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Reclaiming Norse Mythology from the Nazis by Ian Stuart Sharpe

It is one of the most iconic scenes in modern cinematic history:  Indiana Jones is in a desperate race against the Nazis, a lone hero battling against the entire German war machine to prevent an ancient artefact of immense power from falling into the wrong hands. Of...

Interview with Ian Stuart Sharpe, Author of The All Father Paradox!

Q: What made you write The All Father Paradox? Ian Stuart Sharpe: I think it was preordained. Not in a crazy way, you understand. You just learn to spot the signs, to realize that something is off-kilter. For example, in the year 793AD, according to the Anglo-Saxon...

Join the Outlanders!

ANNOUNCEMENTS Join Outland's Street Team, The Outlanders! Get sneak peeks at new releases, including fiction, games, and comics! Receive exclusive content, and be eligible to receive advance review copies of upcoming releases! If you like to help spread the word about...

THE ALL FATHER PARADOX Releases in October!

THE ALL FATHER PARADOX by Ian Stuart Sharpe Coming in October! What if an ancient god escaped his fate…and history was thrown to the wolves? Churchwarden Michaels thought it was just a run-of-the-mill crazy old man who stood in the graveyard, hellbent on studying the...

HATH NO FURY Has Hit the Shelves and E-Readers!

Mother. Warrior. Caregiver. Wife. Lover. Survivor. Trickster. Heroine. Leader.   This anthology features 21 stories and six essays about women who defy genre stereotypes. Here, it’s not the hero who acts while the heroine waits to be rescued; Hath No Fury’s women are...

Announcement: VIKINGVERSE COVER ILLUSTRATION RELEASED!

ANNOUNCEMENT Official summary of ALL FATHER PARADOX along with color cover illustration! What if an ancient god escaped his fate…and history was thrown to the wolves? Churchwarden Michaels thought it was just a run-of-the-mill crazy old man who stood in the graveyard,...

Announcement: New Comic Coming from Outland Entertainment!

ANNOUNCEMENT: Announcing Riddle of the Loremaster, an all new original comic series written by Melanie R. Meadors, with art by Nicolás Giacondino! Here is a sneak peek at some of the promo art: Riddle of the Loremaster is a comic for mature readers set in a fantasy...

Women in Dark Fantasy Have Changed by Linda Robertson

In doing a bit of research looking for a dark-fantasy-related topic for this article, I sought something that I knew at least a bit about, something I felt strongly about, and something where I could add meaningfully to the conversation. Many things were considered,...

Alethea Kontis on Imposter Syndrome

Earlier this year, I met the only student Katy Kellgren ever had. He told me he just about had to bully her into being his teacher. This amazing, multiple award-winning voice actress with hundreds of audiobooks under her belt truly didn’t believe she knew anything...

Announcements: HATH NO FURY Has Arrived in the US!

Backers of the paperback and hardcover editions of Hath No Fury will be happy to learn that the books have arrived at the printer's headquarters in Chicago! Now, they just need to be sent to our head honcho Jeremy Mohler, and then they will be sent out to backers...
Outland Entertainment on the new serial, Born to the Blade

Outland Entertainment on the new serial, Born to the Blade

Recently, Publisher Melanie Meadors and Editor in Chief Alana Joli Abbott got together to chat about a serial they’re both reading: Born to the Blade.

Alana: So, Melanie, how did you feel about Born to the Blade?

Melanie: Wow, I have to say, I knew it would be cool, because I’ve read Michael R. Underwood’s work before, including what he contributed to Hath No Fury, but this was pretty awesome—it was even better than I expected! (I mean that in the best possible way, Mike, if you are reading).

It reminded me of something along the lines of Avatar:The Last Airbender and Game of Thrones, if you can wrap your mind around that.

Alana: It does! I’ve been following the Serial Box serials since their first project, and this is a great new addition to their library. It has some of the familiar things I’ve liked in their previous projects: strong characters and great world building, right from the get-go, for example.

