DEBRIEF: What A Coincidence (Men In Love)

I’m shamelessly stealing the following blog format from the excellent B.R. Sanders, who’s been posting these about their own short fiction. (Seriously, I’ve even stolen the title.) Partly this serves as a shameless announcement (Hey you! Go read my story!), partly a record of my writing along side the record of reading that this blog exists as. But I also think that writers don’t always talk about the industry as much as they should, and I find it fascinating to read about when other writers so perhaps someone will enjoy it in return. (It sure helps when you receive your 27th rejection note to be able to read of other stories that have met the same fate.)




‘What A Coincidence’: Two couples in a restaurant: two youngs guys on an awkward first date, and an older couple celebrating their anniversary. Two couples that, by chance, are oddly similar to each other…

Publication date: April 2016

Completion date: November 2015

Number of times subbed: 1

Placing the story: This story was written specifically for this call, partly because the theme appealed to me, and partly because I wanted to submit a story to the editor, Jerry L. Wheeler (having recently worked with him with the tables turned, myself as editor and he as writer.) The story was accepted a few months after, and went through a round of fairly minor line editing (in which Jerry removed about sixty em dashes, much to my distress.)

The story of the story: When I first started work on my Threesome anthology I conceived of a story in which the protagonist goes back in time (twice over, I suppose) and has a threesome with himself. In the end, I wrote an entirely different story, but the seed of an idea that was a time travel story was still niggling. When I first saw the call I wanted to submit, but had no idea to go about it; my output of stories is fairly eclectic, but light romance isn’t a genre that’s ever particularly appealed to me. Give it a bit of a twist though, and perhaps: and so, I decided to scratch the time travel itch. (By the way, it’s not a spoiler that it’s about time travel, as the very first line gives you a pretty strong idea. Or… does it? Maybe this story isn’t actually about time travel at all…)

I’m of the opinion that not enough credit is given to writers who write light, readable prose. It’s a far more difficult skill than it might appear, and to try and get to grips with the style I wrote the whole piece in one sitting, not wanting the story to end up disjointed or wooden. Although it seems like a straightforward story, I had to do a great deal of burying clues, suggestions, red herrings–all without having neon signs pointing at the work I had to do to construct the plot, and maintaining a brisk pace and a gentle touch to the style. It’s very easy in the world of literature to be snobbish about easy reads, but I have profound respect for the writers of such stories who make it look so damn easy.

The story is out in Men In Love, edited by Jerry L. Wheeler, from Bold Strokes Books. It’s available through their website exclusively for two weeks, and then through the usual Amazon avenues shortly thereafter. Also, I’ll be reading from this story at the Bold Strokes Books UK Festival, in Nottingham, in early June. Come say hello if you’re local.


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