© 2016 by Matthew J Morrison & WIX.COM

The Story Behind 'Old Man Red Gum'

January 14, 2018

​​I've mentioned in this blog previously how much I love reading about the inspiration behind stories I've enjoyed reading -- Stephen King is especially good at this.

 

Since my flash fiction piece 'Old Man Red Gum' has just been published in Midnight Echo #12, I thought I'd do the same.

 

** Spoiler warning **

'Old Man Red Gum' was the first story I wrote when I started taking the art seriously, about seven years ago.

 

I had recently taken an adult education course on creative writing, and our teacher had given the class an exercise -- pick five random things and incorporate them into a piece of writing.

 

I remember ditching my first attempt as utter rubbish. But then I enlisted my five year old daughter to help find five fresh objects.

 

Reading back through one of my early drafts it's fairly obvious the objects she helped me pick were: piano, flower, rocket, tree and monster.

 

The combination of monster and tree struck a chord.

The title 'Old Man Red Gum' came quite literally from a moment of pure inspiration -- I was staring out the window at the eucalypts across the street when it popped, in its entirety, into my head.

 

And with that title, my monster tree took a form.

 

The story was rejected four times before I decided to rework it.

 

My protagonist was always a young boy, living with an extended family in an Aussie bush homestead. And he was always trying to escape the clutches of the tree.

 

But my original villain was a bit too insipid.

 

So, I rewrote the whole story with Old Man Red Gum now intent upon the entire family -- the protagonist mentioning a litany of injuries upon the generations living in the house.

 

The idea of a vampiric tree was almost a last minute addition -- something that emerged in later edits while trying to find a climax.

I entered 'Old Man Red Gum' into the Australasian Horror Writers Association's Flash Fiction Competition for 2016.

As luck would have it, the story struck a chord with some of the judges, too, winning an Honourable Mention.

 

Then, when Midnight Echo announced it would be relaunching, I knew I'd found the market for the story.

 

I am so stoked to have my work nested among some of the best of my Australasian contemporaries.

As with all my stories, music played a huge part in getting me in the right headspace to create in the world of Old Man Red Gum.

 

I made a small Spotify playlist for an extra short story.

 

See my music page for the songs that helped inspire Old Man Red Gum.

 

All images from Pixabay and AHWA

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Please reload

Featured Posts

Bucking a Creative Trend

April 15, 2019

1/4
Please reload

Recent Posts

March 14, 2019

January 14, 2019

January 3, 2019

December 31, 2018

December 14, 2018

Please reload

Archive