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The Origins of The Devil’s Pâtissier

This may be a little complicated, but I’ll give it a go.

Back in March 13th (2012, so you’ve not missed something recently) I wrote about the beginnings of a portmanteau novel called originally enough Portmanteau. This was my homage to the classic British horror anthology films from the likes of Amicus whereby there were several short tales which had an overarching wraparound theme. For example, in “Dr Terror’s House of Horrors“, five train passengers have their tarot cards read by a mysterious sixth passenger, while in “Asylum“, a psychiatrist arrives at the titular location and has to assess which of four inmates is the former head of the asylum.

Portmanteau, the novel, was the tale of a Dr on his way to a new career when his car breaks down. Finding shelter in an old inn while he awaits repairs on his car, he meets various staff who recall tales of previous guests who all met a sticky end. There were 5-6 short stories which would be framed within the main narrative, all inspired in some way by my love of the anthology horror films.

I was able to come up with plots for about half the short stories, and set about outlining them.

However, one night I wrote the following line:

“What is that smell?”

What followed was a back and forth dialogue around a particular smell that Detective Inspector Pontius Smith was experiencing at a crime scene, which triggered bad memories of his mother’s cooking as a child. After a time, I realised that this could be one of the short stories for Portmanteau and had written a few pages of the opening scene. I then added the basic plot to the notebook and went on with other things.

Which meant I didn’t do any more with the short story or the idea but it was now part of the novel so one day I would return to it.

Fast (slow) forward two years and while looking to get back to writing more often, I thought about doing short stories as a way to do so. The idea of pulling Portmanteau back off the shelf and proceeding was an option but really as I said previously I wanted to concentrate on some standalone pieces. It was at that point, while thinking of Portmanteau, that I remembered about the short story set in Hope Town and I began to wonder about whether returning to that setting and creating a set of short stories in and around would work. As I was mulling the idea over that I re-read my notes on the short (I had long since lost the actual pages written originally) and then started again.

From the first few words and the idea of the back and forth discussion, this time at a crime scene where multiple dead bodies had been found baked into cakes, biscuits, pies and the like. I liked it and after spending a few hours on it, I had the beginning and the end; I just needed the middle.

That came through more time plotting out the story and finally writing it. It now forms part of the wider Tales from Hope Town universe of short stories. Oh, and it has a name as well.

In terms of Portmanteau, I don’t see why the story can’t still be part of that project at some stage in the future. It certainly has the darkly comedy horror vibe that I was going for a couple of years ago.

To finish off this origin story, here’s a crop from the mock-up cover. I’ll get the full thing uploaded for a post tomorrow.



Published inHope Townshort storiesWriting Progress