Thursday, June 25, 2015

Other Gods

If you're one of those unfortunate (or perhaps very fortunate) souls who have never made the acquaintance of Other Gods, then permit me to introduce you.

Other Gods is my biggest and — in my thoroughly objective, non-biased, reasonably informed, and ultimately irrelevant opinion — probably best collection of short fiction. It contains sixteen of my horror tales written between 1986 and 2008, there or about, some linked by common characters and settings, most dealing with dark, deadly, unknown forces — hence the "Other Gods" of the title. Dark Regions published the collection in 2008, with beautiful cover art by M. Wayne Miller, whose work graces the covers of several of my books (not to mention a number of issues of Deathrealm back in the day).

I wanted highlight a particular story here, as people sometimes ask me what I consider my scariest story. For me, that's a difficult determination to make, but based on feedback from readers over the years, I'm inclined to say that story is "Silhouette," which was originally published in Cemetery Dance #24 (Summer 1996). “Silhouette” draws on some old, old personal fears, going back to when I was a kid and dreamed of a faceless, stick-like creature that came bouncing up our basement stairs to pursue me. Also included in the imagery is the silhouette of the title, based on a rather disturbing visual I spied in an old brownstone apartment window when I visited Chicago in the late 1970s. Another scene is drawn from one of the only true night horrors I ever had, which occurred early in my college years and kept me awake for an entire night.

The event that actually brought the story into being, however, was something of an academic exercise. In the early 1990s, my friend and fellow scrivener William R. Trotter gave me a tape of some creepy music, which included “Hidden Voices” by minimalist composer Ingram Marshall. I found it among the eeriest stuff I had ever heard. Danielle d’Attilio, who helped me edit Deathrealm, and I decided to sit down and play the music in absolute darkness, then write about whatever came to mind as we listened. Her story was actually called “Hidden Voices.” For me, “Silhouette” was the result. And from the many comments I've received from readers who were unnerved by the story, I'd have to say it rates at the top of my "scariest story" list.

Other Gods includes "Silhouette" and fifteen other creepy little critter tales. The book is available in trade paperback from Dark Regions — for $9.95, marked down from $19.95. There's never been a better time to check it out. Give it a look:

"I finished Other Gods feeling as if I had been processed through the kaleidoscopic imagination of a born storyteller. Other Gods is a superb example of what this sort of long-term collection is good for: It plainly highlights the author's long-running thematic obsessions and shows him circling back to revisit and reshape the concepts, tropes, and emotions that inspire him."
—Matt Cardin, Dead Reckonings #4

No comments: