Last month, we showcased all twenty-five stories featured in CHROMOPHOBIA, and in the order which they appear throughout the book. If you missed any of those showcases, we’ve included links to each story at the end of this article. This month, we will look a some of the art for the hardcover edition, and possibly a preview of the cover art for the trade paperback.
You can pre-order the special hardcover edition of CHROMOPHOBIA HERE.
Today, we turn our attention to the anthology introduction:
“Rainbow of the Macabre”
by Sara Tantlinger
An article titled “Killer Clothing Was All the Rage in the 19th Century” by Becky Little of National Geographic goes into the distress hatmakers underwent due to mercury poisoning, and the article suggests that the infamous “mad as a hatter” phrase from Alice in Wonderland may be darker than the already implied implications. Hatmakers in past centuries did indeed suffer neurological disorders from the highly toxic recipe of smoothing down furs for felt hats with a mercuric solution. But at least it looked nice, right? At least the colors and appearances were exactly what was needed…When you read “The Dyer and The Dressmakers” by Bindia Persaud, you’ll learn how precious materials can be—how essential it is to perfect the dyes.
How do we translate those specific tints onto the page? At tornightfire.com, Chelsea Davis has a few excellent articles focusing on color in horror storytelling, particularly on how written mediums have successfully incorporated the very visual aspects of color. Davis poses the question “What color is horror?” and mentions the often well-received “pulse-quickening reds of blood and demons, the sickly greens of alien beings and rotting flesh, the hostile whites of winter landscapes” along with great analysis of Gothic fiction and more. Her question got me thinking about how the authors within Chromophobia have answered it in their own ways; for example, grief in horror is a feature we often see, but what color is grief itself? “Nesting” by Ali Seay tackles this idea in such a powerful way, as does “Red Light/Green Light” by EV Knight and “The Gray” by G.G. Silverman. All three stories present elements of grief, of something unstoppable, yet all accomplished with unique dynamics. While grief remains a subjective experience, there is a relatable, heart-shattering component to loss that connects us as readers, as humans, even if the color of our grief is wildly different.
Clothing, paintings, art, grief, love, fear, and more—it’s all so subjective. In The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair (a book I highly recommend), she writes, “Colors, therefore, should be understood as subjective cultural creations: you could no more meaningfully secure a precise universal definition for all the known shades than you could plot the coordinates of a dream” (27). Art has always been subjective, but what if a painting of the ocean that soothes you is just a shade off for someone else? How does a person with color blindness interpret the painting? What about not seeing any color at all? The subjectivity of color goes beyond a quick assessment of whether we like a piece of art or not because maybe it’s impossible to share our exact experience with color with another person. Yet, how do we resist the temptation to try?
Sharing the experience of color will always be a little different person to person, but the wondrous and weird ways we can attempt to share an experience may inspire us along the way, for better or for worse, for beauty or for terror. That’s exactly what the stories within Chromophobia accomplished for me as the editor.
Hopefully, if you are reading this, then you either know who Sara Tantlinger is or you are at least aware of her work. She’s an award nominee several times over, for both her poetry and fiction, as well as a Stoker Award winner. This is her second anthology for Strangehouse Books, after NOT ALL MONSTERS (itself a Stoker nominated title).
You can read more about Sara Tantlinger and her exceptional work HERE.
If you missed previous CHROMOPHOBIA showcases, just scroll through and click a title:
Pre-order the special hardcover edition of CHROMOPHOBIA HERE.
This Friday (April 8th), we will showcase one of the seven interior illustrations exclusive to the hardcover edition.
Thanks for reading!