Tag Archives: Laird Barron

Shipping this week: John Langan’s The Fisherman

You’ve enjoyed John Langan’s fiction in numerous anthologies, including The Children of Old Leech and Giallo Fantastique. You devoured his previous novel, House of Windows, and his collections, Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters and The Wide Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies. Now, prepare yourself for a fishing trip unlike any other as Word Horde presents John Langan’s latest novel of cosmic horror, The Fisherman. Available where better books are sold June 30th (ask for it by name!). We will be shipping direct orders of The Fisherman this week. It’s not too late to get your order in.

And while you’re waiting to hook your copy of The Fisherman on your line, check out this brand new interview with John Langan, conducted by Word Horde’s own Sean M. Thompson:

In upstate New York, in the woods around Woodstock, Dutchman’s Creek flows out of the Ashokan Reservoir. Steep-banked, fast-moving, it offers the promise of fine fishing, and of something more, a possibility too fantastic to be true. When Abe and Dan, two widowers who have found solace in each other’s company and a shared passion for fishing, hear rumors of the Creek, and what might be found there, the remedy to both their losses, they dismiss it as just another fish story. Soon, though, the men find themselves drawn into a tale as deep and old as the Reservoir. It’s a tale of dark pacts, of long-buried secrets, and of a mysterious figure known as Der Fisher: the Fisherman. It will bring Abe and Dan face to face with all that they have lost, and with the price they must pay to regain it.

The Fisherman by John Langan

“John Langan’s The Fisherman is literary horror at its sharpest and most imaginative. It’s at turns a quiet and powerfully melancholy story about loss and grief; the impossibility of going on in same manner as you had before. It’s also a rollicking, kick-ass, white-knuckle charge into the winding, wild, raging river of redemption. Illusory, frightening, and deeply moving, The Fisherman is a modern horror epic. And it’s simply a must read.” –Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and Disappearance at Devil’s Rock

The Fisherman is an epic, yet intimate, horror novel. Langan channels M. R. James, Robert E. Howard, and Norman Maclean. What you get is A River Runs through It…Straight to hell.” –Laird Barron, author of X’s for Eyes

Feeling lucky? Take a chance at winning a copy of The Fisherman in our Goodreads Summer Solstice Giveaway, running now through July 4, 2016.

Cover Reveal/Now Available to Preorder: John Langan’s The Fisherman

Coming June 30, 2016: John Langan’s long-awaited second novel, The Fisherman. We think you’re going to enjoy the hell out of this one. Here’s your first look at the cover:

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Here’s the teaser:

In upstate New York, in the woods around Woodstock, Dutchman’s Creek flows out of the Ashokan Reservoir. Steep-banked, fast-moving, it offers the promise of fine fishing, and of something more, a possibility too fantastic to be true. When Abe and Dan, two widowers who have found solace in each other’s company and a shared passion for fishing, hear rumors of the Creek, and what might be found there, the remedy to both their losses, they dismiss it as just another fish story. Soon, though, the men find themselves drawn into a tale as deep and old as the Reservoir. It’s a tale of dark pacts, of long-buried secrets, and of a mysterious figure known as Der Fisher: the Fisherman. It will bring Abe and Dan face to face with all that they have lost, and with the price they must pay to regain it.

And here are just a couple of the blurbs The Fisherman has picked up so far:

“John Langan’s The Fisherman is literary horror at its sharpest and most imaginative. It’s at turns a quiet and powerfully melancholy story about loss and grief; the impossibility of going on in same manner as you had before. It’s also a rollicking, kick-ass, white-knuckle charge into the winding, wild, raging river of redemption. Illusory, frightening, and deeply moving, The Fisherman is a modern horror epic. And it’s simply a must read.”
–Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and Disappearance at Devil’s Rock.

