Join Word Horde this weekend—March 31 to April 2—at AWP in Los Angeles as we share a booth (#431) with our friends at Eraserhead Press/Lazy Fascist Press and Broken River Books. We’ll be selling books and giving away Word Horde buttons and bookmarks (just sign up for our mailing list). And Molly Tanzer fans won’t want to miss a chance to pick up a free limited edition Vermilion bookmark depicting Lou’s ghost goggles! Just tell us “Lou sent me.” It’s going to be a great time, so come by and say hello!
One week from today is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday which we celebrate by gathering together, sharing food, and saying thanks. This year, I’ve got a lot to be thankful for, because you’ve helped Word Horde succeed in its most ambitious year yet. We published five books this year: Molly Tanzer’s weird western, Vermilion; Nicole Cushing’s ultra-dark delve, Mr. Suicide; Orrin Grey’s captivating collection, Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts, and the anthologies Giallo Fantastique and Cthulhu Fhtagn! So, to celebrate this success, and to give back, I’ve decided it’s time for The Return of #FeedCthulhu.
In 2011, when my first anthology, The Book of Cthulhu, was published, I challenged readers to make a donation to a local food charity, and to share news of that donation on Twitter, using the hashtag #FeedCthulhu. That year, we raised several hundred dollars in pledges across the country to local food banks and homeless shelters. In 2012, to accompany the publication of The Book of Cthulhu 2, we repeated the challenge, raising over a thousand dollars worth of pledges.
Thanksgiving may be the time to celebrate our prosperity and providence, but people still go hungry. And hunger sucks. So once again I’d like to challenge you to make a difference, by making a donation–no matter how small–to a food charity. This can be a local food bank, church, temple, mosque, coven, bin outside your grocery store, or national (or international) hunger relief organization. The organization doesn’t matter, so long as they’re feeding people. Once you do that, post the following on social media:
I fed Cthulhu [your donation] to [organization] #FeedCthulhu @lossrockhart
Don’t forget to include the hashtag (#FeedCthulhu) and my Twitter handle (@lossrockhart) so that I can see–and share–your post. Also, if you send a link to your post via email to publicity[at]wordhorde[dot]com, in return for your generosity, I’ll send you the ebook of my latest anthology, Cthulhu Fhtagn!. Just let me know if you’d prefer ePub, mobi, or PDF format. I’ll be checking social media for the hashtag, and on December 1, I’ll be selecting three random posters, who will receive a personalized autographed copy of Cthulhu Fhtagn!
“Pie is my favourite dessert, and blueberry (for summer) and mince (for winter) are my preferred kinds—with apple as a good all-year-round third. Like to take vanilla ice cream with apple and blueberry pie.” –H. P. Lovecraft to Robert E. Howard (7 November 1932)
And for dessert, I’d also like to say thanks to you by making you a special offer. Place an order with Word Horde between now and the end of November, use the coupon code THANKS, and take 20% off your purchase. It’s our way of saying “Thank you!” for a great year, and encouraging you to give Word Horde books to your cool friends this holiday season.
FOR THE WORD HORDE!
Thousands of them, warriors covered in the blood of fallen subjects, their axes stained crimson from predicates who never knew it was to be their end.
“Sean, this is not just any group of warriors you’re teaming up with, this is the Word Horde!”
Their swords are terrible in the light of a scalding sun, gleaming with the ferocity of verbs, nouns, and adjectives ready for a fight. I too am ready to do battle; to sacrifice my body, (mostly my fingers and hands) to the cause.
“I will join the Word Horde!” I scream, and the din around me is terrifying, but it certainly gets my adrenaline pumping.
The drums thunder with the promise of hand-to-hand combat, page after page of it.
We charge, individuals made strong by a common goal. To whoop these readers upside the head, and go in for the kill. To shake those in search of literary entertainment to the core. None of them have any idea what’s in store, but oh let me tell you, we got a fever inside us. Inside of me, my ancestors are high off wode, and the thrill of Valhalla, cheering in unison.
Lightning cracks the sky, scorching the horizon, and a storm begins in an instant. I grit my teeth, get ready for it. The smile on my face would set a clunky paragraph to crying.
Rain soaks the land, and a qualifier falls beside me: I grab his mace. A terrible spiked metal ball attached to a wooden handle: I slam it into the spine of an adverb as it advances upon me, shrieking onomatopoeic obscenities.
