Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Bold and the Beautiful

I've always been a diehard Alphabet Network soap viewer (until those schmucks went ahead and cancelled All My Children and my favorite, the superb One Life to Live), so forgive the title of this post.  It seemed appropriate for a shout out for the latest release from Firbolg PublishingEnter at Your Own Risk: The End is the Beginning, which contains my short story "Every Seven Years, Give or Take." I was honored to be part of this anthology, which boasts a veritable 'Who's Who' of gothic literature, present and past.  Notable names include the Mary Shelley, Edgar Allen Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, H.P. Lovecraft, M. R. James, K. Trap Jones, B. E. Scully, Sydney Leigh, Norman Partridge and, nestled among the Table of Contents, yours truly.

Publisher Alex Scully has done a fine job assembling a thick and gorgeous book.  Or books, as is the case. I was thrilled when a fat package arrived in the mail on Monday, May 20  It contained my copy of the special edition World Horror Con 2014 hardcover release of the anthology, gorgeously enhanced by four vibrant color interior illustrations. There's something extra-special about reading your work in hardcover. The book (officially considered 'textbook-size') is so big, so beautiful, it doesn't stand upright in any of the glass-front bookcases that contain my archives of published work.

End is filled, cover to cover, with stories of environmental horror in which mankind's hubris comes back to haunt us. My particular contribution to the book owes to a dream I had twenty years ago, in which I was trapped in a house located somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.  Olfactory authorities claim we don't 'smell' in our dreams, but I remember vividly the thick fragrance of sap from the Douglas firs that surrounded the house, as well as the steady drip of rain.  Beyond the house, among those trees, terrible danger lurked.  Within the house, an equally deadly threat brewed.  Both were the result of our disposable society's shortsightedness.  We recycle almost everything here in our fair mountain town, and we compost year-round.  Still, having a tale in this book has made me feel like our small family is making a difference in helping to heal our wounded planet.

And then there's that Table of Contents. Who wouldn't love to have their original short story published alongside a reprint by the author who wrote Frankenstein?  Or the stellar Mister Poe, my favorite wordsmith of all time? The autumn my first book, Ghost Kisses, was released, I spent Thursday afternoons on the college campus where my then-writers' group met, reading his stories and mine and reciting "Lenore" -- that elegant elegy is still tattooed upon my grey matter, able to be invoked start to finish at a moment's notice.  As for Mister Hawthorne...

When I was in grade school, I boarded a bus for a memorable field trip to the House of the Seven Gables. I was blown away at the time to find myself standing in the setting of a book I had read and loved. In the gift shop, I purchased a postcard of the house in a green mat, which hung on my bedroom wall, unframed, from a thumbtack. Somewhere along the way, the postcard got lost.  Last year, my fabulous writing pal Judi Calhoun (a talented name to watch for), upon hearing the story, found the very postcard online -- and framed this one for me as part of my Christmas presents.  It now sits proudly in my Writing Room, atop the archives of my published work.  A week or so after Christmas, I learned that "Every Seven Years, Give or Take" would appear alongside a reprint of Hawthorne's classic, "Rappaccini's Daughter".  Bold stuff.  And quite beautiful.

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