Asher Black ®
Asher grew up in rough circumstances and carved out who he is surrounded by rough trade. He has been hit by bats, hammers, bullwhips, ceramics, innumerable fists, and a number of cars. He's taken on predators, parasites, and bullies. He's faced down guns, machetes, torture, and knives. He's stood off gangs, mobs, and secret societies. But he's still here and some of them aren't. "We live by outlasting the dark," he says, "until we are the most formidable thing it contains."
A polymath and serial entrepreneur with more than one veil, Asher is a corporate storyteller and audience/community builder by day, sometimes a showman, and formerly a digital magazine editor. By night, he lives the secret life of a fabulist and reporter from the dark side of human passion. He endeavors to create stories of "pitiless men, and malice, and ordinary people who resist them."
Asher is a New Yorker by transplantation and affinity. He is "Eastern" Orthodox and a skeptic, a vegetarian by inclination if not by perpetual habit, and a rational anarchist engaged in apolitical politics.
Asher wrote poetry from age 15, started writing fiction in 2000, began taking it seriously in 2012, and in December 2021 began work on his first serious novel (slated for completion within one year) with another one planned immediately thereafter.
Asher's earliest interest in literature started with horror and he has spent some time hacking the genre, writing in a style he terms literary performance. Asher thinks of himself as an artist and storyteller and has always denied being a writer. While he currently writes in other genres, genre hacking those as well, horror still appeals to him as a fundamental crucible of human experience. Asher coined the term emo horror, or emotive horror, for horror lit that is primarily emotional but not merely atmospheric. A superb example is Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King.
Asher's Haunt™ is the expression of the four quests Asher says all human beings attempt: identity, understanding, meaning, and vocation, or else the single quest to answer four questions: Who am I? What is the world? What is my relation to the world? What do I do now? (Asher's 47th Maxim)
His Friends Say About Him:
"Asher is a diva, a man, a survivor, a heretic, a social engineer, a miscreant, and an original."
"When Asher walks into a place, he has presence. There's no insignificance in the way he fills a space."
"Asher always has a reason for what he does. You may not see the reason, but he has one."
"Asher is, deep down, a predator–at least when he's looking directly at you."
"Asher is not a tame lion."
"You're a bonfire, Asher."
Bios Contributed by Various Haunt Residents & Guests
Asher Black® is an enigma, but observation *will* reveal certain things about him. For example, on the most basic, surface level, it is evident that he is a talker first, and a writer second. Anyone who has spent any time with him at all knows that he loves to hold forth, and discuss, and discourse, and argue, and incite, and bewilder, and instruct, and persuade, and cajole, both in person and in print. And that he does these things most brilliantly after midnight.
Observed a bit more attentively, Asher reveals further a tendency toward devious thought, and an inclination to the heretical. Moreover, he rather likes these qualities about himself. The latter trait arises, perhaps, from the fact that if he perceives himself to have been wrong about something, he changes his position immediately. He is unafraid of the dark, can think about and act upon several ideas simultaneously, and smokes, not absent-mindedly or efficiently, but ritually.
Asher is an epicure of the old school. In tobacco, food, clothing, and so on, Asher knows what he likes, and what he likes are fine things. Asher demonstrates an unmistakable facility in writing, with a tendency toward the Romantic. He has written editorials, poems, stories, and other, less easily classified works.
Asher has the voice of a smoker. Not dry but a little rough. But his voice is also like the bitterest and smoothest of chocolate—the kind one takes in small bits and toasts over the flame of a candle late at night. One sinks slightly into that voice whenever he speaks, without quite being aware of it until one must move to extricate oneself afterward.
He has been called “persuasive,” “resourceful,” “ingenious,” “impetuous,” and something of a “miscreant,” who has a penchant for conspiracy. He has a tendency to teach, even when he doesn’t mean to. His style in everything has the flair of the passionate romantic. He is moody, ranging from delirious comedy to fits of dark brooding.
