Warmed & Bound is the collection from the website known as The Velvet – the community based around writers and the works of Stephen Graham Jones, Will Christopher Baer and Craig Clevenger. The lovely and extremely talented editor Pela Via has been hard at work putting together what looks like one of the best collections around. This collection includes some friends of mine and authors I am unfamiliar with – but features an all round talented cast.
To purchase Warmed & Bound from Amazon (US), or from Amazon (UK).
Here is the content list for Warmed & Bound:
Death Juggler by Axel Taiari
Click-Clack by Caleb J Ross
The World Was Clocks by Amanda Gowin
Mantodea by Matt Bell
All the Acid in the World by Gavin Pate
Crazy Love by Cameron Pierce
Chance the Dick by Paul G Tremblay
Soccer Moms and Pro Wrestler Dads by Bradley Sands
Take Arms Against a Sea by Mark Jaskowski
This Will All End Well by Nik Korpon
Midnight Souls by Christopher J Dwyer
The Tree of Life by Edward J Rathke
The Killer by Brian Evenson
Headshot by Gordon Highland
Inside Out by Sean Ferguson
Laws of Virulence by Jeremy Robert Johnson
Bruised Flesh by Craig Wallwork
Bad, Bad, Bad Bad Men by Craig Davidson
Three Theories on the Murder of John Wily by J David Osborne
The Road Lester Took by Stephen Graham Jones
My German Daughter by Nic Young
What Was There Inside the Child by Blake Butler
Seed by Gayle Towell
They Take You by Kyle Minor
The Redemption of Garvey Flint by Vincent Louis Carrella
Blood Atonement by DeLeon DeMicoli
The Liberation of Edward Kellor by Anthony David Jacques
Act Of Contriction by Craig Clevenger
Say Yes To Pleasure by Richard Thomas
The Weight of Consciousness by Tim Beverstock
If You Love Me by Doc O ‘Donnell
Touch by Pela Via
Love by JR Harlan
Practice by Bob Pastorella
Fading Glory by Brandon Tietz
Little Deaths by Gary Paul Libero
We Sing the Bawdy Electric by Rob Parker
In Exile by Chris Deal
Interview is as follows:
1.) Tell me about your story: what relevance it holds to you, personally, and what you were trying to achieve with it?
Caleb J Ross: Click-Clack is honestly one of the best things I have written. It’s a culmination of everything I try to accomplish with storytelling. It is grotesque, heartbreaking, meta, and full of the sort of velvet prose that keeps me, as a reader, engaged and me, as a writer, interested in continuing this whole author thing. I truly think this story represents a next step in my life as a writer.
Sean Ferguson: Inside Out is the story of a celebrity addressing America as he dies right before their eyes. You follow his rise and fall from stardom, how he’s come to be bleeding out on camera, and how all of that is actually connected. We live in a time where regular are made into superstars for being contestants in competitions of survival in places where people already live. They’re famous just for the sake of being famous, or born into money, or married into money. There are so many people in this book, the good people behind this book, they’re way more interesting and deserve the attention far more than these fake reality stars. That’s what Inside Out really is, my contempt for the mainstream.
Anthony David Jacques: At the time, I was writing stories inspired by music, focusing on the mood or aesthetic that a song or album achieves. Being an audiophile and musician as well, the project made for an interesting mash-up of two of my passions. Much of my writing music ends up being instrumental, and that held true for many of the stories. Not so with this story. I was listening to Team Sleep, a side project lead by Deftones’ frontman Chino Moreno. It’s actually quite fitting as musical inspiration for this kind of fiction since a lot of their music is inspired by Edgar All Poe, or the Jonestown Massacre. As I was listening one afternoon, the line “Your skull is red” in the eponymous song really stuck out to me. I hit repeat and started writing a scene about someone’s skull, thinking about the reality of it, the bones, the structure, what might drive someone to getting more acquainted with another person’s skull, and it developed into this story. A lot of the atmospheric cues and sensate details come from other Team Sleep songs as well, not necessarily the words, but the feelings.I wanted to capture the mood of the album, and I’m pleased with how everything has turned out.
