American Gothic/Gothic American

I’m excited to report that I have received my contributor copies for Flame Tree Press’s new anthology American Gothic Short Stories, which contains my story “Gothic American.” The anthology features fourteen original tales and a slew of classic reprints. These latter are what make this writing credit my proudest one to date. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would see my name listed on the same Table of Contents page with so many of my literary idols–preeminent American Gothic authors such as Charles Brockden Brown, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Flannery O’Connor, and Shirley Jackson.

“Gothic American” is one of my favorite pieces that I have written, largely because it deals with my favorite work of art: Grant Wood’s American Gothic. The house that inspired Wood and formed the backdrop for the now-iconic couple in the 1930 painting still stands in Eldon, Iowa, and has become an offbeat sort of tourist attraction (with visitors inevitably recreating the scene from the painting as they pose for photos). My story casts a darker shadow over such lighthearted mimicry. It also speculates: what if the American Gothic House (as this historic landmark is now called) actually was an American Gothic house?

The story went through countless drafts (and accumulated its fair share of rejections) over the years before I felt I finally got it right. I wanted “Gothic American” to allow multiple interpretations by readers, and believe the version published in American Gothic Short Stories has achieved the correct level of ambiguity (apropos of Wood’s vaguely-unsettling painting, whose meaning is so hard to pin down). I also believe the story has found the perfect home in Flame Tree Press’s anthology, and am thrilled to see it published there.

 

American Gothic Inspiration, Part II

As I mentioned in a post last week, Flame Tree Press is releasing a new anthology titled American Gothic Short Stories, which includes the first publication of my story “Gothic American.” To celebrate the release of the anthology, Flame Tree has put another Author Q&A post up on its Fantasy and Gothic blog. One of the prompts this time around is: “What are your favorite stories from this genre?” Click on over to find out my choices, along with those by writers such as Lucy A. Snyder and Ramsey Campbell.

 

American Gothic Inspiration

Flame Tree Press is set to publish its latest anthology, American Gothic Short Stories, which includes a new tale by me titled “Gothic American.” In conjunction with the book’s release, Flame Tree has asked the contributors to discuss the genesis of their story idea. My response, along with 18 others, has been posted on Flame Tree’s Fantasy & Gothic blog. So head that way to find my verbal signpost pointing to one of the greatest landmarks of our Macabre Republic:

Hundredfold Horror

After receiving over 7000 reader nominations, NPR has published its list of 100 Favorite Horror Stories. The choices (novels, individual stories, and anthologies) have been grouped into ten categories–Blood Roots: Foundational Horror; Zombies and Vampires and Werewolves: Oh My; The Fear in Our Stars: Cosmic Horror and Weird Fiction; Horrible Houses: Ghosts and Hauntings; Final Girls: Horror By and About Woman; Horribly Ever After: Fantasy and Fairy Tale Horror; Hell is Other People: Real World Horrors; Short and Sharp: Story anthologies; The Kids Aren’t All Right: Creepy Kids; and Scar Your Children: Horror for Beginners. The judges (Stephen Graham Jones, Ruthanna Emrys, Tananarive Due, and Grady Hendrix) wax a tad political in their selections/commentary–(modern revisions of) Lovecraft’s racism seems to be a recurrent theme–but overall the accompanying summaries to each text are quite enjoyable to read. So whether you are looking to revisit a classic or to discover lesser-known scare fare, you can now be guided by an ultimate syllabus of horror. Quot libros, quam breve tempus, as some guy named Stephen King likes to say.