The Computer Nerd
Behind the Story
Thank you for reading this far. As a reward for sticking with the book, I’ll give some background information on The Computer Nerd in case you’re the type of person who enjoys the “Special Features” selection on Blu-rays and DVDs (or whatever you use to watch movies at the time of this reading).
A Brief History: On a Friday night in early August 2007, I was sitting in a Starbucks reading Stephen King’s On Writing when I reached the part about writing unconventional characters and storylines, and that sometimes the best stories are the ones that defy our expectations (I’m paraphrasing based on my eight-year-old memory, which is rarely strong even as an eight-minute-old). In that chapter, King gives the reader a writing prompt: Because most stalker stories focus on a male antagonist, create a stalker story where the stalker is a woman (paraphrased). I don’t normally respond to writing prompts, and I don’t care a whole lot about stalker stories, but I was intrigued by the idea of writing a story based on a Stephen King prompt and giving it my personal spin, so I went home and knocked out a 5,600-word short story in a single sitting about a female stalker. What I came up with was a story about a computer nerd who finds out the wife he had committed to a mental institution has escaped, and she might be coming home to see him. He gets justifiably nervous, acts paranoid, and then he confronts her in his own living room when she pops up and reveals that she’s been home the whole time. The comedic twist, of course, is that she doesn’t want to kill him; she just wants to sleep with him. He doesn’t know if it’s a good idea, but because he’s not getting much action otherwise, he might as well consider all the variables. And that was the end of the story.
When it came time to reread “The Computer Nerd” (short story version) to test its viability as an e-book eight years later (just about to the day), I decided the ending wasn’t good enough. As a reader, I wanted to know what happens next, so I started thinking about what Alice is really home to do. I spent the next month writing the rest of the story and filling in those missing pieces (like Rebecca’s sequence and the mall sequence). This is the end result.
I don’t have much else to say about it, other than it was supposed to be another freebie. But thanks to the short story growing into a novel’s length, I’ve decided to make you pay for it. Thanks for your support. 😉
That said, I’d appreciate a review, so feel free to leave one at whichever retailer you purchased it from. And keep an eye out for more of my e-books on the way. I’m still digging up my archives and updating those stories of yesteryear, so I hope you’ll enjoy those as they come. You can check out my blog for info on what’s coming next, or my short story “Shell Out” to get a very early preview of stories that will be coming to e-book soonish (hopefully by 2017).
And if you’re still reading, you may want to keep going to find a special post-credits surprise as a treat to those of you who like staying until the very end (think: Marvel movie ending). Spoiler alert!
Update 2021: Because I’d rushed out the 2015 version to keep up with an unhealthy release momentum, I wasn’t fully happy with The Computer Nerd’s potential, so I spent the next year thinking about how to make it better. The following October (on the story’s first anniversary), I’d released a climactic update featuring a new final battle between Anston and Dr. Nantucket to give it that proper thriller ending, but I reverted it back to its original version when I remembered I had a paperback edition that would no longer sync with the e-book if I’d kept it that way. So I spent the next few years wondering if I should just bury this book into my archives. I wasn’t getting many sales, anyway, so I didn’t think anyone would miss it.
But I really wanted it to work. It’s one of my best stories so far, and I didn’t want it to languish when making it better was within grasp. So, in the summer of 2018, I picked at the plot a little. I started writing new scenes that tell Alice’s side of the story. Kept adding to it. Realized I could really electrify it with new characters and conflicts and action scenes. In fact, I’d written so much new content that I decided I would rename the book Gone from the Happy Place and forget this one ever existed.
But that felt wrong, too. Why destroy what could remain simple and effective? The truth was that the new content would work only if I were to turn the story into a series. And I’d still like to do that. I have ideas for five storylines. But that will take a while, and I don’t know if the theme can endure a series makeover. Either way, a new version would lessen the intimacy involved in telling this story. And I don’t want readers to miss out on the best version of this telling.
So I’ve compromised. The series remake will likely happen soon. But the standalone version isn’t going away, so I figured I’d make it as good as I can. Now that I have software to make updating the paperback much easier, there’s no reason not to give readers the proper version. So that’s what this update is about. Hopefully, your reading this is the proof that I made the right decision.
Also, the “post-credits scene” from the 2015 edition is now a proper epilogue. As much as I like the idea of splitting up the scene and surprising readers with a new layer of revelation after the credits, I worry that the average reader will miss it (as they would at the movies), and much of the story’s context with it. So it’s back where it belongs, in line with the core story.
For a full listing of how this version differs from the 2015 version, please check out the revision history section (accessible from the pop-up button below this one).