Welcome to the final blog in this series, where we'll explore the stories behind the stories in ID Press' inaugural anthology, Purgatorium - The Element of Horror.
The anthology will be released on January 22nd at the Copper Branch Restaurant in Brooklin (see the invite here), and is currently available for purchase through Amazon (in both hard copy and e-copy formats), as well as Kobo.
In this series, we've talked about the stories in the order in which they appear in the anthology. Today, we tackle the last one, a collaboration between Dale Long (writing under his Robert Edgar Walton pseudonym) and Tobin Elliott. Their story is called Pieces.
Where did it come from?
Because this story is not only a collaboration between the two authors, it was actually the first collaboration, an experiment where the two authors...well, they learned how to build a monster. So, we'll let the two of them take it away...
Dale: Pieces started as exactly that, pieces. We were a little short on the word count for Purgatorium, so it was an experiment to fill space. I had written collaboratively before on several forums, and also on a dystopian science fiction novel. So when it was suggested that maybe some contributors could do that, I accepted the challenge, but surprisingly, it wasn’t me that initiated it. Tobin Elliott approached me, as we have similar styles, to write one.
Tobin: I think it's important to note that, while it was an experiment to fill space, there was no guarantee that it would work, or be any good, so it really was more of an experiment than a guarantee of a decent story at the beginning. Having said that, I liked the idea of collaborating…in theory. But it scared the snot out of me in practice. I’m a bit of a…okay, I’m a massively opinionated control freak. So, it was almost as equally surprising to me to find myself standing in front of Dale, pitching this collaboration idea to him. I was sure he’d say no. Nope, instead, he said yes.
Oh crap, I thought. Now I gotta go through with it.
Dale: We threw around a few ideas and the one that worked actually wasn’t the one most well received. “Frankenstein’s monster made it to Belgium and is still alive and living in an old age home. He’s real.”
Tobin: Trust Dale to go back to the classics. The gothic. I enjoy the gothic, but I can’t write it. At least, that was the thought. So when he tossed that out, it landed with a thud, flying as well as a WKRP in Cinncinnati turkeys at Thanksgiving.
Dale: Tobin is a more modern writer and was reluctant to write a period piece. When I told him it was set both in the past but also in modern day, he seemed to perk up a bit. Once I showed him my research and the parallels and connections between Giovanni Aldini and Mary Shelley, he started to get more interested, but once the first scene hit the page, Tobin hit his stride.
Tobin: I may have perked up, but still wondered how this was going to work. So, when Dale said he knew the first scene, I silently emitted a sigh of relief. I didn’t have a freaking clue where to start.
Dale: We were worried that our individual styles would be obvious, that they would be these clunky boxes inside the story. But to our surprise, and as a credit to our emerging process, Tobin's attention to the fine character details, the visceral minutiae, added so much to my atmospheric melancholia.
Tobin: I wasn’t as worried about that individual style thing, and I still believe that there’s definitely a “Tobin” style, and a “Dale” style, but there’s this incredibly cool, strangely hypnotic “TobinDale” style. And, in case you’re wondering, no, I’d never use the words “minutiae” or “melancholia” in a sentence. I tend to go with F-bombs. Dale teaches me new words and makes me put away my bad ones.
Dale: I really like this story and it laid the groundwork for our future novel-length collaboration. As a little added surprise, we embedded little “easter eggs” in the story. Little nods to the other stories in the anthology. A collection of pieces.
Tobin: I also really like this story. It was something I never would have written on my own, and it’s completely different from individual stories in this anthology. It may not be perfect, but I’m proud of our little abomination.
About Dale and Tobin
Dale (Robert Edgar Walton) is steeped in classic horror. He is a bit of a Mary Shelley expert. Edgar Allen Poe whispers encouragement to him from under the floorboards in Morse code. Thump thump thump.
Tobin doesn't like being steeped in anything because he doesn't like tea. He is, however, a Jack Ketchum/Stephen King freak (he's not fond of tea, but he's okay with freaks). He has no expertise in anything except sarcasm, but he gets along okay. When he’s bored, he hides under Dale's floorboards and fakes him out with fake Morse code. Thump thump thump.