Review of “Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories,” and Gamut sale

My review of Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories is over at LitReactor. Neat collection, lots of stories and images that linger. Couldn’t really name a favorite, because of the breadth of styles and subject matter, loosely connected around the idea of naked souls bared to elements not always of this world, but I have to say that Josh Malerman’s story, “The One You Live With”‘d have to be one of the ones I read twice.

Also, Gamut Magazine picked up Rogues Bay 3013, my AI story with, I guess, Frankenstinian undertones. Or maybe they’re undertones. This Gamut, by the way, is the one to watch. Get your subscriptions in, is my thinking. And submit if you have anything. They tend to reach their 300 sub limit 24 hours after opening, so it might take some planning, but worth it. The main thing is to subscribe. That’s their model, and I think the ave subscription is $60/year, which is just a few bucks a month, well worth the incredible material they’re packing into every issue, from what I can see. And they’re using the money to pay writers pro rates, so you get pro fiction. All the way.

Weird as F@#k Horror up at LitReactor

In my latest column over at LitReactor five of my favorite authors talk about weird horror. Here’s a taste:

I think probably the biggest danger in writing that type of tale, however, is keeping it consistent throughout the entire story. I know that in my writing, as I get closer to the end, I tend to rush the words and drop a lot of the details and world-building that shapes the first half of the story. I get sloppy—it’s a common mistake. I think once a writer has finished their piece, it’s important to go back and make sure they haven’t neglected the atmosphere and details in the last half of the story (or novel) for the sake of wrapping up the plot.

Livia Llewellyn, author of Furnace,Word Horde.

The Weird derives from our attempt to grapple with an unreliable reality through the hooks and nets of literature, and the true monster signals the breakdown at some level of consensus reality, whether our shared understanding of the laws of physics or simply our place in the food chain, so the monster is often the horrific’s vector into The Weird.Scott Nicolay, author of Ana Tai Tangata, Fedogan and Bremer

We’re a species that looks under rocks, when it would have been perfectly fine for us to keep on walking by. But sometimes that instinct, it burns us. Sometimes our human curiosity, it brings us face to face with a vastness we can’t begin to comprehend. That’s kind of the magic of weird fiction, I think. It’s using our saving, maybe defining trait against us. In order to survive, we have to stop being human, basically. We have to cash out what we are in hopes of some version of what we used to be just walking on by that rock, into the future. Which is a bad trade. But, looking under that rock, it’s no guarantee of happiness either.

Stephen Graham Jones, author of Mongrels William Morrow

With classic horror the results are often expected right? It’s a demon, a ghost, a werewolf, a zombie, a vampire. With The Weird, it’s rarely what you are anticipating—it’s much worse, much stranger, so it’s hard to react, as a character. There is no silver bullet, no wooden stake. It’s something beyond comprehension. Richard Thomas, author of Tribulations, Crystal Lake Publishers.

My focus in stories is typically an emotional core. I’ve joked more than once that I like it when my work makes people cry, but it isn’t really a joke at all.

Damien Angelica Walters,author of Paper Tigers, Dark House Press.

Check out the full article over at you know where.

Blood under the bridge

v4i23-cover-front-copy-200x300Monday morning. Holy finish line. I could kiss my desk, which is almost clean enough to eat off again, now that I’ve scraped off all the blood. Barely a trace of the last three months left, and the bones are beginning to set. Feeling a twinge of wonder at having pushed through 4 part time jobs and a bunch of other hurdles, working 7 days and 3 nights a week, since the beginning of March, and coming out of it with just the regular teaching left ongoing, a two book deal, a new column gig, and two new stories sold. It doesn’t get easier and the stakes get higher, and it’s true, you do fail better.

It’s all true. Everything they tell you.

One thing is that I want to add Jacob Haddon, at Lamplight Magazine to the list of editor/writers without whom this whole “golden age” of smart genre fiction wouldn’t be possible. I’ve talked about this before. Zack Wentz, Keith McCleary and Matt Lewis, Tobias Carroll, Cameron Pierce and Kirsten Alene. J.W Wang, Richard Thomas, John Joseph Adams, Ellen Datlow, Joshua Chaplinsky, J. David Osborne, Joe Pulver, Neil Clarke. And now Jacob Haddon, whose eye and sense of story is behind the classy Lamplight Magazine, where you’ll find my new story, “Fairy Tale,” as well as work by Tim Deal, Gwendolyn Kiste, Subodhana Wijeyeratne, Matt Mikalatos, Douglas F. Warrick, Leanne Karwatowski, and Kevin Lucia returning for his Horror 101 series.. Please consider buying the double issue for $4.99 or subscribing to this dark drink of water. $10/year for four issues to mess with your dreams.

New article up at LitReactor: Six Killer Death Scenes

in which I talk about Laird Barron, Don DeLillo, Shirley Jackson and others. Here is a taste but you can read more at LitReactor. Image courtesy of LitReactor.

