The Dirty South

I’m incredibly pleased to announce that Down & Out Books has agreed to publish an anthology called DIRTY SOUTH: HIGH CRIMES & LOW LIVES BELOW THE MASON-DIXON LINE, a charity anthology with proceeds donated to the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama.

The EJI does important work addressing the South’s history of white supremacy and systemic racism, and the idea of an anthology of stories about the region’s ongoing struggles with its history, its present, and its uncertain future, feels very timely. I’m joined in this venture by the amazingly talented Raquel V. Reyes, and I can’t wait to see what the future brings us.

If you’re a writer interested in contributing a story to the anthology, you’re in luck: Here are the details for the anthology and the open-call period.

What we want: Crime stories and grit-lit about the emerging, changing South from people who know — and we mean really know — the region. You don’t have to be Southern to submit, but you’re going to have to convince the editors by authentic characterizations and sense of place in your writing. 

These stories should illuminate, in some way, an underrepresented view of the changing South. Take chances and face the racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and gender discrimination in the South head-on. We’re very interested in #ownvoices stories. And as almost always with crime stories: We’re interested in the circumstances and motivations that make characters break bad. Make us care.

Some examples of stories that we’d love to see:

  • What will an ex-migrant worker do when racists target her new taqueria or tiendita?
  • The Central American family that raises goats for barbeque and feuds with the local, crooked evangelical ‘pastor’
  • Trailer park residents facing down developers who want their land
  • The Black queer who returns from the city to work the land of her farmer grandparents and finds evidence of a long-suppressed crime
  • The eighth-generation white Southerner that fights for social justice in subversive, and maybe illegal, ways
  • Characters who find common ground across race, gender and sexuality lines in order to build enough trust to pull off a heist

What we don’t want: Stereotypes. Stories that feature graphic depictions of lynching or rape. No judgment value on those stories — though we believe they’ve been told and re-told enough — but that’s simply not going to fit with this anthology. We’re strictly looking for fiction here, so we are not open to poetry, essays, or creative nonfiction.

Pay: We are, sadly, a non-paying, charity anthology. Profits from the sale of the book will be donated to the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. Read more about the EJI HERE.

Word count: 5,000 words is the outer limit. Firm.

Submissions: Open submissions will run June 1-July 31, 2022. Email us at, using industry standard formatting, in a .docx file. Submissions sent prior to the open call (or after it) will be deleted unread.