Melanie: Yes—and it’s no easy feat because we get to know a few characters in this first part, but they all have strong voices and unique views so it works. I was nervous I’d forget who people were, but I didn’t, really.

Alana: The setting is really well established from the beginning as well. The first episode opens with rebels from Kakute freeing their exiled and imprisoned leader from prison. There’s the instant set up between the good rebels and the evil, conquering empire. But pretty quickly, that expectation comes into question. We meet Michiko, a bladecrafter, who is dedicated to serving that empire.

Melanie: And that mysterious Golden Lord of Kakute…wow.

Alana: His introduction is fantastic, and Mike sets up a twist that takes the whole episode in a different direction than I expected by the end.

Melanie: Yes! And let’s face it—I can’t quite tell how I feel about Lavinia, but what a badass character.

Alana: No kidding! Lavinia is the representative of the Empire in Twaa-Fei, a neutral nation where the best bladecrafters from the various nations meet to solve international matters, to the best of my understanding. And in this episode, she takes on two fellow Warders in combat and wins handily. She’s amazing.

Melanie: Yes. And the best thing is, you are kind of kept wondering throughout the entire encounter. You think you know how things will go, but you don’t KNOW.

Alana: And the combat, which mixes swordplay and magic in a really satisfying way, is beautiful. I could almost see it.

Melanie: YES! I absolutely loved that aspect of it, that’s where I was thinking of the Avatar: The Last Airbender comparison. The other thing is that the fight and action scenes seem to last just the right amount of time. They are suspenseful and keep you on the edge of your seat, and don’t drag on. Lots of nice details so you feel you are there.

Alana: If you have a chance, you should listen to the audio version, narrated by Xe Sands. Serial Box is doing enhanced audio, which mixes sound effects into the narration seamlessly. It really grounds you in the narrative, and it’s used so well here. Each of the sigils, the spells created by the bladecrafters, has a ringing sound that’s both magical and metal.

Melanie: Yes, I actually listened to a little bit of it, so I would get the experience, and I did notice the sound effects—what a cool addition to the story!

Alana: Xe does a great job distinguishing the character voices as well. So Ojo, who is an elder Warder and a bit of a rebel in his own right, comes across with a gravitas that youthful Kris, who is going to be tested to earn a place for their nation among the Warders, doesn’t yet have.

Speaking of Kris, I immediately thought of what a cool setting this would make for roleplaying as well. Kris’s nation has the inborn trait to change gender; Michiko’s nation can speak to their ancestors. How cool would it be to pick a heritage like that for an RPG?

Melanie: I agree!! And some parts of it, with the casting of spells and so forth, really seemed like it would translate well into a game as well.

Alana: With the ending twist from episode one, I’m really excited to listen to episode two–which came out today.

Melanie: Yes, definitely. I’m really intrigued by this world. And I appreciate that there are characters of non-binary genders, and sensitive use of pronouns as well.

Alana: I agree completely.

Melanie: I think authors and publishers are becoming more aware of how important it is that the voices of everyone can be heard. I also love the mixture of cultural influences as well.

Alana: I feel like they’re going for something that feels like Asian influence, but Lavinia feels very Roman Empire in some ways.

Melanie: Yes, I think there are Roman influence with the Empire side for sure.

I think this is a progressive and different story, but people who like a standard fantasy tale will be very pleased with it as well. I mean, I think they really pulled off something great here.

Alana: And this week’s episode is from Marie Brennan, who is a frequent Outland contributor at this point, so I’m excited to see where she’ll take it!

Bringing You Stories, However You Like Them

Bringing You Stories, However You Like Them

There’s a saying that goes around (books are written on this topic, and serious research done by anthropologists) that storytelling is what makes us human. If storytelling is that core to our identities as people, it’s no surprise that we like to ingest stories in so many different ways. We consume click-bait headlines that lead us to (probably) true stories, our favorite movies through our preferred streaming systems, high definition video games or tabletop RPGs, the latest issues of a comic or latest updates of a webcomic, and (gasp!) print books.