Gordon Highland: I can’t resist a good twist, and there are a couple in my story, “Headshot.” Same goes for the metafictional aspect, where it begins as a script and then smash-cuts into a traditional narrative, nonlinear though it may be. This duality allowed me to contrast two different styles of writing: the tightly-focused just-the-facts reportage of camera and sound against a more fluid voice without such restrictions. My tendency to write characters who are media-types continues here, with a Hollywood producer who hasn’t had a hit in awhile thrust into a “bottle” scenario with a pair of women at opposite ends of their careers who’ve both been exploited by him.
DeLeon DeMicoli: “Blood Atonement” was inspired by Ronnie Lee Gardner. Gardner was on trial for the 1984 murder of a bartender. During his trial, an accomplice slipped him a gun. He attempted to escape and killed an attorney. He was convicted and given the death penalty. Gardner did the unthinkable and chose to die by firing squad. Out of 35 states that had the death penalty, Utah was the only state that had firing squad as an option. The state also allowed death row inmates to choose their method of execution. But, that changed in 1994 when legislators made lethal injection the standard method of execution. Those inmates convicted before 1994 still had the right to choose, which meant no one could stop Gardner’s decision. Deciding to choose firing squad as a way to die had put a fear into me that I had not felt in some time. Seriously. I had a hard time sleeping. I would daze out thinking about Gardner while my wife’s mantra “What do you want for dinner?” lingered in the background. After reading several articles on Gardner, I had a helluva time accepting the fact that he chose to be shot. Wouldn’t it be more painful than lethal injection or the electric chair? After doing some more research, I learned firing squad was a painless way to be executed. There were rifles pointed at your heart. Surely there was no way these marksmen could miss. Death was instant. Well, what about other methods like lethal injection and the electric chair? With lethal injection, if the drugs were not injected properly or if someone was not given the correct dosage, they could awaken if the anesthesia wore off, but remain paralyzed and suffocate. With the electric chair, there have been instances where men needed to be electrocuted multiple times. Some of those men caught on fire. Then there’s public hanging, but that’s so ancient and wild west. We’re civilized people now…right? Maybe the firing squad wasn’t a bad c hoice?Another interesting fact was how this tragic incident occurred in the Mormon state of Utah. Fundamentalist Mormons believe the only way to resolve your sins is to spill your blood on the ground and offer it as a sacrifice to God, or blood atonement. Gardner was a Mormon, and I wondered if this was his last opportunity to be right with God.
Stephen Graham Jones: These are just a lot of the people I grew up with. And, I’ve been through that workman’s comp machine, and it’s rusty and hates you and spits you out much worse than you were before, so I guess I was kind of digging into that some, yeah. Though I guess this story kind of cued up in my head as a riff on that Robert Frost poem, which is all famous and taught and canonical, but I’ve never seen the difference in it and a Ratt song, really, where Stephen Pearcy’s singing about how hung he is or something (though I could be thinking of interviews for that particular bit, I suppose). So I kind of wanted to write a version of it that I could understand. And then of course there was a poker game and beer drinking, suddenly — neither of which I know jack about either, so had to feel through, like with the poem — and dancers making house calls, and a birthing class, and maybe that’s the relevance: I remember when I went through that birthing class, there were a lot of no-shows, so the teacher let me take home like eighteen deli sandwiches, which was so, so great, because I was so, so broke at the time.
Tim Beverstock: The Weight of Consciousness started out as an idea called Diminished Returns. I wanted to write a story where each section used half the words of the previous one (500,250,125,50,25 etc) and have the narrative told retrospectively via a series of answer phone messages. While this idea didn’t translate over to the final story, the sense of timing remained by using the six paragraphs to break up a 24 hour period. Keeping the sentences clipped, the descriptions precise, and using an equal amount of words in each paragraph helped create a sense of weight in the build up to the end (hence the story title).
