Oh Frabjous Day!

I’m thrilled to announce that my collection, Sefira and Other Betrayals, has won the This Is Horror Award for best collection!  This is what I wrote for the podcast on which the awards are announced:

I am surprised and delighted that the voters for the This Is Horror Awards have selected Sefira and Other Betrayals in the single-author collection category. My sincerest gratitude to them for bestowing this honor on my work. My fellow nominees in this category represent some of the best short fiction currently being written and it has elevated my book for it to appear on the ballot alongside them. While I’m sure everyone’s to-be-read pile is already mountainous, if you’ve yet to read these books by Nathan Ballingrud, Brian Evenson, Laura Mauro, and Sarah Read, I urge you to rectify this oversight posthaste.

I would like to thank Derrick Hussey and Hippocampus press for publishing my collection and doing such a good job at it. I’d also like to acknowledge the editors in whose anthologies much of its contents first appeared: John Joseph Adams, Ellen Datlow, Nick Gevers and Jack Dann, S.T. Joshi, and Simon Strantzas. The fabulous Santiago Caruso provided me with a brilliant cover painting, and while you probably still shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, maybe it’s okay just this once. My agent, Ginger Clark, continues to be in my corner even though that corner is full of weird monsters.

All of these stories benefited, to greater and lesser degrees, from the friendship and counsel of Laird Barron and Paul Tremblay. Seriously—I don’t know where I’d be without these guys. The love and support of my sons, Nick and David, makes my life fuller. And my wife, Fiona, is the reason for…everything. Thanks, love: this is for you.

Sefira and Other Betrayals by [John Langan, Paul Tremblay]

This guy is very happy at the award.  Really.

An extra congratulations to Sarah Read, whose mighty collection, Out of Water, was runner-up in the category.

For a complete list of the winners and runners-up, as well as to listen to interviews with all of us, head over to the This Is Horror site.

Floating Next to the Whale: A Dream

Most of my dreams are confused, fragmentary affairs.  There are elements I recognize from dream to dream, mostly large, labyrinthine structures through which I wander, sometimes alone, generally in the company of a small group of people, but I don’t experience the kind of long narratives some of my family and friends have related to me.

In some ways, the dream I had the other night wasn’t much different from usual, but its effect on me was and continues to be profound.  In it, I was floating in the ocean; I think I was wearing a wetsuit (which I also think was orange and black).   I am, as a rule, made very nervous to the point of panicking by the thought of being in deep water, but I was oddly calm.  In the mid- to far distance, I could see the low, jagged spine of a mountainous island, which, in the weird way of dreams, I knew was tropical.  Directly to my left, maybe eight or ten feet away, there was a man in a kayak, also wearing a wetsuit (which I think was also orange and black), a life-vest, and a safety helmet; he was holding a paddle in one or both of his hands.  I don’t remember recognizing him, but we were familiar enough for him to warn me to be very careful.

The reason for his caution was the blue whale floating directly in front of me, no more than two or three feet away.  The top of its head was barely out of the water; what I could mostly see was one brown eye the size of a saucer, set in blue and gray skin traversed by deep grooves and lines.  I was aware of the immensity of the whale just underneath the water next to me, and of that great brown eye studying me as it slowly moved from left to right in front of me.  I had the sense the whale was female, though I can’t say how.  The man in the kayak was telling me how dangerous my position was, how you weren’t supposed to be this close to a whale, how if it decided to dive you could be sucked underwater.  I wasn’t afraid, which struck me even in the dream:  I knew I should be, next to so massive a creature in so perilous a location, but all I was aware of was a kind of emotion–I want to call it a subdued or muted gladness at the sheer size of the whale, at something like this existing.

And that was the dream, just floating beside this blue whale as she regarded me.  The next night, as we were preparing dinner, I told it to Fiona, my wife, who almost immediately had an interpretation for it.  “I think it was your imagination,” she said.  “I think you were meeting your imagination.  In a lot of Jungian psychology, the ocean is a symbol for the unconscious.  I think you were having a meeting with your imagination.”  Which is far cooler than anything I could have come up with.  I love the idea of a whale as the image for my imagination:  there’s a whale scene in my first novel, House of Windows, and then there’s The Fisherman, which started life as my riff on Moby Dick.  Funnily enough, the night I had the dream, I had just had a breakthrough about the long project I’m trying to get started on now.  So there you go.

