By Atlin Merrick
EVERYONE LOVES CRYPTIDS!
I’m sorry-not-sorry for yelling at you. Except—
Everyone loves a cryptid!
—that. That's the conclusion I come to after we closed our call for submissions for what will be our anthology Dark Cheer: Cryptids Emerging.
Because for that single anthology we got 450 stories. And that's a slightly conservative count since many of the emails contain more than one story and do you know why?
You Love Cryptids
Over the five months of the open call we received submissions daily, story after story of cryptids both 'known' – hello Jersey devil, Mothman, and mermaid! – and entirely invented by the writer. We got stories long and short. Flash fiction, tales of a couple thousand words, and many bumping right up against the word limit.
So many stories, in fact, that though we’ve not yet read them all, it looks like we’ll be putting together two volumes and a specialty book and do you know why? You do don't you? It's because EVERYONE LOVES CRYPTIDS.
Urban Fantasy, Contemporary Supernatural, Science Fiction
Whatever I might call the fiction genre to which cryptids belong – and any of the phrases above would work – I’ve loved that weird stuff all my life. I remember gobbling up all of Ray Bradbury’s short story as a nine-year-old in New York, I remember graduating on to Tanith Lee and Robert A Heinlein and always, always I loved best their stories that were set in the here-and-now except…maybe a little further now, or a little left of here.
It was Ray Bradbury with whom I most resonated, with his mushrooms that would take over the world, and Mr Dark's midnight carnival, and the African veldt onto which two willful children lead their parents. They were dark stories but not, grim but not, intense and strange and now that I describe them I wonder if they were suited to children at all and yet…I was nine and ten and eleven and they enthralled me.
Nothing Human is Alien to Me (Terence Knew)
Writing process? Um…what?
I remember less the implication that the siblings wanted lions to eat mum and dad, and more about a house that was alive around those children, that it played with them and gave them their heart's desire.
I'm not sure what my point is other than it's been well over forty years since I read most of Bradbury's and Lee's stories and they've stayed.
Eerie, mystical, odd, cheerfully dark because the boy growing the mushrooms dreams only of big, bigger, biggest; the girl in love with the robot becomes stronger even as her world crumbles; and I guess, as the editor of this coming anthology I hope for stories like that for me and for you, tales that linger, dark cheer that flourishes in our head like mushrooms in verdant soil.
Which is kinda creepy but there you go.
Thank you for sharing hundreds of stories with Improbable Press. We love a cryptid and look forward to reading each and every one of your tales of dark cheer.