Christopher Golden’s brand new short story collection just came out from ChiZine, and he was kind enough to answer a few questions about the compilation!
You have a brand new short story collection out, TELL MY SORROWS TO THE STONES! What’s one of your favorite stories out of the collection?
The first one that comes to mind is “The Hiss of Escaping Air.” While stories like “Breathe My Name” and “All Aboard” are also among my favorites, “Hiss” just works a little magic for me. I wrote it for Peter Crowther at PS Publishing in the year I was Guest of Honor at Fantasycon in the UK. Pete published it as a chapbook. I love old Hollywood, and the story has ties to that, but it’s also about the power of belief, whether positive or negative, and the things fear can make us do…and how immediately we can regret those things. Neil Gaiman read that version and was incredibly supportive and helpful to me on it. He told me he thought it could be one of the great stories if I made a few changes to it, and so I did.
Putting together a collection of stories is definitely an art form. How did you go about choosing the stories for the book? Were they written specifically with the intent on publishing them together?
Not at all. This is only my second collection. The first one, THE SECRET BACKS OF THINGS, was really about publishing everything I had done in short form up to that point in my career. TELL MY SORROWS TO THE STONES came about in a couple of ways. First…I had written a number of stories since the first collection that I felt very pleased with…stories I thought reflected a certain amount of growth for me as a writer. In looking back, I realized that at some point I had turned a corner, and that several of the stories in my first collection really belonged with this second group. TELL MY SORROWS TO THE STONES represents where I am now when it comes to short fiction. Yes, I did leave one or two out. What you’ll find most of all, I think, is that these are stories with powerful emotions at their core–loneliness or grief or desperation, even love. That’s what binds them together, and to me.
What do you like to see in a short story collection?
Variety, imagination, and invention. I want to be entertained but I also want to be made to think, and made to feel. There are two short story collections that have really set the bar for horror and dark fiction. The first was Joe Hill’s 21st CENTURY GHOSTS and the second was Robert Shearman’s REMEMBER WHY YOU FEAR ME. Both are simply extraordinary, and put most of us to shame.
The stories in TELL MY SORROWS TO THE STONES deliver a healthy helping of the creepy, but which one do you consider the scariest, and why?
I like creepy, but I honestly never think about being scary. If a story is frightening, that’s more a byproduct than anything intentional. Unsettling, yes, I hope so. Emotional, if I’ve done it right. But scary is by accident.
What do you enjoy about writing short fiction, as opposed to full length novels, and what is different about the process for you?
Short stories are more ideas than plots. They’re a window through which you can see something unfolding rather than a door through which you can go and explore that thing on your own. A novel is like a theatrical production, full of sets and makeup and costumes and a story full of mystery and circuitous paths that bring the reader to the desired conclusion. A short story is a magic trick, where you’ve set the mood and created the moment, and then you do your trick and take your bow. I love doing both, but they really are very different things.
You’ve undoubtedly been a huge influence on many writers, but what are some of your favorite authors or novels?
If I’ve influenced any other writers…sorry about that. As for my own influences, the list is incredibly long and growing longer. Stephen King is absolutely primary among them, as he is for so many. Jack London, Clive Barker, Charles de Lint, Graham Joyce, James Lee Burke, Larry McMurtry, Dennis Lehane, and so many more. My two favorite novels, tied, are THE STAND by Stephen King and A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY by John Irving. McMurtry’s LONESOME DOVE is up there, too.
What’s next for you?
January is going to be a huge month for me. My new supernatural thriller, SNOWBLIND, comes out from St. Martin’s, followed by the new anthology I’ve edited, DARK DUETS, from Harper, and the first in the graphic novel trilogy I’m doing with Charlaine Harris and illustrator Don Kramer, CEMETERY GIRL, which is from Penguin. It’s crazy…you spend more than a year working on three projects, deliver them all at different times, and then they all come out within weeks of each other. But it’s a hell of a way to kick off 2014.
About TELL MY SORROWS TO THE STONES:
A circus clown willing to give anything to be funny. A spectral gunslinger who must teach a young boy to defend the ones he loves. A lonely widower making a farewell tour of the places that meant the world to his late wife. A faded Hollywood actress out to deprive her ex-husband of his prize possession. A grieving mother who will wait by the railroad tracks for a ghostly train that always has room for one more. A young West Virginia miner whose only hope of survival is a bedtime story. These are just some of the characters to be found in Tell My Sorrows to the Stones, the new short story collection by Christopher Golden, New York Times bestselling author of Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire, editor of The New Dead, and co-author of the upcoming graphic novel trilogy Cemetary Girl, written with Charlaine Harris.