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Author and editor Luanne Smith with the reflection of a sunset behind her. She is a white woman with short red hair and round blue-framed glasses.

I like stories to bite back at you. I want them gritty, as gravelly as Tom Wait’s voice. Go there. And all three of the anthologies you see here offer just that.

When looking at running away, whether it be physically, emotionally or mentally, there’s a grimness there. Running away from what? Running to what? Will life be better…or worse? That anthology grew out of a funny story about me running away as a small kid, though. My grandfather told me it was illegal for five year olds to cross the street, so when I “ran away,” I just walked back and forth at the edge of our yard because the sidewalk was across the street…and I would break the law if I crossed the street and go to jail. I didn’t want to go to jail.

Others on social media related their adventures in running away, and Lee Zacharias said, “you should do an anthology.” So we did. Thinking about running away as a topic or theme, I realized how universal of an urge it is. I had published a run away story called “Inland” ages before. And looking at our focus, I knew people had stories.

“Taboos and Transgressions: Stories of Wrongdoings” was a perfect follow up. As I say in the intro of the book, this idea grew out of listening to Joyce Carol Oates talk of writing about taboos in her Master Class course.

We stepped away from family or friends literally in Runaway. In Taboos, characters and individuals stepped away from the expected. The stories and essays focused on breaking rules and the consequences,.

The anthology I am working on now follows suit. Jodi Angel thought of the idea, Muddy Backroads: Stories From Off the Beaten Path. Here, we are looking for characters who find themselves outside their normal lives, who find themselves in situations or places where anything can happen.

All three anthologies pull away from comfort zones. All three put characters or individuals on the spot, in some way. And all three offer or will offer grit.

We’re looking for submissions for Muddy Backroads. See the call for stories on this website.

Runaway was co-edited by me, Michael Gills and Lee Zacharias.

Taboos and Transgressions was co-edited by me, Kerry Neville and Devi Laskar.

Muddy Backroads is co-edited by me, Jodi Angel and Bonnie Jo Campbell. All three are with Madville Publishing.