Books go out of print all the time (So do movies, but don’t get me started on that. Still waiting for Killer Party to be a decent release on DVD or Blu-ray). Sometimes they get picked up by other publishers and find new life and new audiences, and sometimes… Well, sometimes they become that treasure you find at the local used book store. You know, the one that you slide off the shelf and then think to yourself, “My God, who in the hell would have given this up?” Or, if you are the author of said book, you look to see if the spine was even cracked and then you take it as a personal slight.
Where were we again? Oh yes, books going out of print.
My first two books ever published were my short story collection, Skull Full of Kisses, and my novel, The Wide Game, which ended up becoming the first book in my Harmony, Indiana series. Both were put out by a very small press. The advantage of working with a small press is that you can have a lot of input into everything from the layout to the cover design. The disadvantage is that sometimes, those small presses go under and they take your books down with them. This is what happened with these first two works of mine. The press is no longer active, and the books went out of print.
But, thankfully, not for long.
My current publisher, Seventh Star Press, which has become the home to all my other Harmony, Indiana novels, as well as my Legacy of the Gods series, stepped in to bring these works back to life and expose them to a whole new audience. As the author, this is very exciting, because, ultimately, you want your work to be read. For my faithful readers, this is exciting, because The Wide Game has never been available as an eBook for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, etc., and it will allow people who started the Harmony series with Cinema of Shadows or Spook House to go back and see how it all began. And with Skull Full of Kisses, it gives these same readers a chance to explore my short fiction as well.
So, what’s The Wide Game all about you ask? (Well, at least I hope that’s what you were asking.)
On the advice of his wife, Paul Rice is making plans to attend his 10th year high school reunion. Returning to his boyhood home of Harmony, Indiana, he finds that he is still haunted by memories of that time — memories of Deidra, his first love, and memories of the Wide Game. It was ten years ago that Paul and his friends watched their day of fun become a race for their lives, a fight for their very souls. Now, as he meets the survivors of that day once more, Paul makes a chilling discovery: the incomprehensible forces that toyed with them have yet to finish playing their own game.
It is a story that has been with me for a long, long time.
I’d done a short story in college that was inspired by Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” and around the turn of the century (God, it feels so strange saying that), I was thinking of expanding it into a novel, but I really didn’t know how to go about doing it. Then, I took a road trip with a high school friend and we started talking about our upcoming class reunion, all the things we’d done in the 80s, and the things we wished we could have done differently, and suddenly…there it was. I decided to make the novel about a man who returns home for his class reunion, who returns to the site of a great tragedy, and then is forced to deal with the horrors of that night once and for all.
While The Wide Game is a novel, a single story, readers get a lot to choose from with Skull Full of Kisses…
Love and evil know no bounds! Turn the page and enter a world of shadow, as Michael West brings together his most disturbing short stories–twisted tales of forbidden desires and ghoulish deeds, where nightmares manifest in the most mundane and unlikely of places… The basement of a Japanese restaurant, where a seductive creature promises comfort to a lonely hitman, if only he will set her free… A ruined city, where survivors of a natural disaster have become prey to something unnatural… An Indiana farmhouse, where a frightened child attempts to fool the Angel of Death… And the darkest regions of space, where a man fights to protect the woman he loves from invaders only he can see… Ten reasons to lock your doors. Ten reasons to keep the lights on. Ten reasons why you may never sleep again.
I have a lot of fondness for these early stories.
In the beginning, I wrote a lot of short stories simply because that’s what sold. Then, after editors became familiar with my work, I began to get invitations to write for various anthologies and magazines. And the more I wrote, the more invitations I got. Soon, I had enough short fiction to put out a collection of my own work, and the success of that led to my book deals. Now that I’m putting out two novels a year, my time is more limited, and I’ve had to say no to several short fiction projects, but it’s hard to say no when you get to be in the same table of contents with Ramsey Campbell and Joe Lansdale, so I still put out a few shorts a year.
I hope readers will enjoy these re-issues of my early works, and I hope they will be even more excited about what I have in store for them in the very near future.