If you think the Front Range can be a scary place, the Denver Horror Collective suggests that you haven’t seen anything yet. On Sunday, December 1, the group will host a launch of its new anthology, Terror at 5280’, at BookBar (itself one of the most haunted places on Tennyson Street). It’s not just a Denver anthology with local authors; these are tales set right here in Denver and surrounding nightmarish areas.
The Denver Horror Collective has been around since 2017, with a mission to “showcase the writers haunting our fine city — from award-winners to those appearing in publication for the first time.” Now this new anthology will represent what Colorado — and the horror genre itself — has to offer.
We spoke with Terror at 5280’ editor and Denver Horror Collective founding member Josh Schlossberg about the anthology, the upcoming event and the frightening supernatural realities inherent in residing at a Mile High.
Westword: The Denver Horror Collective is launching its new anthology, Terror at 5280', at BookBar this Sunday. Can you tell us what to expect at the event itself?
Josh Schlossberg: Fair warning! Denverites suffering from any of the following ailments are strongly urged not to attend the December 1 launch: high blood pressure, low blood pressure, chronic wasting disease, bibliophobia, restless kidney syndrome.
Those brave and foolish enough to show up may be grilled on their knowledge of horror-fiction trivia. Answering correctly gets them a chance to spin the Disc of Dread, which decrees what stories will be read, and occasionally doles out some dark sweet treats including copies of Terror at 5280’, Denver Horror Collective T-shirts and stickers, and “horror gelt.” Anyone misbehaving — including authors going over their allotted five minutes — should expect a visit from Krampus.
Terror at 5280’ features horror master Stephen Graham Jones; thriller bestseller Carter Wilson; local greats Carina Bissett, Joshua Viola, Angela Sylvaine, Henry Snider and Joy Yehle; several Denver Horror Collective members; and other disturbed/disturbing Colorado horror writers. Our foreword was written by John Palisano, Bram Stoker Award-winning author and president of the Horror Writers Association.
This project was a long time coming, and you've clearly all been working hard on it. Can you share the growing pains of the project? Where and when did it start? How did the process proceed? What bumps did you hit along the way, and how did it all come to fruition?
The so-called Denver Horror Collective editorial team — Gary Robbe, Melinda Bezdek, Bobby Crew, Desi D, Thomas C. Mavroudis, Jeamus Wilkes and myself — had the idea about a year ago once we vowed we could no longer stand by and watch the carnage unfold. Ultimately, we decided that, no matter the risk to ourselves, we had a duty to warn the public.
The most challenging part of Terror at 5280’ has been disguising these true, horrendous accounts as a harmless “horror fiction” anthology to get past the censorious powers-that-be who would stop us from revealing the Centennial State’s darkest secrets.
So, yeah, local storytelling: What's the benefit in setting all the stories here in Colorado?
Unfortunately, all 22 stories take place in and around Denver and various Front Range communities, ranging from Thornton to Lafayette to Golden to Boulder to Joes, as well as a few forays up into the mountains. The sole purpose of the “anthology” is to warn any out-of-staters thinking of visiting our Mile High hellscape to avoid it like the plague.
I’m sure many locals will support that agenda. So you listed some towns, but what spooky Scooby-Doo-worthy places are specifically included in the stories?
An abandoned racetrack. A snow-choked Highland alley. A local tap house. A shuttered underground facility. An amusement park. Riverside Cemetery. A well-known cafe. And several more surprises.
What about other local haunts — places this first collection doesn't cover? There must be more Mile High locales just perfect for a horrifying sequel...
After word gets out about what we’ve done, there’s little chance we’ll be around long enough to publish anything other than our own obituaries. And even if we did have a few places in mind for a sequel, the man in the clown mask just whispered to me that I’ve already said too much.
Local Authors and Their Stories in Terror at 5280':
The Depths, Matthew Lyons
Laffing Salby, Lindsay King-Miller
This Was Always Going to Happen, Stephen Graham Jones
Electric Stalker, Rebecca S.W. Bates
Gaze With Undimmed Eyes and the World Drops Dead, Carina Bissett
Grave Mistake, Joshua Viola & Carter Wilson
There Is Something Up There, Joy Yehle
Scrape, Gary Robbe
The Copper Door Karma Jar, Cindra Spencer
Block 12, Thomas C. Mavroudis
A Place for Cady, Melinda Bezdek
Taste, Henry Snider
Chronic Cold, Josh Schlossberg
The Dead Spot, Angela Sylvaine
The Ghosts of Cheesman, Grace Horton
Old Golden Road, Jay Seate
If I Shall Wake, Desi D
The Blue Lady, Sean Murphy
Mountain Lovers, Bobby Crew
Left Behind, P. L. McMillan
Deep Veins, Travis Heermann
That Time Maggie Ghosted Me, Jeamus Wilkes
Last Words, Larry Berry
The Denver Horror Collective debuts Terror at 5280’ at 6 p.m. on Sunday, December 1, at BookBar, 4280 Tennyson Street.