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Moss-Covered Claws, the debut short story collection from fantasy author Jonah Barnett, is filled with tales of anxiety-feeding demons, anti-fascists that travel dimensions, and the vengeful spirits of dead seabirds. In this expanded and updated 3rd edition, Barnett mashes dreams and reality together in 11 macabre tales of speculative fiction. Readers will enjoy a foreword…
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Moss-Covered Claws, the debut short story collection from fantasy author Jonah Barnett, is filled with tales of anxiety-feeding demons, anti-fascists that travel dimensions, and the vengeful spirits of dead seabirds. In this expanded and updated 3rd edition, Barnett mashes dreams and reality together in 11 macabre tales of speculative fiction. Readers will enjoy a heartfelt foreword by publisher at Forest Avenue Press and a successful PNW author Laura Stanfill, a readers guide, and a letter from Blue Cactus Press publisher Christina Vega. Most importantly, Barnett offers readers a fresh, cheeky voice to Queer fiction and fantasy, delivered in this multiverse of forgotten dreams and broken promises.
Moss-Covered Claws is a reminder that the Pacific Northwest is not known for its sunny days, but rather an overcast world of soaking gloom. From the salty beaches of the West Coast to foreboding forests in alternate timelines, from red light districts of 1906 San Francisco to the childhood room of a troubled youth, creatures weirde and fantastique ooze out from the pages of Barnett’s worlds. For the faint of heart, don’t worry, Barrett’s stories – though dark and heady – will always leave you with a sense of hope.
Expanded & Updated 3rd Edition published on August 21, 2023 by Blue Cactus Press
Original Publication Date: March 18, 2021
Design by Gigi Little
Printed in WA state by Gray Dog Press
This book was fully funded on Kickstarter
An abandoned car. Dangerous spiders. Unrequited love. And hundreds of blackberries. In the heart of her childhood bog, Anita invites her best friend Jill for a “camping sleepover.” But things are not what they seem as Anita neglects to mention traumatic events from her past, and some secrets are unwilling to stay beneath the surface. Told through a video-collage compromised of a live-recording from a 2021 Blue Cactus Press reading—with layers upon layers of B-roll, animations, and puppetry—Jonah Barnett’s “Boggy” is the cumulative work between the author themself and twelve different artists.
The making of these eleven stories included years of research, angsty college soul-searching, and first drafts. Dive into twelve years’ worth of notes and doodles with “Scratchings,” a digital inside-look into the making of Moss-Covered Claws.
“The stories in Moss-Covered Claws are wildly imaginative, sometimes brutal, sometimes terrifying, always fascinating. But underneath these tales of sea witches and bog monsters and interdimensional gateways and even a creature formed entirely of Benson Bubbler water fountains, lie the fears we all face: cruelty, loneliness, our past deeds, the things we can’t control, the secrets we hold.” – Gigi Little, editor of City of Weird
“A sharp-fanged debut story collection brimming with real and imagined horrors. These earthy and tangled fables shiver with metaphysical wonders, fierce monsters, courageous heroes, surreal violence, and the clawing anxieties that come with figuring out how to be and stay human in a world where the rules are constantly changing. If you have ever found yourself staring into a dappled forest with your wild heart pounding in your chest, wondering if the shadows at the edges are alive and have claws–this book is for you.” – Valerie Geary, author of Crooked River
“As a former native of the Pacific Northwest, Moss-Covered Claws reignited my awe of nature, taking me on a surreal hike through ancient forests where monsters and humans exist in a wonderland of identity, desire, and vulnerability. This is an awe-inspiring and necessary collection from a writer you’ll want to pay attention to.” – Sequoia Nagamatsu, author of Where We Go When All We Were Is Gone
“If the Northwest offered a stock market for literary start ups, I’d recommend an all-in investment in Jonah Barnett, their superb talent, and growing collection of stories, essays and reviews. Jonah already has that thing so many writers covet: a voice. It is intelligently snarky, insightful and compelling. Hooray for Blue Cactus Press for recognizing a local author who’s not afraid to write about home.” – Bryan Willis, playwright-in-residence, Northwest Playwrights Alliance at Seattle Repertory Theatre
“With a David Lynchian motif – ‘things are not what they seem’ – Barnett’s hallucinatory imagery conjures the horror of living in a world of climate change, fake news, and physical vulnerability. In these stories, alienation and lack of authentic connection are harbingers of violence: humans are pitted against animals, myth against reality, fear against friendship. These tales seem to emerge from the primordial muck and mystery of the unknown and remind us that human survival depends on our ability to turn and face that which creeps in the dark toward us.” – Heather Momyer, author of How to Swim and publisher at Arc Pair Press
“Moss-Covered Claws beautifully digs its way into your mind with a collision of heartbreak and inspiration on every page. Much like a passenger on a train who never wants to reach their destination, each story leaves you craving for more time within Barnett’s imagination.” – Jennifer Dean, author of Bound and I’ve Been Looking for You
“If Lovecraft lived and worked in the 21st century, if Philip K. Dick were joyfully queer instead of a cishet spouse abuser, if Jeff VanderMeer wrote about the Pacific Northwest rather than the Southern Reach, they may well have pooled their talents to concoct the yarns in Jonah Barnett’s Moss-Covered Claws. I enjoyed all ten stories immensely and recommend them to anyone who ever sought and then savored the unsettling, supernatural psychodrama of the New Weird.” – Christian Carvajal, author of C Is for Collection and Lightfall
“Written in vivid and quick-moving prose, this collection of stories from Jonah Barnett packs a visceral punch and asserts a point of view that challenges the way we understand the nature of loneliness and fear, gender and humanity. Our notions are made real, monstrous, ready to do battle. Though you’ll tear through the stories, they’ll call you back for a true unpacking, layer by mossy layer, as the true monsters are revealed. This is a young writer to watch.” – Averil Dean, author of Alice Close Your Eyes and The Undoing
“Jonah Barnett cuts portals into the pea-soup fog of the Pacific Northwest – transporting you places so strange but so familiar you’ll have to wonder which side you came in on. With echoes of Lovecraft and Jeff Vandermeer, Barnett calls on old mythologies and builds their own in this uncanny and terrifying debut. Try not to get too lost.” – Sam Greenspan, creator of Bellwether, a podcast of speculative journalism
“Jonah Barnett’s debut story collection combines the haunted inner lives and nature-horror of Daphne DuMaurier with a kind of Clive Barker-esque fabulism to present a harrowing – but also weirdly beautiful – hike through a grotesque Pacific Northwest. A powerful debut that you’ll carry with you into the dark, mossy forests of your dreams.” – Samuel Snoek-Brown, author of There Is No Other Way to Worship Them
“Moss-Covered Claws is a dazzling menagerie of monsters – monsters that ooze from the mind and clamber from the sea, monsters that strut in Victorian velvet and hunker in interdimensional caves, revelatory monsters that will haunt your imagination and sink their claws into your heart.” – Julia Elliott, author of The New and Improved Romie Futch
Jonah Barnett is a queer filmmaker, writer, and multimedia artist. Moss-Covered Claws is their debut, stand-alone title. They have also been published in the Forest Avenue Press collections Dispatches From Anarres and City of Weird. Jonah has directed and written three feature films, a dozen-ish short films, and four web series—with their film work being presented at the Olympia Film Society, Northwest Film Forum, and Trans Stellar Film Festival. They usually find themself in old haunted buildings or overgrown swamps.