…in a long time!
I had started reading these four books about a year ago—and last week had finally finished them all. I think I’d started around September. They’re all anthologies. They all have the element of The Weird in them. The stories run the gamut from pretty much mainstream to the out-and-out horror. It’s so funny—and interesting—that in the past few years I have not been happy with nearly every novel I’ve picked up and [tried to] read. Either the story or something about the story/writing just didn’t grab me. But this last year, during all the author events I’d participated in (local and distant library gigs to Denver’s Comic Con), I’d come across these books. Many of my writer friends are in these books, and that’s how I found them: they were selling them at these events. And I must tell you that—hands down—wow. I was so impressed with these works! I loved all of these books—maybe not every story, but the en masse entirety of the collections. The quality of the writing…even if I didn’t like a particular story, man, they were all well-written! I really appreciated the writing, since the past couple of years I have not appreciated much of the writing I’ve read or tried to read.
This is important, becaaause….
I’d begun to wonder if I’d become jaded as a writer-reader. That nothing I read was ever going to be “any good” any more…is this how editors and agents feel?
And I’d worried that perhaps it wasn’t that the works I read were actually bad…but that perhaps in my mind’s eye nothing I read would ever measure up to some insane and wholly arbitrary ego-constructed measure. Yes, I was a little bit worried I was becoming that angry non-selling author sitting on that front porch with a double-barreled shotgun yelling out at all the authors out there to get the hell off my lawn!, while I fired some well-placed buckshot into their collective literary asses.
Open, pop em, reload.
But having read these books reassured me that I was fine. I don’t know what my major malfunction is, but having read these books showed me that there still is great writing out there—great reading. I’m not into pure horror fiction anymore, but I still love well-written “dark fiction” pieces with elements of The Weird in it, however defined. And that’s another thing—seeing The Weird defined by other writers. How they look at the world and suitably warp the hell out of it. I’m more into the psychologically, the metaphysically bent stories, not the gore…but love “weird.”
It was also fun as hell to see what my writer friends had written!
So often we run into each other at these promotional gigs (well, when I go to them, that is, and 2016 was a banner year for me attending them…) and talk and stuff, look at each others books, but to buy everyone‘s books…all the time…becomes prohibitive. I know too many writers and I only have so much income and wall space—as I’m sure is the same for every other writer out there. I always feel terrible that I have to put a friend’s book back down and somehow slink away with my tail between my legs because I haven’t bought anything—but hey, I wish you the best!
Ga, I hate having to do that!
But, this time I made an active attempt to better support those friends I haven’t read anything from and find something of theirs of interest and buy one or two books per gig…annnd read them! These four books I’d bought around the same time so they all “went together” in my head. The two books on the right (The Deep Dark Woods and Nightmares Unhinged) are straight horror and dark fiction and have some outright startling stories in that vein (pun intended). Tick Tock and Found are not really “dark fiction” per se, but have some elements in some of the stories, and they are stories that involve the element of their titles (i.e., stories about something found and the element of time). Really well-written stuff!
I’m not going to call any one writer out, here. That wouldn’t be fair without commenting on all of them, and that would get long…and to be honest, I’m not known for my memory, so that would involve a bit more rereading and note taking and I don’t want this post to be a book report on authors. I just wanted to say that if any of you have any interesting whatsoever in dark fiction—weird fiction—stories about something found or that involve the element of time in them…well-written short stories…give these anthologies a try!
And to all my writer friends who wrote this stuff–outstanding effort! I really am impressed and look forward to reading more of your work!