“For some fishing is a therapeutic, a way to clear one’s head, to chase away the noise of a busy world and focus on one single thing. On good days it can heal the worst pains, even help develop a sense of solace. John Langan’s The Fisherman isn’t about the good day fishing, it isn’t even about a bad day fishing, its about the day that you shouldn’t have even left the house, let alone waded chest deep into a swollen stream of churning water. Langan tells you that up front, warns you this isn’t going to be that story, but you ignore the signs, lured in by the faint smell of masculine adventure, hooked by tragedy and the chance of redemption, and reeled in by a nesting tale of ever growing horrors. By the time you realize what has happened it’s already too late, you’re caught in an unavoidable net of terror that can end in only one way. It doesn’t matter how strong you are or how prepared, John Langan has you hook, line and sinker, and he doesn’t let go until the very last page.”
–Pete Rawlik, author of Reanimatrix

The Fisherman is an epic, yet intimate, horror novel. Langan channels M. R. James, Robert E. Howard, and Norman Maclean. What you get is A River Runs through It…Straight to hell.”
–Laird Barron, author of X’s for Eyes

Preorder your copy of The Fisherman today!

An interview with Bram Stoker Award-winning author Laird Barron

Sean M. Thompson recently sat down with Laird Barron, the Bram Stoker Award-winning author who inspired our Shirley Jackson Award-nominated anthology The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron, to ask him a few questions.

How did it feel to hear that Ross and Word Horde wanted to publish a collection in homage to your work?

I wasn’t keen on it initially. However, I trust Ross. He and Justin Steele worked hard to put the anthology together and avoid pastiche. The contributing authors wrote great stories. It was a humbling experience and altogether fascinating to see what bits and pieces of my universe they responded to. The anthology succeeded, so all’s well, et cetera.

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What do you think the role of genre is in fiction?

Genre is a default, a convention. You start with horror as a broad concept and that’s genre. Then you subdivide and subdivide, or you strike out into other territory. For an author, it’s the beginning of a conversation. For editors and publishers and booksellers, it’s often the end of a conversation.

What scares you?

My dog stood at the top of the steps yesterday, deciding. After a while she limped down and we went outside. She trotted around the yard once, then collapsed in a patch of sun and looked at me and panted. Her eyes are getting a blue tint and her face is going white. I couldn’t egg her into playing like we used to do. Back in the house, she drank some water, curled up on the couch in my office and began to snore. I sat for a long time, adding the numbers, moving them around, looking for loopholes—people years versus dog years, what I have got left versus what she has left. I couldn’t make it add up to anything equitable.

Do you have anything in particular you like to do during the fall season?

Late August through October is my favorite stretch of the year. As I write this, I’m living in the countryside in the Hudson Valley. There are massive stands of sycamore around the house, a dairy farm across the road, and farther on, fields, streams and foothills of the Catskills. Way back in the day, this was the season I’d return home from the cannery or salmon processor and start cart training my team of sled dogs. I’d hook them up to my old Ford truck or a four-wheeler and we’d cruise for miles on back country roads. These days, long walks through farmland suffices, but I admit, the smell of September dampness and cold dirt still gets me.

Would you consider a hip, new iteration of your infamous cosmic monster-deity: Young Leechy?

I think the Cartoon Network should be brought in on this.

What’s your favorite dog from a novel?

Buck from The Call of the Wild. I’m also partial to Blood from A Boy and His Dog.

What’s the scariest part of where you currently reside in upstate New York? Is it John Langan’s bear hugs? (optional to answer second part of question)

I am nimble enough to evade John’s bear hugs. It’s between him and Paul Tremblay now.

Nothing is particularly scary about the Hudson Valley, although I have a lot of exploring to do. Closing in on four years since I moved here from the west. The geography (old towns surrounded by dense forest; mountains, rivers, caves…) appeals to me as does the rich history. There’s a distinct sense of wildness at the edge of civilization. It will influence my writing in years to come. And I hope some of that will be scary.

Now Available: Cthulhu Fhtagn!

Happy 125th Birthday, H. P. Lovecraft. To celebrate, we baked you an anthology. Featuring 19 weird tales inspired by H. P. Lovecraft by 20 of the best authors working in Weird Fiction today, Cthulhu Fhtagn! is sure to satisfy. But don’t just take our word for it. Check out Cthulhu Fhtagn! for yourself!

