I’ve a story in the charity anthology 32 White Horses on a Vermilion Hill. Proceeds will go to help a friend in need of dental work (hence the title), since this country is so mired in capitalist greed even basic health care needs are unavailable for far too many. My contribution here is a trivial drop in the bucket, but I hope the collective might of the TOC will draw in the necessary funds to help out Christopher Ropes.

My story, “Project AZAZEL”, has nothing to do with teeth. It’s a tip of the hat to Chester Himes, Raymond Chandler, Donald Goines, and Charles Willeford—not to mention Los Angeles noir in all its seedy weirdness.

The story itself had a strange journey. About 5-years ago, it was emphatically rejected by a prominent Lovecraftian publication, only to be accepted for a Lovecraft-themed anthology edited by a couple of publishers/authors I have tremendous respect for. I don’t know the details, but the publishing company had some drama behind the scenes (unrelated to the two editors), and it took several years for the book to become a reality. In that time, I began to feel uncomfortable with the quality of my story . I liked the protagonists too much to leave it as is, and the emphasis on Lovecraft’s legacy no longer seemed a proper fit for me.

So I pulled the story.

In the following months I rewrote “Project AZAZEL” to better reflect the detective noir roots I was originally shooting for, as well as fine-tuning a few things that no longer appealed to me, but better reflected my current interests. I’d no idea where to sub’ it though—at 8,800 words it was too long for most publications, and the subject matter isn’t straight up horror, or even straight up detective fiction. But I was proud of this unplaceable tale; I even planned on revisiting the character’s world at some point. So when Duane Pesice proposed an open-themed anthology to help Ropes, well, I had the perfect submission in mind—an unpublishable story I yanked from a major anthology only to rewrite several times while increasingly becoming enamored with the whole thing. Now there’s nothing wrong with submitting a reprint, but I wanted to send a story that had never been seen before. I’m glad it has a home now.

I’ve no idea yet as to a release date, cover art, or other details, but here’s the massive TOC for volume 1 (there’s at least one more volume on the table):

1: Farah Rose Smith – Blue Broken Mind
2. Matthew St. Cyr – An Incident on a Cold Winter’s Afternoon
3. Douglas Draa – Fishing Boots
4. Frank. R. Coffman – Chindi/Night of the Skinwalker
5. Norbert Gora – How to live without meds?
6. Calvin Demmer – Nothing Else Matters
7. Jo-Anne Russell – The Denturist
8. Russell Smeaton – The Tooth
9. Paula Ashe – To Anne
10. James Fallweather – I Can’t See the Bottom
11. K. A. Opperman – Forbidden Knowledge
12. Bob Pastorella – Outlaws
13. Christopher Slatsky – Project AZAZEL
14. E. O. Daniels – Prototype
15. Maxwell Gold – Eton’s Last Will and Testament
16. T. M. Morgan – Hammer Dulcimer
17. Scott J. Couturier – Reflection in Blood
18. Shayne Keen – Four Ropes
19. Brian O’Connell – Vore
20. John Claude Smith – Hotel California is the Devil
21. Jill Hand – Spare Parts
22. John Boden – Salten
23. Matthew M. Bartlett – The Fever River
24. Brandon Barrows – Verdure
25. Sarah Walker – Ink
26. Robert S. Wilson – Twitching and Chirping
27. C. P. Dunphey – Denizens of Mortuun
28. John Linwood Grant – Hungery
29. Jeffrey Thomas – Chrysalises
30. S. L. Edwards – I Keep It in a Little Box
31. Jason A. Wyckoff – Trace of Presence
32. Donald Armfield – Thirty-Two