New Story Adaptation + Awards Eligibility 2020

First, the new: I’m pleased to share that my story “The Drognar” has been adapted into a lovely audio version narrated and performed by Mick Dark of Chilling Tales for Dark Nights. Listen at YouTube.

The Drognar originally appeared in The Yellow Booke, Vol. 3 and is still available.

2020 Awards Eligibility

If you’re nominating for awards, the main published credit I have this year is “Many Lives Theory” (short story, horror/dark SF) in Dim Shores Presents, Vol. 1 (anthology). More details and available for purchase here. Any consideration for such is much appreciated.

I’ve got a work in progress that looks to be a novella if I ever finish it, working title “Hope Lake.” That’s the main thing I’ve got in the works for the new year, stay tuned and thanks for reading.

Dim Shores Presents – Limited ed. sold out

A quick note to announce that the first, limited run of Dim Shores Presents, Vol 1, containing my story “Many Lives Theory,” sold out in its first week of publication.

The second edition is now available directly through Dim Shores and will soon be on Amazon and other usual websites.

A few other quick thoughts…

I’ve recently gotten a bit of reading done and can heartily recommend Scanlines by Todd Keisling (also from Dim Shores) and”Rogomelec” by Leonor Fini.

I’ve been chipping away slowly at Shadows & Tall Trees, Vol. 8, and want to highlight a couple favorites so far from that: “The Somnambulists” by Simon Strantzas is a stand-out, and this is the second time in a row I have a new favorite story by Strantzas that I first encountered in Shadows & Tall Trees.  Though I haven’t read all of Simon’s work, over the years I definitely feel I’ve been able to observe some significant changes in terms of its complexity and resonance with me as a reader.  So far I’ve also particularly enjoyed “The Sound of the Sea, So Close” by James Everington, “The Quiet Forms of Belonging” by Kristi DeMeester, and “Sleepwalking with Angels” by Steve Rasnic Tem. I like how well the volume ties together themes relating to climate change and ephemeral dream-architectures.  There is a flow back and forth between numerous stories that turn on such premises and I think such editorial choices have made the stories work better by appearing in such close conversation with one another.  This tendency feels stronger in this volume than in previous ones.

I have recently been reminded of the fact that my first non-academic writing was for a music review site.  It’s been so long that I often forget this, but lately I’ve been listening to something that has had me writing out notes for a piece just like that. Maybe I’ll post it here or something.

New Fiction Forthcoming: Dim Shores Presents, Vol. 1

I’m delighted to share that my story “Many Lives Theory” has found a home at a publisher I’ve been following as a reader since almost as far back as their first publication in 2015.  Dim Shores has begun a new anthology series, and my story serves as the opening track for Volume 1.  I can’t think of a better home for it to have found.

“Many Lives Theory” began in response to a prompt for a doppelganger tale, and along the way it wandered through various parts of my own grieving process, constant real-life background horrors related to illness/healthcare and climate change, and meditations on the many ways in which socioeconomic structures are deliberately engineered to alienate people from their own society for reasons that are simultaneously rendered crystal clear and infuriatingly opaque depending on which desk one is sitting at.

Many thanks to all who have read it in various incarnations prior to publication; it wouldn’t have quite the same shape without your thoughtful comments.

Additional details below:

Order from Dim Shores

Goodreads Page

Publisher Copy:

Dim Shores Presents is a new bi-annual anthology series spotlighting some of the best new writing in speculative fiction. Weird horror, strange science fiction, and dark fantasy rub shoulders with each other here, weaving a tapestry of uncanny beauty and fearful wonder.

Pre-order for Volume 1 is open now, and books are scheduled to ship in June.

