Friday, 2 March 2012

Sharks Never Die

You may have just read The Sharks of Old London. (<-- this will be a link to the flash fiction of said name, but it hasn't been posted yet. If there is no link, there will be later, when I remember.)

The Sharks of Old London is a post-apocalypse type tale set in the same universe as Love Like a Shark. Love Like a Shark was the first thing I ever submitted to the #fridayflash collector (over a year ago). The Sharks of Old London is only tangentially connected however, the characters come from the same program, but the two stories focus on different characters in different time periods.

One of the key plot elements is one that has never left me. Sharks never die. How true this is I'm not sure. The theory is that the mechanism in humans which prevents cells from multiplying uncontrollably and thus decreases the chance of cancers while at the same time limiting the regeneration, healing, longevity of our bodies is not there in sharks. They can heal and regenerate cells indefinitely and they are mostly protected from solar radiation (by miles of water) so the chances of cancers are less. (to describe the whole thing in a grossly simplified way)

People (me included) are fascinated with this idea, in the same way that we are fascinated with almost anything that could heal us and make us live forever. And yet the only way this can work is if we somehow suppress the mutating of the cells, ensuring cancer does not become a massive problem.

The metaphor here, of course, is that this story will not die in my head, but it does mutate and break the surface from time to time. For example when the Shark Knight prompt appeared, which is when I wrote The Sharks of Old London.

#fridayflash highlights debut entries. So Love Like a Shark is still one of my most viewed stories. In some ways I think this was not my greatest move, it was relatively experimental, focussing on dialogue so much it was published in script form, completely unlike my usual writing. I wonder if that didn't put a few people off reading more of my work. Oh well.

So the story has re-emerged.

One of the things I'm working on at the moment is expanding some of the flash fictions I posted when I started this blog into short stories for my first anthology (hopefully out this June).

Often with flash fiction, my own and others, people ask for more. This can turn into a serial, a short story, or go nowhere. When I first wrote The Sharks of Old London, the early line about the dangers of London at night mentioned the Ripper, and at the end the Knight mentioned that there were two of his kind left in the world. I changed this for poignancy (hopefully) and brevity. I was cutting the word count close and I didn't feel the mention of the Ripper was necessary to this particular tale.

However, when I come to expand this story for the Small Change anthology (in three years time...) it will have the Ripper reinstated. It will be the story of a London terrorised by a post-apocalyptic Jack the Ripper, born of sharks, and of his brother determined to take him down as the last act of a cursed program to make immortal protectors.

I hope it comes out as awesome as that sounds in my head... ^_~


  1. Hi John, I've just skipped back and read "Love like a shark" I'm not a massive fan of that kind of format so I probably skipped on and off of it at the time of posting. I should have read it through though, because the concept is very interesting, and although I much prefer the style of "The sharks of old London" The connections are there to see.

    You mention expanding on this, I for one did mention that on the post itself. This concept, the (theoretical?)immortality, the harsh and violent world they live in, all just scream out for a much longer story

    And I'm pretty sure that it WILL come out as awesome as it sounds in your head too. :-)

    1. Thanks, Steve. I've always had a soft spot for Love Like a Shark, and I'm glad it got to evolve into a form more people read and enjoyed. =)