Havok Publishing

Story Behind the Story

At Havok, we love stories and the people who write them. What better way to celebrate both than by hearing from our talented authors on what sparked the idea of their stories? It’s like peering into the mind of genius. (You know, that would make for an interesting story…)

Without further ado, here is this month’s Story Behind the Story.


On Jewel Thief by J.L. Ender

I have these dice called “Rory’s Story Cubes”. There’s nine of them, and instead of dots, each side has a different pictograph. I roll all nine dice, and the challenge is to create a full story in one sitting that incorporates all nine pictures. I already knew I wanted to write a mystery about a bank heist, so I incorporated all the images into that mold. For example, one was an amulet, so I decided that would be the central Macguffin. The others were things like mountains, a cauldron, a horse, etc. The laser gun was probably the weirdest one. I thought about re-rolling for something else, but decided to just go with it. I’m writing a story about magic gems, so why can’t the police force have laser pistols?
In the planning stages, the transformation thing with the dirty cauldron was just a throwaway joke, and wasn’t going to actually do anything, but I love puns, and when I realized I could bend the story around a pun to make it a punchline, that’s exactly what I did. Flash fiction can be tricky in that you need to end on a powerful note very quickly, so I thought a pun would be a good way to do that.
All my stories interconnect, so I picked a world in my multiverse after the fact. By chance this one wound up fitting perfectly into the world of an old fairy tale retelling I did a decade ago called “That Hideous Slumber”, which also involved people getting turned into things via magicky shenanigans.”The Jewel Thief” takes place about five hundred years after the events of That Hideous Slumber.
There you are. Geez I think I almost went longer than the actual story…

On Transmutation by Michael Dolan

Part of the spark for “Transmutation” came from figuring out how to interpret April’s reform theme. I liked the idea of reforming in terms of character—like a convict reforming their ways to catch another criminal. But I also thought it could be fun to explore the idea of physically reforming something. Medieval alchemy seemed like an intriguing way to blend these because I could both a) explore its preoccupation with transforming things into something else (often gold) and b) use that interest in gold to give a character a criminal history. In fact, transmutation is the term alchemists used to refer to the process of turning base metals into gold, though now it more generally means anything changing into another form. So it seemed like the perfect title for this story!


On Wanderer by Justin Mynheir

I formed a concept for a book with an almost Philip K. Dick type of ending a couple of years ago. I suspect that the whole “lone hermit in the apocalypse” narrative appealed to my angsty teenage sensibilities at the time. I stowed it among my maybe pile of ideas in the ocean that is my brain and decided that the story content was too bare for a novel. That brought me here, slapping the pieces together for the flash fiction piece it has since become.


On Rendering by L.G. McCary

“Rendering” originated in a scene from an unfinished novel where two characters were arguing about their favorite soap opera: Holo-Girl. One character desperately wanted Enid to date Theo while the other preferred another character you don’t see in the short story. I ultimately cut the scene, but that tiny mention of a fictional television show took on a life of its own long after I stopped working on that novel. Enid and Theo have been arguing and going on adventures in my head for almost ten years, so they were more than happy to come out and play!


NOW YOU: Is there a story you’ve read on Havok where you wondering what sparked it? Tell us which one so we can find out for you!

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