Travis West‘s story “The Errandsman’s Folly” is one of my favourites in A Journey of Words. I loved the characters and found the sharp wit reminiscent of Piers Anthony.
Synopsis: A king’s errandsman leading a caravan to deliver supplies for the princess’s wedding gets more than he bargained for when he’s also tasked with harboring an urchin.
What inspired you to write this story? I had an image in my head one day of a man leading a caravan of toad riders. Then I started thinking of how jarring it would be to ride a hopping toad all day, so I changed toads to salamanders. The thought of little people riding amphibians put me in mind of Monty Python for some reason, and I knew the story had to have obvious comic elements.
How long have you been writing? I started writing in high school. Creative writing in English class was always my favorite. My sophomore English teacher even wrote my parents a letter, asking them to encourage me to continue writing. Which I did until graduation. We don’t always make the best decisions in early adulthood, and writing was forgotten although I still read all the time. Two years ago I sat down one night and wrote the beginnings of a story and I’m still going.
What genre do you usually write in and why? I don’t write with genre in mind. I’m currently (and slowly) working on a novel about the beginnings of a rock band in the early eighties. However, I’ve found that most of my short stories are speculative in one form or another. So I definitely see myself writing novels in the literary fiction genre, and my short stories can be a bit more fantastical.
What else are you working on? My novel, which is currently untitled. I think I tried to jump into novel writing too soon, and I’ve spent the last nine months or so concentrating solely on writing shorts. It’s really helped me to improve my writing. A Haunting of Words may be the last “. . . of Words” collection I participate in for a while because the time feels right to finish the novel. Those characters are still very much with me and they need to speak their piece.
What advice do you have to give new writers? Beyond the advice to keep writing, don’t ever be afraid to let others read what you’ve written. Insight from other minds is tremendously underrated as far as I’m concerned. There’s no rule saying you have to use anyone’s advice, but just hearing other opinions can spark ideas in you that you might not have been able to reach on your own.
How can people discover more about you and your work? My blog, which currently needs some attention: And at:

You can find “The Errandsman’s Folly” alongside my story “Retribution” in the short story anthology A Journey of Words:

About Laurie Gardiner

Laurie has loved writing as long as she can remember. Her first published work, “'Til Death Do Us Part,” placed first in the 1997 Cambridge Writers’ Collective short story contest. Her latest works include short stories, “Retribution" and "Thief," appearing respectively in Scout Media's 2016 and 2017 anthologies, A Journey of Words and A Haunting of Words. Over the years, her poetry has also been published in various anthologies. Her debut novel, Tranquility, published in 2015, by Escargot Books and Music, was inspired by her work as a personal support worker specializing in dementia care. In 2015, she graduated with honors from Conestoga College’s Creative Writing program. She’s a Canadian, an avid reader, a yogi, and a Gemini. She grew up on a farm in remote northern Ontario, and now lives in Cambridge, Ontario with her husband and cat.
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