Vastarien: A Literary Journal – “Nightmare Made Normal”

The following is by Jon Padgett.
(Click here to donate to the Vastarien Kickstarter.)

Necronomicon, August 2017 in Providence, Rhode Island.

Once I arrived at the 17th floor of the historic Biltmore hotel and walked into the Grand Ballroom for our panel on “The Bleak Universe of Thomas Ligotti,” all my fear disappeared. It was a huge kick sitting at the table with Michael Cisco, Michael Calia, Matthew M. Bartlett, and Alex Houstoun before the panel, watching the ballroom fill up almost to capacity (the largest gathering I saw aside from the very last panel of the convention). It was impossible not to be moved. Thomas Ligotti, who twenty years before that moment was largely unknown aside from a cult following, now has an enthusiastic, substantial following of sensitive readers who love and feel connected to his work, often as intensely and intimately as I have since the day I picked up Songs of a Dead Dreamer back in 1991. Many of the panel’s audience members were also members of the website I had created two decades before and which is still going strong, Thomas Ligotti Online. And here we all were in Providence, celebrating Ligotti’s work together. It was a magical hour and fifteen minutes.

Rewind two years to August of 2015.

A small group of readers and writers and I had come together with a common goal: to create a publication that would feature new, Ligottian/weird nonfiction, fiction, visual art, poetry and ideas – Vastarien: A Literary Journal. Our process, from the beginning, was slow, deliberate and painstaking. Months of planning, by-law creation, and budgeting followed, leading up to the implementation of our website in May of 2016. We opened the publication for submissions for issue 1 shortly thereafter.

As time passed and final acceptances were made throughout 2016 and into 2017, the inaugural issue of Vastarien was taking shape before our eyes. And now the editorial staff is on the brink of sharing this special journal with the world.

The name of our journal is drawn from Thomas Ligotti’s classic story of the same title. Vastarien is a source of critical study and creative response to the corpus of Thomas Ligotti as well as associated authors and ideas. The inaugural issue is going to be something unusually special, filled with in-depth essays, interviews, original visual art pieces, weird fiction, terrific poetry, and fascinating hybrid pieces. An interview with Thomas Ligotti and an introduction by him, neither of which have ever been presented in English, are included.

And we are open for submissions for issues 2 and 3 right now.

Thomas Ligotti Illustration: Dave Felton, 2015

All galley proofs for Issue 1 have been approved. Final cover art is by the incomparable Dave Felton for the inaugural. We’re only waiting to make it available upon the successful completion of our Kickstarter campaign, which will cover our costs for issues 1-3 and set the foundation for its continuing publication in 2019 and beyond.

Of course, even in those early days of its inception, we knew fundraising for Vastarien would be essential. In fact, one of our first, editorial group emails mentioned that a crowdfunding campaign would be necessary to raise the funds for the quality publication we wanted to make.

I wanted to share this prior timeline of planning and implementation to underscore how much time and personal investment the editorial staff have already made in Vastarien to date. Some people are understandably skeptical about Kickstarter campaigns—leery of another fly by night scam that promises big for some quick cash and produces little to show for it. With Vastarien, this has not, is not and will not be the case. Even if the Kickstarter campaign had failed, issue 1 would have been made available for purchase next month.

But the extraordinary response we’ve received since initiating the fundraiser two weeks ago (well over 200% above our funding goal with 139 backers to date) will ensure that Vastarien continues onward throughout the year with two more issues to come and that the contributing artists and authors will be recompensed more appropriately than the token fee we were initially able to afford. In fact, it is my hope that we will reach a threshold that will allow us to pay pro-rates for issues 1-3. Either way, I’m grateful to our backers’ generosity and confidence in our efforts. If you haven’t backed us yet, please know that your donation will translate into a journal of greater quality and quantity. Also we have some wonderful Rewards for our donors, from subscriptions to the journal to pieces of original artwork by Dave Felton. If you’ve already donated, thank you! Every dollar not spent on fees and taxes will go into Vastarien. We will build on your donation and have already proven that we’re not afraid to contribute deeply into our own time and pockets. This is foundational support. The money you donate now will help Vastarien become self-sustaining as time passes, throughout 2018 and into 2019.

Co-Editor-in-Chief, Matt Cardin, and I have produced Ligottian content for the past two decades, when I created a website in February of 1998 called Thomas Ligotti Online). With your help, we will take the next step in sharing a singular, weird vision with Vastarien: A Literary Journal.

Please give generously and share the word with interested friends and family. Thank you.

Jon Padgett
Vastarien: A Literary Journal.

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