Today, we continue with our review of different contributor copies. Se here and here for earlier posts in this series. As I’ve mentioned before, I enjoy the huge variety of themes and, particularly takes on what, at first glance might appear to be a very tightly-focused collection.
For example, when I saw the guidelines of the book that became Zombie Kong, I truly wondered just how many takes on the fifty-foot zombie gorilla could be possible. In order to avoid getting caught up among dozens of what I thought would be identical stories, I put the beginning of my story in Congo and the end in Brazil.
What I remember most vividly about writing this tale (“Shadow of the Gorilla) is that I was sitting in a coffee shop researching Congolese ports when I realized that there was one particular town on the Congo River which was located exactly where I needed it. Unfortunately, the port was called… Banana.
I groaned out loud in the middle of the restaurant, and my wife, who was working beside me (we were supposedly on vacation at the beach, but we were both toiling) looked at me sharply, wondering what was wrong. I responded that no one was going to believe that the port in a giant monkey story was called Banana. It would seem like a cheap authorly cop-out in order to avoid doing any research.
Nevertheless, the story got written and sold to the antho, and I received a contributor’s copy which I read (like every book that ever falls into my hands) years later.
I needn’t have worried. The subject matter which I felt would be so constricting, was treated every which way by the talented authors in the book. Some, like me, played it straight. Others went the “news story” route, or made it a funny story (not sure how funny a fifty-foot undead ape looking to tear you to pieces might seem to the people involved, but the authors captured the tone perfectly). From the gory to the laugh-out-loud funny, this is a book with something for everyone.
The second book I’m looking at today is entitled Enter the Apocalypse. It’s a collection of short stories about how the apocalypse happened. This one contains my story “Passing the Torch” which was accepted after I agreed to change the complete structure of the tale (who says a writer’s life is easy?).
But the rest of the stories followed a similar pattern to Zombie Kong: they were clearly written by people with an incredible capacity to think outside the box while, technically, remaining within the box.
We were privileged to be able to host author Nick Barton here with his particular take on what makes an apocalypse appealing. Reading between the lines of his post, you will get a clear picture of the kind of writer who can use the constraints of a prompt to write something truly special.
But I think the hats must truly go off to the editors of these two books. Selecting the right stories to give variety without being too gimmicky must be a difficult balancing act, and both Gondolfi (Apocalypse) and Daley (Kong) have managed that tightrope walk beautifully.