TABLE OF CONTENTS, PART 1
Chiral Mad 2 is shaping nicely, one incredible story at a time. Acceptances have been announced / teased through Facebook and Twitter up to this point, but it’s probably best to summarize the book as it stands thus far (basically, modified plagiarism of the previous social media posts). After hundreds of rejected stories (250+ / a lot of them worth publishing) and a bunch of amazing stories that have progressed to the maybe pile (20 or so / pending how this anthology progresses and how such stories fit the mold), here’s the current line-up:
1. “TIGHT PARTNERS” by GENE O’NEILL
This new short story, in my opinion, is one of his best (Gord Rollo seems to agree); so good, in fact, that it bypassed the “maybe pile” completely. This guy has always astonished me with his fiction. He writes from the heart.
Gene appeared in the first Chiral Mad with his short story “The White Quetzal”. His collection, Taste of Tenderloin, won the Bram Stoker Award in 2010, and he was previously nominated for The Confessions of St. Zach (long fiction) and “Balance” (short fiction). His new collection, Dance of the Blue Lady, is coming soon from Bad Moon Books.
2. “THE CHUTE” by GARY McMAHON
This story will make you squirm with every page until you go mad. Gary’s “Some Pictures in an Album” appeared in the first volume, a story that is now reprinted in The Best Horror of the Year, Volume 5 (edited by Ellen Datlow)
Gary is the award-winning author of several novels, collections, and numerous short stories. Some of my favorites: Pretty Little Dead Things, Dead Bad Things, and The Concrete Grove. Why this guy doesn’t surpass Stephen King in terms of sales is beyond me. This guy’s work is incredible.
3. “WELCOME HOME, ALL YOU UNINVITED” by ERIK T. JOHNSON
If you’ve read Johnson, you know his literary work to be rather unique. Written Backwards first discovered Erik with his story “The Inconsolable Key Company” in Pellucid Lunacy, and then “The Apologies” in the first Chiral Mad.
Look for his slightly insane (aka genius) short fiction in anthologies such as Box of Delights, and Song Stories: Volume 1, among other places. He’s just freakin’ good. Plain and simple. Well, not really plain and not really simple. Seek him out wherever you can.
4. “INTERFERENCE” by ANDREW HOOK
This is a perfect story about a man with a chiral existence: MATT (even the letters in his name have symmetry). Speaking of symmetry and perfection, Andrew’s story “The Perfection of Symmetry” appeared in the first Chiral Mad.
Andrew is a writer of slipstream fiction, the genre that bends the others, and is published in over a hundred places. I recommend starting with his short fiction collections: Residue, Slow Motion Wars (co-written with Allen Ashley), and Nitrospective. Graham Joyce says “Andrew Hook is a wonderfully original writer.” And I agree.
5. “THE WORD” by RAMSEY CAMPBELL
This novelette is about the release of a new book as influential as the Bible or Koran. This will be one of the few reprints in the anthology. “The Word” first appeared in Revelations (edited by Douglas E. Winter) in 1997. It’s time to resurface this fine story.
I first met Ramsey at the 2013 World Horror Convention is New Orleans not long ago, but have read him my entire life. He has won basically every award you can think of (in multiples), including the World Fantasy Award, British Fantasy Award, Bram Stoker Award, the WHC Grand Master Award, the HWA Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Living Legend Award from the International Horror Guild. Oxford Companion to English Literature calls Ramsey “Britain’s most respected living horror writer.”
6. “THE COUNSELOR” by MORT CASTLE
This story pulls at the heartstrings. Mort means a lot to me, and I am honored to publish a story with such emotional impact. Along with mentoring me early on in my writing endeavors, Mort also helped me obtain rights to Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 for my short story “Primal Tongue” (which I have recently nicknamed “The Fireman”).
I was privileged to sit next to Mort at the 2012 Bram Stoker Awards ® ceremony and watch him win for his excellent anthology, Shadow Show: All New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury (with Sam Weller), and then for his fiction collection, New Moon on the Water. He even let me hold the statue for a moment.
7. “ORANGE IS FOR ANGUISH, BLUE FOR INSANITY” by DAVID MORRELL
This is one of my all-time favorites. This novelette first appeared in the masterpiece Prime Evil (another anthology by Douglas E. Winter) back in 1988, and is a perfect fit for Chiral Mad 2. Along with Thomas F. Monteleone, F. Paul Wilson, Douglas E. Winter, Mort Castle, Elizabeth Massie and Gary A. Braunbeck, David Morrell was one of my early writing mentors.
David is probably best known for creating the character John Rambo with First Blood, an excellent novel. He is a co-founder of the International Thriller Writers Association, but has also written horror. From what I’ve discovered, his writing is flawless. He’s an Edgar, Anthony, and Macavity nominee, as well as a three-time recipient of the Bram Stoker Award. Whether or not you’re a Rambo fan, pick up The Brotherhood of the Rose, or Creepers / Scavenger, or his latest epic masterpiece, Murder as a Fine Art.
8. “?” by JACK KETCHUM
“Who’s the scariest guy in America? Probably Jack Ketchum.” Stephen King once blurbed that about Jack Ketchum. I’ve met the guy in person (Ketchum, not King), he even sent a reprint for the first Chiral Mad, but I do not yet believe the words of Mr. King. Jack is a sweetheart; although, his fiction will scare the living crap out of you. If crap lives, he will scare it out of you. Enough said. What is he submitting to Chiral Mad 2, you wonder? I’m wondering the same thing. I’m not really sure, but I do know this: it will be an original short story by “The Scariest Guy in America” and I can’t wait.
If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading Jack, I highly recommend starting with Red to ease you into his world, and then The Girl Next Door to ruin your world completely, and then I’m Not Sam (with Lucky McKee) to show you his true mad genius. He’s won all sorts of awards. And he rightfully deserves them.
So, now you have a taste of Chiral Mad 2. How’s that for an early line-up? Look for more announcements soon on the various social media outlets. Once another chunk of acceptances rolls around (thanks to the cutting block floor), I’ll post a TABLE OF CONTENTS, PART 2.
Until then, I will keep reading, looking for the next story to accept.