Somehow I got so busy last month that I forgot to write about the anthology of short stories called “Manifest West: Western Weird,” published by Western Press Books. Why is this important? Simply because it contains one of my short stories. Woo-hoo!
The story is called “Voices in the Dark” and it’s set in an unnamed town during the gold rush.
Edited by Mark Todd with associate editors Laura Anderson, Jennifer Gauthier, and A.J. Sterkel, “Manifest West: Western Weird” contains 35 stories organized into three categories: The Olden Daze, The Ley of the Land, and We Are Not Alone. My stor y– to no one’s surprise — fits into the third group.
A Weird Place
‘Western Weird” is the fourth volume in Western Press Books’ literary anthology series, “Manifest West.” Of the stories, Editor Mark Todd says, “The works in this collection reflect both myths and suspected truths about the part of the United States we call The West.” He adds, “The tone of these works ranges from light—even campy—to chilling, but all allow readers to gaze straight into the many faces of what makes The West a weird place.”
Although I live in New England, I have visited “The West” many times. I have ridden horseback on the open range, joined a cattle drive, eaten barbecue beans, and even taken target practice with a Colt .45. (I’m a terrible shot.) And, of course, I grew up at a time when every other program on television was a western, from Wagon Train to Gunsmoke to Bonanza. (We knew what “riding shotgun” really meant.) So I do have some understanding of the region.
Here is how “Voices in the Dark” begins:
“I could tell from the sound of her footsteps on the stairs that the Duchess was in a bad way.
The steps were light, as she was a small woman, but slow. She took a while to reach the hotel lobby, and by the time her feet hit the last step, I was in place and ready. Offering the Duchess my arm, I supported her on the short walk to one of the stiff horsehair sofas. Tears streaked her face and she wore an air of resignation, almost defeat, that I had never seen before. The Duchess—Annabella Garrick by name—was a strong woman and one who handled the rough men and demanding customers of a frontier town with aplomb.
That meant the voices had been particularly bad.”
To find out why Mrs. Garrick was crying and how Jake, the narrator and certified tough guy, proposes to help her, simply purchase “Manifest West: Western Weird” online. Should you live in Massachusetts, I’ll be happy to personalize the book by signing your copy. We can have coffee and I’ll bring a pen.
Also, please feel free to forward this post to friends and family. This anthology of stories from @westernpressbks would make a great Christmas present for folks who enjoy reading about the Old West and like a touch of the strange and different.
Other Published Stories:
- “The Broadcast Circle” in Ghosts, An Anthology
- “Elf Hill” in Magical: An Anthology of Fantasy, Fairy Tales and Other Magical Fiction
- List of published work