The First Stain: An Inked in Gray Anthology is collection of morally gray stories that explores the darker, more complex perceptions of reality. As we all know, every story has two sides or maybe three, The First Stain, explores those other sides. The sides we often shy away from for fear of seeing a reflection of our self in the narrative of the story.
The collection of thirteen stories by twelve courageous authors dives into the themes of death, justice, family, redemption, and the beautiful lies that are believed truths. This collection of stories has everything from historical fiction, Grimdark fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, metaphysical realities, and fantastical worlds with deep secrets.
As a contributing author, I was proud to have my short story, Ritual, included in The First Stain collection. Ritual is about a young Native American who chooses the dark path of shamanism to mask his failure of becoming a man in the eyes of his father. Once upon the dark path, Wuul, is unable to resist the lust of power when he learns the secrets that allow him to shapeshift into a living nightmare.
The First Stain anthology was a perfect match for this dark story that explores the lust of power and betrayal of family. Under normal circumstances, I don’t believe this story would have been accepted under a traditional submission call because of the dark and gritty nature of the story. But the publisher, Inked in Gray, understands that the world is not black or white and stories of a dark nature are necessary to keep all of us on the path towards the light.
In general, I believe the target audience for The First Stain is for your average adult who enjoys a really good chilling tale. If you are the type of reader who wants the story to wrap up with a nice pretty bow, then move along. These stories are for the courageous reader who wants to look at the last word on the page and think “What the hell …… “. The beauty of this collection of stories is the reader gets a chance to question their own moral compass over a dozen times.
I can’t speak for all of the authors that contributed stories to The First Stain, they are all unique and amazing in their own way. I know each author has a different motivation for telling the morally gray tale they told. For me, I wanted to explore the dark side of human nature. I wanted to explore the lust for supernatural power that is just outside of one’s grasp. I wanted to hold a mirror to the reader’s reflection that would question his or her own moral beliefs related to power, relationship, and family.
The First Stain is the first collection of short stories by publisher Inked in Gray. I know Inked in Gray has many more projects planned for the near future. They are already in the process of picking the next set of morally gray stories for their second anthology, which is based around the theme of “survival”. They are also getting geared up for a podcast endeavor that will feature two protagonists who get caught up in the paranormal world. The stories for the podcast will be written by a collection of authors.
Inked in Gray publishing is embracing the changing landscape of storytelling and I’m proud to be a part of their initial launch.
As for myself, I continue to write. I enjoy telling stories and that is what motivates me to keep writing.
I’m blessed with an amazing day job and a beautiful muse that supports my endeavor as a writer. In the next few months I’m hoping that my first children’s book, co-authored with my wife Christine, The Journey’s Quest, will be released.
As any author knows, there are successes and set-backs in this field. Successes are wonderful and encouraging. Set-backs make you question why try. But what is important is remembering why you try. Writers tell stories. Writers hold up a mirror to society. Writers provide a sanctuary of peace. Writers are courageous. We are courageous because we keep trying. We keep trying by telling stories. We keep trying by sharing our stories with the world. Success is not an accepted submission. Success is finishing the story and sharing it with someone. I encourage you to keep writing every day.
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The First Stain: An Inked in Gray Anthology
Inked in Gray
Author Ernest Solar