Another Literary Mashups class about to begin at LitReactor: Sept. 13

The walls are coming down: sign up here.

Thanks to authors like George Saunders (weird ghosts), Jeff Ford (fantastical horror), Jeremy Robert Johnson (biznoirro), Angela Slatter (fairy tales with bite) and Kelly Link, whose stunning fantasy, “Stone Animals,” was included in Best American Short Stories, the lines dividing one set of genre conventions from another, can be blurred to stunning effect—and that’s what today’s publishers and editors are looking for.

The genre barbarians are at the gate, and getting all up in the guts of what used to be called ‘literary fiction,’ and the result is dark fantasy with sf elements, crime fiction with ghosts, vampires with artificial intelligence—the sky is literally the limit, and the old rules no longer apply.

Of that sounds like you—fascinated with Japanese horror yet knee-deep in a western sf novel, or if your crime story draws from Norse mythology, or American folk tales, or your fairy tales features robot romance—consider yourself home. Some of the most in-demand fiction today includes the best elements from multiple genres and styles in one big mosh-pit of surreal Gothic hellraising.

J.S. Breukelaar is the acclaimed author of the futuristic wild west horror novel, American Monster; Aletheia, a noir ghost-story with a sci-fi twist, and the upcoming collection, Collision, which includes dystopian ghost tales, Halloween war stories, alien gender-bending, body-horror romance, and a zombie novella for the AI age.

And, over four weeks of intense writing, plus exposure to some of the ground-breaking genre-benders making waves today—you will discover new techniques to pull the most powerful elements from countless genres—into a story with the kind of heart and soul editors are looking for.

Maria Haskins reviews *Aletheia*

THank you to Canadian author Maria Haskins for her kind words about meh book:

Like a steam-train, it gathers momentum in the telling, and while the first chapters draw you into the world of the story, allowing you to get to know the characters, everything soon takes a turn I did not see coming. And towards the end, the story is just edge-of-your-seat GRIPPING. Horror and landscape mix with memory and desire in a way that is riveting.

Cover Reveal for Collision: Collected Stories.

col-cover-CREVICE-FINAL-02-small-537x800This is the cover for the upcoming collection. I love it, and thanks in tonnage to the folks at Meerkat for a cover that reveals as much as it conceals. Read more about the collection here.

A collection of six of J.S. Breukelaar’s darkest, finest stories plus six new works, including the uncanny new novella, “Ripples on a Blank Shore.” Relish the gothic strangeness of “Union Falls,” the alien horror of “Rogues Bay 3013,” the heartbreaking dystopia of “Glow,” the weird mythos of “Ava Rune.” Plus an introduction by award-winning author, Angela Slatter. It’s clear that this collection from the author of American Monster and the internationally acclaimed and Aurealis Award finalist, Aletheia, announces a new and powerful voice in fantastical fiction.

Writing classes in Sydney at Centre for Continuing Education, University of Sydney

Looking forward to this live workshop. Sydney’s f/sf writers: I know you’re there. Come hang out. Be with your people a couple hours a week for six weeks. It’ll be the making of you, promise.

Do you harbor a love of the fantastic, whether science fiction, horror, weird crime, urban fantasy, steampunk, magic realism and more? Are you, like the Australian legend, Terry Dowling an “imagier”, someone who loves to imagine worlds liberated from the constraints of reality? Have you a novel idea that’s out of this world, or a story that’s just a little weird? Maybe Buffy’s your idea of comfort food; or you can you recite The Raven in Elfish, or would kill to be able to write Urban Fantasy like Seanan McGuire? Is that climate change fiction novel burning a hole in your Scrivener? If so, you’re in good company. Thanks to Pulitzer Prize winners like George Saunders and Margaret Atwood, epic fantasists like Neal Stephenson, Brandon Sanderson, and George RR Martin, or the quietly off-kilter Kelly Link and our very own Margo Lanagan, the walls between genre and literary fiction have come down and there has never been a better time to write, read or publish stories that are out of this world.

Read more

Scott McClanahan’s Collected Works Vol 1.

Scott McClanahan, Stories New day, new book. One and a half stories into McClanahan’s stories and I’m all fucked up. I want to say Carver’s style with Dennis Lehane’s heart but this book messes with both. I want to say the other Denis—Johnson’s—soul, but these stories just rip that to shreds. I love Denis Johnson. I’m reading Tree of Smoke at the same time as I’m reading McClanahan and a bunch of other stuff. I read Jesus’s Son on the train from Portland to San Francisco. That story, “Emergency.” Read more

Day Too.

I was going to write a post about this amazing cover for the novel. I was going to write a lot of posts. About Denis Johnson’s Tree of Smoke and the last episode of Game of Thrones. About getting ready to go home to San Francisco and then the trip and what it was like to be drinking Tequila in the Boom Boom Room with Renny from Marcus Bookstore.

