One Nation, Fifty Faces of Horror

As both a writer and a reader, I am very excited about Horror USA, the ambitious new anthology series from Sotiera Press. They envision a fifty volume series, with one anthology decidicated to horror stories set in each American state.

Their California anthology (both from a thematic and a marketing perspective, a wise place to start) was released on December 13th and has already generated substantial buzz. And it’s a 560-page monster, offering readers great value for the price.

I’m pleased to have one of my own tales, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Eats Its Children,” included in the collection. Drawing on my background in music journalism and music history, it’s the tale of an ambitious young  music journalist from L.A. who uncovers a forgotten bit of musical history  and follows the trail to an ill-fated Salton Sea community … and into darkness.

“Too Greedily and Too Deep,” with apologies to Tolkien.

And I’ve signed contacts for stories to be included in their next two anthologies, Texas and Washington State, scheduled for release in March 2020.

I think of “Darker than Black” as H.P. Lovecraft meets Cormac McCarthy: a tale of isolation, madness, and what happens when a rig crew “delved too greedily and too deep” during the West Texas oil boom of the 1920s.

Washington State’s best-known missing person turns up in “Rapture of the Birdman.”

While I eschewed anything involving the Sasquatch (figuring the publisher would receive a bigfoot-sized pile of submissions involving the Northwest’s favorite Cryptid), “Rapture of the Birdman” draws together one well-known bit of Washington Forteana with several lesser-known pieces of history and folklore into a story with influences as diverse as Deliverance, “The Most Dangerous Game,” Pet Semetary, and 1980s sci-fi/time travel film “The Final Countdown,” with the obligatory nod to Twin Peaks.

The ill-fated Salton Sea

Of those three, “Rapture of the Birdman” is the one of which I am most proud. Having spent most of my four+ decades there, I was perfeclty comfortable with the Texas story. With “Rock ‘n’ Roll Eats Its Children,” by revolving the tale around music journalism and setting 95% of the action in the Salton Sea region (an area I arguably know better than most Californians), I was able to control the parameters of the story to keep myself on comfortable ground. With Washington State, however, I had no such assurances. Sure, I could (and did) do my research, but I couldn’t really know it rang true.  Apparently it did (at least enough).

Even aside from reasons of self-interest, this is a series I wish Sotiera Press all luck with. The concept is as fabulous as it is ambitious, an opportunity to showcase the tremendous diversity both of the horror genre and of America itself.

And, yes, I intend to continue submitting. I don’t know if I’ll try my hand at all 50 anthologies but I do know the next states they’re opening for submissions are Lousiana, Alaska, and Hawaii. I already have notes for all three.