Two years ago, I edited a collection of horror stories to raise money for survivors of the Camp Fire in Northern California. It was one of the honors of my life to edit the book, which has gone on to raise more than $2500 for the North Valley Community Foundation.
All of the stories were donated by their authors, including a story donated by the estate of Clark Ashton Smith. The cover artwork was donated. I donated my time as an editor. The publisher has donated all the profits from the book.
While the survivors of the Camp Fire have now rebuilt or moved away, the number of people who have survived a wildfire in California grows each year. The state received very little rain this past winter — and consequently this upcoming fire season has been forecasted to be the longest and most devastating yet.
Want to help out? You’re in luck! The book is still available for sale in paperback and ebook at Amazon: https://amzn.to/3vKyoSZ (Be aware that if you buy it from one of the “other sellers,” no donation can be made.)
In the meantime, here’s a taste of my introduction to the book:
In the Face of the Fire
My father was five when his home burned to the ground. My grandparents had been sitting up in the evening when a chicken incubator caught fire on the porch. As flames licked up the outside of the house, they rounded up their three kids—my dad was the oldest—and fled into the cold Michigan night. Somehow, in the process of doing what they could to fight the fire, my grandparents lost track of my dad. He wandered back into the burning house and went back to bed. He was too young, too sleepy, to understand the danger. My grandfather braved the flames to rescue him. He was burned coming back down the stairs, but thankfully, they both survived.
Not only did the family lose everything beyond the clothes on their backs, but Grandpa didn’t trust banks. He’d had a thousand dollars in cash hidden in the house. In an instant, everything they’d owned and all of their savings were gone.
I’m not the only author in this collection whose life was shaped by fire. Gene O’Neill’s family lost a house in one of California’s wildfires. Gary Clark wrote in his submission letter, “A woman who lost her home has just moved into the mobile home park here where I live.” Images of families huddled into shelters filled the local news for weeks.
All of us in this book remember the terrible smoke from the Camp Fire. Not only could the fire be seen from space, but smoke blanketed the Bay Area from Napa in the north to San Jose in the south. Because of the unusually still weather last November, smoke poured through the passes surrounding the San Francisco Bay and got trapped by the coastal mountains. Even though San Francisco itself is almost 200 miles from Butte County, for almost a week we had the worst air quality in the world.
Even while it wasn’t safe to breathe the outside air, our hearts went out to the people of Butte County—those who were evacuated from the fire zone and waited in shelters to hear if their homes survived, those who lost everything including loved ones and pets, and those who could not outrun a fire that traveled ten miles in ten minutes, devouring everything in its path before people could even begin to grasp the danger they were in.
In the weeks after the fire, the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the Horror Writers Association decided to assemble this volume as a way to raise money to support the survivors of the Camp Fire. The initial idea was put forth by Ben Monroe. I volunteered to edit and E.M. Markoff stepped forward to act as publisher. Ken Hueler helped me get the word out to the members. Submissions flooded in.
Horror is the perfect genre to grapple with questions raised by disasters of this magnitude. What, in the end, is truly important in life? How can we face death? How does one continue when confronted with unimaginable loss? Is it possible to find light in the darkness? Can humor save us? One hopes that catharsis will cause us to value our common humanity all the more.
I am immensely honored to present this collection of short horror stories to you. Many of these tales were published previously, but others appear here for the first time. You’ll find everything from straight-up horror to science fiction to fairytales, stories to frighten, awe, and cheer you.
Thank you in advance for your generosity.
That link again is: https://amzn.to/3vKyoSZ
It’s a really good anthology. I still get a little scared thinking about “Quarry”!
Ben will be so thrilled to hear you say that. Thank you!