Embers: A Collection of Dark Fiction by Kenneth W. Cain
From the author of the short story collections These Old Tales and Fresh Cut Tales comes his latest effort, Embers: A Collection of Dark Fiction. In his youth Cain developed a sense of wonderment owed in part to TV shows like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, One Step Beyond and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Now Cain seeks the same dark overtones in his writing.
There's a little something for every reader. These 25 short speculative stories represent the smoldering remains of a blaze, the fiery bits meant to ignite the mind with slow-burning imagery and smoky twists and turns. These are the very embers of Cain's soul.
In this collection, Cain features stories of troubled men and women, both living and dead. Themes of loss and the afterlife take on many forms, as he explores the unknown. For instance, "The Chamber" focuses on a hardened veteran of World War II who has committed heinous crimes. He seeks only to find peace from his conscience, but sometimes that comes at a great loss. "Valerie's Window" visits a small town amid a tragic end to humanity. Only things are not as they seem, and the more Valerie comes to know herself, the more her reality is revealed. "The Benefit of Being Weighty" has a humorous side, but the theme of this story revolves around fat shaming and the price one must pay for being so ignorant. Hopefully, these three short descriptions have increased your curiosity.
When the dark comes, light a match. Let the fire burn bright and hot. So that when it dies the embers warm you.
Interview with the author:
So what makes this collection of Dark Fiction so special?
Cain: There are many qualities that go into making a book special for someone, which makes it hard to define. I've put my all into this collection of dark fiction, as I do each and every story I write. For me, it's all about growth, and hopefully that continues to show in my work--that I'm growing as an author.
Which short story is your favorite and why?
Cain: I'm quite fond of "Valerie's Window," which is a bit of an urban fantasy. I like her internal conflict, what horrors she must overcome in order to set herself free. Without giving too much away, Valerie's is a personal struggle, which often best reflects actual life.
Why should readers give your short fiction a try?
Cain: I think many readers will enjoy the stories, maybe even see a part of themselves battling evil forces. As I stated before, my primary goal in writing has always been growth, but I also strive to connect with my readers. I want to take them on an adventure. In this case, many short voyages, the sort you can go on during your lunch break or while you eat dinner. And I think readers will enjoy the wide variety of journeys I've set up for them in this collection.
How would you classify your writing style?
Cain: For short stories, I like them lean. I want my stories to move at a certain pace and voice, depending on the feel. I often refer to my work as being dark fiction, but it's really a mix of genres: horror, suspense, thriller, noir, fantasy, dark fiction, urban fantasy, science fiction, or even weird fiction. I like to mash genres together, to blend them and see where that leads my characters, but there's almost always a dark tone to each story.