I think time may have escaped me a bit. Work was busy these last two weeks and, as such, I’ve barely been in my office. I’ve also been avoiding social media for the normal reasons–the news, my anxiety, wanting to get away from my phone dependency, etc.–so I’ve largely been absent from the writing community for at least ten days now, I think.
In my last column, I mostly spoke about WMP Dark Fiction Magazine, my job, and what I was currently reading. Today, I’m going to give you a little update on the final Aiden Merchant titles that have been lying around for months (or years), waiting to be released.
For those of you that don’t know, I originally debuted in the fiction scene in 2017 with the pseudonym Aiden Merchant. I did this with two collections of short fiction releasing back to back: Dead as Soon as Born and Kill for Them. Those books were followed by a stack of others, including Sickness is in Season (which was almost immediately removed from print–more on that in a minute), Squirming Disease, and Crossing Red. In 2022, I began to seek a lot of changes in my life and decided I would conclude my time as Aiden Merchant within a year or so; I just had a few half-written books to finish first. Thus, the process began a year ago now, seeing as we’re entering May. In that time, I’ve removed Aiden from social media and (mostly) stopped pushing his work. Instead, I’ve shifted focus onto Wesley Winters, which is the persona I have chosen for this new chapter in my life. I’m writing differently, I’m approaching publishing differently, and (most importantly) I am approaching my life very differently (not that I will detail that much here–I am very private). Since beginning this shift, my marriage and mental health have improved GREATLY. So, despite having made some enemies during that very difficult time in my life, I have come to the conclusion that the unpopular choices I made were for the best. My wife and I are better than ever because of them (whereas, we almost split up when I was doing Snow-Capped Press), my relationship with my children has blossomed, and my head isn’t the fucked up mess it was for so long.
You may be wondering what publishing and writing changes I’ve really made, other than adopting a new pseudonym and using Wintry Monsters Press as my new imprint. For one, WMP has no plans to publish anyone but myself (and the magazine, of course, assuming it does well enough to continue)–it is merely a personal imprint for my books. Snow-Capped Press was an ambitious project I could not handle then or now. Though I published Blackberry Blood and Milk Teeth successfully through it, everything that followed became too much to bear in a household that was already crumbling. Now that the foundation has been restored and we’re moving in the right direction, I am certain publishing others is not in my best interest anytime soon. Perhaps years from now once the kids have grown and we (hopefully) have money to spare, I’ll look into it. But I kind of doubt it–publishing and books have changed so much that I think a lot of the process will become obsolete in the coming years.
As for adopting the Wesley Winters pseudonym over Aiden Merchant, that is mostly a personal distinction for me that I am changing direction. Though I am still writing a lot of horror, my process has changed, my goals have changed, and my expectations have changed. Not only am I branching out into other genres in several WIPs, I am no longer hard-pressed to make fiction my future. Before, I was stuck on the dream of making it as an author. “We can pay our bills this way,” I would promise my wife. “I just need time.” Well, I’ve given it six fucking years and made less than $200 from people that actually paid for my work. Most of it has been given out freely. It’s safe to say that dream is basically dead. I’m now just writing for fun and, well, my mental health (the activity of storytelling is very therapeutic for me; not to mention I have a creative brain that will not shut off no matter what).
Now, let me circle back to those final Aiden Merchant releases on the way. I’m writing several more stories for the apocalyptic Mother’s World, which was first introduced by “Islands of Trees” in the Blood Rites Horror anthology Wild Violence in 2021. Like The Corner Masters and The Blinds before it, Mother’s World is considered a volume in the series Documenting Dreadful Existences, which will later publish all the volumes together in print (whereas, they are digital only when separate). Mother’s World includes stories from the beginning of the Change (including “Squirming Disease” and its direct sequel, “Medic”), as well as stories from later, after our planet has been retaken by nature. It’s expected to be around 50-60k words total when all is said and done.
There’s also A Call to Feast, which was originally planned to be the first book in a series called Above & Below, first introduced with “Exitium” in my debut 2017 collection. I have since considered moving it to Documenting Dreadful Existences since I have no more plans to continue it as a series. There’s only a little left to write in that one. I’m expecting it to be 30-35k words. This story follows many different characters as they meet their demise against an alien attack.
The other stories I was originally writing as Aiden have either been retired or are being rewritten for Wesley Winters instead. This includes the Crimson Road series I introduced with Faces (aka Taking the World by Blood) in Kill for Them years ago and “Back to St. Mary’s” in the 2021 Blood Rites Horror anthology Pulp Harvest. This also includes the novella previously titled Shifty Things, which was fully written several years ago and then beta read by a lot of friends. That book is currently undergoing its final rewrites for submission in May somewhere specific. I have moved this story to Wesley Winters because it is the first in a trilogy that I aim to continue writing as long as this first entry is well-received.
That is about it for today’s column. I’ll see you next week…maybe. Truthfully, I’m having trouble finding any reason to do much of anything in the writing community right now. I can’t find any motivation after six years of getting nowhere. But I will continue this column if I have something I need to get off my chest and am okay sharing it with you all.
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