This is the “Behind The Scenes” post for my latest short story, “Arcana”. Please read the original story first if you want to avoid spoilers, because this one is really very spoilery indeed. You’ve been warned…

This one came to me around Tuesday or Wednesday evening, and it made me smile – the idea that someone really didn’t believe in the tarot, and then they find that it predicts everything, just not anything actually important.

The very first Jones story that I wrote, way back when I was fourteen, is all told from Jones’s perspective, and there is a long part in the introduction where she explains that although she does palm reading, tarot and many other things that she considers to be nonsense, she does them because people will pay her to do. So she does them merely to pay the rent, without actually believing in them. Because this is told essentially from the point of view of Dave and Gwen (with the exception of the bit at the beginning), there wasn’t really space to include that here.

Arcana, incidentally, is the name for tarot cards when they’re used for fortune telling. The major arcana are numbered and include death, the hanged man, the sun and moon. There’s then the fifty-six minor arcana, which are basically the same as the more popular fifty-two cards that we know, plus a knight as well as the jack, queen and king.

I really enjoyed writing this one, although it wasn’t that easy – in order to ensure that I got the order of everything right, and that I had each card in order, I used two screens, both with Libre Office open, and switched between the two scenes as I added each card.

I did at one point think that the television would be switched on in the pub, showing “Wheel of Fortune” (which would be predicted by the “Wheel of Fortune” card), and then they would switch over to the movie “Doctor In The House” while Sir Lancelot Sprstt was speaking – played, of course, by the great James Robertson Justice (, and presaged by the Justice card. I eventually decided against both of these two as being too obvious (I already had the Sun, which was blatant enough) and the second too obscure.

Oh, and I distinctly remember Varese being composer of the week on BBC Radio 3 years ago. I taped “Ameriques” and “Arcana” from there. The announcer said something very similar to my quote – apologies if I got it wrong. I think I nearly wore that tape out. I loved that version of “Arcana”. I’ve got a recording on CD but whether it’s the same one I’m not sure.

In the end, I enjoyed writing it and I think it’s quite a fun little story. I hope you enjoyed it too.


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

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