Cooking up The Wild Side
Mark L. Van Name
If I’m eating at a restaurant with a chef whose work I respect, I’ll always opt for the tasting menu. Though it often means I’ll be trying dishes I’ve never experienced before, I want to eat the food the chef most wants to prepare.
I edit anthologies the same way. I approach writers whose work I enjoy, tell them the theme of the book, and then turn them loose. I don’t mind not knowing what’s coming; I want to read the stories they most want to tell.
With The Wild Side, my goal was to explore the romantic and sexual elements that are present in so much of urban fantasy. All of my novels to date have been science fiction mystery/adventure stories, tales with mystery and thriller structures set far in the future. Editing this book provided a way for me to work in urban fantasy and also give voice to a character, Diego Chan, who’d been kicking around in my head for quite some time. The noir story that resulted, “The Long Dark Night of Diego Chan,” is at its core about a hard-bitten operative out to do a last right deed by a lost friend.
I did not offer that story as a model to the other writers. Instead, each started with the same blank slate: urban fantasy with an erotic edge. The destinations they reached from that one starting point varied wildly.
Caitlin Kittredge’s “Born Under a Bad Sign” proved to be darker and rougher than my own offering. A story of a fallen angel working in a brothel in 1952, it starts hard and grows harder when some most unwelcome visitors make an already risky job far more dangerous.
By contrast, Dana Cameron’s “Love Knot” is a romp that explores the mystery of why an irresistible ardor overcomes all the people who come into contact with an unusual artifact—and how to dispose of that most troublesome object.
The seven other stories feature witches, zombies, fairies, changelings, and other fantastic creatures; vary in time and place from old London to modern Las Vegas; and range from light and comedic to taut and deadly.
What they have in common are the theme and the fact that I enjoyed reading them. I hope other readers do, too.
Seems some people don't understand that the PWA Banquet is open to the public. Since it's Sept. 1 I was hping you'd post this, with my thanks.
Thrills! Chills! Dinner! Cocktails! Awards! The 30th annual PWA Shamus Awards Banquet will be Friday night, September 16, from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. at a St. Louis institution. No, we're not telling you which institution it is. It's a suprise - a great surprise, trust us, and transportation will be provided from the hotel. Tickets are $60, and we have lots of room for everyone (the event is open to the public), so email Bob Randisi at RRandisi@aol.com right this very minute for more information and to order your ticket.