Masks out now featuring “Blood & Gingerbread”

Masks - final coverWhat a great way to start off autumn. My latest story “Blood & Gingerbread” has just released as part of the anthology Masks from Black Shuck Books, an imprint of Great British Horror. It seems I am becoming a British author by proxy as this is my second in a series of at least four sequential books lined up with British presses.

This story was fun to write. Inspired by Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and real-world accounts of militant separatist compounds, “Blood & Gingerbread” is set in a secluded community where bizarre annual rituals keep death at bay. It explores the raw human need to control, holding domain over violence, nature, families, behavior, life, and death. What happens when that power is disrupted?

Check out the table of contents below featuring some of the great writers you’ll find in the independent horror field right now. Masks is edited by Dean M Drinkel and the cover art is by the late and great illustrator James Powell, may he rest in peace.

  • PORCELAIN  by James Everington
  • BLOOD & GINGERBREAD  by D T Griffith
  • THE HOUSE OF A THOUSAND FACES  by Chris Stokes
  • VARIETY NIGHT  by Russell Proctor
  • AFTER THE END, THE BEGINNING  by Christine Morgan and Lucas Williams
  • THE MAN WHO FED THE FOXES  by Phil Sloman
  • MANY HAPPY RETURNS  by Kyle Rader
  • TRIXIE  by Christopher Beck
  • THE FACE COLLECTOR  by Stephanie Ellis
  • AN ABSENT HOST  by F A Nosić
  • THE SILENCING MACHINE  by Clockhouse London Writers
  • HIS LAST PORTRAIT  by Adrian Cole
  • THE JAR BY THE DOOR  by Icy Sedgwick

Purchasing info and other details are available on Black Shuck Book’s site: blackshuck.greatbritishhorror.com/masks.

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New Anthology, New Story… The Jasper Scarab

And Death Shall Have No Dominion - frontI am excited to share more publishing news this month. My story “The Jasper Scarab” is featured in a new anthology from Lycopolis Press edited by Dean M. Drinkel titled And Death Shall Have No Dominion: Tales of the Titanic.

At the time I wrote this story I had been reading a collection of noir short stories by some respected authors of the genre. I began exploring noir themes as I developed “The Jasper Scarab,” moving on to a divergent path from my standard horror and dark fiction work. I couldn’t tell you with any certainty that the final story is indeed noir or something else, but the dark influence is most certainly there.

“The Jasper Scarab” tells the story of William Boyd, a lone childhood survivor of the Titanic disaster. An ancient Egyptian artifact that traversed the Atlantic with him appears to be the common thread in a series of tragic events involving loved ones, yet William cannot depart with the object despite his several attempts.

Book Purchase

And Death Shall Have No Dominion: Tales of the Titanic is available in paperback on Amazon in the US and UK.

Amazon US: Paperback
Amazon UK: Paperback

“The Last Gun” published on the digital edition of Section 8 Magazine

Art by Guinotte Wise

Art by Guinotte Wise

I’m please to announce publication of my dystopian story “the Last Gun” in the digital edition of Section 8 Magazine, an international art and literary publication based in Seattle, Washington, US.

A story of unrequited love and casual violence, “The Last Gun” tells of the Newsman, a self-appointed traveling storyteller, news carrier, and merchant. He pays a routine visit to one of his usual stops – a decrepit American city inhabited by a young population descended from the survivors of a catastrophic civil war. He brings with him news of other communities, old songs, and what is purported to be the last known gun.

You may read the story in full here, no subscription is required: Section8Magazine.com/the-last-gun/.

Masks anthology from KnighWatch unveiled

Masks cover artwork by James Powell

Masks cover artwork by James Powell

I am always excited to announce my involvement in a new book, this time for my first of hopefully many publications with the UK-based KnightWatch Press. Masks is a new anthology compiled and edited by Dean M Drinkel anticipated to release later this year.

Inspired by the great Shirley Jackson, my story “Blood, Gingerbread and Life” is set in a secluded community where bizarre annual rituals keep death at bay. It explores the raw human need to control, holding domain over violence, nature, families, behavior, life, and death. What happens when that power is disrupted?

The table of contents features a group of diverse talents, including a handful of authors with whom I’ve had the honor of sharing other anthology titles.

Many Happy Returns – Kyle Rader
Trixie – Christopher L Beck
An Absent Host – F.A. Nosić
Variety Night – Russell Proctor
The Silencing Machine – Clockhouse Writers
After The End – Christine Morgan / Lucas Williams
The Face Collector – Stephanie Ellis
The Jar By The Door – Icy Sedgwick
Porcelain – James Everington
The Man Who Fed The Foxes – Phil Sloman
The House Of A Thousand Faces – Chris Stokes
Blood, Gingerbread and Life – David T Griffith
His Last Portrait – Adrian Cole

If you are interested in reviewing Masks before publication, please send an inquiry to theresa.derwin@yahoo.co.uk.

Am I a horror writer?

question mark coverI’ve had stories appear now in six horror anthologies. Some of those books, in full disclosure, I had a hand in designing the covers or page layouts, though completely separate from my story submissions and inclusions. A few more horror-genre publications containing my work are on the way to print in the next few months, but I still often wonder whether I am truly a horror writer.

Before anyone lambasts me for such a self-serving ponderous statement, I’m being completely honest about this question, and this is my personal blog. All organization and personal blogs are self-serving regardless of their intents and purposes, don’t blind yourself to this one truism.

Thing is, I never set out to be a horror writer. I am always drawn toward dark material for the books I read or TV shows I watch, which in turn influences or inspires what I write. I’ve tried my hand at happy stories and they never feel authentic to me. Difficult decisions, personal conflicts, and imperfect flaws that lead to dramatic and usually tragic conclusions are what drive me. They are sometimes allegories, other times criticisms on or responses to our current day culture and society. The messages may not be obvious to everyone, and I don’t expect them to be; they typically serve as starting points from which a story takes on its own life. As a story should for every writer.

These statements or criticisms on the world, our society, or our culture come from a perspective of gritty realism, they are neither optimistic nor pessimistic. They just are. The world exists as we shape its existence, both good and bad. This perspective spawns the perpetual evolution of my creativity: a dark point-of-view mired in grit and horror; a creative process carried by a glimmer of hope that challenges an ominous darkness and crushing fear. Think Baroque music and painting. Think Gothic architecture and literature.

Looking back at these paragraphs I just wrote I realize just how subjective it is to define one’s work in any particular genre. This is art and not science after all, there are no mandated axioms on the natural world’s behaviors that dictate creativity, just concepts and ideas.

So my stories may not contain much gore, graphic sex or violence, or the standard supernatural creatures that account for many horror movie and story tropes, but they do contain accounts of mental anguish, trauma, shock, and the deterioration of one’s mental faculties. In that sense, these attributes are real life everyday horrors of the human experience, whether they are set in a dystopian backdrop or a current-day real-world environment that may or may not be affected by a supernatural influence depending on the protagonist’s perspective.

The answer, then, is yes. I do write horror.