This is the table of contents for Volume 1:

Christopher Burke – “Many Lives Theory”
Jane Sand – “Vacui”
Chiara Nova – “Walls of White”
Richard Staving – “Silver Bells and Cockle Shells”
Paul L. Bates – “Used Clothes”
Jonathan Raab – “Observer/Experiencer”
Anna Tambour – “The Divorce of Death and Pestilence”
Samuel Moss – “Gallaher Calls”
Victoria Dalpe – “The Rider”
Eric Schaller – “A Study in Abnormal Physiology”
Jen Downes – “Root and Branch”
Jake Marley – “Anemone”
Jess Landry – “I Will Find You, Even in the Dark”

The first 150 copies will be sold through the Dim Shores web store. These copies will be printed on nice creme paper stock, be hand-numbered, and will include an art print. When those copies sell out, I’ll make it available through The Book Depository, Powells,, Amazon, etc. without these extras. There will eventually be an e-book release as well.

+ 6” x 9” trade paperback
+ Printed on 60# natural paper
+ High-quality print of front cover art
+ New Dim Shores vinyl sticker
+ This edition limited to 150 hand-numbered copies

Two New Stories.

Have finished two new stories:

“Hope Lake” (flash) – 400 words. A reworking of an old piece about the making of local legend, haunted lakes, and death as a process.

“Dream Home” (short story) – 1350 words.  A short piece about climate disaster, rebirth, trauma, occult ritual, uncanny environments, and trauma again.  This one was partly inspired by the image and tweet here from @NightlightPod, and they seem like a good place to follow so go give them a look.

Now for the fun part: selling them!

Thinking Horror

A quick note that Thinking Horror, Vol 2 has been published. It has an essay from me exploring the use of the uncanny video as a plot device in several recent(ish) works of fiction.  I’m excited for this to be out there and to share a table of contents with so many people I’ve admired or looked forward to reading in recent years.

As a general purpose update on fiction, I’ve got two stories making the rounds in search of their proper home that I’m quite excited about.  Have updated the bibliography accordingly.


Cover Art by Stephen Wilson

Buy it: Powell’sAmazon

  • “An Endless Laceration: The Limit Experience in Horror” by Daniel Pietersen,
  • “The Impossible Literature of Thomas Ligotti, Puppeteer and Eschatologist” by D. P. Watt
  • THNKHRRR Interview: Steve Rasnic Tem,
  • “Blood-borne: Viral Culture and the Ambiguous Corporeality in Splatter-punk Literature” by Onni Mustonen
  • THNKHRRR Interview: Nick Mamatas
  • “His Knife, Her Shadow” by John Glover
  • “The Grotesque in Flannery O’Connor’s ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find’ and ‘Good Country People’” by Kristi DeMeester,
  • THNKHRRR Interview: Lisa Tuttle
  • “Nothing Will Have Happened: Speculation and Horror in the Anthropocene” by David Peak,
  • “‘Your Worst Fear’: Monstrous Feminine(ism) and the Horror Boom of the 1970s” by Andrew P. Williams,
  • THNKHRRR Interview: John Skipp,
  • “Collective Abjection: Social Horror in Stephen King’s It” by Mike Thorn
  • “‘Hello from the Sewers of NYC’: T.E.D. Klein’s ‘Children of the Kingdom’” by Michael Cisco,
  • “A Faint Sense of Double Vision”: Cinematic Tensions and Transmedial Anxieties in the Fiction of Files/Barringer, Wehunt, Tremblay, Link, and Ballingrud” by Christopher Burke,
  • “Of Rats and Men: The Horror of the Pied Piper” by Kristin Peterson
  • “Mi Him en Tow: Stephen King and the Challenge of Faith” by Gemma Files





2017 Wrap-up

Well, 2017 has been…a year.  Not a good one, to be honest, on pretty much any level.  That’s all the intro I think I can muster.  Here’s some things about some things.


