markgunnells (markgunnells) wrote,

Origin Stories: Curtain Call and Other Dark Entertainments

Next up in my Origin Stories series is my 2016 collection CURTAIN CALL AND OTHER DARK ENTERTAINMENTS.

This particular collection came about simply because I decided to take a chance. Cemetery Dance is a publisher with a great reputation, and deservedly so. The idea of having a collection with them was very enticing. Because my friend James Newman had a previous working relationship with CD, we were able to sell the novel we co-authored, DOG DAYS O' SUMMER, to them. That book had not yet come out, but because of that, I was in a position to make a pitch to them if I wanted.

So I did. I pitched the idea of a collection. I was nervous, but in my pitch I expressed my passion for the short form, my belief that there was still a strong and viable market for it, and my respect for what they do.

The answer I got was encouraging, but I was told that they have such a backlog of great work waiting to be published that I could be in for quite a wait. However, they did have a digital line that had a much shorter turnaround time, ran by Norman Prentiss. I had published a collection as a digital-only title before, with Bad Moon Books, so I was definitely okay with that.

Norman had me send him a manuscript, which I did. There were twelve stories total, and he was very enthusiastic about the collection with the exception of two tales which he felt weren't quite strong enough. We removed those to bring the collection of a nice rounded 10 stories, and Norman proved a great editor, giving me great notes and suggestions to make the tales stronger. Norman is even the one who came up with the title of the collection.

I love all my children of course, but I have a particular affection for this collection. I feel all ten stories are very strong, many of them with emotional through-lines that give them real weight. I love the cover Norman provided as well, I think it's evocative and eye-catching.

I can't say this collection has garnered quite as much attention as I'd hoped, but it's still out there and I am still hopeful people will discover it.

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