And you know what’s fun? When you can see stories in more than one format. I am an old school Star Wars fan, and as a teen I hit the sweet spot of getting my Star Wars in multiple formats (before, of course, the explosion of new Star Wars stories). Not only did I watch the films over and over again, but my public library bought every single new Expanded Universe (EU) book as it was published. I devoured them. I was ecstatic when Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade got married in a comic (the only Star Wars EU comic I still own). Eventually, being a grownup got in the way of keeping up with the EU, in part because so many books got published, but I still dabbled. And I loved it.

Fast forward not only to the new Star Wars canon (I have Elizabeth Wein‘s Cobalt Squadron on my desk, and if you’re not reading the Marvel run on Star Wars that started in 2015, you are missing some awesome stuff), but to my job at Outland Entertainment. Creative Director Jeremy Mohler and I have had a lot of discussions about our visions for the company. We have these fantastic comics, anthologies, and games that we publish, and we love them. But what could we do to make those projects even better?

And this is our answer: Let our readers dig into our stories in all of the formats they want.

Having grown up with shared world projects that spread across media formats, and having written fiction, comics, role-playing games, and interactive novels, taking Outland in a transmedia direction made sense. We already had three formats we were publishing. Tying them together and giving readers more of the worlds and characters they loved across all our platforms has given us a mission. It’s also made us look at each project we take on and say, “How would this look as a game? Or a comic? Or a novel?”

If you’re a table top gamer, you may already be looking forward to the Shotguns & Sorcery RPG, a game based on Matt Forbeck’s fantastic novels (which we’ll be bringing out in omnibus format, complete with a brand new Max story). Matt is also on board to create an S&S comic. All three formats: one awesome world to explore.

If you’re a comic fan, you may have picked up Nightfell. We’ve started development for an RPG in that setting, as well as a novella to dig deeper into the world through prose. If you’ve come to us through fiction, such as the Blackguards anthology…well, we might just have some surprises in store for you coming up.

In the meantime, I’ve got a little bit of Star Wars reading to catch up on.

About Alana Joli Abbott

Alana Joli Abbott is the author of the novels Into the Reach, Departure, and Regaining Home, the interactive multiple choice novel app Choice of Kung Fu and was the writer for the webcomic Cowboys and Aliens II. Her game writing has been featured in Steampunk Musha, the award winning Serenity Adventures, and Dungeon and Dragon magazines. Alana has visited ancient ruins around the world; sung madrigals semi-professionally; and recently earned her black belt in Shaolin Kempo Karate. She lives near New Haven, CT.

 

Ogres–And Stories!–Have Layers

Ogres–And Stories!–Have Layers

We’re pleased to highlight Melanie R. Meadors, who will be writing a Kaiju story for our recently funded Kickstarter anthology, Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters II! Check out the anthology here!

When Nick Sharps and Alana Joli Abbott invited me to write a story for their new anthology, Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters II, I was pretty ecstatic. I love a good monster story, and I have several ideas I’d like to some day write about. I pretty much immediately accepted, and off I went, on an adventure with some unlikely heroes to kill some monsters.

Only…it wasn’t that simple.

My story is one that kept surprising me with every draft. What started out as a simple action monster story grew to have a depth I didn’t expect. Yes, it was action-adventure, but as I got to know my characters, and spent more time with them even within the seven thousand word confines of their story, all these little connections started happening. Little motivations for their actions. Or vice versa—they would do something, and then I would say, “Oh, they are doing that because___,” and I’d discover something new about that character.

