Anthology curated by Nicole Petit
“Most mediums, with their spurious and specious methods, with their ghostly trumpets and spectral hands, hold few secrets—and fewer terrors.”~Rose Mackenberg, “Exposing the Weird Secrets of ‘Mediums’ and ‘Spirits’”
Original illustration from Rose Mackenberg’s newspaper articles.
ADVICE TO THE SPOOK-BUSTERS
By Annabelle Lovelace
Chicago’s Daily Star, September 28th, 1928
War is boom time for the frauds. Concentrated human misery is a sure-fire way for charlatans of every stripe to find easy marks among bereaved mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and wives. As we have recently survived the war to end all wars, today is a gold rush for fraud.
Women rapping tables with their toes convince the bereaved that husbands and wives have found peace in the higher realms, and men with collapsible trumpets are all the evidence some need that departed children are not so departed. Every cause has a trick, all performed with the finest materials your corner store has to offer: painted balloons for spirits, corn flour for otherworldly smoke, or tambourines hoisted on black poles.
Despite the petroleum jelly ectoplasm, and haunted hands piloted by a man under the table, and all the tricks of the false spiritualist–there are stranger cases.
For example, I’ve been called in on three such cases in the last month:
The upper crust is beset by fads. A fad for speakeasies and a fad for séances. One enterprising hostess set out to combine them all–inviting her guests down to their favorite speakeasy for a night of summoning. In one of the back booths things progressed a bit further than normal, spirits coming up and running free among the spirits. It’s quite a thing for cowed gangsters to show up at your door, begging for help.
While lecturing in England, I came across the strangest case. We’re used to bootleggers transporting spirits across state lines. But one enterprising medium began smuggling spirits, corked in bottles she sealed with holy water and wax. She intended to smuggle them across the Irish border, and sell them to a sect of latter-day druids. Perhaps she should have gone into business with Chicago’s royalty instead.
You have a favorite radio show. We all do. But what do you do when you stop receiving Amos ‘n’ Andy, and start receiving transmissions from, ah, what my editors would prefer me to call “warmer climes”? Moreover, what do you do when these transmissions are detailed in-the-moment troop movements in an invisible war–and they’re all converging on your home?
These tax the abilities of the spook-buster.
But keep in mind most spooks are scams and you’ll come out alive.
What We Want
Supernatural stories set in the 1920s. Not horror stories, necessarily, but stories that use the 1920s and its spook culture (and spook-busting culture) in an engaging way. Bring us supernatural adventures, supernatural mysteries, supernatural fantasy, or supernatural pulp.
You want things other than horror? Yes. While we will happily accept horror, and our collection would be remiss without horror, we’re also looking for a wide-range of genres. Mystery, fantasy, pulp, adventure. Science fiction and Romance are harder sells, but we’ve been surprised by submissions in styles we’d never have thought to expect. When it doubt, submit.
We’re looking for supernatural fantasy stories, supernatural mystery stories, supernatural pulp stories, supernatural adventure stories, supernatural horror stories and any other kind of story so long as they make use of the 1920s supernatural world.
Should my ghosts be real, or fake? I have no preference. Focus on telling a good story, whether your spooks are ectoplasm or petroleum jelly.
Can I use the Cthulhu Mythos? Yes, but I strongly encourage, and prefer, fresh takes. Show us something new. The more it feels like a copy/paste of Lovecraft, the less interested I’ll be.
Do you take reprints? Yes. Just let us know in the submission (this will not count against you).
In the end, really, it comes down to this: Gather us around the rattling table, and give us a taste of the otherworldly.
What should I read for inspiration? We’re particularly looking for stories in the tone or style of Josh Reynolds’ The Royal Occultist series (The Royal Occultist’s website, and the first novel in the series), Big Finish’s Doctor Who audio The Chimes of Midnight, Rose Mackenberg’s life and articles (“Exposing the Weird Secrets of ‘Mediums’ and ‘Psychics’” and “The Art and Crime of Illusion”), Jim Beard’s Sgt. Janus, Libba Bray’s The Diviners, Charles William’s War in Heaven, and the graphic novel Small Town Witch.
Payment: 5% of the gross profit will be paid for each accepted story. These payments will be issued to you at quarterly intervals. Stories under 1,500 words will only receive 4% of the gross profit.
Rights: First World Digital and Print.
Deadline: September 2nd, 2016
Word Count: 1,000-16,000
How to Submit your Story:
- All stories should be sent, as an attachment, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The file must be formatted in .doc or .docx.
- The interior of the document must be in double spaced Times New Roman (12 point font).
- Indents must be placed through your system’s Paragraph function; do not set indents by pressing tab or space. If you already have tabbed or spaced indents, please remove them first.
- At the top of your document, please include William Shunn’s submission header.
- Tell us a bit about yourself in the body of your email. Don’t stress this, it won’t make or break your submission.
- Place your name, story title, and word count in the subject line of your email. For example, “Speakeasies and Spiritualists / Rose Mackenberg / So You Want to Attend a Séance?”
Nicole Petit writes because no other job lets her sleep until noon. Fantasy is her forte, a sliver of genre right between urban fantasy and fairy tales. She writes the Magic Realm Manuscripts series and curated the collections Just So Stories, After Avalon, and the award-winning series From the Dragon Lord’s Library.