The first time that junior Alex Kane learned that one of his stories would be published, he was a little freaked out. Now, his second published story, “The Darkling Door,” will be the one providing the freakouts.
“I sold my first story to Library of Horror Press back in August, and my response to that was something like the shock of a very traumatic experience,” said Kane. “I didn’t really believe it. Even after a year of writing, and six months of receiving nothing but rejection slips – a good 60-something, as I recall – I found it incredible.”
Kane recently learned that another of his stories, “The Darkling Door,” will appear in an anthology titled, “Made You Flinch: Horror Stories to Unnerve, Disturb, and Freak You Out.” This time, his reaction to his story’s acceptance was not traumatic at all.
“‘The Darkling Door,’ was far more gratifying, for whatever reason,” said Kane. “For one thing, I like the story a lot better than the first one, so that had a lot to do with it. ‘Ecstatic’ is really the word I would use for my reaction.”
Through a message board, Bill Tucker, editor of Library of Horror Press, announced his interest in receiving submissions for stories for the anthology. Having sold his first story to that publisher, Kane thought it would be foolish not to submit “The Darkling Door” for Tucker’s review.
In a little more than two days, Kane pounded out more than 6,000 words. After workshopping the story in English professor Mary Bruce’s “Advanced Creative Writing” class, Kane felt the story’s chances of acceptance were quite promising.
Kane, whose literary influences include Edgar Allen Poe and Richard Matheson, admits that his latest work is similar in intensity and strangeness to works penned by the two acclaimed authors.
“The story is very dark,” he said. “The reader first learns from the first-person narrator, Robert Shattuck, that he has just lost his wife, Evelyn, to accidental suicide. Knowing Evelyn’s drug addiction killed her, Robert – a severe diabetic – quits taking his insulin. When he winds up in the hospital, the story’s supernatural elements start to really come to life. Robert projects his fear of death, and paradoxical desire for it, onto the closet door at the foot of his hospital bed. The door then makes an effort to pull Robert into the terrible darkness that he is so certain took his wife from him.”
Kane began writing at the age of 11, inspired by the fiction of Poe and Stephen King. He also credits his parents and numerous teachers for being key motivators.
“Not only can I sit for a few hours and make stuff up, then get paid for it, I’ve done it twice,” Kane said. “It’s surreal to imagine that I might manage to continue to do so.”
With two stories published, Kane plans to stay in the literary world after graduation, furthering his education and developing his skills at either Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop or the Iowa Writer’s Workshop.