John Wayne Gacy. Pennywise. Juggalos. The Great Clown Panic of 2016. That birthday party you went to when you were four. Society is full of people being scared of clowns. But what are clowns scared of?
I’m looking for tales about that, tales where the clown in the room isn’t the real threat. From the high horror of an evil from before time to the tawdry prejudice of those who ‘know what sort of man likes playing with children’, give me stories about clowns with a reason to be scared.
Genre: Horror/Dark/Thriller/&c. Probably not literary; I want to see something creepy, weird, or unsettling, rather than a clown overcoming his fear of rejection.
Word Count: 1,000 – 10,000 words.
I don’t want to miss your story just because it’s a bit longer than the traditional short story.
Submission Window: 1 February — 31 March 2019.
If you have something that fits, I’ll give it equal consideration. Just let me know where it’s previously appeared.
Simultaneous Submissions? Yes.
Please tell me if your story is accepted by someone else first.
Multiple Submissions? Yes.
Within reason. Please send each one in a separate email.
Payment: All successful contributors will receive a share of royalties paid via PayPal.
Stories should be a ODT/DOC/DOCX file. They don’t have to be in standard manuscript format but if I struggle to read them then they probably won’t be selected, so use a sensible typeface and layout (someone has already asked if I want them in Comic Sans; so, you’ve missed your chance to do that “joke”).
Cover letters are optional; feel free to write one if you want to practice, have any questions or information you want to share, or don’t feel right not sending one.
If you haven’t received an acknowledgement within 7 days of submission, please query to make sure your email hasn’t been eaten by my spam filter.
I intend to make final decisions by the end of April. If you haven’t received a detailed response by 12 May 2019, please feel free to query.
What counts as a clown?
I don’t want to limit this just to the red-nosed entertainer of circus and children’s party fame, so I’m using two criteria to identify a clown:
People might plausibly call them a clown or mistake them for a clown
Their “clown-ness” is relevant to the story rather than simply colour
For example, someone who was a major prankster at school and is still playing everything for laughs at forty is a clown even if they never put on a costume or make-up; whereas, someone who does children’s parties on the weekends but spends the entire story at their weekday job probably isn’t.
Does the clown have to be a hero?
No. They can be a hero, but they don’t have to be a good guy or even a protagonist. Just as long as any bad clowns aren’t the real threat and they’re scared of whatever the real threat is.
Can I have more than one clown in the story?
Yes. The working title is based on Tears of a Clown, but you can include an entire pratfall of clowns if you wish.
What about bad language?
Fear isn’t tidy, controlled, family friendly; in fact, it’s the opposite. So, if a character would swear then feel free to write them that way. Remember, salty language is like real salt: some can add flavour, throwing handfuls in smothers the taste.
What about gore?
The goal is to inspire fear not merely gross readers out. But if your graphic descriptions of maiming and torture are also creepy then that could fit.