Tag Archives: Steven Pirie

The Gate 2: 13 Tales of Isolation and Despair

FULL DISCLOSURE: The editor and publisher of this anthology, Robert J. Duperre, occasionally writes reviews for Shock Totem. The book also features work from Duperre as well as stories from Shock Totem publisher K. Allen Wood and editor Mercedes M. Yardley.

While horror has traditionally been associated with gore and the supernatural, it often finds it’s most fertile soil in ordinary themes that we are truly frightened of.

We can all enjoy stories about vampires or zombies, but those things don’t scare us much because no matter how skilled the author is at creating what Coleridge referred to as the “suspension of disbelief” we know that we can put the book down and walk away from it knowing that those things are not real.

But we’ve all been lonely. Even the most misanthropic among us would find it difficult if not impossible to survive in a state of total isolation. It’s why of all the cruel and unusual punishments we inflict on criminals, one of the most feared is solitary confinement, which can often create symptoms of psychosis in otherwise normal inmates.

In The Gate 2: 13 Tales of Isolation and Despair, published by T.R.O. Publishing, editor Robert J. Duperre offers us a varied assortment of horror tales. Some of them have supernatural elements, others don’t. Some are grim, some are humorous, some are creepy. The common thread running through these stories is the theme of isolation. It tinges the humor with sadness and makes the supernatural more believable.

This is a great collection. Some stories I liked better than others, of course, but none were duds, a relative rarity among independent anthologies. I especially liked how each author approached the theme of isolation from such different angles. Each story is also accompanied by a full-page illustration by Jesse David Young.

In the first story, “Plastic,” author J.L. Bryan gives us a funny and poignant take on the post-apocalyptic man who finds himself alone theme that we’ve all seen before. Bryan’s version is a fresh spin on the common topic, and genuinely comical. Daniel Pyle’s “Night-Night” is a nifty little story that kept its twist well hidden.

In one of the most literary stories, Steven Pirie offers us a gut-wrenching insight into the casual cruelties that many people inflict on people who are isolated within themselves by severe injuries. All of the stories here are well written, but Steve’s “Does Laura Like Elephants?” stands out as a real gem.

K. Allen Wood’s “The Candle Eaters” is a classic and very effective look at a Halloween tradition with an unusual spin. And in one of the creepiest stories of the volume, Mercedes M. Yardley offers us “Black Mary,” a very effective story that I really can’t summarize without giving it away. You’ll just have to get a hold of this volume and read it along with all the rest for yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

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Mentionable Honors

Ellen Datlow just released her full honorable mention list for Best Horror of the Year Volume 4, and while there are a daunting 608 stories on that list, we’re very happy to say that seven of them are from Shock Totem authors.

Though none listed will actually appear on the list of 50 featured in the anthology itself, the recognition for our authors is hardly diminished.

So a hearty congratulations goes out to Lee Thompson, Amanda C. Davis, John Haggerty, Steven Pirie, Aaron Polson, Jeremy Kelly, and Mekenzie Larsen. Well deserved, fellas!

You can read their stories in Shock Totem #3 and #4.

And before I end this, I would be remiss if I didn’t send a very big thank-you to Ellen for her time and consideration. Our appreciation is beyond words.

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Enter the Gate—Free Admission!

T.R.O. Publishing recently released the second installment of The Gate series, The Gate 2: 13 Tales of Isolation and Despair, an anthology featuring work from two of Shock Totem’s own—Mercedes M. Yardley (“Black Mary”) and me, K. Allen Wood (“The Candle Eaters”).

You can get the print version for $8.59 or, if you’re a Kindle owner, download it for free. It’ll be available at no cost today and throughout tomorrow.


[ Copyright © 2012 by Jesse David Young ]

In addition, you’ll find work by Daniel Pyle, Steven Pirie, David Dalglish, Robert J. Duperre, and seven others.

So if you’re looking for some great fiction at no cost, check out The Gate 2.

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Mrs. Mathews is Afraid of Cricket Bats

Issue #3 contributor Steven “Seven” Pirie is offering up for free download a short collection of four humorous tales, which you can download here at Smashwords. It’s called Mrs. Mathews is Afraid of Cricket Bats.

Download it, dig it, and then consider checking out his novels Digging Up Donald and Burying Brian.

And issue #3 of Shock Totem, of course.

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2010 Flash Fiction Contest Winner

Earlier this year, we began hosting flash fiction contests. It started out monthly then moved to bi-monthly. It was a lot of fun and we got to read some great tales. First Place winners received a prize of their choosing, usually a book or fiction magazine. Of those winners, an ultimate winner was then chosen to be included in our upcoming issue #3.

Because we had read a lot of the winning stories and didn’t want any kind of bias to play a role in our decision, we asked fellow writer and friend—and musician (check out Broken Hope and Lupara)—Jeremy Wagner to judge the stories and pick his favorite. He never participated in any of the monthly/bi-monthly contests and read all stories anonymously.

He chose Steven Pirie’s “Ruth Across the Sea” as his top choice. You’ll be able to read the story in a little over a month!

Jeremy also chose two runners-up in Amanda C. Davis’s “In Memoriam” and “Like Origami in Water,” by Damien Walters Grintalis. They will receive Amazon gift certificates kindly donated by Jeremy.

Congrats, guys! And Happy Thanksgiving to all.

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