All that said, I did manage to do a few things, and I’m grateful to have been able to work on them and have access to outlets that are interested.  Here’s a round-up of interviews and articles I worked on at

Gateways to the Weird: An Interview with Matthew Bartlett

Psychic Rituals and Political Machinations: An Interview with Nadia Bulkin

Review: “Spells” by Michel de Ghelderode

Interview: Tartarus and Singing Stones with R.B. Russell

Interview: Weird Fiction and More at Valancourt Books

I finished my first work of fiction in 3 years since moving to Rhode Island, called “The Crickets Will Sing.”  I’m pretty happy with it and feel it’s significantly more complex than any short horror I’ve written before.  More on that when it has found the right home.

I’ve recently seen an update that Thinking Horror, Vol. 2, which has an essay from me but was delayed due to circumstances beyond the publisher’s control, is progressing along to the design phase.  Final ToC is here, and I’m honored to be included next to so many people I admire or who have been on my radar to read.  I’ve updated the ole bibliography page with some of this updated info and have also added a couple things that had been omitted.  For 2018, I’m toying with the idea of self-publishing a few older works that I don’t really have a better home for but that I’m pleased with enough to put them into the world.


NecronomiCon 2017 came and went in the blink of an eye,  I was delighted to participate in a number of ways.  I spent some time volunteering, which is a wonderful way to be involved.  I was also a panelist on a discussion called The Dreaded Surreal: Landscapes in Weird Fiction, with Craig Gidney, Mike Griffin, Eric Schaller, and Jeffrey Thomas.  It was my first time doing such a thing and I hope it went well.  I know I got a lot out of participating.  For a list of some of the works that were discussed, have a Twitter thread.


Pictured also: Jeffrey Thomas & Michael Griffin.  Photo credit: Todd Chicoine

I was also fortunate to have the opportunity to conduct the Guest of Honor interview with Stephen Graham Jones, a writer whom I greatly respect.  The interview was published in edited form in the convention memento book, which is available at the Lovecraft Arts & Sciences store in Providence and features lots of worthwhile reading.  The full version, which ended up at around 5k words in total, should also be available through other means in the future.

I met many wonderful people for the first time and caught up with some others I’ve become more and more acquainted with over the last few years.  Too many to list here, but if I talked to you for any length of time at NecronomiCon, I enjoyed it.  The drama stirred by and focused around certain (relatively) high-profile people is absurd and not representative of the experience of the convention if you’re there in good faith to learn, socialize, and have fun.


I feel like I’ve had hardly any time to read this year (thanks, miserable excuse for a healthcare and disability system in the U.S.).  Some highlights:

I spent the early part of the year in Stephen Graham Jones-land, getting refreshed on some things I’d read and exploring some others that were new to me in preparation for our NecronomiConversation (I will not apologize for this neologism).  Those few months significantly deepened my appreciation of his work, and I can heartily recommend digging in with a collection like “After the People Lights Have Gone Off” or the experimental novel “Demon Theory.”  “Mapping the Interior”, released over the summer, is also stellar.  I read some other work of his this year, but those are my three picks if you want a place to dive in.

There are also a couple of favorites available for free on the onlines: Xebico and The Night Cyclist

Some other noteworthy things I read this year that you should seek out: Palladium at Night by Christopher Slatsky, The Weird and the Eerie by Mark Fisher, Shadows and Tall Trees Vol 7 edited by Michael Kelly, and She Said Destroy by Nadia Bulkin.

There’s a lot more that came out recently that I wish I’d gotten to read by now, like Nightscript Vol 3 edited by C.M. Muller, Borne by Jeff VanderMeer, Looming Low edited by Justin Steele and Sam Cowan, The Wardrobe Mistress by Patrick McGrath, and Never Now Always by Desirina Boskovich to name just a few.

Most of 2017 has felt like all crisis, all the time.  To cap it off, our beloved feline companion was recently diagnosed with terminal kidney disease, which has been an ongoing heartbreaking experience these last few weeks.  Most of what I’ve mentioned here has provided a needed and fulfilling respite from some of the onslaught.  Maybe something you’ve read about here will help you find a bit of respite as well.

I’ve also finally added a damn contact page if you have need of such for some reason.

Mid-2017 Roundup

I’ve been slow in updating due to life stuff, but here’s what’s new since the last one.

