For the first time in our sojourn as writers, we find ourselves with Hugo eligible stories, so please allow us to set out our stalls, praise our wares, and beg your consideration and indulgence!
With One Eye, Bright as a Star (Short story, 3200 words)
In the stark northern Dutch countryside, an old man teaches his grandson to be a man, but the forging of their fragile bond is interrupted by a confrontation with the supernatural – and the family secret.
(Published in The Wild Hunt: Stories of the Chase, Air and Nothingness Press, January 2021).
For All the Dead (Short story, 6800 words)
“The sea gives and the sea takes away.” Raised in a remote Dutch fishing village, in the shadow of a storm that took most of its men, Hanne’s heard this truism all her life. But as a new storm rolls in, Hanne issues the sea a terrible challenge. Find more background here, and reviews here.
(Published in Beyond the Veil, Flame Tree Press, October 2021)
Caught in Wax (Short story, 3600 words)
In an Amsterdam divided by poverty and disease, where the First World War never happened and the vampires scream from the rooftops, a band of misfits puts together a show to raise the dead.
The Chill Inside (Short story, 2200 words)
Anton, a medium who heals hearts and hides his own lost love, welcomes a skeptical guest to his circle, giving him an epiphany he’ll never forget.
Reel Number Seven (Short story, 6100 words)
It is the early days of cinema, when the pictures are silent and the cameras cranked by hand. A terrible incident disrupts the filming of “Wuthering Heights”, and Lawrence Olivier must go to desperate lengths to save his film, and bring his lover Vivien to the screen.
(These three stories form AaNX 1: Emerging From Darkness, Air and Nothingness Press, December 2021)
And if you nominate nothing else, please consider nominating Air and Nothingness Press’ editor Todd Sanders for the Editor (Short Form) category! There is an excellent interview with Todd on HorrorTree.com, but we’d also like to share our own experiences.
When Todd chose With One Eye, Bright as a Star for The Wild Hunt, we appreciated Todd’s prompt handling of contract and payment, and his communication throughout the editing process. Even our authors’ copies, neatly wrapped and sealed with an AaNP sticker, showed Todd’s attention to detail. The book itself is beautiful: smaller than your usual paperback, with immaculate interior design, and a heavy stock cover with french flaps. Todd has experimented with the form throughout AaNP’s twenty-five years, and when he has an idea, he makes it happen, such as his take on the old Ace Doubles.
When Todd requested stories for a Steampunk collection, we were game and immediately began Reel Number Seven: a take on Wuthering Heights, a perennial favourite of ours. We transplanted the Olivier version to the silent film era, with a dash of the German Expressionist Zur Chronik von Grieshuus (if you have a good quality DVD, please send it over!). Well over word count, we started again with Caught in Wax, loosely inspired by Rem’s goth days in Amsterdam; the warehouse building in which the trio of outcasts have their concert is real, though now converted into luxury flats. Our strange story intrigued Todd: it wasn’t quite what his anthology needed, but he was curious about its background. Meanwhile, we took the opportunity to strengthen its structure.
Though Caught in Wax was not selected for the anthology, Todd was eager to use it, and asked if we had similar stories. We sent him the other story, and his reply: “So how did you guys get so good?” encouraged us in an otherwise deeply trying autumn. He told us his idea for a newsletter-type mini-collection, and asked if we could tie these stories together with something small, set in the same universe. We already had an idea based on a fragment written and discarded years ago, and set to work. Meanwhile, he shared with us the first rough newsletter layouts. We felt very much collaborators in the project, and were even able to make suggestions. When we handed in the last of the stories, The Chill Inside, a contract followed immediately, as did arrangements for payment.
Todd Sanders produces beautiful books with great stories. The reader gets something really special; in a world of mass market paperbacks and print on demand, he has found a niche producing books that offer a sense of occasion so rare for some of us, as reading becomes a snatched pleasure amid life’s pressures. This is what he set out to do as a one-man publisher 25 years ago, and he still maintains this quality. However, why we want to highlight his work as an editor in particular is because of his impeccable and generous work with his authors: he keeps them informed throughout, from submission to authors’ copies, he edits with consideration, and he is very punctual with paperwork and pay!
Too often, small time press can make for a disappointing product and a frustrating experience for the writer. For Todd, Air and Nothingness Press is a labour of love; he extends this his readers and authors.