Write a Ghost Story With Me

This October I’ll be leading a 90-minute workshop on gothic fiction at the Mystic and Noank Library in Mystic, Connecticut.

The gothic is the past returning to haunt us in the present. Yet like vampires and werewolves, gothic stories can assume different shapes and forms: Bram Stoker’s Dracula involves a supernatural evil unleashed in contemporary England, while the narrator of Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” is haunted simply by his own guilt. In this workshop, join author and freelance writer Jackson Kuhl for an evening investigating the dark art of gothic fiction writing. We’ll look at some examples of classic gothic literature to inspire us, then brainstorm ideas, sketch a brief outline, and craft a piece of gothic flash fiction to take home.

Interested in attending? You can register at the library’s website. There’s no charge but it’s expected to fill up fast.

The Island of Small Misfortunes

My latest gothic novel, The Island of Small Misfortunes, has been accepted for publication by Regal House Publishing.

In the summer of 1898, Sequoia Owen accepts an invitation from his estranged uncle to visit the family summer house on Todeket, a private island off the Connecticut coast. Yet his unwell aunt Geneve believes he is accompanied by the shadowy ghost of her dead son Jacob, and over the course of a weekend Sequoia must contend with menacing relatives, threats against his life, and conflicting stories about the house’s history to unravel Todeket’s strange secret.

The Island of Small Misfortunes will be published in 2025.

Love Letters to Poe, Volume Won

Love Letters to Poe, Volume I: A Toast to Edgar Allan Poe won the 2022 Saturday Visiter Award in the category of “Original Works Inspired by E.A. Poe’s Life and Writing.”

The award was presented to editor and publisher Sara Crocoll Smith at the International Edgar Allan Poe Festival & Awards in Baltimore this past weekend.

The nonprofit Poe Baltimore presents the Saturday Visiter Awards to recognize a new generation of artists continuing Edgar Allan Poe’s legacy in the arts and literature around the world. The awards are named after the prize won by a young Poe.

My story “An Incident on Mulberry Street” appeared in the anthology, which collected a year’s worth of contributions to Smith’s web publication Love Letters to Poe.

This is the first time an anthology I’ve appeared in has won an award. Eric Guignard’s Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations and Professor Charlatan Bardot’s Travel Anthology were both nominated for Stokers but didn’t win (although Bardot’s is currently up for a Shirley Jackson Award, which will be handed out later this month in Boston).

The second book in the series, Love Letters to Poe, Volume II: Houses of Usher, was published in August and includes my story, “The Last Stand of Sassacus House.”

You can grab a copy of Volume I here and Volume II here.

Congratulations Sara!

The Last Stand of Sassacus House

Love Letters to Poe Volume 2: Houses of Usher

Because the first was so nice we had to do it twice, Love Letters to Poe, Volume II: Houses of Usher is available today.

The anthology features 19 short stories and 11 poems of the Gothic and macabre inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s 1839 story, “The Fall of the House of Usher.”

My contribution, “The Last Stand of Sassacus House,” revolves around one man’s greed not for a house but rather for its absence:

Rueben Tolbridge coveted Sassacus House long before he coveted the woman who owned it. For years Tolbridge slowed his shay past the old Sassacus place in admiration — not for the ramshackle manor itself but rather for its position high above the gray waters of the Sound. Set back from the road, partially screened by tall weeds and braided tree limbs, it staggered his imagination that no one bothered to knock down the decrepit structure and develop the parcel.

Whoever took the trouble of clearing its overgrown acres, Tolbridge told himself, could build the mansion of his dreams, a magnificent home to spoil its owner, then net him a sizable profit when he sold it. If he sold it, and didn’t live out his life there.

Love Letters to Poe, Volume II: Houses of Usher is available in ebook, paperback, hardcover, and large-print formats.

Houses of Usher is the second volume of Poe tribute fiction by editor Sara Crocoll Smith. Meanwhile, the initial entry has been nominated for a Saturday Visiter Award in the category of “Original Works Inspired by E.A. Poe’s Life and Writing.” The winner will be announced in October at the International Edgar Allan Poe Festival & Awards in Baltimore, MD.

Love Letters to Poe, Volume 1

Later this month, the first collection from Love Letters to Poe will hit digital stands.

Love Letters to Poe, Volume 1: A Toast to Edgar Allan Poe collects 12 months of Gothic fiction that first appeared on the website.

Included among the book’s 55 stories of the macabre is my December 2020 appearance, “An Incident on Mulberry Street,” in which a doctor pays a visit to his former mentor only to discover the old surgeon has developed some strange theories about the phenomenon of phantom limbs.

The print copy is available September 12. The e-book goes on sale September 20 and have a special discounted price for the first six days, so make sure to buy it early and often.

An Incident on Mulberry Street

I ended 2020 with a thump like a human heart under the floorboards with a piece of Poe-inspired flash at Love Letters to Poe.

In low tones he explained his process did not involve nerves at all. Years ago, while working with saw and tourniquet in a blood-soaked Union tent, Coffman formed a notion that amputation only removed the physical extremity. What remained, he believed, was an ethereal limb that couldn’t be sliced away with steel.

“An Incident on Mulberry Street” is set in New Haven but you won’t find the address on any modern map. When North Frontage Street was built (the westbound side of Route 34) over what was Fayette Street, Mulberry Street was truncated into a dead end and, somewhat inexplicably, renamed Scranton Street. Meanwhile the streets around it kept their original names. You can see Mulberry Street on this 1893 map of the city, located just above the words “2nd Ward.”

After the story, editor Sara Crocoll Smith posted a short interview with me, which IIRC is my first published interview as a fiction author. There’s also an audio version of the story.

You can read the whole thing here.