NecronomiCon 2017: I’ll be volunteering at the convention and I’m also honored to have been included as a panelist on a discussion called “THE DREADED SURREAL: Landscapes in Weird Fiction”.  I’ll be joining Craig Gidney, Mike Griffin, Eric Schaller, Farah R. Smith, Jeffrey Thomas for this panel.  More info on this and the convention’s core programming can be found here.

I’m also delighted to have been invited to conduct an interview with Stephen Graham Jones, one of the guests of honor at the convention, which will be included in the souvenir book.  This is easily the lengthiest and most in-depth interview I’ve worked on, and I think it’ll make for a great read.  Stephen had some fascinating things to discuss and really challenged me to develop my own skills as an interviewer.  The program book will be sold at the convention, but there may be copies available afterward through Lovecraft Arts & Sciences.

Thinking Horror, Vol. 2: Release date is estimated as late summer or early fall 2017.  It will contain an essay from me alongside many other pieces that look like they’ll be well worth a read.  Can’t wait to see it!

Weird Fiction Review: I’ve got a recent review up of the collection Spells by Michel de Ghelderode.  In addition, one of my favorite stories from it is available for free on WFR: “A Twilight”

Also slated for July, I’ll have another interview up that I enjoyed quite a lot with an author I’ve become a fan of in the past couple of years.  More on that later, want to keep it a secret for now.  I think one of the best things about doing so many interviews in the last couple years is that it forces me to think about writing in a different way by trying to focus my attention on how others work, and that always prompts me to think more critically about my own creative processes.  I’ve learned things from every single person I’ve had the privilege of putting questions to, so if that’s you: thanks!

I realized recently that almost all of my reading for the past year has been for projects I was working on, so I decided I need a bit of a break for a couple of months until after the convention to see if I can do some reading strictly for pleasure and maybe feel like I have bandwidth to work on some fiction.  I expect I’ll resume nonfiction endeavors after NecronomiCon.   That said, the first thing I picked up was Shadows and Tall Trees Volume 7, which has been excellent.  WFR has reprinted one of my favorite pieces from the anthology, “The Voice of the People” by Alison Moore, which I found to be elegantly simple in a good way, well executed, and quite relevant to our present moment.  I was also really floored by the Conrad Williams story, ‘The Closure,” and can’t wait to read his upcoming collection from Undertow.

Alongside that I’m reading “Palladium at Night” by Christopher Slatsky, which I have no doubt I’ll enjoy as much as his collection, Alectryomancer and Other Weird Tales.  In the world of nonfiction, I’ll soon be reading Mark Fisher’s The Weird and the Eerie, which looks right up my alley.  I don’t always get around to reviews, but if you want to follow what I’m reading you can hit me up on GoodReads. I also saw a recent review of Nightscript Volume 1 that I was flattered to see call out my story as a favorite.

2016 Wrap-up

It seems the thing to do around now is a summation of reading and writing matters.  This is all the introduction I’m going to do, so let’s begin:


My story, “The Drognar”, which was my first actual horror short story submission and subsequent rejection, has found a home this year in The Yellow Booke, Vol. 3

I placed an essay exploring the use of “supernatural” video as a plot device in horror fiction with the mighty fine Thinking Horror, Vol. 2, forthcoming in January 2017.  I’m delighted to join many other folks whose work I esteem, including a second time sharing a ToC with Kristi Demeester.  I read her chapbook, Split Tongues, early in the year and it was quite good.  It’s sold out now, but you should give her other fiction a gander or ten.  Thinking Horror, Vol. 1 was also a highlight from earlier in my year of reading, which makes the essay acceptance all the more pleasing.

I also got a little more official-like (I think) with a page on Amazon

I’ve been stalled at about the halfway point on another work of fiction that I’d hoped to have completed long before now, but life happens and this has been a shitty, stressful year for personal reasons as well as political ones.

