First, there will be a minor delay in the next installment of “The Cannibal Priests of New England,” as Jeremy Duncan attends to personal matters. I do not anticipate the delay being longer than a week. The next installment — “The Darling of the Abattoir” — is one of the longer ones, in which we first encounter Alice and pick up a few hints about the Farms. Jeremy’s done an amazing job so far, and if he needs a little more time for this one I’m more than happy to give it to him. He makes me look good.
In the meantime, I’ll take the opportunity to offer some updates about other work.
“Wild Acre” is finally out, in Gary McMahon’s anthology Visions Fading Fast. This is a story I’m pretty proud of. It is, in a sense, a werewolf story, which I know some people find a little passe. I like to think this one is a bit different, though. It doesn’t go in a direction I’ve seen these things go. But I love werewolves. I’ve always found them pretty terrifying, and I was eager to take a crack at them. Here’s a money shot:
“Finally he reaches the top of the hill and looks inside.
Dennis is on his back, his body frosted by moonlight. He’s lifting his head, staring down at himself. Organs are strewn to one side of his body like beached, black jellyfish, dark blood pumping slowly from the gape in his belly and spreading around him in a gory nimbus. His head drops back and he lifts it again. Renaldo is on his back too, arms flailing, trying to hold off the thing bestride him: huge, black-furred, dog-begotten, its man-like fingers wrapped around Renaldo’s face and pushing his head into the floor so hard that the wood cracks beneath it. It lifts its shaggy head, bloody ropes of drool swinging from its snout and arcing into the moonsilvered night. It peels its lips from its teeth. Renaldo’s screams are muffled beneath its hand.”
I’m working on a longer story called “The Atlas of Hell,” sort of a fusion (I like to think) of Richard Stark and Satanism. It’s much more in the tradition of the Cannibal Priests, though: there’s no goal here but to have fun. It’s fast-paced, over the top, and, I hope, a good time. It features Jack Oleander, a walk-on character I used years ago in a small piece called “The Malady of Ghostly Cities,” written for Jeff VanderMeer’s first Lambshead anthology. I’ve considered revisiting that character many times since; it’s a pleasure to do so now, and to really give him room to move around. I’ll be reading from this one at Readercon next week.
Finally, I’m working on the novel, currently called Map of the Lower Heavens. It’s a bewildering experience, writing in this form. I’m excited, scared — all the usual things when writing a novel, I suppose. I’m going to resist the impulse to post an excerpt just yet, but I probably will eventually.
And, coming next year: You Go Where It Takes You: stories, from Small Beer Press.
In real life, Mia just turned twelve, and she’s back in Alabama for three weeks to visit her mom. Once again I find myself feeling unanchored and listless without her here. But there’s suddenly a lot more free time; let’s see if I can’t derive some measure of good from it.