September’s Guest Storyteller, Joshua Munns

JoshuaGreySkyTo my delight, this month’s guest storyteller is my son, Joshua,  who’s going to spook you all with some dark fantasy.

Joshua has always loved monsters, myths, legends, and the fantastical. At his primary school, in English classes, they despaired that he’d ever write about anything else but then they relented one year and awarded him the school Creative Writing Prize for a story about … yes, you’ve guessed it right … about monsters! At University, he earned himself a BA in History, English, and Creative Writing.

Presently, he’s working on a piece of short fiction for self-publishing on Kindle. After this, he hopes to write his first novel. He is also exploring the idea of creating online serialised fantasy role-playing games, as well as doing a collaboration on a graphic novel with one of his friends from university.

As you can see, a love of the written word runs in the family, not that the relatives are into fantasy!

The Mountain Road

“You must never stray into the snow. Only ghosts and madmen would wander the mountains in the winter,” the man told them.

The pair had listened with indulgent smiles. Rustic superstitions had their basis in practicality as often as not, and threats of dark spirits was as fine a way as any to keep the foolish from wandering out into the wilderness to an icy death.

Sullen as he was, they were glad to have found the man. Sitting on an old bench, he had the look of a seasoned traveller about him, the sort who could save them from a long and dreary winter spent holed up in a ramshackle village. His price was reasonable, a coin from each for the journey. He too wished to travel the mountain path, and he cared more for the company than for gold, he told them.

The older of the pair joked with the younger, after their first day out on the path. What a shame it was that they couldn’t see the ghosts and madmen from the mountain road. Perhaps they were shy, crouched out of sight behind rocks and snowdrifts. They had seen a man, a woodcutter by the look of him. Maybe he was a ghost or a madman. He was peculiar at the very least, responding to the younger man’s greeting with a leery look as he trudged through the waist-deep snows.

The guide was affable, his mood lifting with every day in company. They spent the nights camped by the roadside where rocks and trees offered cover from the mountain winds. He asked many questions, where they had come from, where they were going, family, friends. He himself was a simple man, he explained, bound up between the villages of the mountain road by familial obligations. Sharing words with travellers was one of his simple pleasures in a life without much excitement. He told them many stories of others he had guided through, men and women of ambition and purpose, aimless vagrants and wanderers.

The older man chuckled, an awkward eye to his friend, as the guide thanked them so sincerely for travelling the mountain road with him, for accepting his company and heeding his advice. Tomorrow, the guide told the pair, they would be beyond the mountains, and in the next village. The younger man smiled, it would be a relief, he said, to put the ghosts and madmen behind them.

The younger man trudged down the mountain path. The snows had lifted, and the village loomed in the distance. He was not in a mood for celebration however. In the night, his friend and the guide had broken camp, walked on ahead without a word. A familiar face glowered at him from the trees, the woodcutter resting against his axe, watching him in silence.

The younger man called out to him, asked the woodcutter if he had seen his friend or the guide. The woodcutter shook his head, told the younger man in a coarse voice that no-one had been down the road all morning. The younger man made to turn back, but the woodcutter called after him, calling the younger man a fool. After all, the woodcutter said, only ghosts and madmen walk the mountain road in winter.


You can find the links to previous guest storyteller posts at 

Author: Sarah Potter Writes

Sarah is a British eccentric who writes offbeat fiction, haiku and tanka poetry. When stuck for words, she sketches or paints instead. She's into nature conservation, sustainability, gardening, dogs, natural health, and reading. Her sociability is something that happens in short bursts with long breathing spaces in between.

27 thoughts on “September’s Guest Storyteller, Joshua Munns”

  1. Excellent! Well done, Joshua. 🙂 Have you thought about collaborating with Sarah?
    It is great fun and two heads work more than twice as fast as one. Both the Rude Awakening and UFO:AI series were collaboration with my son. Hilarious and lovely time spent together

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Gary, I showed him your comment. Thanks for your words of encouragement to him 🙂 He didn’t say no to a collaboration, rather I sensed he was thinking that it wasn’t beyond the bounds of possibility, but he wanted to think about it. Just now, we’re involved in our individual projects, so maybe in the future … you never know.


