Keith R.A. DeCandido (kradical) wrote,
Keith R.A. DeCandido

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Monsters Story Bundle: Goin' Down the Keys--The Inspiration for Cayo Hueso

There's a new Story Bundle for October, featuring stories about Monsters, and one of the twelve tales you can get for however much money you're willing to spend (minimum $5) is a story of mine: Cayo Hueso: A Tale of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet. Here is the first of several blogs by the various contributors that will discuss the works in the bundle.

Goin' Down the Keys
The Inspiration for Cayo Hueso

by Keith R.A. DeCandido

My first trip to Key West was in 1993, and I've been back half a dozen times since, and plan to go again in 2016. From the moment I set foot on Duval Street, I realized I'd need to set stories in this magical place, and every subsequent trip has given me more to work with.

First off, there's the history: wreckers who salvaged vessels that got damaged on the reefs in the 19th century, the island's status as a Union outpost despite the population's (and the state's) Confederate leanings in the Civil War, proximity to Cuba (and everything that has entailed both culturally and politically over the past century or so), the Navy base, the cigar manufacturing, the railroad that took forever to build and was then destroyed by a hurricane, the five-minute secession from the Union as "the Conch Republic," and so on. People who have called Key West home range from author Ernest Hemingway to treasure hunter Mel Fisher to musician Jimmy Buffett to President Harry S Truman. And the island started out as the home of the Calusa tribe, before white folks came and messed that up.

Then there's the atmosphere. Yes, it's a tourist town, but it's a fun tourist town. Every day, there's a cool place to see from the East Martello Museum to the Hemingway House to the Little White House to the Mel Fisher Museum to the Audubon House to the lighthouse to the Southernmost Point, and so on. Every evening, they celebrate the sunset. Every night, there's live music on and near Duval Street. Plus there's scuba diving, parasailing, fishing, boating, and other water sports -- or you could just go to the beach...

And finally, there's the lore. Key West has more ghost lore than anywhere this side of New Orleans, from Robert the Doll to the Lady in Gray to Carl Tanzler dressing up his lover's corpse.

In 2011, the first of the Key West stories featuring Cassie Zukav, weirdness magnet was published in Tales from the House Band Volume 1 from Plus One Press: "Ragnarok and Roll," in which Cassie learned she was a Dìsir, a Norse fate goddess, and stopped Loki from destroying the world. Since then -- in a bunch of stories that have appeared in the anthologies Tales from the House Band Volume 2, Apocalypse 13, Bad-Ass Faeries: It's Elemental, and Out of Tune, the collections Ragnarok and Roll: Tales of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet and Without a License: The Fantastic Worlds of Keith R.A. DeCandido, and the online magazines Buzzy Mag and Story of the Month Club -- Cassie has dealt with other Norse gods (besides Loki, we also get Odin, Tyr, Thor, and Sigyn, not to mention Eitri, Brokkr, and Geirrod), a nasty water elemental, a soul-stealing musician, a vengeful mermaid, and a murderous nixie.

In Cayo Hueso, I tried to incorporate as many of the various nifty elements of Key West as I could: there's music, there's tourist stuff, there's the ghosts of Hemingway and Truman, there's a serial-killing ghost, and there's the Calusa tribe's long overdue revenge. Plus lots of Norse gods, lots of family drama, and Cassie's supporting cast that includes a federal agent, an immortal barfly, the ghost of a wrecker captain, and 1812, the house band at Mayor Fred's Saloon.

I hope you'll head over to Story Bundle and check it out!

Monsters Story Bundle is available from, and includes up to a dozen monster stories for any price you want to pay (minimum $5). The other tales include The Love-Haight Case Files by Jean Rabe & Donald J. Bingle, Jurassic Dead by David Sakmyster & Rick Chesler, Pack Dynamics by Julie Frost, Working Stiff by Kevin J. Anderson, Empty Rooms by Jeffrey J. Mariotte, For This is Hell by Aaron Rosenberg & Steven Savile, Enter the Janitor by Josh Vogt, The Wolf at the End of the World by Douglas Smith, Monster Academy by Matt Forbeck, Helmet Head by Mike Baron, and Mammoth Dawn by Kevin J. Anderson & Gregory Benford. Story Bundle available until 5 November 2015.
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