29 Oct 2013
by Jeffrey Thomas
3 Comments »
My new short story collection WORSHIP THE NIGHT is just around the corner (that is to say, at the printers) and up for preorder at the web site of publisher Dark Renaissance. Dark Renaissance is a new publishing house, but at its helm is Joe Morey, a man with many years of experience in producing beautiful books; a man with an inexhaustible passion for horror literature. The preorder page for WORSHIP THE NIGHT is here:
There is already a fine review of the book at the review site of author Don D’Ammassa, Critical Mass:
Mr. D’Ammassa says: “Jeffrey Thomas has been turning out excellent short stories for several years now, almost all in unusual venues where most readers are unlikely to discover them. There are eight of his better stories in this new collection…there are moments of humor as well as suspense, horror, and outright strangeness. The novella ‘Sea of Flesh’ is my favorite in a very fine selection.”
And I have made a little trailer to promote the book at YouTube:
But to best describe what this book is about, I’ve decided to share my introduction from the book, below.
Before I do that, however, I just want to stress that the book’s lovely cover art and the brilliant illustrations that grace every one of the stories therein are by the amazing Erin Wells. I had specifically requested that Joe Morey hire her for this job, as I have long admired the work she has done for several of my brother Scott Thomas’s collections. The funny thing is, I had requested that Erin render an Asian dragon for the book’s cover, because dragons feature in several of the stories. She didn’t receive this request, but Erin’s instincts were dead on and she created a dragon image on her own. Like her illustrations, her cover evokes the sense of dark poetry I wanted these stories to convey.
So without any further ado, here is my introduction to WORSHIP THE NIGHT, from Dark Renaissance Books:
When I see short story collections
from writer friends of mine that feature incisive introductions by scholarly
folk like Matt Cardin or John Langan, I sometimes feel jealous. But then, who
better to introduce my work than me? Especially since I’d like to say a few
words about each of the stories in this collection — giving each its own sub-introduction,
as it were.
So let’s begin with…
The Lost Family focuses on the
protagonist of my novel The Fall of Hades,
which is set in Hell two thousand years after an apocalyptic war between
Angels, Demons and the Damned. The events of The Lost Family don’t take place prior to, or after, the events of The Fall
of Hades, but somewhere in the middle of the protagonist’s travels in the
novel. For that reason, I might just as well have titled this story The Lost
Chapter. But it is also meant to work as a stand-alone story, if you haven’t
read that novel.
Counterclockwise is set in my
futuristic milieu of Punktown. I thought it best to allow my favorite stamping
ground at least one manifestation here…lest it grow vengeful. The setting has
been good to me and I don’t take that lightly, since Punktown is not often
The Holy Bowl was written for
an anthology about that mightiest of deities, the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Since I suspected most of my fellow contributors to that book would go for
broad humor and the extreme bizarre, I decided to play my story a bit more
In Limbo was written
especially for this collection. The premise for it came to me one late October
night in 2012 as Hurricane Sandy, Halloween, and Life itself bore down upon me.
About the Author makes the
observation that sometimes a writer is more fascinating, and stranger, than
anything they may have written. It’s also about my general preference for innovative
horror as opposed to tropes that have been done to death…or undeath.
The Strange Case of Crazy Joe
Gallo is a Lovecraftian piece that features actual alleged gangland
personalities and events. (Notice I said “alleged,” so no one need track me
down and whack me.) My brother Scott and I have long been intrigued with the
fascinating and charismatic Joe Gallo.
Children of the Dragon is
another Lovecraftian piece, this one set in modern day Viet Nam. I have quite a
love affair with Viet Nam…largely because I have had a number of love affairs
with Vietnamese women. Subsequently, my beautiful daughter Jade is half
Vietnamese. Since my first trip in October of 2004, and to the time of this
writing, I have traveled to Viet Nam eight times. Children of the Dragon incorporates actual places I have visited in
that country, which is not nearly as ominous (these days, at least) as I
portray it here — but it often serves a dramatic purpose to set a character
down in an unfamiliar environment in which, a fish out of water, he can become
thoroughly disoriented. Ah, the deliciously disorienting Orient!
Viet Nam also has its influence in The
Sea of Flesh, in that a number of its characters are Vietnamese, but this story
takes place in another of my favorite locales: Salem, Massachusetts. This long
novella (or short novel?) was written for a book called The Sea of Flesh and Ash, which was long delayed with its original
publisher and therefore withdrawn from them, finally released by another publisher
to a very limited readership. The premise of The Sea of Flesh and Ash was that my brother Scott Thomas and I
would both write a novella based on the same beautiful piece of artwork by
Travis Anthony Soumis, which would serve as our cover. Thus, I wrote my dark
fantasy The Sea of Flesh, and Scott
wrote The Sea of Ash…a brilliant
work that I hope he will feature in some future collection of his own. It
deserves much greater exposure.
The title of this book, Worship
the Night, was inspired by a kind of loose theme at work in these stories:
the notion of deities, hereafters, or otherwheres beyond the mortal plane. As I
say, The Lost Family involves angels
and demons, if not quite in the traditional sense, while Counterclockwise offers a glimpse into an alien belief system. The Holy Bowl invokes the aforementioned
Flying Spaghetti Monster — as convincing a deity as this world has to offer, and
much tastier than most. The title of In
Limbo evokes the dismal way station said to lie between the two more definitive
afterlives, and hence — literally or metaphorically — between damnation and salvation.
Similarly, the protagonist of About the Author believes she has torn
through a barrier between this world and the netherworld. If your spiritual
calling leans less toward Judeo-Christian conceptions and more toward the eldritch,
you might want to become an acolyte of the Cthulhu Mythos, as addressed in The Strange Case of Crazy Joe Gallo and Children of the Dragon. Finally, the
main characters of The Sea of Flesh interact
with a mystical alternate realm.
With a theme of this nature, one might well wonder what the author’s
position on religion could be.
Okay, that probably isn’t fair. Better to say, then, that I despise
religion. That is, religion as practiced by those who wish for eternal torture to
be inflicted on others for not sharing their particular brand of superstition.
Which isn’t to say that I don’t necessarily believe in mysterious forces at
work in the universe. My personal jury is still out on that one. I am in awe of
the unknown, with a capital “Un,” and I hope that sense of wonder translates
into some of these tales. But in regard to my disgust, I’m not talking about spiritual
matters…I’m talking about physical matter, matter shaped into the things we
call people, human effing beings, who can be credited with other such hateful inventions
as guns and money. Perhaps money will be the theme of my next collection. God
– such as He, She or It might be — forbid.
With our introduction and sub-introductions behind us, let us now allow these
stories to speak for themselves…
– Jeffrey Thomas