I am a short story writer. And while I have ideas for novels, and will most likely begin work on them soon, I see myself at this stage in my writing life primarily as one who most enjoys scribbling things out in the short form. Novellas, novelettes, short long fiction, long short fiction, flash fiction and micro fiction - I like it all. There is a certain compressed power to a complete tale told in a small, confined space. Like a focused punch delivered by a master martial artist, or gunpowder dumped into a metal casing, turning sparkling fire into a deadly concussive force.
All that stated, I realize that to most of the reading and publishing public, the novel is king/queen, and this prevailing fact is no different in the realm of horror fiction. But, for my money, shorter works are and have been the lifeblood of the dark, the supernatural, and the weird, from the very beginning. Think of your favorite works of speculative fiction, and I would hazard that many (most?) of them would be classified as something less than a novel, in terms of word count. I know it is that way with me, as the individual that I consider to be the most talented English language writer of all time (Flannery O'Connor) wrote in the short form. My favorite story of all time is "The Lottery," which is a short story. My favorite weird fiction writers - Ligotti, T.E.D. Klein, Machen, Bradbury, Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, Poe, Blackwood, Bierce, Bloch, William Hope Hodgson, Fritz Leiber, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Karl Edward Wagner, Michael Shea, Joe Lansdale, Ramsey Campbell and a host of newer writers currently working in the field - all write either primarily in the short form, or have devoted a large portion of their output to the same. The premiere dark fiction novelists, including King, Barker, Gaiman, Lawrence Block, and George R.R. Martin, wrote hundreds and hundreds of short stories between them.
In short (my apologies), I am a short story writer, and a short story fan. It just works for me.
Over the past several years, I've been fortunate enough to have my short fiction appear in numerous anthologies, and while all of them have been wonderful opportunities for which I am extremely grateful, several of them have come with a little added zing, based on publisher, editor, theme, or ToC. A project that combines all of the above is The Children of Old Leech - edited by Ross E. Lockhart and Justin Steele for Lockhart's Word Horde press - which is a "tribute to the carnivorous cosmos of Laird Barron."
Barron's work was some of the first horror fiction I read that wasn't penned in 1930's during my deep immersion into the genre, and has always remained some of my favorite, especially in terms of atmospherics and overall bleak-as-shit cosmic horror. As such, I was quite honored when Ross and Justin invited me to submit a story to a tribute anthology to Barron and his own unique mythos, which combined savage cosmicism with dark wilderness tales, occulted aristocracy, black magic, and bare knuckle Noir. It's a cosmology that has always resonated with me, and so I was thrilled to see what I could come up with that would fit into the Barronverse. What emerged was my story - a novelette, actually - "Love Songs from the Hydrogen Jukebox," which serves as an homage to my beloved Beats amid an homage to Laird Barron. Two birds with one tribute stone, and all of that.
The story has receive positive reviews, and - more importantly - the anthology itself has been met with critical accolades and impressive sales. As such, Word Horde is releasing The Children of Old Leech as a trade paperback in December, sporting a snazzy new cover featuring artwork by Dalton Rose (for a Slate article on Barron) and cover design by Scott R. Jones.
Even if you already have the original hardcover release, featuring that iconic cover by Matthew Revert, it would behoove (and behoof) you to pick up The Children of Old Leech in paperback, as I have a feeling that both will be considered bookends of each other in days to come, as Barron's dark star continues to ascend, and these unassuming works of indie fiction being created today become codified, carved into the damp cave stone of weird literature's canon eternal.
|Original artwork by Dalton Rose|