Blue whales are the largest mammals, and possibly the largest animal of any kind to have lived on Earth. A long, whale has been seen, but most are smaller than this. Blue Whale Pictures, Sea Whale, What A Beautiful World, Beautiful Things, Deep Blue Sea, Tonne, Large Animals, Nature Reserve, Sea Creatures

 

A Reading of One of My Stories

As a writer, one of the things you dream of is thoughtful, nuanced responses to your work.  Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to receive a number of these kinds of reactions to my stories.  Recently, Ryan Whitley wrote a terrific analysis of my story, “The Horn of the World’s Ending,” which appeared first in Darrell Schweitzer’s That Is Not Dead in 2015, and which will be part of my forthcoming collection, Children of the Fang.  I’m extremely moved by the care and attention Ryan has brought to his reading of the piece, and I thank him for it.

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Ryan included this illustration with his essay, and it’s pretty cool.

The Shirley Jackson Awards

Today the 2019 Shirley Jackson Awards were announced, in a terrifically produced video (if I do say so myself).  If you didn’t have a chance to watch the video, here’s a link. (Don’t worry:  it’s pretty short.)  Congratulations to all the winners, as well as to everyone who was nominated.  Thanks, too, to this year’s jurors, Linda D Addison, Aaron Dries, Josh Gaylord, Gabino Iglesias, Kate Maruyama.

During the annual meeting of the Board of Directors, I was somehow given the role of Vice President.  My goal during that one year period will be to assist as best I can in following through on our pledge to diversify both the Board of Directors and Board of Advisors for the award with all due haste.  Just think of me as the Agnew to Brett Cox’s Nixon!  (Wait…)

Birthday Buddies! or, Me and Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

I don’t know if you did this when you were a kid, but I was always interested to find out who else shared my birthday (July 6).  There were a number of kids in my elementary school who were born on the 5th, and even more, it seemed, on the 7th, but the day in between, I had all to myself.  When it came to celebrities/historical figures of note, I didn’t fare much better:  Sylvester Stallone and Nancy Reagan (I kid you not).  John Paul Jones was born on the 6th, which I guess was something, except that my middle name is, you guessed it, Paul, and my fellow students took great delight in calling me “John Paul Jones.”  Not that any of the little thugs knew about the birthday connection:  it was just something obnoxious to say.

(During college, I think it was, I found that both Guy de Maupassant and William Faulkner had died on July 6th–not the same July 6th, mind you, but I supposed that was…well, you couldn’t call it auspicious, exactly, unless you believed that one or both of their souls/essences had traveled through the ether to take up residence in my infant brain.  Which I never thought.  Never.)

More recently, I learned I share a birthday with the great Frida Kahlo, which pretty much makes up for the whole Sly/Nancy thing.  But I also learned I have it in common with a fellow writer of weird fiction, the very talented Jayaprakash Satyamurthy.

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As you can see from the photo above , he and his wife run an animal rescue/shelter operation out of their home.  That alone would make him okay in my book.  But he’s also a fantastic writer.  Over the last several years, he’s released a pair of slim collections of weird stories, as well as a standalone story (I think it’s a long novelette, but it might cross into novella territory) called Strength of Water.  All of it is excellent work, its prose elegant and lucid without being overly stilted or formal.  Set in and around Bangalore, which is where he lives, the shorter stories evoke those of M.R. James and Robert Aickman without ever feeling derivative, while deftly evoking day to day life in contemporary India.  In terms of both story and ideas, Strength of Water packs more into its pages than many long novels.  I like to describe it by evoking the scene in Gaiman’s American Gods where Shadow gets to see the space behind the world, and then telling whomever I’m talking to to imagine that what you’re seeing when you’re in that space is actually the ideological constructs that shape and govern our societies brought to life.  And that’s not to mention the psychic kids and the painfully sharp portrayal of India sliding towards authoritarianism.

Strength of Water by [Jayaprakash Satyamurthy]

Recently, Satyamurthy has released a new collection of stories, Come Tomorrow:  and Other Tales of Bangalore Terror, which brings together the material of his previous two collections with new work.  I purchased it the second I found out it was available:  that’s the kind of writer Jayaprakash Satyamurthy is, the kind whose every new story you snap up the minute you hear about it.  If you want to wish one of our finer writers of weird fiction  a Happy Birthday, head over to your preferred vendor and treat yourself to his work.

Come Tomorrow : and other tales of Bangalore terror by [Jayaprakash Satyamurthy]

 

Interview Down Under!

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to do an interview with Australian writer and interviewer Glenn Parker for his Does the Dog Die in This? podcast.  (You have to follow the website links to Spotify for the podcast episodes; I’m episodes 9 and 10.)  I had a blast talking with Glenn about things like impostor syndrome, getting past being too self critical, and the mysteries of canine consciousness.  Thanks to him for allowing me to ramble on.

Glenn also reprinted one of my early stories, “Episode Seven:  Last Stand Against the Pack in the Kingdom of the Purple Flowers,” which has become a little harder to find these days, on the website.

Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell - Wikipedia

Devil Dog, the Hound of Hell, says, “The dog better not die in this, Langan!”

 

Interviews!

Lately, I’ve had the pleasure of being interviewed for several podcasts, the first couple of which have been posted.  If you have a little time, perhaps you’d like to listen to them.

First up, I talk to the Humming Fools (their name, not mine).  The focus of their podcast is on creativity, which they approach in a very funny way.  They’re also in the process of creating a horror comic based on fictional versions of themselves (at least, I assume they’re fictional).  The first two issues are up on their site, and I have to tell you, I enjoyed the heck out of them, and was sorry the third wasn’t done yet.

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This is the image the Fools (specifically, Noah Baslé) came up with for my show with them.  Holy cow, do I love this, and wish it were on a t-shirt.  Or a huge poster.  Or painted on my house.  Good job, Noah!

Second is a conversation with Curtis Lawson for his Wyrd Transmissions podcast.  Curtis is the author of a very cool novel, Black Heart Boys’ Choir, and we had a terrific conversation about writing horror fiction.

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This the logo for Curtis’s podcast.  It’s nice to see that monsters love to read, too.

 

Children of the Fang!

My goodness, it’s been a while since I visited this space, hasn’t it?  Sorry for all the dust, but I’ll probably let the spiders stay.

Here’s some good news to start:  this August, my fourth collection of stories, Children of the Fang and Other Genealogies, will be published by Word Horde Press!  Here’s a look at the beautiful cover the brilliant Matthew Jaffe came up with for it:

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Klimt meets Frazetta!

Stephen Graham Jones provided a very kind and generous introduction that made me feel I was a much smarter writer than I am.

This is a big book,  modeled after collections like King’s Skeleton Crew and Barker’s Books of Blood.  Here’s the Table of Contents:

Sweetums” 

Hyphae”

Muse” 

Zombies in Marysville” 

With Max Barry in the Nearer Precincts” 

Into the Darkness, Fearlessly” 

Children of the Fang” 

Episode Three: On the Great Plains, in the Snow” 

Tragōidia” 

Ymir” 

Irezumi” 

The Horn of the World’s Ending” 

The Underground Economy” 

The Communion of Saints” 

Aphanisis” 

Gripped” 

Inundation” 

To See, To Be Seen” 

What You Do Not Bring Forth” 

Vista” 

Slippage” 

If you’d like to preorder a copy from Word Horde, it would be much appreciated.  As we did with The Fisherman, I’ll be signing (and illustrating!) bookplates for the Word Horde orders.

Lovecraft eZine Part Deux: With Laird Barron and Paul Tremblay

It’s time for another of my sporadic efforts to update ye olde blog.  Let’s begin with a link to another visit I had to the Lovecraft eZine podcast just a couple of months after I’d been on to promote the release of Sefira and Other Betrayals.  This time, it was to take part in a round table discussion with the Honey Badger and the Pickle King.  I had a blast, and if we’re no closer to answering the question of who would win a fight among the three of us (hint:  it’s neither of them), the podcast is a good reminder why Laird and Paul are two of my favorite people.  Seriously, I love these guys.

 

Lovecraft ezine!

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of participating in the Lovecraft ezine’s weekly pod- and videocast, as the kickoff event for the launch of Sefira and Other Betrayals.  As ever, I had a blast talking with Mike Davis and the other participants who were kind enough to give up a couple of hours of their Sunday afternoons and evenings to be there.  Here’s a link to the videocast, if you’re so inclined.  Our conversation embraced such topics as who will win in the inevitable fight among myself, Laird Barron, and Paul Tremblay; whom you should lay you money on in a battle between Godzilla and Cthulhu; and what Godzilla would sound like with a French accent.

Barron vs. Tremblay, or Godzilla vs. Cthulhu? (Painting by the ever-brilliant Bob Eggleton; buy a poster of the image here).

 

During the show, I mentioned a number of novels, collections, and journals that are worth a look.  I wanted to link to as many of them as I can remember, so here you go:

Dan Chaon  Ill Will

Glen Hirshberg  Nothing to Devour (also Motherless Child and Good Girls).

Laird Barron  Black Mountain

Nathan Ballingrud  Wounds

Carrie Laben  A Hawk in the Woods

A.C. Wise  Catfish Lullaby

Navin Weeraratme  Zeelam

S.P. Miskowski  The Worst is Yet to Come

Molly Tanzer  Creatures of Will and Temper (and Creatures of Want and Ruin)

Paul Tremblay  Growing Things

Vastarien

Thinking Horror Vol. 2

Robert Wilson  Ashes and Entropy

Ellen Datlow  Echoes