I’m happy to announce that my third professional-rate short story, “The Sultan’s Cellar,” now appears in Issue 28 of Galaxy’s Edge. It’s the second story I’ve sold to Galaxy’s Edge, but the first of the two to appear in print. I’m also honored to appear in a magazine edited by all-time leading short fiction award winner, Mike Resnick. As many of you know, Mike presented me with an award for my short story, “Adramelech,” at the Writers of the Future Award ceremony this past April.
This story melds a number of disparate elements from heavy metal music to Nordic runes to the 1980s crack epidemic in the seedy Tenderloin District of San Francisco. It also includes my own twist on a local Delaware-Pennsylvania legend about a cult house near the Brandywine River. And, apparently, it’s the same area where M. Night Shymalan filmed “The Village.” Growing up, I’d heard several variations of this story. Most of them whispered of a cult house with windows shaped like inverted crosses and trees bowing away from the structure, presumably because it emanated evil. Onlookers who trespassed on the site often reported being chased by a strange black Bronco with stadium lights. This isn’t the first fictional variation of this tale I’ve told—that one was “Chandler’s Hollow”, which appeared in Perihelion Online Science Fiction in March 2015—but I think it’s the best yet.
“The Sultan’s Cellar” also draws much of its inspiration from Thomas Ligotti and Clark Ashton Smith. The fiendish harlequins and dark festivals are a nod to Thomas Ligotti’s creepy tale, “The Last Feast of Harlequin”, and the hypnotic, otherworldly music drew inspiration from Clark Ashton Smith’s “The City of the Singing Flame.”
I would also be remiss if I failed to mention that the story features independent bookseller, Greg Schauer, as an occult bookkeeper, and includes a fictional portrayal of his bookstore in Claymont, Delaware, Between Books (which you should visit, by the way, because it is excellent), replete with a hidden and entirely fictional (I hope) subterranean vault. I’ve known Greg since I was twelve years old and credit him and my visits to Between Books as sowing the seeds that inspired me to write science fiction, fantasy, and horror. This isn’t the first time someone has tuckerized Greg—Jonathan Maberry also featured Greg in his novel, Dead of Night)—but if I have anything to do with it, it won’t be the last.