Influences (from December 2008)

People who have influenced my writing include cartoonist Edmund Gorey, especially “The Ghashleycrumb Tinies”; the late Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson ( his writing, not his lifestyle); Edgar Allen Poe, and the genres of science-fiction, horror and dystopian fiction.

About 25 years ago I was an undergrad student at Eastern Connecticut State university. One semester I took a Creative Writing course: Writing Fiction, taught by novelist Bruce Clements. For the course I needed to come up with at least 40 pages of material by the ned of the semester. After coming up with about 25 pages I started to run out of ideas. To avoid getting a low grade I came up with the idea of using answers from completed crossword puzzles to write stories. For years I have been doing crossword puzzles. To write such stories had the same basic idea as Mad Libs. Anyway, using crossword puzzle answers to create stories usually didn’r result in stories that would ‘flow’, but the professor liked the idea and I got a grade of B for the class.

A few years ago I came up with a more elaborate idea for Crossword Stories: I went to a print shop and purchased about 200 or so cards I alternated between 1-Across 1-Down and so forth until I ran out of cards so what crossword answers I used would be as random as possible. I also bought a pair of dice which I would use to determine how many sentences would be in a given paragraph.

One Christmas Eve I tried it out and devised a short story entitled: “The Island, The Volcano and The Missionaries” in which a recent volcanic eruption and the presence of Christian missionaries both do damage to an indigenous island culture. It took me about three hours to write the story. In my opinion the story is pretty good, but it doesn’t exactly ‘flow’. I will soon post it in installments.

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