For the Fungi anthology, we asked contributors to tell us why they had written about fungi. Today, John Langan answers this question. We also talk about how his story ended in our anthology.
Who is he?
John Langan’s most recent collection, Technicolor and Other Revelations, will be published by Hippocampus Press in 2012. His previous books include a novel, House of Windows (Night Shade 2009), and collection, Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters (Prime 2008). With Paul Tremblay, he has co-edited Creatures: Thirty Years of Monsters (Prime 2011). His fiction has appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and in anthologies including Blood and Other Cravings (Tor 2011), Ghosts by Gaslight (Harper Collins 2011), and Supernatural Noir (Dark Horse 2011). He teaches courses in Creative Writing and the Gothic at SUNY New Paltz. He lives in upstate New York with his family.
Why write about fungi?
Below is John’s answer to our question:
Okay, the honest answer is that I hadn’t thought seriously about writing any kind of fungus-related story until the chance came to contribute to this anthology. Once I started work on my piece, though, I realized that there’s a small but significant body of horror fiction in which the fungal plays an important role. Hodgson, Lovecraft, and Vandermeer all have made fungus part of their fictional landscapes, so I began to see my story as (a smaller) part of a larger tradition within the field. The modest research I did for the story confirmed that the fungal is an entirely appropriate subject for a horror story; I mean, it’s so different from animals and plants as to constitute its own taxonomic kingdom. Mix that together with my memories of the water heater at the foot of the basement stairs, and there was the story.
When we started deciding which authors we’d solicit for stories in Fungi, John Langan was right at the top of Orrin’s list. Langan knows monsters like few other writers working today (see his recent editorial turn at the helm of Creatures: Thirty Years of Monsters alongside fellow Fungi-contributor Paul Tremblay for ample evidence of this). He’s got a knack for taking classic monsters and finding some way to make them new, a service he performs for mushroom people in his story “Hyphae.”