Back | Next




I’VE SPENT A fair amount of time around children; first with my own son, and more recently, with two nieces. One thing I’ve always noticed is that kids love to be scared. The caveat, of course, is that they want to laugh shortly thereafter! It appears that the instinct toward fear is genetic, but so is the instinct toward safety, which prompts the laughter later.

The question is obvious: What makes us crave a good fright? Surely life is full of enough things to frighten us, especially in a post-9/11 world. In fact, as a horror anthology editor for nearly twenty years now, I have wondered more than once since 9/11 whether there was still a place for horror stories in this twisted world. But writers have been as responsive as ever to requests for submissions to my books. The Hot Blood anthologies, edited with lifelong pal Michael Garrett, are still selling to a coterie of dedicated fans (thank you very much). And certainly the success at the movies of everything from The Ring to The Grudge, from Dawn of the Dead to White Noise, and a laundry list of others, proves that people do indeed crave being scared. That is, so long as they can then step back into broad daylight and be reassured that the world is no worse than the one they left behind when they stepped into the theater.

In fact, it appears to me that therein lies the secret of horror stories: they allow us to experience a certain sort of mental orgasm, if you will; an opportunity for a release of some of the tension and stress that life pushes at us daily. In a good horror story, whether it’s on the printed page, in a movie theater, or on a TV screen, we can let loose the worst nightmares imaginable, follow them to the most horrifying extremes, and still come out safe on the other side. And whether in the story the good guys won or not, the viewer or reader wins by finishing the story, setting aside the entertainment, and then diving back into the world at large, relieved of some pressure he may not have even known was eating away at his insides.

As the coeditor of the Hot Blood series, I’ve often done book signings for Del Howison, who, along with his lovely wife, Sue, runs America’s only all-horror bookstore. For that matter, it may be the only all-horror bookstore in the world. One thing’s certain: It’s one of the coolest places in the planet for any fan of horror in its myriad media, from movies to comics to books to toys, and with tons in between. During one fateful signing, Del told me that he had the idea to brand Dark Delicacies in a whole new way, as a series of anthologies by many of the writers he’d hosted throughout the store’s decade-long existence. It sure made a world of sense to me. Who wouldn’t want to write a story for the fine folks who’d helped them sell so many books to so many fans over the years? And why not an anthology series named after the store, whose name defines horror to its dedicated clients and fans? Now, this sounded great!

I’ve had a ball compiling the Hot Blood books with Michael Garrett. But the opportunity to stretch my editorial wings with an anthology whose only theme was “write the best damn scary story you can think of” was of particular appeal to me. And our writers have done just that. Del and I are still unabashed horror fans, and I know I speak for him when I look at our list of writers and just have to say, “Wow!” From the grand master himself, Ray Bradbury, to Richard Matheson, from Clive Barker to the very last horror story by the much-missed Richard Laymon—and not slighting anyone in between—we think this may well be the most significant horror anthology in the past twenty-five years (and that includes my own books!). These stellar authors were asked to write a story that defined modern horror for them, and they came through like troupers.

One promise Del and I made was to pepper the “names” in Dark Delicacies with young writers, who make the pilgrimage to Del’s mecca regularly, buying printed inspirations and then spending evenings and weekends studying those works and honing their own dark craft. I’m confident that we have found folks whose names are destined to become as legendary as the people they share pages with.

All of this talent under one cover may lead you to wonder, “Who’s in volume two?” To which we just have to say slyly, “Come back in a year or two and you’ll find out!” Del and I have many friends in the horror field and we’ll be knocking on many more doors.

This is an anthology whose time has come. Dark Delicacies presents horror for a new generation, for the world in which we now live. And unlike that crazy world around us, Dark Delicacies gives you the opportunity to be scared and then to put the book down and feel better afterward!

We’re confident that you’ll enjoy Dark Delicacies, and invite you to contact us with your impressions. We hope you will watch for news of future volumes because we’re in this for the long haul. For, as long as kids love to be scared by playing boo, or teens flock to horror flicks, or older folks (like Del!) get a delicious shudder by the power of the word on a printed page, there’s room in this world for Dark Delicacies.

So why not indulge in a real treat that’s obviously also good for you: an all-new horror anthology from the very best in today’s horror authors, who have been invited to bring you into their nightmares.

Welcome aboard and come on along for the ride. We promise it’ll be scary, but we also promise you’ll be smiling when you close the book. Now honestly, can real life make a better offer?

Back | Next