Untreed Reads. He grew up in the northern suburbs of Detroit, Michigan and began writing at an early age. Currently, he pens the Harry Landers, P.I. series available on Amazon Kindle. He also appears in anthologies such as Discount Noir, The Killer Wore Cranberry, and the acclaimed Shadows of the Emerald City.
Gerald So: How did the idea for your story, "The Bayou Beast: A Requiem" develop?
Jack Bates: When Patti Abbott sent out the call for flash stories, I jumped at the chance. I went to the site and scrolled through the pictures. As soon as I saw the one of the man in layers of plastic vines and leaves, I knew I had my story. I've been a fan of Alan Moore's Swamp Thing for a long a time and seeing that individual covered in camo and foliage jumped out at me. Realizing I could use an established charatcer, I had to take it in a new direction and I created a small local theatre troupe who wanted to put its own spin on a familiar subject like I did.
I have an extensive background in theatre. I decided the only reason a guy would go shopping at a MegaMart, or in my case, a FIND Department store, was because the community theatre he was appearing at didn't have the resources to provide for its productions. Having been in a similar situation, I've had to run to grocery stores, discount stores, and second hand shops on opening nights to get the last minute supplies or props minutes before the curtain went up.
One time, I sent the leads for a play I directed on similar mission on opening night forty-five minutes before curtain. Ten minutes before said curtain rose, they showed up with the necessary items but both actors were completely frazzled. The driver had run a red light, avoided an accident, but got pulled over by the cops. It might have been that they were already in make-up and costume that he avoided the ticket, but I often thought about what would have happened to the production that night had either of my leads not shown up. A few years later I had a similar situation when the orchestra I was using for a musical arrived an hour and half late from an earlier performance it did as a benefit. Audiences get restless and cranky. Sometimes the show does not go on.
It was from these two experiences that "The Bayou Beast: A Requiem" was born.
GS: What appeals to you about flash fiction?
JB: I've known of flash fiction for quite some time. A guy with whom I teach said he hoped to coin the phrase 'micro-fiction' a couple of years ago when we started exploring flash as a viable literary format. Since those early days, we've come to recognize short fiction as flash and realized we were not going to be the pioneers of a movement but rather participants. We both read at poetry slams, we both meet regularly to write and share with others. Like slams, I've proposed a fiction style of slamming called Flash-Bangs. (Yes, I'm capitalizing on the phrase.) Nothing has materialized yet, but we're still working on it. It might even be something to unleash at Bouchercon 2011 in St, Louis.