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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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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, Brian Hodge talks about the dark inspiration for his story, “This Stagnant Breath of Change.”

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Horror and crime and whatever it is that David Lynch does nail it best: Small towns may look placid, even idyllic, on the surface, but more often than not, they’re festering underneath.

 

Just the other day, I saw — I wish I recalled where — the summary of a study concluding that, despite all the fears directed at the big bad city, you’re more likely to be murdered in a small town. The worst murders I’ve ever heard about took place in a tiny town twelve miles from the one I grew up in, and still lived at the time. They haunted me for the twelve years they went unsolved. They did not happen in a vacuum; they were the worst in an aberrantly bloody time. A few years ago, I wrote an essay about them, and the era they emerged out of, for a book benefiting the West Memphis Three … victims of another multi-layered small town nightmare whose extended cast of characters would strain credulity if you tried to pass them off as fiction.

 

So I found the idea of placing a Lovecraftian story in a retro small town setting instantly appealing. I loved the juxtaposition of the comfortably familiar and the unfathomably alien.

 

But the more I tossed around ideas, the more I felt compelled to not just use the small town setting, but try to pry away at the reverence American culture has for them in the first place. What better vehicle for this than a town that not only hasn’t changed, but can’t?

 

We excel at conjuring up Golden Age nostalgia that celebrates what’s genuinely good about small towns by overlooking everything about them that wasn’t worth preserving. For instance, the legacy of what have been called “sundown towns” … that is: If you have the wrong color skin, you may get away with walking our streets in daylight, but make sure you’re gone by evening. I grew up a few miles from one of those, too; spoke to people who remembered seeing the sign along the road in.

 

Even more crucial was getting at how the good old days were really the province of the good old boys, with their networks and a vested interest in preserving the status quo, so everything remained ripe for the picking. Which, to me, is the real relevance for today, as Main Street scales up to Wall Street.

 

I tapped quite a few memories of where I came from to weave into “This Stagnant Breath of Change,” and they were good ones. I hope that comes through. Just the same, I was reminded of Hemingway’s subtly barbed comment on St. Louis: that it was a good place to be from.

 

– Brian

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Brian Hodge accepted his destiny as a writer early, when as a preschooler he used to scribble on scraps of wood and affix them to unsuspecting trees. Eventually he learned the alphabet, which proved to be an enormous help.

He is now the award-winning author of eleven novels spanning horror, crime, and historical; close to 120 shorter works; and five full-length collections. His first collection, The Convulsion Factory, was ranked by critic Stanley Wiater among the 113 best books of modern horror.

Recent and forthcoming titles include Whom the Gods Would Destroy and The Weight of the Dead, both standalone novellas; Worlds of Hurt, an omnibus edition of the first four works in his Misbegotten mythos; an updated hardcover edition of Dark Advent, his early post-apocalyptic epic; Who We Are In The Dark, his next collection; and his next novel, Leaves of Sherwood.

He lives in Colorado, where mountain air and brewpubs keep everything in the works. He also explores music, sound design, and photography; loves everything about organic gardening except the thieving squirrels; and trains in Krav Maga and kickboxing, which are of no use at all against the squirrels.

Brian’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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We are thrilled and honored to see that so many contributing authors to Shadows have been named Bram Stoker Award nominees this year. So we offer our congratulations to authors Josh Malerman, Rena Mason, Lucy A. Snyder, Richard Thomas and Stephanie M. Wytovich who all made the final ballot! To celebrate, we have lowered the price on the Kindle version of Shadows Over Main Street to 99 cents for the next few days. So if you were on the fence about picking up a copy, this is your chance to take the plunge into the shadows!

“Shadows Over Main Street is a masterful blend of stories fit for both die-hard Lovecraft fans and readers new to the genre. Each and every tale is wickedly delicious.” –Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Fall of Night and V-Wars.

Click here to grab yours today!

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 inspirations behind their contributions. This week, Lucy A. Snyder talks about her approach to her story, “The Abomination of Fensmere” and where we might see her protagonist in the future.

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When I was writing “The Abomination of Fensmere”, I wanted to meld a Lovecraftian setting and atmosphere with a more modern Southern gothic tale. I also thought it would be an interesting challenge to drop a young, Nancy Drew-reading protagonist into a world of cults, madness, and cosmic horrors.

 

My protagonist Penny took hold of my imagination and I wrote a direct sequel for Caelano Press’ The Court of the Yellow King entitled “The Girl With the Star-Stained Soul”. As you might guess, that story ties in with Robert Chambers’ King in Yellow mythos.

 

Using those two stories as a jumping-off point, I’m partway through a young adult novel featuring Penny and all the horrors she has to survive in a fateful summer down in Fensmere, Mississippi.

 

– Lucy

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Lucy A. Snyder is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of the novels Spellbent, Shotgun Sorceress, Switchblade Goddess, and the collections Orchid Carousals, Sparks and Shadows, Chimeric Machines, and Installing Linux on a Dead Badger. She’s had two new books out in 2014: Shooting Yourself in the Head For Fun and Profit: A Writer’s Survival Guide from Post Mortem Press, and her story collection Soft Apocalypses from Raw Dog Screaming Press. Her writing has been translated into French, Russian, and Japanese editions and has appeared in publications such as Apex Magazine, Nightmare Magazine, Jamais Vu, Pseudopod, Strange Horizons, Weird Tales, Dark Faith, Chiaroscuro, GUD, and Best Horror of the Year, Vol. 5.She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and occasional co-author Gary A. Braunbeck and is a mentor in Seton Hill University’s MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction. You can learn more about her at www.lucysnyder.com.

Lucy’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

As proof that you sometimes can something for nothing, Hazardous Press is offering a Goodreads giveaway of Shadows Over Main Street! We have 5 books up for grabs for 5 lucky winners and the giveaway ends on February 14th. It could be a nice Valentine’s Day gift. Because we all know nothing says I love you like 280 pages of mind-bending cosmic horror poetry, fiction and art.

 

Enter to win below and then maybe on Valentine’s Day, you will be able to wrap your tentacles around your sweetheart and show them just how much they mean to you.

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Shadows Over Main Street by Doug Murano

Shadows Over Main Street

by Doug Murano

Giveaway ends February 14, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

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 inspirations behind their contributions. This week, we check in with Josh Malerman on his story, “A Fiddlehead Party on Carpenter’s Farm.”

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We’re all excited by the prospect of a new monster. Something rotten that’s never been seen before, the story of a beast that’s never been told. And yet, we’re all watchful: How hard are they trying to do something different? Too hard? And does that show? Us horror fans are always rooting for the writer imagining these fresh scares, but we’re not without our limits. A haunted filing cabinet, though fun, possibly doesn’t sound scary enough. A mother who dresses up as a father who dresses up as a mother might sound better but maybe that’s a bit too convoluted for us, too. Or maybe they all work and, fuck it, it’s just a matter of how it’s done. The thing about searching the landscape for new monsters is that you’ve got to read a lot of horror to know the monsters that already exist. And by reading those stories, you can’t help but be influenced by what you’ve read. As joyful as that is… you can see the conundrum. I want to write a story just like she did but nothing like she did at all! So we search… way back… in the best place, that area of you that fell in love with horror to begin with, that place we all leave (all the time, for no good reason) and struggle to find our way back. So far from our birth-site, we’re lost! But we return, always, and once we do we’re like A HA! THIS IS WHERE I GO TO MEET NEW MONSTERS! I’d forgotten all about this place.

For me, that place is sometimes a farm. It’s owned by a man named Carpenter and Carpenter is just discovering that the crops he’s growing aren’t the crops he thinks he’s growing. Rather than beets, he’s growing points of view. Yes, often, if I’m trying to get away from the noise my own wheels make, I seek refuge on Carpenter’s Farm, where there are fields of perspective, fields of mood. And this, I realize, is something that scares me: Growing monsters. Because, of course, states of mind are the most monstrous thing we’ll ever know. I hate myself. There’s a bad one. I’m not as pretty as her, as good as her. That’s a bad one, too. But maybe out there on Carpenter’s Farm I can eat a little Self-Confidence and get rid of those nasty perspectives. Maybe out there I can eat enough Calm to get rid of the shakes. Thing is (and this is the monster, yeah?) you can never be sure which crop you’re eating, even out there in your favorite place, the place you go to seek refuge from the noise your own wheels make. And yet… we’re willing to risk it. I sure as shit am. And so it struck me (and strikes me yet): Perspective is a monster. Mood is scarier than a werewolf. Worldview is more haunting than a ghost. So then can’t I, as horror author, swap them out… or combine the two?

That clicks, for me, out there in the place I was born. Horror-born. And that’s the path I took to writing “A Fiddlehead Party on Carpenter’s Farm.”

The moment I realized my Worry and my Fear are more monstrous than the monsters out here.

– Josh

 

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Josh Malerman is the author of Bird Box and “Ghastle and Yule,” as well as the singer/songwriter for the High Strung. He lives in Ferndale, Michigan with his fiancée Allison Laakko. Learn more about Josh and his work at www.facebook.com/JoshMalerman or follow him on Twitter, @JoshMalerman.

Josh’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

The day has finally arrived when we can say that SHADOWS OVER MAIN STREET, an anthology of small-town Lovecraftian terror, is now available for order.

At the moment, only the Kindle version is up but we expect the paperback to be available any time:

http://tinyurl.com/pmrwege

Or just click on the cover!

ShadowsHiResIt features 20 stories and poems by some of today’s masters of contemporary horror and includes a foreword by the legendary Ramsey Campbell. With cover art by Luke Spooner, there is also artwork from top illustrators including Galen Dara and Vincent Chong among others, which will provide some eye candy in between stories.

Tell your friends. Tell your parents. Tell your neighbors, especially those weird cultists who rent that house down the street.

Invite them all into the shadows.

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 inspirations behind their contributions. First up is Nick Mamatas with his story, “Χταπόδι Σαλάτα.”

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My inspiration was a simple one, the Greek Town Riot of 1909. Greek-American “whiteness” is a moveable feast, mostly secure but still occasionally contingent. This is reflected on how occasionally Greeks are mistaken for other ethnicities—often Arabs in the immediate wake of 9/11, sometimes Rom (so-called “gypsies”) and the like. And vice versa too: “Greek” was the ethnicity of choice for a significant fraction of light-skinned African-Americans passing as white.

Today, for the most part, being Greek-American is only occasionally a minor inconvenience: the bank manager who makes a joke about what diner you work in, endless questions about the language or the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and of course plenty of references to taking it up the ass. It’s shocking to meet someone today with any real animosity against Greek-Americans, but the closer one is to Greece, the more one worries about it. My mother hung a Greek flag out by her farm stand once, and my father took it down, concerned that some passer-by might have a problem with Greeks. So I wanted to go back to 1909, and to 1949, and see what it would be like. And also kill a lot of people.

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Nick Mamatas is the author of several novels, including Love is the Law and The Last Weekend, and the Lovecraftian titles Move Under Ground and The Damned Highway (with Brian Keene). His fiction has appeared in Best American Mystery Stories, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Weird Tales, and in a number of Lovecraftian anthologies including Future Lovecraft, Lovecraft Unbound, and New Cthulhu. Many of these tentacular stories are collected in The Nickronomicon. Nick also works as an editor and anthologist—with Masumi Washington he co-edited the non-fiction Battle Royale Slam Book and Phantasm Japan, both from VIZ Media.

Nick’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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Today, Shadows Over Main Street received some kind words from a respected author.

Shadows Over Main Street demonstrates most convincingly that fear lurks in our towns and villages, in darkened alleys, and in the shadowy human heart. This anthology represents a dynamic cross section of contemporary horror.”

Laird Barron, Bram Stoker Award winning author of THE BEAUTIFUL THING THAT AWAITS US ALL

As far as being a Lovecraftian feather in your cap (tentacle in your cap?) words of praise from Mr. Barron rank pretty high up there. We are delighted that he enjoyed the book and was kind enough to share his thoughts.

The release date for Shadows Over Main Street is coming soon!

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