Some exciting news came in last night. My story, “The Shape of a Cage,” has been accepted for the upcoming Pill Hill Press anthology, “Use Enough Gun: Legends of the Monster Hunter III.”

This volume is the last one in a trilogy of Monster Hunter Tales that began with “Leather, Denim, and Silver,” and continued with “The Trigger Reflex.” Both of these anthologies are among the highest selling books that any of my stories has appeared in. There seems to be a real readership for this kind of story. I expect that this third volume of the series will be no exception, and may surpass the first two.

The concept of the book, as editor Miles Boothe explained in the call for submissions, was that it contain stories about monster hunts that go bad. He suggested that the protagonist should virtually go through some kind of hell, possibly be killed or maimed in the course of the hunt.

The stories I wrote for the first two books both featured Mordecai Slate, a monster hunter who worked in the Old West during the last decades of the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth. Slate has been featured in seven tales published in different anthologies and is the subject of a forthcoming novel. Naturally, as I wrote to Miles, I was reluctant to tell the story of how Mordecai meets his final fate at this point.

But after some diligent research in the musty papers and files buried in the underground bunker beneath the Slate compound in Ft. Collins, Colo., I found a report ‘of an incident in which he met with an experience that was actually worse than death. And that report formed the basis for this new story.

An interesting sidelight to this volume is that the editor states that the inspiration for the title, comes from the title of a book on big game hunting written by Robert Ruark, a writer sometimes compared to Hemingway, who wrote a novel called “Uhuru.” in the 1960s. 

Ruark lived an exciting life. He lived in Africa, drank a lot,  and hunted big game and wrote about the Mau Mau uprising. As Miles Boothe explains it, Ruark’s philosophy expressed in “Use Enough Gun: On Hunting Big Game,” can be boiled down to this:

“Use Enough Gun, in long form, means that no matter what you do, do not underestimate the creature you are facing. When you go in to kill it, make good and damn sure that you throw everything you’ve got into it, and maybe a little more, just in case, because the thing that you are hunting is tougher than you are in a ways that you cannot understand, with instincts and abilities you cannot match, and you being out there with them is only going to end one way unless you shoot straight. So, use enough gun.”

Sound like a good premise to build an anthology around? Stay tuned, fellow hunters of the dark forest. The anthology is still being put together and will likely come out this summer. I think I can safely say this is one you won’t want to miss.

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