innsmouth free press

As I’ve already mentioned a bunch of other places, I had two stories make it onto Ellen Datlow’s very long list of honorable mentions for The Best Horror of the Year Volume 4, both of them from Innsmouth Free Press anthologies. “The Seventh Picture” from Candle in the Attic Window and “Black Hill” from Historical Lovecraft.

“Black Hill” is maybe my most successful short story to date. In addition to this particular honor, and to recently being acquired for reprint in The Book of Cthulhu 2, it was also selected for podcasting at Pseudopod, where it actually just won the readers’ choice poll for best story of the year! I’m particularly excited about that, because the only other time I published a story at Pseudopod, it also won the readers choice poll for best story of the year. (That would have been “The Worm That Gnaws” a couple of years back.) It doesn’t hurt a bit that both times the stories have been beautifully produced and read by the folks at that fine establishment.

Well, we’re a little over halfway through the open reading period for Fungi, the anthology that I’m co-editing with Silvia Moreno-Garcia. If you’ve still got fungus stories to send in, you’ve got until February 15th to get them to us. (See the guidelines here.)

In the meantime, I’m going to talk a bit about what we’ve already seen in the slush so far, and what we’d like to see more of. Silvia already posted her take here, and I don’t know that I have a ton to add, but I’m going to post anyway, because I’m editing an anthology, dammit, and I’m very professional!

This is my first time reading for an anthology, and so I wasn’t really sure what to expect, and I don’t know how what we’ve gotten stacks up against other anthologies, or slush piles for magazines, or what-have-you. A couple of things I can say is: Please, please, please put your word count in your cover letter? And put your cover letter in the body of your email? I don’t know how other people feel about this, but those two things make life a lot easier on me, anyway.

I’d also like to second and reinforce Silvia’s mention that we’ve been getting way too many then-I-turned-into-a-mushroom-the-end stories. I like mushroom people as much as the next guy (more, obviously), but at this point there definitely needs to be something more going on in the story if we’re going to take it. I’ll also agree that I would love to see a mushroom noir, if anyone’s got it in them.

Anyway, I think it’s shaping up to be a really exciting anthology so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing what we get in the remaining days!

Fungi, the anthology of fungal fiction that I’m co-editing for Innsmouth Free Press, opened to submissions on Sunday, and on that very same day I came down with a bad cold. Coincidence? Probably, but it’s pretty inconvenient all the same. Nevertheless, I don’t think I’ve fallen too far behind on reading subs.

This is my first time reading slush, or editing an anthology for that matter, so I don’t have anything to compare it to, but it seems to be going well enough so far. That said, while I don’t want to fall any further behind, I definitely want to see fungus subs keep pouring into that inbox, so please, check out the full guidelines here, and if you’ve got something to submit, send it our way!

On the heels of the Fungi anthology guidelines, my co-editor Silvia Moreno-Garcia has made a post about what she’d like to see in the slush, and I figured it would behoove me to attempt something along similar lines. Mine will probably ramble more than hers, and be less immediately helpful and bullet-point-y, but hopefully it’ll be at least a little informative if you’re thinking of submitting to our little fungus anthology. (Please do!)

Silvia talked about wanting stories that straddle genre. (Steampunk, etc.) And yes, we definitely want those stories. But I also admit to having a soft spot for a good traditionally weird or supernatural tale, and I’d love to see some of those, too. There’s a lot of good places you can go with a science fiction-ish angle on a fungus story, but my particular partiality is for supernatural tales, so I’m hoping to see a good mix of those in the slush, too. If in doubt, aim for menacing and atmospheric and creepy, as well as fun and inventive, and you’ll probably hit my wheelhouse.

The stories that got me interested in this theme in the first place were William Hope Hodgson’s “The Voice in the Night” and the Japanese film adaptation of same Matango. So while we obviously can’t do an anthology of nothing but mushroom people (and wouldn’t if we could), I’ll be very sad if we don’t get at least a few stories along those lines. (Probably no danger of that.) I’ll also be talking sometime in the coming days about some of my favorite fungus monsters from books, movies, video games, etc.

But your fungus monsters certainly don’t have to fit the Hodgson mold (no pun intended) to pique my interest. Feel free to go nuts making the weirdest fungus creatures you can come up with. One of the world’s largest organisms is a fungus, just to give you an idea. Nor are we only looking for stories of fungus monsters. As long as fungus plays a prominent role, then odds are we’re interested in taking a look.

Okay, so that’s some of what I’m looking for. How about what I’m not looking for? I don’t want to go into that too much, because there’s no rule I can make that won’t find an exception if the right author is doing it, but here’s a couple of caveats:

Not necessarily Lovecraftian. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Lovecraft, but this being an Innsmouth Free Press book and Lovecraft’s work being as associated as it is with fungus, I don’t want to give the impression that this is Fungal Lovecraft that we’re doing here. Lovecraftian fungus stories certainly won’t be turned away at the door, and I’m expecting and even hoping to get a few, but don’t feel constrained to that. We’re looking for a wide range of weird fungal spookiness, so go to town.

Think twice about Cordyceps zombies. Again, I’m not saying don’t do them, but they’ve been all over the Internet lately, and I’ve already heard several people talking about them in relation to this anthology, so I have a feeling we’re going to get inundated with them. So if you’ve got a really killer Cordyceps zombie story, by all means, we want to see it, but just be warned that you’ll probably be part of a pretty big crowd.

