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Monthly Archives: March 2015

Welcome to the “Behind the Shadows” series of blog posts, where every week or so we will share a peek inside the minds of our authors and learn about the stories behind the stories. This week, Tim Curran peels back the facade of small-town America and talks inspiration for his story, “The Thing with a Thousand Legs.”

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In the American collective consciousness, we have an idealized portrait of the small town of yore as an idyllic place of soda fountains, quaint barbershops, parades, brass bands in the park, charming country churches, freckle-faced children carving pumpkins, and cantankerous oldsters sweeping the walks. Here you can know your neighbor, the streets are clean, the air is fresh, and the grass grows high and green. There may be a stratum of truth to this, though much of it is the result of pervasive pop culture—everything from Mayberry RFD to Norman Rockwell—and a goodly amount of nostalgia for what never really was and romanticizing about what could never be.

When I sat down to write “The Thing with a Thousand Legs” I was very much aware of how, as a people, we want our small towns to be and how, in fact, they really are. Having grown up in such a place, I knew that while they were pretty on the surface there was often a dark seam of hypocrisy and intolerance beneath. I decided that was the very underpinning of my story—the beauty above and the rot below, the handsome mask a small town shows the world and the grinning, toothless hag cackling underneath. In my story, Tobias Wormwell is not only born to the wrong family but doing a job that the good, clean, decent folk of Cobb Town find beneath their dignity. He is a rag picker that lives in the local dump and whose family’s grim history is tied up with that of the town itself. He is an unpleasant reminder of the town’s true past, its rigid class structure and narrow-minded gentility. He knows where the bodies are buried and which trees were used for hanging. He mars the view of the town’s rose-colored glasses and they hate him for it. And, for this very reason, he decides the time has come for them to stare deep into the mirror of their own souls, to strip away the pretense and confront the macabre truth of their ancestry. Evil is as evil does.

– Tim

 

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Tim Curran hails from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He is the author of the novels Skin Medicine, Hive, Dead Sea, Resurrection, Hag Night, The Devil Next Door, Long Black Coffin, Graveworm, Skull Moon, Nightcrawlers, and Biohazard. His short stories have been collected in Bone Marrow Stew and Zombie Pulp. His novellas include Fear Me, The Underdwelling, The Corpse King, Puppet Graveyard, Sow, Leviathan, Worm, and Blackout. His short stories have appeared in such magazines as City Slab, Flesh&Blood, Book of Dark Wisdom, and Inhuman, as well as anthologies such as Dead Bait, Shivers IV, World War Cthulhu, and, In the Court of the Yellow King. His fiction has been translated into German, Japanese, and Italian. Find him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/tim.curran.77
And on the web at:
www.corpseking.com

Tim’s story appears in Shadows Over Main Street from Hazardous Press, available now: http://www.amazon.com/Shadows-Over-Main-Street-Lovecraftian-ebook/dp/B00SXHSYUK/ref=zg_bs_tab_pd_bsnr_3

For regular updates on the book, please join us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ShadowsOverMainStreet

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Welcome to the “Behind the Shadows” series of blog posts, where every week we will share a peek inside the minds of our authors and learn about the stories behind the stories. This week, Richard Thomas gives some insight into the mindspace he had to get into for his story, “White Picket Fences.”

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I know very little about H.P. Lovecraft, but who hasn’t seen pictures of Cthulhu? In doing research for my story, what appealed to me most were the ideas of the unknown, the use of viscous materials, the feeling of detachment, even misanthropy, helplessness and hopelessness, unanswered questions, and the fragility of sanity—the prospect of the surreal washing over you, and rendering you incapable of coping.

When you add in the extra challenge of setting it in the 1950s/1960s, I thought I might not be able to get it right. I struggled to find my own way to interpret the setting back in those days. I looked at several authors and stories that resonated with me, that showed me the surreal, the horrific in atypical ways. I re-read “The Swimmer” by John Cheever to get a sense of the mundane pushed up against the strange. I re-read “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been,” by Joyce Carol Oates, which is a really tense story, the horror and violence of the unhinged neighbor, the dark friend, coming home to roost. I re-read T.C. Boyle’s “Greasy Lake” and I tried to pick up on the language, the clothes, and the habits.

In the end, I tried my best to write a story that was still my own voice, something my fans and friends would still recognize, and then superimpose the world of Lovecraft over the top of it all, weave it in, tapping into those elements the best I could, to pay my respects to a master storyteller. The ending is a strange one, and I think it’s the kind of emotion and revelation that will hopefully thrill fans of Lovecraft’s vision, horror, and language.