Bob Pastorella: “Practice” is based on true events that happened to me several years ago. Everyone knows ‘that girl’; the girl who is so normal and sweet on the outside, yet inside she is boiling over with crazy. You end up caring for her even though you know you should walk away. No, you should run away, but you don’t, because we all have this altruistic instinct that makes us believe no matter how messed up someone is, we can help them, so we try, without a clue as to what we really should do to help. For all we know, we could be doing more damage than good. Then the worst thing happens, you fall in love with her. How do you love someone who is so self destructive? I wanted to get that sense of helplessness out of Marcus, that he really didn’t know what to do to help Shelly. I also wanted to show that no matter how well we think we know someone, what we’re seeing is merely the tip of the iceberg.
Richard Thomas: It started with a discussion I had with the editor, Pela Via. I had a couple stories sitting around, showed them to her, and in the end we decided to write something brand new. I wanted to give her the opportunity to tell me exactly what she wanted, and craft a story just for her, and this anthology. I’ve been a big fan of Nietzsche for a long time. I recently discovered a quote of his and it drove the story. It’s where I got the title “Say Yes to Pleasure.” Here’s the quote:”Did you ever say yes to a pleasure? Oh my friends, then you also said yes to all pain. All things are linked, entwined, in love with one another.” That got me started on the idea of love and hate being so close to each other, how we have to love, we have to care, in order to hate something or someone. Otherwise, we just don’t care, we ignore the situation, or person, and move on with our lives. It got me thinking about how we can’t choose the people we fall in love with, so what if there was a tragedy, and the man who caused the horrific accident ended up falling for the victim, the woman. How would that play out? Would that secret hold, would it ever be revealed? Wouldn’t it just EAT AWAY at you? In the end, something had to give, something had to break. And it did.
Edward J Rathke: Hm, I wrote this story almost two years ago, which is longer than I thought, but, time being what it is–persistent–it tends to get away from me, so a lot of the impetus to write it and the inspiration behind it may be wholly fabricated by now, but I’ll try. At the time I wrote it, I was manic, writing ten shorts a week, easy, just flying on the keyboard, and, I thought, getting better with each passing word. This was kind of the peak of that creative burst, I think, if I remember correctly. It was the story I was most proud of, anycase, and ended up being rejected a dozen times before Pela snatched it up. I was trying to achieve what I’m still always trying to achieve: beauty. Aesthetics, really, are the most important thing for me when it comes to writing, and, more than that, it’s typically about a singular image that I need to get down just right. For this story, the first sentence I wrote–though it never appears in it–was, ‘The sky was on fire and everyone hid,’ and the rest just kind of came from that. Though I’m constantly failing, never reaching the bar I set, I like to think I’m getting closer. So the goal was to create something beautiful, though this was happening at a time when I was being, say, a bit reckless with my love, to put it a certain way. So, the nature of the story, the infidelity and sorrow of it, I think that’s some of the reality of my life that accidentally found its way to the page and took over, as it always sort of does. So special meaning? Maybe a way to process what my mother calls my immense desire for unavailable women.
Nik Korpon: I wasn’t really trying to accomplish anything with the story, other than shifting the reader’s perception every couple hundred words. I thought it’d be cool to have a real short story that’s constantly changing shape. And I always seem to be writing love stories, so there’s that. The genesis of This Will All End Well was from a story I heard on NPR, actually, with a guy who fought in World War II. It was winter and they were clearing out bunkers, just burning them down. He came across a Nazi with a broken back lying in the top bunk, begging not to let him die in the fire. The guy pulled him off the bed and dragged him up the steps, all with a broken spine, and left him in the middle of the field for his countrymen to find him. I kept seeing that image of his feet smacking on the concrete steps, his vertebrae grinding against each other.
Amanda Gowin: This is the first story (that I’m happy with) I’ve written with no definite answers. It’s very linear, but as far as love stories, there are no resolutions. Its genesis was an epiphany about a very strange tree – and by getting the story out of me and into a containable form, I hope it became something beautiful and less frightening.
