The highly acclaimed series Exotic Gothic, edited by Danel Olson, has reached its fifth and final volume. It's a bumper collection, 26 stories split into two volumes. They're available now for pre-order from PS Publishing, either separately or as a double slipcased edition.
front cover art: Apolinar Chuca
My story "Xibalba" features in volume 2. It's set in the Mayan ghost town of Tulum, where a group of students are spending their gap year. The ancient temple carvings seem to hint at dark secrets and a trek into the jungle leads them into the heart of an ancient and terrible mystery.
"A diver investigates an unusual wreck, and discovers that a curtain between our world and another reality has been lifted. It's one of the most atmospheric stories I have read in a long time. Thana handles the diving scenes in such a way that the reader experiences the same sense of weightlessness, claustrophobia and isolation of the diver in this pitch perfect modern take on an Elder God story."
I finished "The Curtain" after diving the Thistlegorm in the Red Sea. The story was mainly inspired by the ghostly whispers I heard there. I put it first in my collection because it's possibly my favourite of all my stories. Here's a taste:
A soft munching reached his ears, but he couldn’t tell which direction it was coming from. It was never entirely silent in the deep. The sea had its own voices. As he swam towards more debris his beam illuminated a school of blue pinstriped surgeonfish, nibbling on bits of wreckage, investigating every nook and cranny. They swam languidly aside as he passed among them, as though he were one of them. Another shoal of silver fish hung suspended before him. Unless the same one had followed him. The small fish dispersed and rejoined like liquid metal, reforming into a curtain. Mesmerising. He swam towards them, expecting them either to scatter in fright or flow around him as the surgeonfish had done. But these fish didn’t move.
Martin floated in the water, staring as they held their position. He waved his hands at them as though shooing away flies. Their tails flickered, but the fish remained in place. Unnerved, he tried to swim around them but the shoal moved to block his path. He’d never known fish to behave so strangely, storm or no storm. He had the distinct feeling that he was not wanted here. But that was ridiculous. Their illusion of choreography was merely the work of a hive mind; there was no conscious decision, no sentience. After watching them steadily for a few moments he charged straight at them, arms out in front of him, Superman-style. Their slick bodies brushed against his bare arms as he penetrated the blockade and once he was through they scattered in all directions. A boat had come to rest here, all right. Smashed bits of the hull littered the seabed, its jagged points like bayonets at the ready. His torch unveiled a mangled instrument panel, a circuit board, part of a propeller. Dark shapes slid past the wreck, just out of range of the light. Probably just some of the larger fish that lived in the bay – barracuda, jacks or tuna. None of them were aggressive. But what if they didn’t want him here either?
I'm not neglecting this blog because I have no news. Really, there's quite a LOT of news but unfortunately, nothing I'm allowed to talk about yet!
So in the meantime, why not head on over to The Horrifically Horrifying Horror Blog where several of us writer-types talk about the music we write to. What inspires us, what doesn't, what we listened to when we were younger and what we listen to now. Some of it might surprise you!