Show of hands, who else loves MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE…
OK, how ’bout CHRISTINE?
That’s more like it!
Well, for those of you that are on the hunt for a little automotive antagonism, the new anthology book 18 WHEELS OF HORROR is for you! As described in the official press release, 18 WHEELS OF HORROR “contains 18 short horror fiction stories, all set in the trucking world. Psychotic killers, devious ghosts, alien monsters, howling storms, undead creatures, and other dark forces haunt the highways and the truckers who drive them in these chilling tales.” To celebrate the release of the book, Dark Delicacies, the home to the best in literary horror for Los Angeles residents hosted a signing on October 3rd and Blumhouse.com popped on by to see the madness!
In attendance were book editor Eric Miller, writers Del Howison, Brad C. Hodson, Joseph Spencer, RB Payne, Daniel P. Coughlin, Shane Bitterling, John Palisano, Hal Bodner, Meghan Arcuri, Janet J. Holden, Charles Austin Muir, Tim Chizmar, Ed Erdelac, Ian Welke, Michael Paul Gonzalez, Jeff Seeman and Keven Carter. As you can see, it was a packed house!
We pulled aside one of the contributing authors Shane Bitterling to give us the full scoop on how this project all came together.
Blumhouse.com: What were the origins of the project? How’d you guys arrive at this theme of this project?
Shane Bitterling: The origin of 18 WHEELS OF HORROR has been gestating for as long as publisher, Big Time Books, has been around. As is the norm, it all started at a bar. A bunch of screenwriters and I get together every month or so for pizza and beer. We all worked at the production company Raw Nerve (HOSTEL) for a while and became friends. Eric Miller, the guy behind Big Time Books, and I always talked about doing some kind of book imprint as we were all grinding in the Hollywood system. We wanted to get our work out there without actors, directors, producers and such monkeying around with our words. One night, Eric said he was going to finally do it, with 18 WHEELS being his first venture. All the other guys complained that they didn’t know anything about trucks, as if he was asking us to write an operating manual for a 1979 Peterbilt. HELL COMES TO HOLLYWOOD came out of that conversation. It was a horror anthology, with all stories set in Hollywood and written by screenwriters, actors, producers and such. It was really successful – Fangoria called our signing at Dark Delicacies in Burbank the Literary Horror Event of the Year – and spawned a sequel. After that, Eric had the itch to do his original idea, which is now 18 WHEELS OF HORROR. It’s another anthology, all set in the world of trucking, highways, rest stops, roadies, fried chicken and barbecue.
BH: Tell us a bit about your story in the anthology?
SB: My story is called WHISTLIN’ BY, and it’s about an extremely superstitious truck driver who makes the mistake of whistling past a graveyard. Now, the legend is that whistling past a cemetery is good luck. Showing courage in the face of death. But our guy is scared of his own shadow, so whistling by is considered showboating to him. I loved doing this one, as I’m a big hillbilly at heart. Although rearranged, I used a bunch of locations and local legends from around my Indiana hometown.
BH: Who are some of the other writers involved that you were most excited about & have you had a chance to check out the other stories?
SB: Big Time Books is totally Eric Miller’s baby, but I creep around behind the scenes quite a bit. I suggest people and every whipstitch, he listens. I’ve been talking non-stop about how I love Ray Garton’s work for years. He’s as important to modern literary horror as Stephen King, Peter Straub and Clive Barker, if you ask me. So I’m beyond super stoked that Garton opens the book with a great story. I’m also a big fan of Ed Erdelac, Janet Joyce Holden and Charles Austin Muir. Charles is the cousin of Brian Muir, who created and wrote CRITTERS. They’re all great writers. R.B. Payne always seems to bring something completely original and insane to the projects he’s in.
Originally, there were 17 stories and Eric was ready to go to print. I said, “Shouldn’t there be 18 to go with the theme?” So Eric whipped one up at the last minute and it’s a great one about the sound of wheels on the road taking a dubious turn.
Those guys are the highlights for me, but all the stories are really solid. That’s the beauty of an anthology. My favorites may not be your favorites. My least liked may put you under the covers with the lights on. I’m really happy with this collection. It’s a great theme done right by a bunch of badass mothertruckers.