So it's been some five months since I was first approached about writing a collection of original short (and long) fiction for Evil Jester Press. During the first three months following the offer, my fountain pen traveled to Ancient Abydos, London and its surrounding turf in the 1960s, New Hampshire of the 1970s, and a terrifying future scenario, specifically in a flooded part of the world known as the New Ganges. I packaged up a tidy manuscript that weighed in at a hefty 100k, kicked off by a brief but telling author's foreword, and breathed a very happy sigh of relief that I had done the job.
Or so I thought.
Less than a week after hitting the 'send' button, I was on the phone with Senior Editor Extraordinaire, Peter Giglio, who, like I, was shocked at the sheer volume of cancelled anthologies dropped by a certain publisher that was holding onto some two dozen short stories and novellas of mine. Peter suggested I take the most appropriate of that number, go back to the desk, and expand The Fierce and Unforgiving Muse to a bigger, badder 200k, making sure a good portion of those jilted stories found a decent home. So through November and into December, I've been working to augment Muse, carefully selecting the right complimentary pieces, bulking up the word count, and utilizing the extra space to add pieces to round things out mightily. I believe I've done that and am closing in on hitting the 'send' button once more.
In addition to eight stories pulled from the cancelled anthology pile, I've written five brandy-new tales, each of them quite massive alone...more than half the new word count. The new stories takes us to Rwanda in 1994, to Tora Bora in Afghanistan in 2001, to a loft apartment in New York City, and the Carpathians at the end of World War II -- or, as our young, lost Russian soldiers refer to it, the Great Patriotic War. One tale takes readers thirty miles off the coast of Massachusetts, after a high-speed ferry collides with a sea monster. Another follows three women in three different times, their lives linked by a haunted apartment. Another, "Brood Swamp," unfolds in 1947, in the Florida Everglades.
I am monstrously proud (he said intentionally) with this collection of original stories. It was a writer's dream to be given such freedom, to be asked to deliver so massive a manuscript. Look for The Fierce and Unforgiving Muse: Twenty-Six Tales From the Terrifying Mind of Gregory L. Norris in the not-too-distant future.