New horror story out today: “Angel, Monster, Man,” in Nightmare Magazine
It’s the height of the AIDS crisis. Medications that will help manage the illness are a decade away. Three friends, gay men overwhelmed with rage and sadness, who’ve inherited suitcases and boxes and garbage bags full of unpublished work from fellow writers killed by the virus, invent Tom Minniq: a ghost writer, a collective pseudonym under which to publish all the orphaned work of brilliant writers whose careers were cut short. And while Tom becomes a literary superstar, he doesn’t stay on the page. And he starts acting out their anger in ways that they couldn’t anticipate, and can’t control. And each of them, in turn, is visited by a very different Tom Minniq.
This story took shape in my mind while reading gay fiction and poetry of the 1980’s. [*] You can’t help but be struck by the staggering volume of young, fresh, powerful, innovative artists whose voices were silenced by HIV/AIDS before they’d had a chance to change the world like they clearly would have. And not just writers – the editors, agents, critics, audiences who supported and built these voices… it’s hard not to come away feeling like fiction was in the middle of a real revolution in terms of storytelling and voice and content and attitude, which was strangled in its crib by a deadly disease and a toxic homophobic patriarchy. But I started thinking: what could have happened, if all that rage and talent and fire hadn’t been snuffed out? What if it came to life and changed everything? All the powerful words that went unwritten, or were written and lost because there was no one left to get them out into the world – what if they all added up to something real – and terrifying?
It’s the first horror story I’ve written since “57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides” won the Shirley Jackson Award for horror/dark fiction, and while I love horror it’s not the place where I feel most comfortable as a writer. But this is a story about the things that terrify me, and I’m happy with it. And I hope you like it.
Podcast of the story is here, read by the great Stefan Rudnicki!
There’s also an interview with me about the story, here, in which I say some pretentious stuff like this: