Of the four anthologies Steve Berman is currently putting together for Prime Books, I was to begin with only confident of producing a story for one: Handsome Devil (despite what the announcement on the far side of that first link says, the book was represented to me as concerning incubi). And so I did, “The Oily Man,” a long tale from the subcontinent.
The other three…as noted last week, horror fiction just doesn’t interest me. Ghosts, zombies, evil children, bleah. I refused flat out to consider Shades of Blue and Gray (the mythologizing of the US Civil War, on both sides of the Mason-Dixon, strikes me as problematic). Ultimately, Steve badgered me into writing “The Hyena’s Blessing” for Zombies—a zombie story I suspect no self-respecting horror aficionado will embrace as true-blue horror, though I hope they’ll like it anyway.
Nevertheless, during the four-month struggle to produce “The Oily Man,” I also put a good deal of work into another subcontinental tale, “The Cat in the Moon,” aiming it at Bad Seeds. It grew very complicated. The current draft is hovering around 9,000 words and the evil children have yet to make a proper appearance.
Not precisely despairing of “The Cat” (but not precisely hopeful about it either), in September I put it aside for a bit and started an entirely different subcontinental tale, also to involve evil children, “The Tale of the Ive-ojan-akhar’s Death.” That one’s at 4,500 words around now and, again, the bad seeds are more hinted at than apparent.
Actually despairing by this point, in early October I started a third evil-child subcontinental story, no title yet, which got to 900 words and stalled out. This one I have small expectation of ever completing, a thought that does not leave me distraught. “The Cat” and “The Tale,” though: those I intend to finish one day now that the pressure to make evil children their focus is off.
Because over the two days last week of Hurricane Sandy’s battering at my windows I wrote “You Deserve,” a 6,000-word story set in our own world (it squeaks by as dark fantasy, I think, though not horror), which—after some negotiating and testy revising—Steve has purchased for Bad Seeds: Evil Progeny, to appear from Prime Books next July.
The title is quoted from the lyrics of “Deserve,” a lovely, melancholy electropop track by The ¥oung Professionals, which coincidentally popped up on my iTunes just as I commenced this paragraph.