I found my contributor copies of Space Horrors waiting for me when I came home last night from my “day” job at Kitt Peak National Observatory. The book turned out very well. Laura Givens did an outstanding job on the cover art. I’m looking forward to giving the book another read in its printed and bound form soon!
Publisher David Rozansky is hosting a Twitter Party for Space Horrors on Friday October 8 from 9am until 9pm Eastern Time. I’m hoping to have a few more details including hashtags to follow the conversation soon, but at the very least, you can look me up — @davidleesummers — and get details from me that day, if need be.
Now, turning to the featured event of the day — today’s guest blog comes from Dayton Ward. He was one of the authors the publisher asked me to invite to the anthology, which usually induces a knee-jerk reaction on my part of “Do I HAVE to?” However, in addition to being the editor of Full-Throttle Space Tales #3: Space Grunts, he’s also the author of a number of Star Trek novels. I extended Dayton an invitation and was pleased that I did. He was a pleasure to work with and turned in an outstanding story. My only regret in the whole affair is that other commitments prevented me from writing a story for Space Grunts, which would have allowed me to meet Dayton sooner.
With that, let’s hear from Dayton.
After serving as editor for Space Grunts, the previous Full-Throttle Space Tales anthology, I was thrilled to be invited to submit a story for Space Horrors. Of course, I was also a little nervous. Aside from the odd foray into zombie territory, horror generally isn’t my wheelhouse. Still, part of being a writer is stepping out of your comfort zone and experimenting with new genres and forms of storytelling.
Come to think of it, that’s the same attitude which eventually compelled me to submit those “true stories” I sent to Penthouse Forum.
Wait…was that out loud?
My story, “Into the Abyss,” took a long, circuitous journey on its way to ending up in Space Horrors. The basic notion of a space ship stumbling across an apparently derelict vessel and the subsequent hijinks that ensue is something my frequent writing partner, Kevin Dilmore, and I pitched as one of two story concepts for Constellations, an anthology published by Pocket Books back in 2006 and celebrating the 40th anniversary of the original Star Trek series. Our editor on that project preferred the other pitch we’d submitted, so this one went back into the “Idea File” for possible later use.
A year or so after that, we dusted it off, tweaked it a bit, and sent it along with a couple of other pitches to an editor at Tokyopop, which at the time held a license to publish manga based on the original Star Trek as well as The Next Generation. Due to a massive upheaval and series of layoffs there, our stuff got lost in the resulting shuffle, and Tokyopop finished its run of Star Trek manga. As before, our unused story ideas went back into The File, and we moved on to other things.
(Overemphasized writing tip #1: Never throw anything away.)
Skip to fall 2009, and the invitation letter from David Lee Summers. Write a horror story? Me? Nah. Then I remembered this idea and after getting Kevin’s blessing, I set about retooling it for Space Horrors. Gone was Captain Kirk and his crew solving the mystery of a seemingly abandoned ship adrift in space–complete with all the requisite technology and technobabble, bothersome Klingons, Scotty conjuring an engineering miracle to save the day, and even a sacrificial red-shirted security guard or two. Instead, we now have a grittier, more blue-collar band of space haulers confronting a “space oddity.”
Once I finished restructuring the premise and jotting some notes on my new cast of characters, I started slinging words. I was about two-thirds of the way done with the writing when I started having second thoughts and telling myself that there were things I didn’t really like. Thinking about it for a day or so, I realized that the story opened in the wrong spot. Why? I’d left myself one last, lingering trap from the time when this was still going to be a Star Trek tale, and fallen right into it. Whoops! Once I had that figured out, regrouping was easy. I reworked some things here and there before pushing forward.
As I was writing my story, I realized that the backstory I hint at for one of my main characters is something I wouldn’t mind revisiting one of these days. I’m hoping I get to do that once I acquire some free time, which by my calendar should be some time around July 6th, 2026, give or take a week. While I’m waiting, I hope you enjoy “Into the Abyss.”
– Dayton Ward