– Richard

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Richard Thomas is the author of six books—Disintegration, The Breaker, Transubstantiate, Herniated Roots, Staring Into the Abyss and The Soul Standard. His over 100 stories in print include Cemetery Dance, PANK, Gargoyle, Weird Fiction Review, Midwestern Gothic, Arcadia, Qualia Nous, Chiral Mad 2, and Shivers VI. He is also the editor of three anthologies out in 2014: The New Black (Dark House Press), The Lineup: 25 Provocative Women Writers (Black Lawrence Press) and Burnt Tongues (Medallion Press) with Chuck Palahniuk. In his spare time he writes for The Nervous Breakdown, LitReactor, and is Editor-in-Chief at Dark House Press. For more information visit www.whatdoesnotkillme.com or contact Paula Munier at Talcott Notch.

Richard’s story appears in Shadows Over Main Street from Hazardous Press, available now: http://www.amazon.com/Shadows-Over-Main-Street-Lovecraftian-ebook/dp/B00SXHSYUK/ref=zg_bs_tab_pd_bsnr_3

For regular updates on the book, please join us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ShadowsOverMainStreet

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Welcome to the “Behind the Shadows” series of blog posts, where every week we will share a peek inside the minds of our authors and learn about the stories behind the stories. This week, Cameron Suey gets into the the apocalyptic inspiration behind his story, “The Crisis.”

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When I was asked to submit a story to Shadows Over Main Street, the first thing I did was a little dance, as I had been watching the project take shape with a mixture of interest and envy. The second thing I did was run my idea by the editors: I knew I wanted to write about the midcentury event that weighed heaviest on my imagination, the Cuban Missile Crisis. I knew a global geopolitical event wasn’t exactly the small town vibe the editors were shooting for, but having heard my family’s recollections of that October, I was confident I could tell that far reaching story from a much smaller viewpoint.

Of course, a writer feeling confident is just a prelude to a writer feeling like a total failure, and I quickly realized that I lacked the historical knowledge beyond my family’s vague apocalyptic recollections. I normally research basic details before I write, but for this story, I carefully planned out the timeline of actual history, and where I wanted to diverge into the supernatural. While most of the hard details of the Crisis were planed away in subsequent drafts as I focused on the human drama, I can still see the solid backbone of fact that, I hope, gives this story a cold grounding before the madness begins. I also spent an unusually obsessive amount of time visiting the small town of Plattsmouth on Google maps, plotting the locations of each house, the local Air Force Base, and Rebecca’s desperate night time bike ride, keeping as close as I could to the actual layout of the town.

In the end, I needed that grounding in reality in order to justify the story’s conclusion. In our world, that Saturday night in October marked the darkest point of the Crisis, as the powers that be rapidly moved towards resolution the following morning. In my world, (where I owe a debt to the incredible weird fiction that came from the wellspring of Lovecraft and his contemporaries) it’s only the beginning.

– Cameron

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Cameron Suey is a California native living in San Francisco with his wife (who can occasionally be convinced to edit his work, as long as it’s not too gross) and daughter. He works as a writer in the games industry, and along with several other talented writers, won the WGA Award for Videogame Writing in 2009 for “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.” His work has appeared on the Pseudopod Podcast, several anthologies including A Quick Bite of Flesh and Horrific History, and was featured in the first issue of Jamais Vu: The Journal of Strange Among the Familiar. He can be found on the web at thejosefkstories.com, where he writes about writing, horror, and other influences, and on twitter as @josefkstories.

Cameron’s story appears in Shadows Over Main Street from Hazardous Press, available now: http://www.amazon.com/Shadows-Over-Main-Street-Lovecraftian-ebook/dp/B00SXHSYUK/ref=zg_bs_tab_pd_bsnr_3

For regular updates on the book, please join us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ShadowsOverMainStreet

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Welcome to the “Behind the Shadows” series of blog posts, where every week we will share a peek inside the minds of our authors and learn about the stories behind the stories. This week, James Chambers shares the vision for Knicksport, the setting for his story, “Odd Quahogs.”

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Why Knicksport?

