Showing posts with label Perseid Press. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Perseid Press. Show all posts

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Lovers in Hell - Book Tour and Giveaway

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Barczak 2022 - Mystics in Norman

Fellow Perseid Press author Tom Barczak and I built a relationship in 2014 when I interviewed him about his Evarun series. Since, we've shared a table of contents in several anthologies, most recently Mystics in Hell.

Every November I visit Norman for the Institute of Applied Surfactant Research consortium annual meeting and seek out Tom before the meeting starts; I have a blogger tag/label dedicated to our visits. 

We share a common muse to create Dark Fantasy experiences via mixed media (art, prose). I purchased one of his sketches on a prior visit. This round, he graced with an orc drawn with conté sticks.  Thanks Tom for the friendship, discussion, and the art!


Friday, August 19, 2022

SE Contributes A Big Lie! Liars in Hell Releases!

In Hell, Everyone’s Pants are on Fire!

Joe Bonadonna champions the release of another fun, dark, satirical entry into Perseid Presses' Heroes in Hell series on Black Gate. The latest volume in the Heroes in Hell saga Liars in Hell, is now available in Kindle and Paperback.
Faux News and Big Lies might feel like a contemporary pain, but rest assured, dear reader! Your curse has been shared. Liars have been meddling with humanity throughout history. Here ye the accounts of their eternal demise journaled by the damnedest writers in perdition. Note, that each themed entry in the Heroes in Hell™ series can be read separately. Hell has many entry points.
This is my fourth episode tracking Howard Carter and Ernst Haeckel in Hell (the spotlight turned on them with Pirates in Hell, followed through Lovers in Hell and through Mystics in Hell....and now.... in Liars in Hell we have: 

"Bait and Switch" by SE Lindberg 

S. E. Lindberg’s Bait and Switch is a fascinating, behind-the-scenes exposé for living large in Hell . . . by lying, naturally. Renowned tomb raider Howard Carter and his compatriot, discredited evolutionist Ernst Haeckel, are tasked by Anubis to clear the canals that connect the Egyptian underworld of Duat to New Hell. Unearthing arcana lures the duo into neglecting their duties to master the riddle of life, and faux news, while robbing naïve wealth seekers. Read this to learn their secrets to success.

Anyway, readers can start with an entry in the series. Pick a theme that may appeal to you and jump in. Story arcs follow historical characters across books, but each anthology is self-contained. So it's okay to jump into Hell at any time (see this Death Panel interview about starting if you are new to the series)
The Blurb for Liars in Hell
Hell is a real place. Anyone who has broken a commandment winds up there. That's pretty much everybody. Satan is the boss. You're okay until you're not. But never fear, all your friends are here. As well as everyone you've ever heard of. For what they have been up to lately, be sure to check-in. Thrill to the stories by Hell's damnedest: Janet Morris, Michael H. Hanson, S.E. Lindberg, Joe Bonadonna, Chris Morris, and Richard Groller.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Ernst Haeckel interviewed about "Mystics"

I have a guest post over in the Library of Erana, and it all supports the release of Mystics in Hell.  Several authors will be posting author & character-perspective interviews for their contributions. My contribution is "Fool's Gold."

New to Hell? You may want to check out Joe Bonadonna's Black Gate article: PANIC AT THE INFERNO: MYSTICS IN HELL, PUBLISHED BY PERSEID PRESS that delves into this current collection.

There are formally >20 books in the satirical/dark-fantasy Heroes in Hell series, starting in 1986 and stalling in 1989 to be picked up again by author and champion Janet Morris. In 2011 she jumpstarted the series again with Lawyers in Hell. So Lawyers would serve as a natural starting point, but readers can jump in with any volume. Most readers select a book/theme that resonates with them. Each theme emphasizes historical events/characters. Mystics is appropriately full of religious zealots and devotion to deities.

Here is a link and teaser of what to expect in the guest post:

Interviews from Hell – Ernst Haeckel/Seth Lindberg Aug 2021 

Welcome to the Infernal Interview Service. Today we feature one of the characters and his writer from the acclaimed Heroes in Hell series. Ernst Haeckel (and his writer Seth) feature in Mystics in Hell.

What puts you above all the other self-proclaimed ‘mystics’ in Hell?

EH: Some consider me a mystic, but I am more of a scientist who searches for spiritual truths (I am certain you have read my treatise The Riddle of the Universe at the Close of the Nineteenth Century). Lately, I am wrapped up with mystics of the hierophant and alchemical type. See, there is a gold rush in hell! King Midas swallowed the Philosopher’s Stone and transmutes food into gold. He’s minting the promising new gastro-currency: buttcoin. I know, that sounds absurd, but the economy and nature of Hell is cruel. Anyway, the damned Forty-Niners are digging through excrement in attempts to get rich. The imprisoned Thoth, the Egyptian god of mysticism, has charged me to retrieve the Philosopher’s’ Stone. With it he can regain control of the afterlife, rescue me from Hell. So there is hope for me.

Ernst Haeckel

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Alchemical Muses for Hell and Heroika

Perseid Press Author Spotlight on

 S.E. Lindberg: April 15th, 2021

With the release of Mystics in Hell,  Perseid Press is rotating a spotlight on its authors. This week it's on me, eh gad! I wanted to capture my post here as well, adding some extra links and ensuring my blog has a record of how I infuse Alchemy into the Heroes in Hell and Heroika series: 

Alchemical Muses:

Strange muses have had inspired my creativity for decades. I’m fascinated with the intersection of science, art, and spirituality (alchemy essentially) and have turned toward writing as a medium to learn. Since 2014, I’ve also interviewed authors on the topic Beauty in Weird Fiction to explore how others approached such inspirations (for this crowd, I recommend Death Panelists, when is it O.K. to go to hell?). By education and trade, I am actually a chemist. For Perseid Press, I’ve contributed five alchemy-inspired tales to date (three for the Heroes in Hell series and two for Heroika).

Alchemy in Heroes in Hell:

I’ve adopted the duo of Howard Carter (renowned archaeologist and looter of King Tutankhamun’s tomb) and Ernst Haeckel (discredited evolutionist and original ‘ecologist’) as tour guides. Their motives contrast: Carter adores material, artificial wealth as much as Haeckel is fascinated with nature’s riches. They roam the Egyptian world of the dead, Duat. Their story arc continues in the just-released Mystics in Hell.

1)     “Curse of the Pharaohs” in Pirates in Hell

·       In the Egyptian realm of the dead of Duat, many pharaohs wait to be judged by Anubis; yet, he has been in absentia for centuries. As the piratical Sea People threaten to come ashore, the meddling duo of Carter and Haeckel unearth Anubis’s Hall of Two Truths. Eleven anxious Rameses risk leaving the shoreline unprotected to chance judgment (and a chance to exit Duat!). Read this teaser interview to learn more: Ernest Haeckel Interview (Hell Week 2017, Pirates in Hell).

2)     “Lovers Sans Phalli” in Lovers in Hell

·       Surviving Pirates in Hell’s “Curse of the Pharaohs”, the lovers Hatshepsut and Senenmut depart Duat toward hell proper, Anubis having removed their hearts and broken their toy phallus. They find Osiris, missing the penis he requires to retake the realm from Satan’s influence. Carter and Haeckel quest with the Egyptians, seeking to make everyone whole again by stealing genitalia from the Undertaker’s Mortuary. Listen to this teaser interrogation of Carter and Haeckel as higher powers seek out the location of a stolen artifact: the phallus of the Egyptian god of rejuvenation: Osiris. Hell Week 2018 – A Day in the Life of Haeckel and Carter.

3)     “Fool’s Gold? in Mystics in Hell

·       The Egyptian god of mysticism, Thoth, seeks conspirators to retrieve the Philosopher’s Stone; with it, Thoth could usurp Satan’s control of the realm of Duat. Taking up the charge is Carter and Haeckel. They discover that King Midas’s alchemical ability to transmute flesh into gold relies on the stolen Philosopher’s Stone, and Midas is producing hell’s new gastro-currency: buttcoin. Yes, rejoice, there is a gold-rush in hell! Mine for a price. At your own risk.

Alchemy in Heroika:

For this series, I track the mystical Emerald Tablet (a.k.a., the Philosopher’s Stone) through time. Read these and experience the birth of chemical warfare. You’ll see that Thoth and Osiris make appearances here too.

1)      “Legacy of the Great Dragon” in Heroika 1:Dragon Eaters

·       Legacy of the Great Dragon fictionalizes the Hermetic Tradition, presenting the “Divine Pymander–Great Dragon” as being the sun-eating Apep serpent of Egyptian antiquity (a dragon who ate the sun each day from under the horizon, in the underworld). Thoth, physician of the gods (the Father of Alchemy), helps Horus to find power to avenge the death of his father, Osiris, at the hands of Set. This is a wild piece, with a cosmically huge dragon and gods fighting inside of it.  Learn more: Library of Erana Interview.

2)     “The Naked Daemon” in Heroika 2:  Skirmishers

·       “The Naked Daemon” pits the mystic Apollonius of Tyana (deceased ~100 CE) against zealots who destroy what remains of the Alexandria Library. In life, his principles had been aligned with those of the pacifist gymnosophists (a.k.a. naked philosophers); hundreds of years past his death, Apollonius finds himself reborn as a daemon empowered with Hermes’s Emerald Tablet. He observes the Roman oppression over pagan scholars and is challenged with an urgent need to defend knowledge. Will Apollonius rationalize war by unleashing the power of alchemy to do harm? Will he become an angel or demon? How will alchemy transform The Naked Demon? Learn more: Heroika: Skirmishers – Witness the Birth of Alchemical Warfare


S.E. Lindberg Bio:

S.E. Lindberg resides near Cincinnati, Ohio working as a microscopist, employing scientific and artistic skills to understand the manufacturing of products analogous to medieval paints. Two decades of practicing chemistry, combined with a passion for the Sword & Sorcery genre, spurs him to write graphic adventure fictionalizing the alchemical humors (including his independently published “Dyscrasia Fiction” series). With Perseid Press, he writes weird tales infused with history and alchemy (Heroika: Dragon Eaters & SkirmishersPirates in Hell, Lovers in Hell, Mystics in Hell). S.E. Lindberg is a Managing Editor at Black Gate and co-moderates the Sword & Sorcery group on Goodreads.

  S.E.’s Amazon Page   /    Perseid Press Author Page  /   Sword & Sorcery Group on Goodreads

Monday, March 9, 2020

Heroika: Skirmishers


by Janet E. Morris (Creator), Alex Butcher (Editor)

Perseid Press

Conflict is a constant. When force on force is inevitable only the intrepid need come forth. Summon the Skirmishers to their eternal purpose, to face a foe who must be opposed at all cost. Gird yourself and join the brotherhood of 'do or die.' Created by Janet Morris and edited by Alexandra Butcher, HEROIKA: SKIRMISHERS is an anthology of desperate struggles in far flung time-scapes, the age old smell of battle and death. SKIRMISHERS --Tales for the bold among you!


HABIRU by Michael H. Hanson
SOULS OF A LION by Tom Barczak
NITHING by Travis Ludvigson
IN THE SEASON OF RUST by Charles Gramlich
BLACK QUILL by Cas Peace
OLD GOLD by A.L. Butcher
THE PATROL by William Hiles
LA PORTE EN ARRIERE by Beth W. Patterson
DURENDAL by Bruce Durham

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Detachable Phalli - and Memes!

Who would have thought detachable phalli were so popular!

In "Lovers Sans Phalli" (in Lovers in Hell), the Egyptian god of rejuvenation called Osiris searches for his, and enlists the tomb-raiding Howard Carter! Madness.

For teasers, I share the King Missile song of similar theme, and several memes.


Monday, September 17, 2018

Hell Week - Lovers in Hell 2018

 Lovers In Hell

Lovers in Hell is unleashed!  Now comes HELL WEEK!

A previous post reviews the book.  This post covers another Hell Week celebrating it's release. Hell Week is seven days of interviews of authors and their characters (yes, their characters do the talking too). Here are the posts:

Are Genitalia Needed For Love? (asking for the god Osiris)

Here's a snippet of my post:

Howard Carter (raider of King Tut's tomb) is interrogated by the Library of Erana about the whereabouts of Osiris's sacred phallus:

[Interviewer]: “Howard, are you still practicing your thievery?”

[HC]: “Archaeology?”

[Interviewer]: “Semantics. Do you court danger by hoarding treasures of antiquity?”

[HC]: (Rubs the hidden item in his suit pocket, then winks at his partner Ernst Haeckel). “I do appreciate royal artefacts.”

[Interviewer]: “What is in your pocket, Mr. Carter?”

[EH]: (Glancing wide-eyed at Carter, gasps as he discerns the phallic shape tucked into the backside of Carter’s vest).

[HC]: (Shifts to conceal his chest from view). “Why? Are you in the market for something? I sense you would like to maintain anonymity like my other clients. I am open to offers.”

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Lover in Hell - "Lovers Sans Phalli"

Cover art by Roy Mauritsen 

Download it or the free sampler today! Hell never disappoints. 

Are genitalia needed for love? To feel "whole"? Without them, you may be in Hell.

Egyptian myths really handicapped Osiris, god of rejuvenation--even left him penis-less for a time. Eh gad. His wife Isis repaired him by most accounts, but in this version of afterlife fate may differ. 
My contribution to this anthology is “Lovers Sans Phalli.”  To repair the penis-less Osiris of Duat, a dozen cursed pharaohs team with the infamous, tomb-raiding Howard Carter (of King Tut's tomb) and discredited evolutionist Ernst Haeckel. 
The Heroes in Hell books all stand alone, but also have story arcs spanning across books. My story continues a story arc beginning with "Curse of the Pharaohs" in Pirates in Hell. This volume is all about Lovers, and Love, in Hell:

Shakespeare said "To be wise and love exceeds man's might," and in Lovers in Hell, the damned in hell exceed all bounds as they search for their true loves, punish the perfidious, and avoid getting caught up in Satan's snares. In ten stories of misery and madness, hell's most loveless seek to slake the thirst that can never be quenched, and find true love amid the lies of ages.

Only fools fall in love, and hell is filled with fools. Our damned lovers include: Christopher Marlowe and Will Shakespeare, Napoleon and Wellington, Orpheus and Eurydice, Hatshepsut and Senenmut, Abelard and Heloise, Helen and Penelope, Saint Teresa and Satan's Reaper, Madge Kendall and the Elephant Man, and more . . . -- all of whom pay a hellish price for indulging their affections.

Now available as a Kindle, and coming soon in deluxe trade paper. Whether you're lovelorn or love-sworn, the rages and ravages of love await . . .


  • Cover Art by : Roy Mauritsen 
  • Janet Morris & Chris Morris: "Love in the Afterlife", Parts 1, 2, and 3 ("Never Doubt I Love"; "Fume of Sighs"; "Wrath of Love") 
  • Nancy Asire: "Love Interrupted"
  • S. E. Lindberg: "Lovers Sans Phalli" 
  • Michael E. Dellert: "Calamity" 
  • Michael H. Hanson: "Love Triangle" 
  • A. L. Butcher: "A Hand of Four Queens" 
  • Andrew P. Weston: "Devil’s Trull"
  • Joe Bonadonna: "Withering Blights" 
  • Andrew P. Weston: excerpt from Hell Gate

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Heroes in Hell - Class of 2017

Pirates in Hell is now available!  Paperback  /  Kindle  / Nook

See the Heroes in Hell, 2017 Class Picture? Imagine all those timeless characters stuck in Hell struggling with their pasts, presents, and futures. It's a crazy mashup of historical fiction and fantasy!

I'm officially aboard this ship. My first voyage is the 20th installment. Pirates in Hell has twelve tales spun by Janet Morris, Christopher Crosby Morris, Andrew Paul Weston, Nancy Asire, myself, Paul Freeman, Larry Atchley Jr, Jack William Finley, Michael H. Hanson, Rob Hinkle, and Joe Bonadonna. Honored to be apart of the crew.  Cool cover art by Roy Mauritsen too!

When should you jump in? 

Now! Perhaps you are a bit timid to jump into Hell so quickly; so why not have the tour guides explain your worries away?  Authors from the preceding Doctors in Hell anthology convened for a death panel to explain the series and why it's okay to  "go to Hell at any time! (link)"

Pirates in Hell Contents:

Bitter Business – Janet Morris and Chris Morris
Pieces of Hate – Andrew P. Weston
Evil Angel –  Janet Morris and Chris Morris
Who’s a Pirate Now? – Nancy Asire
Curse of the Pharaohs – S.E. Lindberg
Lir’s Children – Paul Freeman
Unholiest Grail – Larry Atchley, Jr.
The Bitter Taste of Hell’s Injustice – Jack William Finley
Serial Recall and Beautiful Tortures – Michael H. Hanson
Drink and the Devil – Rob Hinkle
The Pirates of Penance – Joe Bonadonna
Muse of Fire – Janet Morris and Chris Morris
Hell Hounds (excerpt) – Andrew P. Weston

Friday, February 17, 2017

Pirates are coming to Hell!

Image may contain: textPirates in Hell

Coming Spring 2017 from Perseid Press, the next installment in the long running Heroes in Hell series. Cover design by Roy Mauritsen.

When is a good time to go to Hell?  Well it always is. But don't believe me, review the minutes from the 2015 death panel!

Pirates in Hell Contents:
1.) Bitter Business, Janet Morris & Chris Morris
2.) Pieces of Hate, Andrew P. Weston
3.) Evil Angel, Chris Morris
4.) Who's a Pirate Now? Nancy Asire
5.) Curse of the Pharaohs, Seth Lindberg
6.) Lir's Children, Paul Freeman
7.) Unholiest Grail, Larry Atchley Jr.
8.) Bitter Taste of Hell's Injustice, Jack William Finley
9.) Serial Recall and Beautiful Tortures, Michael H. Hanson
10.) Drink and the Devil, Rob Hinkle
11.) The Pirates of Penance, Joe Bonadonna
12.) Muse of Fire, Janet Morris

Bonus Excerpt from Hell Hounds, a Heroes in Hell novel by Andrew P. Weston.

Image may contain: text

Friday, January 15, 2016

Fiction & Art Inspired By the Mappae Clavicula, Guest Post by S.E. Lindberg

Fiction & Art Inspired By the Mappae Clavicula, Guest Post by S.E. Lindberg

"...I have to say this is probably the most interesting guest post I’ve ever read! I love hearing what inspires the other authors, I really do, as for me ‘the story behind the pen’ is at least as interesting as the story itself...."
Sincere thanks to my host Jennifer Loiske who extended an invitation to discuss my muses & recent contribution to Perseid Press’s Heroika: Dragon Eaters. Please follow the link and check out my answers to:

1)  What are your muses?

2) What is the Mappae Clavicula?

3) How did medieval artists source their materials?

4) What is magical about making paint and art?

5) What is the allure of alchemical writings?

6) How did alchemy inspire your Heroika: The Dragon Eaters contribution?

7) Do you write other books inspired by alchemy

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Death Panel Explains Why Going To Hell Is Welcome At Anytime (Doctors in Hell roundtable interview)

Death Panel: (center) Janet E Morris; (top) Jack William Finley, Chris Morris; 
(middle) Bill Snider, Nancy Asire; Joe Bonadonna;
(bottom) Andrew Paul Weston, Richard Groller

Death Panelists, when is it O.K. to go to hell?

Some authors from the Doctors in Hell anthology convened for a death panel to decide your fate. Your affliction needing help?  Well, you heard about the recent release of this book but realized it is #18 in the Heroes in Hell series... is it okay to jump in now?   You are a bit timid to jump into death, so why not have the tour guides explain your worries away?  Below is a FAQ with common answers highlighted!

DIH authors (death panelists indicated with initials): Janet E. Morris (JEM), Chris Morris (CM), Andrew Paul Weston (APW), Nancy Asire (NA), R.E. Hinkle, Richard Groller (RG), Matthew Kirshenblatt, Bill Snider (BS), Joe Bonadonna (JB), Paul Freeman, and Jack William Finley (JWF)

Click here for my review of the book.

FAQ about Hell for new readers (click to jump-to answers): 

1. What is the general premise of the Heroes in Hell series?

JEM:  Hell really exists.  There were 613 original commandments, binding on every living soul even if they aren't Christians or Jews, and ignorance is no excuse:  break one and you go to hell.  So everybody does, almost: everybody who was anybody broke some commandment or other while on earth.  And here they are, sometimes in a part of hell where they belong, sometimes where they don't.  The wort and best from all of time make the same mistakes in hell that got them here:  character is destiny, Topside or throughout the Underverse.

RG: Bangsian Fantasy of the highest order - Hell is a real place where characters continue to live their lives. They come from across the length and breadth of time and history to interact. You can have Julius Caesar, Napoleon and Genghis Khan at the same table having a conversation. All of time and history is your palette - what incredible pictures can be made with the right imagination. What adventures can be wrought, while suffering the torments of a well-deserved damnation? As a backdrop for virtually any philosophical, social, political or sociological interactions, to include re-fighting wars and re-imagining history, Hell is the certainly the laboratory of the mind.

NA: It seems nearly everyone who has ever lived ends up in hell, no matter the time of their life or death.  In Satan’s hell, operating on Judeo/Christian laws and dictates, there are over 600 commandments that can be broken, even if the sinner has no knowledge the specific commandment existed.  In the other hells, ruled over by their various gods, the punishments meted out may or might not resemble those of Satan’s hell.  Naturally, whoever ends up in hell is punished by any means, from eternal frustration to actual torture and death.  In Satan’s hell, death is hardly permanent since the soul is reconstituted and returned to its hellish existence for further torment.  The series deals with various characters and their responses to their damnation.

2. What flavor of Hell/Afterlife is in scope (Valhalla? Naraka? Hades? Duat? Jahannam? Dante’s?)?

BS: This Hell, encompasses all Hells, Dantean, Jungian, Abrahamic, Babylonian, Eastern - if there was a designation for a Hell, then the Heroes In Hell series can include it.  There is no Hell too big, or too small to fit within these halls; hallowed as they may not be, they can all fit amongst those who dance to the tunes that are sung by those who continue to fall.  Hell is not just a place name, it's where we keep our notions of who we are and where we are destined to end up, should we ever be so inclined as to journey there.

APW: It’s whatever flavor takes your fancy. That’s the wonderful thing about the shared universe aspect, hell has many layers and circles, and they morph and transmute into whatever’s required to ensure its denizens or new arrivals suffer. As the saying goes...If you’re in need, the underworld knows and will ensure you plead before you bleed :)

CM: All the below (above). As well as the classic hells of literature Hell is comprised of hells as numerous as its residents. What makes hell so fascinating is that everybody – readers and writers and characters alike – bring some idea what the hot place is like. Often we follow souls who presume their hell experience will be informed or shaped by their peculiar racial or religious or social expectations, only to have their preconceptions painfully turned against them. So all hells imaginable, and some that beggar imagination, are on tap and ready to serve multitudes of hapless penitents as well as more deserving transgressors.

 3. Doctors in Hell is #18 in the series… should I start with this?

JB: Of course you can. I think it’s a lovely place to start your season in Hell. When I first jumped into the original Baen Books series (now out-of-print) I started after the first few volumes and had no problem riding along. And when Perseid Press rebooted the series in 2011 with all new editions and all new stories, I started with “Rogues in Hell” which was published after the first book, “Lawyers in Hell.” Then I read the third edition, “Dreamers in Hell” before going back to read “Lawyers in Hell.” By then I felt comfortable and familiar enough to write for “Poets in Hell,” and now “Doctors in Hell.” Got all that? Like I said earlier, each volume is pretty much stand-alone and any place you enter Hell is a good starting point. Just jump in and hang on.

JEM: Welcome to Hell. Want to start with Doctors in Hell?  Go right ahead: you'll meet new characters, Andrew Weston's Grim and the man who might once have been Jack the ripper...  The first two stories will orient you, as they always do.  If you want more of Shakespeare and Marlowe, read Dreamers and Poets.  If you're curious about Erra and the Sibitti, read Lawyers and Rogues.  We never numbered the volumes in the 20th century at Baen; we've stopped numbering them now.  Everyone knows enough about hell to quickly become oriented.  If you fall in love with Bat Masterson...  he appears in Lawyers, Rogues, Dreamers, Poets, and Doctors -- come to think of it, those are ALL the 21st century shared universe books.  If you crave a 21st century Heroes in Hell novel, read Michael Armstrong's Bridge Over Hell.  Or go right from Doctors in Hell to the forthcoming Hell Bound, where Andrew Weston's Reaper and Dr. Cream will scary you silly.

NA: I believe it is best to start with Lawyers (#13).  The series, Heroes in Hell, was resurrected with Lawyers and gives a good start to the neophyte reader.  The hellscapes are laid out, the rules governing the hells set forth, and the major characters are introduced, along with their backgrounds and why, despite their confusion and outright denial as to being eternally damned, they respond to the various levels of torture.  Life in New Hell City and environs shows how various levels of damnation are experienced, how serving (for example) Satan in various capacities, grants certain individuals a hellish existence far above that suffered by other souls.  The following anthologies will be easier to dive into given exposure to the events in Lawyers

BS: There is the modern incarnation, and there is the classic incarnation: The modern starts with Lawyers in Hell (book 13) and provides the starting point of the reboot of perdition.  The classic sets a stage bright and shiny and full of possibilities for mayhem.  However, all that being said as that has already been read, each book is well suited to standing alone, as the stories draw their own power, from that which is written from the bone.

4. How stand-alone are these themed issues?

JWF: As a rule of thumb, I’d liken the series to a TV series in that each story stands one it’s on like a TV episode but are loosely link and more or less chronological so you can start anywhere but you get a bit of a bonus if you start early and read things in order. You don’t have to do that to enjoy it or to get it, but it had to things if you do. On the other hand you won’t be totally lost if you don’t.