For example, I had my character, a half-orc, in draft one, traveling to a town where she took a job hunting a monster. OK, that was fine. And it would have been perfectly fine. In fantasy stories, that happens all the time. But then as I wrote, I said, “OK, maybe she has this job because it’s personal. Maybe this monster messed with her home city.” “All right,” another side of me said, “But how can we make it WORSE? How can the stakes be raised?” In the next draft, the stakes got higher. Then, as I learned more about the character as she interacted with other characters, I said, “Oh, here is a new way to make her experiences shape her situation even more…” and “What if her own MOTHER [redacted for spoilers]??”

After doing this with the main character, the secondary character started coming into more focus as well. If the main character’s mother did this thing, then this other character would do ___. Wait…What if that character actually was the hero of the story? As one thing developed, another thing would, like a chain reaction. And one of the hardest things for me to do while writing is to not fight this process. I often feel the need to rush. I have some author friends who seem to write four books a year. Could I do that? Sure. Should I do that? Well, I don’t know, but I do know that when I let a story grow as it needs to, that story turns out to be so much better and deeper than it would have otherwise.

Part of a writer’s job is to make the reader’s experience seamless and effortless. Readers aren’t supposed to see the machine behind the works, they aren’t meant to see all the blood, sweat, and tears that go into a story. They are supposed to just get swept up into the story, live life through their characters’ eyes, and have adventures, fall in love, or do whatever it is the story’s purpose is—mostly, they should be entertained. Sometimes, as a writer who is also a reader, it’s easy to forget that stories have layers. With each draft, something new comes out, some new aspect of a character, or of the backstory, of the world. This is why, at least for me, when I’m in the middle of my first draft, with every story, I think to myself, “My glob, I have forgotten how to write!” No, I haven’t forgotten how to write exactly. I’ve just forgotten that the way I write, I have to start with a core, and work out, fleshing out the details as I go. Draft one is often terrible, but then draft two gets better. Draft three is where things start getting really interesting, and then when I hit draft four, I’ve got the story as it should be, usually, and will just need some proofreading. It takes time for things to process. But sometimes, the best stories are the hardest to write.

About Melanie R. Meadors

Mealanie R. Meadors is the author of fantasy stories where heroes don’t always carry swords and knights in shining armor often lose to nerds who study their weaknesses. She’s been known to befriend wandering garden gnomes, do battle with metal-eating squirrels, and has been called a superhero on more than one occasion. her fiction has appeared in Circle Magazine, Prick of the Spindle, the anthology Champions of Aetaltis, and other places. She’s the co-editor of the anthology MECH: Age of Steel and editor of Hath No Fury, and she is a blogger and general b*tch monkey at The Once and Future Podcast.

About Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters II

A few years ago, Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters smashed onto the book scene, collecting stories from some of the best writers of monsters in the business. Now, the age of monsters continues on with the follow up anthology, Kaiju Rising II, featuring stories from authors like Jeremy Robinson, Marie Brennan, Dan Wells, ML Brennan, Jonathan Green, Lee Murray, Cullen Bunn, and more! If you love movies like Pacific Rim, Godzilla, and Kong, you won’t want to miss it.Learn more about this anthology from Outland Publications on Kickstarter now, keywords Kaiju Rising.

Where Do Kaiju Come From?

Where Do Kaiju Come From?

We’re pleased to highlight Alana Joli Abbott, who will be editing our Kickstarter anthology, Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters II! Support the anthology here!

I have a three year old, so big monsters, in the form of dinosaurs, are a staple around my house. These creatures have strange names, roar, and stomp a lot. Most of the time, all of this happens through toddler filter, so my resident Tyrannosaurus Rex only comes up to my waist. But it’s safe to say that big monsters are very present in my life.

Before working on Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters II, I didn’t know much about the origin of big monster stories in modern mythology. Were they dinosaur holdovers? Related to their fantasy-cousins, dragons and giants? Where do kaiju come from, anyway?

