Behind the Mask; Multiple Authors


Behind the Mask

by Kelly Link, Carrie Vaughn, Seanan McGuire, Cat Rambo, Lavie Tidhar and others



Behind the Mask is a multi-author collection with stories by award-winning authors Kelly Link, Cat Rambo, Carrie Vaughn, Seanan McGuire, Lavie Tidhar, Sarah Pinsker, Keith Rosson, Kate Marshall, Chris Large and others. It is partially, a prose nod to the comic world—the bombast, the larger-than-life, the save-the-worlds and the calls-to-adventure. But it’s also a spotlight on the more intimate side of the genre. The hopes and dreams of our cape-clad heroes. The regrets and longings of our cowled villains. That poignant, solitary view of the world that can only be experienced from behind the mask.



Behind the Mask is a multi-author collection with stories by award-winning authors Kelly Link, Cat Rambo, Carrie Vaughn, Seanan McGuire, Lavie Tidhar, Sarah Pinsker, Keith Rosson, Kate Marshall, Chris Large and others. It is partially, a prose nod to the comic world—the bombast, the larger-than-life, the save-the-worlds and the calls-to-adventure. But it’s also a spotlight on the more intimate side of the genre. The hopes and dreams of our cape-clad heroes. The regrets and longings of our cowled villains. That poignant, solitary view of the world that can only be experienced from behind the mask.



Excerpt from “Fool” by Keith Frady

 On a skull-shaped tropical island deep in the Atlantic, five stories beneath a dormant volcano, Dr. Entropy admired his new portrait, contemplating Armageddon and its implied suicide. The portrait hung on a wall erected center stage of the theater, and Dr. Entropy’s painted-self returned his judgmental squint with wide, maniacal eyes emphasized by a slight down tilt of the head. Their wardrobes matched since Dr. Entropy was in costume: red lab coats with black buttons, and two pairs of black gloves and black boots. Their brunette shocks of hair scattered in different directions for the simple reason that Dr. Entropy never tended to it, and allowed it to bunch and curl and fall as it wished. His painted skin was pastier than his flesh, but the only lights adorning his windowless volcano were artificial, and he had to admit to himself that it had taken a pale toll. The portrait doctor stood in the workshop, holding his ray gun in his right hand, his left touching a red button on a panel embedded in the volcano wall. The likeness was uncanny: a stranger passing through might have thought Dr. Entropy was considering himself in a mirror.

Generator Organizing Graphics and Hues Mark VI was not programmed to twitch or fidget or sigh, so it stood resolute as Dr. Entropy passed sentence on the portrait. It also could not speak to its creator unless given a command or asked a question, so it made no reply when Dr. Entropy told the portrait, “I did well creating you. This shall be a towering monument for whatever species next crawls on the Earth’s surface. Every race should be so lucky as to gaze upon their God.” Dr. Entropy swept away from the portrait, calling behind him, “Turn the lights off behind me.” The android bowed, “Yes, Master.” Dr. Entropy paused backstage, and added, “Spend the last few minutes of your existence as you wish.” The android bowed again as Dr. Entropy went out into the stairwell, and said, “Yes, Master.”




 Keith Frady writes weird short stories in a cluttered apartment in Atlanta. His work has appeared in Love Hurts: A Speculative Fiction Anthology, Literally Stories, The Yellow Chair Review, and The Breakroom Stories.

Interview with the Author:

  1. How long have you been writing?

Since elementary school, when I started writing poems for my parents and teachers. When I was around twelve or thirteen I began the first book in a fantasy series, but that project quickly died. I scribbled terrible poetry in the corners of my high school notebooks, but I convinced myself writing was just a hobby, and eventually matriculated to a technical college in a video game programming degree. That delusion popped a year or two in, though, when I realized I didn’t love the details or rigors of programming in the similar, visceral way I loved sentences and finding the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning. So I stopped running from writing, switched majors, and dedicated myself to the craft.

2. How long have you been a published author?

My first published stories were flash fictions in online journals in 2014. My first paid story was published in Meerkat Press’s other collection, Love Hurts, in 2015.

3. What titles do you have available?

Two of my stories are available in anthologies: “Stargazer” in Love Hurts, and “Fool” in this collection, Behind the Mask. My other recent stories are “Voracious,” on the audio journal The Breakroom Stories, and “Once Upon a Time,” on The Yellow Chair Review.

4. What made you choose the subject of this book?

Eventually, the world is always saved in mainstream superhero comics. The timer never hits zero, the portal to a dimension of evil beings never opens, the virus never releases into the atmosphere, the button never gets pushed. Considering the dizzying array of supervillains per superhero, it seems impossible that, not even once, some superhero would slip up and simply not even be aware one of their various enemies was about to eradicate all life. The true and practical explanation is that a monthly comic book series that shares a universe with dozens of other titles can’t destroy the planet and then pop back again for next month’s adventure. But what’s the in-universe answer? That’s “Fool,” my ode to unhinged, dramatic, lonely supervillains and their inability to end the world.

5. What is your favourite genre and why?

I have a soft spot for fantasy, in particular magic realism. Neil Gaiman’s Sandman broke my skull open in high school, and implanted the idea that writing could be something I’d want to do for the rest of my life. And in college Jorge Luis Borges’s collection Labyrinths reshaped what I thought stories could be. Magic realism is a complex beast, but one of its aspects that appeals to me is that it acknowledges that we experience reality as a cognitive dissonance, that we are correct to feel terror when the door creaks at 3 a.m., and awe when we watch the sun rise, because beneath the mundane writhes an ineffable something we can only describe as magic.

6. What, to you, is the most exciting part of the writing process?

At the beginning, when the story or character hasn’t fully formed, and everything is tinged with the aroma of freshly-brewed coffee. It’s raw creation that can upend generations and universes with a scratched-out line. Then the ideas materialize, the themes develop, the character stares at the first obstacle in their path, and it’s time to chisel at the mountain with a quill.

7. If you could co-author a book with anyone, who would you choose and why?

I’m not certain about prose, but I’d give at least a finger to co-write a comic book series with either Matt Fraction or Brian K. Vaughan. They are masters of character, world building, and of comics in general, and I admit my intentions are selfish in that I’d want to learn from them firsthand.

8. Where can readers find you on the web?
I post updates on Twitter, where my handle is @Keith_Frady.


 All other authors in the anthology:

Kate Marshall lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and several small agents of chaos disguised as a dog, cat, and child. She works as a cover designer and video game writer. Her fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Crossed Genres, and other venues, and her YA survival thriller I Am Still Alive is forthcoming from Viking. You can find her online at

Chris Large writes regularly for Aurealis Magazine and has had fiction published in Australian speculative fiction magazines and anthologies. He’s a single parent who enjoys writing stories for middle-graders and young adults, and about family life in all its forms. He lives in Tasmania, a small island at the bottom of Australia, where everyone rides Kangaroos and says ‘G’day mate!’ to utter strangers.

Stuart Suffel’s body of work includes stories published by Jurassic London, Evil Girlfriend Media, Enchanted Conversation: A Fairy Tale Magazine, Kraxon Magazine, and Aurora Wolf among others.  He exists in Ireland, lives in the Twilight Zone, and will work for Chocolate Sambuca Ice cream. Twitter: @stuartsuffel

Michael Milne is a writer and teacher originally from Canada, who lived in Korea and China, and is now in Switzerland. Not being from anywhere anymore really helps when writing science fiction. His work has been published in The Sockdolager, Imminent Quarterly, and anthologies on Meerkat Press and Gray Whisper.

Adam R. Shannon is a career firefighter/paramedic, as well as a fiction writer, hiker, and cook. His work has been shortlisted for an Aeon award and appeared in Morpheus Tales and the SFFWorld anthology You Are Here: Tales of Cryptographic Wonders. He and his wife live in Virginia, where they care for an affable German Shepherd, occasional foster dogs, a free-range toad, and a colony of snails who live in an old apothecary jar. His website and blog are at

Jennifer Pullen received her doctorate from Ohio University and her MFA from Eastern Washington University. She originally hails from Washington State. Her fiction and poetry have appeared or are upcoming in journals including: Going Down Swinging (AU), Cleaver, Off the Coast, Phantom Drift Limited, and Clockhouse.

Stephanie Lai is a Chinese-Australian writer and occasional translator. She has published long meandering thinkpieces in Peril Magazine, the Toast, the Lifted Brow and Overland. Of recent, her short fiction has appeared in the Review of Australian Fiction, Cranky Ladies of History, and the In Your Face Anthology. Despite loathing time travel, her defence of Dr Who companion Perpugilliam Brown can be found in Companion Piece (2015). She is an amateur infrastructure nerd and a professional climate change adaptation educator (she’s helping you survive our oncoming climate change dystopia). You can find her on twitter @yiduiqie, at, or talking about pop culture and drop bears at

Aimee Ogden is a former biologist, science teacher, and software tester. Now she writes stories about sad astronauts and angry princesses. Her poems and short stories have appeared in Asimov’s, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Daily Science Fiction,, Persistent Visions, and The Sockdolager.

Nathan Crowder is a Seattle-based fan of little known musicians, unpopular candy, and just happens to write fantasy, horror, and superheroes. His other works include the fantasy novel Ink Calls to Ink, short fiction in anthologies such as Selfies from the End of the World, and Cthulhurotica, and his numerous Cobalt City superhero stories and novels. He is still processing the death of David Bowie.

Sarah Pinsker is the author of the 2015 Nebula Award winning novelette “Our Lady of the Open Road.” Her novelette “In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind” was the 2014 Sturgeon Award winner and a 2013 Nebula finalist. Her fiction has been published in magazines including Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Uncanny, among others, and numerous anthologies. Her stories have been translated into Chinese, French, Spanish, Italian, and Galician. She is also a singer/songwriter with three albums on various independent labels and a fourth forthcoming. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland with her wife and dog. She can be found online at and

Carrie Vaughn is best known for her New York Times bestselling series of novels about a werewolf named Kitty, who hosts a talk radio show for the supernaturally disadvantaged, the fourteenth installment of which is Kitty Saves the World.  She’s written several other contemporary fantasy and young adult novels, as well as upwards of 80 short stories.  She’s a contributor to the Wild Cards series of shared world superhero books edited by George R.

  1. Martin and a graduate of the Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop. An Air Force brat, she survived her nomadic childhood and managed to put down roots in Boulder, Colorado. Visit her at

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches atop a hill in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov’s, Clarkesworld Magazine, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She is an Endeavour, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award nominee. Her second novel, Hearts of Tabat, appears in early 2017 from Wordfire Press. She is the current President of the Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of America. For more about her, as well as links to her fiction, see


Book Page:



Amazon –

Barnes & Noble –

Powell’s –

NOTE: THE PUBLISHER IS OFFERING A SPECIAL CONTEST – ONE COPY OF THE BOOK (CHOICE OF Epub or Mobi) WILL BE GIVEN AWAY TO A RANDOMLY DRAWN COMMENTER AT EVERY STOP (Drawing will be held 5 days after the stop’s date and is separate from the rafflecopter drawing – to enter, the entrant must leave a comment at the stop).  Thanks!


The authors will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

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