The other night while I slept, fosteronfilm watched a couple vintage horror movies: Diary of a Madman and Eye of the Devil–and I could swear Vincent Price was in both of them, although IMDB assures me it was David Niven in the latter. Snippets of dialogue filtered into my half-dreaming consciousness, and my submerged mind fused both films together. My sleep-self became convinced that Matthew was watching some sort ’60s re-imagining of “Swan Lake” that incorporated Guy de Maupassant’s invisible Horla monster. Being a fan of retold fairy tales, and the ballet was one of my favorites as a little girl, I tacked up a mental “make sure we ask Matthew about this movie later” post-it note because I might actually want to see this genius creation of Hollywood.
Of course, after I woke up, I proceeded to baffle my husband by demanding a synopsis (“Swan Lake? Wha?”), and then we went to work unraveling the knotted snarl of Eugie’s brain space.
It seems that Diary of a Madman is indeed a retelling of “Le Horla,” and there’s a character in it named Odette. (Odette is the heroine’s name in Swan Lake.) Eye of the Devil, apparently a film with a similar theme as the better-done The Wicker Man, has a character in it named Odile–the anti-heroine’s name in Swan Lake. Amusing fluke, but there were no swans and no lakes. Alas.
Now my mind is percolating with ideas for doing a retelling of Swan Lake. Vincent Price and David Niven have reached out beyond the grave and galvanized my idiot muse, who apparently has a predilection for ’60s-era schlock horror flicks.
“When you close your eyes and go to sleep
And it’s down to the sound of a heartbeat
I can hear the things that you’re dreaming about
When you open up your heart and the truth comes out”
–The Romantics, “Talking in Your Sleep”
– Feedback from the client on my freelance work. They thought my research was “excellent and exactly what they are looking for.” Happy back-petting to commence.
– The next installment of the collaboration story I’m working on with mtrimm1
. Ball’s in my court. Now where did I put my hockey stick?
– Word from the editor of Modern Magic
that the anthology is now available. Yay! But also that I’d have to wait until the 10th to get my contrib. copy. They’ve only got the initial print-on-demand ones currently on hand–for filling orders through Ingram–while they wait for the traditional offset printed ones to get to them. I could’ve opted for one of the POD ones, but I’d rather wait to get one from the print run–whining, instant-gratification monster notwithstanding.
– 8-day reprint “sale” of my horror story*, “The Reign of the Wintergod” to the Maniac Press anthology Blood, Guts, & Psychopaths
Note the quotes around “sale.” This is a royalty-paying, trade paperback, POD anthology. To date, my payout from sales to those sorts of publications has amounted to a big, fat zero.
The business model of such projects tends not to be conducive to writers getting money. The editors/publishers can typically “buy” as many stories as they want (although this one has a stated target of 20 in the GLs) without any risk, since they don’t have to pay the writers upfront. They also usually stipulate in the contract that you don’t get paid until your royalties hit a certain threshold . . . which becomes more and more unlikely the more authors there are since the amount is split between them. And being POD, there’s no incentive for the editors/publishers to promote their titles. And finally, (although this is more to do with small, start-up editors/publishers who then disappear or lose interest, and not the business model itself), royalty statements tend to stop coming (if they ever manifest) as time passes.**
Normally I don’t submit to these on principle, and I will never again surrender first publication rights to them, being a devout follower of Yog’s Law. But this story is one of the darkest and squickiest I’ve ever written. It was originally published in The Asylum 3: Tales from the Quiet Ward, another POD, royalty-“paying” anthology (from when I was less worldly and less cynical about the nature of POD anthologies, and actually labored under the starry-eyed belief I’d get some money from that “sale”), which has since been dropped by its publisher (Prime Books) and is therefore out of print. I’ve had little success at finding a paying reprint market for it; it is a pretty hardcore little piece. But I still think the story is a good one; it was a top-ten finisher in the 2003 Preditors & Editors Readers’ Poll in the Best Horror Short Story category. So when I saw this open call for submissions, I figured, hey, if these guys accept it, at least it’ll be back in print, I’ll get another pretty trade paperback out of the deal, and, if that most unlikeliest of unlikelies happens and I actually see money, it’s cake.
*I’ve noticed my horror output has flatlined since I stopped having a day job to go to. Huh. Funny coincidence that.
**Which reminds me that I haven’t received a royalty statement from Scrybe Press in over a year, although I’m supposed to get them semi-annually. Well, at least those chapbooks did earn me something initially. Sigh.