Whatever your favorite term for scary storytelling is, check out Apokrupha. Here’s a snip from the publisher’s “About” page that describes their bent:
“Our first project is LampLight, a magazine focusing on the darker side of fiction. But it is not intended to be a book of gore and slime, rather to go back to the previous generation of “weird” stories. Works eliciting fear have a long history in fiction, as our article writer, J.F. Gonzalez talks about in each issue, and LampLight aspires to bring back some of that, to be a literary magazine as well as a horror one.”
I downloaded the free copy of LampLight and it inspired me to submit to Apokrupha’s Dark Bits flash fiction anthology.
An acceptance arrived and I’m delighted to join an eclectic group of contributors. The anthology was originally intended to include 52 stories, all under 500 words long.
My story, “Shroud” by Bryce Hughes is #18 on the table of contents.
The collection includes hard-hitting and quieter flash horror for that quick frisson compact stories give. Contributors include Robert Ford, Kathryn Ptacek, William Meikle and many others.
The final count came to 53 short-short scary tales, well-suited for every week of the year in the planner edition, with one bonus story, like a creepy baker’s dozen. Check out the atmospheric cover on the links above.
The publisher says “Dark Bits will be the first in a series of anthologies, entitled QuickLII.” This is good news for readers and writers of weird fiction.
I’ve enjoyed stories and novels in the horror, dark fiction and dark fantasy zones since I was a little kid. Reared on fairy tales and classical mythology, my bilbiophile environment included Shirley Jackson, Daphne du Maurier, Alfred Hitchcock’s anthologies, EC horror comics, Bram Stoker, Poe, the Pan Book of Horror series, anthologies by Karl Edgar Wagner and Charles L. Grant and more pulp novels than I can name.
Later I discovered Ambrose Bierce, Wilkie Collins, Harlan Ellison, Joyce Carol Oates, Allan Ginsberg — think about it, doesn’t “Howl” give you chills? — Ramsey Campbell, Cemetery Dance, Stephen King, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Lisa Tuttle, Tanith Lee, Peter Straub, Clive Barker, Douglass Clegg, Dan Simmons, Poppy Z. Brite, Ellen Datlow’s anthologies, Paula Guran’s anthologies and a changing, yet ongoing, supply of zines.
A major downside of “Horror” as a marketing label is that an enormous amount of sludge in book and movie form has obscured the literary roots and the range of fine work that evokes fear. Weird Tales was one of my favorite publications for its attention to quality. Whatever the content or style of particular contemporary or classic pulp authors it featured, it delivered good stories. The Weird Tales that inspired me no longer exists.
My reading has included a lot of fiction that includes intense violence and graphic sex, and a few writers use extremes well. The ones I’m most impressed with exert masterful control and the acts of violence or sex never overshadow the story, they’re intrinsic to the story. Works by Lucy Taylor, David Schow and Joe R. Lansdale stick with me. Elements that have a deep impact when a fine writer employs them read as only unsuccessful attempts at shock, gross-out or prurience in amateur attempts.
Even though I can roll with violence, the grotesque, gore and overt sexuality of all flavors, at core I resonate with primal fears and the roots of the literature that came to be called “horror.” I have to admit that I wrote some things in the 80s that even gross me out, so I’m not in any way against excruciatingly vivid scenes, there just needs to be more at the heart of a work than how far it goes with acts on the human body.
The rise of Apokrupha makes me happy. Apokrupha’s LampLight , a quarterly magazine of dark fiction is in its second volume.
A free sample of the first issue of LampLight is available here: LampLight Past Issues
In addition to new weird stories, you get a detailed column by J.F Gonzales on reprint anthologies and “The Incident at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce. The column by novelist J.F Gonzales is an ongoing feature, as is the inclusion of a classic tale.
I like to think of a new generation of readers and writers getting chills and having their minds expanded to perceive a wider range of fear than they’ve ever known before.
The stories in the first issue cover several kinds of weird. “Elgar’s Zoo” by Nathan L. Yokum stood out. Its meaningful theme, strong characterization, masterful pacing and images stick with me. I’ll be looking for more of his work. Favorite tales are a matter of taste, so check out LampLight and find your own.
Kudos to Jacob Haddon and everyone at Apokrupha for their hard work and vision.
Check out the newest Apokrupha anthology, Vignettes from the End of the World. I’m pleased I’m part of this collection of startling apocalyptic tales. I admit my contribution, “Rip,” isn’t quiet horror and you probably shouldn’t read it at work, for so many reasons.
Updated and corrected April 30, 2014.