Nic Young:My story came out of a workshop led by Jack Ketchum, called Writing From The Wound. As you can imagine he placed a great deal of emphasis on getting close to your own traumas and fears. The story I submitted is true. It’s my biggest wound. At the time of writing I was simply trying to follow Ketchum’s instruction to climb into the scary parts of the past and bring something back. It was cathartic. I cut it down a lot while editing for Warmed And Bound, and I think in it’s current form it’s quite focused on how excluded the boy feels.
Chris Deal: In Exile is the story of two people and how they drift apart. Honestly, that’s the oddest path I’ve ever taken to get to a story. Maybe a sentence a day for three weeks, then a little more, then showing it to people who hated it, then someone saw something good inside. Got twisted and rewritten a lot, now it’s here. All I wanted was to have fun with a different voice.
Doc O’Donnell: My story, “If You Love Me”, is one of the most personal, most non-fictional, most confronting stories I’ve ever written. It was one of those ones that was hard to write, not because the story and what I wanted to achieve wasn’t clear, but because it was so close to me and it was difficult to revisit the emotions, the characters. See, I had a crazy, manipulative girlfriend a few years back–didn’t we all?–and I went through a situation very similar to this with her, not to mention a slew of other shitty scenes–I mean, I could probably write a short story collection of the fucked up shit that went on in that relationship, and, I suppose, maybe I will someday. But, as of right now, I think this one is about as much as I can handle. Unlike the protagonist of my story, I don’t have her name scarring my body–not anymore, anyway–but I am missing little bits of flesh over my body. The story, at its heart and soul, is a scary love story. It’s about a man that is at a point so low that he is easily manipulated into proving his love for a girl–a girl he likely shouldn’t be giving his love to, a girl that is, quite clearly, taking that love and using it against him because she’s a horrible little bundle of S&M. The details are raw, uncompromising. I guess, what I really wanted to achieve was that sense of hopelessness. That feeling of knowing you shouldn’t be doing something but, at the same time, knowing you’re going to do it anyway; it’s the mistake you know you’re not meant to be making. And I think we’ve all been there at some point or another. Maybe not with a pyhsical blade to the skin, but, perhaps, you, metaphorically, swallowed that blade and let it damage you from the inside out.
Craig Wallwork: Bruised Flesh is about Jonah, a young man recounting his childhood at the hands of an abusive father. My intention was not to make this mis-lit. I didn’t want Jonah’s story to be Pelzerised or anything, but more a story about a son and father getting to know each other. In the opening paragraph we see Jonah recounting a moment from his childhood when his father purposely injuries him. We don’t why this is until we realise the father has been given a chance to make a lot of money overseas by selling real estate to the elderly. All the father needs is capital to invest. To raise the cash he stages incidents using his son, films them on a video camcorder, and sells them to one of those popular comedy television shows like America’s Funniest Home Video. The father’s motivation behind all this it to provide for his son’s future by making lots of money from the real estate scam, but as the story progresses, the far reaching complications force the two apart. What interested me is the pursuit men undertake to better understand their fathers. My
father never abused me, nor did he intentionally injure me for personal gain. For that reason, I am not Jonah. My father was, to the best of his abilities, a decent man. The problem was he was forced into fatherhood. He was not prepared, but battled on, doing the best he could. He was young too, and as such was still living his life while I was crawling through mine with dirty diapers and a snotty nose. When I was old enough to know better,a distance grew between us, awkwardness at times, and the bridge that finally united the gap was the local public house and the rivers of alcohol that ran beneath. He assumed the role of “involved” father more when he had a skin-full, much the same way I found courage when drunk, or love when on ecstasy. Alcohol brought us closer, but as a child, alcohol pulled us apart. The way Jonah finds solace and guidance when his father is muted by a coma, I found the same in mine, save it was not in a hushed hospital room but a polarised world of loud voices, dense cigarette smoke and hops and barely. Bruised Flesh was me committing to paper a story that I had carried for many years. It is a story of longing, of a universal forsaken love that heals but is always bruised by history.
