Dead Serious: Behind The Scenes
Paul M. Feeney
Dead Serious was a story I wrote early on in my writing career (which is kind of a laugh, as I’ve only been writing for about four or five years, yet it feels like something I’ve always done), back when I was still learning how to do it, and it’s one of the rare occasions I’ve actually come up with a story for a specific submission call. I had actually come up with the idea when a different US horror publisher had asked for stories about the apocalypse somewhere back in 2013 or so. Now, where they differed with their call was they specifically wanted the survivors of this apocalypse – and the downfall of humanity could be attributed to anything – to be those who are not normally written about. They didn’t want the typical square-jawed hero/heroine, they didn’t want people who were eminently suited to surviving a catastrophic event; they wanted ordinary folk, folk who had survived in spite of their evident lack of skills.
So I thought… and thought… and thought. And eventually realised a way that I felt would fit the requirements and also seem logical (within the context of an outlandish story). I decided that in my version of the apocalypse, it would be the geeks, nerds and other types of similar people who survived. I also thought it was a nice nod to those who write genre fiction as most of them seem to identify as one of these categories. As to my apocalypse; I’ve always loved the idea of alien invasion and have long had various scraps of ideas for stories following groups of survivors eking out an existence in the aftermath of such an invasion, generally in underground cities or habitats of some kind (which is probably something I picked up from Wells’ War of the Worlds). But I kind of didn’t want the aliens to actually appear in my story as it was going to be short and I felt the scope wasn’t big enough to contain such descriptions. Or perhaps I simply didn’t feel confidant at the time to pull it off. Regardless, I somehow latched onto the idea of adding in zombies, but by making the aliens the cause of animating the dead, it felt a little more original than a simple zombie apocalypse.
So I started writing, having – as I usually do – the rough overall idea and maybe a few key scenes. And got about halfway before I got stuck. I just wasn’t feeling it at all. For some reason, I had come to hate this story and all of that dislike for it built up into a temporary period of writer’s block with it. I actually contemplated deleting it a few times and forgetting about the submission. But eventually I pushed on. I can’t recall if there was some catalyst to this or just sheer bloody-mindedness, but I managed to finish the thing. And, as is sometimes the way with stories we find difficult to complete, when I sent it off to some people to read, they loved it. I couldn’t really understand why, but people really responded to it. So I polished it up and sent it off, just making the deadline for submissions.
Unfortunately, though it made it to the final shortlist, it eventually got rejected and I have to say, I was a tad despondent even though I kind of hated the story at the time. So I put it to one side and moved on with other projects, putting it down as one of those ‘learning to write’ stories that would never see the light of day. Yet when the call came for Sirens Call Publications’ Out Of Phase anthology, I remembered it and thought it was a perfect fit for a publisher I find to be one of the best small presses around. So I dusted it down and went through it again, and actually thought it wasn’t too bad. And it seemed that SCP agreed so here it is.
As a wee aside, despite my feelings towards the story itself, I have actually contemplated writing more set in the same universe, even going so far as to muse on a novel length tale. Just goes to show, us writers can be a masochistic bunch.
Thanks for reading.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR — Paul M. Feeney is 39 and living in the wild North of England. Having always had a vivid imagination and a love of the dark side of genre, he has long held an ambition to write. That ambition became reality a scant few years ago and with the publication of one story through Phrenic Press in early 2014 and the imminent arrival of a handful of others, the reality that people actually want to read these stories is something he’s had to accept. He is currently working on any number of short stories, novellas and his first novel.
Horror and science fiction blend seamlessly in the twelve stories contained within this anthology. Whether it’s mutation, creation, invention, machinery gone awry, or space/time travel, each of the authors included took on the challenge of weaving a tale that not only stood up against scientific possibilities, but will scare the proverbial pants off readers.
Imagine a world where the skies are protected from giant insects by men and women who climb into flying steel contraptions. Or perhaps you like the idea of nanobots quietly working in the background to effect positive change, only to find out that maybe those changes aren’t completely beneficial. How about genetic manipulation gone horribly wrong? Fiction that may not be too far from fact…
All of these terrifying, yet thought provoking scenarios are part of this collection of tales that definitely have some genuine kick!
Dead Serious: A Story of the Invaders — Paul M. Feeney
Hive Mind — Alex Woolf
The Unity Contagion — B. David Spicer
SkyDogs — Richard Farren Barber
Grey Sands — DJ Tyrer
Waiting Time — Rivka Jacobs
First Second — Jason D’Aprile
Idle Puppet — Dev Jarrett
Face Value — P.N. Roberts
The Forgotten Ones — J. D. Waye
What Really Happened on Green Moon 764… — Sergio Palumbo
Under The Twin Eyes — Matthew Smallwood
Out of Phase is available on: