Musing on crafting a collection of interconnected short stories.
It’s not a new concept. The short story cycle or composite novel has been around a long time. From Joyce’s Dubliners which links disparate characters to a central locale (Dublin), to The Unvanquished by Faulkner which illuminates one family from seven different angles. The idea of weaving a common thread through a group of unrelated stories is a compelling one.
Despite its usefulness, there is surprising deficit of the composite novel/novella device in modern noir. When I started the process of filtering through my body of work with the idea of pulling together a collection, I felt compelled to scrap the idea entirely and pick a single existing story to build a world around, using the composite model.
The result was Down in the Devil Hole, a cluster of stories that revolve around a fictional town in rural Kentucky and the effects of a massive storm that devastates the area. Each of these tales are set either before, during, or after the storm, and the characters are all linked together by family ties, location, or sheer bad luck.
All but one of the stories in this collection are brand new and I have to say, the challenge of making them fit together like puzzle pieces has been one of the most rewarding things I have done as a writer. Unlike chapters in a novel or novella, each of these stories have to be able to stand alone, with a beginning, middle and end. Yet they also have to carry the theme and tone of the entire work.
I hope I have achieved the goal of a building a unified world that pulls the reader in, making them want to discover all the various connections, while constructing it in a way that they can open it to any one story and be entertained with a single piece of short fiction.
Bio: J. David Jaggers lives in fly over country, where he spends his days in the white collar world of finance and his nights writing about the degenerates and losers dwelling in shadows of our brightly lit society. He has been published in Thuglit, Shotgun Honey, Near to the Knuckle, Pulp Metal, and various other magazines and anthologies. He has a short story collection Down in the Devil Hole available from Gritfiction Ltd. and you can find links to all of his published work at Straightrazorfiction.com