I think it took less time for me to say yes to the invitation, write this brand new story, then see it fast-tracked to publication, than it has for me to post about it here. Ulp.
If you’re a DarkFuse subscriber, this new foray into x-treme family dysfunction is ready and waiting for you there. If not, you can still get to it via a pay-per-access one-off.
Funny thing … I’ve spent so long stretching out at novelette-to-novel lengths that I wasn’t sure I even remembered how to write something this concise and punchy.
To make it really difficult, the point-of-view is that of a 14-year-old girl, something I’m pretty sure I’ve never been close to being. So this benefitted immensely from an invaluable team of beta readers who volunteered to point out what could use some tweaking to get the voice, viewpoint, and so on as authentic as I could make them. Undying graditudinals to:
Judi B. Castro, Jemiah Jefferson, Nanci Kalanta, Becky LeJeune, Kado Petoud, Doungjai Gam Piscitelli, Loren Rhoads, Martel Sardina & her daughter Linnea, Jennifer Williams, and Jaclyn Zappone.
Landmark new anthology alert, hot off the presses this week.
Like editor Ellen Datlow’s 2010 antho Darkness: Two Decades of Modern Horror before it, Nightmares is a kind of state-of-the-art roundup, gathering 24 works from the years 2005 – 2015.
Me, I’m just happy to be tagging along for the ride, taking one more lap with “Our Turn Too Will One Day Come.” Which was also reprinted at the beginning of this year in The Monstrous.
Because I’ve never given up hoping that somebody, somewhere, will whisper in my shell-like ear, “You had me at yird swine.”
Back in February and March, I wrote a novel in seven weeks. That’s an unprecedented speed for me — not one I could sustain forever, but for seven weeks I managed. Lived it, breathed it, ate it, slept it, and occasionally farted it. Because it had to be done in seven weeks, or not at all.
Why seven weeks? That’s a tale for another time. For now, here’s a sneak preview of the first page:
Click to enlarge, all legible like.
Suffice to say right now that it’s a novel set in the White Wolf gaming universe … specifically the world of Mummy: The Curse. I was brought in by lead game designer C.A. Suleiman, who pretty much gave me free reign to do whatever I wanted, as long as it took place in his mythologically rich world, and arose out of its conflicts and trappings.
Beyond that basic criteria, it’s 100% my characters and locations and storyline and so on.
I knew things were going well a few months later when C.A. passed along to me that it was taking the copy editor longer than usual. He kept having to backtrack because he was getting so caught up in the story that he was forgetting to do his job. That’s the kind of problem you’re glad to cause.
And the finished book is coming very soon, I hear.
Freshly spawned from the depths of the ocean and outer space, here we have editor Ellen Datlow’s latest assemblage of cosmic horror. Which I get to divvy up with the heavyweight likes of Caitlín R. Kiernan, Laird Barron, John Langan, Livia Llewellyn, and more.
And now I’ll just let this excerpt from the review at the New York Journal of Books take over:
“Finally, there is one other story that holds a particularly unique place in the anthology, and may well stand out as the best of the bunch. Written by veteran horror author Brian Hodge, ‘On These Blackened Shores of Time’ is a devastating tale of a family slowly tearing apart at the seams in the wake of a tragedy. After his son’s car plunges into a collapsed former mineshaft, the narrator, his wife, and his son’s twin sister are only barely scraping by. The family’s grief begins to morph into a desperate curiosity as they begin to learn about the dark history of that mineshaft; from there, the tale slowly travels toward a powerful finale that is both terrifyingly weird and densely heartbreaking.”
He gets me. He really gets me.
Really? Two-plus months have gone by? The summer days get away from you when you’re convalescing.
In that late spring-early summer span, I had a stupid accident and didn’t merely rupture my left leg’s patellar tendon … I shredded it.
It’s not even a good story. It’s a good punchline. After years of Krav Maga, sparring, running, heavy lifting, swinging kettlebells, gonzo conditioning workouts, trail hikes, and more, I was felled by a freak laundry accident. The knee bone was no longer connected to the shin bone, and was instead riding up on my thigh.
Surgery? Mandatory. According to the physical therapist, I’ve shaved off three months of recovery time by starting my own self-rehab program a couple weeks after surgery, but it’s still a long, gradual thing to bounce back from.
Things are gearing up again, but for now, a new interview with me just went up at the web site of author Jason Bovberg. Who once upon a time, wearing his 10-gallon editor’s hat, coaxed out of me the only (weird) Western I’ve ever written, “Pages Stuck By a Bowie Knife to a Cheyenne Gallows.” Which you can find in this’un.
Each new month means new long fiction published at Tor.com. This June means a novelette of mine is published at Tor.com.
For now, you can read The Weight of the Dead in its 15,000-word entirety right there online.
If you think it’s going to be a keeper, or just hate reading via browsers, Tor has also released it as an e-book for cheap, available through Amazon US, UK, and Canada, and Barnes & Noble.
Tor calls it dystopic science fiction. When I began writing it I thought of it as horror, and by the time I was finished was thinking of it more as fantasy. I suppose it’s all those things. And I’ve never wanted more to take a character out of the middle of everything and tell her it’s going to be OK.
There have been so many dozens of Mammoth Book of [insert theme here] books that I have no unearthly idea how Cthulhu got away unscathed all these years.
No longer. Cosmic justice is served. Today’s the day this whopper comes out in the States, while you lucky sods in the U.K. have had a month with it already.
Hundreds of pages. Dozens of stories. Which is pretty much what you get with one of these Mammoth books. For my own piece, “It’s All the Same Road in the End,” it gave me the chance to use as a launch pad the best creepy obscure thing I ever found online, make it my own, then make it worse.
As cruel fate would have it, the source anecdote wasn’t one bit true, which is just as well. But we’re still left with this twisty tale of a fifty-year-old disappearance, the prison of family obligations, and the endless variety of deeply weird stuff that can go on in places where hardly anyone ever wants to live, before it all threatens to come to an end.