Leila has picked out a real beauty this time. One of our most popular stories by wonderful Nik Eveleigh.
“When I lived in London I heard that you were never more than three feet away from a rat.” This opens one of the paragraphs in Nik Eveleigh’s A Single Grain of Salt. It’s a brilliant line, yet it is topped by others from start to finish in this piece–especially at the start.
I suppose one of Ponce de Leon’s men could have innocently pissed in a pond which was actually the Fountain of Youth and ruined its magic forever. And there stands a chance that the mightiest civilization in our galaxy gave up sending Earth messages twenty years prior to the invention of radio. The aforementioned circumstances are as likely as having this story lie around waiting for ages to be selected as a rerun. The story was originally commented on by more persons than those who attended the Last Supper. Even minus Nik’s gentlemanly replies to each comment, the list of plaudits is the longest I’ve yet come across on the site. For hell’s sake–maybe it can’t be seen from space, but someone should have bumped into it sooner.
Q: Now three, closer to four years gone by, is there anything you’d change about this piece? (Personally speaking, I see it perfect as is.)
Q: There’s an ethereal quality between Danny and his father, yet they speak in real terms. That part could have come off heavy-handed in lesser hands. How long did it take to get it just right?
Q: Has this story appeared anywhere else? (Seems an unlikely one-off.)
As always I’m filled with gratitude both to Leila and to Diane for remembering I’m a writer when I have a recurring tendency to forget. That extends to my dear friend Hugh as well for his unwavering encouragement and support. Thank you all for allowing this one back into the open air on a Sunday.
And now with only the merest hint of ado, on to the questions.
Q1. It’s actually a very long time since I’ve read this piece and after going through it this evening I’m surprised at how well it’s stood up. I think any of us who write are endless tinkerers when it comes to words and, given enough time, I’d probably stuff around with it and end up with some different words but no actual improvement. So no, I’ll file away the red pen and leave the tale intact. This whole story was borne out of an incident that didn’t quite happen but scared the life out of me, and turning it into a fictional piece was a way to process a moment of parental terror. Reading it back today, it’s taken on much greater significance after dealing with a major family ordeal last year – and yet my “Danny” remains indestructible and amazing.
Q2. I feel like dialogue is something I’ve worked hard at over the years and I’m so pleased this came off with a relatively light touch. There was always a fear that it could be mawkish, saccharine and horrible unrealistic so in the end I just focused on it being a chat between me and my boy. Many of the little touches and phrases are things that we’ve always shared so it felt very natural and easy to put them down and not have to invent anything. I feel incredibly lucky that my son and I have always had a special bond and I think in writing this piece I was determined to do that justice. I think the feel of the dialogue was good from the start but I can remember going over it several times afterwards and paying more attention to it than normal.
Q3. Yes…it’s appeared on my blog as a repost from Literally Stories! Confession time – I’m horribly insecure about most of my writing and have rarely plucked up the courage to submit pieces elsewhere. LS has been my “home” since its inception, but it’s lovely to get the sense from you that this would hold up under scrutiny elsewhere. To date, my only real non-LS success was getting Henry Spiller published in print by Firewords, and that story predates LS.
Perhaps one day when the pen is working again I’ll be a little bolder.