Available now from Amazon! Only 99 cents!
If you want this in print, all of the stories except “Gave Up The Ghost” appear in the print edition of EVERYTHING HAS TEETH.
Dead Clown Barbecue Expansion Pack. So here’s what happened, kids…
I was asked to write a ghost story for an anthology. I wrote “Gave Up The Ghost,” the tale of a pretentious writer who loses his ultimate literary masterpiece in a computer crash, and tries to summon the ghost of the machine to get his book back.
The editor died.
I knew his grieving widow, and proper etiquette in this type of situation is not to say, “So, hey, what’s going on with that book he was editing before his tragic demise?” There was no rush. My literary career did not depend on “Gave Up The Ghost” seeing a timely publication.
A couple of years later I got some news in the form of an editor with a major publisher asking if I was the Jeff Strand who’d written “Gave Up The Ghost.” That leads to a completely different story that’s a major digression from this one but which I will sooooooo tell you if you ask at a conference someday. Anyway, “Gave Up The Ghost” was now set to be part of a big-publisher anthology.
Director Gregory Lamberson, of the ’80s cult classic Slime City and many others since, had been approached by a producer to direct an 18-22 minute segment of a horror anthology film. The concept was that each of the four segments would be adaptations of short stories. Greg asked if I had anything available that was a) the proper length, and b) could be done on a very, very low budget.
I had “Gave Up The Ghost,” but my big disclaimer was that the anthology it was set to appear in didn’t have an official publication date or even a title. Everybody involved decided that this wouldn’t be a problem, and “Gave Up The Ghost” became one of the four segments of Creepers.
The lack of an actual published book, as it turned out, was a problem. And when I followed up with the editor, the response did not convince me that the anthology would be published anytime in the next 50-75 years. So I officially withdrew the story from consideration.
With the “Gave Up The Ghost” movie premiere looming (we were allowed to show our segment by itself), I thought, “Damn! I need to get the short story out there to capitalize on the publicity!” This was based on the extremely mistaken belief that anybody who did not work on the movie would care about the movie. I assure you, news about the “Gave Up The Ghost” movie most definitely did not break the Internet. Hell, when the full Creepers anthology came out, even the producer and distributor didn’t care!
But this is not an essay about Creepers: Tales of Apathy. I wanted to get the story out there in time for the premiere. Yet it was too short to publish as a stand-alone. I couldn’t charge 99 cents for one story! That would be cray!
Including “Gave Up The Ghost,” I had about 21,000 words’ worth of material I could use. My previous collections were in the 80,000-90,000 word range. I didn’t want readers to buy this one thinking they were getting the same amount of material.
And then a sudden brainstorm: Dead Clown Barbecue Expansion Pack. The title made it immediately clear that it was not a full-length collection on its own…and I thought it was kind of funny and clever. Eight stories total, including:
“The Car.” A pair of vampires get together for an evening of vicious fun.
“The Loneliest Jackalope.” Bunnies with antlers! You can’t go wrong with bunnies with antlers.
“Inside the Boxes.” Whatever is in there can’t be good…
“A Bit of Christmas Mayhem.” Andrew Mayhem vs. a trio of axe-wielding Santa Clauses.
“Scrumptious Bone Bread.” It’s not just for giants anymore.
“A Flawed Fantasy.” Sometimes, two girls at once isn’t the best idea.
“Tin Cans.” What will you hear when you put one to your ear?
My wife, Lynne Hansen, had done the cover for the Dead Clown Barbecue digital edition, so she kept the same clown image and gave it a different tint. And so, right in time for the “Gave Up The Ghost” movie premiere, I clicked “Publish” on the Dead Clown Barbecue Expansion Pack…
…and then Amazon, not realizing that these were two different books, automatically used all of the original book’s details in the listing for the expansion pack, most notably a greatly inflated page count.
I couldn’t promote a book that promised over 200 pages of content when it was more like 75! Readers would set fire to my home!
It took several days to get this straightened out, and I was unable to promote the book in conjunction with the movie premiere. But, as previously noted, nobody cared about the movie, so it didn’t matter that much.
Here’s where things get a bit confusing.
Cemetery Dance reached out to me and asked me to be part of their Cemetery Dance Select line, which was basically a short story sampler of various authors. Never heard of Jeff Strand? Here are a few stories to give you an idea of what he’s all about! I included “Gave Up The Ghost.”
When I finished my third official short story collection, Everything Has Teeth, I decided to add the Dead Clown Barbecue Expansion Pack stories to the print editions. Sure, it makes more sense that the expansion pack would be added to Dead Clown Barbecue, but there was already a paperback edition of that book. I didn’t think that “Dead Clown Barbecue: Now With A Few Extra Stories So You Have To Buy It Again Ha Ha Ha!” would be a well-received marketing tactic.
So the print edition of Everything Has Teeth has Everything Has Teeth plus the Dead Clown Barbecue Expansion Pack. For the digital editions, you have to buy them separately. They’re both cheap.
BUT…around that time Cemetery Dance had announced a hardcover limited edition of Cemetery Dance Select. With Thunderstorm Books doing a hardcover limited edition of Everything Has Teeth, I didn’t want the same story (“Gave Up The Ghost,” in case you’ve forgotten in the confusion) to appear twice in two expensive collector’s editions so close together. So I left “Gave Up The Ghost” out of Everything Has Teeth.
(The limited edition of Cemetery Dance Select has yet to come out, years later, so it didn’t really matter.)
Anyway, that’s the long-winded origin story of Dead Clown Barbecue Expansion Pack. I really like all of the stories in it. “A Flawed Fantasy” is truly deranged, and for a while “The Loneliest Jackalope” was my go-to story when doing live readings. It’s a buck. It’s a good deal. Check it out.