(TL, DR: Check out the Kickstarter for That Which Cannot Be Undone, an exciting anthology of Ohio-themed horror upcoming from Cracked Skull Press)
Note from JB: Although I’ve lived most of my life in Texas, my earliest years were spent in Ohio – born in Columbus and toddling around Mansfield. I remember feeling overwhelmed and unnerved by the imposing Romanesque edifice of the Ohio State Reformatory (not that, as a four year-old, I was using phrases like “imposing Romanesque edifice”), still in operation at that time.
Then there are odd bits from my family’s history, more than a few of them touched by the mysterious or the horrific. My maternal great-great grandmother, the automatic writer – a devout Methodist fearful her hand was possessed by the devil himself. My paternal great-grandfather, hanged by his brothers and sisters from the barn door (supposedly because he’d gone to bat and then refused to play the field in one too many games of cornfeild baseball — but I’ve always suspected there is more to the tale), his father returning from town and cutting him down in the nick of time.
Several years ago, I had the pleasure of being involved with Soteira Press’ Horror USA project. Since then, I’ve had an appreciation and affection for state-themed horror anthologies. Combined with the personal history outlined above, I was delighted to discover Cracked Skull Press’ That Which Cannot Be Undone project. They were kind enough to make the time to talk with me about the upcoming anthology.
Q: Cracked Skull Press is a new publishing house. Tell me a little bit about the press, its team, and how it all came together.
A: Cracked Skull Press is comprised of Ohio-based horror authors David Day, Randall Drum, Ray Pantle, and Rami Ungar. The press was formed because each team member shares a desire to promote horror literature and raise awareness of lesser-known talent within the horror community. The team came together through shared connections in the (horror) writing community.
Q: Your first publication, scheduled for release in October of this year, is an anthology of Ohio-themed horror stories entitled That Which Cannot Be Undone. Tell me how the idea for that anthology came about and what the title means in this context.
A: We wanted our first anthology project to feature horror authors who were born in, or currently live in, Ohio, and it made sense that Ohio should be the setting for each story. We had several concepts in mind, but what really resonated with us was the theme of “that which cannot be undone.” We feel this provides our contributing authors a lot of space to exploit a theme that does not put in place any limitations. In this instance, the theme also makes for a compelling title for the collection.
Q: What are some of your favorite bits of Ohio folklore and urban legend (ghost stories, cryptids, creepypastas, eerie locations, whatever) which inspire you and that you might be hoping will make an appearance within the anthology?
A: Ohio has no shortage of dark legends and equally creepy locations. Legends such as the melon head children–disabled children who were experimented on and now live in the woods outside of the Cleveland area–have provided inspiration for many tales destined to frighten and mystify readers.
David: I have a special love for The Moonville Tunnel and The Ridges, both in Southeast Ohio. I spent several years living in Athens while in school at Ohio University, and have visited both locations on several occasions. I’ve never had any kind of supernatural experience, but the mood and tone of both places are very evocative.
Rami: I’ve been to several haunted locations in the state, and I experience stuff all the time. My own story takes place at the Ohio State Reformatory, which I can attest to is haunted to the brim. And the Bellaire House in southeast Ohio has a really nasty feel to it. Anyone who goes there is likely to come away a little changed. And there are so many more worthy of writing stories about! Hopefully we’ll see some of them in the anthology.
Q: You already have some excellent authors lined up for the anthology, tell me a little bit about them and, if you’re willing, maybe a few hints about what we’ll see from them in That Which Cannot Be Undone.
A: Ohio has a grand literary tradition and we’re fortunate to have so many wonderful horror authors who made themselves available for our first collection. While we can’t provide a full bio for each author here, we do have several Bram Stoker Award-winners, such as Tim Waggoner, Lucy Snyder, Gary Braunbeck, and Gwendolyn Kiste. We do not yet have the submissions from our contributors, so we can’t provide any insights to their stories.
Q: This year, Michigan beat the Buckeyes 42-27. Can your authors come up with anything more terrifying than that?
A: Challenge accepted!
Q: The Kickstarter for That Which Cannot Be Undone has some really unique incentives, especially at the higher levels. Tell us a little bit about that.
A: We are really grateful for all of our contributors who have helped us create some very special rewards and incentives for pledging. Many of them have promised signed copies of their work, such as Tim Waggoner’s novelization of the recent movie “Halloween Kills.” But our favorite might be the Baphomet Bash reward, where you and a plus one can come to our release party in October and hang out with the authors who made this anthology possible. Talk about a horror fan’s dream!
Q: Has Cracked Skull started looking beyond That Which Cannot Be Undone? If so, what’s on the horizon for you?
A: Our focus right now is doing everything we can to put together the highest quality collection of stories we can, with equally high quality put into the production of the anthology. Beyond this first collection, we anticipate our future in publishing to include collections, novels, and more in print and online.
Q: It takes so many things to bring an anthology like this together, what’s been the key to success for That Which Cannot Be Undone?
A: We are grateful for the support we have received from our friends, families, and most of all, our backers on Kickstarter. We hope they are as excited as we are about “That Which Cannot Be Undone” and the future of Cracked Skull Press.
Q: How can my readers engage with Cracked Skull Press online?
A: At this time, Cracked Skull Press can be found on Facebook,Twitter (@CSkullPress) and Instagram (@crackedskullpress). Our online presence will expand later this year.
Check out the Kickstarter for That Which Cannot Be Undone, and look for more great things in the future from Cracked Skull Press.