Stories aiming to primarily to unnerve and upset. Some might even take on a real-world setting, although without some excursion from reality it would be hard to tell between these stories and the nightly news.
The last of my solstice-adjacent-festival offerings probably should have swapped places with the last one, since it concerns the feast of St. Nicholas. However, since I’m living in North America and not a Christian, it pleases me best to put this most overtly Yuletidy of the three stories past their exclusivity period within sight of the big day itself.
So, gather close to the fire and read about the festive fun that is the dance of the Wilden Klausen.
I once again wonder if I’m wandering close to folk horror without actually entering it. Tricky business.
I will once again plug the story’s original home, Mistletoes and Mayhem, which is available here. Last year I mentioned that the cover was not entirely indicative of the nature of the contents (thus the old saying about judging books), and now I mention it again.
I find myself wondering if this story counts as folk horror– it has many of the elements (even police sergeants!) but I’m not sure if the setting and the lack of jolly small-town pagan ritual exclude it.
Entirely like “The Moon Forest”, the original home of this story, Creatures in Canada: A Darkling Around the World Anthology, is still available for purchase, although only as an e-book.
I came to a realization this week– I have some published stories which are out of their exclusivity period. And that means I should share them!
The first of these is from Monsters in Spaaaace, an anthology which I was very pleased to have been included in.
The actual book itself is still available here, as well as the all-data version, and while I’m happy to let you read my contribution to it here and for free, I encourage you to seriously think about buying a copy (or two! Christmas looms!). As I mentioned back when it first came out, I get no monetary benefit from any sales, no royalties what ever… except for the notional future opportunity of sending a story to a publisher who was encouraged to remain in business by persistant income.
I have been quiet, have I not? The dread scourge of writer’s block entered into alliance with depression (built in) and stress (external, mainly the pandemic) and rendered me somewhat unproductive.
Happily, the most magical time of the year has come to my rescue– it’s Hallowe’en! Spooky scary skeletons, unconcerned with current events! Unspeakable creatures that didn’t seek elected office! So much joy! It has struck (or at least loosened) the shackles from my creative organs, and the first thing I’m doing is giving back with a fresh free story.
I’m going to give some background on the genesis of “The Centennial Legacy” but there’s something of a spoiler involved. So, I’m going to post a large picture of a cat hanging out with some esoteric stuff to act as a spacer. Don’t want the spoiler? Just click that title and get reading.
…although it occurs to me that I should mention that this is something of a fan fiction, taking inspiration and setting from a story by the guy that keeps the fire on under the “Artist is not the Art” pot, H. P. Lovecraft. After the idea came up, I found that the events in his story were set one hundred years ago almost to the week, so it had to be written.
All right. Here we go. CAT!
If you’re still with me, I will now reveal that the inspiring story is “The Lurking Fear” and yes, it sort of leans on eugenics for its horror and thus is an excellent example of why sensible fans of Ol’ Providence are a little hesitant to own their fan-ness.
But it’s also a good yarn about really awful monsters which are entirely natural. While H.P. fell back on his usual “indescribable, shapeless, unnameable” and some curtain-dropping faints, these monsters are living creatures of an earthly origin… if you consider the Netherlands part of Earth.
What prompted the story was listening to a weather report about a month ago promising yet more smoke from yet another forest fire. The undisciplined mind wandered a bit, and after touching on “glad I don’t live in a forest” some hidden relays closed and I was presented with a mental picture of the horrors in “The Lurking Fear” suddenly being made to join Bambi and Susanna Moodie in headlong flight from a forest fire.
And then I thought hard about the conclusion of “The Lurking Fear”. The narrator declares that he’s wiped out the thousands of creepy descendants of inbred Dutchmen… but did he really check that hard? What if… let’s say 25 of them avoided the extermination. Taking that, a narrow assumption about what age they start and stop bearing children and a pretty pessimistic view of infant mortality among the Martenses, and plugged them into a handy online calculator.
In a hundred years, you’d have more than seven thousand of the buggers. Yike. That’s plenty of scary.
Before I stop flapping my fingers, I’ll mention that I tried the numbers running from the last date of contact in Lovecraft’s story to the year it was set (1810 to 1921, if you’re wondering) and it turns out that there could have been 10,000 to 15,000 of the damn things down there. Turns out he wasn’t exaggerating the numbers he has his narrator offering.
Why do I say this? Because I’m about to engage in a small spot of self-promotion:
This delightful compendium has just been put where the public can get at it, over at Cloud Lake Literary’s site, where you can buy it as a single item or subscribe to the journal.
…and if you’re wondering how a genre goofus like me managed to sneak into the walled garden of a literary journal, I will prove my egoism by putting my thumbs in my suspenders and say, “Hey, I’m pretty good at this.”
I will then wait to see if you laugh right in my face or give me a gentle sigh of annoyance. Either is appropriate.
I am not referring to the famous Roman general Crismus Bonus (northwest Gaul on the border of Goscinny and Uderzo, c. 50BC), but to my latest published work! As I said in the last entry, this appears to be the time of year for me.
The new appearance was actually put under contract about a year ago, and this is probably the truest experience of publishing I’ve yet had. I am, though, a student of patience (having waited so long to start a writing career, I can hardly complain about a space of months between contract and consumation). The wait was definitely worth it.
But enough of my waffling! Please head on over to NewMyths.com, where the freshly manifested issue 53 awaits your reading pleasure. In the Jamesian tradition, it’s a spooky story uttered close to Christmas, but not Christmas themed, called “Palmer’s Folly.” You’ll find it right smack in the middle of the fiction portion of the table of contents, lodged between some other stories to fill the long, cold solstice-proximate nights (northern hemisphere only, locations near and south of the equator may not find conditions as indicated).
For an extra chill, there’s an author profile with a recent picture– chilling. Not even a beard to hide his unspeakable deformity, it having fallen to the razor in deference to sealing a mask more effectively.
It seems that December is when I get published. First, and I’ll mention it again next week when it actually happens, I have a story appearing in the next issue of NewMyths.com— issue 53 goes live, assuming no contrary word from Fate, on 15 December.
I will say right now that the image on the cover… does not represent my contribution, I will say, although “Wilden Klausen” does involve wearing a costume for a seasonal tradition.
I should also mention that the profits for this collection are going to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which given the situation of the world over the last… dozen or two months, at least… seems like a service which could definitely use some funding. Since I’m not in the US, I will mention for those who wish to give directly that there is a Canadian version of the same thing.
That sounds a lot more impressive than “next-to-final week,” right?
A note of explanation for those reliant on alt text under the pictures; there’s an eighth image without alt text, which concerns a small icon which added itself to the final entry this week. That thing doesn’t appear in the alt text, so I’m boring you with it here rather than there.