“Great job Sean, I like what you’re doing here!” Ross says, and he’s in a terrifyingly scant amount of armor, his hair underneath a horned helmet.
“I didn’t see you, brother,” I say, knocking a weak noun off of its feet, ducking as one of my Horde looses an arrow, which slams home into the heart of a particularly poor word choice.
“I’ve been here since the beginning!” Ross shouts, and the slash of his mighty golden editor’s sword is a thing to behold.
A beast of war barks by my feet. I see it’s none other than Elinor Phantom, the terrifying battle hound out for blood with our Word Horde. May the gods help whoever crosses her path of vicious bloodthirsty hunger.
“How many words did you want me to kill?” I shout over to he of the Locked Heart, and he shouts back “as many as seems appropriate,” before he slices another poor word choice down the middle with his powerful blade.
“FOR THE WORD HORDE!” I scream, and lose myself in the chaos of battle, a berserker in a frenzy.
This battle is just beginning, friends. We need warriors to join up with the Word Horde. Can we count you among our number? Do you long to slay boring sentences in the moonlight? Do you worship the Gods of Story, and plot, and Character? Understand, once you join, you must dedicate your energy to the Word Horde. The only way out of this is in a hole in the dirt.
Our Word Horde has anthologies like Cthulhu Fhtagn!, Giallo Fantastique, the Shirley Jackson Award-nominated The Children of Old Leech, and Tales of Jack the Ripper. Our Word Horde has novels, like Mr. Suicide by Shirley Jackson Award-nominated author Nicole Cushing, Vermilion by British Fantasy Award nominee Molly Tanzer, and We Leave Together by J. M. McDermott.
“Tell them about the upcoming warriors joining up with the Word Horde!” Elinor growls at me.
“I didn’t know you could talk!” I shout back, breaking a lazy sentence’s neck with my mace, my word killer.
“Shut up and tell them about the stuff on the way!” she barks out, and proceeds to rip the Achilles tendon of a sad antecedent.
“We have Orrin Grey’s new collection Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts coming in October!” I roar, and snap the forearm of a demonstrative pronoun with my bare hands. This pleases me.
“And ALSO?!” she bellows in a timbre I didn’t think such a small creature could emit.
“Oh, and Livia Llewellyn’s collection Furnace in 2016!”
Before I know it, the Word Horde is alone, our foes seem to have retreated, for the moment. Seeing their comrades rendered into so much spilled ink seems to have put the necessary fear into them they should have had from the start.
“Not bad for a first battle,” Ross says, and puts his hand on my shoulder.
“Do you always wear so little armor?” I ask he of the curly man-mane.
“What do you mean ‘so little’? This is a lot of armor for me. Normally I have on way less.”
The adrenaline of the battle having died down, I start to seriously question my decision to become social media manager for Word Horde.
“Come on, I’m gonna order a pizza,” Ross says.
And like that, I’m back on board!
“LONG LIVE THE WORD HORDE!”
–Sean M. Thompson
Social Media Manager
Recently, intrepid interviewer Sean M. Thompson spoke with author Molly Tanzer about Vermilion, the role of genre in fiction, and more. Here it is…
What made you want to release Vermilion with Ross and Word Horde?
I’ve worked with Ross on a number of short projects, and over the years I’ve also enjoyed many of the novels he acquired and edited for Night Shade, so I’ve known for a long time that he’s a great editor. And, given that we once discussed our mutual love for the Mr. Vampire series of films, which in part inspired the book, I figured having my agent send it his way wasn’t a bad idea.
What do you think the role of genre is in fiction?
People have to figure out where to shelve books in bookshops!
This is actually something that’s been on my mind for a while. Genre tropes are fascinating things, and playing with them can be really fun. For example, I deliberately inverted the tropes of the Western for Vermilion. But, I also think genre can be a crutch; it can keep both writers and readers searching for the same things over and over again, or at least keep them comfortable with one thing instead of exploring.
Do you prefer dogs, or cats?
Do you have any writing rituals?
Every day, I get up, give myself a coffee enema, then submerge myself in a bathtub full of ice water for thirty minutes. I shiver myself dry after climbing onto the roof. Only then am I ready to strap my ankles into my inversion desk and write exactly 2500 words. The muse is cruel, but I must follow where she takes me.
