I was on the phone on Friday afternoon, in the car on the way to the airport, with the folk from Audible.com. They had the idea of doing something really, really fun for Hallowe'en, as an All Hallows Read celebration, something from Audible and from me to the world.
Perhaps, they suggested, I could read a story, and they would put it up for free. Would I like to do a classic horror story?
No, I said. I'd like to read a story I'd written recently, that I'd read at the George Mason Award evening, a story that had scared people.
Even better, they said.
I asked if they could make a "Pay what you want" button that would go to charity. They looked into it, said no, they weren't set up to do that...
...but for every time a new person downloaded the story they would make a donation to charity. So if we reached a hundred thousand downloads by Hallowe'en, Audible would donate a hundred thousand dollars to the charity of my choice...
And Audible.co.uk got in on the act as well. They'll make their own donations to a UK charity.
I got on the plane. I flew to London. As soon as the recording studios were open on Monday, I went into a studio in Wardour Street and recorded my story (and another extra bonus story that we'll put out as a mad gift if enough people download the first one). The Audible people have worked through the nights to get everything together for the roll-out.
Usually there's a little bit longer time between having the idea and getting it out for sale than a week...
We chose our charities with pride and with care: we picked Donors Choose -- http://www.donorschoose.org/ * --for the US; we picked Booktrust - http://www.booktrust.org.uk/ ** -- as our charity for the UK.
So. That's preamble.
Go and download the story NOW. Please.
This is only going to run until Hallowe'en. The story's only going to be downloadable until Hallowe'en. The donations per download are only going to happen until Hallowe'en.
And please -- for now -- don't spread the story too much, or at least, encourage people to go and download it themselves. Each free download is money for Donors Choose or for BookTrust.
So spread the word. Use the hashtag #ScareUs on Twitter or as a label on Tumblr to tell us that you liked it, to tell people about it -- or to talk about what scares YOU.
The story is unpublished (it will be published in a forthcoming anthology called Impossible Monsters, edited by Kasey Lansdale and coming out from Subterranean Press). It's funny, a little bit, and it's scary, just enough for Hallowe'en, I hope, and it has a silly title. It's called Click-Clack the Rattle Bag.
Please. Go to www.Audible.com/ScareUs to download it if you're in the US or the rest of the world except the UK and www.Audible.co.uk/ScareUs to download it if you're in the UK/Commonwealth. And then download the story. As I may have told you already, it's free -- absolutely, utterly, perfectly free.
It's a short story, only about ten minutes long.
I'm the voice telling the story.
And in case you're concerned, I've been assured that you don't have to become an Audible.com member if you don't want to. You will have to give them an email address so they know you aren't some kind of downloading 'bot.
And all I ask of you is that you wait to listen to it until after dark...
Again, go to www.Audible.com/ScareUs
Or if you're in the UK, www.Audible.co.uk/ScareUs
*DonorsChoose.org engages the public in public schools by giving people a simple, accountable and personal way to address educational inequity. We envision a nation where children in every community have the tools and experiences needed for an excellent education.
**Booktrust is an independent reading and writing charity that makes a nationwide impact on individuals, families and communities, and culture in the UK. We make a significant positive contribution to the educational outcomes of children from the earliest age. We work to empower people of all ages and abilities by giving them confidence and choices about reading. And we want individuals of all backgrounds to benefit from the wellbeing that a rich and positive engagement in reading and writing can bring. Our work supports children and young people, parents and carers and indeed anyone who would benefit from the positive impact that books, reading and writing can have on their lives.