Cthulhu Fhtagn! edited by Ross E. Lockhart

In his house at R’lyeh, Cthulhu waits dreaming…

What are the dreams that monsters dream? When will the stars grow right? Where are the sunken temples in which the dreamers dwell? How will it all change when they come home?

Within these pages lie the answers, and more, in all-new stories by many of the brightest lights in dark fiction. Gathered together by Ross E. Lockhart, the editor who brought you The Book of Cthulhu, The Children of Old Leech, and Giallo Fantastique, Cthulhu Fhtagn! features nineteen weird tales inspired by H. P. Lovecraft.

Edited by Ross E. Lockhart
Cover Art by Adolfo Navarro
Cover Design by MMP

Table of Contents

Introduction: In His House at R’lyeh… – Ross E. Lockhart
The Lightning Splitter – Walter Greatshell
Dead Canyons – Ann K. Schwader
Delirium Sings at the Maelstrom Window – Michael Griffin
Into Ye Smoke-Wreath’d World of Dream – W. H. Pugmire
The Lurker In the Shadows – Nathan Carson
The Insectivore – Orrin Grey
The Body Shop – Richard Lee Byers
On a Kansas Plain – Michael J. Martinez
The Prince of Lyghes – Anya Martin
The Curious Death of Sir Arthur Turnbridge – G. D. Falksen
Aerkheim’s Horror – Christine Morgan
Return of the Prodigy – T.E. Grau
The Curse of the Old Ones – Molly Tanzer and Jesse Bullington
Love Will Save You – Cameron Pierce
Assemblage Point – Scott R. Jones
The Return of Sarnath – Gord Sellar
The Long Dark – Wendy N. Wagner
Green Revolution – Cody Goodfellow
Don’t Make Me Assume My Ultimate Form – Laird Barron

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Pie by Petaluma Pie Company.

Ask for Cthulhu Fhtagn! wherever books are sold.

The Children of Old Leech Nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award

It is with pleasure and gratitude that we announce the following: The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron has been nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award. Needless to say, we are over the moon.

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It requires an army of people to put together an anthology like The Children of Old Leech, so a huge THANK YOU! goes out to the following: Co-editor Justin Steele; authors Allyson Bird, Jesse Bullington, Michael Cisco, Jesse James Douthit-Nicolay, Gemma Files, Richard Gavin, J. T. Glover, Cody Goodfellow, T.E. Grau, Orrin Grey, Michael Griffin, Stephen Graham Jones, John Langan, Daniel Mills, Scott Nicolay, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., Molly Tanzer, Jeffrey Thomas, and Paul Tremblay; copyeditor Marty Halpern; hardcover artist/designer Matthew Revert; softcover artist Dalton Rose; softcover designer Scott R. Jones; and, of course, Laird Barron, for letting all of us play in his universe. Thanks also to all of you who purchased the book (and other Word Horde titles), and to all of the readers and reviewers who have taken the time to recommend the book to others. Thanks to the Shirley Jackson Awards Board of Directors and jurors. And thanks to everyone who shared a toast to Old Leech with us back when we launched the book. Cheers!

JustinLeechWhiskeyCigar

Read the full list of nominees here: http://www.shirleyjacksonawards.org/nominees/

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Cover Reveal

Cthulhu Fhtagn! edited by Ross E. Lockhart

Coming from Word Horde this August: Cthulhu Fhtagn!

Now available to preorder: http://wordhorde.com/product/cthulhu-fhtagn-bundle/

From Ross E. Lockhart, the editor who brought you The Book of Cthulhu, The Children of Old Leech, and Giallo Fantastique comes Cthulhu Fhtagn!, 19 weird tales inspired by H. P. Lovecraft.

Table of Contents:

Introduction: In His House at R’lyeh… – Ross E. Lockhart
The Lightning Splitter – Walter Greatshell
Dead Canyons – Ann K. Schwader
Delirium Sings at the Maelstrom Window – Michael Griffin
Into Ye Smoke-Wreath’d World of Dream – W. H. Pugmire
The Lurker In the Shadows – Nathan Carson
The Insectivore – Orrin Grey
The Body Shop – Richard Lee Byers
On a Kansas Plain – Michael J. Martinez
The Prince of Lyghes – Anya Martin
The Curious Death of Sir Arthur Turnbridge – G. D. Falksen
Aerkheim’s Horror – Christine Morgan
Return of the Prodigy – T.E. Grau
The Curse of the Old Ones – Molly Tanzer and Jesse Bullington
Love Will Save You – Cameron Pierce
Assemblage Point – Scott R. Jones
The Return of Sarnath – Gord Sellar
The Long Dark – Wendy N. Wagner
Green Revolution – Cody Goodfellow
Don’t Make Me Assume My Ultimate Form – Laird Barron

Preorder today: http://wordhorde.com/product/cthulhu-fhtagn-bundle/

Cover art by Adolfo Navarro

Horror Talk Reviews The Children of Old Leech

The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron

HorrorTalk today reviews The Children of Old Leech, saying, “The Children of Old Leech is about paying tribute to a man who has made us be afraid of what lives in the woods in new and terrifying ways, but it also ends up being an outstanding collection of short fiction by some of the best authors out there. Throw in an introduction by Justin Steele and an afterword by Ross E. Lockhart, undoubtedly two of the best dark fiction editors and anthologists, and what you get is a book worthy of being followed into the woods on a dark, moonless night.”

The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron

Read the full review at this link, and ask for The Children of Old Leech by name wherever books are sold. Or order direct from Word Horde.

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Table of Contents Reveal!

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This August, the stars will be right. Cthulhu Fhtagn! Weird Tales Inspired by H. P. Lovecraft will be unleashing cosmic horror onto an unsuspecting–but deserving–world, just in time to commemorate H. P. Lovecraft’s 125th birthday. In the next few weeks, we’ll be revealing the cover and opening up pre-orders, so that you can bring this monster home, but today, as promised, here’s the full Table of Contents:

Cthulhu Fhtagn!
Table of Contents

Introduction: In His House at R’lyeh… – Ross E. Lockhart
The Lightning Splitter – Walter Greatshell
Dead Canyons – Ann K. Schwader
Delirium Sings at the Maelstrom Window – Michael Griffin
Into Ye Smoke-Wreath’d World of Dream – W. H. Pugmire
The Lurker In the Shadows – Nathan Carson
The Insectivore – Orrin Grey
The Body Shop – Richard Lee Byers
On a Kansas Plain – Michael J. Martinez
The Prince of Lyghes – Anya Martin
The Curious Death of Sir Arthur Turnbridge – G. D. Falksen
Aerkheim’s Horror – Christine Morgan
Return of the Prodigy – T.E. Grau
The Curse of the Old Ones – Molly Tanzer and Jesse Bullington
Love Will Save You – Cameron Pierce
Assemblage Point – Scott R. Jones
The Return of Sarnath – Gord Sellar
The Long Dark – Wendy N. Wagner
Green Revolution – Cody Goodfellow
Don’t Make Me Assume My Ultimate Form – Laird Barron

Photo: H. P. Lovecraft’s own depiction of Cthulhu.

The Children of Old Leech: Afterword

Today brings the final installment in our series of excerpts from The Children of Old Leech. We hope you’ve enjoyed these excerpts as much as we’ve enjoyed bringing them to you, and we sincerely hope that we’ve persuaded you to pick up a copy of The Children of Old Leech for yourself. And while this round is over, we will be back with more samples of Word Horde books, photos, reviews, and previews, so we would encourage you to stay tuned. So with the melancholic sense of a journey’s impending conclusion, but no regrets, we bring you a look behind the curtain with co-editor/publisher Ross E. Lockhart’s “Afterword.”

