Friday Fictioneers – Feral Stories

Photo Prompt © Jan Wayne Fields

Lyra and Will enter the café. Waves lap the sweeping littoral, and colonnades shade abandoned terraces. I sense the heat. This West African seafront belongs to my memory, not the author’s script. But the children who people the scene, fearful and hopeful, are strangers to me.

The book takes root and sprouts in an alien soil. Together the author and I create new and unintended versions. Our stories escape and breed in the wild with other tales.  Dark shapes move across the hills.


Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here.

Fancy sharpening your skill with writing exercises? The Scrivener’s Forge offers a new exercise every month to hone one aspect of your craft. Take a look at this month’s exercise on plot and endings.


67 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – Feral Stories

  1. I’ll be honest, Neil, I haven’t a clue what this is about, though it seems to be playing with being inside and outside the story, mashing your own ideas with the author’s. It’s an interesting take to be sure. The moment I read the names Lyra and Will I thought of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials books – was that intentional or accidental?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Some work. Others not. That will teach me to explore a complex idea in less than 100 words. Yes the reference to Lyra and Will was to His Dark Materials, in particular to the point in the book where Lyra arrives in Cittàgazze. I saw a place I had spent time in.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Probably just a bit too clever for me, to be honest! And it’s a while since I read the books, so you’ll be making references I’ve forgotten. Well done for writing something so interesting and exploratory. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

  2. Dear Neil,

    Not being familiar with Philip Pullman’s work put me at a disadvantage. I liked the descriptions. Although I did see two authors in a cafe and thought of myself and my cousin Kent aka WmQ. We’ve closed down a couple of cafes with our writing sessions.



    Liked by 4 people

  3. This reminds me of the how Hemingway talked of writing stories in A Moveable Feast. Though he was sitting in a Paris cafe with a pencil and a cafe creme, he was camping in Michigan and writing a war story that didn’t mention the war. I like the choose-your-own-adventure line at the end.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. After scanning through the comments I went back and read your story for the third time–and it made perfect sense. Sometimes I’m a bit slow, and I’m not familiar with Philip Pullman, and I needed the input from others. You’ve done a remarkable piece of work here.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’ve done some of my best writing, late into the night, curled in my sleeping bag with notebook propped on knees. Love how you’ve recreated that memory for me. Excites me all the more to be going off to powwow this weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Loved how the “stories escape and breed in the wild with other tales. Dark shapes move across the hills”. I think stories have lives on their own and I picture two authors birthing them and letting them loose. Thanks for the wild ride of imagination 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. This is brilliant, as always !
    Thanks for teaching me so many new words and how we can travel in books and imagination even while we are only fixed in a cafe. Admire your imagination!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I also saw two authors meshing reality and imagination into something new. But after reading the comments, and re-reading the story, it could also be an author and a reader who create new worlds with their imagination. It’s beautifully written.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I loved this piece, Neil. It so accurately reflects the way my memories are awoken and my imagination is fired when I am totally immersed in the book I am reading. Suddenly, I am off weaving stories of my own in response to the author’s words. Your last two sentences are magnificent. They say it all!


  10. A very bold experiment, which so nearly succeeded for me. I identified Pullman, but not the exact reference and therefore only partially understood the story before reading the comments. I guess you chose to refer to ‘His Dark Materials’ because it has a wide readership, but isn’t obvious like, say ‘Huckleberry Finn’.
    The interplay between author and reader is fascinating. The reader’s background and preconceptions always render their interpretation different from anyone else’s including the author’s. Even the most honestly written autobiography will be untruthful to every reader except the author.
    Your writing in this piece is very, very good indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Come on, Neil! It nearly worked – next time you try something similar you’ll probably succeed!
      It’s a brilliant idea, for all sorts of reasons: it harnesses the power of another story; it gives the reader a clearer idea of your own imagery as they refer back to the earlier work; it makes the reader feel ‘clever’ for having spotted the reference. If you had referred to Cittàgazze, some readers might have remembered the book; I would probably have Googled it (well, it’s ages since I read the book!). And, in any case, you have succeeded in the main aim of your story, which was to make us think abut the relationship between author and reader in a piece of beautiful prose.
      BTW, I’m definitely going to pinch the idea!


  11. Though the names didn’t ring a bell and I’d never be able to put in words the images your scene evokes, it’s pure poetry. I can picture the stories coming to life and flitting over the hills.

    I especially liked the line about the children: one can just see the little urchins doing their best to cope with the world they find themselves in.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi Neil,
    This was rather intriguing. It’s quite the norm for it to take a few readings for me to fully appreciate many of these flash fictions. I don’t know Philip Pullman’s work but did get the idea of the author and the reader working together to create something entirely new, which I thought was really clever and well done. I was just a bit puzzled by how the children fitted into it,
    Best wishes, Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I was in our local bookshop today and I couldn’t believe it but they were promoting his new book: “THe Book of Dust Vol 1”. I was very excited to see after reading your story and pick up an excerpt. I probably won’t get into it because I don’t tend to buy series.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Reading and writing are both strange and miraculous processes. Don’t think you need the exact reference to understand your piece and its intentions. Loved the title and last line! Keep experimenting – really enjoyed this.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I saw this as a collaboration or a tussle between the person and his/her muse – a mishmash of sacred personal experiences intricately interwoven with flights of fancies that results in a complete story.

    Liked by 1 person

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