On the Border

As some of you may know, I am hard at work on a very important project. One very near and dear to my heart. Borderlands is currently accepting submissions for their sixth anthology. What does this mean to me, exactly? Well it all started nearly 20 years ago, back when I was a whelp of a horrorfiend who hung out at the local library the way some kids will hang out at an arcade, and with equal ardor for the institution’s stock in trade. Mostly, I was left on my own, widely regarded as “That scary kid” by the library regulars. Being 8 years old, a precocious little thing in pigtails and MoonDreamers T-Shirts, who lugged around Stephen King novels in a purple Tweetybird backpack and lingered in the horror and science fiction sections while most children were on the other side of the library, reading The Cat In The Hat and playing on the big wooden tug boat, most adults didn’t know quite what to make of me. The exception to the rule was one of the junior librarians, Miss May. I do not know if that was her first or last name, I only wish I did so that I could thank her. Many an afternoon was spent in the staff break room behind the check out desk at the library with Miss May, a mug of coco for me, coffee for her while we discussed various literary topics. I always felt special, being allowed in that secretive area where others were not, like I belonged to some sort of exclusive club. I don’t remember much about my dear friend, other than her brown eyes and hair and that she was a student at the local community college, but she meant a lot to me in the time that I knew her. She showed me that it was OK for girls to like horror, she treated me with respect and camaraderie, she never once talked down to me or acted like I was a freak, but most important of all was a gift she gave me, one I still have to this day and is counted among my most precious possessions. A copy of the first Borderlands anthology. It wouldn’t fetch much on amazon, given that it’s a little dog eared because I’ve read it so many times over the years that I could probably recite it from memory, my name is scrawled on the inside cover in big blue crayon letters (Actually, cerulean. What? It’s my favorite color!)  and there are various stickers from Jem and The Holograms to Popples and generic Halloween ooglies all over it, but it means the world to me. It was my introduction to the rabidly amazing Poppy Z Brite whose work I would come to love, and who would become a role model for me in the coming years. Stories like John Shirley‘s “Delia and the Dinner Party” and Francis J. Matozzo‘s “On the Nightmare Express” have stuck in my brain, embedded there like little shards of glass, but above all what meant worlds to me, what I spent countless hours on, was reading Thomas F. Monteleone‘s introductions to each of the stories. The love he felt for pouring over submissions and discovering gold was evident, his pride glowed through his words. Many a youthful daydream was spent on imagining that one day he’d be glowing over having discovered me, my work, my stories. It was with that thought in mind that I wrote my very first horror story at age 9. It’s been many years since then, and many, many more stories have been written, most of them better… I hope… but it’s only been within the past few months that I’ve really begun to believe that I might have a shot at really for real getting published… and it’s with that hope in my heart, and a fluttering in my chest that I cast aside all trepidation and fear and self doubt. I’m really going to go for this. All in. I’ve got to come up with something amazing, something perfect, something that will make Thomas Monteleone stand up from his desk and announce that he’s found something new and wonderful, and something that will make Miss May, wherever she is, proud of the monster she played a role in creating.

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