Darkness Wired

Now out in paperback, the Lovecraftian horror anthology, Darkness Wired! This includes my short story, “The Lurker in the Comments”, an epistolary tale about a prominent conspiracy theorist who runs afoul of a malefic Outer God by the name of Nyarlathotep.

Some personal backstory for both of you who are interested:

The first (and last) time I had written a short story was back in the 1990s when I submitted a couple half-hearted stories to the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. I didn’t expect them to be accepted (and they weren’t, rightly so), but I wanted to at least be able to say that I had submitted something for the sake of getting a response.

Fast forward to 2018: I just turned 42 and realizing that I am not getting any younger, I decided this would be the year I got something published (after all, 42 is the answer to life, the universe and everything. And yes, that actually was a major reason why that had to be the year). I wrote several short stories, stopping all of them at the rough-draft phase with the intention of revising them all at once later, but it was becoming increasingly unlikely that I would both complete any of these to my satisfaction and also attain my publication goal. That was when I came across the submission call for the Darkness Wired anthology, a series of stories examining the intersection of modern (and future) technology with certain creatures from the stories of H.P. Lovecraft. I thought the premise was brilliant, and with a hard deadline I figured that — just like when I was procrastinating on assignments in school — it would force me to finally put something (anything!) down on metaphorical paper for submission.

After spending way too long trying to assemble a story about Ithaqua, Wendigos, and Artificial Intelligence, I found myself low on time and instead opted for a scenario that would require little in the way of future-tech world building. Consequently, I settled on the story premise set in 2020, combining social media, a disease that turns its victims to bone, and the Outer God, Nyarlathotep.

The scenario was laid out as follows:

Technology: Media, social media, news stream. Video streams
What we want to see: Rock us with some epistolary narrative. Let us know who was affected by FOA, where are they and how they deal with a sudden onset illness, that is always accompanied by dreams of distant lands, deep waters and foreign skies not of our world. Of flitting images of creatures just outside of your view dogging your steps.
Year: 2020
Settings: worldwide
Overview: Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Agressiva (FOA)
Sudden onset
Origin: Unknown
Cure: Unknown
Other unusual symptoms: Vivid unsettling dreams and hallucinations
Initial prognosis: A horrible fate, death assured as the soft organs of the victim’s body turns to bone. After one year the disease losses much of it’s rapid lethality but it looks like it’s here to stay
Adversary: Nyarlathotep, sick of serving sleeping gods. Those lazy things, slumbering away as he toils.

I spent most of my time trying to incorporate all of the enumerated elements into the story (epistolary narrative, the year 2020, social media, a disease that turns people to bone, hallucinations of other worlds, things seen out of the corner of the eye, Nyarlathotep, and the creature’s motivation being a weariness of serving the Outer Gods). Once it clicked that I could use the format of a blog and a comments section to tell the story (thereby fulfilling the epistolary requirement), things began to fall into place and the connections between the disparate elements soon fell into place, so much so that I had a surplus of ideas that required paring down, forcing me to write and revise the material right up until the submission deadline (or what I thought might be the deadline as a bout of overthinking had me questioning if the deadline meant BY that date, or ON that date. Either way, I was not taking any chances).

To make a long story short (admittedly not my forte), the good people at Notch’s Publishing House were kind enough to accept my story, and thanks to them, I was able to meet my publication goal two days short of my 43rd birthday (just like in school, putting everything off to the last possible minute).

Now that the book is out in ebook and paperback format (feel free to buy a copy of ten!), I am back to the hard part: working on the next project, revising the half-dozen rough drafts sitting unedited on my hard drive whenever I can scrounge up the time to finish working on them.

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