Boom Boom Room

But I kept running out of time. The first time I ran out of time was because I needed to be in Newtown to meet a friend at the cafe above Berkeleuw Books. We were going to mark papers together. This friend started off as a colleague at the university and now. Well, we’re friends. I was thinking while I was getting ready to meet her about how totally a life can be transformed in six years. Mine has. 2006-2007 were dead years. End of days. I had just had my ass downsized from the best job in the world writing PR copy and reviews for a cable company and it had been a nasty business. My family was then priced out of the suburbs and had to move our two kids into the city and I wanted to be in the city. But wanting to be in the city and being there were two separate things. I hated the suburbs but hating the suburbs and living in the city are two separate things. I had no community. No friends even if those friends were just moms in the play ground and the local liquor store owner. I’d dipped out of my PhD a couple of years ago to take care of my family so I lots touch with my colleagues, with the world of the mind. I was working on a novel no one was interested in. The wonderful Dr suggested that I concentrate on my writing because his company was going okay and we didn’t really need me to find another job right away so there I sat in our bedroom in the city, not writing. Not going anywhere or seeing anyone. I actually had an agent at that time who was making things worse instead of better for me by being the sort of agent who can do that. Read more

My 20th Nervous Breakdown

Tin House Here is a new piece I wrote on my experiences at the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop.

“The place was crawling with babeness. I mean aside from the instructors—I’m talking Aimee Bender here, people. Antonya Nelson. But the delegates glowed too. The little memoir-writer in his white golf hat, and the tight, brittle New York poets and the sandaled Opus-luggers. They all shimmered, you know. Maybe it was gold of the river running through campus, or the green of the lawns, or the printed Tin House bags we carried. It all shimmered and it cloaked us in the dream, and in its hope. But my group, the Wells Tower group? They were the babest of the babes.”

You can read more at The Nervous Breakdown

Cabin in the Woods, finally.

Screen Shot 2013-02-11 at 12.45.29 PMSo I’m late to this film, but better late than never, and even with all the hype I wasn’t ready for its sucker punch, its fresh, raw take on story. For me, good horror is a showcase for story, the skin and bone of what makes us human. So here you have a story of five frisky teenagers alone in the woods where they’re preyed on by supernatural forces and you turn that into the story of what makes us in/human. Why that story is our sacrificial right/rite to the timeworn gods, those Big Giant Heads who keep us small in the universe, right where they can see us. And how between the Big Giant Heads, are some smaller, slicker heads who keep it all running smooth as a well-oiled machine gun, and how those small meaner heads try and drink or joke their own humanity into a space small enough to shoot through one of those plastic trash can hoops, but every so often that humanity rebounds on their asses and they end up gutted by it. Game over.
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So there they are, these five kids: the jock and the slut and the nerd and the fool/foil and um, the virgin. Except that its not just supernatural forces, on their own, well it is, and that, friends, is what makes this story scary as hell. Because in spite of all our human interference, in the end monsters are real, and the Virtual Reality, sci/fi set up here makes the monsters realer than ever. We’re not manipulating the monsters, we’re manipulating for the monsters because it’s not a game, no, it’s a goddam sacrifice folks. A sacrifice we make over and over again, every time we crowd into a cinema/onto a sofa to watch this ritual sacrifice of youth to age, life to death, blood calling to blood. To watch the night through a one way mirror and tell ourselves, really, even after all this time, that it’s not staring back.
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Why? It isn’t like Whedon and Goddard are saying, don’t. Hell no. This film fetishes every scene from Night of the Living Dead to Scream and with detours through Heathers, The Shining, Evil Dead, Hell Raiser and The Thing. Nods to the Norwegians, the Japanese, and British. To Carpenter, Cameron and Craven. Oh, and remember the Titans? Love your work. Screen Shot 2013-02-11 at 12.48.47 PM
Because the show must go on. It really must. Or hell will break loose. No really. It will.
But maybe, you know, just maybe. It’s time. Except who are we to say? What hubris, what false pride. Because in the end, the gods we take are equal to the gods we make. And that can be funny as hell. There are yucks in this gore, and an absence of piety in direct proportion to the presence of heart. Fran Kranz is a knock-out as the not so gentle stoner whose bong is a travel mug one minute, a weapon of mass destruction the next. Love is the drug, but in the end, even that won’t cut it.Screen Shot 2013-02-11 at 12.19.59 PM
Cabin asks more questions than it answers, which is what makes it a game changer. It asks more of story than any English language horror film that I can think of since Heathers. It asks more of the image—the actors are all impossibly beautiful and less stereotypical than allegorical. Dig: they’ve got heart. It asks more of scene. Blood runs down walls, monsters sweep across the screen like the invading hordes, hands reach out of graves, cellar doors fly open. And in the words of the fool, how exactly does that all make sense? Cabin asks that over and over. Every scene counts. Every scene asks sense of the one before and the one after. Like the flaky/creepy pump attendant who works for the man who puts him on speaker phone because it’s funny in the way cthulhu would be funny if he were on Speaker. We pick our poisons. We choose our monsters. Don’t check your brain at the door.

Going OFF!

American Monster has been picked up by a West Coast publisher who I cannot name right now, but it is one I am indescribably proud to be associated with. Biggest hangover ever.

The Box came out on Juked; the folks at Doghorn never cease to amaze me with their generosity and professionalism.

And always always the kids, and the Doctor.