One of the things that I think is so cool about mythology is how it can evolve. Although I’ve found hints in articles that kaiju are the heirs of monsters from Japanese folklore, the truth is that they’re a specifically science fiction construct, even though they feel much older. While some kaiju might have an Elder Gods, Lovecraftian flare, kaiju were actually born in the 20th century—a mix of a filmmaker wanting to make bank on the popular Hollywood monster movies and the horror of atomic reality.

In the early 1950s, Japanese citizens were understandably wary—if not terrified—of the consequences of atomic weapons, having suffered two devastating bombings in 1945. Survivors of the bombings were named hibakusha, and were typically shunned due to public misunderstandings about radiation sickness and contamination. In 1954, fears of radiation were heightened again when twenty-three sailors aboard the fishing boat Daigo Fukuryū Maru got too close to the fallout of a thermonuclear test at Bikini Atoll. All twenty-three crewmembers suffered acute radiation syndrome. Although all but one recovered, those who were unable to hide their exposure to the radiation were shunned like the hibakusha, and the incident led to a growing fear of contamination in the fish. The fear was reasonable—the “danger zone” from the testing sites declared by the U.S. government underestimated the range that the weaponry would impact, and the fallout spread into an “expanded zone” that included the range of several fishing boats.

What would those fish do to people who ate them? What else might radiation do to the creatures inside the danger zone? Those very present fears, combined with the Japanese box office success of King Kong, created an opportunity for filmmaker Tomoyuki Tanaka to create a relevant, resonant genre of films. Gojira (Godzilla) released the same year as the Daigo Fukuryū Maru and it struck such a chord among Japanese and international viewers that the genre has continued to thrive and grow. The original Godzilla might have been a metaphor for nuclear weapons, but he later became something of a hero, defending humanity against other monsters.

So, Godzilla is the official start of the kaiju—but the idea of a large, prehistoric danger being awoken by the misdeeds of humanity? That’s an old, old story, and continues to be a staple of the SFF genres inside the kaiju medium and beyond. And perhaps it’s also a good thing to remember around my three year old: beware the wrath of the prehistoric imagination!

About Alana Joli Abbott

Alana Joli Abbott is the author of the novels Into the Reach, Departure, and Regaining Home, the interactive multiple choice novel app Choice of Kung Fu and was the writer for the webcomic Cowboys and Aliens II. Her game writing has been featured in Steampunk Musha, the award winning Serenity Adventures, and Dungeon and Dragon magazines. Alana has visited ancient ruins around the world; sung madrigals semi-professionally; and recently earned her black belt in Shaolin Kempo Karate. She lives near New Haven, CT.

About Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters II

A few years ago, Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters smashed onto the book scene, collecting stories from some of the best writers of monsters in the business. Now, the age of monsters continues on with the follow up anthology, Kaiju Rising II, featuring stories from authors like Jeremy Robinson, Marie Brennan, Dan Wells, ML Brennan, Jonathan Green, Lee Murray, Cullen Bunn, and more! If you love movies like Pacific Rim, Godzilla, and Kong, you won’t want to miss it. Support this anthology from Outland Publications on Kickstarter now, keywords Kaiju Rising.

We’re pleased to highlight Guadalupe Garcia McCall, who will be writing a Kaiju story for our Kickstarter anthology, Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters II! Support the anthology here!

A Slice of Kaiju Story with a Side Order of Crazy Writing LIfe

A Slice of Kaiju Story with a Side Order of Crazy Writing LIfe

We’re pleased to highlight Guadalupe Garcia McCall, who will be writing a Kaiju story for our Kickstarter anthology, Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters II! Support the anthology here!

It always feels strange when someone asks me to write on command. “Write something with me,” someone will say, and I find myself having to decline. One, because I don’t know what “something” means for them and two, because I’m usually pretty busy writing my own kind of “something.” Then there was the guy who leaned over, made googly eyes at me, and said, “Write a poem for me.” That was just creepy, so I declined that one too.

