CK Combs answers our call to writers in Mud Flat Shorts (mostly fiction) to write about their stories.

When Gabi and Alec invited me to submit something for their upcoming anthology, I thought it was a great opportunity, but the timing was awful. During that month, I was finishing a major draft of my first novel and had carpal tunnel surgery on my wrists. I really wasn’t sure I’d be able to participate. I had looked through previously written work and partially written ideas and nothing stood out.

I got lucky; Alec and Gabi extended the deadline. And I caught an idea. I’d been pondering my life here in Olympia and how much had changed and how I’d become one of those people who’s always talking about ‘the way things were’. So much of the time, as I’m walking or driving around Olympia, I see more of what was than what is. I started to think of those remembered places and the people linked to them as ‘my ghosts’ and to Olympia as a ‘ghost town’. That idea of living among the ghosts of my past soon bonded with my future plans to move away from Olympia once my child-rearing days are over. I’ve never lived outside Thurston County, so the idea of going to a place where I don’t have layers and layers of memories is exciting. My story “The Break-up” came as a result of that pondering.

Most of the time, my story ideas come in the form of character or narrator voice. I’ll start hearing a distinctive voice in my head, and once I pay attention to it, it talks to me even more. Ideas about character, story, setting and plot spin out from that distinctive voice and what it is saying to me. The second most common source is location – something from a setting that brings a mood and character all its own. The location might be a place I’ve been, or something seen from a car window or from a picture. I have a habit of spinning tales for myself about quirky and unusual places I’ve driven past on road trips. The YA urban fantasy novel I’m finishing now started with a picture of an amusement park ride, fallen over on the ground, with shrubs and grasses growing up through and around it.

I’m very happy to be a part of this anthology, in the company of so many talented writers.

Stay tuned as more of the writers in the anthology write about the genesis of their stories (or anything else they choose to write)

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