To the sadness of many — and among those many I include myself — it’s an undeniable truth that the publication of Portuguese authors in the literary genre of horror is scarce, as is the case in fantastic fiction in general. Many factors are to blame for this state of affairs, but I always doubted that among them would be the lack of authors with the will and aptitude to write this type of fiction.
Thus, comes the idea — just an idea — of creating an anthology of new authors. This idea, of course, is more of a wish than a project. And I am far from knowing where to find these authors, if they can produce the right type of work, and how would I go about publish them.
The idea, in the back of my head, hibernated.
Things started to change with the beginning of a writing course (“Escrever Terror” / “Writing Horror”), in Escrever Escrever, which I was invited to teach at the beginning of 2020. In this course, throughout every edition, I had the opportunity and satisfaction of meeting several people who wrote or who have since then started writing horror. And well.
The idea, once dormant, was wide-awake.
To several of these authors with distinctive, albeit unknown, voices I then pitched my idea: a collection that would bring together several stories by Portuguese authors that had never been published before, providing them a showcase for their work. For this, they would have to write a horror story, in a theme of their choosing, and submit it for consideration. All of them graciously accepted, and the works they sent me (sometimes more than one, making the choice rather difficult) were beyond my expectations.
The idea took shape. No longer a “What if…?”.
It’s true that there have been other horror anthologies with national authors, mostly organized by independent publishers, which are essential for the continuance and distribution of national writers in fantastic fiction. However, to my knowledge, there is no horror anthology exclusively dedicated to supporting first-time authors, without any published work. This quality, I think, makes this book a pioneering one in Portuguese horror.
The result, a 170-page self-publishing edition, fittingly dubbed Sangue Novo / New Blood, aims to show that there is no shortage of horror stories to tell, nor of those who can tell them in written form.
The book is comprised of fifteen authors (Cláudio André Redondo; Francisco Horta; José Maria Covas; Liliana Duarte Pereira; Madalena Feliciano Santos; Maria Varanda; Marta Nazaré; Martina Mendes; Patrícia Sá; Paulo A. M. Oliveira; Ricardo Alfaia; Sandra Amado; Sandra Henriques; Susana Silva and Vanessa Barroca dos Reis), each addressing themes and tones as diverse as they are creative. The tales, in fact, cover several regions of the horror spectrum, accommodating the comical, the sexual, the tragic and the fanciful.
These stories, ranging from the lightest and more subtle to the heavier and darker narratives, include a wide selection of metaphorical and human monsters, wallowing in the supernatural, in superstition, in the corruption of mind and flesh, in discomfort and transgression. Depictions of good horror.
I believe in this project because I believe in the benefits of this genre as an instrument of liberation. I believe that horror is necessary, that the fantastic is necessary. I believe that the imagination (specifically in this genre but in the overall speculative fiction) opens doors to the unconscious — doors that are otherwise locked. Anyone who has ever crossed them knows that, by doing so, we can deal with anxieties, with death, with the strangeness and overwhelming violence of the world. It is a thing of wonder that one author’s imagination, in an inexplicable act of sorcery, can travel through stories, to be recreated and expanded in the imaginations of many.
Finally, I believe in these writers — in all the diversity and stories they bring. I hope this first step will encourage them to continue. And I also hope that anyone who loves horror and good stories can get to know them and follow their promising path.
I finish this book with a full heart and a sense of accomplishment. I edited the manuscripts, proofread them and did the illustrations as well, in a lengthy but essential process. I worked personally and closely with everyone who made this volume possible. With the authors, of course, whose anonymity is disproportionate to their talent, but specially with Ricardo Alfaia, who not only is one of the authors but the book’s graphic designer, responsible for the superb job in bringing this work to life.
I can therefore, without a shadow of a doubt, say that everyone involved went above and beyond. And even if we’re talking about horror, this is essentially a project of love. As it always should be.