Ross

One of my first gigs in this crazy business we call publishing was writing the flap copy for the hardcover edition of Laird Barron’s first collection, The Imago Sequence. As I recall, I got paid in books for this, which is fine because I’d likely have spent any monetary compensation on books anyhow.

The Imago Sequence blew me away. I was already fairly well versed in the weird tale, and in the typical tropes associated with Lovecraftian pastiche, but Barron’s approach did something unexpected with the form, fusing the strangeness of supernatural horror with the stark naturalism of Jack London (whose “To Build a Fire” Barron himself classifies as Cosmic Horror), daring to deliver something different, a high-stakes carnivorous cosmos populated with tough, rugged protagonists more accustomed to inhabiting hard-boiled tales of crime or espionage than Lovecraft’s prone-to-fainting academics. Through this (at the time) unlikely combination, Barron managed to, in the words Ezra Pound once pinched from a Chinese emperor’s bathtub, “make it new.”

One does not read a Laird Barron story so much as one experiences it in a visceral manner. A tale like “Shiva, Open Your Eye” strips away a reader’s reason, flaying him, leaving him floating in the primordial jelly, innocent of coherent thought. “Hallucigenia” is, quite literally, a kick in the head. The painstaking noirish layering to be found in “The Imago Sequence” culminates in a ghastly, shuddering reveal of staggering proportions. And it is that sense of culmination one finds echoing throughout Laird Barron’s work, binding the whole together into a Pacific Northwest Mythos reminiscent of, but cut from another cloth entirely from, Lovecraft’s witch-haunted New England.

A handful of one-off copywriting gigs led to greater opportunities, and soon, I found myself working full-time for the publisher of The Imago Sequence, which led to my meeting Laird in the flesh at the World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga, NY. I found we shared a kindred spirit… and a taste for rare spirits and supernatural tales. Upon my return, I worked on the trade paperback edition of The Imago Sequence, and on Laird’s next collection, Occultation, where I not only wrote the jacket copy, but laid out the book, coordinated the production team working on it, supervised copyedits, approved those edits with Laird, and corrected the book (as a nod to Robert Bloch, I suppose you could refer to me as “The Man Who Corrected Laird Barron.”).

Shortly after Occultation landed, my wife and I embarked on a road trip up the West Coast, a drive where the scenery—stark mountains, tall trees, steep costal drop-offs—constantly reminded me of one Laird Barron story or another. Our journey brought us to Olympia, where we met Laird for lunch, talked martial arts and American literature, and I snapped a few photographs of Laird playing with our little dog, Maddie.

Somewhere along the line, both The Imago Sequence and Occultation managed to win Laird his first and second Shirley Jackson Awards, and I began working with Laird as editor of his first novel, The Croning, which he sent to me in bits and pieces over the course of a tough year, building it like a wall, brick by brick and layer by layer. With The Croning, Laird metaphorically opened a vein and bled words onto the page, and while a casual reader might not spot the author’s open wounds, the emotional wallop delivered by the book more than assures you that those wounds are not only there, but that they are raw.

I published Laird’s novella “The Men from Porlock” in my first anthology, The Book of Cthulhu, and his “Hand of Glory” in my second, The Book of Cthulhu II. And over the course of 2012, I worked on Laird’s third collection, The Beautiful Thing that Awaits Us All, reading stories as Laird finished them and sent them along. One of my favorites in the collection, the wickedly sardonic “More Dark,” managed to get me in trouble when I read it on my phone during a baseball game, prompting my wife to elbow me as I laughed—then shivered—at a situation that rode the train from bad to weird to worse to a downright Barronic level of darkness. The Beautiful Thing that Awaits Us All was the final project I worked on for its publisher, which might bring us full circle, were it not for the fact that this circle, like the sigil marking Moderor de Caliginis, is an open—and hungry—curve.

In 2013, I started my own publishing company, Word Horde, launching the press with Tales of Jack the Ripper, an anthology that included Laird Barron’s tour-de-force “Termination Dust,” a fractured narrative not only providing the thrills and chills expected from Barron’s oeuvre, but marking a new venue for his brand of cosmicism, a strange, savage, and sanguine land that Laird knows quite well… Alaska.