When my kids were little we had a family fun game called “Death Scenes.” We’d gather in the back yard or in the playing fields behind our house—the same fields, by the way, where Peter Jackson shot his matricide movie, Heavenly Creatures—and we’d compete to see who could die the best. Enter alien sniper, medieval archer, Zombie-werewolf, or evil wizard/giant/ogre guy, and… action. My son’s death scenes were of the running start-spiralling-fall-anguished-yowl-false-alarm-staggering-second-wind-high-pitched-screech-down-but-not-out-oh-wait-feotal-curl-is-it-over-yet-maybe-not variety. His four year-old sister in contrast went for a speedy demise followed by an unsettling open-eyed stare, and my death involved much thrashing and gnashing and pounding of fists. As the, um, adult I had to make sure that I went for just enough dramatic effect to win my son’s wide-eyed admiration, but not enough to make my daughter cry.

Thing was, I sometimes failed. I mean I failed not to make my daughter cry. I’d try to wink or smile or get up at exactly the right moment to make sure that she knew I was okay, but it was often too late. By which time her mouth would be quivering, and her brother’s eyes would be clouded over with concern (for her, not me) and Eugene the Killer Dog would be at her side and I’d be lying alone on the grass beneath the great pink expanse of New Zealand sky, just another drop-dead mom.

Crystal Lake Publishing picks up Aletheia and book number 2.

Crystal Lake Publishing Logo.png.opt266x188o0,0s266x188Crystal Lake, awarded Best Horror publisher of the year in 2013, and currently in the ring for a slew of Stokers, has picked up my new novel, Aletheia, to be released late in the year (cross fingers) as the first of a two book deal. Stoked for sure, and grateful to my agent, and to the kind, smart people in my corner who keep my eyes on the prize and my nose to the grindstone. Above all, pumped to be working with the tireless Joe Mynhardt and the CL team.

2.5 less on the pile: North American Lake Monsters, Zero Saints, and Innocents and Others.

North American Lake Monsters I read North American Lake Monsters once before, or most of it, but maybe I didn’t have time to absorb itZero Saintsit exactly, or all of it, but this time I did. I could get into the language and the way Balingrud twists up the tension, especially, in a story like Way Station, with the transitions. And the weirdness, which Balingrud knows from. After Way Station, the Crevasse has to be one of the North American Lake Monster tales that gnawed the deepest, but Sunbleached tore me apart. I’d read The Visible Filth around the new year, and, maybe because I didn’t go into it cold, was prepared for the ending, so I was able to allow the in media res disintegration of the main character to be my focus, let it chew at me for a while.

And Zero Saints, Gabino Iglesias’s debut novel. Lots of us know him from his reviews and non-fiction, which is always nuanced, self-aware, and funny as hell, so it’s no surprise to me that I’m loving the loco ride of Zero Saints, Iglesias’s control too, and, okay, it’s still on the pile, but not for long.

And Diana Spiotta’s Innocents and Others. I reviewed that for LitReactor, here.

Keith McCleary reviews American Monster

This on Goodreads from Keith McCleary. It’s my blog, so I can brag if I want to – here’s the whole damn review. Thanks to Mr McCleary for taking the time. For getting it so completely. Please click the link to check him out.

Matt E. Lewis described this as “Under the Skin meets Mad Max with a sprinkle of The Road,” which is funny not because any of those references really occurred to me, but because when I was reading I also couldn’t help but attempt to process the story by way of combining things I already knew. I think what I came up with was “Species meets Netrunner with a sprinkle of Nicholas Sparks,” and since Matt’s references are much cooler you should listen to him, but the result is actually sort of the same.

So: an alien creature is sent to Earth to save its species by finding the perfect mate, and takes the form of a woman who kicks a lot of ass. The world she travels through is, by turns, either a pre-apocalypse or post-cyberpunk version of San Diego, which has become an urban sprawl called Spill City. She is driven by lust so deep that it’s tearing her body apart. There’s a lot of men in her life, but she’s looking for The One With The Perfect Horn (which is exactly what you think, because yes, it matters). The men she follows have their own stories– some bigger, some smaller. She lives in a trailer park and rescues an orphan and fights with the alien godmind in her head and tries, most of the time, not to be a horrible person despite not being a person at all. Continue reading Keith McCleary reviews American Monster

Weeks don’t get crazier than this

mohawk girlDue to a confluence of circumstance, I taught every day and every night this week, either live or online. Summer ends here in a screaming frenzy of cicadas under a 40 degree Celsius sun and nights too hot and too still to mention. Lie there and hope for morning. Last night I finally fell asleep with my head at the foot of my bed, naked except for an ice pack clutched to my chest.

In other news, a new two-book contract in the works with a powerhouse indie publisher I’ve had my eye on for a while, more as it unfolds. Racing to finish the collection for another publisher who also needs to remain nameless for now. And if that wasn’t enough, some other brouhaha around a prize for which American Monster is being considered. Or something. Also on the QT for now. One of those weeks where everything and nothing happens at once.

On the way to work yesterday, I listened to Rayya Elias talk about her new book, Harley Loco. I didn’t know who Elias was before this. I’ve always liked the idea of hair as an act of rebellion.