Friday, July 26, 2013

Forgotten Books: Heat, Volumes 0 and 1 - Russell Davis, ed.

About a dozen years ago, a new publishing company appeared called Foggy Windows Books. The plan was to offer novels in several different genres: mystery, action/adventure, Western, science fiction, fantasy, and war. These books would feature fairly explicit sex scenes in the style of the Adult Westerns. Nothing that unusual there, but the Foggy Windows books had something that made them different: all the wild, mind-blowing sex that was going on would involve married couples.

So as some of us who wrote for the line joked at the time, "Ah, you mean they're all fantasies."

To launch the imprint, Foggy Windows published two anthologies, HEAT VOLUME 0 and HEAT VOLUME 1, both edited by Russell Davis, a fine writer himself and an all-around good guy. Many of the stories in these anthologies featured characters who would go on to star in full-length novels for Foggy Windows, while some were stand-alones. The publisher paid good advances and paid promptly, too, so it's not surprising that the line attracted some top-notch pros to write for it. Some of them used pseudonyms, but others wrote stories under their own names. Volume 0 features Wendi Lee, Stephen Mertz, Billie Sue Mosiman, Tim Waggoner, David Bischoff, and Gary Braunbeck. In Volume 1 you'll find Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Billie Sue Mosiman again, Christine Matthews, Dean Wesley Smith, K.W. Jeter, and yours truly. You'd recognize the names of everybody who wrote under pseudonyms, too. And the stories are all good. They have the sexy married couple element in common, but other than that the styles and subject matter are wide-ranging and consistently entertaining.

Foggy Windows looked like it was off to an excellent start, but after publishing these two anthologies and six novels, it all went belly-up. Maybe the readers considered the premise too gimmicky and never gave the books a fair chance. Maybe it just wasn't the right time. Whatever the cause, it's a shame, because the writers were doing some good work.

I wrote two war stories for the line, one published in HEAT VOLUME 1 called "The Iron Triangle", my only Korean War story. The other one, scheduled for a later anthology that was never published, was a World War II yarn set in the Philippines called "Under the Waterfall", if I remember correctly. Livia wrote a cop thriller set in San Antonio, but I don't recall the title of it. It went unpublished, too, and both stories appear to be long gone. But writing for Foggy Windows was fun while it lasted, and copies of both anthologies can still be found pretty inexpensively on-line, if you'd like to check out this interesting experiment.


Charles Gramlich said...

Wow, never heard of this line. Interesting. Definitely some 'never known' works for me.

Todd Mason said...

Cover illos that look more like videogame imagery probably didn't help. (Sorry to read that the unpbulished mss. are casualties?)

James Reasoner said...

Yeah, I asked Russell about the stories once, but he said the former publisher had all the unpublished material and I don't really know how to get in touch with him. Our copies went in the fire. I'm pretty sure they're not in the tub of charred pages we salvaged. I really need to go through that tub again one of these days.

I may reprint "The Iron Triangle" as an e-book one of these days if we ever get a chance to get around to it.

Bill Crider said...

That was an entertaining exercise in writing, and it was almost like writing for the old Bedside Reader line or something. I really regret that it didn't work out. And the fact that the number in the captcha below is 69 is very funny to me.