JB: Each volume is pretty complete. Unlike many other shared-world series, the books in the “Heroes in Hell” saga were “designed” to be novels written by diverse hands. While storylines may continue from one volume to another, each book stands on its own. Plots and storylines change from book to book, but more often than not our main characters are always on stage, although we do introduce new characters from time to time. In “Doctors in Hell,” we are now dealing with plagues ravaging throughout Hell, sent from Heaven Above to further punish the Damned. The premise/theme is laid out in the first two stories, written by Janet Morris and Chris Morris. From there, we contributing authors each write stories about what happens to our characters and how they deal with this infernal epidemic. The beauty of this series is that there is no death in Hell: the Damned are already dead. However, should a character be “killed” in Hell, he or she ends up in the Mortuary, where Hell’s Undertaker may do a little fiendish make-over on them before sending them back out in to Hell. This is called Reassignment.

CM: Hell’s themes are stand-alone only in that they provide a story arc or for a volume’s spectrum of stories, a way of wrangling our writers’ ideas and focus into a collection of tales that cohere as a group due to attention paid by all to the title “theme,” in this case “Doctors.” But a story’s doctor could be any ol’ doc, like Doc Holliday, Dr. Schweitzer, Pasteur, Freud, Teller…hmmm. And of course we’re bound to have a doc or two in any of the other Hell volumes, so the themes aren’t constraining but meant to be helpful to our contributors who might need a little push.

RG: That depends entirely on the author and whether or not they are following a long term or short term story arc or are writing a stand-alone story. Some of us have written within several arcs simultaneously, so our stories will touch upon events that occur over several volumes, while others might write a story meant to only coincide with events in a single volume. Some borrow existing characters with permission of the creators and interweave them with their own characters and have either dialog or story background to talk to key "theme related" events.  My Doctors in Hell story is actually a long arc story.  Its genesis was in Crusaders in Hell (Heroes in Hell #5 back in 1987) where Janet and Chris Morris wrote a story entitled "The Nature of Hell" about time perturbations in Hell. I borrowed some characters, added new, and picked up a story arc which at the time no other Hell author had chosen to write within (besides Janet and Chris). This culminated in "Island Out of Time" in Lawyers in Hell, "BDA" in Rogues in Hell, and "In The Shadowlands" in Doctors in Hell. The stories in Lawyers and Rogues would up generating a series of other short stories by other authors who then chose to write within the time perturbation arc.

5. Should I expect elves, orcs, or wizard schools?

APW: Definitely not. This is a walk on the twisted and positively maniacal side of life. And while you might find dark humor from time to time, it’s the kind that will chew you up, spit you out, and split its sides laughing as you burn. NOT the place for pixies, elves, or schools for aspiring wizards.

JB: To paraphrase a good friend of mine: “Oh, no, my Precious. We don’t wants no filthy elves, no stinkin’ orcses, and no slimy schools for hateful wizards. No, we do not.”

No elves!
CM; Expect demons of many sorts, waiting to seize upon the frailties, fears, lusts, foibles and passions of the countless teeming damned. Satan has legions of demons. These monstrous agents of damnation are exquisitely conceived and designed for the task at hand and embody – and disembody on occasion – whatever elements will leverage the Infernal agenda. Satan’s delight however is to elicit and expose demons lurking within the most unassuming souls, once more to underscore and demonstrate the inferiority of Creation’s proudest achievement – man.

JWF: No. Think something a lot more like The Outer Limits or Twilight Zone than your standard epic fantasy. I think Speculative Fiction is much more accurate than fantasy in this case, a lot of thought provoking stuff, more art film than summer block buster. There are quite a few mythic heroes sprinkled here and there but the standard is historical figures, a Wold Newton/League of Extraordinary Gentlemen sort of thing leaning far more heavily on real life historical figures rather than fictional ones.

Gustave Dore - Inferno
RG: No. Orcs or elves by definition would not be allowed unless perhaps Satan is creating them Golem-like to torment some poor wretch who perhaps has a phobia. But not a as characters. Fantasy characters of someone else's creation do no belong in hell. Hell is for all the inhabitants of history. Characters from traditional religious imagery (i.e. devils, demons, angels, archangels, etc.) are fair game, to include mythological creatures. You have Old Dead and New Dead. New Dead are from the more modern eras. Old Dead include ancient Greeks, Norse, Egyptian, etc. and all the Hellish visions and creatures extant from those cultures. The Damned get the Hell they deserve. Perhaps a wizard school if it existed in history. But not Hogwarts. In my story "BDA" we had the Gnostic Catholic Church of Hell, Aleister Crowley's order of magick practioners from the Ordo Templi Orientis, in Hell continuing their search for the Summun Bonum or "Great Work".