Not long after the publication of Tales of Jack the Ripper, Justin Steele, who had reviewed The Book(s) of Cthulhu and Tales of Jack the Ripper at his weird fiction website, The Arkham Digest, approached me suggesting this anthology. I receive—and say no to—a lot of anthology pitches, many of which are suggested as possible co-editorial projects, but I found the idea of honoring Laird, an author whose work has influenced and intersected with much of my professional career, irresistible. I approached Laird, asking for permission to let other authors play in his sandbox, and to my delight, Laird said yes. For that, Justin and I owe Laird a lifetime of gratitude. We immediately set to building a roster of our favorite authors, authors who we felt shared Laird’s vision of a ravenous universe, and an understanding of that terrible, beautiful thing that awaits us all.

There are no accidents ’round here. The editors of, and the authors included in, this volume have been inspired and affected by Laird Barron’s carnivorous cosmos. We’ve all gazed at mysterious holes, wondering where they lead. We’ve all found ourselves in conversation with a stranger, staring at a scar and wondering if it is, instead, a seam. We’ve all heard the voices whispering in the night, praising Belphegor, and saying, “We, the Children of Old Leech, have always been here. And we love you.”

The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron may be ordered directly from Word Horde or wherever better books are sold. Ask for The Children of Old Leech and other Word Horde titles at your favorite bookseller.

The Children of Old Leech: Introduction: Of Whisky and Doppelgängers

We told you there would be more this week. What follows is Justin Steele‘s introduction to The Children of Old Leech, “Of Whisky and Doppelgängers.” And stay tuned for more!

Justin Steele

If you value your health, sanity, and general sense of well-being, then you should stop reading this book right now. Close the cover, put it back on the shelf, and head on over to the non-fiction section. Pick up a book on fishing, or pottery, something safe. Anything but this book.

If you’re still reading you must be damaged goods, nothing to lose. Maybe you saw that I started with a warning and felt the need to prove me wrong, to prove that you like to live life on the edge, laugh in the face of danger, shit like that. Maybe the warning tugged at your curiosity, intrigued you enough to carry on. Just remember what happened to the cat.

I’m supposed to be writing an introduction. That’s what Ross wanted me to do anyway, but I owe some responsibility to my fellow man, and what we did with this here book, what we unleashed, well, it’s just wrong. I’m sitting here at my desk, a near empty glass of Lagavulin on the desk edge, the bottle in easy reach. Three feet from me, propped in the corner of the room, is a 12-gauge pump-loaded with double-aught buckshot. If that’s not enough I have two .45s and a recently sharpened hunting knife within reach, so no matter how it goes down, it won’t go down easy. But who am I kidding. THEY want me to write this. It’s part of the project. Until my part’s done I’m safe. At least I think so.

I should probably start from the beginning. Tell you how I first discovered this Lovecraft guy, and how reading his fiction kicked me off onto this whole “weird fiction” thing, but I’m sure you’ve heard that one time and time again so I’ll skip ahead a little bit. A few Cthulhu Mythos anthologies into my tentacle binge, I picked up Ellen Datlow’s Lovecraft Unbound, and was pleased to see an anthology striving to avoid falling into pastiche territory. It was during my late night readings that I discovered my first Laird Barron tale. “Catch Hell” did something to me that only a few special stories managed to do: upon finishing I reflected on the story for a minute or two, and then turned back to the first page and immediately reread it. After the second read I walked over to my computer and ordered The Imago Sequence and pre-ordered Occultation. There was no question that I had stumbled upon something special, something dangerous. Who was this Laird Barron guy? He looked like a pirate, or a grizzled Viking warrior. His writing was a blend of genres that I loved. One part pulp, one part noir, two parts pure cosmic terror, blended smooth and seasoned with a literary skill that few possessed. I had found weird fiction for the connoisseur. If I had only known what I was getting into.