He is tall, very dark-haired, limber, always wears black, favors trenchcoats, sometimes but rarely wears a “sam spade” hat, and smokes a pipe. He will not say where he is from and is capable of a variety of strange or foreign accents and bits of language. His parents, he says, are long dead, and he has no family. He is also a heretic of several churches.
Familiar with the knife, suggesting a rough background, yet his tastes run to a fastidious refinery. He tends to look angry or unhappy when he is only thinking, which is most of the time.
Asher Black is rumored to have an alter ego, Black Asher™, who has certain unusual capabilities.
Asher Black has lived in many places, been and done many things, and worn and still simultaneously wears many hats. Asher has also, at times, quite drastically changed his appearance and (in keeping with his motto) changed organizations, beliefs, and relationships. Certain things, however, have remained constant—Asher writes, publishes, and teaches—which things seem unlikely to change since Asher can’t help but do them wherever he goes, in whatever capacity he works or lives, and however he appears. And if one looks closely, he does them, in part, to persuade.
I first met Asher in a diner, where he was holding forth one night (it’s always at night) on why no one had thought to apply the principle of saline batteries to the fact that the earth is mostly covered by ocean. Recently, he was arguing with someone about the terminology of sex appeal and, during pauses, castigating US foreign policy as based on apocalyptic eschatology. I hadn’t known what eschatology meant until that conversation. To say Asher has a sharp wit is an understatement, but he’s also a bit of a fop. He’ll sit there with a cashmere scarf draped around his neck, ensconced in a velour robe, wearing silk pajamas and polished loafers, smoking a pipe. The waitresses are fascinated by him. When he orders tea, he says, “tea service, please,” because he lives in the South (now New York City), and “tea” by itself is invariably delivered iced.
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that, for a long time, I took Asher for pompous. Now, I wouldn’t put it like that. He’s arrogant, but he’s actually capable of the things that most arrogant people are pretending about. I will say he’s not fully aware of how other people are feeling at times. If he has an overriding flaw, it’s tending to regard people as interesting objects in an amusement park of ideas and, when they fail to interest him, as mere ornaments decorating and perhaps even interfering with his fascination with the world. Asher doesn’t clearly delineate where the world and people are distinct. As a result, he can hurt feelings, and he can really annoy people who aren’t open to a new form of personality, but if people push further and get to know him deeply, he is a source of constant interest, intrigue, and moral and intellectual challenges. Asher, in short, is not for the faint of heart – he’s for the brave.
Editor-in-Chief: Winter 2002-Autumn 2007: Asher founded MYTHOLOG as a way of operating an electronic literary magazine with a globally distributed staff (cutting edge at the time) as a publishing venue for the decidedly odd. The theme of the magazine was literature with some connection to mythic themes, though not in particular mythological topics. The magazine’s editorial staff voted on submissions, edited, copy-edited, proofed, and published the work. The magazine eventually became a paying venue for writers. After a stellar five years, Asher decided to retire the publication in order to pursue his own literary work. “Stopping things on a high note is perhaps the best way to go on to other projects. We created a successful, working magazine that did everything we intended to do, with a great staff, great writing and illustrations, and it’s still a great web site, too.” The magazine’s full contents are still on the web for readers’ enjoyment at MYTHOLOG (.com). From the magazine itself:
Literature of Mythic Proportions
MYTHOLOG is a paying market that operates not-for-profit. It is a quarterly collection of stories and poems, essays and reviews, writers and editors, illustrations and artists, that find myth in places odd and ordinary.
We aren’t hardwired to genre or media. We’ll publish things that fall between the cracks and perhaps stick their claws up to horrify or tantalize us, literature on the mythskirts of a genre. We’re interested in anything that is part of the modern mythos or part of the construction of myth, from the ancient and traditional to contemporary culture, whether it be dark, bright, erotic, mysterious, adventurous, dystopian, folkloric, or fantastic. We define myth as universality of theme and story. The thread of continuity for us is mythic development.
