Composing A Table of Contents

Composing — what is it? I imagine in many people’s mind it’s a process closely linked to music. For years it was to me. Beethoven, Mozart, Wagner — great classical composers. In more recent times John Lennon, Prince and Kate Bush can probably rightfully be referred to as great composers as well, in the modern realm of music.

“Compose” essentially means “to make by combining things, parts” etc. (Notice that I say essentially, not exclusively, since I know there are variants, but this element is at the core, and that’s my point.)

So an editor, and a collector of stories gathered between the same covers, is also a composer. Probably not something many people consider. I may be wrong, but that’s my suspicion. There’s nothing wrong with that, but to me this idea is important, the idea of composing is something I am quite aware of when trying to fit stories in an anthology. And am becoming more aware of with each new project. I don’t know how other editors do, but it certainly is an integrated part of my working process.

I actually liken this to the idea of creating a piece of music. There is basically a start, a middle and an ending — and for the piece to actually work, to move, to excite, all notes, movements etc. have to be combined in a way that creates a unified whole. Much like literature, a good story, wouldn’t you agree?

The same goes — at least for me — for creating an anthology.

Now, I am of course not saying the editor (in casu me) deserves all credit for the collection, and that the stories should only be considered as part of that whole. Some might think that’s what I mean. Not at all. The stories are of course a unified whole in themselves and the writers are the ones to be credited for everything here. What I am saying is merely that for me, when I have the stories I need for a collection of stories I start to work with these stories as if creating a greater whole; that is, in my small way I compose. I consider if there is an overarching theme — in case of e.g. Urban Cthulhu: Nightmare Cities there obviously is — and then I start to look at how this puzzle can be solved best to create a unified whole.

All elements — that is, all the stories — are equally important, and the trick is to make it all fit in the most suitable and satisfying manner. With a beginning, a middle and an end. I have no doubt that not a single soul except me will ever see this “general puzzle” of things, but that’s OK, for I know it, and it is something that’s important to me and the way I work. (OK, after this post there may be a few other readers who see this too:-P)

I try to approach this without considering if, for instance, the opening story is written by a Big Known Name or not. (Doesn’t make much sense anyway, since books from my small press are primarily purchased by readers online and not in a brick-and-mortar bookstore, so it’s not like they’re browsing the first couple of pages, now is it?) Instead I wonder what tale seems most suitable to create just the right note for a beginning in this particular collection. That is of course depending on what comes after — and so it goes right to the end, where we need the right kind of story to fill in as a Finale. Whether a Grand Big Bang Finale or a more low-key tale of subtle darkness. Depending on — ta-daaaa — what went before and seems to be the right ending in this context.

Much ado about nothing? Perhaps, for the reader; but not for me. It’s how I do it. I can’t help it (and I don’t want to help it). I am doing it these days with Urban Cthulhu, with Dystre Danmark 2 and the third volume of the Danish anthology (still untitled).

Thank you to all the amazingly talented writers for giving me another opportunity to delve into this editorial world of weird, dark composing.

TEASER 1: Strømsholt’s DE UNDERJORDISKE, the Paperback Edition

It’s official: The first teaser ever from H. Harksen Productions. On the coming Danish paperback collection by Thomas Strømsholt, De underjordiske — but anyone can watch it, since it’s only the written words that are in Danish… The rest is, well, universal;-)

I hope you like it. And if you do, I’d much appreciate if you share it, “like it” etc., etc., in order for it to get a boost online. You know — the Google’n’Facebook way.

A big thank you to Jonas Wilmann, another Danish horror writer, who so kindly granted me permission to use his amazing and atmospheric recording called “Eerie.”


(In Danish.)

Dystre Danmark 2 test cover

Ja… Allerede en update. Der er i løbet af de sidste dage sket par ændringer i forbindelse med novellerne til Dystre Danmark 2. F.eks. kan jeg nu afsløre forfatteren til den novelle, som jeg afventede svar på: Ingen andre end A. Silvestri! Velkommen i flokken, hr. Silvestri. Det glæder mig at have Deres nye og yderst grumme fortælling med i samlingen.