Weird Fiction Review – Below are the reviews and interviews I worked on for WFR this year:

Pleasure Reading

My favorite 2016 release was Greener Pastures by Michael Wehunt.  One of the stories in this collection is also discussed in my forthcoming essay for Thinking Horror, Vol. 2, and not a single story in his collection was disappointing.  For more, please see my brief review on GoodReads.

My favorite book read but not released in 2016 was Alectryomancer and Other Weird Tales by Christopher Slatsky, which was similarly consistent in quality throughout.  Since I haven’t gotten a review up yet, I’ll mention that the two I most enjoyed were “This Fragmented Body,” which takes some plot devices often seen in horror literature and makes them new in a way that really connected with me, and “No One Is Sleeping in This World”, which is a really interesting work of what I’d call architectural folk horror.  Though it’s admittedly a stretch, I found myself thinking of it at certain points as a kind of urban answer to Clive Barker’s “In the Hills, the Cities.”

There are a ton of books that arrived this year that I unfortunately have not gotten to, but if I told you I got your book and it doesn’t appear below, that’s the more likely reason than that I  read it and didn’t like it.  Unfortunately life has slowed my reading quite a bit the last couple of years.  In any case, the other works I read this year that ranked highly in my estimation and deserve your time and money are (in no particular order):

The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson

A Natural History of Hell by Jeffrey Ford (favorite stories: “Word Doll” and “Mount Charry Galore”)

Brightfellow by Rikki Ducornet

Gateways to Abomination by Matthew Bartlett

The Account of David Stonehouse, Exile by Daniel Mills

Fume by Richard Gavin

Some great stories I read this year outside the context of a single-author collection:

each thing i show you is a piece of my death” by Gemma Files and Stephen J. Barringer (also discussed in my Thinking Horror essay)

The Screwfly Solution” by James Tiptree Jr./Alice Sheldon Bradley

Nemesis”by Laird Barron

“The Spindly Man” by Stephen Graham Jones

“The Wombly” by K.L. Morris

“The Singing Soldier” by Natalia Theodoridou

“An Atlas in Sgraffito Style” by A.J. Fitzwater (winner of best opening sentence of the year)

“Flowers of the Sea” by Reggie Oliver

“Logues” by Eric Basso (this is sort of a collection of sketches that are unified by setting, theme, and mood, rather than plot)


Thinking Horror and misc. other items

To start, I’m pleased as punch to announce that I have an essay that will be appearing in the next volume of Thinking Horror, a journal of horror and philosophy with criticism and interviews in the field.  I was a fan of the first volume and am honored to be in the ToC among many writers whom I admire.  The essay explores the use of “haunted” video and their consumption in a number of recent works of horror fiction that I’ve enjoyed.  Estimated release of October 2016.  This will be my first printed work of nonfiction

Next, I’ve finally gotten my lazy ass to professional it up another notch by creating an Amazon page, with Goodreads to follow shortly.

I will possibly be dropping in on this year’s Merrimack Valley Halloween Book Festival, which is free and open to the public.  It’s a bit farther away than last year and who knows what my real-life schedule will look like in October, but last year’s was quite nice and I’d like to make it again.

I’ve updated ye olde bibliographye pagey to reflect most recent placements and online articles, including this here review I did of Jeffrey Ford’s newest collection, “A Natural History of Hell.”  I’m also in the midst of a longer piece for WFR on one of my favorite authors, which I would imagine will appear by year’s end.