Occasionally, though, there are requests that are intriguing enough to make me look up from my laptop and say, “Really?” Like when Alana Joli Abbott asked if I would write a Kaiju story. A Kaiju story—now that’s never been on my radar. But I like writing things that challenge me, things that take me completely out of my comfort zone.

So, I said yes and spent the next few months worried that I wouldn’t be able to deliver because I had no earthly idea where to begin. You see, I write about people who wear chanclas and eat chicharrones. I write about the love of mothers, the bond of hermanitas, and our past struggles in this country. I write about familia, not giant monsters stomping on things.

I perused the stories in Kaiju Rising and watched Pacific Rim. After that adrenaline rush, I came up with something I could write about. I sat at the computer the first week of Christmas break and started outlining a story about a giant-prehistoric-looking-baby-creature that somehow ends up in the clutches of an evil man (insert strange professor with an eye patch here). Yes. Yes. I was on a roll.

Then because I still had another week to write, I went to see a movie with The Man. As I was sucked into the gorgeousness of The Shape of Water, I thought, “That’s how I should be writing this. I just need to believe it could happen.”

After the movie, I was standing in the hallway waiting for The Man to refill our drinks when the Anti-muse popped into my head and grinned at me. “Yes, but is your story-line believable? Are your characters solid? I mean, who wears an eye patch anymore? A one-eyed professor walking around with a deep dark secret? Really?” my soul-crushing, overly-critical Anti-muse asked.

I was in the midst of complete and utter writerly despair when the doors of a nearby theater opened and a crowd of movie-goers walked out. And who should be leading the crowd but an older, professor-ish looking man with an eye patch. Yes! In your face, Anti-muse! The universe said yes, and I went home to write my short story.

Although I like it when the Anti-muse packs her bags and my zany, overzealous, dramatic, overachieving Real Muse shows up, the truth is my Real Muse is kind of a tyrant. She puts vats of Diet Coke on the counter, banishes my dear husband, and makes me write like the house is on fire and we have to finish and submit the story because we can’t take the laptop with us when we run outside.

Four days and forty-five pages into the project, I realized the Real Muse was out of control. “I can cut it back later,” I told myself. “I can still trim this down.”

Five days, several more characters’ points of view, and sixty-four pages later, and it was official—I was writing another young adult novel. However, as shiny and bright as the whole thing was (writing different points of view is new and thrilling for me), I was in deep trouble here. It was Friday of the second week of Christmas break and I only had two more days to write the Kaiju short story for Alana.

I messaged my buddy, David Bowles (the master of all things Sci-Fi) and he gave me some good writerly advice. “Write a short story in the same universe,” he said. That night, I went back to my laptop. “What if there were other creatures?” I asked the Real Muse. “Who would find them? And how would he/she get rid of them?”

In the end, I wrote a short story called, “Rancho Nido” for Kaiju Rising, Age of Monsters II and submitted it on time. “Rancho Nido” is a little morsel, a prequel to my bigger project, a young adult book which I am labelling my “Borderlands Kaiju Novel.”

“Rancho Nido” is different from anything else I’ve ever written before, but it’s coming from a fun place, a place where families sit around a fire pit and tell crazy historias de monstros. So, wait ’til dark, kick your feet up, and enjoy it with a taquito.

About Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Guadalupe Garcia McCall is the author of Under the Mesquite (Lee & Low Books), a novel in verse. Under the Mesquite received the prestigious Pura Belpre Author Award, was a William C. Morris Finalist, received the Lee Bennett Hopkins/International Literacy Promising Poet Award, the Tomas Rivera Children’s Book Award, and was included in Kirkus Review’s Best Teen Books of 2011, among many other accolades. Her second novel, Summer of the Mariposas (Tu Books, an imprint of Lee & Low Books), won a Westchester Young Adult Fiction award, was a finalist for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, was included in the 2013 Amelia Bloomer Project List, the Texas Lone Star Reading List, and the 2012 School Library Journal’s Best Books of the Year. Her poems for children have appeared in The Poetry Friday Anthology, The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School, and The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science. Ms. Garcia McCall was born in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico. She immigrated with her family to the United States when she was six years old and grew up in Eagle Pass, Texas (the setting of both her novels and most of her poems). She is currently a high school English teacher in San Antonio.

About Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters II

A few years ago, Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters smashed onto the book scene, collecting stories from some of the best writers of monsters in the business. Now, the age of monsters continues on with the follow up anthology, Kaiju Rising II, featuring stories from authors like Jeremy Robinson, Marie Brennan, Dan Wells, ML Brennan, Jonathan Green, Lee Murray, Cullen Bunn, and more! If you love movies like Pacific Rim, Godzilla, and Kong, you won’t want to miss it. Support this anthology from Outland Publications on Kickstarter now, keywords Kaiju Rising.

Kaiju Rising: Kaiju Destruction by Kane Gilmour

Kaiju Rising: Kaiju Destruction by Kane Gilmour

We’re pleased to feature Kane Gilmour, who will be writing a Kaiju story for our Kickstarter anthology, Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters II! Support the anthology here!

I grew up in the 1970s, and monsters were everywhere. Not the kind you read about today in the news, chaining children up in basements or charging dying people thousands of dollars for needed medications. These were the classic creatures of myth and legend, or spooky castles and forlorn forests. Fairytales and adventure stories. Black-and-white movie reruns on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, after all the cartoons or religious shows were over. Then came the monsters.

Okay, yes, sometimes it was a Tarzan movie, or Peter Cushing in The Hound of the Baskervilles, or more regularly it was a Chinese Kung Fu movie. While my older step-brother went outside to play street baseball or football, I stayed in, hoping beyond hope for Abbot and Costello to meet Frankenstein, or if I was really lucky, King Kong might make an appearance. Dracula was a favorite. As was the Wolf Man. But one creature was king on those weekend afternoons, and when Godzilla was going to be on, even my step-brother would stay inside and watch.

There was just something about the giant lizard monster destroying cityscapes, telephone wires, and tanks. Something glorious about the creature swatting an enemy with his tail or unleashing atomic breath on a particularly nasty flying foe (we’re looking at you here, Rodan). At the time, I just loved to watch those stories—even the ones with the somewhat slow-on-the-uptake and much reviled these days ‘Minilla,’ Godzilla’s awkward son. I was just the right age to appreciate him then.

Eventually I moved on to other things in the 80s and 90s, but I went back and watched all of the films from the Heisei and Millennium periods about ten years ago. But exactly what it was about Godzilla that drew me was never at the forefront of my consciousness. Not until 2013, when Nick Sharps asked me to write a short story for an anthology called Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters. I had been preparing for a few years at that point to write a YA novel featuring kaiju (even before the Kaiju Thriller genre was born, by Jeremy Robinson stomping it into existence with Project Nemesis—which I urged him to write and ended up editing for him, as well). I only ever wrote about a third of my own kaiju book, and I’m still hoping to get back to it one day. But the point is, I had been actively thinking about kaiju and what makes the genre appealing to people.

I still didn’t have an answer when I wrote my short story for that first anthology, “The Lighthouse Keeper of Kurohaka Island.” But as we began to promote the book, it suddenly came to me. I’ve written a bunch of other things since that story, and my career has jinked and jagged in different directions. But when Nick asked me if I might be interested in contributing to yet another kaiju themed anthology, cleverly titled Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters II (and which Nick jokingly suggested the publisher would call Kaiju Rising 2: Electric Boogaloo), I think he got the words “Dude, would you like to—” before I cut him off with a hearty “Hell, yes!” Because I had had fun with the first story. It was well received and reviewed. It even got reprinted in The Mammoth Book of Kaiju edited by Sean Wallace, and I loved getting paid twice for the same work. The publisher was great to work with and they paid me well and on time. (I had also worked with them again on a project that was a bit late, but of the same caliber of excellence, MECH: Age of Steel). Why wouldn’t I want to do another one? The books were fun, people liked them, and the people I worked with were professionals.