BS: Expect what will be, nothing less, nor nothing more.  Expect demons, devils, creatures of mayhem, dark imaginations, corners of the void that never hath seen the sprinkle of day's light, nor the balm of air unburnt by Hell's own infernal machinations.  This is not your mommy's world of fantasy; this is Hell, and tonight, we dine on gore.

6. By movie standards, is this rated PG-13, R, or something else?

BS: Well, as it is an anthology series, it's a bit of all three.  Some stories are not so spluttery, not so daring; and some will leave your eyes and jaws wildly staring!  The things we do in Hell, are something we've come here to tell; it's a variety of stories, with a little bit of skin, and a whole lot of sin.  Truth be told, the overall game is bold, and the Devil is in the details along with his vicious hold.  So, to answer the riddle, to give it a giggle, the answer is … yes.

JWF: Probably something else, but not much that’s so hard “R” or NC-17 that it’s likely to scare anyone off. You take 15-20 writers and give all of them more or less free reign within the setting as long as they tell a good story it can be hard to label or give a general rating to things. The only thing I remember being told was not to be gratuitous, if the story calls for violence or for something to be gruesome then do that but only because the story requires it. There isn’t much visceral-for-visceral-sake. It’s very much a story-first environment, let the story affect the readers. If it needs a lot of flashy violence or graphic content that’s not inherently necessary to tell a give story, it’s probably not going to meet the quality standard. If the story needs that to work it’s patched on like a badly made quilt, it’s not a very good story. Not all stories work for all people, that’s just the nature of the beast, but they do maintain a pretty high quality standard around here.

NA: If the movie is true to the series, I can’t imagine it would be rated anything but an R.  There is enough bloodshed, sexuality, torture and other unsavory happenings to keep it from being rated PG-13.  I might be old school, granting that most kids who can attend a PG-13 movie have probably seen more blood and guts that I did when I was their age.  It would, of course, depend on how exact the movie representation followed the events in the series’ short stories.  Graphic blood, torture and the like might be a bit too much for a PG-13, but kids these days have seen movies that seem to delight in gratuitous violence.

7. Authors, recall when you when you first experienced this Hell – what advice can you draw from that to aid new readers?

BS: Depth, breadth, scope of the working environment - the stories, the variety, the characters available to play with, but brief pitter patters through the historical course, there are no limits to the directions that one can fly; no end to the imagination, no blinders for one's inner eye.  The canvas upon which to write, is writ from a panoply of possibilities, a paragon of potential that the ends of the underworld stretches from one mind thought to another, with no end possible, as imagination never reaches its end, until after it has done so.

APW: I did my homework. This is a well-established and critically acclaimed universe. It has rules. There are certain things characters can do, and other things they can’t. There are gray areas that can be stretched. Keep that in mind as you begin to read and venture into the mire. And of course, as you wade deeper, try to spot how the various characters and story lines add value to the overall whole. I know from experience this is what the contributors try to do, as it helps the Heroes in Hell universe to remain fresh as it evolves along new and exciting paths.

8. A special message from Satan herself: A brief history of Heroes in Hell

JEM:  Heroes in Hell, the series, didn't seem at first like a threat to my life as I'd known it -- but let me warn you, hell changes lives and stretches souls. The first volumes, done in the 20th century for Baen Books, seemed like a great place to get out your aggression and frustrations: your hell story could be as dark as you liked, you could set it in any historical hell from any culture, or in our "melting pot" of New Hell.  We had a helluva good time.  Two stories (one from Heroes in Hell and one from Rebels in Hell) were Nebula Award finalists in the same year; one of those two subsequently won a Hugo award.  Then the trouble really began...  I stopped doing these, and let the century turn.  I forgot how all-consuming hell can be. In the 21st century, I rebooted Hell:  a new take on hell for a new century, some writers from the old series, mostly new talent.  You could write or read these without having read the 20th century books. All hell books stand alone atop your own psyche's view of immortality.  They still do.  Start anywhere; the cohesion in each volume makes it stand alone.  If you want to start with Lawyers in Hell, when the re-boot began, do that.  Or start with Doctors in Hell:  read hell forward or backward or upside down -- it's still hell.  It still unsettles minds and makes hearts skip beats.  Have fun, walking on hell's wild side.

"Hell really exists."