About a million years ago, I wrote story called “The Other Village”. The story was written for the second volume in Tartarus’s STRANGE TALES series, and was accepted less than twenty-four hours after submission (which was amazing, considering my first few submissions to the book were rejected). It was elated, and became even more so the following year when Stephen Jones selected it for THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST NEW HORROR, VOL. 19. This was my first time in the series—in any best-of book—and it felt incredible to be part of that select few.
The internet is a funny thing. You can find almost anything there. One day, a few years later, I stumbled across an audio download of that same book. It was strange, primarily because I hadn’t been aware of an audio edition. I certainly hadn’t given anyone the rights to record my story. Yet, upon downloading, I realized that it was what it said on the tin—BEST NEW HORROR, in audio form. And, weirder, it sounded professionally recorded. Yet when I asked Jones about it, I was told it was not a legitimate recording. Why would anyone go through the trouble of reading the entire book and recording it? Was it an acting exercise of some sort? I was perplexed, but did what anyone would do: I saved the file for my story.
I stumbled over that recording today by accident, and gave it a refreshed listen. This story is a pretty bitter pill, and contains one of my most unpleasant characters. I love her, but if I were writing the story now, I’d likely soften her, just a smidgen, just enough to make her human. That said, I think we all know people like her, and I think the story told around her remains strong.
This story remains pretty important to me for a host of reasons, but perhaps most of all as a sign post that assured me what I was doing was worthwhile, and that I had something unique to offer. And, in the spirit of offering, I offer the story here for you to listen to. True, I don’t have permission from the person who recorded it to share his work, but neither did he to share mine. I thus consider it a draw.
(And for those who want more of this sort of tale, I point you to my collection, COLD TO THE TOUCH, where this story was ultimately collected.)