OK, I’m a few days late posting this, but Misanthrope Press’s latest anthology, A Rustle of Dark Leaves, is finally available! This one was edited solely by me, and I couldn’t be prouder of it! Check it out in either print or eBook now! (The print link goes to our website, but it’s on Amazon, too, if that’s more your style.) This one took forever to get together, and I’m truly graetful to my amazing authors for their patience throughout the process! If you’ll indulge me a bit, I’m going to ramble about it for a while…
This anthology was conceived almost exactly one year ago, in a rented SUV on the way home from Mythic Faire in Hunt Valley, MD. Chris and I had made the decision that we were going to each edit a new anthology, and were discussing what theme we’d each choose. For Chris, it was a no-brainer–he couldn’t edit his first anthology and it not be werewolves!
We were already doing my go-to theme–Pagan–in Etched Offerings, which we were editing together. That meant I needed a new theme for my book. I kept looking around the landscape as we drove (or rode, technically; I think Chris’s wife was doing the actual driving), hoping that something I saw would spark an idea. We were on a freeway in rural Pennsylvania, though, and the only landscape there really was was trees.
Lots and lots of trees.
And then, it hit me: the forest! Why not do a whole anthology with no more specific a theme than “Set in the forest”? OK, I also wanted dark and preferably strange, because this is me we’re talking about, but dark and strange in the forest.
So, my decision was made. I actually remember asking Chris if he was sure he wanted to do just a general werewolf theme, and not something a bit more specific. I figured everybody who’d ever written a werewolf story (and what spec fic writer hasn’t written a werewolf story?) would pile them all on him and he’d be overwhelmed. Meanwhile, though, I actually worried that my odd little forest theme wouldn’t get enough submissions to even fill the book.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. Chris managed to get enough subs to put together a great book (Children of the Moon), but he was by no means overloaded with them. I, on the other hand, received at least twice as many as he did, maybe more. And yes, a few of them came from people who’d obviously thought “well, this one has a tree in it, why not give it a try?” but the vast majority of them were right on target. It’s never fun to send rejections to authors, of course, but all the same it was such a great feeling to be able to reject every story that wasn’t right for whatever reason and still have enough to fill the book!
Once the final acceptances were sent, I actually had to put the whole project aside for several weeks while we finished up Etched Offerings and some other projects. Once I got back to Rustle, and went back through the stories to do the line edits, they were pretty fresh for me again, and I was amazed at how good they all were! The first time through, of course, I was reading these stories mixed in with the ones that didn’t make the cut. Reading just the accepted ones together, I was astonished at what a great book this was going to be!
Meanwhile, I received an email back from artist Edison Yan, replying to my query about his gorgeous painting I’d found on DeviantArt. He gave me permission to use the image for the book cover, and it’s just the perfect final touch to the whole project.
Oh, and speaking of final touches… This book was originally intended to come out in the fall of 2011. I found out after starting the project that 2011 was “The Year of the Forest.” I’d planned on tying into that theme for the introduction, but once it became obvious that I wasn’t going to make it by the end of the year, I decided to step aside and let someone else write the introduction. I reached out to Cory Thomas Hutcheson, figuring who better than a folklorist and traditional witch to write the introduction for a book of magical forest stories! To my delight, he jumped at the offer, and gave me an excellent intro to go with these excellent stories. Thank you, Cory!!!
Oh, and one other bit of Rustle trivia, then I’ll let you get back to your lives. You’ll notice that the first story in the book, by Seth Drake, is actually titled “A Rustle of Dark Leaves.” You might be having a chicken/egg moment with this, so let me confirm. The book is not named for Seth’s story. Rather, he finished it and decided that the most fitting title for it was the same title I’d given the anthology. I remember the submission coming into the MP gmail during one of Chris’s and my weekly coffeeshop business meetings, and seeing the title on the story and rolling my eyes, saying ”Aw shit, we’ve got another yahoo!” or some such. But, just another of the many wonderful surprises this book has given me, Mr. Drake absolutely 100% backed up the ballsy move with the most perfect lead story I could have asked for!
OK, plugging and yammering complete. And to the three people still reading this far in: thank you for indulging me!