Guest blog on the concept behind two stories found in "13 Broken Nightlights," a short story collection by Barry Napier
My collection 13 Broken Nightlights is the literary equivalent of one of those cardboard hearts filled with candy that we’re all accustomed to on Valentines Day. We know what’s waiting inside (in the case of my collection, it’s primarily dark fiction) but are never really quite sure what to expect.
(Did you hear me restraining myself from making a Forrest Gump reference there?)
13 Broken Nightlights was put together with the purpose of creating a collection of my short fiction that had been published in print and online publications over the past 4 years. More than that, there is a wide range of dark fiction to choose from: from character driven mild sci-fi to twists on traditional myths; from whimsical supernatural dramas to over the top B-movie horror; from coming of age ghost stories to what-the-hell-did-I-just-read?
To cover that vast selection, I have selected two stories to represent the collection. And just like the Valentines boxes, some have the exquisite caramel centers and some have that pungent “is it cherry or strawberry, I mean what the hell is that?” sort of taste.
“All the Little Secrets”
I have no qualms stating that this story was spawned from my love of The X-Files. I always wondered if there were departments within the FBI that actually dealt with odd cases dealing with the supernatural and cosmic. But what interested me more than the cases themselves was wondering how the agents handled being in the midst of such powerful information. How were they shaped by the things they witnessed and how did it alter their personal lives? Not at all scary and just scraping the edges of science fiction, this remains one of my personal favorites.
On the total opposite side of the spectrum, this story is a love-letter to the horror I grew up with. A single paragraph in and you know you’re about to witness something grisly. This one was written with two things in mind: 1) to make the reader squirm and 2)to create the feel of the B-movies that are so gross they are almost funny. The more horrific parts of this story don’t necessarily come in the form of the grotesque, but in the inner workings of the story’s central character and the lengths she goes through to preserve her sordid family. I am proud of this story because when it was included in an anthology titled Night Terrors in 2010, Fangoria referenced my story in particular in reviewing the book. They stated: “the sheer dissoluteness of Barry Napier’s “Lunatic Mile” deserves mention for tapping the reader’s gag reflex rather than just settling for a simple gag.”