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Taking Submissions: Alone on the Borderland
Deadline: June 30th, 2023
Payment: Paperback copy, percentage of Kickstarter, percentage of first year of royalties
Theme: Weird and strange fiction set between 1901 and 1919
Tales of Edwardian Dread
SUBMISSION PERIOD: 1 FEBRUARY 2023 – 30 JUNE 2023 inclusive. GMT.
CORE CONCEPT: An anthology of new weird and strange fiction set between 1901 and 1919 – from the death of Queen Victoria to the immediate aftermath of the Great War and the Spanish Influenza epidemic. Weird fiction is a mode of writing which includes the subversion of many standard tropes, or more imaginative interpretations, and has a strong psychological component, so please bear that in mind.
“There are millions and millions and millions… with their lives, their hopes and fears, their suffering and chance of happiness, all intertwined with our lives, and what we think and say and do. We don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other. And I tell you that the time will soon come when, if men will not learn that lesson, then they well be taught it in fire and bloody and anguish.”
An Inspector Calls, J B Priestley (set in 1912)
SETTING: The broad Edwardian period was a time of huge changes in society, including developments in science, religion, psychiatry, suffrage, class roles, labour, and the nature of warfare. Consider desperate attempts to cling to outdated ‘Victorian’ values, or a blind rejection of change — even an eager embrace of new concepts, with worrying results. Consider the worm inside this last ‘summer’ apple of grand houses and disenfranchised masses in Britain; remember the industrialisation of Japan and the growing revolutions in Russia. Hint at war to come, if you wish, or explore the weird through a war which changed many societies forever (please note, though, this is NOT a book of war stories, just that the setting may be relevant for a few.) Stories may occur anywhere in the world as long as the events fall within this period — do not feel confined to Western Europe.
You might also find this short piece by Lucy Burgess relevant in terms of broad background:
APPROACH: In specifying ‘weird and strange fiction’, we are seeking stories which are disquieting and disturbing — tales of troubled minds and disjointed or illogical events. The psychological, the ab-natural, and even outright horror, but not blunt gore or shock horror. We are certainly interested in Cosmic Horror — the realisation that we are potentially insignificant in the cosmos, that our understanding of the world around us may be at best partially, and even entirely, wrong. Some aspects of Folk Horror — the insidious blend of landscape and isolation — may also work. Try to be original in your voice where possible, rather than employing simply pastiche.
As H P Lovecraft’s themes and the subsequently developed ‘Cthulhu Mythos’ are obviously a major element of weird fiction and Cosmic Horror in literary history, Mythos-adjacent stories are welcome, but we do NOT want stories simply of Mythos monsters raging around. References to or derivations from the Mythos, if used, should be subtle — go for mood and philosophic dread. Think more ‘The King in Yellow’, ‘The House on the Borderland’ and ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ than ‘Call of Cthulhu’, more Algernon Blackwood in weird ‘tone’ than August Derleth.
Subtle and insidious would be good watch-words. If you’re interested in matters Hodgsonian, which are relevant to the background of this anthology and to the roots of weird fiction, there’s a partial index of articles and snippets we’ve published here:
WHAT WE DON’T WANT: We do NOT want the usual vampires, zombies, werewolves, or tentacles and mad cultists, nor do we want simplistic period ghost stories. NO glorifications of war; no espousing Imperialism or colonialism. No steampunk, or alternative histories — twist the existing historical world to disturb us. Time travel will be a hard sell. No Sherlock Holmes or Thomas Carnacki for this particular volume, please. And absolutely NO Jack the Ripper sequels.
Sexual violence, violence against children and so on are out, unless you have an excellent contextual reason for alluding to them.
Personal Note: The editor has taken in rescue dogs for many years, and is unlikely to accept anything which includes serious on-stage harm occurring to dogs.
INCLUSIVITY: We actively encourage contributors from traditionally less-published backgrounds of any nature. Non-white characters and settings are very welcome, as are stories with LGBTQ+ characters, and those with differing levels of physical ability. If you are writing about Britain, for example, there were plenty of Black and other non-white people in the country during this period, working or studying, especially in the larger cities. And despite draconian official laws, there were plenty of people who were LGBTQ+. Whilst limited situational discrimination may occasionally be relevant in the context of the period – in order to reflect characters’ life histories and the prevailing social standards – sexism, homophobia, racism etc. in general will result in immediate rejection.
TECHNICAL STUFF: Stories should be between 5,000 and 10,000 words. These are FIRM LENGTHS. Use any standard 12 point font. Indents by style, NOT Tab or Space-bar. Submit in .doc or .odt format, attached to your email, not pasted in it. NO .pdfs, Google Docs links or anything like that. Brief cover note only — no need for bios or achievements – open with ‘Hi’ or ‘John’.
Submissions must have the subject line Borderland-Story title-Author’s name. You can trim your story title down if it’s rather long.
NO REPRINTS; simultaneous submissions aren’t ideal, but are acceptable if you must. Please inform us immediately if your story sells elsewhere.
ALL SUBMISSIONS TO: [email protected]
If you do not think your submission got through, query the same email address. If you have had no response within a week, please contact John Linwood Grant on Messenger. Do NOT send stories to Belanger Books, as they would have to be re-routed, and may go astray.
PAYMENT: Authors shall receive a percentage of the Kickstarter net profits, a percentage of first year royalties (percentage determined by number of contributing authors), and a paperback copy of the anthology. Belanger Books have an excellent long-term track record with Kickstarters, and with decent remuneration for their writers. Publication of the final book is expected Spring 2024.
Via: Grey Dog Tales.
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Stuart Conover is a father, husband, published author, blogger, geek, entrepreneur, horror fanatic, and runs a few websites including Horror Tree!