Det er derfor med stor fornøjelse at jeg kan oplyse at indholdslisten nu er som følger:


  • “ Jacobs stige” af A. Silvestri
  • “Blomstervanding” af Lars Ahn Pedersen
  • “Sammenhold” af Jonas Wilmann
  • “Ønsket” af Thomas Daugaard
  • “Babyalarm” af Patrick Leis
  • “En morders drøm” af Thomas Bøttern
  • “Strålende lys, udstrakt verden” af Nikolaj Johansen
  • “Portræt af dukke og dreng” af Bjarke Schjødt Larsen
  • “Stemmen” af Søren Kayser
  • “Jægeren” af Sandra Schwartz
  • “Stumt vanvid” af Freddy E. Silva
  • “Røg” af Morten Carlsen
  • (Endnu uden titel) af Jeppe Bisbjerg
  • (Endnu uden titel) af Henrik Sandbeck Harksen

Jeg er en glad mand:-)

Strømsholts DE UNDERJORDISKE paperback proof copy:-)


Just wanted to share this moment with you. I am so excited about this. The proof copy of the Danish collection DE UNDERJORDISKE (“The Subterraneans”) paperback edition by Thomas Strømsholt. Looking good. A very fine job by a new printer…

They are now ready to print and ship all copies next week! So official publication date is mid-june. Just as I was hoping.


DYSTRE DANMARK 2: Noveller valgt

(I told ya — this one is in Danish;-))

Dystre Danmark 2 test cover

Så er det blevet tid til at afsløre indholdet af Dystre Danmark 2:


  • “Blomstervanding” af Lars Ahn Pedersen
  • “Sammenhold” af Jonas Wilmann
  • “Ønskebarnet” af Thomas Daugaard
  • “Babyalarm” af Patrick Leis
  • “En morders drøm” af Thomas Bøttern
  • “Strålende lys, udstrakt verden” af Nikolaj Johansen
  • “Portræt af dukke og dreng” af Bjarke Schjødt Larsen
  • “Stemmen” af Søren Kayser
  • “Jægeren” af Sandra Schwartz
  • “Stumt vanvid” af Freddy E. Silva
  • “Røg” af Morten Carlsen
  • (Endnu uden titel) af Jeppe Bisbjerg
  • (Endnu uden titel) af Henrik Sandbeck Harksen
  • (Afventer bekræftelse på en enkelt novelle mere…)

De af jer, som er bekendt med første bind af Dystre Danmark samt Lyden af vanvid (2. bind i serien) vil bemærke, at der er tale om en fin blanding af nye og “gamle” forfattere. Nogle har udgivet noveller i andre sammenhænge. En skøn, skøn blanding af 13 nyskrevne, dystre danske fortællinger. Mange, mange tak til alle som sendte materiale ind. Jeg måtte sortere en del fra, men sådan er det jo. Resultatet er dog, efter min mening, en fantastisk god og spændende samling. Jeg glæder mig meget til at give mig i kast med den til efteråret.

Coveret er et af de første, grove, udkast til bogen. Igen er H. Harksen Productions faste design-medarbejder, Tomas Gindeberg, på banen med sit talent.

Announcement: URBAN CTHULHU stories found

I know you have been waiting, holding your breath — close to dying — wanting to find out what stories and authors you can find in Volume 2 of my Series, Urban Cthulhu: Nightmare Cities. Well, rest at ease at long last, my shadow friends on the web. The final decisions have been made, and here are the tales you will find:


  • “the guilt of each… at the end…” by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.
  • “Dancer of the Dying” by Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
  • “The Neighbors Upstairs” by John Goodrich
  • “Carcosapunk” by Glynn Owen Barrass
  • “Architect Eyes” by Thomas Strømsholt
  • “Slou” by Robert Tangiers
  • “Ozeelah’s Lake” by Morten Carlsen
  • “The Statement of Frank Elwood” by Pete Rawlik
  • “Night Life” by Henrik Sandbeck Harksen
  • (I expect a couple of more confirmations, but will reserve the mentioning of those stories till I’ve heard from the authors;-))

I am really, really impressed by this collection. In all modesty (or not) I think this will truly be a fine addition to the Cthulhu Mythos & Lovecraftian publications that sprawl the world. And any interested reader will find tales that reveal a new, hitherto unexamined corner of this genre — the urban Cthulhu area. (And yes, the .com site will be updated with this information, but it will take a few days longer.)

A deeply felt thank you to all contributors.

Tomorrow: Revealing the stories to the Danish Dystre Danmark 2. In Danish;-) Nye Cthulhu Mythos noveller fundet!

(Yeps, this is one of those posts written in Danish;-))

Jeg har ganske vist ikke fundet på en endelig titel endnu (hvilket frustrerer mig en del), men novellerne til 3. bind i hplmythos-serien er til gengæld fundet. Og jeg vil da lige dele det med alle:


  • “Spejlet” af Thomas Daugaard
  • “Kælderen” af Bjarke Schjødt Larsen
  • “Dybt nede” af Morten Carlsen
  • “Under marehalmen” af Martin Wangsgaard Jürgensen
  • “Djævlen byggede et hus” af Lars Kramhøft
  • “I helvede venter rommen” af Jon Terje Østberg
  • “I et vindue” af A. Silvestri
  • (Der tilføjes nok en til to noveller mere, men mere om det en anden gang.)