Paul Tremblay: My story “Chance the Dick” is me riffing on the scene that turned out to be the opening chapter to my novel The Little Sleep: A stereotypically beautiful woman walks into a stereotypically dark office of a big city private dick. The fingers on one of her hands were stolen and replaced with someone else’s fingers. In my novel, that scene is a part of a dream/hallucination of a narcoleptic detective. In this story, I play it straight, sort of. Her fingers really are gone. And it goes in kind of wacky places from there. With the story, I was neck deep in my first novel, and I took a little step sideways and was trying to work out some thoughts/questions about noir and the classic PI story, what relevance it has today. That, I wanted to get my weird on with the story too.
Vincent Carrella: The Redemption of Garvey Flint was my first attempt to write a story set within the world of Serpent Box, my debut novel. I had planned on writing a collection of stories that would all connect in some way to the book, but that effort fizzled. Garvey is the black sheep of the Flint family , he’s sort of a prodigal son and the antithesis of his brother Charles, who is a Pentecostal preacher. I was hoping to convey that very powerful connection between brothers and the unconditional nature of brotherly love. As a brother myself I’ve wanted to explore the bond between brothers – one good, one bad , and that heart-aching shame and disappointment that often results from poor decisions.
Pela Via: “Touch” is about intimacy which, in a way, means it’s about sex relative to the belief in God. The story’s relevance to me—I’ve been married forever. 13 years, at age 31. Sex changes its meaning in that much time; people around us get married, get divorced, die, some quick and some slow. “Touch” is a sad story. I’m lucky for the parts that are fictional, for every day I can touch my husband. Lucky, not blessed.
Brandon Tietz: My grandmother on my father’s side had dimentia for the last few years before she died. I think a lot of that stuck with me, even though her and I rarely saw each other. Just hearing about it through family members made enough of an impact. So there’s the whole issue of trying to connect with someone who doesn’t know you anymore, and in this character’s particular case, clinging on to things that you’re about to lose. “Fading Glory” addresses those particular struggles.
Bradley Sands: It’s the opening chapter of TV Snorted My Brain, a novel that LegumeMan Books will be publishing next year. It’s about a teenage wannabe anarchist who doesn’t know very much about it. He likes peewee soccer games because he believes them to be perfect examples of total anarchy considering how the players’ parents behave. But his dad died during a riot that happened at a pee wee soccer game. I think I originally wrote it as the scene where that happens. But I changed it for some reason. Probably to have a greater emotional impact. Another riot starts, just like the one that the protagonist’s father was killed during. And he gets really excited because it’s pure anarchy or whatever. But at the end, he experiences a major emotional shift because he goes from having a great time watching the riot to remembering his father and how he died.
Craig Clevenger: “Act of Contrition” was a personal exercise in writing outside my own comfort zone. I wanted to write a story I wouldn’t share with anyone else. As it happened, when they asked me for a story, it was all I had ready to go. So, I made a leap of faith and sent it to the editors.
2.) What preconceptions or themes did you have when deciding to submit your story to The Velvet?
CJR: I’ve known a lot of the people associated with The Velvet for a long time. Many of them I’ve worked with and many I’ve had beers with. I had no preconceptions and no thematic direction aside from the type of material I’ve come to know and expect from The Velvet. And I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I don’t know that it would have been possible to write something specifically for Warned & Bound. As corny as it sounds, I think the possibility of Warmed & Bound has existed inside these collected authors for a long time.
SF: The story starts with a guy dying on live television. Its violent, its gruesome and public. There’s an intimacy to it too, standing there completely alone with the whole world watching. He’s isolated as the rest of the studio is in hiding from his attacker. The story just seemed right, with these underlying feelings, and the issues that the story covers.
ADJ: I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I knew it would be a lively project sure to attract some great talent, but I was still relatively new to the group. Perusing the final list of authors, I’m not only blown away by the number of authors I respect and admire who submitted work and (obviously) made the cut, I’m humbled to be counted among them.
