All my life, people have been trying to shut me up.
It started in grade school, when speaking my mind got me sent out into the hall. This kept up through junior high, where I’d commit the sin of “talking back” to teachers, earning me a double-digit tally of detentions.
I mostly stayed out of trouble through high school and college by funneling my unauthorized thoughts into writing, without ever bothering to try to publish any of it.
In my twenties, when I took a job as an environmental organizer, the state would muzzle my legal protests with detainments and arrests. On one occasion, I was passing out brochures on a public sidewalk when a SWAT team member and former Blackwater operative threw me to the pavement, kneed me in the neck, and confiscated my camera before carting me off to jail.
Upon discovering the political power of the written word, my activist career from that point on involved me being censored and blacklisted by government agencies and corporate-funded NGOs for daring to critique their failures.
After retiring from activism in favor of journalism, despite writing for dozens of publications and winning multiple awards, I eventually learned that editors would reject any pitch that didn’t conform to their own rigid ideologies.
Venturing into the horror fiction world, I was able to sneak several of my short stories into some forward-thinking publications and subversive anthologies, but not a single publishing house would touch my far more “controversial” longer fiction.
But 2020 changed everything. That’s when I sent my novella, MALINAE, to D&T Publishing’s Dawn Ellis Shea. Not only didn’t Dawn blanch at what I had to say, she offered me a contract for the book (coming out in April).
Praise the dark gods for people like Dawn; the opposite of censors, they’re the amplifiers raising up the voices of artists the establishment doesn’t want you to hear.
Over the last century, traditional publishing has brought us the most famous horror stories ever told. Big names such as Stephen King and Dean Koontz thrust horror’s tendrils into the minds of millions of Americans, popularizing the genre.
Fast forward to 2019, where small presses and indie publishing are now bringing us the lion’s share of horror fiction—including what I believe to be some of the best stuff ever written, in what many are calling a horror renaissance.
The reason is simple: Small presses have more freedom to publish unique and diverse voices, acquired tastes that might not appeal to a mainstream palate. While these conduits can sometimes be hit or miss, more often than not, they’re where you’ll find the most artful—and dangerous—writing out there. Giving free rein to authors is how a literary genre evolves.
Which is why I’m all shivers to announce that, this fall, Denver Horror Collective (of which I’m a founding member) will be publishing a horror fiction anthology of its own!