?
I would like to see less cliches, less torture porn, and no rape scenes unless the rapist gets murdered for it. I strongly oppose anything rape.
No, because the story writes itself. My muse (which is a skeleton man dressed in a black suit and tie with a type writer), may be able to tell you if he outlines it, but I’m sure the story is never outlined.
E.Reyes lives in Tucson, Arizona with his fiance and three children. His book, Short Tales of Horror, is available on Amazon