As I battle this bastard of a case of writer’s block (regarding fiction, strangely, but not nonfiction), it occurs to me that I need to accumulate more rejections if I’m to keep improving.  Whenever my self-confidence dips into the Marianas Trench (which is weird, because I simultaneously think I’m probably okay and know at least somewhat what I’m doing), I stop and note that I’ve only got a few rejections and everything I’ve had rejected has been accepted on a second submission elsewhere with the sole exception of ye olde novel from 2010.  The stats so far:  3 rejections, 3 acceptances of submitted material, 2 solicitations of already-written work for audio production (1 compensated and 1 gratis).  Apart from the fact that I already knew that self-promotion and vigorous attention to the business side of writing are not my strong suits, I recognize that if one’s acceptance/rejection rate looks like those numbers, it means I need to start aiming at some more competitive markets on occasion, and thankfully I already know some great places that are a logical next step (not that this is at all a dig on any of the outlets I’ve managed to sneak my way into–I’ve shared ToCs with award-winners and authors that I hugely respect, and they’re releases that I’d gladly buy as a reader).  And I realize just now that a portion of my creativity block on the fiction side of things might be, in part, a product of that realization because I’m trying to impose gradually higher standards on myself, as one should.

In terms of reading, I’m currently working on “The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe” by Kij Johnson and Michael Wehunt’s Greener Pastures.  One of the stories in Michael’s collection, “October Film Haunt: Under the House,” forms a component of the essay that will appear in Thinking Horror Vol. 2.  I’ve greatly enjoyed everything I’ve read in Greener Pastures, though, even if I have been slow in completing it.  While seeking to properly contextualize the Kij Johnson novella, I dove into the Lovecraft original, “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.”  My thoughts on that, as pasted from elsewhere: “I’ve liked some Lovecraft I’ve read quite a bit, but I find At the Mountains of Madness and, at present, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, to be insufferably tedious exercises in cataloging-as-worldbuilding.”  As a person who has been aware of Lovecraft from a young age but never got around to reading him until encountering “The Dunwich Horror” in the VanderMeer Weird anthology, it strikes me that I’d probably have liked the aforementioned works a lot more when I was younger and had a greater interest in world-building and immersion in elaborate settings.  More on the Johnson novella forthcoming.


Q2, 2016 Recap

On the nonfiction front, I’ve recently wrapped a review for WFR of a soon-to-be-released collection by an author with whom I was not very familiar at the time.  Will include here when it goes live.

Events-wise, I’m looking forward to attending ReaderCon on the Saturday and Sunday of the convention, particularly the Shirley Jackson Awards.  At the last convention I went to (NecronomiCon), I met lots of fantastic people whose names I’d only seen and respected through their work, and I also met plenty of people whose work I had not encountered prior and I’ve now come to appreciate.

Reading-wise, I’m working on Greener Pastures by Michael Wehunt, and it’s an excellent collection so far.  I first encountered his fiction through Shadows and Tall Trees, which contained his story “Onanon.”  That piece is included in Greener Pastures, and I’m glad to see he’s released such a strong debut collection.  Alongside that, I’ll be starting S.P. Miskowski’s Stag in Flight shortly.  She has been on my radar since first hearing about the Skillute cycle a year or two ago, but I haven’t been able to conjure the time to fit the longer pieces into the reading schedule yet unfortunately.

Turning now to the weather fiction, my story “The Drognar” was recently released through the annual (possibly now semi-annual) journal of weird fiction The Yellow Booke, published by Oldstyle Tales.  Oldstyle Tales is a nonprofit publisher seeking to spread a love of horror classics, and they publish affordable volumes of both well- and lesser-known authors.  Meanwhile, The Yellow Booke highlights current voices of similar persuasions.  The electronic version of the latest volume is available for free here, and if you’re like me in preferring a nice tangible artifact that will eventually add up and make you never want to change residences again, you can get it through Amazon at a low price that primarily covers costs.  I also want to take a second to thank Justin Steele and Scott Nicolay for a recent mention of The Yellow Booke, Vol. 3 on my favorite weird fiction podcast, The Outer Dark.  I’m glad the show found a new home with This Is Horror after being on hiatus for a time.  I’ve also been a fan of TiH’s own podcast, and I think they’ll work well together.

