Folks, it’s that time of year again: the part of late summer we’re gonna pretend is fall because screw summer, anyway. That means Nightscript, a yearly anthology of dark literary stories, is available for preorder! I’m in it with my short story “The Parchment Theif”! I was previously in Nightscript III, and it’s great to be back.
Per C. M. Muller:
If you are interested in preordering a trade paperback direct from the publisher (via PayPal), please visit:
Alternatively, the ebook is available from:
If you want a preview of the first couple paragraphs, I’ll be including them in my next newsletter. You can sign up for that here!
I thought I’d share a little bit about how I got the idea for the story.
Back in the beforetimes of 2016, I had a friend, a medievalist and librarian named Dot, who I met through fandom writing. We bonded further over a mutual love of medievalism. She was among the people who encouraged me to query a literary horror manuscript called Patron, which may someday see the light of day. I had a manuscript I and a couple betas (Dot among them) thought was pretty good and I had no earthly idea what to do with it.
So Dot got me in touch with her acquaintance and colleague, Bruce Holsinger. Bruce graciously offered to look at my first pages and my very first (terrible) attempt at a query letter. As an aside, can I emphasize how rare that kind of generosity is in publishing? How I never found another published author who offered to read pages and a query, and that’s the typical experience starting out? Anyway, by way of introducing me to Bruce as a medievalist, she said, “He’s very into parchment as skin.”
I gasped, ran to my story ideas spreadsheet, and used the old Black Mirror formula: What if into parchment as skin, but TOO MUCH? It sat there for a year and a half, and when I felt like writing something fun, I pulled that idea out of the queue.
And that is how an incredibly generous, kind man inspired a ghastly story about a manuscript made of human skin and a man who is really into that.
I sought Bruce’s permission to share this. I’m a little careful when sharing stories like this because (and this may be the unifying theme of everything I write) how we’re reflected back on ourselves by other people can feel like a sort of violence. Even if it’s unintentional, even if the story is far divorced from the person, I want to be considerate.
He did give his permission. He also pointed me at the literary horror collection Hair Side, Flesh Side by medievalist Helen Marshall. One of her stories, also about skin, was inspired by a talk he gave at a Chaucer conference. I’m about halfway through, and it’s just terrific. So far the first story, about a little girl getting the corpse of Saint Lucia, for her birthday like a Barbie, is my fave. Buy it, preorder Nightscript, and buy Bruce’s books while you’re at it! Just buy everything! You made it through summer, and you deserve to sit in a chunky gray sweater, eat a goddamn muffin with some nutmeg in it, and read a spooky story or five, by God.