My short story titled "Where Do Broken Dreams Go?" has just been published in the anthology, Professor Charlatan Bardot’s Travel Anthology to the Most (Fictional) Haunted Buildings in the Weird, Wild World, edited by Charlatan Bardot & Eric J. Guignard for Dark Moon Books, and as usual I'm writing a few words discussing how the story came to be written. There may be spoilers within.
Unlike most of my short fiction, the gestation period for this story is very long. I originally wrote it in March 2015. I had what I thought was a strong opening, but this version then meandered and ended on a note so ambiguous that even I didn't understand it. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it certainly was for editors because I just couldn't place it. Fast-forward to October 2020 and due to various reasons I hadn't written fiction for over a year (mostly because I was working on a big non-fiction project, but also because I'd hit a slump). The writer, Eugen Bacon, had recently discovered my work (and was enjoying it) and she suggested I submit to this travel anthology of haunted buildings. Spurred on - but not having a new idea - I was idly scrolling through my unsold stories and realised that there is a haunted building (of sorts) in this piece. I decided to write a second part to the story where my main character revisits the scene of the first part - just as I was doing in the writing of it. This version of the story was much stronger, and I was overjoyed when it was placed in this anthology. For those who like facts, the original version was 2225 words and I added 655 for a final word count of 2880. This gap of six years between the starting and finishing of a story is the longest I've ever had to make.
Clearly, as you can tell from the title and my description above, the anthology's remit was for haunted building stories, but not haunted house stories. I had been inspired by this news story regarding a village in Kazakhstan where villagers en masse had developed a mysterious illness that sent them into comas, sometimes lasting days on end. In my story I sent a photographer there to photograph the abandoned buildings. It is an experience within one of them that curiously affects her and drives the story. Whilst - of course - I've fictionalised this and created more ambiguity that there previously was, I think I've left it off-centre enough for it to be sufficiently unnerving without enforcing explanation.