Posts Tagged ‘Horror’

Pleased to announce I have a  release by Pint Bottle Press as part of their Double Barrel Horror line up.  The chapbook contains my stories ‘Black Rock Boys‘ and ‘The Perfect Figure-Eight‘.  It’s available on Amazon. I love the camp-as-fuck pulpy clip art-style cover!

Black Rock Boys is a bit of weird-maybe-cosmic-horror story about a boy who finds help when he’s on the run from his girlfriends vengeful brother.

The Perfect Figure-Eight is literary-horror-but-maybe-also-magic-realism, about teen love, and racing, and the cycle of pain and violence that swathes through our lives and off into the lives of others.

Very much enjoying what Pint Bottle Press is doing. Like a novella, the chapbook format gives readers an introduction to an author without them having to commit to a full novel. And a 99c, you cant go wrong.

These stories will also be collected in the forthcoming paperback anthology edited by Matthew Weber, Double Barrel Horror Vol. 2, also from Pint Bottle Press. They’ll feature alongside double shots of horror and dark fiction from the likes of John Boden, Patrick Freivald, Chad Lutzke, Karen Runge and M.B. Vujacic

 

 

very+cold+woman+walking

I’m walking to work, freezing my ass off in the morning chill, flicking through Facebook on my phone and thinking “Why horror?”. Ahead of me, pedestrians gather at the crossing—pre-morning-coffee men standing sullen in their suits and long trench coats; Women, slightly more composed in their lacquered nails and corporate war paint, leather knee-high boots and long, quilted coats.

This is not exactly unusual; I examine the “Why Horror” question on a semi-regular basis, despite thinking I have my answers down. This morning is a little different, however. I don’t pull out the usual trite “We read/write horror because it helps us to deal with the horrors of the real world” bollocks, which, although true enough, seems played out and tired. I don’t roll with the “We just like to scare ourselves. Us human beings get a real kick out of it” business, despite rightly enjoying the cheap thrill of controlled frisson as much as (or more than) the next person. It’s the loss of warmth in my phone hand as the circa 0-degree Celsius weather saps what little warmth is left from my poorly-circulated arthritic claw that causes my epiphany.

Horror fiction is not only about loss; ultimately, it’s about love.

Whut? I know, I know—allow me to join my nonsense-dots for you.

Let’s assume literature (or all art really), is—on some level—an attempt by humankind to explain, rationalise or comment on the world around us, or to an attempt to evoke or recreate emotion. We see this struggle for realisation and understanding it in the basic mythologies and creation myths. We see it in religious texts. We see it in the the works of philosophers and the socio-political commentary of books like 1984, Animal Farm, and Catch 22. We see it manifest in the commentary (feminist literary criticism, formalism, moral criticism, etc) and analysis of literature (What did the author mean when they said such and such? And even the legacy authors has left the world today…see: Lovecraft, Shakespeare, Rumi, et al). We see our emotions evoked via rousing tales of comedy, valour, drama, terror and love. Through this w of this we, as readers, come to know ourselves, our fellow humans and the world around us.

To be honest, on this frigid morning, hundreds of bleak Soviet-seeming metres away from my heated office, I’m a pretty selfish guy. I couldn’t care less how literature has performed that function historically, or how it does it today. Remember—It’s Monday morning, pre-9am. I’m pre-coffee, and I’m freezing my balls off in the fog by the traffic lights; this is all about me, mate. So “how does literature ‘do it’ for me?” I wonder as my bony blue-ing claw clamps rheumatically around my Motorola.

While there’s no hard and fast rules in the world of writing (indeed, perhaps the very best literature smashes, or at least subverts, the rules), it’s always seemed to me that certain genres of literature seemed to be purpose-built for certain things. Where literary fiction might be best suited to answering (or at least asking) timeless questions of life, and the human condition—science fiction seems geared to dealing with issues of morality, ethics surrounding societies and their development and implementation of technologies. And how it may all fit together (or fall apart!) sometime into the future. Fantasy, on the other hand, gives us the ‘Hero’s Journey’, riffs on good versus evil, allows us to imagine changing of the world for the better, and perhaps even allows us to indulge our complex modern thinking in a simple pre-modern setting (credit to Nick Mamatas for that last poignant observation). These are all important genres that often ask important questions or deal with important issues. Exciting and fun genres, even. But there’s something about them that, to me personally, seems so separate from my condition. At a basic level, something about them fails to speak to me-as-human-being, in a particularly profound way.

It’s 2016. Maybe it’s the Prozac. Maybe it’s because I deal with complex technology all day in my day job and secretly harbour an Anarcho-Luddite fantasy of the nuclear bombs going off and a return to much simpler times. Maybe it’s because I’m locked into the same 24/7 news cycle hamster wheel we all are and am heartily repulsed and disillusioned by all aspects of the greater human condition. Maybe it’s simply because I’m older now and have slipped so far into nihilistic cynicism that I can’t appreciate the wide-eyed wonder of fantasy anymore, and disbelieve in the possibility of individuals creating profound change. Frankly, as often as I do, I don’t really connect with this subject matter and find the themes tedious. I don’t care to ask l questions about the fundamental truths of the human condition. I couldn’t care less about the imaginings of future technology and how it may impact society. Who cares if the hero has a journey, or if he even arrives at his destination? Most of the time, I just want to feel something. Anything.

Back at the pedestrian crossing, the little green man signal springs to life. There is a brief moment where there my fellow pedestrians remain frozen in hesitation, not trusting their eyes that it’s truly safe to step onto the asphalt. I shove the icicle on the end of my arm into my coat pocket. I don’t need the phone anymore, I have the bit in my teeth. I’m onto something here. I step onto the road.

Jack Ketchum once related that a fan thought his writing was really all about loss. Having read most of Jack’s work, I think that reader was right. Having said that, I’d go a step further and say it’s not only true of Jack’s work, it’s true of all horror fiction. So how have I made that leap? Well, to understand that we need to discuss fear. After all, horror fiction is that which deals with the emotion fear in its various forms.

Fear (and its most extreme form, terror) is the oldest emotion. With fear comes that animalistic fight-or-flight defence mechanism, an aspect of our existence that’s survived countless aeons, the selection and mutations of evolution, and man’s descent from the canopies and ascent into consciousness. As the oldest emotion (and probably most important, I think), we as humans are ruled by it. It’s central to our existence and who we are. It governs all our most important decisions and actions. And fear? Fear thrives on loss. I’d go so far as to say that if you think about it the right way,  almost everything we fear is actually a fear of losing something.

Let’s take your employment, as a case study and we’ll ‘what if’ it to the nth degree. None of us want to lose our job, even the mere thought of it causes most of us anxiety or true panic. What happens if you lose your job? In the worst case scenario, you lose your financial stability. You lose your ability to buy food. You lose your ability to pay your rent or mortgage. You lose your ability to provide for your dependents. You might lose your spouse and your kids. You lose your ability to sustain your hygiene and health. Hells bells, my pulse quickens a little just entertaining the thought of any of that stuff.

Now let me refer you back to that initial bizarre comment about horror being somehow about love. If we fear to lose something—if the thought of its loss or its destruction, is so horrifying to us— it’s usually because we actually love that thing. We love the challenge and the reward of gainful employment. We love the stability and security it brings. We love full bellies and the warmth and comfort clothes over our back and a roof over our head. We love our spouses and children and our ability to provide for them. We love our vitality, good health and happiness. This is all as true for me in 2016 as it would’ve been for a me in 3000BC. Or 10,000BC.

At this point, I’m halfway across that road, breath steaming in the morning air. I’m beginning to feel some tingles of life in my phone hand again, but you heard me say ‘Horror is Love’ and I can hear y’all revving your engines, ready to run me over, little green man be damned!

Upon reflection, this might just be the truest, most-distilled reason why I read and write horror fiction. By the mere virtue of what it is, it’s just so damn emotionally honest. It’s the literature of love and loss. It speaks to me, like no other fiction does, on a truly animalistic level and in a wholly intuitive way that I don’t need to overly rationalise. My inner fucking caveman understands what’s going on here! Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate and enjoy the over-arching tale the author is telling, even the cautionary tale or social criticism they’re exploring—but beyond and deeper than that, on a fundamentally primordial level, as a motherfucking biological being, I can relate to horror fiction. No other genre gives me this visceral response, which harkens back to my most basic involuntary reptilian psychological and physiological functions. No other form of literature seems such an honest expression of what it means to be human or to be alive. No other genre understands me as a biological being that is trying to survive this inexorable series of harrowing moments between birth and death. I’m not even joking when I say—truly understanding fear, understanding horror, is in my (all of ours, really) DNA.

The little green man becomes a little red man as I step onto the kerb. The sullen men and well-manicured and composed women hurry away to their workplaces like good corporate denizens, anticipatory frowns creasing their brows. I smile because I understand now, and I appreciate the honesty.

Love and loss—that’s horror.

That’s life.

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Originally I thought to write a piece regarding the change of the WFA from a bust of Lovecraft to something different, but I realised there just so much to talk about that it can’t be tackled in just a few hundred words, hence the “Part 1” in the title.  In coming days, I hope to post a follow up to delve into things a little further. I think this is a worthy and timely topic for discussion and hope that I have something of value to add to that discussion.

A couple of weeks back,  folks that run the World Fantasy Convention came out and stated that they’re no longer going to use the a bust of author Howard Philips Lovecraft, designed by artist Gahan Wilson, for the World Fantasy Award.

As first reported by Locus Magazine:

David G. Hartwell, co-chair of the World Fantasy Convention board, announced during the 2015 World Fantasy Awards that the current award trophy is being retired after this year.

The trophy, known informally as the “Howard,” is a bust of author H.P. Lovecraft designed by Gahan Wilson. In recent years, many writers, editors, and readers in the field (notably World Fantasy Award winner Nnedi Okorafor and nominee Daniel José Older) have called for the trophy to be changed, considering Lovecraft an inappropriate choice for the award due to his racist views. A design for the new trophy has not yet been announced.

Indeed, on November 10, Lovecraft biographer and editor, ST Joshi released the text of an letter he sent to David G. Hartwell, Co-chair of the World Fantasy Convention board:

I was deeply disappointed with the decision of the World Fantasy Convention to discard the bust of H. P. Lovecraft as the emblem of the World Fantasy Award. The decision seems to me a craven yielding to the worst sort of political correctness and an explicit acceptance of the crude, ignorant, and tendentious slanders against Lovecraft propagated by a small but noisy band of agitators.

I feel I have no alternative but to return my two World Fantasy Awards, as they now strike me as irremediably tainted. Please find them enclosed. You can dispose of them as you see fit.

Many authors have spoken, some more vociferously than others, about the need to change this award in several years.. including WFA winners Nnedi Okorafor, Sofia Samatar and others.

In the field of literary criticism there is a device known as the Implied Author (as opposed to the Author).  This Implied Author v.s Author relationship was referred to by T.S Eliot in his essay Tradition and Individual Talent, as “The Man Who Suffers and The Mind which Creates“.  The Man Who Suffers (i.e the Author)is the real life human being, the guy out there paying the bills and buying his hayfever medication from the pharmacy, raising his kids and working a day job.   The Mind Which Creates (i.e the Implied Author)  is the sense that we as readers get of the author and their personality,  or perhaps their views, or even their hopes and dreams.  This is a giant bone of contention between formalists of which T.S Eliot was one (i.e literary theorists and critics concerned with the form of a text) and those who seek to view the text through a more wider biographical lense and to take into account the time and place and the circumstances of the author before and during the time the work was written.

Ever the formalist, T.S Eliot wrote:

The analogy was that of the catalyst. When the two gases previously mentioned are mixed in the presence of a filament of platinum, they form sulphurous acid. This combination takes place only if the platinum is present; nevertheless the newly formed acid contains no trace of platinum, and the platinum itself is apparently unaffected; has remained inert, neutral, and unchanged. The mind of the poet is the shred of platinum. It may partly or exclusively operate upon the experience of the man himself; but, the more perfect the artist, the more completely separate in him will be the man who suffers and the mind which creates; the more perfectly will the mind digest and transmute the passions which are its material.

What Eliot is getting at here is that there is, particularly in the best of writers, a separation between the person of the writer and his creative mind, so that an author who might be a miser, or a complete jerk, or recluse can write stories and characters that are generous, and loving and outgoing. And vice versa!  Sure there are obvious exceptions to any rule, … a writer who is a jerk might write a mean story full of jerk characters, which mirrors his own life and experiences completely, but there is enough truth here that we can rationally recognise it.

Notwithstanding its lack of scholarly fides, I’m using wikipedia’s definition of the implied author here because, frankly, I like it.

The implied author is a concept of literary criticism developed in the 20th century. Distinct from the author and the narrator, the term refers to the character a reader may attribute to an author based on the way a literary work is written, which may differ considerably from the author’s true personality.

Author Saul Bellow once observed that it was not surprising, with all the revision that goes into a work, that an author might appear better on the page than in real life.

I love that last part. It’s so true. It’s like reading Orson Scott Card fiction and then reading his political views. Or listening to Eric Clapton play, before you find out he’s a big racist jerk.

Anyway,  lets take a look at HPL, shall we? Who was the Implied Author presented to us on HPL’s page?  Who was Lovecraft “the man”?

Lovecraft, the man, was a nervous recluse who, after his father died of syphilis in an insane asylyum, was raised by his mentally ill mother in Providence, Rhode Island.  He had extended periods of mental breakdown. He was an atheist and enamoured with science although was unable to pursue science as a serious academic study when he dropped out of highschool before graduation (on account of his poor mental health). He was a racist and held a lot of objectionable views. He briefly married a Jewish woman who later left him and he moved back to providence to live with his Aunts.  His views, which I personally find completely puerile and repulsive, are well known and extremely well documented owing to the fact that HPL was an amazingly prolific letter writer. He exchanged correspondence with a wide variety of figures, including notable writers of his time and those who would come along to be greats in their own right, including Clark Ashton Smith, Robert Bloch etc. You can read more of his biography here and here.

Lovecraft viewed the Anglo-German (Teutonic) race as the pinnacle of evolution. He viewed southern Europeans and Asians as inferior races.  He held the deepest contempt for Blacks and Australian Aboriginals which he considered little more than animals, incapable of creating their own civilised societies and civilizations.  He considered America to be the Anglo-Saxon civilization transported to another continent and improved through a more democratic political environment, but sharing the same values, qualities and roots as that of its Western European forebears. HPL hated multiculturalism and insisted that only a small number of non-whites be admitted into the United States or the nation would come to ruin, although, interestingly, he held there to be some value in other non-white cultures as long as their people stayed in their own countries and separate from white civilization so as not to retard the progress of Anglo-saxon/teutonic civilization.  In various of his letters he foresaw the need to “get rid” of non-whites from America should they ever come to threaten the stability and Anglo-Saxon fabric of  the nation. One or two comments that he made were very close to, if not actually, calls for ethnic cleansing. For the purposes of brevity I’m not going to post all the text from his letters, but if you’re unaccustomed to his views, you can read about his views and read discussion of his views herehere, here, here, here, and all over the internet.

Now that we’ve examined The Man Who Suffers/Author… let’s inspect The Mind Which Creates/Implied Author.

One need only make a close reading of his works to see his xenophobic loathing for any non-white and non-western European people in fact permeate the content and form of his written work.  The Shadow Over Innsmouth, is a tale of degenerate creatures crawling out of the sea and mating with human beings, was basically just a projection of his fears about immigration, inter-racial breeding,  multiculturalism etc. In which the narrator is exposed to the degenerate invaders and, at the end of the story, learns that he has their blood too and lapses into an almost religious kind of ecstasy, in just the same way that Lovecraft accuses non-whites of in many of his tales.  See here for a close reading of some of the text.  Lovecraft almost always introduces non-white characters, multiculuralism generally, inter-racial marriage and inter-racial sex, non-English languages ,etc… in terms of scorn, derision and in a wholly dehumanising fashion.

Charles Baxter rightly comments:

Racism is not incidental to Lovecraft’s vision but is persistent and essential to it. Ethnic minorities and monsters are, for him, often interchangeable. In his stories it is not unusual for a character to undergo a transformation into a creature from whom all humanity has been leached out, turning him into a foreign-seeming thing, an immigrant, whose attributes are both unpredictable and repellent.

A classic example of this is from  The Horror At Redhook, with its descriptions  of  New York’s multicultural society and the obvious implication that non-whites are destroying the city:

The population is a hopeless tangle and enigma; Syrian, Spanish, Italian, and negro elements impinging upon one another, and fragments of Scandinavian and American belts lying not far distant. It is a babel of sound and filth, and sends out strange cries to answer the lapping of oily waves at its grimy piers and the monstrous organ litanies of the harbour whistles. Here long ago a brighter picture dwelt, with clear-eyed mariners on the lower streets and homes of taste and substance where the larger houses line the hill. One can trace the relics of this former happiness in the trim shapes of the buildings, the occasional graceful churches, and the evidences of original art and background in bits of detail here and there—a worn flight of steps, a battered doorway, a wormy pair of decorative columns or pilasters, or a fragment of once green space with bent and rusted iron railing. The houses are generally in solid blocks, and now and then a many-windowed cupola arises to tell of days when the households of captains and ship-owners watched the sea.
From this tangle of material and spiritual putrescence the blasphemies of an hundred dialects assail the sky. Hordes of prowlers reel shouting and singing along the lanes and thoroughfares, occasional furtive hands suddenly extinguish lights and pull down curtains, and swarthy, sin-pitted faces disappear from windows when visitors pick their way through. Policemen despair of order or reform, and seek rather to erect barriers protecting the outside world from the contagion.

Other examples from his fiction compound the impression we get of his racist views.    Take the description of the black boxer in Herbert West: Reanimator as one example:

The negro had been knocked out, and moment’s examination showed us that he would permanently remain so. He was a loathsome, gorilla-like thing, with abnormally long arms which I could not help calling fore legs, and a face that conjured up thoughts of unspeakable Congo secrets and tom-tom poundings under an eerie moon.

There is no doubt that Lovecraft was a racist of the highest order and that his personal views he held influenced his fiction writing to the point that they (fear of the other/unknown/etc) are one of its central aspects.   He certainly fails T.S Eliot’s test for who is “the most perfect artist”, because it would seem that here was very little or no separation between his personal and creative spheres.  In Lovecraft’s case, The Man Who Suffered WAS the Mind Which Created. 

So what do I think?

I’m honestly so damn tired of people being outraged about everything all the time. So sick of everyone having some cause to champion. It sets my teeth on edge, even when I agree with why they’re outraged. (Largely because I don’t like people generally, and I’ve got enough of my own problems and can rarely handle worrying about the problems of others). My inner misanthrope, who may also be my inner privileged white misogynist, sometimes wishes everyone would just shut the the hell up. I try very hard, however, to recognise this as a character flaw and as objectionable and pray the better part of myself and logic prevails.  Therefore, I understand that things that don’t affect me or that I could care less about, do affect others and they do care about those things.  I can put myself in someone else’s shoes.

I’m white (anglo-celtic stock with a spattering of Western European)  but my lovely wife is of an arab background. Our inter-racial marriage and our three beautiful daughters would probably be the kind of “hybrid filth” that Lovecraft mentioned in The Horror at Red Hook.  So I can sympathise with Nnedi Okorafor when she said:

Anyway, a statuette of this racist man’s head is in my home. A statuette of this racist man’s head  is one of my greatest honors as a writer. A statuette of this racist man’s head sits beside my Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa and my Carl Brandon Society Parallax Award (an award given to the best speculative fiction by a person of color). I’m conflicted.

I can also relate to Usman Tanveer Malik who mentioned in one Facebook comment words to the effect that Lovecraft is hardly representative of “World Fantasy” and that awards should be something that is inclusive of people if wants to market itself as the “World Fantasy” award.  Which, ultimately, is probably the most important aspect here. In my opinion, the World Fantasy Award should be an award that should not be anglo-american centric.

Indeed, as Lenika Cruz mentions in The Atlantic:

On some level, Joshi’s frustration is understandable. The nebulous field of weird fiction wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t imbued with the spirit of Lovecraft’s strange, dark creations. And the question of how much to separate a cultural figure from his or her personal beliefs has always been an uneasy one. But Joshi’s claims are myopic. Lovecraft’s removal is about more than just the writer himself; it’s not an indictment of his entire oeuvre. The change is symbolic but powerful—it’s a message to the next generation of writers, artists, and editors that they belong in the genre of science fiction and fantasy.

With this in mind, I largely support the move to change the WFA from a bust of Lovecraft to something different. I don’t think Lovecraft is representative of world fantasy, even if I do love his stories ..(if not for him, Jack Ketchum [who’s mentor Robert Bloch was actually the protege of HPL] and Stephen King, I may not even be a writer). If Lovecraft’s bust had been the World Horror Award, I may (tentatively!) have been less supportive as he’s clearly a towering figure in horror genre, even if he was an odious racist. But fantasy? No way.  As the shit-stirrer par excellence (yet amazingly talented and knowledgeable author and editor) Nick Mamatas mentioned recently, while we view Horror as a distinct genre (which leads many of us to question HPL’s suitability to be linked to the award), if anything, it is more appropriately  a sub-genre of Fantasy in general. I can’t help but feel that if we follow this line of logic and view HPL’s work as part of a Fantasy sub genre, he’s still a just single author from a sub-genre and hardly, in my opinion, representative of the genre as a whole.

I suggest we all take a collective chill pill. Whether you think the so-called “Social Justice Warriors” are not worth Lovecraft’s literary fingernail or not (like Vox Day), changing the appearance of the award doesn’t take away from the achievements of Lovecraft.  Nor, does it change his effect and stature in fiction. Nor will it mean less people will read Lovecraft.  It doesn’t take away from fans, authors or editors who like Lovecraft of write or edit Lovecraftian fiction — most of you are great people and those writers and editors amongst you are extremely talented individuals. Beyond that, you can’t insult the dead. HPL seriously doesn’t care (he’s dead) and his place in literary history is assured.  Those who want the change have their opinion (which is a legit concern to them and many others), and you have yours. You can lobby the World Fantasy Convention with your own views on the matter if you want, as can authors or fans of any other persuasion.

So, I say, let’s just make the award an elf, or a dragon, or a unicorn or make it a plaque and not a bust or idol of something at all — and then can we just get on with the business of writing, reading and enjoying new fiction. 

Update:

Since I drafted this post a whole bunch of stuff has gone down, including ST Joshi’s wife yelling at an author and saying he’s now blacklisted from any press where Joshi works, not to be over-shadowed by Joshi coming out and saying Ellen Datlow is immoral and that she’s opportunistically released lovecraftian works while backstabbing his corpse by seeking to get the “Howie” replaced as the WFA bust.    You can find some of this on Joshi’s website.  As far as I’m concerned, this is beyond the pale and I think ST Joshi owes Ellen a public apology.  Wow. You crossed the line, dude. Sit down.

I am writing a supplementary post delving into greater detail regarding some of the issues surrounding this current furor which I believe to be quite pertinent to the discussion, namely that of free speech, tradition, privilege and his legacy and effect on current race discourse.

SiD 2 Title2

Dusk:  a time between times; on the edge between the light and the dark. A time of change.

I’m incredibly pleased to announce that I’ll be teaming up with Books of the Dead Press once again, and editing a sequel to the 2014 anthology of horror and dark fiction, Suspended in Dusk.

To be released mid-2016, Suspended in Dusk 2 will be another quality collection of fiction from some of the best current authors of short dark fiction, featuring stories from:   Stephen Graham Jones, Damien Angelica Walters, Alan Baxter, Karen Runge, Benjamin Knox, and many more. More exciting names and news will be revealed in coming weeks.  I’m very pleased that, once again, “Suspended in Dusk” will collect a range of voices from new and established talented female and male writers of the dark, bizarre, and terrifying.

Suspended in Dusk 2 will be introduced by the amazingly talented Angela Slatter. Angela Slatter is a British Fantasy Award winning and World Fantasy Award nominated author of several collections of short stories, including The Bitterwood Bible, and Sourdough and Other Stories.  Her novella Of Sorrow and Such was recently released by Tor, October 13 2015.  www.angelaslatter.com

In addition to fantastic fiction, horror author and artist, Aaron Dries, will be creating illustrations of a number of the collected stories to be included in the paperback edition of Suspended in Dusk 2.  Aaron is a masterful horror artist and his terrifying illustrations are highly sought after.  I encourage you to check out both Aaron’s dark artwork, and his fiction.  www.aarondries.com

 

Simon Dewar

http://www.BooksoftheDeadPress.com

 

In conjunction with a 5 year anniversary sale from Books of the Dead Press, the anthology is currently selling for 99c on Amazon.com.  http://www.amazon.com/Suspended-In-Dusk-Ramsey-Campbell-ebook/dp/B00NIE6E2S/ref=zg_bs_157061011_2

Please consider checking out the other Books of the Dead titles many of which are free or reduced to 99c. There are some fantastic books by amazing authors. You wont regret it.  http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_2?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=Books%20of%20the%20Dead&search-alias=digital-text&sort=relevancerank

I’ve been busy of late doing promotional work for the anthology and along with the sale this has achieved some success.  For a while at least Suspended in Dusk was the no.1 best selling #horror anthology on Amazon.com.  This is great news for the authors whose stories are within the collection.

 number1

There have been a few good reviews of Suspended in Dusk of late. My personal favourites were the review on Lurid-Lit.com and one of the reviews on Goodreads.com

But besides the buckets of gore, blood, creep and crawl these stories present smarts. There are morals hidden beneath the piles of bodies and in back of the winding spirits; modern parables all for our times that set this collection above most of the recent anthologies being hawked today.

This is a solid investment of your time and eye sight.

1. http://www.lurid-lit.com/2014/12/book-review-suspended-in-dusk-edited-by.html

The cover is exquisite. The editor did a good job selecting the content authors, and the editing is of high-quality. The roster contains talent from all over: Australia, UK, US and South Africa, which has a healthy pulse of fresh voices. Overall, I suggest this to any horror author, because chances are, there’s a story within tailored to your liking. As Jack Ketchum states in his introduction—”You’re in good hands here.” More from Simon’s editing desk, please. Call me greedy.

2 . https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1065595300?book_show_action=false&page=1

In coming days we should have news of the print run of Suspended in Dusk. I know there are a few people out there at least who are hanging for a paperback version, in which case you’ll be able to pick one up in the early new year. I’ll update with more info when it’s available,

Other News:

I am currently in the process of planning the next project and will have news in coming days once it’s all be ironed out with the publisher. Hopefully will have news early next year.  I can only hope that project #2 is as well received as Suspended in Dusk has been. What a privilege this has been for my debut editing gig.

Wishing everyone a Happy Christmas, Hanukah, or holiday season.

Oh god, I’ve been dying to let this out… and now I finally can!

Living legend of horror and suspense writing, Dallas Mayr (AKA Jack Ketchum) has written a *fantatsic* introduction for my Suspended in Dusk anthology.

Who’s the scariest guy in America? Probably Jack Ketchum — Stephen King.

I can’t tell you how excited and honoured I am. Dallas Mayr is a true professional, an awesome guy, and one hell of a scary writer.

Dallas (writing as Jack Ketchum) burst onto the horror scene in 1981 with his novel Off Season, that caused such an uproar that his own publisher actually removed it from print. In 1999, an unexpurgated version was released by Cemetery Dance. In his career, Dallas has won four Bram Stoker Awards, and has earned the title of World Horror Convention Grand Master, placing him in the august company of the likes of Stephen King, Tanith Lee, Clive Barker, Robert Bloch, Joe R. Lansdale and many others.

I think my favourite Ketchum story is one called Hide and Seek because it takes three things we all know… the child’s game hide and seek, self-destructive teens, and the classic haunted house tale …and does something new and terrifying with them. There is a particularly good audio-book version of this read by a narrator called Wayne June, whose deep bassy voice and fantastic vocal skills really bring this one to life. Check it out, along with the rest of Jack’s bibliography.

Jack also periodically teaches a four week horror writing course via Litreactor.com which is fantastic and I recommend those horror writers out there who want to take their writing down avenues they hadnt even imagined: If it comes up again, take this course. You won’t regret it.

This (along with the fantastic endorsements from Kaaron Warren and Jonathan Maberry and the fantastic line-up of authors) is just one more reason why you should pick up the Suspended in Dusk anthology upon release.

Hope to have a release date for you in coming days.

S.

 

Led to the Slaughter is a werewolf tale by Duncan McGeary, published by Books of the Dead Press in early 2014.  This was the first novel I’d read by Duncan and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I thorougly enjoyed it.  The story is a spin on the historical events surrounding the Donner Party and the claims of cannibalism which surrounded their ill-fated expedition to California in the mid-19th century.

The Reed family seeks to travel west across the country on the Oregon Trail so  that the father, John Reed, can start a new job in California and the family can make a new life.  They join a caravan party lead by Jacob and George Donner, who are, unbeknownst to all, werewolves on the way to a clan meeting to decide the the dwindling clans among the realms of men.  The tale is one of a harrowing and oppressive journey for caravans through inhospitable lands. Before they reach their final destination, many die of exposure, famine or violence. You really get a sense of what it may have been like to be one of those colonial settlers forging a path out West.  I suspect a lot of time and effort went into researching this novel and it’s really paid off.  Hat’s off to Duncan.

The story is, mostly, told from the perspective of Virginia Reed, by way of her diary.  Diary entries of others, including John Reed and Charles Stanton, flesh out the story and give a great picture of the over all group and the adversities they’re going through and how they’re coping with the arduous journey and their various confrontations with the Donner Party werewolves.

Virginia Reed is a fantastic character.  A young teenage girl with real hopes and fears, she stoically faces a host of challenges at every step. The girl is stubborn as a mule and a real fighter, yet finds love and romance along the way and manages to put some of the men back in their places. She’s a fantastic character with a strong and endearing voice. You can’t help but like her and she’s a pretty badass girl.  If you like strong female characters, Virginia Reed is your girl.

I found the overall style of writing to suit the time period of the story.  Character’s voices seemed consistent and consistent with the time period as well. This really helped paint a

While there are certainly plenty of action scenes and violence in the book, its  not over the top or too graphic, and combined with the strong focus on Virginia Reed as one of the main protagonists, I get the feeling that this actually a Young Adult horror novel.  Or at least, many teens would probably really enjoy this novel, as much as us adults!

My only regret is that I didn’t have the time to read this story in one hit and had to spread it over a few weeks, due to new family additions and my editing commitments.

Duncan Mcgeary is a solid author, who shows a real knack for weaving not only weaving a dark tale but weaving for us real people and real events.  I can’t wait to sink my teeth into his Vampire Evolution trilogy, also recently released by Books of the Dead.

You can find Led to the Slaughter on Amazon. It’s available in ebook and paperback:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IJQR190/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb

Bram Stoker Award nominated writer and editor Marty Young is editing a new anthology for Cohesion Press, titled Blurring the Line.

8c/word pro-rate, with a respected editor and from a exciting new press who’ve worked with some real talent. I’ll be kicking myself if I don’t at least sub to this one.

Do you really know what’s real and what isn’t?
A man called Arnold Paole was accused of being a vampire in 1732 in Yugoslavia, after his body was dug up five years after his death and found with long pointed teeth and nails, with blood in his mouth.
The Mothman of West Virginia was a winged man-sized creature with glowing red eyes and huge moth-like wings sprouting from its back, seen repeatedly during 1967 and 1968.
In 1977, a dead creature that looked a lot like a plesiosaur was caught in the nets of a Japanese fishing vessel, the Zuiyo-maru, offshore east of Christchurch, New Zealand.
The sage Apollonius of Tyana, born in Turkey at the start of the first century AD, hunted demons, and once saved one of his students from a vampire who was going to drink his blood and eat his soul.
These are all supposedly true stories. And there are more, more tales of monsters that shouldn’t exist, of demons and devil possession, of serial killers wearing human skin, ghosts terrorizing families…
But these tales also sound like fiction, don’t they?

http://cohesionpress.com/about-2/submissions/anthologies/

Everyone,
I’d like to take the time to introduce you to the super nice Toby Bennett, from Cape Town, South Africa. He is featuring in Suspended in Dusk with a story called Maid of Bone.
He’s a very talented writer and I highly recommend you check out his work if you come across it.
S.
mepic
Tell me a bit about yourself, where are you from and what brought you into writing? What drives you to continue writing? 

Officially I’m from Cape Town, but I only say that because the body I inhabit was born there! As far as what started me writing goes I’d have to say the answer is cruel fate. I don’t seem to find anything else satisfying, but a passion for quadratic equations might have been more useful! At least then I might be able to get this blasted death-ray to work – or at least it wouldn’t be made out of old toilet rolls!

I keep writing because I love it, I’m still far from perfection but I hope I get closer every time I work. It’s certainly going better than my army of winged monkeys; not one of the little brats has written even a line of Shakespeare yet.

What genres interest you most and which do you write in?
Always a difficult one to answer, I pretty much go where my story takes me so it really depends what’s leaking from my head on any given day. My natural inclination is towards the fantastical, with just a hint of something nasty thrown in. I like it when elements of fantasy or humour mix with the macabre. After all, it’s a spoonful of bile that brings the medicine up.
 
What are your thoughts about short stories and the short form? Do you have a particular favourite short story? 

I’m a big fan of short stories because of their capacity to catapult the reader into the action. With none of the slower run up of a longer work they have a wonderful power to captivate and explore many themes without overstaying their welcome.

As far as a favourite short story goes I can’t say I have one (I always hate being asked to rank anything as the best). I’m always game for work by Mr. Lovecraft or Mr. King. Most recently I enjoyed the Doom Bunny by Benjamin Knox, well worth it, it helped me to forget that I didn’t get any chocolate this year!

What did you find interesting about writing a story for an anthology with the suspended in dusk title/theme? Was there anything in particular that you wanted to write about or explore? 

I’ve a terrible confession, my story started life as a pun.  It was only as it unfolded that I truly started contemplating the themes behind the anthology. The concepts of being trapped between states of being, limbo existence on the edge of what we regard as normal.

I hope it is clear enough from the story itself but I was trying to explore questions of sanity and perception. “Little questions like did that statue move?” and “can I trust my own perception?” In Maid of Bone, there is a lot that the protagonist takes for granted. She is trapped in her twilight world by her failure to address her presumptions about what is actually happening to her, I hope that readers will pick up on this ambiguity between what she thinks is true and what might be true. It is an ambiguity we all face.

 What has been the highlight of your writing career so far?
Ah the chance for some shameless self-promotion eh? Again I’m loathe to pick just one great moment. I could say the first time I finished a book or when my book Heaven’s Gate got nearly eight thousand downloads on Kindle in a week (okay, it was free at the time). I’m also really looking forward to the publication of ‘Viral’ a collaborative work with Mr. Knox and one that I expect big things from (I’m even hoping for groupies!) Small victories, yes, but things that have meant a lot to me. I think the best part of being a writer is the thought that you have made a connection with other people so I’d say that the highlight is when I hear back from people who enjoyed something I wrote.
 
Do you have any outstanding writing goals you’re working to achieve? (sale to a particular market or publication/book deal/award/NaNoWriMo/etc) 

Well I’m currently working on two books and I really want to get cracking on the sequel to Viral so yes plenty of goals, if only there was enough time in the day!

Do you have any interesting projects on the horizon that you’d like to share some info with us about?

It seems I’m going to mention Viral again, damned book’s like a disease! Seriously, if you like your sci-fi dystopia mixed in with a little horrible mutation and politics set against the backdrop of a ravenous media industrial complex I’d say it’s not to be missed– everyone needs to find out what a dumpling is!

Apart from that I’m also working on a historical piece set during Germanicus’s campaigns in Germany ( wish me luck with getting the research right on that!) I’ve also done a reboot of my book the Endless Ocean and will be releasing its sequel on Kindle in the next few months.

What advice do you have for new or aspiring writers? 
Not sure how original it is (the best advice often isn’t) but: keep at it and be true to your vision. It’s worth remembering that there is no right way to tell a story and that you’re probably better making your own mistakes than someone else’s. The important thing is that you build on those mistakes and hopefully speak more clearly every time, everyone’s not always going to like what you have to say but popularity isn’t the only way to judge if something is worth hearing. Most important have fun, if you’re not enjoying it how can anyone else?

Hey everyone.

I had the distinct fortune of meeting the fantastic Sarah Read while studying a horror writing course at Litreactor.com. I”m very excited for Sarah’s story Quarter Turn to Dawn to be featured in Suspended In Dusk.

S.

sarah-read

Tell me a bit about yourself, where are you from and what brought you into writing? What drives you to continue writing?

I suppose I’m from northern Colorado. That’s the easiest answer—I’ve lived lots of places. But I’ve been here the longest, and I call it home, most of the time.

I don’t know what brought me to writing—I’ve always done it. But if you go back far enough, I suppose the thing that brought me to writing was reading.

I think the drive to continue (when it’s not a compulsion) comes from the passion of other writers and readers. There’s so much good storytelling out there.

 

What genres interest you most and which do you write in? 

I love reading a lot of genres, but my tastes tend to skew dark. I read a lot of horror and dark fantasy. I’ll read just about anything, though.

I write horror. Occasionally some dark fantasy comes along, but it is usually more horror with fantasy elements. Some gory, some literary. Anything spooky.

 

What are your thoughts about short stories and the short form? Do you have a particular favourite short story? 

I adore short stories. I really enjoy how the short form concentrates the intensity. And you can take bigger risks—both as a reader and a writer—when there are only thirty pages at stake.

If I had to choose one short story that stands out as a favorite, it would have to be Father, Son, Holy Rabbit by Stephen Graham Jones. I love all of his work, but that story punches me in the face every time.

 

What did you find interesting about writing a story for an anthology with the Suspended in Dusk title/theme? Was there anything in particular that you wanted to write about or explore? 

I wanted to write about how it’s been feeling like we’re in the dusk of our time on earth—how our species feels as if it is speeding toward bedtime. And I thought about how that’s happened in the past—with ash clouds blotting out the sun, and nature turning nasty. So I ran with that.

 

What has been the highlight of your writing career so far?

I recently made a sale to a magazine that I have loved for a long time. It was a story that I edited in a workshop with Jack Ketchum, and when I told him about the sale, he said he was very proud. I caught myself grinning, just now, thinking about it. As a new writer, having someone I admire enjoy my work is so validating. It gets me through the piles of rejection letters.

 

Do you have any outstanding writing goals you’re working to achieve? (sale to a particular market or publication/book deal/award/NaNoWriMo/etc) 

I am in the middle of what is (probably) the last round of edits on my novel manuscript, before it starts getting sent out to the agents I’ve had my eye on. Fingers crossed.

 

Do you have any interesting projects on the horizon that you’d like to share some info with us about? 

Is this where I get to plug stuff? In that case, keep your eyes on Pantheon Magazine. I recently joined the staff as a first reader, then got bumped up to Fiction Editor. We’ve increased our pay rate from token to semi-pro, and we’re seeing a lot of really amazing work come through!

 

What advice do you have for new or aspiring writers? 

Well, I’m still a new writer, myself. What seems to have made the difference between aspiring writer and new writer was finding a community of writers to work with. For me, that is LitReactor. I’ve met lots of people in the forums, spent time reading, reviewing, and submitting to the workshop, and taking classes with great writers, editors, and agents. My first (real) sale was to one of my class teachers. Several members have become good friends, and now we have our own critique circle—always reading and sharing our news. Writing can be a lonely business—it’s good to have a group of people who get it and who believe in your work.