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A LOOK BACK: “Better Places”

February 20, 2020 in Patreon, Vile Men, Writing
Cover image for the short story, "Better Places" by Rebecca Jones-Howe
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Rebecca is a neo-noir author from Kamloops, British Columbia. Her first collection of gritty short fiction, Vile Men was published by Dark House Press in 2015. She also writes about her writer lifestyle on her blog at

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  • Emily February 24, 2020 at 1:03 am

    Thanks for sharing, you know I’ve only ever read this story of yours twice – it’s such a horrific gut punch, one that stays in my mind long after. Like 28 days later, it’s the reality of the “safe place” and what almost happened that burrows deep into my grey matter. Having first read this in war and seen the prompt, the way you chose to bury it, plus the layers of meanings of the jigsaw puzzles and the wish for escape (to better places) is superb! And the quote of jigsaw puzzles being there own kind of apocalypse is genius – it completely skewed how I forever see scenic jigsaws.
    Regarding my own stories – honestly I haven’t reread them for many years, and now I’m a little scared to!! While I may like the theme or idea, or even some of the sentences, I do suspect that I may cringe at some stuff. Besides getting older, what Im reading has also changed a lot since those early days – did you find that?
    Here’s my question to you! Do you ever consider rewriting any of your earlier stories (published ones, I mean)? Maybe a story you like the idea of, or used to love, and see how the 2019 you would write it? I sometimes think of this, I’m curious to see how things would change – sometimes you’ll see that in books “a version of this story first appeared in…” so I guess I’m not the only one.
    Oh and finally: zombie apocalypse dreams, yeah I’ve had those too. My husband, who hasn’t thinks having a zombie dream would be cool, but no! No, no, no! They are always horrible and scary (although I don’t find zombie movies scary) mine usually involve trying to secure the house or some such thing or escaping – and yes sometimes it’s the people not the zombies. People can be the worst.

    • Rebecca February 24, 2020 at 9:39 am

      Over the years I’ve found myself less critical of what I read. I used to try to find stuff that was more edgy and exact to what I wrote specifically, but now I’ll read more mainstream. I’m trying to read more older stuff too. It’s helped my work quite a bit, I think. I take my own writing less critically. I’ve never thought about rewriting a older story. Sometimes I write new stories under the same vein. Like my one story “Election Season” is a kidnapping story, which kind of falls along the same vein as “Better Places”. I mean, I kind of like kidnapping stories from time to time and will occasionally try to spin the genre in a different way. “Thinspiration” is even a kidnapping story. Heck, now that I’ve mentioned this I kind of want to write another one. Haha.

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