I could start off by saying I was born in the slums of Buenos Aires and worked my way up to the 1 percent in the 35 years since, but that would be a lie. I could also imply that my father was a Vatican priest and my mother an Italian prostitute but that too would be far from the truth.
If I were however to say that I was born in boring old Flanders in a middleclass family, that I have been telling, writing and drawing stories since I was six and that I now reside in the capital of Europe, otherwise known as Brussels, you’d be hard-pressed to find a lie in there.
The power of stories to exhilarate, to illuminate and – last but not least – to entertain has been an inspiration throughout my life. I especially like the way that movies are able to evoke an emotion by stringing together seemingly random images, which explains why I spent the main part of my twenties trying to get a career in screenwriting going. The fact that you’ve never seen a movie written by me should clue you into the amount of success I had in pursuing that career, though it does not diminish the passion I still feel towards the art of film-making.
On the eve of my 35th birthday I suddenly realised that by fashioning a career outside of writing the last few years – providing communications skills for the biggest political party in Belgium – I had neglected my love for writing fiction. But surely that oversight could easily be amended?
So I started my blog ‘300stories’. My goal? To write at least 300 flash fiction stories of 300 words (or less) in the next year. So far there hasn’t been a day I haven’t published a story on the blog. There are days when I struggle to write even a single sentence. And then there are the days when I have to whittle down a sprawling tale down to a mere 300 words. You win some, you lose some, I guess.
This challenge has taught me a lot about myself. About the stories I love to tell. About the amount of inspiration and transpiration it takes to entertain an audience. But, 50-odd stories in, I still have the feeling there is plenty more to learn, plenty more genres to try my hand at and plenty more twisted tales to transplant from my mind onto the computer screen. And I certainly hope these tales will keep my readers entertained. Cause in the end, what is a writer worth if he can’t entertain his audience?
So, if you like your short stories very short and your tales unexpected, why not check out 300stories? I can’t guarantee you you’ll like every single one of my flash fiction stories. But I’ll do my best to entertain you, whether it be in a good or a bad way.
And as an exclusive treat to the readers of The Story Reading Ape’s blog, below you’ll find an original flash fiction story. Enjoy! (PS, I am not suggesting for one minute that George is based on my good friend Chris, apart from species that is)
Shameless self-promotion was George’s forte even though he had no need for it. After all, he wàs a 500-pound gorilla with the power of speech and a published thriller under his belt. Yet he loved to beat his own drum. Unfortunately not in a charming way. He was relentless.
Take for example the events of August. He had hopped into the local bookshop to buy a reference book for his next project when he noticed a young girl checking out his first novel. The gorilla immediately dropped what he was doing and positioned himself in the aisle next to the thriller section.
“Excuse me, sir, you don’t happen to have ‘The Origin of Man’ by George Silverback in stock?” he said, loud enough for the girl to overhear.
Then, in a higher voice: “Why yes, I think we do.”
Back to the original timbre now. “I just ask because I was told it had sold out.”
“It usually ís sold out. It is a great novel after all. But yesterday we received a new batch from the publisher. I would hurry though. It wouldn’t surprize me if it were to sell out again by tomorrow.”
The gorilla subtly peered over the aisle to gage the girl’s reaction. She hesitated briefly, took another look at the back cover, but finally decided she would buy the book.
George leaned over a bit further to see the girl paying for his novel. A bit too far. The bookcase could not sustain his weight and with a loud bang toppled, tipping over the one next to it, which in turn toppled a third bookcase.
All eyes in the store were on George now, but the gorilla didn’t care.
Another book sold, was all he thought, as he congratulated himself by vigorously pounding his chest.
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