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.”
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:
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.
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.”
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.
PETALUMA, CALIFORNIA–Word Horde is proud to announce the release of The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron. Editors Ross E. Lockhart (The Book of Cthulhu, Tales of Jack the Ripper) and Justin Steele (The Arkham Digest) have gathered together many of the brightest lights in dark fiction to pay homage to one of horror’s masters.
Over the past decade, Laird Barron has become one of the most lauded and influential names in horror fiction. His short stories, two novels, and three collections have garnered numerous nominations and awards, including three Shirley Jackson Awards and a Bram Stoker Award. Recognizing Barron’s meteoric rise, Lockhart and Steele sought to assemble an original tribute anthology unlike any other, focusing on atmosphere and affect, rather than simple pastiche.
“Barron’s fiction has long been an inspiration to his peers,” says co-editor Justin Steele. “The interwoven stories and novels create a rich tapestry of noir-infused cosmic horror. This mythology makes for an excellent backdrop for the weird tales within.” Offered this unique opportunity to play in what Publishers Weekly calls Barron’s “worm-riddled literary playground,” these children of Old Leech—Barron’s fans, peers, friends—conjured an anthology “with a coherent feeling of dread, without feeling derivative of the source.”
On Tuesday, July 15, 2014, Word Horde will commemorate the book’s official release with a virtual toast to Old Leech himself. Throughout social media, authors and readers alike are encouraged to share their thoughts about the anthology and its inspiration, Laird Barron, using the hashtag #TCoOL.
The Children of Old Leech is distributed by Ingram, and will be available in Hardcover and eBook formats through most online retailers and better independent bookstores everywhere in July 2014. For more information about Word Horde or to request an electronic review copy, please email publicity[at]wordhorde[dot]com.
Have you been asking yourself “What am I going to read this July?” Barnes & Noble has you covered with this handy list of new releases, including Word Horde’s own The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron. Here’s what B&N blogger Paul Goat Allen has to say about the anthology in his recommendation:
A nightmare-inducing tribute to Laird Barron and his Carnivorous Cosmos, this stellar anthology features 17 original stories from some of weird fiction’s brightest stars—John Langan, Gemma Files, Jeffrey Thomas, Michael Cisco, and Paul Tremblay, to name just a few. You will look under the bed after finishing this creepy collection.
Check out the full list of awesome reads at this link. To order The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron from B&N, click here.
We’ve been busy shipping preorder copies of the latest Word Horde anthology, The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron, and the book is starting to be spotted at retailers, e-tailers, and in the wild. It’s also been picking up some great reviews. You may have seen our previous round-up of the Publishers Weekly and Cthonic Matter reviews, but here are two more to add to the balefire.
Scott R. Jones of Martian Migraine Press touches onto core fears in his review of The Children of Old Leech, sharing a chilling tale of a hollow tree in his detailed examination of stories by Gemma Files, Molly Tanzer, T.E. Grau, Richard Gavin, Paul Tremblay, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., John Langan, and Cody Goodfellow, concluding: “Each is a class in storytelling, every one is entertaining, and every other one is thought provoking. Lockhart and Steele have a winner on their hands, I think; this is one I’ll keep coming back to, much as I do with Laird’s work. Reading TCoOL was like standing in that Tree beside that lake in the hills, up to my ankles in smoky rot and grey grubs, unable to move, while the sun dipped down to dusk. Recommended.” Read the full Martian Migraine Press review at this link.
Over at Betwixt Book Reviews, Benito Corral also digs deep, singling out tales by Gemma Files, Orrin Grey, Jeffrey Thomas, T.E. Grau, Michael Griffin, Cody Goodfellow, and John Langan, saying, “Each story in The Children of Old Leech leads you deeper and deeper into the ‘carnivorous cosmos’ of Laird Barron; all the authors here have crafted glorious tributes to the master, faithfully plumbing his Mythos to create a truly stunning collection.” The review concludes, “The Children of Old Leech is a triumph for Lockhart and Steele, and a tremendous gift for purveyors of dark fiction. Look for this volume to be on multiple ‘best of’ lists this year. Mr Barron would be proud!” Read the full Betwixt Book Reviews review at this link.
The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron is now shipping from Word Horde. Ask for the anthology and other fine Word Horde titles at your favorite bookseller.
Brand-new pre-release reviews are in for our two summer books, J. M. McDermott’s concluding Dogsland novel, We Leave Together (June 15, 2014), and tribute anthology The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron (July 15, 2014).
Here’s what the critics have to say about J. M. McDermott’s We Leave Together:
“McDermott’s third novel set in Dogsland brings closure to the saga of the deceased Jona Lord Joni, whose memory-filled skull yields the narrative. […] Readers will still find Dogsland a grittily imagined fantasy world, with a personality as vivid as any of its residents.” —Publishers Weekly
Read the full review at this link.
And here’s the Publishers Weekly review of The Children of Old Leech:
“Lockhart and Steele collect 17 original stories from some of the shining stars of modern horror, constructing a worm-riddled literary playground from elements of the fiction of horror maestro Laird Barron. The results come across with a coherent feeling of dread, without feeling derivative of the source. […] Hopefully Barron will enjoy this tribute; his fans certainly will.” —Publishers Weekly
Read the full review (including mentions of stories by Molly Tanzer, J. T. Glover & Jesse Bullington, T.E. Grau, and Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.) at this link.
