To celebrate the release of
FIENDS: Ten Tales of Demons, edited by Rayne Hall
I've invited the contributing authors to introduce their demons.
Today, Mitch Sebourn stops by. I didn't know Mitch before
FIENDS, but it's been a pleasure to meet him and learn about
the inspiration for his very interesting demon.
The Origins of “Non-Disclosure”
When Rayne Hall invited me to submit a story for consideration in Fiends, she suggested I write about a Native American demon. A challenge, I thought, because I was not an expert in Native American beliefs. But still, I wanted to submit a story, and the thought of learning a thing or two about Native American tradition was nothing but a bonus.
I needed something horrific. Different. Memorable. And totally appalling. It didn’t take me long to seize upon the legend of the Iroquois flying head. What in the world could be more horrific, different, memorable, and appalling than the winged, oversized, permanently hungry decapitated head of a cannibal?
Great, I thought, after I’d spent the better part of two hours reading every article I could find about flying heads…. Now I just need a story.
Theoretically, writing short stories should be so much more fun and liberating than writing novels. As Stephen King noted at the end of his collection Nightmares & Dreamscapes, sometimes short story writers don’t have to explain anything. Pick a situation, set the monster free, and see what happens. But when you can go anywhere, isn’t it frequently pretty challenging to decide which way to go? Wouldn’t it be helpful to see just a glimmer of something on the horizon, for just a little bit of guidance?
That glimmer came in the form of Stambovsky v. Ackley, a case I’d read during my first year of law school. Specifically, I thought of a famous line from that case: “[a]s a matter of law, the house is haunted.” And that was it. Haunted property. On its face, it wasn’t the most original idea in the world, but I was confident I could do something different with it. The property in my story, of course, would be haunted by much more than ghosts— there must be a demonic, cannibalistic flying head somewhere!—and I could try my hand at writing the story in the form of a court decision, an idea I’d been toying with for quite a while. Ultimately, I backed away from the latter idea (for the most part), but still: I had a direction in which to go, I set off in that direction, and I had a blast writing “Non-disclosure.”
Thanks to Rayne Hall for offering me the opportunity to submit a story. Thanks to all the writers who appear in FIENDS with me. And thanks to all the readers out there. Now, go forth and enjoy Fiends.
FIENDS is available here at Amazon for 99 cents
About Mitch Sebourn:
Mitch Sebourn lives in Arkansas with his wife and cats. He is the author of the novels Watershed, Sleight of Hand, and Lamentation. When he isn’t researching law or writing fiction, he can typically be found reading novels, watching the Arkansas Razorbacks, or hiking in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Visit Badwater Press, his blog, at http://badwaterpress.blogspot.com