Liam Hogan’s flash fiction story, “Seek, Don’t Hide,” packs a punch into its short framework. It reads like a short, intense nightmare, lingering long after you’ve pinched yourself awake. To learn more, read on…
Q (Crone Girls Press): What do you write? How long have you been writing? What are your preferred genres and why?
A: Short stories, and, depending how you count it, either the last 12 years or the last 40 (my first publication was in the kids section of the local paper). Mostly, speculative, be that SciFi, Fantasy, Horror, Steampunk, or a mix of the above. Dark Fantasy is the genre that I’ve managed to publish a collection in, “Happy Ending Not Guaranteed” (Arachne Press, 2017) but I’m optimistic that I’ll do the same in other genres!
Q: What inspired your story in this anthology? Tell us the “story behind the story.”
A: Hide and seek is a game that lends itself to horror, but almost always, its something terrible doing the seeking. What if the hiding was the terrible thing? That’s what I wanted to explore. The result is pretty hard on the parents, but their guilt feels very real. What would that guilt make you do, and how would it become it’s own punishment? That’s the motor driving this story forward.
Q: What draws you to the genre of horror/dark fiction? What do you find there that you don’t find anywhere else?
A: My stories, even the “romantic” ones, tend towards dark. Possibly because that’s where the conflict is and stories without conflict aren’t generally as interesting. But maybe it’s because my soul is blackened from a thousand sins…?
Q: There are a number of subgenres/tropes/flavors of horror. Where does your story fit? What drew you to this particular category?
A: I’d say this is psychological horror, with a couple of transgressions (suicide, and child death) thrown in for good measure. I’m a fan of stories, however weird, with their own inherent logic, twist endings must justify a second read, and I hope this is horror that is unavoidable, but still logical.
Q: Why horror? Why do you write it? What about the genre appeals to you as an author?
A: I write a number of genres, horror is just one of them.
Q: Of the characters you’ve created, who is your favorite, and why?
A: Probably Mavis Ethelwright, England’s only official witch, who appears in “Miscellaneous, Spooky, Weird”. She’s the one character people ask me to write more for, and there’s even potentially a novel in her, but (of course!) it’s not written yet. I also love stories that feature an archetypal crone, though she’s usually doing unconventional things, such as convincing new parents that their son being a Hero is a terrible idea… I guess in a way Mavis is a refined version of the same.
Q: What do you find the most challenging about the writing process, and how do you meet that challenge?
A: Avoiding distractions and finding enough time to finish before a new idea takes over. I’ve set myself a word count goal for the year, to focus more on writing complete stories. Otherwise, I do tend to spend too much time submitting rather than writing.
Q: What was the worst writing advice you ever received? The best writing advice? Why, and how did it affect your writing?
A: I hope I ignore bad advice, and for bad I mean “I don’t think that would work for me.” It might, for others, and I think that is the key to any advice – use it if it helps. The best advice I can think of? “Every story has a natural length”. It makes it hard sometimes to meet a word count limit, but it hardly ever makes a story better to ignore it. Plus, anything Vonnegut had to say about story writing is well worth the listen.
Q: If someone asked you to recommend books/stories similar to what you write, who/what titles would you be giving them? And, why?
A: Robert Shearman’s short stories are my kind of weird, and he does them better than I do, so, go read him! (But when you run out, y’all come back now, you hear?)
Q: What’s next in your writing journey?
A: More short stories. Always more short stories.
Liam Hogan is an award winning short story writer, with stories in Best of British Science Fiction 2016, and Best of British Fantasy 2018 (NewCon Press). He’s been published by Analog, Daily Science Fiction, Nosleep Podcast, and Flametree Press, among others. He helps host Liars’ League London, volunteers at the creative writing charity Ministry of Stories, and lives and avoids work in London.
To read “Seek, Don’t Hide” by Liam Hogan, pick up a copy of Stories We Tell After Midnight 2. And, once you are finished, please think about leaving us a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Reviews make our cold, dark little heart so happy…