GH: Most of my work to date has been very character-focused, and knowing that it might share space with some well-respected authors, even if only my peers from the Velvet community, I wanted to ratchet things up a notch. To go darker, with more action, more disturbing imagery, but also with a certain moral core. So I dialed back my trademark oh-so-clever wordplay and went for a visceral response. It wasn’t until I’d already submitted the story that I recognized its literal “warmed” and “bound” aspects. I swear. The original plan was to attempt a southern gothic tale, but then I remembered I live in effing suburbia and barely know a whippoorwill from a weeping willow.
DLDM: There weren’t any. Pela reached out and asked if I was working on anything that could be submitted for the anthology. I just finished “Blood Atonement” so I consider it dumb luck that the story matched the anthology’s theme.
SGJ: If I only I ever had preconceptions. I mean, outside the range of ‘this is probably going to win the nobel prize.’ But I’ve gotten kind
of calloused to that particular mispreconception. As for themes, though, man. I’ve never thought in terms of themes, not when teaching
– my students have all been trained that way, but I’m completely lost in theme-land — and especially never in writing. I mean, you’ve got
the story, it’s happening right there under your pen, under your fingertips. Just be honest to it, follow it where it goes, don’t let
go until you have to, and then let go all the way. It’s the only thing I know.
TB: I didn’t have any preconceptions about the anthology, I was just happy to be asked to submit something. The main reason I chose this story was it was also the only thing I had laying about that felt right and also something that I could easily edit in the timeframe. I’m a notoriously slow editor (though am getting better with practice!).
BP: The writers at The Velvet lean towards dark fiction, Velvet Noir if one could label it. It’s not about a private detective getting caught up with a blackmail scheme with his client’s wife. Velvet Noir is the point where morality meets mortality, that no matter how we try to live, our own motivations twist the choices we’ve made, often with disastrous and deadly results. “Practice” certainly fit the bill.
RT: Twisted love stories is about all I had in mind. So you start with conventions, and then, twist them: pleasure bumping up against pain, laughter masking the body wracking sobs of grief, love where there shouldn’t be love, where it isn’t deserved, or welcome. Beyond that all I knew was that I wanted to be true to the neo-noir voice that I’ve been developing over the last couple of years. After that, I left it up to Pela, and took her advice. Well, most of the advice, anyway.
EJR: I’m familiar with most people at the Velvet, through their writing or through conversation, so that’s hard to sum up, really. I’ve been there for about three years, which, again, so much longer than I thought. Seems like just the other week when I was getting my wisdom teeth out and accidentally signing up. But, yeah, I didn’t think much about it. I just wanted to be proud of what I sent, mostly, so I sent an unpublished story that I still believed in, and just let it go. Of course, back then we hardly realised what we were getting ourselves into, never expecting Steve Erickson or Blake Butler or Brian Evenson to be in the same book. But, yeah, terrible at answering questions here. I think the Velvet has become, for some, synonymous with dark fiction, which I think is inaccurate, or it is, at least, to me. I think we write from and for the same reasons so many others do. To make sense of the world, to understand what love is, how we feel about it, to process a chaotic existence and find the threads that hold it together, no matter how surreal or unreal they must be.
NK: The only thing going through my head was ‘There will be a metric shit-ton of amazing writers: Do not let your story suck.’
AG: No preconceptions. No themes. This story was important to me, so I gave them the best that I had, without thought to a particular mold. I think that’s one of the things that’s so special about this book – the writers gave their best as opposed to giving what they thought might ‘fit.’ And it has become an amazing collection.
NY: The Velvet is directly responsible for me writing at all. I respect the people there more than I can express in this short answer, so my only preconception was that the anthology would be amazing. I wanted to be a part of it, so I tried a couple of stories, but none of them worked. I had written the first draft of My German Daughter back in November, but I wasn’t going to submit it for fear of it seeing light. It fit the ‘scary love story’ aspect of the theme though, and as the deadline approached I became more afraid of missing the opportunity than of letting the story out into the world, so I sent it in.
