The Hidden, Horrific Pulse of Indiana
Ask most non-Hoosiers (and many Hoosiers for that matter) what Indiana is most famous for and they’ll most likely rattle off the Indianapolis 500. After that, some might offer a blanket statement about awesome college basketball or football. And of course, everyone knows about the Peyton Manning-era Indianapolis Colts, while a few years earlier they might instead talk about the Reggie Miller Indiana Pacers. Somewhere before or after these answers, corn and cornfields come to mind, but that takes us literally off the beaten path.
Ask those same people the following question: “What annual event draws the biggest crowd and creates the most tourist revenue for the state of Indiana?” Easy, many would say: the Indy 500. What else could it be? But the Hoosier in tune with the hidden pulse of the city, who knows the true interests of so many quiet people beyond the media-blitzed sports obsessed Hoosier, can tell you it’s actually Gen-Con, a four day gaming convention, transplanted from Wisconsin since 2003, that allows the hidden, secret geek-pulse of fantasy, horror, science fiction, (and games devoted to same) fans to explode onto the city, usually in the form of extravagant, borderline-vulgar costumes, or herds of bodies wearing odd t-shirts with sayings and images confounding to the non-fan.
I think the biggest kick I get out of attending these conventions, (outside of catching up with old friends or meeting celebrities and other authors) is watching the faces and reactions of the non-fans, what we of the body call the “mundanes.” I love seeing a group of purple elf-girls approach the hostess of a steakhouse to sign their group up for a table, usually under the name Eleana DragonSpawn or something equally confounding for the hostess to call out. Or the dumbfounded look on the bellboy’s face as he carries the Klingon’s luggage down the hall to his hotel suite. The look that says, I lost my request to get the weekend off, and now I have to put up with this shit, freaks dressed in bizarre costumes, speaking their strange language, drinking and eating and yelling and starting fights all because of their pointless games.
And then, once the long weekend is over, the bellboy can return to the familiar routine of escorting the visiting football fans in their Cincinnati Bengal jerseys. The hostess can breathe a sigh of relief as the fans of the rival teams down a few beers, scream team statistics at each other, and occasionally fight. At least, she may think, without a trace of irony, it will be another year before she deals with the weird people again.
But the so-called weird people haven’t left. They’ve just returned to the underground. They’ve just changed costumes.
And that’s what James Ward Kirk exposes in this first of an annual anthology called Indiana Horror. Kirk puts his finger on the hidden pulse of Indy, the horror writer (and horror fan, for it’s not possible to write what you’re not fanatical about). James put the call out for all Indiana horror writers to stand up and be recognized, and in just a few months, his allotted space filled up with a huge gathering of the weird, the bizarre, the horrific, and the strangely literary. Amazing tales penned by established pros and promising up-and-comers: A.J. French, Eric Garrison, Christine Rains, Allen Griffen, Sara J. Larson, Spyder Collins, and James S. Dorr, to name just a few.
Are you shocked that our homey Midwestern state features so many talented authors with such an intense interest in macabre literature? Indiana Horror is committed to that growth—the growth of new talent, the growth of Dark Fiction in all its forms. Of course, the growth I speak of is gnarling and twisted, just as it should be.
But I’m not convinced we’re witnessing growth. Rather, I think Indiana Horror celebrates undergrowth. Not the blossoming of a new seed, but the exposure of a well-established, hidden pulse beneath racecars, basketball tournaments and football playoffs. A wicked throb beneath the cornfields, freeways, small towns and friendly facades of our great state—finally come to light, if only for a few hundred pages.
Prepare yourself as James Kirk exposes the hidden pulse of talent that is Indiana Horror.
July 6, 2011
Indiana Horror Anthology went live on Amazon the weekend of August 14th. The anthology includes this introduction, plus new submissions by Eric Garrison and Sara Larson. Indiana Anthology was the brainchild of James W. Kirk. I’ve previewed most of it and it’s pretty awesome. Order your copy here.
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