This is the “Behind The Scenes” post for the short story “Xenon”. To avoid spoilers, please read the original story first.

Of course the name came first. I’ve been doing them in alphabetical order all year, so naturally the name came first.

Instead of the idea coming to me through inspiration, it came to me through ignorance. I’m not really that good at cubic metres compared to litres, although I should be – one of the earliest lessons I remember from school was to show how a litre fitted into a ten centimetre cube. Because that’s how arithmetic works, obviously. But when I looked at Alibaba to see how much xenon is worth (spoiler: not that much), I came up with the idea of a scam – one of the characters knowing about as much about xenon and how cubic metres worked as I’d done before I looked it up, getting duped, and then being made an unwitting stooge for counterfeit money.

I was careful not to call the money Euros, dollars or pounds, so as not to make it too centred in one particular location. I then spoilt it all by using “central bank” as a term, which of course narrows it down a bit.

This is possibly one of the last times I’ll write one like this – I’ve noticed that I’ve started writing more in a more minimalist fashion, so I challenged myself to do that a bit more deliberately this time, and I’m quite proud that this was done in one scene, albeit in two locations. That said, I’m not sure whether that makes it a more or less interesting read, so I think I’m going to try and expand out the scenes a bit more in future and see what happens.

The post “Behind The Scenes: Xenon” first appeared on and is Copyright © Simon Collis 2018. All rights reserved.

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