Don’t look now … it’s Hideous!

Actually, I do want you to look.

Hideous Progeny: Classic Horror Goes Punk launches today from Writerpunk Press. This is the fifth in a series of seven planned charity anthologies that pay homage to classic stories by re-imagining them in a variety of literary punk genres.

The fiction included in this anthology spans the gamut from steampunk to clockpunk to biopunk … and even some carniepunk. Anthology authors have drawn their source material from a wide array of classics and classic horror authors. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein receives a bio-cyberpunk makeover from K.M. Vanderbilt. Ambrose Bierce’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek” is no less chilling re-imagined as steampunk in “After the Occurrence” by Teel James Glenn.

As with previous anthologies, all proceeds go to benefit PAWS Lynnwood, an animal shelter and wildlife rescue located in Lynnwood, WA.

My own contribution to the anthology is a carniepunk homage to Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera. This was a challenging project for a few reasons (that I’ll talk about below), but I wanted to complete my hat trick of contributing to the Writerpunk Anthologies. (See my steampunk detective story in Poe Goes Punk, and my dieselpunk Beowulf in English Class Goes Punk.) My short story “The Carnival Ghost,” was accepted, so if you happen to pick up a copy (HINT*HINT*HINT), I hope you’ll check it out. *puppy*eyes*

About those challenges …

I was really, truly trying to make this a steampunk story. I had a few ideas clanking around the ol’ noggin, none of which ever coalesced into an actual story. Or even a note. Most of them are still half-formed blobs of bad penmanship scattered around my bullet journal. The two strongest images that persisted even through the false starts and decisions that I wasn’t going to submit were: 1. Female patron. 2. A carnival.

I couldn’t get the idea of a woman phantom out of my head. It made sense. Someone who would serve as a platonic mentor, without the complications of romantic interest or jealousy, could actually take a student further, to higher heights. They could put all their energy into the development of their protegee, seeking only the reward of their success. At the same time, this would require a degree of ruthlessness from both mentor and mentee, and there were so many depths to explore there.

And–a carnival. I love carnivals and fairs and circuses, even though I’ve always felt they are slightly creepy. Too many shadows. Secrets. Basically, whenever I think of a carnival, I think of HBO’s series Carnivale, and how fascinating and horrifying they can be. Somewhere around this time I re-read the Carniepunk anthology, and that solidified that image and thus, the story.

The challenge? Explaining carniepunk. It’s not a typically category of literary punk, and I wasn’t sure that the anthology editors would be interested in a story that pushed the boundaries of what we included.

On the other hand, we’re not punks for no reason. \m/

“The Carnival Ghost” in all of its creepy carnival glory is part of your reading pleasure.

So, if you like stories that will entertain you, challenge you, and possibly creep you out, pick up a copy today. And let us know what you think.

Rock on, my friends!

Hello? Hello? (tap tap) Is this thing on?

Okay, first of all, never tap the mic to see if it’s on. You will piss off the sound person and damage the equipment. Second, you know it’s been a long time since you blogged if the URL no longer autofills with your http address.

THIRD!! Writerpunk Press has revealed the cover for its next anthology, Merely This and Nothing More: Poe Goes Punk. In three … two … one …

Merely This Cover

Ta-DAH!! Isn’t it fabulous?

Among the stories will be included my story, The Case of the Lonesome Cigar Girl in the Sixpenny Temple, which is a steampunk riff on Poe’s story, The Mystery of Marie Rogêt. It will be out in May, so prime your Amazon one-click’s and get ready to purchase a copy. Also, it’s a charity anthology, so you will also be helping puppies and kittens. Really, buying a copy of this book is for the good of humanity. For real.

For those Poe fans out there, the Mystery of Marie Rogêt was the second, and least-well-received of his detective stories featuring Detective C. Auguste Dupin, the first being the Murders in the Rue Morgue and third being The Purloined Letter. It was based on the facts of a widely known case at the time, namely the murder of Mary Rogers, and Poe claimed that he would solve the case in his story (a claim that was mostly responsible for getting the story published and little else.) The entire story can be found in Daniel Stashower’s excellent nonfiction book The Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allen Poe, and the Invention of Murder, upon which I relied heavily while plotting my story.

When setting out to write a punk version of “Marie Rogêt,” I knew that I wanted to first, set the story in the world of my steampunk detective series. Second, I wanted to use the same device that Poe did, namely that the main detective character is confined to chambers, and solves the mystery through the information gleaned from the newspapers and other characters. In my world, this allowed the secondary characters a little time to shine, and showed that my main character could solve a mystery using her brains (and not simply luck or her fiddly little devices.)

(I may also have an ulterior motive in that someday, once reprint rights revert, I hope to publish a collection of these detective stories. But I have to write a few more for that to happen. To get a taste, my first story was published in eSteampunk Magazine, and the second has been accepted for an Emby Press anthology that has yet to go to print.)

And lastly, I wanted to highlight some of the issues that the stories of the time addressed, but not in a deconstructive way. Mary Rogers was, in some part, written off as a light-skirted female who, although no one came outright and said it, was seen as someone who invited unwanted, scandalous male attention that eventually resulted in her downfall. Without giving away the ending, it became important for my story that a female detective was on the case, bringing to it a perspective that understood without judgement, and concluded without condemnation.

If you like punk genres and Poe, this is the anthology for you. If you like punk genres, period, check out the first two Writerpunk anthologies. If you are a writer and would like to submit to future Punk anthologies (we’re currently working on an “English Class Goes Punk” project), come join us in the Writerpunk group on Facebook!

Until the next time, my friends!