My short story, “Kapu,” will figure obscurely in Joseph S. Pulver’s forthcoming anthology, Darker Companions, itself a tribute to the work of Ramsey Campbell. “Kapu” was not written to order for the collection, but there is no question that the spirit of Ramsey Campbell animates it and has since its inception. Never has such a short story given me so much trouble, but the thought of coming off badly in a tribute to one of my idols must have scared me into finally getting it all figured out.
Ramsey was my first editor, having bought my first solo sale, “Tissue,” for his landmark New Terrors collection. He improved that story, and sharpened my own technique, by adding four little words to one sentence. “That’s how it’s done,” I thought, and I’ve been trying to keep that lesson in mind for 40 years.
Here is the opening of “Kapu”:
The moment he reached the edge of the shore, he felt the sand give way [add four words here]. The beach was fine and white above, coarse and black below [this sentence needs something]. He stepped back quickly, before his wife and son caught up [need four more words].
The waves crashed in, making a green roil from the horizon to a tumble of lava boulders that edged the cliffs where they touched the water, aslant from jungled peaks high above [four words to come]. Only this thin crescent of sandy beach remained untouched, and even that was being eaten away steadily by the sea [do what Ramsey does].
Join me in awaiting the official announcements of the anthology’s contents and publication date. From what I’ve heard, the line-up of contributors is very strong indeed. That Pulver guy knows everybody!