Sorry to shout, but this is pretty exciting: the first issue of Gamut Magazine is live. Have you got your subscription in? If you supported the initial Kickstarter campaign, just log in and you’re in for some of the tightest, baddest stories you’ll ever read. Complete with squirmy, quirky illustrations by Luke Spooner, George Catronis and Daniele Serra. Fiction by Ben Percy, Angela Slatter, Brian Evenson, Damien Angelica Walters, Stephen Graham Jones -just for starters. Subscriptions from as low as $10.
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.
Richard Thomas is the author of Disintegration and Breaker; he’s Dark House editor of Burnt Black Tongues and The New Black (my favorite anthology of last year) and Exigencies. He’s also a columnist and fellow instructor a LitReactor, sought after Transylvanian panelist and now… Richard has started this Kickstarter project that I’m proud to be a part of. $30 gets you a years worth of balls to the wall fiction, essays, poetry, a whole gamut of shamelessly transgressive words from the likes of Palahniuk, Stephen Graham Jones and Amelia Gray, Helen Marshall, among others, including self.
Here’s a peek at the line-up, excluding poets and artists: Stephen Graham Jones, Laird Barron, Brian Evenson, Usman T. Malik, Matt Bell, Damien Angelica Walters, Letitia Trent, Mercedes M. Yardley, Alyssa Wong, Benjamin Percy, Lindsay Hunter, Axel Taiari, Amanda Gowin, Laura Benedict, Nathan Ballingrud, Dino Parenti, Ted E. Grau, Rebecca Jones-Howe, Sarah Read, Paula Bomer, Kelly Luce, Livia Llewelyn, Josh Malerman, Carmen Machado, Peter Tieryas, Kevin Catalano, Paul Tremblay, John Langan, Nina McConigley, Nik Korpon, Craig Wallwork, Steve Himmer, Antonia Crane, Steve Rasnic Tem, Kristi DeMeester, Tara Ison, David James Keaton, Cassandra Khaw, Nikki Guerlain, Lucy A. Snyder, JS Breukelaar, Helen Marshall, Amelia Gray, H. L. Nelson, Craig Davidson, Jacklyn Dre Marceau, and Lincoln Michel.
Imagine this coming into your inbox every month. Not to mention craft essays, podcasts, and a graphic novel. Heaven with a twist.
Go ahead and browse the campaign, only 22 days to go. There are editing packages, signed books from your fave authors, postcards and art rewards. As little as $10 buys you a written acknowledgement, or if money’s too tight to mention right now, appreciate you spreading the word and sending us your good vibes.
I’ve been reading, and more recently teaching this writer for ever. Most recently I used this piece in, strangely, my novel class, mmmm. To be reminded that a novel is just, not just, but just up-sized, an expansion and contraction, or crystalline refraction of random human moments, countless, like this:
Truth is a Bearded Lady
by Stephen Graham Jones
My husband has two hearts. He told me. When he was a kid, sideshow people were always lurking around to kidnap him into the carnival. But he got away each time, just barely. If he hadn’t, we wouldn’t be together right now. But he only tells me about his second heart. His other wife thinks he’s like everybody else. She thinks he just has one heart, can just love one woman. I know the truth, though. He trusts me with all his secrets. If either of his hearts is bigger, then it’s the one he’s given me.
Couple of pieces of news. Those crazy kids from over at Juked have nominated my story, ‘The Box’ for a Million Writers award. Without editors like J.W. Wang, Zack Wentz, Cameron Pierce, John Joseph Adams, Seb Doubinsky, Deb Hoag… the list goes on and most of these people are award winning writers, poets, anthologists themselves, but they do that extra thing, they read. They lead by example. Without which this revolution, this whole movement, would not be happening. So more on that in a minute.
So The Nervous Breakdown put up ‘Speak of the Puppet.’ I mainly wrote the piece in response to that question we get asked and ask ourselves, where does it come from? My uncle asked me. An innocent question if you believe in innocent questions, which by definition, I don’t. So, that. I read what other people said about this. And I liked this answer by Neil Gaiman. Read more
Welcome to the first installment of a new series called WOW (Writers on the Web), a title so bad it’s not even good, which is good enough for me. It will cover what some writers are doing and saying on and around the web. This week, Stephen Graham Jones, Kris Saknussemm, Ian McEwan, Chuck Palahniuk, and Darwin. Some line-up
Really, any scene that’s only getting across what’s happening on the surface of that scene—two guys loading boxes into a truck, say—then that scene’s dead. Instead, let those two men load boxes, but only one of them knows the other’s tranquilized pet is in one of the boxes. It changes everything, for the better.
Annie Murphy Paul at The New York Times finds fiction readers have better brains.
A 2010 study by Dr. Mar found a similar result in preschool-age children: the more stories they had read to them, the keener their theory of mind — an effect that was also produced by watching movies but, curiously, not by watching television.
But even more interestingly, or obviously, this article offers a scientific explanation for why we sometimes remember fictional characters as real. To our brains, they are.
There is evidence that just as the brain responds to depictions of smells and textures and movements as if they were the real thing, so it treats the interactions among fictional characters as something like real-life social encounters.
Back to LitReactor, and Zanesville author Kris Saknussemm joins an illustrious line-up of instructors for a workshop starting in April. Saknussemm, fresh from his Reverend America Tour tackles place, a subject dear to the heart of this oft-displaced writer. Tell him I sent you.
Over at The Cult, Chuck Palahniuk is offloading the faux Yin Yang table from The Fight Club to raise money for a Portland Dog shelter. If you live in Portland, he’ll even come over and help you assemble it, so get out your Allenkeys, people.
And finally Ian McEwan at The Guardian draws parallels between science and literature over issues of originality, not nearly so much an anachronism in this digital age as you’d think.
[Darwin’s] reluctance to upset his wife Emma’s religious devotion, or to contradict the theological certainties of his scientific colleagues, or to find himself in the unlikely role of iconoclast, a radical dissenter in Victorian society, all were swept aside for fear of another man taking possession of and getting credit for the ideas he believed to be his.
Rear view mirrors of the mind.