Demons, Darklands, and Twilight

So….way back in the late 1990’s, I’d had a resume that boasted about 30 published stories, all of them in the aforementioned small press zines. Some were real slick looking, like Pirate writings and Plot, some were not. But they were ALL something to be proud of. This was my training ground—I didn’t have to learn to write before finding my words in print. I was learning as I went along, and if I had a nifty idea and managed to get it down into a format that was somewhat readable, then I would be published. Again and again. Out of those thirty stories, one made its way into a small, itsy bitsy little zine called “The Darklands Project”. There were about 30 pages within, containing stories by myself, Paul Bates, Suzanne Donahue, Lester Thees, J.F. Gonzalez (hey bro!), and Douglas Hewitt. As mentioned in an earlier post, in looking through these zines, one can see writers that never went on further than the small press, and others that did. Anyway, here’s the cover of “The Darklands Project:










What’s special about this zine is that it was the first ever publication by now Delirium Books editor Shane Ryan Staley.  Shane and I didn’t even know each other back then. He’d listed this ‘new’ zine in Scavenger’s Newsletter, and I’d sent him my tale “Murder in the Eyes of God, which he published here. I’m not certain if Shane ever produced an issue after this (this is ‘issue 4′), as he’d contacted me soon after this story went into print, and asked if I’d submit a piece of flash fiction for a zine he was planning to publish, called The Twilight Garden. I wrote a little fantasy called, Sir Robert, The Princess, and the Dragon, and it found its way into issue 1 of “The Twilight Garden, a Digest of Dimiutive Fiction”:











Another ealier Delirum Books child right here. It contained tales from myself, Kurt Newton, Gerard Hoaurner, and Charlee Jacob, all of whom went on to become the first of many Delirium Books authors. I’m not certain that Shane produced another one of these babies, and I know it’s worth a bundle to collectors. Wish I bought more–I have only one, and even think I gave one away to a collector. At this point Shane and I had become friends. We’d exchanged emails and phone calls. He was a fan of my work, and was big into making more zines. He’d asked if I had about five pieces of short flash fiction that he could include into a volume of zines (again called The Twilight Garden) featuring only one author. At the time this was big potatoes for me. My own zine? Wowza.  So I’d handed off to Shane five tales: Sir Robert, Sweet Dreams, To Be (which was recently reprinted in my Borderlands Books collection, Dark Ride), The Baby, and Growing Up With a Murderer. They were published in Volume 3 of The Twilight Garden:











I’d had two copies of these, but sold one to a collector a couple years back for $100. Recently one went on Ebay (I think the same copy I sold, as it was signed by me), for over $200. Who knew? So…the rest is history with me and Shane. He’d contacted me yet again and told me he was thinking of starting a hardcover line of books, under the Delirium Books imprint, and did I have about 50,000 words of short fiction far the second title he was planning, out of three: Kurt Newton for the first, and Gerard Hoaurner for the third. Hell yeah I did. I went through the 30 or so stories I’d published, picked out a few recent originals, and handed them off to Shane. Demons, Freaks, and Other Abonormalities became my first book, the second ever Delirium Books title. Wow, to be proud to this day is an understatement. I’d bought five copies, and still have four of them. I know my brother bought ten copies and gave them away to friends, and unfortunately now he has only one copy left. There were a planned 150 copies of this book, but I believe only about 120 were produced. This book is a rarity, and for collectors, goes for about $300:









It contains 11 of my earlier, and perhaps my best stories. My first book. Delirium Books’ second book. It’s a classic, and something I will always be proud of. May the Universe bless Delirium Books. They gave me the start of what would be a fifteen year writing career that went on to bigger and better things, and for that I will always be grateful. If it weren’t for Shane and Delirium Books, I would not have gone on to write seven novels and another 70-80 short stories. 

One Response to “Demons, Darklands, and Twilight”

  1. Nick Says:

    Hey Michael! Hearing your early days is extremely inspiring to an aspiring writer like me. I was sooo close to getting a publishing deal with a major company, but then they chose to shelve all their spec fic books to instead focus their resources on pushing a gaming system instead.

    I’m excited to hear about your new projects as well — there are a few teases in your recent blogs. I’ll be reading!




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