Tor.com content by

Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Fiction and Excerpts [2]
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Fiction and Excerpts [2]

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, || Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a seventeenth century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Everybody knows that her eyes may never be opened or the consequences will be too terrible to bear.

The Thrill of Mountain Climbing, or, Why Am I Doing This Again?

In this ongoing series, we ask SF/F authors to describe a specialty in their lives that has nothing (or very little) to do with writing. Join us as we discover what draws authors to their various hobbies, how they fit into their daily lives, and how and they inform the author’s literary identity!

I write scary books, so I like my scares and frights. But sometimes, I have to admit, I overdo it a little. If you ever read a scary book or watched a horror movie and you’re so tangled up in it that it grabs you by the throat, you probably recognize the moment when you’re like, Why am I doing this again? What was I actually thinking?

Imagine you’re in Switzerland. You’re me, so you’ve just climbed this incredibly spectacular-looking peak called Zinalrothorn, which towers like a ruined castle thousands and thousands of feet over its surrounding glaciers. This is one of those that has no easy way down. The escape route is the knife-edged north ridge, a harrowingly steep descent over cruxes called the Sphinx, the Razor and Le Bourrique. These names send chills down your spine.

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Wild and Haunting: An Outsider’s Perspective on American Literature

I discovered early on that in the Netherlands, we have no tradition of the fantastic in literature. All the cool books in the bookstore, the ones I wanted to get my hands on when I was a kid, were translations. I didn’t care; I devoured them anyway. But then in high school, we were forced to read the Dutch classics, and then I discovered that not only did we lack a tradition of the fantastic in literature, we also lacked a tradition of books where stuff actually happens.

One of Holland’s most celebrated classical novels is De Avonden (The Evenings) by Gerard Reve. It’s a book about nothing. It celebrates nothingness. And it’s not a fun book about nothingness. It’s a serious book about nothingness. One can appreciate its literary merits when you’re in your thirties or forties, but force a fifteen-year-old kid to read that book, and it’ll probably be one of the last books they’ll ever read.

[So when I started studying American literature, I was shocked.]

Series: That Was Awesome! Writers on Writing

Americanizing Words and Witches

So I wrote a book a few years ago and it became hugely successful in my home country of The Netherlands. And in half of Belgium. That’s because half of Belgium speaks Dutch.

The problem with being Dutch is that only about 23 million people in the world speak your language. There are more people in Shanghai than there are people who speak Dutch. Think about it. If you meet a random person at any given place in the world, chances are higher that they’re from a single city than that they share your mother tongue. Sounds pretty lonely, huh? And still, we’re the seventh happiest country in the world, according to the World Happiness Report. Maybe there’s a link.

But when you’re a writer and words are your weapons, you want to expand beyond such borders. When I was twelve I knew I was going to be a writer. My goal was world domination. Now, at thirty-two, the motivation has changed (slightly), but not the desire: I still want to touch the lives of as many readers as I can. Whether you’re Mexican, Bulgarian or Vietnamese, I want to make you smile. Or cry. Or feel scared shitless.

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HEX

Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay ’til death. Whoever settles, never leaves. Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a seventeenth century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Muzzled, she walks the streets and enters homes at will. She stands next to children’s bed for nights on end. Everybody knows that her eyes may never be opened or the consequences will be too terrible to bear.

The elders of Black Spring have virtually quarantined the town by using high-tech surveillance to prevent their curse from spreading. Frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town’s teenagers decide to break their strict regulations and go viral with the haunting. But, in so doing, they send the town spiraling into dark, medieval practices of the distant past.

The English language debut of Thomas Olde Heuvelt’s bestselling Dutch novel Hex is available April 26th from Tor Books.

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The Ink Readers of Doi Saket

People send their dreams and wishes floating down the Mae Ping River with the hope that those dreams will be captured, read and come true. It is a surprise what some wish for and why. One can never know what’s inside someone’s heart—what they really truly want, and those dreams sometimes reveal our true selves.

This short story was acquired for Tor.com by consulting editor Ann VanderMeer.

[Read “The Ink Readers of Doi Saket” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt]