I’m only an armchair observer and by no means an expert, but it seems in the last six years the horror genre has witnessed a blossoming short story anthology market. And no offense to anyone, but I mean good markets offering quality stories and top-notch production values, not lots of people discovering the novelty of quick and easy self-publishing in order to issue sub-standard collections through Lulu or Createspace, which seemed very common about eight or nine years ago. (Again, I apologize for any snark; that’s just my opinion, only).
2020. As I write this, the new year and new decade are seven hours away. I think back to the years and years I have spent as a horror reader, and I am reflecting on the one moment when it all crystallized and became embedded into my soul.
I’d have to say the year was 1984. Thirty-six long years ago. Years that brought joy beyond belief, heartbreak, laughs, fun, agony, laughs, tears. All of this and lots more.
Today marks the release of my second short story collection, Things You Need, from Crystal Lake Publishing, also the latest installment in the ongoing story of my fictional Adirondack town, Clifton Heights, which owes its existence in large part to not only Charles L. Grant’s fictional town, Oxrun Station, but even more so to the anthology series he edited, The Chronicles of Greystone Bay.
Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.
This sentiment haunts me. It has since I first heard it quoted by Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society. The quote in its entirety, by Henry David Thoreau, is even more chilling:
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation, and go to the grave with the song still in them.
The implications make me shiver. Most men lead lives of quiet desperation. Most of us are gripped by worry, anxiety, fear, and a crippling helplessness. But it’s repressed deeply inside; quiet, restrained, shackled, bringing us to the brink of madness without ever quite plunging us over the edge. And in the end, we go to the grave with the song still in us, never able to express what we wanted to—needed to—while shuffling through this numbing thing called “life.”
It was his Oxrun Station quartets which first drew me in.
It was March, 2011. We were spending Spring Break with family in Michigan. We’d visited the year before, and I’d wanted to visit a used bookstore there but hadn’t gotten the chance to because of our schedule. Fresh off my experience with Paul Wilson, Tom Monteleone and Stuart David Schiff, hitting Jellybean’s Used Books was a high priority on our next trip, to be sure. When I had some free time in our schedule, I scooted over to Jelly Bean’s, clutching cash in my grubby little fingers. To my delight, I found a sprawling bookcase full of horror. Wasn’t long before I was sitting on the floor next to a teetering stack of books.