Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Scream is Out

Yesterday was the official publication date of Scream and Scream Again! from HarperCollins and the Mystery Writers of America (MWA). Edited by R.L. "Goosebumps" Stine, this horror-mystery anthology for middle-school readers includes a story of mine, "The Trouble with Squirrels."

When I joined the MWA, I hoped to have lots of leads into anthologies. This expectation didn't entirely pan out, but the MWA does sponsor an anthology most years. (The organization has taken some years off and did a cookbook a few years ago.) I've submitted a few times, but this story is my first MWA acceptance. (Another story that was rejected by the MWA got accepted by a storied magazine; a few others are moldering in drawers.)

"The Trouble with Squirrels" began as a dark story for adults, simply called, "Squirrel." I thought of it as my Roald Dahl-inspired story. I kept the overarching story for "Trouble," but made many, many changes, including transforming my adult protagonist into a curious kid. I also toned down the horror and gore.

In my Portland, Oregon, neighborhood, there is a house whose owner feeds squirrels. Peanut shells strew the property and then radiate outward across the neighborhood. Some years, we are overrun with squirrels. This is the genesis of the story.

While Bob Stine made the final selection of stories, provided a story, and wrote the introduction, the project itself was managed by John Helfers of Stonehenge Editorial. John was a pleasure to work with.

Though Scream published yesterday, I think the bigger promotional push will come in the weeks leading up to Halloween. The movie Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween hits theaters on October 12, and maybe this book will try to ride the coattails a bit.

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