Although the Butte Fire was nearly four years ago, I am still haunted by the heat and sight of the ghastly smoke as I helped my family evacuate cattle from Hawver Road.

Though the fire was still a few miles off, the temperature was 117 degrees at the corral. The smell clung to my clothes, and it almost felt like I absorbed it into my skin. If we didn’t have some good friends arrive with trucks and trailers at just the right time, I’m still not certain we would have been able to return for a second trip to get the cows we had to leave behind.

In other articles where I’ve written about this experience, I opened with a conversation I had with my uncle as we stared at the dark, towering plume, easily visible from even as far as Camanche:

“It looks like a monster,” I said.

“It is a monster,” my uncle replied.

That conversation has stayed with me to this day, and whenever I hear about yet another wildfire on the news, that’s the first thing I think: it is a monster.

One of the most recent devastating wildfires was the Camp Fire in Butte County (the irony that our fire was called the Butte Fire is not lost on me). It was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California since 1918, caused at least 86 civilian fatalities, and the damage resulted in $16.5 billion in total losses. It was a monster, horrible and real.

To raise funds to help support wildfire relief efforts and assist displaced survivors, horror writers from Northern California have rallied together for the cause. Putting pens to paper and doing what they do best – write scary stories about monsters of all shapes and sizes – these writers have created a charity anthology of short stories titled “Tales for the Camp Fire.”

As someone who has seen how truly terrifying wildfires can be, I appreciate the theme of “using monsters to fight monsters.”

The book’s description states that, “Through these pages roam werewolves, serial killers, a handful of ghosts, plenty of zombies, Cthulhu cultists, mad scientists and a pair of conjoined twins … ‘Tales for the Camp Fire’ ranges from fairytale to science fiction, from psychological terror to magical realism, from splatter punk to black humor, all rounded out by a messed-up post-apocalyptic cookbook.”

Compiled from Bram Stoker Award-nominated editor Loren Rhoads and published by Tomes & Coffee Press, the book is available for preorder and is set to publish May 2. All proceeds from sales will be donated to Camp Fire relief and recovery.

So, if you’re a fan of scary, spooky tales, and want to help a good cause, preorder online. It is currently only offered as an eBook. For more information about the anthology and the contributing authors, visit ellderet.com/campfire.

UPDATE 4/15/19: I have been notified by one of the contributors and publicists that "Tales for the Camp Fire" is now also available as a paperback.

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