CD: None, sorry.
DO’D: Well, there’s a Baer quote–and I can’t, for the life of me, remember where it’s from–that I keep coming back to when I think, not only about his work, and the type of stories I like to read but, when I think about my own writing and the things I want to write about, the things I want to share, the things I think are important. He’s talking about his work and what he thinks he writes and says it’s basically “scary love stories”. So, when I think of Velvet Noir and the type of things I want to write about, to explore, to pick at until I bleed, I think of scary love stories: Sucking on your lover’s bottom lip while you’re digging a blade into their guts, either metaphorically or literally; I think about vulnerability and manipulation and the fine lines between lust and love and love and obsession; I think about hurting the ones you love, when all you’re trying to do is love them the right way; I think about moral ambiguity, blurring the distinction between what’s right and wrong; I think about every day guys and girls, stumbling, tripping, falling, through this dirty world we’ve found ourselves in; I think about the lingering sense of hopelessness, of doom, that surrounds the lives of these people–of us–and I want to inject hope in their veins, but, ultimately, that hope is crushed when we take that long drive back to reality. So, all that in mind, I thought “If You Love Me” was a perfect fit for Warmed and Bound–I mean, even the title Warmed and Bound has these connotations of scary love stories attached to it, right? “Warmth” is loving and tender yet “Bound” adds this nasty kind of S&M feel to it, for me, at least. It’s a great phrase in that sense, really. And, on top of that, I just knew this was something that I wanted to be a part of, something I’d be honoured to be a part of. That was before there were stories from Craig and Stephen. So, suffice to say, my mind is well and truly blown, like a shotgun to the back of the head. I can’t even begin to express how proud I am to have my name among two of the three Velvet authors. It’s something I couldn’t have dreamed of accomplishing this early in my career. And then there’s the surprise Erickson Foreword–just when I thought this fever dream couldn’t get any stranger. He had some nice things to say about my story, too, which, you know, still doesn’t feel real. I’m sure I’ll check my emails in a few months, looking for that note, and it’ll be gone–never existed. If that wasn’t enough, my story sits alongside some of my best friends and favourite new voices: Nik Korpon, Richard Thomas, Caleb J. Ross, Chris Deal, Bob Pastorella, Craig Wallwork, Eddy J. Rathke, Axel Taiari, Amanada Gowin, Gordon Highland, Gayle Towell, Sean Ferguson, Anthony Jacques. I mean, this line-up is bullshit good. All edited, meticulously, by Pela Via. We’re all in debted to her for nursing our stories, for fighting with us on them, for seeing the dark glow that they’re capable of with the right kind of polish–The Pela Polish. Now that’s my kind of polish.
CW: The darker side to life tends to bleed out of The Velvet. Stephen Graham Jones, Craig Clevenger and Will Christopher Baer never compromise, nor are their novels similar in style, yet the flesh of their prose is diseased with the same fallacy of hope and moral resurrection that consumes my own work. So, when deciding to submit a story for the collection, my initial concern was not if I had a story to submit, but which one. Pela gave me more time
than an editor would on a project of this scale. She indulged my egotistical rants and reined me in, and of the two stories I sent her, one she enjoyed and the other she threw to the curb. Had it been anyone else at the helm, I probably would have caved at the sheer weight of authors included. But like a gypsy snake charmer she enchanted me into believing I was good enough to stand shoulder to shoulder with these giants. I danced for her, and the result is finally in print.
PT: Only that the readers and writers who make up the Velvet are truly passionate about dark literature. It’s why I wanted to submit. That, and to possibly get to be in an antho with Craig Clevenger, Stephen Graham Jones, and all the other talented folks associated with the book. I must say it was an absolute pleasure working Pela Via on the edits. I’m very much looking forward to reading the anthology she worked hard to put together.
VC: I wanted to give The Velvet something biblically epic but on a micro scale. I thought that the story of a man at the end of his rope, having hit rock bottom and with no other option but to swallow his pride might resonate with this crowd.
