A warm heart and cool mind by Duncan Eastwood

My fiancée found Create50. Together we explored the website and with each page the challenge became more appealing. I had one story in mind – a pitch black comedic tale of addiction, family, dating and vampirism. I pained over the telling of the tale, analysed every sentence and rewrote the story. Even though I knew in my heart I had too many characters, subplots and themes – I continued the editing and rewrites until I just scraped in under the word count.

However, to complete the competition entry I had to have two stories. Once more my fiancée Lucia came to my rescue as we were casually discussing stories, something sparked and with just a couple of days until the deadline I quickly wrote my second story – Our Tormentor – and submitted it.

It was this second story that captured the judges’ attention, ‘Our Tormentor’. Written swiftly and freely, emanating from a warm heart and cool mind. I say ‘warm heart’ because it was a topic that was very dear to me – yet hardly personal. It is a subject I believe we all need to genuinely consider some time in our lives. The challenge was to write it in as factual terms as possible. This is where I required a ‘cool mind’. To be able to explain the experience with as little emotion as possible. Naturally there was flashes of emotive language but it was important to represent the reality of events. Some said they saw the twist coming – but my intention wasn’t to mask the twist as much as it was to generate empathy for the protagonist. The sad irony being that this fictional tale is also a true story.

I was quite unprepared when it was announced late evening New Zealand time that my story would be published. It was a dream come true and then to think my story would be released as an audiobook was an extra thrill. As a long time listener of audiobooks – from the Star Wars storybook records I listened to as a child, to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Series I loved as a teenager to Simon Callow’s voice telling the stories of P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster audiobooks have long been a part of my life.

Create50 has been a wonderful motivator that has delivered a tangible result. Published on kindle, softcover and audiobook – all of which I, and many friends and family, now own. I know Create50 will continue to provide inspiration for the rest of my life.

I think I have the honour of being the only New Zealander to be published in the Twisted50 collection and so here I was, arriving home on my birthday to a package of books waiting in the postbox that contained my first published story. I’ll be spending summer on the beach reading horror tales.

Duncan Eastwood

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