I’m very pleased to finally be able to officially announce that my long gestating anthology Dueling Minds, which features stories by Brian Keene, Gary A. Braunbeck, Tom Piccirilli, Tim Lebbon, Jenny Orosel, and Gerard Houarner, will be published this year as part of the acclaimed Cemetery Dance Signature Series. The cover artwork is by Alan M. Clark and the interior artwork is by Erin S. Wells, both of whom are wonderful. For the serious book collector, I should note that this volume is a huge bargain because it is signed by all of the authors and artists, but the price is the same as the other books in the Signature Series.
This anthology is a print version of what I experimented with on my webzine, DuelingMinds.com, while in college way back at the turn of the century. For those who never had a chance to stop by the website, each issue of the webzine had four or five stories that were all inspired by the same piece of artwork, giving readers the chance to discover how different authors interpreted (and were inspired by) the exact same image.
In 2003, a small press publisher approached me and suggested a Dueling Minds anthology would work for his newly founded company. I agreed and quickly went to work searching for a cover artist. Normally choosing the cover art is one of the last parts of the creative side of putting together a book, but obviously in this case I needed the cover before I ever approached the authors since it was to be the inspiration for everything that followed.
Alan M. Clark was the first artist I spoke with and he was quite agreeable to the concept. He had also edited an anthology where authors wrote stories based on individual pieces of his artwork, so he recognized how much fun this sort of project could be. We looked through his portfolio and settled on one of my favorite pieces, which was originally inspired by a Ray Bradbury story.
Once I had the cover artwork, I contacted a handful of my favorite authors to see if they might be interested in contributing to this project. These authors took the challenge and ran with it, turning in their amazing stories over the next couple of months. I was already a big fan of their writing before this project, and the results of their efforts here just reinforced for me how truly creative these authors are.
In an unfortunate turn of fate, though, the original publisher closed up shop, leaving the book without a home for many years. Fast forward to 2011 when Richard Chizmar and I were kicking around ideas for new and creative titles for the Cemetery Dance Signature Series, which features small books from the genre’s best authors that are heavily illustrated by the most talented artists working in the business today.
Cemetery Dance had never offered a mini-anthology in the Signature Series, but the series seemed like the perfect place to experiment with this sort of unusual publication.
The artist and authors were contacted, all immediately agreed that it sounded like a fine idea and, all of these years later, we hired Erin Wells to create the interior artwork for the book since the Signature Series requires more interior illustrations than almost anything else Cemetery Dance publishes. That meant she created interior images that were inspired by stories that were inspired by Alan’s cover painting… which was originally inspired by a Ray Bradbury story.
Funny how things work out sometimes.
Here is just one sample of the many outstanding drawings Erin created for the book, and you can see more on the Cemetery Dance website: