In 2019, on the suggestion of an admired weird fiction writer, I first submitted the stories that comprise The Immeasurable Corpse of Nature to S.T. Joshi who was curating submissions for Hippocampus Press. Here, the final decision would be made by, as Joshi wrote to me in an email, “Derrick Hussey (who usually, but not always, follows my recommendations)”. I emailed Joshi six of the stories I intended to include in the collection.
He hated all of them. Loathed them. There’s more to the email, but I won’t elaborate on it. So that was that. Hippocampus Press was no longer an option. All rejections pack a wallop, and while I’m adept at rolling with punches, they’re a publisher I admired, so it left a bruise. Confirming any chance to work with them was no longer viable hit like a haymaker. It was the first of several debilitating experiences to come.
I then submitted the entire manuscript to Lethe Press where it was accepted. Steve Berman is fantastic, and Lethe Press has an impressive roster of writers I admire, such as Craig Laurance Gidney and Dr. Kurt Fawver, so I was elated to be involved with such a revered publisher. I don’t remember the exact series of events that followed, but I do believe the very next day I received an email from Jon Padgett notifying me that he was considering expanding Grimscribe Press beyond Vastarien to full-length collections. He wondered if I was interested.
I was flattered, but wary at first, as, believe it or not, I don’t think of my work as Ligottian. Of course he was one of many influences, but I’ve made no secret of my primary inspirations being Ramsey Campbell, Octavia Butler, and Ervin Krause. I find that far too many slap a Ligotti label on any horror story that’s even remotely philosophical or pessimistic, and even a critique of antinatalism in how it’s not philosophically tenable is interpreted as Ligottiesque. I was afraid that if I went with Grimscribe’ the Ligotti connection would overwhelm any and all reception(s) to the project, which, in hindsight, I think it most certainly did. I knew there would be far more readers who’d hate my writing than not, but based on the book’s reception after release, I suspect most were expecting a Ligotti pastiche and were disappointed to find this was not to be. Or maybe the book was simply a failure no matter the content. Anyway, at that moment it was either Lethe Press or Grimscribe Press.
The decision boiled down to The Immeasurable Corpse of Nature being the first book published by Grimscribe Press, and Padgett being the one to personally reach out to me. Going with Grimscribe’ was a chance to work with him one final time (I had a story in the first issue of Vastarien), and no publisher before had ever made the effort to initiate things, so I was humbled by his gesture. While I’m ambivalent about the experience, and I know I’ll never work with Grimscribe’ again, it’s gratifying to think I had two phenomenal potential homes for the collection.
Not too exciting, but that’s how things came to be.
I’m not prolific, only communicate with a handful of writers personally, don’t interact much online, and have wholly ignored the social backslappings of conventions and the like. No podcasts, and have only received three or four requests for interviews over the last 12 years of doing this. The small press world is subject to all the whims of any other capitalist endeavor, and I’ve failed to maneuver that social construct accordingly. I don’t know if I was a bad, good, mediocre, or indifferent writer. Maybe all of the above. I don’t think my two books are particularly good, and do wonder how things would’ve turned out if I’d gone with different publishers or simply never attempted to release them at all. I’m not sure it even really matters much either way; I don’t know what makes a successful writer, much less how to define success. I was hoping the second collection would be better received overseas. Regardless, those who’ve read El inconmensurable cadáver de la naturaleza and emailed me have shared such incredibly kind and moving messages. I’m always touched by their enthusiasm. That’s a positive there.
Having griped and moaned far more than enough, and acknowledging the positives where they exist, I’m grateful for any and all who’ve made the effort to read my work. I always expected the worst, so when the inevitable disappointments arrive, I’m prepared. My work is a hard sell. Not a fun read. Any readership was always going to be limited. Even so, I hope Alectryomancer‘ and The Immeasurable Corpse of Nature continue to find a devoted cult of new readers as the years roll on. A measurable degree of success in that as well.
The Polish edition of Alectryomancer and Other Weird Tales should be available before the end of the year. Looking forward to seeing how that turned out. I think that’ll be the last thing I’m involved with. I’ve no stories or anything writing related in the works.
I haven’t posted anything on this site in well over a year now, and written nothing to submit to publishers in nearly three years, so I hope this wasn’t too overbearing. Or maybe it was just the right amount of overbearing. I never had much of an online presence, and if Twitter continues the way it looks to be headed, I’ll likely have no online presence soon (admittedly, this isn’t important as I’ve found social media had no relevance when it came to promoting my own work). What with my fumbling at the writing game and inactivity, an annual post here will suffice to inform the small circle of fortunate souls who read this mesmerizing blog.
All cynical sarcasm aside, as 2022 winds down, I can safely say that my summation for the year is a blank slate of senescence. Between a new career, my father’s death last December, and my mother’s debilitating stroke this March, I’ve had little time for trivialities like writing. While I hadn’t seen either parent in many years, and we’ve always been distant, it still hurts when the inevitable rushes in with such haste and with such finality.
We are all in thrall to the magic of entropy.
That’s 2022 wrapped up.