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Presenting 36 stories of lightning-quick reads in a variety of genres, Tales with a Twist III is like a box of chocolates, rich and delicious. It’s full of lessons, too, many from the school of hard knocks. It’s an introduction to criminology, a primer on running a business, a rule book for the dating game, a guide to pet training, an eatery, wisdom from a philosopher of darkness and angst, a call to arms, and much, much more.

Players discover that cheating is no bed of roses. The VP of Marketing never expected his wife’s recent renovations would include a tunnel of love. A date with Daphne brings out the beast in Chad. Everywhere, it seemed, people are losing things?important things like hands and eyes and?well, it’s better not to think about it. Crime pays well enough?for some.

These are just some of the lessons the characters in Tales with a Twist III learn. Whether satire, suspense, science fiction, fantasy, humor, or horror, the flash fiction in this third collection in Michael Williams’s Twisted Tales series will make readers smile, laugh, gulp, wonder, and turn on the lights and check the locks.

Q: By definition, according to the title of your series, Twisted Tales, and by the titles of the books in the series, each of your flash fiction narratives contains a plot twist. How do you think up so many of them?

A: Usually, the story suggests one. However, I also employ a couple of tricks, or techniques?three, actually. First, when plotting a story such as those in Tales with a Twist, Tales with a Twist II, or Tales with a Twist III, I keep in mind the idea that almost everything has a direct opposite: new, old; lost, found; hero, villain; reward, punishment; rich, poor; right, wrong. Then, I start with one polarity and end with its opposite. The second way is more concrete. I keep a list of the plot twists I see in novels, short stories, movies, and TV series. Then, I adapt them to fit the situation or circumstances of my own stories. My third technique is to remember that there is a fine line not only between good and evil and right and wrong, but between all such polar opposites. A person who is cautious may become distrustful or even paranoid; a man who’s strict can become controlling; a woman who’s concerned with her own health and that of others?a doctor or a nurse, perhaps?can become a hypochondriac; a trusting person may become gullible. Each of these possibilities is a source of plot twists.

Q: How many of your tales with a twist are autobiographical?

A: Many of them are fantasies in which I explore how something might be if a particular set of unusual circumstances were to apply. Many of my stories are thought experiments, of a sort. I place a certain type of character in a particular kind of environment and see whether he or she adapts and, if the character does adapt, how he or she manages to do so. Frequently, the environment is physical, but it need not be; some of my stories’ environments are philosophical, or moral, or psychological, or political, or cultural, or otherwise. The autobiographical element, when there is one, may be small?a detail here or there, the description of a place I’ve been, desires I’ve experienced, wishes I may have wanted to fulfill, thoughts or feelings or impressions I’ve had, that sort of thing, embedded in the narration, the exposition, or the dialogue.

Q: Will there be a Tales with a Twist IV.

A: I’m working on it now.

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