Allen Koszowski asked me that question when I wrote my first Knicksport story, “Refugees,” which he published in Allen K’s Inhuman magazine in 2004. Allen liked the name, but it reminded him of Kingsport, which Lovecraft first wrote of in “The Terrible Old Man” but which may be best known as the setting of “The Festival.” Why not simply set my story in that existing piece of Lovecraftian real estate, Allen wondered. A fair point. My answer was that, like some other authors playing in the Lovecraftian sandbox, I wanted to stake out, on Long Island, my own parcel of Lovecraft country, and that Knicksport, while sounding suitably Lovecraftian, derived its name from one of New York’s nicknames, “The Knickerbocker State.”

The setting held a deeper purpose, though.

What most interests me about writing Lovecraftian fiction is translating Lovecraft’s ideas to eras, settings, and social contexts other than those about which Lovecraft wrote. I wanted the freedom to stray from Arkham, Dunwich, Innsmouth, Kingsport, and the Miskatonic River—but without severing all ties to those classic locations.

Knicksport provided the perfect means to do that.

The town, loosely framed after my hometown of Northport, is actually an amalgam of several towns in the area, all of which share a key trait in common. During the Colonial Era, they were part of a region that—despite being on Long Island—lay under the governance of the New England colonies, linking them indelibly (in my opinion, anyway) to true Lovecraft Country—plus at least one witch was executed there, lending them a touch of that particular horror that shaded the history of their neighbors across the Long Island Sound, a history Lovecraft often drew upon for his stories. It also placed my town geographically near enough to New York City to open up a trove of story possibilities.

Allen liked my rationale well enough to go with Knicksport for the story.

Ten years later, I’m glad he did.

At the time I wrote “Refugees,” I had no plans to go back to Knicksport, but I have returned several times since. Most ambitiously in The Engines of Sacrifice, my collection of four, Lovecraftian novellas, which share Knicksport as a common thread. Each one takes place in a different time period, from the early 1970s to the far future, painting a sketchy sort of Lovecraftian history for the town and hinting at a deeper, more expansive horror lurking beneath the surface. Most recently, “Odd Quahogs,” my story in Shadows Over Main Street, took me back there, this time to Raker’s, a bar down by the harbor, to tell the tale of two Korean War veterans, one turned bayman, and the other, bar owner, in the late 1950s. Another slice of Knicksport’s Lovecraftian legacy, which dates to around 1930, shortly after the horrific events told of in “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.”

In The Engines of Sacrifice, each tale gravitates around a particular Old One: Azathoth, Shub-Niggurath, Nyarlathotep, and Cthulhu. Each one also shifts the Mythos to a particular, social or cultural niche of the time period: New York City’s witchcraft subculture of the 60s and 70s, early 80s horror comics, mid-80’ Cold War secret researchers, and a future network of underground speculative writers. When the germ of the idea for “Odd Quahogs” came to me, I decided to bring yet another Lovecraftian entity to town and cast it against the social undercurrents of the time. The result, “Odd Quahogs,” is a snapshot of Knicksport, where spoken and unspoken social barriers shape people’s everyday existence, and everyone lives in the shadows of dark forces, both human and inhuman.

Unlike when I wrote “Refugees,” however, when I finished “Odd Quahogs,” I knew I’d be returning to Knicksport. A couple of trips there are already planned.

More darkness to discover. More secrets to expose.

The town’s not done with me yet.

– James

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James Chambers’ tales of horror, crime, fantasy, and science fiction have been published in numerous anthologies, collections, and magazines. Publisher’s Weekly described The Engines of Sacrifice, his collection of four Lovecraftian-inspired novellas, as “chillingly evocative.” His other works include the novella Three Chords of Chaos, The Dead Bear Witness and Tears of Blood (the first two novellas in the Corpse Fauna series), and the story collections Resurrection House and The Midnight Hour: Saint Lawn Hill and Other Tales. His stories have appeared in the award-winning Bad-Ass Faeries and Defending the Future anthology series as well as Allen K’s Inhuman, The Avenger: Roaring Heart of the Crucible, Bare Bone, Chiral Mad 2, Clockwork Chaos, Deep Cuts, Fantastic Futures 13, The Green Hornet Chronicles, In an Iron Cage, The Spider: Extreme Prejudice, To Hell in a Fast Car, Truth or Dare?, Qualia Nous, Walrus Tales, With Great Power, and many others. He is online at www.jameschambersonline.com.

James’s story appears in Shadows Over Main Street from Hazardous Press, available now: http://www.amazon.com/Shadows-Over-Main-Street-Lovecraftian-ebook/dp/B00SXHSYUK/ref=zg_bs_tab_pd_bsnr_3

For regular updates on the book, please join us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ShadowsOverMainStreet

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