Now, some of you may be aware of a cosy lil’ group on FaceBook that gather together in the darkening shadows & detail the demise of many a poor soul, pushing them further & further until they are finally forced to take action…..dreadful actions indeed.
Headed by the delightful Ben Parris here we find a rather unique group of writers & an equally astounding set of stories that encompass the extents of the desperation that the human mind can experience. This anthology is not only a bloody good read, but a set of character studies that any writer or reader would do well to explore for themselves. This is what horror is all about; our deep-set fears, our resentments, our Achilles Heels….the ingredients of the extremes of human nature itself when it’s back is to the wall, forced to bare it’s teeth & attack.
Now, without further ado, I present to your hungry little eyes Drastic Measures….
How Drastic the Measures
The intimate inside story of DRASTIC MEASURES, where guts and their tape worms reside, began with a writing contest inspired by a visceral and refreshing work by Susan David called “Ageing Gracefully.” She begins, “I just couldn’t remember where I left my gun when the menopause set in,” and you know it’s going to be nice and crazy.
Hers was fine quality and fearless writing (you must be fearless to let others feel fear), but it seemed to me to have this essential question at its core: Where does the human mind go when it’s cornered?
Working as a senior editor with Blueberry Lane Books, we decided to offer it up as a writer’s contest on the biggest game in town, Writing.com to see what came of it. I thought I had some idea where the project was going but life has a way of ensuring that you are often wrong. The best of the best turned out to be an eclectic mix that ranged from, yes, classic and modern horror, to the more familiar daily struggles. Someone even explored the theme in science fiction. I thought the last bits strange until I realized that the stories remained about indivisible bonds, and people going outside their comfort zones when threatened.
Yet we didn’t greenlight anything in book form until Melissa Lyons turned in her startling masterpiece “Snow.” As a keen devourer of anything Dean Koontz, I immediately saw the kinship and gauged her raw talent as the level of his second novel, which is all the more astounding because Koontz is prolific and Lyons writes so little.
Given the wide range of stories selected, I came up with the idea of arranging the tales generally in order of intensity, letting everyone first enjoy the short “Ageing Gracefully,” as a preview, and saving “Snow” for last. In the end, I was prevailed upon to throw in two of my own stories chosen to have the effect to balancing the collection (and because we were short). “Rage” is about a spoiled kid who solves his reckless homicide problem with a ghoulish solution, and “Murder in Songjiang” introduces a young CIA agent on a training assignment that he just can’t handle the way anyone wants him to. These are edited by Fantasy & Science fiction author Ken Altabef. I was pleased with the overall result of the collection to say the least, but we weren’t entirely done.
As the last crucial step, we went to one of the biggest names in fiction, George Clayton Johnson, to justify production of a print volume. Johnson, the healthiest surviving member of the writing club that also gave the world Ray Bradbury and Rod Serling, is the author who launched Star Trek with a horror episode about a salt sucking creature wearing the guise of McCoy’s girlfriend. His audience is enormous because he also wrote for The Twilight Zone, co-wrote Logan’s Run, and created the mega-hit Oceans Eleven. Exclusive to the print volume, Johnson gave us a short story of terror at a Dead Head concert, and DRASTIC MEASURES was born.
So those who read the Anthology in the wildly successful free promo from Amazon’s Kindle (went as high as #3 in anthologies, bested only by “smut,” so I’m told), and crave owning the hard copy for their bookshelf, can purchase one and get the Johnson story as a chilling bonus.
Next week tune in for the follow-up to Drastic Measures….. How To Wash The Spider Out.