Some of those navel-gazey thoughts on writing process and that kind of thing, as relates to my most recent story to see daylight: I wrote “The Drognar” 2-3 years ago in a bit of a frenzy that rarely occurs for me.  I included a quote from a favorite Kelly Link story, “The Specialist’s Hat,” because it was a partial inspiration for the piece.  Though I lead with such a reference, I should state clearly that I’m in no way attempting to replicate the unique feats of which Mrs. Link is capable.  However, the concept of playing dead as it appears in her story struck a chord that called forth a topic that has long fascinated me: the strangeness (seemingly to adults, anyhow) with which young people make games and other diversions out of the most serious of life’s defining processes–death and sex–before ever really having a concept of what either really is or means (and of course, one could say no one can ever truly know all of the realities and meanings of those two milestones).  When I was very young, I used to hide under blankets and pretend that I had passed from this earth forever.  While this was simply escapism in a sense, the fact that I specifically thought of it in terms of “experiencing” what it was like to be dead is something that, growing older, always struck me as both thoroughly normal and thoroughly strange. The converging fact of reading Kelly’s story and musing on my own personal experiences led me to start the piece, and during the time of its writing I also wanted to explore the boundaries between “reality” in an “objective” sense (no time to dismantle those here, sorry to say) and “reality” in a narrative sense.  In other words, I was preoccupied with finding the points at which those two concepts overlap and/or collide to create tension, disarray, and psychological upheaval.  I can’t say with certainty who the victor ever is in either case, but I do know that the worst of these shocks can inflict lasting trauma, and even the most trivial of them naturally accumulate to a difficult world for any conscious creature.

It strikes me that so many of the worst shocks to our psyche that we can experience are a direct product of foundational narratives around which we develop our own identities colliding with cold, hard reality, and wrestling with whatever emerges in the wreckage. Sometimes the wreckage becomes life, sometimes the wreckage becomes something beautiful, and sometimes the wreckage remains an ugly blot forever in our personal histories. The easiest example to point to of the kind of consciousness-altering realization I’m trying to explore is the process of dismantling one’s religious upbringing in the face of proven falsehoods upon which such narratives depend, but I’m also fascinated by the smaller shocks we all experience: discovering that Santa is mom and/or dad, finding out that making the right choices doesn’t always produce the right results, arriving at an understanding that race and gender are not fixed and objective facts but rather nebulous constructs that only exist because enough people think they exist, and so forth. And sometimes reality doesn’t collide head-on with illusion, but instead one is sideswiped by the other and they each remain tainted with little chance of a return to the alleged reality.  I don’t know if I managed to call forth all of those things through the story, but some of these things were floating around in my mind in terms of the kind of horror I was seeking to evoke.  And some aspects of these English major-y themes I only became aware of well after finishing.  Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned in my few completed pieces of fiction is that it really isn’t that necessary to purposely set forth with a specific theme as a goal: if you concentrate on telling a decent story (and I’m not claiming to have accomplished that necessarily), resonant themes and coherent symbologies will emerge as a natural byproduct of the thought put into telling a good story.

To conclude on a different and shorter note, I hear tell that Ellen Datlow, one of the best editors out there, had the following to say about Nightscript in her must-have Best Horror of the Year series (no, seriously, I’ve read several “best-of” anthologies and hers are tops):

“Nightscript I: An Anthology of Strange and Darksome Tales edited by CM Muller (Chthonic Matter) is a very promising anthology debut of what’s intended to be an annual, with content along the lines of New Genre and Supernatural Tales magazines. The first volume has twenty stories. There are notable ones by Patricia Lillie, Daniel Mills, David Surface, Charles Wilkinson, Clint Smith, Damien Angelica Walters, Ralph Robert Moore, and John Claude Smith.”

While my piece was not deemed “notable” (which I wouldn’t really have expected anyhow), I’m honored simply to have been in the Table of Contents, and congratulations are due all around for C.M. and all the contributors for earning a mention in the book.  While I haven’t read all of them, a couple of my favorite discoveries I found in “Best Horror of the Year” are “The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine” by Peter Straub & “Omphalos” by Livia Llewellyn. I’ve read them both twice now, which is a rarity these days for me.