Like Silvia, I won’t really know what I want until I see it, but this will hopefully help give an idea of where I’m coming from. Like I said, I’ll be posting in the coming days some more about some fungus creatures and stories of which I am particularly fond, and I’ll also try to give updates once the slush starts rolling in. As I’ve said before, this anthology is literally the culmination of a dream I’ve had for many years now, and so I’m very, very excited to see it come together. And if you have any questions or just want to talk fungi, please feel free to contact me here or at any of my various social networking whatevers.

It was a couple of years ago at Readercon when I first pitched the idea of a weird fungus anthology. Not to a publisher or anything, just to the writers around one of the tables in the bar. But even before that, I’d been thinking about it for a long time.

There’s a rich vein of fungal stories that runs through weird fiction, from Hodgson’s “Voice in the Night” through Lovecraft’s “Fungi from Yuggoth” all the way up to Jeff VanderMeer’s Ambergris books and others, but, to the best of my knowledge, it’s never been mined into an anthology gathered around that theme. Until now.

When I first started writing columns for Innsmouth Free Press, one of the first movies I mentioned to Silvia was the Japanese mushroom-person classic Matango, which she said traumatized her for life. The rest, as they say, is history.

Which is all an incredibly long-winded way of saying that, after talking about it and thinking about it for years, I’m finally going to be co-editing an anthology of weird fungus stories, alongside Silvia, for Innsmouth Free Press. To say that I’m excited about this project would be the worst kind of understatement. We’ve solicited some exciting authors, the official guidelines have gone up as of yesterday, and I’m looking forward to hopefully seeing lots and lots of awesome fungus stories come pouring in once the reading period begins. Between now and then–and throughout as well, I’m sure–I’ll be posting more about the anthology, about what I’m looking for as an editor, about some of my favorite fungus monsters, and so on, so stay tuned!

So much has happened in the last couple of days that I’m having trouble keeping it straight, so my lovely wife suggested that it might be wise for me to post a quick summary of it here so everyone following along at home could keep up. Or at least so I’d have something to refer back to.

First off, as you can see if you take a look around the site, my Vincent Price Halloween countdown is proceeding apace, and I’ve got a bunch more great stuff lined up for the rest of the week, so stay tuned for that!

Before I get into any of my own news, I want to quickly say a big congrats to my good friend Molly Tanzer on her recent announcement that Lazy Fascist Press will be publishing a collection of stories chronicling the cursed family of the infernal Ivybridge Twins. If you’ve read her original “Infernal History of the Ivybridge Twins” (first in Historical Lovecraft, then reprinted in The Book of Cthulhu) then you know why this is great news. If you haven’t, well, you’re in for a treat!

Now to less exciting news involving yours truly. First, my second column for Strange Horizons just went live. This one’s about cosmic horror in John Carpenter’s “Apocalypse Trilogy,” which is two subjects near-and-dear to my heart. Thanks to the wonderful S.J. Chambers for facilitating that, and to Strange Horizons for having me back!

Second, I was recently invited by Scott Candey to participate in the relaunched Spookatorium podcast, and the episode featuring my contribution (a brand-new vignette called “The Big, Dark House by the Sea”) went live today. That’s me reading it, though the recording quality on my part isn’t the best, because I’ve never recorded myself before, and I turned out to not be so great at it. But the rest of the podcast is aces, full of great music and other excellent tidbits. I’m in good company, too, as the previous episode featured none other than Richard Gavin, our Vincent Price Halloween guest for today.

Finally, a couple of pieces of news relating to Candle in the Attic Window have surfaced. The micro-interview I did on the subject at Innsmouth Free Press is up, and there’s a really nice review of the book over at Shock Totem, that has some pretty lengthy and complimentary things to say about my story.

I think that’s it for now (it’s plenty, right?), but, like I said, we’ve got a lot of other cool stuff coming in the lead-up to Halloween, so stick around.

For years (since at least 2007) I’ve wanted to edit an anthology of dark fungus stories. I love fungus monsters, from William Hope Hodgson’s “Voice in the Night” to Matango to various comic books and video games to the “moldy corpse” enemies from Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin. Fungus monsters are (some of) the best monsters, and they’re near and dear to my monster-loving heart.

Well, after all this time, I’m pleased to announce that that anthology is really happening! Back when I first started writing columns for Innsmouth Free Press, Silvia Moreno-Garcia and I had a discussion about Matango, in which I revealed that it was a favorite of mine, and she revealed that it scarred her for life. This, as they say, was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. I won’t trouble you with the specifics, but suffice it to say that somehow between then and now I tricked convinced them to let me co-edit (with Silvia) an anthology of fungus stories.

This’ll be my first anthology as co-editor, and I’ve already learned things I didn’t know about the process, but Silvia has been awesome and patient with me so far. It’s early days yet, so there’s not a lot I can announce, but it is really going to happen! We’ve got some really amazing writers who’ve already agreed to contribute pieces (again, sorry to tease, but they’ll have to stay under wraps for now) and big plans for the anthology, including possibly releasing a limited edition as IFP’s very first hardcover! That may not be much for now, but I promise you’ll be hearing a lot more about this one as it develops!