Flash forward a few years later, and I’m sitting here in my dimly lit office space, gulping scotch and wondering how I ever let myself get drawn into this mess. The light from my lamp is reflecting off my tin poster of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. I let Clint Eastwood’s stoic squint and Lee Van Cleef’s predatory glare serve as reminders that I have to be tough, finish this up. The wind is whipping at the window and I find myself eyeing the 12-gauge once every few seconds.

In September or so I had a conversation with Ross Lockhart, the other man responsible for what we’ve done here. We were both huge fans of Laird’s fiction, recognized its power. By the end of our talk, the wheels were in motion. We were so excited, completely oblivious as to what the actual significance of the anthology would be.

Finding the authors to take part actually proved to be the easy part. Laird’s work is highly respected, and offers authors much to work with. Ross and I wanted to find some of the best writers of weird fiction and offer them a chance to play in Laird’s playground. They could use the more literal elements of Laird’s growing “Pacific Northwest Mythos” or utilize his themes. Pastiche was not welcome. We wanted the authors to use their own unique talents and voices in order to do Laird justice, yet not by simple mimicry.

The thing is, Laird’s fiction is powerful, and not just in the literary sense. Some theorize that there exists some fiction that has the ability to bleed into reality. The words serve a higher function, act as a sort of formula. When these words are read they open a gate to somewhere else, allow them to come over. What Ross and I have done is complete the formula, see? Laird’s works were the base, the true source of the power. With these stories we amplified it, radio towers strengthening the signal.

Ross experienced it first. He’d be out walking his dog in sunny California, or out at his local bookstore when he would see him. Only it wasn’t actually him? Ross would catch a glimpse, just enough for him to realize he’d seen Laird. When he looked back he would see Laird standing there, at the mouth of an alley, or the end of a row of bookshelves. And it was definitely Laird, his mug isn’t the kind you mistake for someone else. Ross was perplexed, he told me later, because he was sure he was seeing Laird. He looked long enough for the imposter’s face to split into a black grin, and then with a wink the not-Laird would duck into the alley or step away from the aisle of books. Ross thought Laird must have been playing some kind of elaborate prank on him, until I pointed him to one of Laird’s blog posts. Apparently some of Laird’s friends have seen this doppelgänger before, but never more than once. I know this spooked Ross, and he hasn’t been the same since. I often ask him if it’s happened again, but whenever I bring it up he goes pale, changes the subject. If I push, he firmly denies anymore sightings, but I have my doubts.

I figured it out. Ross thinks we are just putting together a good group of stories, tries to justify his weird sightings with lack of sleep and too much reading for the project. But I know better, the dots are all there, easy to connect. Several of our authors have confided in me that during the writing process they were fraught with night terrors, and even a few cases of sleepwalking. One author turned in his story in a daze, and swore to me that he doesn’t have a single memory of writing it. One could chalk all this up to writer’s stress, working in overdrive to meet the deadline, but that doesn’t explain what happened with our foreword. A certain big-shot author sent us a foreword, before disappearing. Nobody has heard from him since. Ross and I debated on using the foreword regardless, only to find that it had somehow been erased from both of our computers. Strange coincidence considering we both reside on opposite sides of the country.

And then there’s me. Being woken up in the middle of the night by whispers from friends long departed. Easy enough to pass off as echoes from dreams, but that doesn’t explain why I would find the dog cowering under the bed whimpering. Or the black, sticky footprints left across my kitchen floor, cellar door ajar although I always check the latch before heading to bed.

If you’re still reading this you must now know that it’s too late for you, too. You’ve started to twist the handle, and the opening of the door is soon to follow. You’re going to meet the dwellers on the other side. The Children of Old Leech will soon be whispering in your ear, and they will whisper the same thing they whispered to me: “There are frightful things. We who crawl in the dark love you.”

The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron may be ordered directly from Word Horde or wherever better books are sold. Ask for The Children of Old Leech and other Word Horde titles at your favorite bookseller.