Before I forget, Maurice Broaddus gave me some great answers about his forthcoming anthology, Dark Faith. It’s also the UK launch date for his first novel, from Angry Robot. So go check out the feature. Go pre-order Dark Faith. Go buy his novel. Both books look really interesting.
Now, to the main order of business: the fact that there’s funny—and I don’t mean “Hmm. That seems funny–why is that thar door to the basement open and why is there a cleaver in my forehead?”–in horror fiction, or in weird fiction if you prefer. It’s perhaps not the laugh-out-loud, slap-your-knee kind of funny. It’s more of a really dark humor that stands out in relief because one element of the story is slightly less perverse than the rest, but it’s still humor.
For example, in re-reading Ligotti, a lot of humor shines through. “The Town Manager” is a good example of this–it’s a disturbing story, but it’s also very funny in its way. Of course, there are other types of examples. Roald Dahl and Gahan Wilson can both be funny and horribly dark at the same time. Angela Carter has her moments of mischief in the midst of the gothic, and so does Tanith Lee (giant ant-eater, anyone?).
This issue of some sort of humor in horror is important in part because it provides variety of tone–either within a story or within an anthology composed of weird fiction. The key is that the humor should be hard-wired to the ‘orribleness; otherwise, there’s not the requisite depth, or the ‘orrible element comes off as cavalier. For the most part.
Anyway, we just turned in our list of the first 205,000 words of the book of weird fiction to our editor. Once we get sign-off we’ll be getting permissions. We’re also, of course, continuing on with selections for the remaining 555,000 words of fiction for the anthology. Yes, it boggled our minds, too. We just turned in a list of stories that’s 30,000 words longer than any antho we’ve done in the past…and we still have 555,000 words to go. The temptation to just include five and half weird novels and call it a night is strong in us right now. (Not really.)