Terror in El Pueblo

“Terror in El Pueblo” is the second of several Colorado-based short stories written by local authors we’ll be publishing on the Denver Horror Collective website and in The Epitaph newsletter, as a lead-up to the fall release of Terror at 5280′, our local horror fiction anthology.

Terror in El Pueblo
by Cory Swanson

Mold, macro viewLuke had done a lot of diving. The Stachybotrys chartarum in his brain, on the other hand, had not. Stachy enveloped the boy’s visual cortex and gazed out over the scene.

Down below and out around them were fake rocks that descended into a deep pool of water colored blueish green by the lights within. A waterfall cascaded over the rocks, pumped continuously through a series of tubes that Stachy had inhabited himself. Or themselves, as it were. The mold reproduced asexually, sporing and growing in the damp places of the world.

Stachy looked out beyond the pool through the boy’s eyes. Other humans sat, eating what looked to be food made of grains and dairy. They could sense the boy’s disgust and disdain as he looked out over the crowd. El Pueblo no joke-o, Luke thought. How can they eat that?

The mold didn’t get the joke. It dug through the boy’s memories trying to extract meaning. They boy had been a competitive diver at school. An impressive athletic specimen. He’d been scouted and hired by this restaurant to perform cliff diving for the diners. El Pueblo Loco.

The crazy town, the mold thought.

But the mold had witnessed a genocide of its own kind. As it tried to spread through the damp and inviting environment of aging and leaky pumps and cracked concrete pools, the humans had ruthlessly retaliated. Chemical warfare. Poisons. Destruction.

Stachybotris had to defend itself.

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Help Get Terror at 5280′ Off the Ground!

Terror CoverHere at Denver Horror Collective—our frighteningly talented group of horror writers and artists in and around the Mile High City—we believe in the motto: write locally, scare globally.

Which is why we’re all shivers to announce our Indiegogo fundraiser for Terror at 5280’, our horror fiction anthology due out this fall, with stories set around the greater Denver metroplex and Front Range Rocky Mountain communities, all penned by Colorado authors!

What authors, you may ask? Well, how about:

  • Bram Stoker Award-winning horror master, Stephen Graham Jones
  • USA Today and #1 Denver Post bestselling thriller author Carter Wilson
  • Hex Publishers owner, editor, and author Josh Viola
  • Foreword by John Palisano, author and President of Horror Writers Association
  • Various Denver Horror Collective members
  • Other Colorado-based horror fiction writers

The print and e-book anthology will run about 250 pages and include roughly 20 stories (the editorial team has already made its selections and is currently editing). Some tales are based on local folklore and urban legends, while others touch on social and environmental themes relevant to the area, such as gentrification, substance abuse and…zombie deer.

As with everything at Denver Horror Collective, Terror at 5280’  is a group effort. So, if you love horror fiction, indie publishing, and/or local arts, will you make a contribution to our Indiegogo fundraiser today!

6(66) Questions with Bobby Crew

– Interview by Linnea Linton

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Denver Horror Collective member, Bobby Crew.

1. Name one horror author you admire and explain how they helped you become a better writer.

I have wanted to become an author since I was eight years old, and that desire is credited entirely to R. L. Stine. I hated reading as a kid until my father convinced me that I just needed to find a genre I was interested in and “forced” me to read my first Goosebumps book. Needless to say it worked, and I soon had a collection of Goosebumps and Fear Street books.

2. What author did you dislike at first but grew into?

Shakespeare. I hated reading Shakespeare in high school, but then found that I actually loved it in college. It goes to show that a teacher can make or break a subject by the way that they teach it.

3. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot?

My familiar is a bull snake named Bacchus. I adore snakes and I love that they have such a varied symbolic representation. Snakes appear in almost every branch of mythology. Sometimes they represent evil beings, or tricksters, and to some they are temple guardians. I choose snakes because their symbolic meaning is as varied as the different stories I try to tell. Snakes also appear in many of my stories.

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Dark Wisdom: Angie Hodapp

In “Dark Wisdom,” we seek writing and/or publishing advice from the horror fiction masters making up Denver Horror Collective’s Advisory Council

For this installment, we query Angie Hodapp, Director of Literary Development at Nelson Literary Agency: “What sort of horror novels are agents looking for?”

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Photo: Wyoming Writers, Inc.

ANGIE HODAPP: While I certainly can’t answer that question on behalf of all agents, I can take a stab (ha, ha) at nailing down (I slay me) a few thoughts that I hope you’ll find useful. I’ll break it down into three things: writing style, premise, and plot.

Upmarket or Literary Writing Style

Nelson Literary Agency is always open to horror submissions, but one of the first three things we’re going to look at is the quality of the writing. We’re unlikely to request a more commercial-leaning, trope-heavy horror novel—cheap thrills, gratuitous violence, gore porn any premise or milieu* that feels recycled or derivative, a work likely to be released as a mass market paperback or ebook only. But send us a more cerebral, psychologically challenging work that demonstrates the tense, suspenseful, unsettling, atmospheric slow-burn of masterful horror writing, and we’ll jump all over it. Read 100 reviews or blurbs for bestselling horror novels and count how many times the words “tension” and “suspense” are used. So much of a writer’s ability to bring tension and suspense to the page lives in their writing style and voice.

We want (and, frankly, who doesn’t?) the next big crossover horror project—the one publishers are going to release in hardcover, the one booksellers are going to set out on their front-of-store displays because it has the potential to capture readers who “don’t read horror” as well as those who do.

*Some horror milieus, however, are evergreen. Haunted houses. Morgues. Cemeteries. Gothic churches. Basements. Abandoned shacks. Maybe that’s because such places are metaphors for the corners of our minds where fear and apprehension lurk. It’s often how a writer chooses to render a familiar setting that makes it feel unique rather than derivative.

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Local Haunts: The Skull in the Station

– by Adrianne Montoya

One of Denver’s grand old buildings, Union Station, has been beautifully restored and updated to serve as a modern transportation hub. The city didn’t always have such a fine space, though. From 1872 until Union Station opened in 1881, passenger trains pulled in at a much more modest brick depot at 21st and Wazee; that’s just about under home plate at Coors Field today.

home plate

Photo: Adrianne Montoya

The Station Agent at the old depot was a man named Frank Pierce, and he took his job seriously. As a tough new western town, Denver presented all kinds of possibilities for disorder, but the thorn in Pierce’s side was all who spit on the floor. It was more common then to chew tobacco, and so there was considerably more public spitting going on. So Pierce put out spittoons, he hung signs reminding people to use them, he cleaned up, and he did it all again, but the nasty, spitty conditions persisted.

Frustrated, Pierce bypassed what remained of his politeness and went for indirect threat. He grabbed a shovel, made his way to Mount Prospect Cemetery—that’s Cheesman Park to you, your dog, and your volleyball league—and came away with a human skull. He mounted it next to the ticket window with a sign that read, “This is the last man who spat on the floor.”

The public was spooked into minding their manners at the depot and those green-black gobs made their way directly into the spittoons provided. Problem was, now they had another kind of spook on their hands.

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6(66) Questions with Adrianne Montoya

-Interview by Linnea Linton

59192784_560141804508832_6405221858240626688_nCollective member Adrianne Montoya is a Colorado native who’s spent most of her years in Denver. Though her podcast Southwest Gothic she shares spooky history and weird west stories and is currently working on two novels.

1. Name one horror author you admire. How did they help you become a better writer?

Paul Tremblay. His pacing is impeccable, the way he slams the reader with the right detail at the right moment. I’m inspired by his balance between the micro and the macro, and I’m striving to manipulate minimum details for maximum impact the way he does. He’s completely ruined Richard Scarry picture books for me, in the best way possible.

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