“This multifaceted grimoire, and the talent associated with it, is staggering to behold. Its co-editor, Justin Steele, sets the tone in a highly entertaining introduction, one which pits his fictional self against the very ‘carnivorous cosmos’ he so innocently sought to collect. In many like anthologies that focus on the oeuvre of a specific writer, the works themselves rarely rise above pastiche—but this seems to be exactly what the editors wished to avoid when fashioning their tribute to Laird Barron. Steele brings this to the fore when singling out Ellen Datlow’s excellent Lovecraft Unbound as a source of inspiration. Potential readers who are not familiar with Barron’s work need not worry. The tales, while sometimes recalling certain tropes or characters from his fiction, can be enjoyed in their own right; and, I must say, the range of styles on display is consistently impressive.” –C. M. Muller, Chthonic Matter
Read the full review (including detailed mentions of stories by T.E. Grau, Richard Gavin, Paul Tremblay, Michael Griffin, Daniel Mills, Stephen Graham Jones, John Langan, Cody Goodfellow, and Scott Nicolay & Jesse James Douhit-Nicolay) at this link.
The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron
There are Things – terrifying Things – whispered of in darkened forests beyond the safe comfort of firelight: The Black Guide, the Broken Ouroboros, the Pageant, Belphegor, Old Leech…
These Things have always been here.
They predate you. They will outlast you.
This book pays tribute to those Things.
For We are the Children of Old Leech… and we love you.
Featuring all new stories by many of the brightest lights in dark fiction:
J. T. Glover & Jesse Bullington
Stephen Graham Jones
Scott Nicolay & Jesse James Douthit-Nicolay
Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.
Edited by Ross E. Lockhart and Justin Steele
Cover Design by Matthew Revert
Pub date: July 15, 2014
There are Things–terrifying Things–whispered of in darkened forests beyond the safe comfort of firelight: The Black Guide, the Broken Ouroboros, the Pageant, Belphegor, Old Leech…
These Things have always been here. They predate you. They will outlast you.
This book pays tribute to those Things.
For We are the Children of Old Leech… and we love you.
The Children of Old Leech
A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron
Edited by Ross E. Lockhart & Justin Steele
Cover design by Matthew Revert
Coming summer 2014 from Word Horde
TOC to be unveiled soon
Reviewer inquiries to publicity[at]wordhorde[dot]com
PS: Happy Birthday, Laird!
It is award season once again in genre fiction land, so I’ve been fielding occasional queries wondering whether Tales of Jack the Ripper (Word Horde) and its contents are eligible for various awards. In the interest of placing all the necessary information at your fingertips (and mine), here is some statistical information on the anthology that I hope will both inform and enlighten.
The anthology Tales of Jack the Ripper was published August 31, 2013, and is comprised of seventeen stories, two poems, and an introduction. Of those seventeen stories, three are reprints, as are the two poems, and fourteen stories are original to the anthology. Tales of Jack the Ripper is a professional market, paying .05/word for original stories and .02/word for reprints. The anthology as a whole should be eligible for consideration in most industry awards’ Anthology categories. The book is 75,859 words total; 60,134 original [79.27%]; 15,723 reprint [20.72%].
The following original stories should be eligible for consideration in most Novelette/Novella/Mid-Length Fiction categories:
Barron, Laird: “Termination Dust” 10101 words
Kurtz, Ed: “Hell Broke Loose” 9796 words
Sargent, Stanley C.: “When the Means Just Defy the End” 12226 words
The following original stories should be eligible for consideration in most Short Fiction categories:
Drake, Ennis: “The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick Maker” 4300 words
Grau, T.E.: “The Truffle Pig” 2840 words
Greatshell, Walter: “Ripping” 2302 words
Grey, Orrin: “Ripperology” 2800 words
Moreno-Garcia, Silvia: “Abandon All Flesh” 2200 words
Morris, Edward: “Where Have You Been All My Life?” 1900 words
Pulver, Joseph S.: “Juliette’s New Toy” 861 words
Rawlik, Pete: “Villains by Necessity” 2149 words
Tobler, E. Catherine: “Once November” 2400 words
Tumblety, Patrick: “Something About Dr. Tumblety” 4114 words
Yardley, Mercedes M.: “A Pretty for Polly” 1600 words
Editor Ross E. Lockhart is eligible to be nominated as Best Editor (Short Form) for Tales of Jack the Ripper, and as Best Editor (Long Form) for works published in 2013 (all of which are also worthy of your consideration), including Blind Gods Bluff, by Richard Lee Byers; Earth Thirst, by Mark Teppo; No Return, by Zachary Jernigan; Binding, by Carol Wolf; The Beautiful Thing that Awaits Us All, by Laird Barron, The Daedalus Incident, by Michael J. Martinez, and Reanimators, by Pete Rawlik.
Publisher Word Horde is eligible to be nominated (where applicable) as Best Publisher.
On behalf of Word Horde and the authors included in Tales of Jack the Ripper, thank you for your consideration and support during this year’s oh-so-competitive awards season.
Ross E. Lockhart