Burned, Then Back to the Flame.

Pegged Jean Nightmares 23

If you’ve been reading my Pegged Jean Nightmares updates, you’ve noticed most of my childhood fears came from books. This entry starts in the same vein, but it has a nice twist at the end.

I didn’t finish reading Monster Tales. The first two stories were scary enough. One story, “Wendigo’s Child,” earned my trust with a gentle tone and then shocked me senselessly by the time it was over. Coupled with excellent artwork, “Wendigo’s Child” kept me away from horror stories like college keggers make freshmen swear off drinking.

Which means, of course, I came back to scary stories. I started making serious attempts to write horror stories, starting in my junior year of high school.

One of my biggest goals, as a writer, was to earn a place in one of the Borderlands anthologies. If you’ve never read any of these books, and you enjoy horror fiction, you really ought to give them a try. I submitted a story to this anthology and waited.

I never heard from the anthology, and I frankly expect it’s because the story wasn’t that good. This is not false modesty; I would not submit this story to a market again.

The twist in the end? A prominent editor in the Borderlands series was also the author of “Wendigo’s Child.” Thomas F. Monteleone has been an amazing writer and editor for decades. His fearless ability to fight for his own writing, and the state of the genre as a whole, is well documented in his “The Mothers and Fathers Italian Association” columns, originally run in Cemetery Dance magazine.

I didn’t know this until a few weeks ago, when I was researching these posts. It’s perfect. I’ve gone from the frightened one to a writer trying to earn his place in the genre.

I don’t think Thomas F. Monteleone needs to worry about being challenged by my writing. The man’s career speaks for itself. I’m simply thankful I accepted the challenge of recreating, for someone else, the nervous terror he created for me.

-Axel

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