One of the great people I have had the opportunity to get to know over the past two years is South African author and editor Nerine Dorman. Her popular blog This is My World has plenty of author interviews, WIP updates, opinion pieces, and reflections on music. Check out her recently published year in review.
I first met Nerine on Facebook back in 2010, and she graciously agreed to read and review my novel “Let It Bleed“. She liked it (whew!), and we found out that we had a lot of things in common. Voila! Social media friendship success story!
Since then, our working relationship has continued to grow and expand. In January 2011, right before I exited from Dark Continents Publishing, one of the last projects I launched (with the divine Ms. Tracie McBride) was the successful Darkness and Dismay series of e-book novellas which included Nerine and her co-author/co-partner-in-crime Carrie Clevenger’s Blood and Fire. Simultaneously, Nerine was editing the South African Horrorfest’s Bloody Parchment: Lost Things, Hidden Things and Other Stories, which happens to have my story “The Woman Who Sold the World” in it.
Next year, I’m looking forward to reading Blackfeather and Camdeboo Nights from this talented author. Keep up the incredible work, girl!
I am very please to have Nerine Dorman guest blog today. In case you haven’t guessed from the title of this post, Nerine heralds from Cape Town, South Africa. I met her approximately 18 months ago when I stumbled onto her This is my world blog , and we bonded over all things dark and mysterious. Check out her novel Inkarna, the novella Blood and Fire that is co-written with the equally talented Carrie Clevenger, and Bloody Parchment: Hidden Things, Lost Things, and Other Stories.
Horror undead and well … even in South Africa
By Nerine Dorman
Bloody Parchment came about two years ago in answer of a need for a dedicated dark fantasy/horror event in South Africa, but with a global reach, and grew as a supplement to the annual South African HorrorFest. While folks elsewhere might be spoilt for choice with a range of events and conventions, we here in South Africa really hadn’t had much happening until then.
Bloody Parchment can be divided into two parts, the actual event, which has, for the past two years taken place at the Book Lounge in the week leading up to Halloween, at the start of the SA HorrorFest, and a short story competition/anthology. This year we were proud to announce that eKhaya, the digital imprint of Random House Struik came on board to release the second anthology under the guidance of Louis Greenberg.
But more on this year’s short story competition and anthology. People often ask me whether the competition is open to non-South Africans and I’m happy to say yes. It doesn’t matter if you live in Timbuktu or the outer reaches of Mongolia. If you’ve got a knack for the written word, and access to an internet connection, you can enter. And the deadline for submissions is easy to remember: October 31. I thought the date was apt. [smiles]
This year’s title story, Hidden Things, Lost Things, was written by Brett R Bruton, who delivers a very creepy, surreal dip into an oozing Lovecraftian horror, but there’s a little something for everyone, from some of the fresh, upcoming talent in contemporary dark fantasy/horror fiction. The anthology offers quite a bit of variety, and I thoroughly enjoyed putting it together.
What am I looking for in this year’s competition? Definitely more of the same: quality, literary dark fantasy/horror gems that will stain my thoughts (yes, I’m looking at you, Brett, Toby and Benjamin, you dear little darklings). While I don’t mind seeing vampires and werewolves, I really do hope writers will do something a little different with these tropes. I am not looking for Twilight fanfiction with the serial numbers filed off.
So, how does the competition work? After I read the slush pile (yes, pity my poor eyeballs) I make a selection of stories that a) well written and b) actually *tell* a story. The more unsettling and strange, the better. And if you can manage the outright frightening, hellyeah!
I do not want to see rambling conspiracy theories, mindless torture porn or moralistic parables. Neither must the manuscript look like it was dashed off on a smartphone on a whim (if you use ampersands instead of the humble “and”, I will cry. You don’t want to make me cry. Or bash my head against my desk.). Believe you me, I’ve been reading slush long enough to have seen the aforementioned again, and again, and again. Ditto for derivative works based on the latest horror film. (And there’s a reason why I hate Saw and The Hostel with a burning passion. Just. Don’t. Go. There.) Random acts of mutilation do not equal horror. If the finger or eye violence actually adds meaning to strong narrative, that’s another matter entirely. But there *must* be a plot.
Once I’ve separated the “Dear nine hells no” from the “Mmm, yeah, this might work” and found a few I think are “Oh my Dog this is HOT”, I mail the stories to my panel of judges, who are all industry professionals (authors and editors). They are the ones who rate the stories, and after that, it’s simply a case of tallying up the numbers and announcing the winner and finalists, who will be included in the following year’s anthology.
This is a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun, which is why I’m all gung ho for this year’s competition, and the first promising entries are already lurking in my inbox. Authors who make the final cut also get detailed edits, as part of why I started this competition was to help develop promising new voices.
So, if you reckon you’ve got what it takes, go take a look at our submission guidelines, and better yet, perhaps purchase and take a look at this year’s anthology, then allow your imagination to go wild.
Purchase Bloody Parchment on Amazon here
For more information about The Bloody Parchment, visit the blog here
Visit South African HorrorFest website here