Welcome to William R. Potter.com
I guess you could say the writing bug bit me at an early age. Shortly after watching the first remake of King Kong, around the age of ten or eleven, I scribbled a few lines about a mutant crab attacking the city, and called it a book. I discovered poetry in my teens and continue to write verse today. However, that kid’s dream of writing a book never went away. In 2001 I decided to get serious about fiction and dabbled in short stories with some success. With my budding confidence, I attempted greater and greater word counts. Before long I had a collection of shorts and a novella that approached novel length. It was time, after waiting twenty-five years since that monstrous crustacean of my childhood, I attempted another novel in 2003 and finished the first draft just before Christmas 2004.
After I finished the first draft of my first novel, I decided to let the manuscript sit and cool. I wrote another novella and several shorts and then sat down to write a second novel in 2006.
By the late Spring of last year I had a dilemma. Polish the short stories and submit them separately to magazines and anthologies or begin a second draft of one of the two novels. I decided on the stories, as the shorter writes appeared closer to being publication-ready.
The first thing I noticed about the group of fiction was the darker subject matter. I credited this gloominess to pain and sadness still lingering from my divorce of a few years previous. The shorts were getting some favourable feedback and I wondered if grouped together they might be enough for a book. I began to polish the stronger selections and completed the collection with a third novella. I pared the total down to six and then began to seek out a publisher.
I believe everyone has a darker side to their personality that troubles those who witness it. For some it is pure evil and for others it’s anger management or perhaps jealousy. The key to triumphing over this darkness is to recognise it, and to turn a light against it. This became the theme and title of the book.
Lighting the Dark Side: Six Modern Tales
William R. Potter
Reviewed by Kam Aures for RebeccasReads (9/08)
“Lighting the Dark Side: Six Modern Tales” consists of six short stories, all of which are very different and unique, spanning the full gamut of fictional genres. The six short stories included in the book are: “Bent, Not Broken,” “In the Gray,” “Prominent Couple Slain,” “May 18, 2010,” “Blessing or Curse?,” and “Surviving the Fall.” After reading all three of the novellas and all three of the shorter works, I can honestly say that I enjoyed each and every one of them.
My favorite novella in the book was the very first one, “Bent, Not Broken.” It is about a man named Dwayne Johnson who is plagued by severe obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). We watch Dwayne struggle as what are normal day to day activities for most of us are much more challenging for him. His anxieties are compounded by the fact that his co-workers gang up on him by moving things in his cubicle that he needs to have just so. You can’t help but to feel for the poor guy. Dwayne meets a girl and falls in love with her, but his many issues will be the cause of much strain and difficulty in the relationship.
It is in this first novella that the meaning of the title of the book, “Lighting the Dark Side,” is revealed as well. Dwayne’s girlfriend Dee-Dee is in a mud bath reflecting and meditating. On the phone to Dwayne she tells him that she is “just spending some time lighting the dark side.” She says, “everyone has a dark side” which is “that ugliness about our personality that scares the people who see it.” What we need to do “is to fight it, to turn a light against it.” (p. 65)
Each story draws you in within the first few sentences and will hold your attention through the completion. All of the characters are well developed and seem very real. I became so involved in each tale that I found myself wishing that these weren’t short stories and that each work was a full-length novel instead. Don’t get me wrong, the writing was very thorough and the stories were not lacking anything, but I enjoyed the characters and the writing style so much that I just wished that they were longer! In the author’s biography that was sent along with the book it states that he is “re-working two full-length novel manuscripts for publishing” and if these works are anything similar to “Lighting the Dark Side: Six Modern Tales” then I can’t wait to read them!
Genre: Fiction/Short Stories
Title: LIGHTING THE DARK SIDE (Six Modern Tales)
Author: WILLIAM R. POTTER
The book jacket claims these tales will exercise our emotions, capture our imagination, and challenge us to think in new directions. Well, I’m here to tell you all that the author delivers on all that plus much, much more! These novellas and short stories are definitely page-turners, but what impressed me the most was their character-driven force. Potter skillfully intertwined succinct narrative and some natural, fast-paced dialogue to present characters so real, they leapt right off the page and captivated me immediately.
Lighting the Dark Side is a collection of three novellas and three short stories, including plenty of action, thrills, suspense, mystery, and even romance. We start with an engaging story of an improbable romance between an obsessive-compulsive geek and a drop-dead gorgeous woman, seemed doomed from the start. Next, there’s an artist trying his best to thrive and find love in spite of overbearing, cruel parents. Following that, Potter changes directions and we’re treated to a well-done, hard-boiled police procedural with a nice twist. An end of the world by approaching comet thriller is on tap after that, with some great flash-forward writing as well as another ingenious plot twist. Now, these are all wonderful tales, but I believe Potter saved the best two for last. The title, Blessing or Curse is self-explanatory, referring to a big lottery win. A kidnapping for ransom follows and we’re treated to some of the author’s best dialogue. It’s hugely entertaining and there are virtually no wasted words Elmore Leonard style. And finally, Potter ends (all too soon) with a heart-warming tale of a wayward teenage street whore and a gentleman with a rescuer complex. It’s a great, intertwined plot where all the characters come together, in the same spirit of the Academy Award winning movie, Crash. Once again, Potter showcases his writing skills, this time with skillful interspersing of critical backstory in such a way as to avoid slowing the plot.
Well, you’ve probably guessed that I am highly recommending Lighting the Dark Side. As I said, all the stories are captivating but more than that, I urge you to take note of the writer’s skill at character development and I’m sure you’ll be impressed. In fact, I shouldn’t think it’d be long before a major publishing house snaps Mr. Potter up because he belongs on the bookshelves with the likes of Jeffery Deaver and Peter Abrahams.
Highly recommended by reviewer: Jan Evan Whitford, Allbooks Reviews
Published by: Xlibris Books. ©2008
ISBN: 978-1-4363-1253-0 Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-4363-1254-7 Hard cover
“Lighting the Dark Side” contains a collection of six refreshingly different short stories. Each one is very unique and cannot be compared to the others. I really enjoyed reading the stories. They are about human nature and how we deal with hardships. Sometimes we overcome them, sometimes we obliterate them and sometimes we just make adjustments in ourselves to live with them.
What I discovered really interesting is that in almost every story, I found aspects of myself in the characters. This allowed me to feel like I could relate to what they had going on inside themselves. Some of these aspects ranged from a desire for vigilantism in situations with no other way out; a desire to help others by going way beyond what is expected; and that need to ask myself why I allow things to happen when I know the outcome ahead of time. Kind of like, why did I do that again? The examples in the stories are so much more interesting than any story that I have possibly lived.
Each short story or novella is very complete within itself, however, I found myself wishing that the stories would go on longer. I wasn’t ready to leave the lives of these interesting characters. This is what made the book even more fun because I found myself thinking about the stories later on, wondering what happened to people that never even existed. The characters are very well developed and intricately woven into their plots that they seem very real. Their humanity is expressed through their shortcomings, and their need to change their situations.
This book, “Lighting the Dark Side,” by William R. Potter, will definitely be enjoyed by all fans of fiction. I think that it would make an excellent selection for a reader’s group or for a college course. I would love to hear the interesting discussions that will be held about these stories.