This piece is a bit late coming but I’ve been overwhelmed lately. A lot of great things happening in my life. Moved to Portland, found a place, finally nailing it down on Monday and moving my stuff in. So, there’s that and that’s great. That’s the biggest change for me but not the only one. I’ve had nose to grindstone as a Bizarro and sometime horror author in earnest for about seven years now. It’s been tough going, I’ve lost faith in myself and my work and my potential a lot. I’ve thought of every bad situation I’ve been in “this is all there is, that’s the breaks.” I cannot count the amount I have suffered because one time or another I thought something I did didn’t matter or a hundred bucks or so for something I need could never be attained and felt millennia away.
But here in Portland, things have started to change in big ways. First of all, I have been writing much more short fiction due to the influence of my editor Jeff Burk and colleague Edward Morris and Portland’s stellar community of writers and pubishers including not only many of my Bizarro brethren, Eraserhead’s inspiring and amazing editor-in-chief and publisher Rose O’ Keefe but also the peerless Miss Jennifer Robin. I have thrice come up with fresh fiction for Ed’s reading series The Hour that Stretches, which is a great place for you to see all manner of stellar talent, such as Nathan Carson, also of the metal band Witch Mountain, whose friendship and support has been completely integral to my establishing myself in Portland. If Nate is doing something, you should see it. If he is selling something, you should buy it. But anyway, I have gotten into the habit of writing a lot of stories and one of these has managed to pay off for me in a very special way.
Ross Lockhart of Word Horde, the editor of The Book of Cthulhu, The Book of Cthulhu 2 and Tales of Jack the Ripper and also the author of Chick Bassist has accepted my story “Hello, Handsome” for his anthology Giallo Fantastique. Giallo Fantastique features an assortment of authors taking on the Italian crime genre in their own inimitable fashions. I love Gialli so made sure to ask Ross if there was space in the antho. I am relieved, grateful and proud to have gotten into this anthology. It represents my first semi pro sale. It paid a phone bill and fed me for several days. It makes me happy to have sent out one of my little bloodbirds and had it come back.
I was also proud to have recently found out that another of my stories has made some headway for my career. Integral Splatterpunk, editor and Fangoria columnist John Skipp took notice of my story “Beast with Two Backs” from the anthology In Heaven, Everything is Fine, Fiction inspired by the films of David Lynch. When I was mentioned in Fangoria online, I felt like Doctor Hook and the Medicine Show on the cover of Rolling Stone. Fangoria has been serious shit in my life. Ironically, it’s where I discovered Dario Argento, whose films were obviously an inspiration on my story for Ross’ anthology. This would have been enough to make me grateful I wrote that story and had the “HOLY FUCK, WHAT WAS THAT?” dream that inspired it. But the story didn’t stop giving from there. Ellen Datlow, THE EDITOR when it comes to horror, not only read but took notice of this story. I am proud to say that this led to an honorable mention in Best Horror of the Year 2013. I was over the moon. You don’t always get to count on any kind of money or recognition for writing, so this story and those who believed in it truly blessed me.
But I’m not through feeling grateful and bragging. I seem like a person life hasn’t been kind to and that’s often true. But my Bizarro family has blessed me deeply with their acceptance, their generosity and their friendship during this transition time and that would have been plenty. But this year, I earned a nomination for the Wonderland Award. The Wonderland Award represents the best in this genre, chosen by readers and fans and also by my peers. The Wonderland is the only award for the Bizarro genre, so the competition each year is fierce, particularly as the genre expands and the floodgates open on new works. The community surprised me again when I won this award. This means for me that my work does not go unnoticed, that the times when my sense of purpose is challenged, it is only a nightmare I am living. I write books and people give a shit. Thanks, everyone.
Me, accepting the Wonderland, but not the thought of being photographed with it.