MOODBOARD: “Modern Ruins”

Okay, so I wrote a short story for January, and then January came. I got paranoid. I tried to write a new story but my ideal stalled. Then I started a second story and the plot caught on and I managed to finish it within two drafts. If I can keep this up, we’ll be in amazing shape for the upcoming year, though I have addressed some of my woes in my last blog post. You came here for a moodboard, though, so let’s talk about “Modern Ruins”.

Image of broken glass and an excerpt from the short story, MODERN RUINS: "He hasn't shared his memories. He hasn't mourned."


I’ve been on an urbex binge. I mean, I have been since summer but it’s made a comeback, specifically in the form of dead malls. The topic of changing retail has a real cult following online and I will admit that I’ve definitely found a home. I get this weird kind of delight when the latest franchise decides to close all its locations. It’s witnessing a part of history.

But, of course, when an abandoned mall gets torn down, an Amazon fulfillment centre pretty much takes its place, and there’s a sad reality in that, specifically with Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio:

I did mention this mall in a previous (Patron only) post. My city doesn’t have a mall nearly this large, but as a 90’s kid I do have fond memories growing up in those “last hurrah” days before the economy slowed and online shopping saw its rise.

I did mention this video in my recent Patron-exclusive post, but I’ll share it here for the rest of you. This is another video fo Rolling Acres Mall in its abandoned state, shortly before Amazon purchased and demolished the site to build a fulfillment centre. I find this video very unsettling to watch, as most “urbex” videoscan be. The idea of a space modern made for being sitting derelict is an odd one, and it’s that feeling that inspired “Modern Ruins”.

Personal Stuff

I mentioned in my CANDID UPDATE post a few of the things I’ve been dealing with. Those issues found their way into my writing this month and I have found it cathartic.

Modern parenting and life in general proved tough more often than not. Between endless work and preparing dinner and taking care of the kids there’s little time for breaks. Essentially that is what Modern Ruins is about, is thinking back nostalgically to when life was easier. Simpler. When the romance of life actually felt like a thing instead of a bullshit Instagram photo laden with hardcore presets.

Image of a broken EXIT sign on a dirty floor with a caption from the short story, MODERN RUINS: "Don't tell your mom, okay? It was stupid. I know that. I just wanted you to see."

I did, however, frame this story form a man’s perspective, which I do enjoy doing from time to time. Sure, it’s very feminist of me but I do think it’s important to recognize some of the issue that the opposite sex deals with. “Modern Ruins” is quite similar to another male-driven story in Vile Men, “Slippery Slopes”, only this one’s less criminal and features some subtle gothic horror touches.

Local Flair

So, obviously a good part of “Modern Ruins” centers around a dead mall. In my case I took a local mall in my city, Sahali Mall. It’s a small mall with only two anchor stores. Back in 2014 when target made an attempt to invade the Canadian market, we had a Target in one of the mall’s two main anchor stores. The inside of the mall has a few local-based businesses and a pub, but that’s about it.

The mall struggled when Target left, but managed subdivided the massive Target location, which now houses a Planet Fitness, Value Village, and a trampoline park. The Safeway grocery chain occupying the second anchor was recently bought out by FreshCo.

I remember working Christmas gift wrap tables there back in the mid to late 90’s when the mall was relatively busy. It was never my favourite local mall, though it was the only one in town with a fountain. The fountain was removed sometime in the aughts, which always made me really sad for some reason. “Modern Ruins” features the mall, renamed “Sahali Summit Mall” in an abandoned state with the two anchor stores intact.

Image of a fountain with a caption from the short story, MODERN RUINS: "You cant hide. I will find you. I will hurt you. I will kill you."

It was a lot of fun playing with reality. Most of my stories take place in Kamloops and I do make an attempt to keep things accurate. With “Modern Ruins”, however, I had to set the story before Target closed its Canadian stores. The story mentions the Rolling Acres Mall (demolished in 2017) and its rebirth via Amazon (in 2019), so I confess that I played with the timelines a little.

Why? Because I set the damn story during Valentine’s Day, and without Target the protagonist wouldn’t have anywhere else to get his wife a card.

Image of an empty mall parking lot with an excerpt from the short story, MODERN RUINS: "Ink to card, he writes what feels like a last testament."

You wanna Read?

I wrote this story in just over a week and I’m really excited about it. Of course I had to make it Valentine’s Day-themed but there’s no real romance or cheese. This year I’m really trying to integrate more touches of horror to my work and “Modern Ruins” definitely caters to a includes a bit of horror within a literary bent.

You can access “Modern Ruins” on February 1st via my Patreon at the $5 short story tier. (My first exclusive story, “Hostages” is already available!) I’ll be writing a story a month for the entirety of 2020. I’m thankful for those who’ve supported me already and I hope you’ll consider joining if you haven’t already.

Many writers have successfully managed to earn a a side or full income through Patreon and I hope to do the same. My goal at this point is to earn enough money to cut my full-time job down to part time. By doing so, it’ll be easier for me to juggle raising my kid with my writing.

“Making it” as a writer is a lofty goal. It warms my heart when people tell me that my work has moved them. I love getting comments and emails. If you love my work and want to read what I’m putting my heart into this year, please consider joining. At $5 bucks a month, it’d be like you treating me to a Starbucks Americano and also getting my daughter a cake pop.

A little bit goes a long way.

Lastly, I want to thank Emily and Jeff for being my first two Patrons who joined immediately after my Patreon launched. Your support is immensely appreciated and means the world to me. I really hope you enjoyed “Hostages” because I’ve got a lot more where that story came from.