Myth, for us, does not exist merely as a local and historical category of literature. Rather, it is the presence of a universal theme, even when the author decides on local and historical contexts. Myth isn’t simply contained in particular explicit elements such as the gods, the sidhe, or unicorns. Myth can make use of or be completely devoid of such magic elements.
We do want living stories. While truly personal writing evokes universal themes, we’re not interested in literature that is so “personal” that the universal is buried alive, only to be divined by the enlightened gravedigger. The genius of myth is that it persists, because it typifies, liturgizes, and recapitulates the human condition. That is what we look for, publish, and extol in MYTHOLOG.
Genesis and Journey
MYTHOLOG was founded in October 2002 by Asher Black and Clear Glass, released its first (Winter) issue in December of that year, and became a paying market in Autumn 2004. Authors like Brian Ames, and J.R. Cain, as well as Terry Dartnall have included our stories in their anthologies. MYTHOLOG is listed at Ralan and Spicy Green Iguana, as well as Speculative Literature Foundation. Our fiction has been mentioned in Broad Universe Catalog and Eidolon. For other respected links, see our Links Page. For more about our past, see our Issues Archive. There's also a little discussion at Surlalune and AbsoluteWrite.
With peer-judged submissions, high production values, and high standards of professional ethics and copyright adherence, MYTHOLOG demonstrates the relative ease with which electronic publication may equal or surpass the professional qualities of print publications. Furthermore, breaking some assumptions about professional publication itself, MYTHOLOG does not pay writers by the word, but insists that the length of a piece of writing should be that demanded by the story. We buy stories, not words. Since it did not pay writers during its first two years, MYTHOLOG also demonstrated the capacity of free publication to rival the professional qualities of paid publication. Finally, in regard to censorship, MYTHOLOG has taken a simple stance: The internet, like a library, is not a “safe” place. It’s a place that evokes and represents the whole range of human experience. While we censor for literary sophistication, we do not censor for the implications of the content. MYTHOLOG is a free speech electronic publication.
A full description of MYTHOLOG also exists at AboutUs.org
ABOUT GREEN MAN REVIEW
Managing Editor (and Hand Sinister) 2002-2003 (Emeritus from March 2003): Green Man Review was (at the time) the world’s ‘largest’ review magazine of folk music and folk-related literature. Asher joined Green Man Review as a staff writer and quickly rose through ‘the ranks’, holding a variety of roles, including Staff Reviewer (12/01-3/03), Senior Reviewer (6/02-3/03), Proofreader (2/02-03), Layout Editor (2/02-3/03) and Film & Video Editor (2002-03), dramatically increasing the number of film reviews at the magazine and winning the Excellence in Editing Award (2002, August 25). Ultimately, Asher became Managing Editor (4/02-03), and helped bring the staff to 70 members, perhaps the largest globally distributed staff of any electronic magazine at the time. This was before the electronic media revolution, at a time when people still thought of electronic publication as somehow second to print, a situation that has since reversed, much like online education now and electronic publishing as it is developing. Asher became an Editor Emeritus from March 2003. Example reviews include the films Mists of Avalon, Excalibur, and Babylon 5 'Day of the Dead'.
First GMR Bio
Asher Black began reading, writing, and getting into trouble when he was very young. His first science fiction story – a satire on one of the young peers who’d been taunting him – received a summary “F” from his teacher and doomed him to be interested in literature from that time forward. Tossing him Tolkien’s books only encouraged him and he was eventually discovered in the library after hours studying Robert’s Graves’ The White Goddess and other such obviously subversive material. In the couple of decades since then, he’s published poems, articles, editorials, reviews, edited a few minor publications of a similarly “unsavory” nature, and is currently writing short stories. Any wishing to consort with his ilk can contact him here.
Asher served at GMR from December 2001 through March 2003.