Samlingen illustreres af Tom Kristensen. En kunstner, som har en meget spændende og energifyldt streg.

Jeg vil selvfølgelig godt takke alle bidragsydere. Det er faktisk lykkedes endnu engang at samle en bred vifte af fortællinger, der alle er inspireret af Lovecraft og Cthulhu Mythos. Noget af en bedrift i lille Danmark, kan man vist roligt sige.

Den opmærksomme læser har nok bemærket, at der denne gang er en overvægt forfattere, som allerede har fået noveller udgivet, og at der denne gang er  færre newbies.  Det er primært på dén front, at denne udgivelse i denne serie adskiller sig fra de to forrige, Fra skyggerne og andre Cthulhu Mythos noveller (2007) og Lyden af vanvid (2010). Lars Kramhøft var illustrator på førstnævnte udgivelse og havde uomtvisteligt stor andel i den udgivelses success og han vender så tilbage denne gang, men nu som forfatter. Velkommen hjem, Lars;-) Jon Terje Østberg og Martin Wangsgaard Jürgensen er de to eneste newbies her — velkommen til mørket, guys, jeg er sikker på, at I vil nyde det:-D Jeg er i hvert fald glad for og stolt af at have jer alle ombord på dette tentakelbefængte skib på denne sejlads ud på de stormfulde udgiverfarvande.

Nu er så spørgsmålet: Hvad skal det nye skib hedde? Jo, jo, serie-titlen ligger selvfølgelig fast… Men hvad med hovedtitlen? Jeg er faktisk tør for ideer pt., så bud modtages gerne. Jeg lover ikke, at jeg benytter det — men jeg kan love, at der er en pæn sandsynlighed for det.

Hey — hvis en af jer finder på en, som jeg bruger, så får vedkommende da et gratis eksemplar!

Hex Code, Illustrations and Other News

From THE HEX CODE AND OTHERS (H. Harksen Productions 2011)

Text: A few homeless people looking for handouts had drifted down into the Old City from the shelter up on Gay Street, but when a prowl car rounded the corner they vanished almost as if by magic.

This is one of the illustrations you can find in Hex Code and Others by John Mayer. John has drawn all illustrations himself and is, obviously, also the writer of the stories. Publication: Late May or in June, depending on when we get the final proofs in (we’re only one short now). You can see I wasn’t kidding, right? The artwork really is of an extraordinary quality. Yes, this book has been a long time coming (John and I first started swapping e-mails about the title novella almost four years ago, I think it was) but any connoisseur of pulp, weird fiction and horror tales will find the wait well rewarded, I am sure. Gleefully dark stories and good artwork to accompany it.

It seems I have also secured help for illustrations of Vol. 2 in my Series, Urban Cthulhu: Nightmare Cities. Another great step forward to making what will most likely be an even better anthology of Lovecraftian & Cthulhu Mythos tales than Vol. 1, Eldritch Horrors: Dark Tales. (Hopefully there’s also a deal on cover artwork soon.) I have already received tons of submissions, and many of them not just good but very good, so it’s a tough competition, but you’re more than welcome to submit a tale of urban darkness — but don’t wait, deadline is May 15, 2011. I will e-mail all who have submitted a tale in June. And post a ToC here, of course;-)

For more information:

Last, but certainly not least, the stories to be included in my Danish collection (notice the difference, eh? .dk = the Danish anthology; .com = the English language anthology;-)) have been chosen. I have e-mailed all who submitted, and will post a ToC either later today or tomorrow. And yes, yes, I will try cooking up a title for this volume soon.

That one will be illustrated by the very talented Tom Kristensen, btw. Anyone interested in checking out his artwork should buy a copy of the fourth issue of the ‘zine Nyarlathotep published by Thomas Winther. (See here: The main bulk of the issue is one of the most atmospheric comic book versions of HPL’s “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” I have ever seen. And yes, English speaking readers can safely buy a copy as well, since Tom’s adaption is a “silent movie” treatment.

Intriguing, right?

Update tomorrow

Sorry about my silence the last 14 days. It’s late here in Denmark now so I won’t write something today (too tired) but tomorrow, Tuesday, I will post something new. With an illustration … 😉