I was recently afforded the opportunity to appear on Scott Nicolay’s podcast, The Outer Dark (Project iRadio).
L’esprit de l’escalier has been particularly pronounced in the wake of the interview and subsequent social-media (ephemeral as it may be) conversations. Still, we managed to discuss the eerier writings of Henry James and Hawthorne, as well as the relationship with my writing and the structure (houses included) of societal rituals.
For over a decade, Thanksgiving Day (owning to the typical, day-off-work traditions) has been, for me, a day to absorb more of what I’m reading (sneak in an extra story or two), and reflect on the writing exercise I’ve accumulated during autumn. (Standing out in my mind with Kodachrome clarity is Thanksgiving, 2000, when I completed Dan Simmons’s Summer of Night. Ignorant of the craft (as I still, in great part, am), that novel was a revelation to me, and I had that quiet period during the holiday, and extended winter holiday, to wonder what it would be like to write something — anything.
Scott Nicolay has been enormously supportive of the Ghouljaw endeavor. So, on this Thanksgiving Day, 2015, I’d like to record my gratitude for his writerly camaraderie, and for his high-octane celebration of little-known scribblers dog-paddling in weird waters.
Corey Michael Dalton — the creative connoisseur behind the project — just dropped news, revealing the cover art for the soon-to-be released Mythic Indy anthology. (Hopes are high that this becomes an ongoing series, maybe even an annual publication.) Artwork credit goes to deft talents of Amy McAdams Gonzalez.
Here’s a repeat refresher about Mythic Indy from the Indiegogo campaign:
“Mythic Indy is an anthology of weird stories set in Indianapolis that will benefit the programs of Second Story to introduce Indianapolis-area kids to creative writing. We have the stories. We have the kids. Now we need your help.
The 33 Mythic Indy stories were originally compiled by former Saturday Evening Post associate editor Corey Michael Dalton and published at Punchnels.com. Some are hilarious. Some are frightening. Some are moving. Each is written by one of Indiana’s top contemporaries writers, including:
- Ben H. Winters, the author of several New York Times best-selling novels including Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and The Last Policeman trilogy.
- Maurice Broaddus, who wrote an original story set in the world of his Knights of Breton Court novels specifically for the anthology.
- Sarah Layden, whose debut novel Trip Through Your Wires is currently receiving rave reviews from outlets like The Chicago Tribune.
- Clint Smith, author of Ghouljaw and Other Stories, whose short story “Dirt on Vicky” is slated for inclusion in the Best New Horror No. 26 anthology.
- Eliza Tudor, whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in Hobart, PANK, Annalemma, specs, Weave, and Paper Darts.
- Laura VanArendonk Baugh, best-selling and award-winning author of numerous stories and books including Kitsune-Tsuki, Smoke and Fears, and So to Honor Him.
- Annie Sullivan, a graduate of Butler’s MFA program whose novel manuscript, Goldilocks, won the Luminis Books Award at the Midwest Writers Workshop.
- Alex Mattingly, whose work has been published in numerous journals including PANK, Annalemma, Midwestern Gothic, and Flywheel.
(Other distinguished contributors include Jay Lesandrini, Hugh Vandivier, R. Wolf Baldassaro, Jim Thompson, Maggie Wheeler, Maria Cook, Austin Wilson, Zach Roth, Ryan Everett Felton, Robin Lovelace, Robert Morse, Virginia M. Sanders, Caroline Divish, Jason Roscoe, Ken Honeywell, David S. Chang, Jason de Koff, Dawn Fable, Carrie Gaffney, Kevin McKelvey, Traci Cumbay, Matt Jager, John Beeler, and Robin Beery.)”
As Simon Strantzas recently acknowledged: with contracts signed and sailing off to the editor’s desk, I have the greenlight to make this announcement: Received a seismically significant communique from Stephen Jones-Editor announcing that my short story, “Dirt on Vicky,” is slated for inclusion in Best New Horror No. 26, the award-winning anthology which is set for an autumn, 2015 release through PS Publishing (http://www.pspublishing.co.uk/).
For those unfamiliar with the story, here’s a bit of Robert Butterfield’s review from Dead Reckonings No. 16 which appeared earlier this year: “‘Dirt on Vicky’ is another standout—a mix of psychological and supernatural horror…Set shortly before Halloween in a small Midwestern town, the story allows Smith to demonstrate that he can capture that particular seasonal feel as well as anyone. It centers on Bill Hughes, his son Casey, and the connection between what passes as the town’s haunted house and Bill’s deceased wife, Vicky.”
In his introduction to Daniel Mills’ haunting debut collection, The Lord Came at Twilight, Simon Stranzas noted, “In some way, the last great revolution in horror was its rediscovery of its past.”
Make no mistake, just because certain camps of weird- and horror-related writers keep those strange homefires burning doesn’t mean the medium grows stale. In fact, think of this past-present relationship as a Mobius strip, ribbons of prescient visions braided with thematic cords from our predecessors. Echoes, if harnessed properly, have the capability of providing new momentum—new dimension.
As the editorial helmer of the annually-planned Nightscript, C.M. Muller is guiding us into steady—though nightshaded—waters. And owing to his well-read awareness, we should accompany with confidence.
There are no tricks here, folks. Muller is a mensch who knows his stuff. If he hasn’t read it, he’s heard of it. If he doesn’t own an obscure copy of a critical text, it’s probably because he’s kindly sent it along (gratis) to an acquaintance with kindred tastes.
Sure, I’m beyond honored to hold court with my fellow Nightscripters; but I’m also eager to see where—over the next few burnt-orange, smoke-scented Octobers—Muller has in mind to take us. You’d do well to follow…
Nightscript, Vol. I—TOC:
“Everything That’s Underneath” — Kristi DeMeester
“Strays” — Gregory L. Norris
“In His Grandmother’s Coat” — Charles Wilkinson
“The Cuckoo Girls” — Patricia Lillie
“The Sound That the World Makes” — David Surface
“Below the Falls” — Daniel Mills
“The Keep” — Kirsty Logan
“She Rose From the Water” — Kyle Yadlosky
“Animalhouse” — Clint Smith
“Tooth, Tongue, and Claw” — Damien Angelica Walters
“Momma” — Eric J. Guignard
“The Trees Are Tall Here” — Marc E. Fitch
“A Quiet Axe” — Michael Kelly
“The Death of Yatagarasu” — Bethany W. Pope
“The Cooing” — John Claude Smith
“A Knife in My Drawer” — Zdravka Evtimova
“On Balance” — Jason A. Wyckoff
“Learning Not to Smile” — Ralph Robert Moore
“Fisher and Lure” — Christopher Burke
“The Death of Socrates” — Michael Wehunt
These first few months of 2015 are marked by several pieces of writerly news — notably, the acceptance of a pair of stories in two, inceptive publications, each helmed by estimable editors possessing inventive visions.
My story “Animalhouse” found placement in CM Muller’s inaugural Nightscript, “N. is a venue for ‘strange tales’,” writes Muller, “fictions supernatural, uncanny, [and] weird.” The content will no doubt possess “subtle and darksome literary horror.” Look for fictions in the vein of Robert Aickman, Shirley Jackson, Dennis Etchison, Flannery O’Connor, Terry Lamsley, Lisa Tuttle, Thomas Owen, Mary Shelley, and Arthur Machen,
The second odd abode in which my tale “The Rive” has found a “home” is in Jordan Krall’s venture, Xnoybis, a journal of weird fiction, the first issue of which will feature a “never-before-published interview with Thomas Ligotti from 1999 which has been approved by Tom himself,” according to Krall. (The interview was conducted by David Edwards.)
And when we say limited we mean limited. My novella, When It’s Time For Dead Things To Die, is slated for release through Dunham’s Manor Press, an imprint of Dynatox Ministries.
From the publisher: This chapbook novella is limited to 50 copies, half of which will be available here on the store, and half in the Indiegogo campaign.
Things are in decline…for Joseph Lowe, a rootless young man who falls for the wrong girl; for Gregory Bath, an aristocratic magnate who spares Lowe an almost certain death for his “transgression,” imposing upon him a kind of parasitic servitude. Now working as a line cook at Bath’s legendary Tudor Quoin, as well as catering to the growing needs of a man far older than he seems, Lowe desperately seeks release from a trap which has ensnared him for the past nine months. But who could possibly escape a family as powerful, as influential, or as far-reaching as the Baths? In the end, choices must be made, sides must be drawn, and for Lowe this means discovering an unlikely salvation between himself and his captor, as well as learning the true meaning of “family.”
Special thanks to Jordan Krall.
Latest installment of Dead Reckonings now available via Hippocampus Press. Review of Ghouljaw and Other Stories by Robert Butterfield: “A Tale of Two (Word)Smiths.” From the review:
“‘Dirt on Vicky’ is another standout — a mix of psychological and supernatural horror that further showcases Smith’s fine writing. Set shortly before Halloween in a small Midwestern town, the story allows Smith to demonstrate that he can capture that particular seasonal feel as well as anyone.”