What were your thoughts when you first encountered the concept behind this anthology?
That it was a wonderfully wide and versatile theme that could be used to tell any kind of story full of surprise, horror, wonder, or all of the above, and that it would be a book of delightful breadth.
With the theme in question, you could have taken your story in any number of different directions. How did you come up with your particular idea?
I’ve always had a fondness for mashing together different genre tropes and seeing how they interact. I’d been reading and watching a lot of “horrible dystopia” stuff (Hunger Games, Battle Royale, etc), and thinking about the gamification of human suffering. People in those stories often rebel and try to overthrow the current regime to bring about a new world, and Lovecraftian cultists are trying to bring about a new world *too*, so it seemed natural (or at least interesting) to marry those ideas. I speculated over whether it would be better to be ruled by cruel oligarchs who are amused by your suffering, or ruled by inhuman cosmic entities that are merely indifferent to your suffering. (Spoiler: they are both *terrible*.)
What challenges if any did it pose having to incorporate a particular phrase into the flow of your story and making it seem perfectly natural?
None at all! Anyone who sees the stuff my hunters in the wood see would utter similar, um, utterances.
What kind of research did you have to do for your story?
A lifetime of reading Lovecraft and dystopian deadly games fiction, the latter going back to Stephen King’s The Running Man and The Long Walk? I did research a bit to refresh my memory about Blemmyes (mythical headless people).
What else are you working on right now? Anything coming out that you’d like to talk about?
I am always writing stories! I have a Patreon where I publish a new story every month for my supporters. Give at least a dollar a month, get a new Tim Pratt story every month. You can read about it at www.patreon.com/timpratt.