Risk & Reward

Sending a story out into the world is always a risk. In the minds of readers, the story becomes something you no longer control. Edits are done, the thing is in print, and you must bear the consequences of your words and accept judgement with grace. At best, a story takes on a life of its own. At worst, it lies fallow and unread.

I’m ridiculously fortunate that THE WINGSPAN OF SEVERED HANDS found its way to readers. It’s not an easy book, and I was braced for some harsh responses. A critique I’ve noted about some of my past work is that a few readers find it confusing. Often they like it but can’t make it to the end without feeling left behind or lost. I think this comes as a result of surreal events plus surreal language plus deliberate ambiguity. I didn’t give any of that up in WINGSPAN. I risked going further out on a limb with the emotionally driven poetry and weird plot elements than ever before.

I tried to temper that, to get away with doing all of the wacko things I wanted to do with language and surrealism, by grounding readers with character, continuity, and solid psychology. The book took twice as long to finish as I’d planned. I guess I tricked you and me both into staying with it through to the end.

So far, readers seem to really dig WINGSPAN. I’ve been blown away by the glowing reviews (a few of them are here on Goodreads). A few readers have sent me very heart-felt personal messages, too. Maybe if I was some big name writer I’d be annoyed, but those personal accounts really are touching as hell. If writing is a conversation, we’ve heard each other, and that’s fucking beautiful. That’s the reward.

Thank you to all who have picked it up.

Buy THE WINGSPAN OF SEVERED HANDS direct from the publisher in the US: Weirdpunk Books

Outside the US: Kindle & Amazon

Published by: Joe

Joe Koch writes literary horror and surrealist trash. A Shirley Jackson Award finalist, Joe is the author of The Wingspan of Severed Hands, The Couvade, and Convulsive. Their short fiction appears in publications such as Vastarien, Southwest Review, Pseudopod, and Children of the New Flesh. He’s been a flash fiction judge for Cemetery Gates Media as well as co-editing the art horror anthology Stories of the Eye from Weirdpunk Books. Find Joe (he/they) online at horrorsong.blog and on Twitter @horrorsong.

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