If only this had happened thirty years ago

By John McFarland

It looks like 2024 may be my biggest year ever. Early last year, German publisher Wandler-Verlag caught wind of my work through my association with T.E.D. Klein, horror icon, former editor of The Twilight Zone Magazine, and early champion of Ramsey Campell. Michael Schmidt of Wandler contacted me and asked permission to publish a chapbook featuring a story of mine and one of Mr. Klein’s.

Amazingly, my publisher rejected this idea at first. I managed to talk her into it, as the deal promised to make money for Dark Owl Publishing. Also, of course, it brought some prestige to her small publishing house.

Wandler produced the small book, featuring the most reprinted tale I have ever written, One Happy Family with TED’s story The Ladder. To my surprise, Michael informed me that my story was printed in a collection in Germany before, in 1985, without my knowledge or permission!

Five hundred copies of our chapbook were printed and they sold out. With that success and having purchased my story collection, The Dark Walk Forward, on Amazon, Michael sought permission to publish the collection also. Having seen illustrations I have done for my Bigfoot kid book, Annette: A Big, Hairy Mom, Michael asked if I could illustrate the collection too. That book will appear in May. He also wishes to publish Annette this year or next.

Like most writers, as soon as the first collection was out, I started work on the second. It’s looking like 100,000 words. Stories that continue the sad tale of Ste. Odile, and more. Each story has a title page with an illustration. It’s an old-timey touch that I like. I may do that from now on. The cover was done by the incomparable dark artist and native of Brazil, Gabriel Augusto and like my other books, I am satisfied that the cover is a real attention-getter. Blurbs have generously been provided again by the inimitable T.E.D. Klein, Dacre Stoker, best-selling novelist and great grandnephew of Bram Stoker, and Michael Schmidt. There is a lot of advance interest and the book drops June 1.

Getting your work out there is essential and sometimes it helps to know people, as they say. I am now friends with an Irish expat living and working in Seville, Spain, Joseph Dawson. I had happened across Joseph’s work online because he is a book illustrator in love with horror. His work is amazing. He contacted me through facebook saying he had read my historical horror novel, The Black Garden. He expressed praise for it a writer seldom hears. He loved it and said it changed him in some ways.

It turns out one of the houses he illustrates for is Zagava in Dusseldorf, Germany, who produces leather-bound, illustrated collectors editions of special books. Joseph asked if he could recommend The Black Garden to Jonas, the publisher at Zagava. Jonas loved the book too, Joseph is illustrating it and it will be out later this year.

Also later this year, possibly in summer, the sequel to Annette, entitled Annette: A Big, Hairy Grandma will be out too, as will my story The Testament of Cleander in the collection Alone On The Borderland from Belanger Books.

In my experience, the best way to sell these things are book fairs and comic-cons. I already have one under my belt for 2024; next is Beltane Bash in Champaign, Ill., always a good one; the Bigfoot Festival in Sutton, W.V.; Dark History, also in Champaign; a book festival in Washington, Mo. and various book events in Illinois and St. Louis.

JOHN MCFARLAND’S first novel, The Black Garden, was published in 2010, and the story continues with Mother of Centuries. His work has appeared in The Twilight Zone Magazine, Eldritch Tales, National Lampoon, River Styx, Tornado Alley and the anthology A Treasury of American Horror Stories, which also included stories by Stephen King, Richard Matheson and H.P. Lovecraft. He has written extensively on historical and arts-related subjects and has been a guest lecturer in fiction at Washington University in St. Louis. He is a lifelong Bigfoot enthusiast, and Annette: A Big Hairy Mom is his first novel for young readers.

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