With his scary 'Tiny Terrors,' broadcaster Bob Eccles finds literary satisfaction comes in small bites
Eccles is the author of “Tiny Terrors,” an e-book collection of more than 60 short horror stories recently released by Black Hound Digital Press in England for the Kindle platform.
He writes in the succinct style of literature known as flash fiction, where stories range in length from 100 to a few thousand words.
“I’ve always enjoyed reading horror—Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Peter Straub. Stephen King came out with a collection of short stories, ‘Just After Sunset,’ in 2008. I read that and thought it would be interesting to try and write some of those myself. So that was the inspiration to start trying it,” Eccles explained.
“I don’t expect to get rich or anything, but it’s a nice hobby,” he said.
His first 100-word horror story, "Difficult Birth,” was published by Necrotic Tissue magazine in July 2009 and is also in “Tiny Terrors.” He had a total of six of those stories published by NT (the most by any author), and one was included in a “Best Of” anthology.
He is also represented in another Kindle book, “Werewolves: Tooth and Claw,” thanks to the inclusion of his story “Class Reunion,” which is the captivating first story in “Tiny Terrors.”
In addition, Eccles is a Pushcart Prize-nominated writer of short fiction, primarily horror and sci-fi. His stories are online at Flashes in the Dark (where he is a submissions editor) and MicroHorror. He has also narrated stories for podcasts such as Pseudopod, Podcastle, Cast Macabre and Transmissions from Beyond, along with Liquid Imagination and Every Day Fiction magazines.
Eccles, 50, who has been at WEMU for nine years, came to the station from Detroit AM all-news station WWJ. He also served in the Army, and enjoyed a short flirtation with the broadcasting program at Central Michigan University before embarking on a more successful stint at the Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts in Southfield, from which he graduated.
“The reason I got started writing the really short stories is there is a magazine called Necrotic Tissue that used to publish regular short stories and these 100-word bites. I sent them one and they accepted it and that was my first publishing credit at a place the paid professional rates—5 cents a word, so $5 for a 100-word story,” Eccles recalled.
“I kept sending them those 100-word stories and they kept liking them and publishing them,” he added.
Although most of us would find it a challenge to tell a story in 100 words, Eccles said that hasn’t been a problem for him.
“I just come up with a general idea, and I will do a first draft of the story, which is usually a lot more than 100 words. Then I’ll just go through and take out anything that doesn’t necessarily have to be in there. I just try to narrow it down and narrow it down, and eventually it’s 100 words,” he said.
Eccles, who said he has no formal training as a writer other than the skills he has learned as a journalist, is a member of the Great Lakes Horror Writer’s Association and an affiliate member of the Horror Writer’s Association.
“I just try to learn from what other people say you don’t usually get a whole lot of critique back on a story that’s rejected by a publisher, but if I do, I try and work on that stuff,” he explained. “There’s a mentoring program in the Horror Writer’s Association, and I’m teamed up with an active member, so if I want to run a story by him, he can send it back and say ‘You’re using passive voice here,’ or ‘take out this or that.’ I learn from advice I hear either directed at myself or other people.”
Having mastered the art of flash fiction, one wonders if Eccles plans to try something longer, like maybe a novel.
“I’ve thought about it,” he admitted. “It’s a lot of work. I’m guessing it would take a long time. Right now I’m just focusing on writing longer short stories.”
To order “Tiny Terrors”: www.blackhound.co.uk/Publications.html