  2. So nice to “see” you here, Joshua. What a chilly tale with a very folkloric feeling to it, putting me in mind for winter, honestly (I know it’s meant to be off-puting in that regard, however!). It is heat index of 100 degrees F (or more) where I am. Great scene-setting and compelling story-telling. Hope to hear more from you in the literary world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joshua smiled at your comment. Thank you for your words of encouragement, Leigh. I know it means a lot to him 🙂
      Phew, 100 degrees F. It’s in the 50s to low 60s here, maybe 40s first thing in the morning. Not our usual September weather. I hope some of your heat comes across the pond and brings us an Indian Summer.
      PS My manuscript is about to come your way, hopefully this after UK time. Have to finish getting lunch now, as we have a cooked one on Sunday.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, Leigh 🙂 I think that ogres & giants are right up Joshua’s street! By the way, I’m impressed with WordPress for asking me to moderate your comment because it had links in it. Shows that they take our security seriously! Although I panicked for a moment that they were asking me because I’d unfollowed you by mistake. So easy to click on the wrong thing.


      2. It’s probably the number of links in a comment. I’ve had a single link shared with me, and visa versa, which hasn’t gone into moderation. But, yes, it’s good to know WP is vigilant.


    1. Thank you, Kim. Joshua will be very encouraged by your comment. Of course, I’m a proud mum, but I think he will go far, especially with youth on his side — all those potential years of writing. Interesting that he’s going straight for self-publishing and isn’t bothering to approach traditional publishers. I think he has seen too many years of of me nearly getting there and not quite at the last hurdle. Thanks to him, as well as Mister P, I’m now persuaded that self-publication is a totally viable and respectable route for authors to go down. I was brought up to believe otherwise, so it has taken a long time for me to come round to that way of thinking.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I self published by poems and was considering the traditional find an agent and publisher with my fiction novel. I’m considering self publishing that too now.

        Amazon offers another option. It’s called scout. You put a portion of the novel on the site and people read and vote. If your book is selected you get an advance of 2500 I think, I don’t remember how much. Amazon has rights to your work for 5 years and guarantee a minimum of 25k in that time period. I’m not sure of the money amount. Go to Amazon and check it out.
        Get the facts, it sounds likeba good deal.

        I think another think with self publishing with Amazon and createspace is your work can escalate and draw attention from mainstream publishers. I wish him the best.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Mine is okay on that front — nothing graphic — but it’s the whole thing of being tied up with Amazon for 5 years. I’m not sure if there’s a get-out clause if, by some miracle, one gets an offer from a traditional publisher or a film company, or whether one is well and truly tied to the contract. And 25K dollars isn’t that much money over 5 years. It just sounds good, until you start to analyse it! Anyway, I don’t think they’d accept my novel, because of my UK English spelling and turns of phrase, which I really don’t want to change. The story isn’t set in the US and to change these things would make it less authentic.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. The 25K is the guaranteed minum. Do you think they would make your revise? They have Amazon UK. It’s something to think about if you don’t get it published traditionally. Good luck.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I’ve read somewhere that as the Amazon publication process is based in the US and the main readership will herald from there, that it’s advisable to use US spellings. Apparently, it doesn’t bother UK readers if a novel uses US spellings but not so the other way round. Some UK people have been given 2 stars and bad reviews due for this, and told they ought to learn to spell properly!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Those are people who don’t know better. When I use to read work from the UK I thought the same. But when I got to know differently I understood. I only have issues with the slang as I’m sure people in other countries have issues with our slang. Heck some people of different cultures in the same country have issues with some slang. As well as different generations. I like learning these things. I think it makes me well rounded. None the less I understand what you’re saying.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Well, aged 13, I just about survived reading Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, both novels full of Mississippi slang! Now it’s my turn to get my own back with some 60s Brit slang and turns of phrase, including some from the East End of London, although I haven’t gone as far as writing in dialect. Mostly, people haven’t the patience to read dialect these days. Also, it’s hell for a translator, should the work ever end up being sold in non-English speaking countries.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Ooh, the writing talent definitely runs in the family. I was enthralled straight away by the lonely, wintry mountain road, but although there was a sense of foreboding throughout, I didn’t guess the ending.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Andrea 🙂 Joshua is so thrilled with everyone’s positive response to his story. This is the first time he has published any of his fiction online, so I feel very honoured to have hosted his debut! I thought, when he produced this piece, that it would appeal to you.

      Liked by 1 person

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