But another story meant thinking about kaiju, and their impact (no pun intended), and it meant throwing myself back into my fictional world I had created for the first story, which was the same world of my still-unfinished YA novel. Because I wanted this story to be a sequel of sorts to the first, but set in the modern day, whereas the first had been set in WWII Japan. Alana Joli Abbott, one of the two editors on this project, asked all the authors to think about some questions that we could use for promotion, and one of them was the key to it all. The same question I had come up with an answer to when promoting the first excellent Kaiju Rising anthology.

“What is a theme you identify with in big monster stories?”

Obviously, there are a lot of answers for many people. Mankind’s hubris. Mother Nature’s way of reclaiming things. Issues of who the real monster might be or examining the monster inside. Who is responsible for creating the monsters? Thinly veiled analogies toward nuclear weapons, kaiju as forces of nature or survival instead of malice, and so forth. The list goes on. But what I had come up with in 2013, and what I was reminded of when Alana asked the question is at the core of the appeal of kaiju, for me, and I think for all people.

It’s a primal recognition of and identification with the urge to destroy. We do it as very small children, before we’ve been taught better, before we’ve been shown that it’s better (and harder) to create than to destroy. But most of us can recall being little, and building a tower of blocks or LEGOs, or setting up a village of tiny toys. And we can remember pretending to be a massive creature and rampaging through our creation and knocking it all down. It’s a primal, and I think universal, experience. Even if you were too poor to have wooden blocks for toys, you might have built something with sticks and imagined the power of being much larger than a normal human. Giant sized. Kaiju. And then you crashed through things and destroyed them. I’ve travelled to over forty countries around the world and seen children in some incredibly squalid conditions. Even though many of them had surely never seen a Godzilla film, the toddler impulse to build and then destroy is everywhere.

Somewhere in our natures is the capacity to destroy, and when we are children, we are much closer to accessing that capacity, before our restraints are put into place by parents and society. We know it’s not right to destroy things, and most of us don’t do it in adulthood anymore. But the lure of the monster stomp is there, and we get to live out those toddler fantasies when we watch a Godzilla movie or read a Nemesis novel, or read a collection of giant monster tales from a gaggle of talented authors. We want to see the monsters crush things, but we also want to see the human-piloted giant robots halt their rampages in films like Pacific Rim or to have a benevolent monster intercede in a kaiju brawl—because we also know the destruction cannot go on forever. And we’d much rather imagine a world of destruction halted by heroic figures than to see the emaciated chained captives in basements or the smug faces of pharma-bros getting rich off the helplessness of the weak. Because those things make the toddler in us all want to go berserk and knock down all the blocks.

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About Kane Gilmour

Kane Gilmour is the international bestselling author of The Crypt of Dracula. He has co-authored several titles with Jeremy Robinson and also writes his own thriller novels. In addition to his work in novels, Kane has had short stories appear in several anthologies and magazines, and he worked on artist Scott P. Vaughn’s sci-fi noir webcomic, Warbirds of Mars as well as on Jeremy Robinson’s comic book adaptation of the novel Island 731. He lives with his significant other, his kids, her kids, and three dogs in Vermont. He’s thinking of buying a farm to house them all. Visit him online at: kanegilmour.com.

About Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters II

A few years ago, Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters smashed onto the book scene, collecting stories from some of the best writers of monsters in the business. Now, the age of monsters continues on with the follow up anthology, Kaiju Rising II, featuring stories from authors like Jeremy Robinson, Marie Brennan, Dan Wells, ML Brennan, Jonathan Green, Lee Murray, Cullen Bunn, and more! If you love movies like Pacific Rim, Godzilla, and Kong, you won’t want to miss it. Support this anthology from Outland Publications on Kickstarter now, keywords Kaiju Rising.