Praise for A World of Horror
“Guignard’s editorial prowess is evident throughout; he has selected works that are as shocking as they are thought-provoking. This breath of fresh air for horror readers shows the limitless possibilities of the genre.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A fresh collection of horror authors exploring monsters and myths from their homelands.” —Library Journal
“A cultural tour in the sacred art of horror—definitive proof that ghosts, ghouls, goblins, and more are equally terrifying in every corner of the world.” —Fanbase Press
“This is the book we need right now! Fresh voices from all over the world, bringing American audiences new ways to feel the fear. Horror is a universal genre and for too long we have only experienced one western version of it. No more. Get ready to experience a whole new world of terror.” —Becky Spratford; librarian, reviewer, RA for All: Horror
Introduction: Diversity in Fiction
THIS, ANTHOLOGY, A WORLD OF HORROR, MARKS THE SIXTH I have edited (fifth published, with another forthcoming). Most of those books involved quite a bit of “slush reading,” meaning thousands of submissions coming in from hopeful authors around the world that I would evaluate and discard or accept. Although when I say “around the world,” what I mean is that roughly 95% of the submissions came from the same geographic areas of predominantly-speaking English nations (North America, England, and Australia) with a few outliers from elsewhere. It makes sense: I’m posting for stories in English, offering to print in English, and so English-speaking writers respond.
Yet at the same time, I also despair of reading the “stock voice,” meaning similar stories of plot structure, similar characters and situations, similar belief systems, similar fears; by no means does that imply what I’m reading is “bad,” but just that sameness leads to apathy of literature.
In general, I think there’s a lack of cultural diversity in horror fiction, and I also think that’s something audiences want to see changed . . . at least I think that based on my own perspective: I love reading stories from authors around the world, because I love stories. I love fresh voices, unique ideas, I love discovering lesser-known monsters or fables, I love reading about history and civilizations and other peoples’ perceptions and conventions. And, while I think all this, I realize I’m part of the problem. Because of what came in via slush submissions on my prior projects, I didn’t look beyond, and I ended up publishing and promoting that very sameness of English-speaking authors who are all generally white, educated, and economically advantaged, and who, really, make up only a small percentage of the global population. Truly, there’s no shortage of tales to be shared from the rest of the world, but not everyone has the opportunity.
Which is why I wanted to undertake this venture.
It’s important for readers from all walks of life to see characters like themselves, to understand there are others experiencing comparable feelings, leading lives as they do, acting as they do, even in fictional worlds of horror and fantasy. And it’s important for readers to see characters unlike themselves, to provide exposure to cultures and traditions that are unfamiliar, to increase understanding of priorities, struggles, and perspectives.
Ultimately, bringing together writers of different backgrounds leads to a richer reading experience, one that can stimulate and inspire us with new ideas, can provide normalcy to concepts we might find strange solely due to their unfamiliarity.
Of course there are many other publishers who have put together works of cultural celebration before my attempt, and many others who have done it much better, but the advocacy is still too infrequent (*for some additional reading suggestions, look up: Nightmare Magazine’s various issues of “People of___Destroy Horror”; Apex Books’ World of Science Fiction series; and http://www.samovar.com, the online side of Strange Horizons that publishes translations of spec fiction authors from non-English languages). I think it’s necessary to create publications like this, and I think it’s beneficial, not just to authors and to readers, but also, selfishly, to me—quite simply, I find it a joy. I find it also stimulating and didactic; it makes me a more astute and assured reader, a more astute and assured person.
Anyway, such is my view. And before I sound too proselytizing, I’ll take a minute to turn the card and share something different, for those of you interested in such: Here’s a bit of statistics and raw data for this project.
For my first time, I engaged in an invitation-only approach to assembling this anthology, meaning there was no open call, but that I reached out directly to writers, writing groups, associations, or referrals for contributors.
I sent out invitations in small “rounds,” gauging interest from authors I admired and ensuring that I did not receive too many stories from any one geographic area. I sent out the first round of invitations in October, 2016 to authors I was already familiar with. Depending on their responses, I then sent out a following round of invitations a few weeks later.
I sent out eight rounds of invitations in total, the last occurring in July, 2017 with a November submission deadline. Overall, this anthology took about a year to compile, with much of that time spent engrossed in reading a wide-ranging scope of authors from other nations who wrote dark spec fiction (a worthwhile pleasure in itself!), and who I determined would be a good fit for this book’s aims.
In total, I reached out to about sixty writers. Some declined the invitation for different reasons, some accepted and then fell through. Some submitted work I thought was not quite an ideal fit and so passed on. And some, twenty-two in total, I accepted and included within these pages, which includes representation from eighteen nations, and presence from each of the six major (inhabited) continents. As an aside, the nice thing with an invite system is that I can also garner gender equality, and concluded this project with a near even split (about 45% male: 55% female), which makes me happy.
The total cost came in at around US $4,500, much of that financed off my credit card. Anthologies aren’t easy to do, nor are they cheap.
But statistics aside, I had a blast. It’s every editor’s hope to find new and exciting authors willing to work with him or her (or at the least to be made aware of sensational voices, of new trends or progressive or interesting enterprises that others are working on), and, in this, I truly succeeded.
I hope you, dear reader, will agree.
The stories I selected are not horror of a visceral, gory nature—that’s never been my interest in books—but rather quiet, thoughtful pieces exploring characters’ lives, who generally come in contact with some dark, supernatural element. Ghosts and regrets, death and creeping monsters are often the same in any case: a dread that settles over a character (or yourself!) and must be resolved by confronting or escaping it. But these stories too are mystery, they are thriller, they are weird, funny, bright, telling, and tragic—they are life in all its resplendent diversity . . . which, for all intents, is what this anthology is all about.
Eric J. Guignard
Chino Hills, California
December 7, 2017
Table of Contents
INTRODUCTION: DIVERSITY IN FICTION Eric J. Guignard
MUTSHIDZI Mohale Mashigo
ONE LAST WAYANG L Chan
THINGS I DO FOR LOVE Nadia Bulkin
ON A WOODEN PLATE, ON A WINTER’S NIGHT David Nickle
COUNTRY BOY Billie Sue Mosiman
THE WIFE WHO DIDN’T EAT Thersa Matsuura
THE DISAPPEARED Kristine Ong Muslim
THE SECRET LIFE OF THE UNCLAIMED Suyi Davies Okungbowa
HOW ALFRED NOBEL GOT HIS MOJO Johannes Pinter
SICK CATS IN SMALL SPACES Kaaron Warren
OBIBI Dilman Dila
THE NIGHTMARE Rhea Daniel
CHEMIROCHA Charlie Human
HONEY Valya Dudycz Lupescu
WARNING: FLAMMABLE, SEE BACK LABEL Marcia Douglas
ARLECCHINO Carla Negrini
THE MAN AT TABLE NINE Ray Cluley
THE MANTLE OF FLESH Ashlee Scheuerman
THE SHADOWS OF SAINT URBAN Claudio Foti
WARASHI’S GRIP Yukimi Ogawa
THE WHITE MONKEY Carlos Orsi
THE WEST WIND David McGroarty
ABOUT EDITOR, ERIC J. GUIGNARD
ABOUT ILLUSTRATOR, STEVE LIN