Reader Friday – 1001 Authorial Nights

King Solomon had 1000 wives and concubines. King Shahrayar had his 1001 Arabian nights. King Badassi the Barbarian is sparing 1001 authors.

Will you survive the cut?

Badassi the Barbarian

You stand outside the throne room, your best book clutched tightly in your sweaty hands, your mouth as dry as the desert, your heart pounding like a jackhammer.

Behind you lies a trail of destruction throughout the motherland, the mark of the New World Ruler, King Badassi. All of civilization has been leveled, the previous government incinerated, the thinkers and professors led to the chopping block, and the inventors herded like cattle to the Ruler’s pens where they will be put to his work.

Now, Badassi is starting on the writers. The nonfiction authors and journalists have disappeared. The writers of fiction are next. But…whispers have spread the rumor that 1001 writers will be spared…if they can hold the New World Ruler’s interest for one minute.

You are next to enter the throne room and face your judgement. You must entertain and captivate to avoid the thumbs-down and the escort to the door with the giant and his bloody executioner’s axe. You must muster the saliva and begin a tale so enticing it cannot be interrupted…for just one minute.

What will you say?

Use the first line or sentence or paragraph from one of your books, your favorite book, or create a new one.

 We’re rooting for you, holding our breath. We want to see you on the other side in the ranks of the 1001 authors – the 1001 Authorial Knights. You can do this!

This entry was posted in first lines, suspense, Writing by Steve Hooley. Bookmark the permalink.

About Steve Hooley

Steve Hooley is the author of seven short stories published in four anthologies, a Vella serial fiction, and is currently working on the Mad River Magic series – a fantasy adventure series for advanced middle-grade to adults. More details available at:

33 thoughts on “Reader Friday – 1001 Authorial Nights

  1. My Picaresque novel is episodic, in the manner of Scheherazade, and almost every episode ends on a hook. It begins thus:

    Tenirax, the Poet, staggering home from a taberna in the drunk of night, has slid a cleverly insulting poem beneath the Bishop’s door. Now, by order of the Bishop, Zaragoza’s official torturer, Bungorolo, is preparing to introduce the Poet to a very fine bit of furniture left behind by the Moors: a fully functional rack. Tenirax’s confession avails him nothing, confessions being, as Bungorolo points out, valued in dungeons at only one maravedi to the hundred. Appeals for mercy fail to move the torturer’s heart. And Tenirax’s clumsy offer to bribe him with 20 réalés elicits only laughter and the awful news that the torturer intends to parlay his guest into a much larger sum at his normal wage of 3 réalés per day! Tenirax begins to quiver. Offered the chance to say a prayer of his choice before the torture begins, the poet declares novenas his favorite. Such prayers require nine days, but Bungorolo tells him, “There is no rule against it. I will start in a minute, whether you are finished or not, but you go right on with your novena. Do not mind me, Señor.”

    • Good one, JG. I think King Badassi would continue to scratch his ear, as he is doing in the picture, check that your paragraph came in under the prescribed one minute, look confused, but then point to the door labeled “1001.”

      As you are walking to the door, breathing a big sigh of relief, the King is whispering to his advisor.

      Congrats JG, you made it!

  2. “It was Marcus who noticed the loser sitting on the bus stop bench with his left ass cheek drooping over the edge.”

    I hope I made the cut, Steve. Thanks for an interesting way to start the morning. Have a great weekend!

    • You made it, Joe.

      Badassi scooted to the front of the throne while you were delivering the line, making sure it was his right cheek that was hanging. When you finished, he looked disappointed, “Is there not more?”

      You smiled. “The next time, oh, King.”

      He pointed to the 1001 door. “I look forward to the rest of the story.”

  3. Hola King. Here’s my story.
    I was sitting at the bar in Trader Vic’s sipping a Pin˜ã Colada when the man sitting next to me fell off his stool dead. I noticed that he too had been drinking a Pin˜ã Colada.

    Thanks for the fun, Steve..

    • Wonderful, Brian.

      King Badassi shook his head as you delivered your line, pointed to the 1001 door with a worried look, then set down his Pina Colada and asked his cup bearer to bring him a different drink.

      Congrats, Brian. You’re one of the 1001 Authorial Knights!

    • Fantastic, Harvey!

      As you delivered the beginning of your story, Badassi sat straighter in his throne. He leaned over and looked at the construction of his seat, then began shaking his head, thinking.

      When you finished, he gave you a thumbs up and something approximating a smile creased his face. He pointed to the 1001 Room, then leaned to his servant and whispered in his ear. The servants eyes opened wide.