PV: The Velvet’s three pillar authors, Baer, Clevenger and Jones, set an incredibly high bar for prose with their work. It’s almost inhuman, what they’re capable of with words. I simply needed a story that didn’t read like fourth-grade level writing. That’s difficult, following guys like that.
BT: When you think of The Velvet, you think noir or transgressive, or just dark fiction in general. I have a tendency to satire things, though, and that’s not really The Velvet’s style. So where I’d normally try to slide in some humor, this piece works the heart authority a little bit more.
BS: I just submitted it because I read it during The Velvet’s reading at AWP last year and it really seemed to resonate with a lot of people. Same thing for some people who weren’t there because it was recorded and used for one of The Velvet’s podcasts.
CC: I didn’t have any preconceptions. I just knew that the Velvet has taken on a life of its own, independent of me, Stephen or Chris, and I felt an obligation to support their efforts.
3.) What would you say in a single sentence to convince an unknown reader to buy Warmed And Bound?
CJR: Steve Erickson said it perfectly already: “The writers of The Velvet are contemporary fiction’s most effective and least self-conscious aesthetic guerrillas.” Hell, Erickson could have said “The writers of The Velvet warrant contempt and evacuation of bowels like a pathetic guerrilla” and I would still pick up the book.
SF: I’ve already read about 80% of this book, and it is easily the best thing I’ve read all year.
ADJ: This collection contains work not only from established authors whose work will surely require a trip to Borders or a couple clicks on Amazon, but also debuts some talented up and comers whose future work just might warrant a trip to IKEA for the new bookshelf you’re going to need.
GH: In a pinch, the book may also be used as a weapon, a mirror, or even an alibi, but not a contraceptive.
DLDM: The “Warmed and Bound” anthology comes out during a time when most literary blogs discuss the demise of the book and rarely discuss the great literature coming out of small presses and self-publishing…Fuck the politics, ya’ll, “Warmed and Bound” is about good writing and great storytelling.
SGJ: It’ll stop a small-caliber bullet from a distance greater than twenty yards.
TB: These stories will bleed well crafted fiction into your psyche.
BP: Warmed And Bound: Thirty Eight Authors, thirty eight stories in one collection, destined to be The Anthology of The Year
RT: The Velvet warms and binds.
EJR: Steve Erickson believes in it enough to lend us his words.
NK: These stories will change your understanding of fiction.
AG: This book attacks with murmurs and teeth.
NY: These authors will hurt you, and you’ll like them for it.
CD: The talent contained in this anthology, the pure dedication to literature, transcends any boring descriptor like “genre”; no, this is a collection that gets to the very heart of what it takes to be alive in this day and age.
DO’D: Welcome to Velvet Noir: it warms and binds.
CW: Reading this anthology is like tying one end of a piece of string around a rotting tooth, and the other around a doorknob; you await an end with mouth agape, and when it comes a small part of you is wrenched away, forever leaving your smile a little less pretty.
PT: Buy this book or I’ll stab you in the kneecap while making fun of the kindle you loaded with books you’ll never actually read.
VC: If you don’t buy this book I *will* shoot this dog.
PV: I genuinely believe there’s nothing else like it.
BT: Just buy it or I’ll cut you.
BS: I haven’t read it yet so I dunno but Steve Erickson wrote the intro so that’s cool since he’s one of my favorite authors even though he didn’t mention my story (it was probably too zany for him) but there are a ton of authors in the book so you will probably get a lot of bang for your buck, plus there are a few contributors whose stuff I’m really into: Blake Butler, Brian Evenson, Cameron Pierce, Stephen Graham Jones, Jeremy Robert “Crunkcore Will Never Die” Johnson.
CC: I can only steal from Steve Erickson’s introduction, to answer this question: “The writers of the Velvet are contemporary fiction’s most effec- tive and least self-conscious aesthetic guerrillas and obliterators of ‘literature,’ vaporizing arbi- trary distinctions intended to tame a spirit that needs neither distinctions nor quotation marks.”