Are you someone that comes up with story titles first, or do you usually come up with them later into the process?
It really depends! Vermilion wasn’t the original title of the novel, and yes, I did come up with that title before writing the novel. That happens for me just as frequently as writing something and then struggling like hell to figure out what to call it.
What’s your favorite Western?
In terms of Western films, I’d have to say a tie between Red River and The Good, The Bad, and the Weird. Novels, definitely True Grit.
Would you say that we are in the midst of a new weird renaissance?
No, I usually don’t say things like that!
Do you have any plans to delve into another less explored genre to do a mash up, such as…
Ask for Vermilion wherever better books are sold.
NPR Books’ Jason Heller has reviewed Molly Tanzer’s Vermilion, calling the debut novel “a work of alt-history that finds a fresh kind of magic in the mingling of fact and fantasy,” and concluding “Vermilion is a unique, hearty, thought-provoking romp that rewrites history with a vivacious flourish.” Read the full review at this link, and ask for Vermilion by name wherever books are sold. Or order direct from Word Horde.
This slim anthology, compiled by the capable Lockhart (The Children of Old Leech), brings together very short, gem-quality stories filled with blood, guts, sex, and especially death. Lockhart translates giallo fantastique as weird crime, and each story, while very different in style and tone, melds crime and supernatural horror with panache and verve. […] The stories’ conclusions are never definitive, leaving the reader with a delicious sense of lingering unease. Lockhart has done a magnificent job of discovering and delivering a baker’s dozen of wonderfully creative, macabre vignettes.
And Johnathan L. Howard, author of the Johannes Cabal and the Russalka Chronicles series of novels has just blurbed Molly Tanzer’s Vermilion, saying:
Tanzer’s debut novel is extraordinary, portraying a world that is engagingly curious and curiously engaging. One doesn’t realise how much one’s life has been missing a story about a Chinese/English buster of violent ghosts out in the wilder end of the Wild West until one reads this. Plus, talking bears.
Tanzer’s first novel is a splendid page-turner of a Weird West adventure. Elouise Merriwether is a psychopomp, tasked with escorting newly deceased souls to the afterlife. Half Chinese and half English, with a bizarre job that few people understand, she struggles to find a place for herself in 1870s San Francisco, often vacillating between pluck and self-effacement. When her mother asks her to investigate why young Chinese men are going missing after being offered jobs in Colorado, Lou agrees to turn detective, but she’s bitten off way more than she can chew, especially once she runs up against the mysterious Dr. Panacea and his possibly fraudulent Elixir of Life. This hugely entertaining mixture of American steampunk and ghost story is a wonderful yarn with some of the best dialogue around.
Vermilion is fresh and strange — a dark and sparkling story of magic, monsters, and mystery in the Old Weird West. Gloriously weird and heartfelt, it’s a credit to the genre from start to finish.
The cat’s out of the bag, so here’s an official look at the cover for Molly Tanzer’s Vermilion, coming in April from Word Horde.
Gunslinging, chain smoking, Stetson-wearing Taoist psychopomp, Elouise “Lou” Merriwether might not be a normal 19-year-old, but she’s too busy keeping San Francisco safe from ghosts, shades, and geung si to care much about that. It’s an important job, though most folks consider it downright spooky. Some have even accused Lou of being more comfortable with the dead than the living, and, well… they’re not wrong.
When Lou hears that a bunch of Chinatown boys have gone missing somewhere deep in the Colorado Rockies she decides to saddle up and head into the wilderness to investigate. Lou fears her particular talents make her better suited to help placate their spirits than ensure they get home alive, but it’s the right thing to do, and she’s the only one willing to do it.
On the road to a mysterious sanatorium known as Fountain of Youth, Lou will encounter bears, desperate men, a very undead villain, and even stranger challenges. Lou will need every one of her talents and a whole lot of luck to make it home alive…
From British Fantasy Award nominee Molly Tanzer comes debut novel Vermilion, a spirited weird Western adventure that puts the punk back into steampunk. Coming in April 2015 to better independent booksellers everywhere, and most online retailers. Preorder your signed copy direct from Word Horde TODAY!
Cover Art by Dalton Rose
Cover Design by Osiel Gomez