  4. Oh merciful King Badassi, take pity on this poor scribe. I don’t beg for much time–only spare me long enough to finish my new book, Deep Fake. B/c of your Highness, it will probably be my last…

    Monroe Breaktreaty had always wondered if his seventeen-year-old father had a premonition of his own death.
    Did he hear the car roaring behind him as he walked along the shoulder of the road on a moonless Montana night?
    Or was death silent, wearing moccasins like Monroe’s grandmother when she snuck from behind to smack Monroe’s head when he was little?
    Did his father know that seven months after his death he would have a son?
    Mostly Monroe wondered if his father had felt the same sharp edge of a feather that he now felt on his own neck?
    “Get a move on.” Corrections Officer Geblin’s voice spoke behind him, urging Monroe forward.

    • Wonderful, Debbie!

      King Badassi loved it. When he saw it was a female entering the throne room, he sat up straighter, tried to smile, and looked at his assistant with a nod.

      He wiped a tear from his eye as he drew a feather across his neck, tried to keep the moisture from his eyes by squinting repeatedly, and then held an outstretched arm with his thumb up that rolled over to point to Room 1001. He watched you walk away.

  5. Oh great king Badassi, I hope you like my modest submission because I want to spend time with my TKZ pals, and they’ve all made the cut so far. Here’s my entry from my novel Time After Tyme::

    “The branch made a creaky noise when I crawled out on it, and the ground looked really far away. I wasn’t worried, though. Oak tree limbs don’t break.”

    • Good one, Kay.

      King Badassi liked your opening. He actually smiled a real smile. When you finished, he turned and grabbed his club, pounding it on the floor in front of him. As you jumped back in fright, he grinned a missing-tooth grin, held his club aloft. “This is my oak.”

      He then pointed his club toward Room 1001. “Welcome to the club.”

  6. Good morning, Steve! Hopefully King Badassi will grant me the favor of continuing after hearing the opening to my novel, Empowered: Agent:

    “It was the three-month anniversary of my being paroled from Special Corrections. All I wanted was a job, to get out of this wet dress, and a break from the chorus of plant voices singing their happiness in my head now that it was finally raining again.”

    • Good one, Dale.

      I think the New World Ruler liked your opening. He seemed a little confused, scratching what was left of his left ear. When you finished, he tilted his head back and forth, then said, “You no wear dress?”

      When you reassured him that you didn’t, he lifted his head in uncertain understanding. “You are in. Just no wear dress.”

      Welcome to the 1001 Authorial Knights.

  7. Love this. Here’s my submission:

    Sunsets were supposed to be pretty, bu Sigyn only saw blood. Standing atop the wall that formed part of the border between Asgard and Midgard, she watched the bloody light run across blue hollows that looked like new bruises, chased by yellow light that resembled stinking puss that dripped from infection. How could anyone find this pretty?
    Sigyn let out a curse and glared at the stones beneath her feet.
    “You failed me today,” she informed them. “I’m going to pund you for it.”

    • Thanks, Azali. Good submission. And just what King Badassi can identify with.

      As you read your submission, the Barbarian leaned forward, hanging on every word, nodding in understanding. When you finished he said, “Yes!” and pounded his chest with his fist, then thrust his hand toward Room 1001.

      Welcome to the 1001 Authorial Knights.

  8. My current WIP –

    Dave scowled at the piercing blue strobes rolling with first responder red. He planted his feet but running was useless as the vehicle crested the ridge. The engine revved in the distance, prickling the back of his neck.

    “Damn cops.” He inhaled frigid air displacing the freezing night with steaming breath. “God damn dirty cops.”

    • Good one, Ben.

      King Badassi blinked repeatedly while you were reading your opening, looking a little uncertain. When you finished, he conferred with his assistant standing at his side, nodded in understanding, then pointed you to the 1001 Door. “Remember, young writer, those cops work for me now!” He grinned and raised his massive fist.

  9. I’ll go with John D. MacDonald, from Darker Than Amber.

    We were about to give up and call it a night when somebody dropped the girl off the bridge.

    • One of my favorite openings, Kris.

      Though, I think the King would have been equally impressed and hypnotized by, “The naked trees snaked upward, black capillaries against a bleached predawn sky…A cold December wind wafted through the trees, loosening raindrops from the needles of the tall pines.” (Dark of the Moon, by P.J. Parrish)

      Badassi the Barbarian would have stood and raised his fist, ready to lead the charge into the sleeping enemy’s camp.

      Either way, the King would bow and sweep his arm toward the door to Room 1001.

