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Hungry Shadow Press announces open-call submissions and invited authors for Neutral Milk Hotel-Themed Weird Fiction Anthology.

Neutral Milk Hotel

Recently, the micro indie literary press Hungry Shadow Press — specializing in short horror, weird, and dark fiction anthologies that feature diverse voices, clever concepts, and storytelling that connects with readers on an emotional level — announced the future publication of And One Day We Will Die: Strange Stories Inspired by the Music of Neutral Milk Hotel.

Edited by author Patrick Barb (Gargantua’s Ghost, Pre-Approved for Haunting), the anthology will be populated with stories from invited authors as well as stories acquired during the open call.

Hungry Shadow Press has been announcing confirmed invited authors on social media every Monday, and the lineup is impressive.

Ai Jiang, author of I AM AI, and Ling Hun will contribute a story inspired by the song “In the Aeroplane, Over the Sea”.

Bram Stoker Award-winning author Christi Nogle (Beulah, The Best of Our Past, the Worst of Our Future) will be included with a story based on “Oh Comely”.

John Langan, the esteemed author of The Fisherman, has agreed to contribute a story based on the track “You’ve Passed”.

Erin Brown, a contributor to several previous Hungry Shadow Press projects and The Deadlands and Fantasy Magazine, will contribute a story based on “Avery Island / April 1st”.

And finally, Richard Thomas, author of Spontaneous Human Combustion, will also contribute a story, this one based on the song “Naomi”.

About the Anthology

Neutral Milk Hotel

Founded in Ruston, Louisiana, though they later moved to and found their creative home in Athens, Georgia, Neutral Milk Hotel was active from 1989 to 1998 and again from 2013 to 2015.

The band was the brainchild of reclusive musical genius Jeff Mangum. Starting as one of Mangum’s home-recording projects, their music features a lo-fi sound drawing from elements of indie rock and psychedelic folk. While gaining a cult following during their initial active years, the band’s music — buoyed by their two main albums, On Avery Island and In the Aeroplane Over the Sea — has received a critical reevaluation since then, with critics placing their output among some of the very best music of the 1990s.

Celebrating the strange, beautiful, and haunting music and lyrics of Jeff Mangum and Neutral Milk Hotel, this anthology features short fiction inspired by their bewitching, confounding, mesmerizing cult classic songs.

Authors of the featured stories will select a song (or songs) from the band’s back catalog to serve as a jumping-off point for crafting their own original weird fiction narratives.

The anthology will be a mix of solicited stories and stories selected from the open-call submission period.

The open-call submission window opens December 5, 2023, and runs through January 16, 2024.

There will be an extended submission window exclusively for writers from marginalized communities lasting from January 16 to January 23, 2024.

Stories should be short weird fiction between 2000 to 5000 words (firm limit) using a song from the Neutral Milk Hotel song catalog for inspiration.

Need help getting started?

Look at the inspiration material. Mangum’s surreal, opaque, and stream-of-consciousness writing draws inspiration from childhood fantasies, historical events (including the life and death of Anne Frank), sexual tensions, tarot, and more. Night terrors and lucid dreaming also proved a rich vein for lyrical inspiration.

These songs feature characters that could be denizens of Weird and dark fantasy tales already, with names like “The King of Carrot Flowers” and “The Two-Headed Boy”.

Possible story genres that might work well for a Neutral Milk Hotel-inspired story include folk horror, weird fiction, dark fantasy, fabulism, phantasmagoria, and cosmic horror.

Guidelines are available here: You’ll also find a list of possible songs to choose from, including an updated list of songs already claimed.

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