This past Sunday I had the pleasure of speaking with the Congregation Am Haskalah book club about all things Jewish horror, including my story “On Seas of Blood and Salt“. The video of the chat is here. I’m the one in the Hawaiian shirt with the Sasquatch pattern.
Wishing everyone out there a very happy new year! I’d like to take this moment to say thank you to some folks who have been instrumental in my writing this past year. So big thanks to:
- Robin Laws, who green lit the first Reb Palache story many years ago for The New Hero
- Josh Schlossberg, for publishing “On Seas of Blood and Salt” in The Jewish Book of Horror
- Alex Hofelich and the rest of the wonderful folks at PseudoPod for publishing me – I am honored to be among their roster of authors
- David Niall Wilson and the fine folks at Crossroad Press, for picking up Ghost of a Marriage and getting set to bring it to the world in February. (Hint – now would be a great time to pre-order!)
- Jeff Strand, Mikko Rautalahti, Jesse Scoble, Rachel Zane and Laura Hickman for reading the manuscript and providing invaluable help on it, some of which I was smart enough to take.
- Bridgett Nelson for reading and editing some of my short fiction and still speaking to me afterwards
- John McIlveen, for reasons that will have to remain mysterious for now
- James A. Moore, Mur Lafferty, Maurice Broaddus, Rhianna Pratchett, Anna Megill, Annie Reid and so many more for being shining examples of the craft
- Toiya K. Finley, Richard Rouse III and Alexander Bevier for collaborating in putting on an online gathering of game writers that was good for the soul
- Susan O’Connor and Tom Abernathy, my co-conspirators in curating the Game Narrative Summit at GDC
- Walter Rotenberry and company at East Coast Game Conference for allowing me to once again curate their narrative content
- Pauline Martyn, James Charles Leary, Tom Knights, and Justin Achilli for secret things
- All the writers who agreed to let me interrogate them in Five For Writing
- And all of you for reading this
So a giant thank you to everyone for all that you did in 2021. Here’s to 2022 and happier days!
I am overjoyed to let you know that for the second week in a row, PseudoPod has chosen to feature my work. This week it’s “On Seas of Blood and Salt” from The Jewish Book of Horror. It’s the third in my triptych of stories featuring the magical pirate rabbi Palache, and this time he’s up against something undead and unpleasant. Give it a listen here. I hope you enjoy it!
Wishing all of you a deliciously spooky Halloween (or Samhain), and hoping you get to frighten small children (but not too much), frighten large children (ok, a bit more), and hand out giant gobs of candy!
Also, happy book birthday to The Jewish Book of Horror, which releases today! It contains my story “On Seas of Blood and Salt”, along with 21 other great stories. PW called it “a superior anthology”, and who are we to argue with them?
Joining me today is writer and editor Josh Schlossberg. A member and co-founder of the Denver Horror Collective, Josh is also the editor of The Jewish Book of Horror, which is out in time for Hanukkah this year. He was kind enough to take a moment to answer some questions, so without further ado, I give you Five For Writing with Josh Schlossberg:
1-What inspired you to create The Jewish Book of Horror?
Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you that I heard a booming voice coming from some flaming piece of shrubbery or a cloud on top of a mountain. I was actually talking with my mom on the phone about how I wanted to push the envelope on horror fiction (without getting canceled), and so I said to her in jest, “I should just do a Jewish book of horror.” And then the menorah in my mind lit right up.
2-Putting the book together, did anything surprise you?
I was most surprised by the many flavors of Jewish horror we received in terms of author submissions. Many of the staples for sure, such as golems, dybbuks, and demons. But thanks to their creativity, THE JEWISH BOOK OF HORROR has redrawn the boundaries of this barely known subgenre.
3-How does your Judaism intersect with your writing?
I’d say mostly through a sensitivity and awareness of the shadow throughout all dimensions of life. Part of that undoubtedly came from reading about the Holocaust from a young age. Yet the rest may have been genetically passed down through the generations, as in the past, an unwary Jew was often a dead Jew.
4-Your website focuses on biological horror. How would you define that, and what’s the appeal of it to you?
The definition of biology is the study of “living creatures and vital processes,” so it’s basically that plus horror. Ever since I was a little boy looking for frogs on streambanks and inside sewer grates, I’ve felt very connected to the natural world. And the more you learn about how nature works—from ecosystems to microbes, from wildlife to the human body—the more fascinating and disturbing life becomes.
5-You talk about “the gatekeeper’s burden.” Editing two anthologies, what have you learned about the gatekeeper role, and how has it influenced you as a writer?
That a gatekeeper has an obligation to treat authors with respect, whether it’s passing on a submission or buying a story, because without them, there is no book.
In terms of gatekeeping influencing my writing, I now have more of an understanding of how an editor might pass on one of my own stories simply because it doesn’t fit into their idea for an anthology or meet their specific tastes, not because its lacking in story or craft. And that the behavior of editors that tends to peeve authors the most—ignoring emails, form rejections, no feedback—is probably more about poor time management than spite.
A big thank you to Josh for taking the time to answer the questions. You can find The Jewish Book of Horror, which contains my story “On Seas of Blood and Salt” for sale just in time for Hanukkah.
Next up is the master of Pugmire, Eddy Webb. Tune in next week for some very good dogs!
Lo and behold, that venerable institution Publishers Weekly has taken the time to review The Jewish Book of Horror. They even called out my story as a highlight. I am beyond pleased.
You can read the review here. Don’t worry, it’s short.
Being a part of The Jewish Book of Horror is a tremendous honor for me. I’ve never shied away from expressing my Jewish identity in print – see also Charnel Houses of Europe: The Shoah for Wraith: The Oblivion – but it was an anthology called Wandering Stars that convinced me I could do it, back in the day.
Edited by Jack Dann, the book is a collection of science fiction stories by Jewish authors. I found it on the basement shelves when I was growing up, as my Dad’s science fiction collection lived down there along with most of Mom’s coffee table books. I was accustomed to just cruising Dad’s shelves and picking books at random – it’s how I ended up reading Babel-17 at far too young an age, and Heinlein at an age when I was still impressionable to give credence to some of his wackier ideas, but I digress. One day I grabbed Wandering Stars and sat down to read it, and it made a world of difference.
I’m not going to say that I loved every story, because I didn’t. But I loved a lot of them, and it was my first introduction Harlan Ellison, who contributed the frankly bonkers but also oddly reverent “I’m Looking For Kadak”. And I realized as I read it that I shared something with every writer in that book, and that they shared something with me.
I’ve never crossed paths with Jack Dann, though when I was frog-marched into the MITSFS by an ex-girlfriend I noticed his membership credentials were right next to mine in the log book. But wherever he is, I owe him a thank you.
I am very happy to announce that I have a story in The Jewish Book of Horror, coming this holiday season from the Denver Horror Collective. My story, “On Seas of Blood and Salt”, features the Rabbi Palache character from my story in The New Hero, so if you’re up for some magical pirate rabbi action, this is the story for you. You can find out more about the book here. Hope you enjoy it!