When the Muse strikes: Inspiration from the inhumane


Warning: the videos included and discussed below are graphic in nature.


Inspiration can strike like a lightning bolt—sudden and intense—or come on like a slow simmer, gradually erupting into a something of an idea. Greater writers than I have addressed the subject of ideas and inspiration. (A particular favorite of mine is Neil Gaiman’s 1997 essay “Where do you get your ideas?”) But everyone has a different process with the Muse, so I will explore where I found inspiration for some of my recent stories: “Dead Meat Running” and “The Hunt.”

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“The Hunt” is available for pre-order today

What’s new?

Since I had so much fun with the novelette contest in February, I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for other contests. There’s nothing quite like a deadline to light a fire under my ass and get me motivated.

/r/WritingPrompts is in the middle of another contest, but this time for flash fiction. Flash fiction presents the challenge of finding the perfect story to be written in a limited number of words. For someone who likes to tell stories, it means cutting back on embellishments and detours, and getting back to the brass tacks of a tale. Such limitations can be frustrating, but also rewarding when a story turns out right.

Experimentation for this contest resulted in “The Copse” and you can read it here.

If flash fiction’s too short for you, keep an eye out for my next Amazon Kindle release: “The Hunt.” From the description:

"The Hunt" by J. H. Dierking

“The Hunt” is a science fiction short story of 7,000 words.

An expedition to another world. A group of alien hunters. Malcolm thinks he is prepared, but the hunt will be more savage than he expected.

“The Hunt” is available for pre-order as a Kindle e-Book from Amazon. It is scheduled for release on August 15th.

What’s next?

First, I want to focus on editing Two in the Bush by expanding it a bit and polishing up some rough spots. And since the story was left so open-ended, I have a sequel in the works. I think I will keep it a novelette/novella length and develop an episodic series. A series will be fun to work on. I have no firm plan for when the novelette and its sequel will be released, but I would like to aim for December.

What comes after that? We’ll see. I’m kicking around a few short stories in various stages between just-started to mostly-done. I also have the first draft of another novella simmering on the back burner, waiting to be eviscerated before giving it to my firstline reader for feedback.

Stay tuned.

– J

Fantastical books for children to grow up on

Reading is an important part of a child’s development. A good deal of essential brain development occurs in the first three years of an infant’s life, well before even learning to read. In recognition of this fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents begin reading to infants from birth: “reading, as well as talking and singing, is viewed as important in increasing the number of words that children hear in the earliest years of their lives.”

So what books should parents read to babies? For newborns, it does not seem to matter what you read to them, so long as you are reading something. They “understand the emotion in the words that are being read to them very, very early” but not the content: at this point “it starts with the parent’s enjoyment and then becomes a shared enjoyment” of reading. So, for the science-fiction and fantasy lover, start your newborn on whatever captures your imagination, whether it is A Game of Thrones or a Star Wars expanded universe novel (I understand the Thrawn trilogy is essential for the true Star Wars fan).

But after a few months, when you notice your baby’s starting to respond to the meaning of the words, you will have to make a switch from Red Wedding twists to something a bit more age appropriate. But what could possibly be age appropriate for a baby and also keep you entertained?

Here are some of the books I grew up on that helped to foster a love of fantastical things, and that I would return to again as an adult.

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Reading rec: Harlan Ellison’s “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” (1967)

I’m back with another reading recommendation for all you voracious readers out there. This time it is another short story entitled “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” by Harlan Ellison.

Published in 1967, “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” is a classic of science-fiction horror. The story focuses on five humans who are held captive by a supercomputer, AM. The rest of the human race is gone, destroyed by AM decades ago. AM puts the five humans through various tortures as the story progresses, just as AM has tortured them continually for the last 109 years. “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” is grotesquely dark and fascinating, portraying a living hell from which there is only one escape: death. But when one is made immortal by a supercomputer, is the escape guaranteed by death even possible?

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