      Thanks for playing our silly game this morning!

  10. Still noodling with the next Mapleton.

    “Get a case of white wine from the fridge and bring it to the beverage table,” Angie said

    “Heavy lifting. I can do that.” Gordon tousled her short blonde hair, earning him a teasing slap.

    He made his way to the nearby alcove that housed the center’s walk-in refrigerator and freezer. After delivering the wine, he opted to take advantage of the restroom before he’d have to say his few words.

    He tugged the recalcitrant door open, immediately overcome by the engulfing stench. Either the plumbing had backed up—not for the first time—or someone had serious digestive issues.

    The blood spreading from under the stall door offered a third possibility.

    • Oh, yeah, Badassi would love the blood.

      He would have sat patiently as you built up to the blood under the stall door. When the blood showed up, he would have stood and raised his battle axe, then pointed you to Room 1001. You would have hustled down the hallway as he was looking for a target for his axe.

      Thanks, Terry. Sounds like a good opening for your next Mapleton.

  11. Fun, fun, fun, Steve! I hope His Majesty likes this opening to my current WIP…🥳

    “The woman in the mirror tormented her. She stepped back and turned off the light.

    Now the woman in the mirror was a frightening shadow, right index finger outstretched, pinning her to guilt.

    Of course. It’s Thursday.

    Annie turned the light back on.
    She gasped. The image was herself, but decades older. Face sagging, eyes unnaturally black but unlit, hair sparse and gray, wrinkled hands trembling at her waist.

    She needed to stop this madness now, before she became her reflection.

    She turned, throwing one last glance at the mirror, losing her breath because the woman in the mirror had not moved.

    She shut her eyes. Then opened them, leaving the room and heading toward the stairs and dinner with her husband and four children.”

    Loved all y’all’s!

    • Good one, Deb.

      I think you scared His Majesty. He listened intently, leaning forward so as not to miss a word. When you finished, the King remained silent, then yelled for a mirror. His servant handed him a looking glass. He took a quick glance, then hurled it to the stone floor, glass scattering everywhere.

      He looked at you and pointed to Room 1001. “Go!” he screamed. “And tomorrow bring me news that I shall live forever.”

  12. Too fun Steve! My finished WIP is getting seen by sixty plus agencies, so why not King Badassi as well.

    Mallory Flynn
    9 cycles old

    Mallory sniffed the open bottle of medicine and gagged. Her eyes watered as she looked out the window at the healer walking quickly away across the yard. As he walked, he brushed off his clean dark coat, as if sweeping the dust of his failure from his clothes. He climbed up on the waiting yellow dragon and buckled in behind its rider. Why were the best dressed healers with the fanciest bags the ones Mallory trusted least? All the healers had failed. All seven of them so far. Not one of them could cure her mum. Each one came and left, chiseling more hope from Mallory’s crumbling reserve. Rayna was getting sicker by the day and no one could stop it. The healers avoided her eyes, as if her existence somehow magnified their defeat. Some had pills, others had herbs or syrups or foul concoctions that did little at best, while some even made Mum worse. Mallory sniffed once more at the medicine in her hand, gagged again, and dumped it in the sink. Mum wouldn’t stomach that.

    • Great, John. I love your opening, and I like your genre.

      I think you made Badassi the Barbarian think twice about his medicine. He listened intently as you told the beginning of your story. He leaned over and whispered a quick message to his servant, who returned before you finished talking, handing the King a bottle.

      When you finished and waited, holding your breath to hear your fate, the King sat the bottle on the floor in front of him, scrunched his face into the most evil, ugly sneer, then pounded the bottle with his scepter until it was nothing but dust.

      He looked at you, smiled his ugly smile, and nodded once…then pointed for you to go join the rest of the 1001 Authorial Knights.

      Thanks for joining us, John.

  13. From my current WIP-
    A long black car rolled out of the Hi-Lo Club’s parking lot and stopped, facing the hotel , engine idling.The odor of its exhaust infiltrated the lobby. A hearse? My one-eyed vision cleared. A limo. A light flashed on inside it and there he was, Latham. He bared his teeth, and raised a finger as though it were a gun, pointing it at me, at the hotel.

    • Good one, Susan.

      King Badassi liked your opening. As it unfolded, he gradually smiled more and more, showing all his bad or missing teeth. When you finished, he pointed his finger at you like a gun. And before tears welled up in your eyes, he bent his finger toward Room 1001 and gave you a single nod. You raced down the hall.

      Welcome to the club. Welcome to the 1001 Authorial Knights.

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