Projects Recent and Forthcoming

Also during the past several months, I’ve had a couple of pieces appear in print, and a couple more accepted to appear in 2015.  So:

The Recent (1):  “Kore,” an autobiographically-inflected story masquerading as a Halloween memoir, which appeared in Shock Totem‘s Halloween special (available here).  At the end of this past summer, Barry Dejasu contacted me to ask if I’d consider writing a holiday recollection for Shock Totem magazine’s upcoming Halloween special.  Of course I said yes.  I was already thinking about the Halloween walk my wife and I have been putting on for the last several years, and how I wanted a chance to write about it.  As I did, though, the story took on a life of its own, inspired by one young boy who found the experience of the Walk a little bit too much.  Which is to say, only most of the events in the piece actually happened.

(As an aside:  this issue of Shock Totem comes in the form of a little paperback that is just about pocket-sized.  It’s quite charming.)

Shock Totem Cover

The Recent (2):  Entry for Les Mysteres du Ver, a description of a fictitious book for auction as part of a larger catalogue of occult books, which appeared in The Starry Wisdom Library:  The Catalogue of the Greatest Occult Book Auction of All Time, edited by Nate Pedersen (available here).  A couple of years ago, Nate Pedersen contacted me to ask if I’d be interested in a project he was putting together.  It had been inspired by one of H.P. Lovecraft’s last stories, “The Haunter of the Dark.”  In the story, there’s mention of a cult, The Church of Starry Wisdom, which possessed a vast library of occult tomes (i.e. Lovecraft’s famous Necronomicon).  Nate’s conceit was to imagine that the cult might have put its library up for auction as a way to raise funds.  He proposed putting together the catalogue for that auction, which would combine physical descriptions of the individual books with short essays on their contents.  I signed on immediately, this kind of pseudo-historical invention being something I love to do (as you may have gathered if you’ve read my story, “Technicolor”).  I had thoughts about selecting the infamous Black Guide, which my pal, Laird Barron, has written so much about since I first told him of its French original, but ultimately decided on Les Mysteres du Ver.  This was a book I first introduced in my second published story, “Mr. Gaunt;” it was my take on one of the Lovecraft circle’s invented books, De Vermis Mysteriis.  In my subsequent essay, I had some fun tying the book together with my stories, “Renfrew’s Course” and “Mother of Stone,” as well as to M.R. James’s “Count Magnus” and Elilzabeth Kostova’s The Historian.

I have to say, though, that I was unprepared for just how much care Nate was going to lavish on the production of the book. This is a marvelous reproduction of a late nineteenth century auction catalogue, its attention to detail of the highest degree.  In addition, its list of contributors is a who’s who of contemporary horror, from Ramsey Campbell and F. Paul Wilson to Livia Llewellyn and Molly Tanzer.  It may be about the strangest anthology I’ve ever been part of; it’s certainly among the most weirdly wonderful.

the-starry-wisdom-library-jhc-edited-by-nate-pedersen

The Future (1):  “The Communion of Saints,” a story to appear in Giallo Fantastique, edited by Ross Lockhart (not yet available for pre-order).  In my stories, “City of the Dog” and “Children of the Fang,” there’s an Albany, NY, police detective named Calasso.  I thought it would be fun to write a story about him facing a series of gruesome kidnappings apparently committed by some of the more infamous, if cliched, monsters of recent movies.

Giallo Fantastique

The Future (2):  “Homemade Monsters,” a story to appear in The Doll Collection, edited by Ellen Datlow (available for pre-order here).  Sure, I called them action figures, but I played with dolls all the time as a kid.  At first, I thought I might write about the 8 inch Spider-Man figure who was probably my single favorite toy when I was about nine; then I remembered how I had transformed a number of my Star Trek figures into monsters, especially Godzilla.  More autobiographically-inflected fiction, with kaiju.

Doll Collection

The Future (3):  “The Underground Economy,” a story to appear in Aickman’s Heirs, edited by Simon Strantzas (not yet available for pre-order).  During the 2013 Necronomicon and immediately after, I encouraged Simon Strantzas to put together this anthology.  That was so I could submit a story to it.  I love Robert Aickman’s work; though I’m far from understanding it.  I had re-read “The Swords,” recently, and that came together with comments made by Simon and folks on the All-Hallows Message Board about the role of the erotic in Aickman’s fiction into this story.  The piece felt like a chance; I’m happy it worked for Simon.

aickman1

There’s one other project that I haven’t been given leave to speak about, yet; more as soon as I can say it.  And I’m hopeful that 2015 will see my third collection making its way into the world; fingers crossed!

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The Labyrinth Podcast

File under “I should have mentioned this earlier”:  this past November, I was interviewed by Cesar Torres for his Labyrinth podcast.  I had watched Cesar’s interviews with Peter Straub and Laird Barron, among others, and was pleased and flattered when Cesar contacted me about doing a show with him.  We had a fine, far-ranging conversation (which you can watch here); so fine, in fact, that we agreed to continue it sometime after the new year.  Stay tuned…

The Fall in Tang Soo Do

As you know, Bob, my younger son and I study a Korean martial art named Tang Soo Do together.  David’s been taking classes at Triumph Karate in Kingston, NY, since July of 2011; I joined the school the following December.  Although David is still technically my senior, I’ve caught up to him rank-wise, and our last several promotions have been together.  This past September was time for our next major promotion, to red belt, which is the last belt before black.  (For those of you who are savvy to such things, we were testing for our third gups.)  (Actually, we were ready to be tested in August, but asked our Sa Bom Nim (teacher) if we could wait a couple of weeks until my older son and his family were going to be up visiting.)  So on a Friday night, David and I tested for and passed our red belt tests, and were awarded our belts:

Red Belts!

I’d be lying if I said I was anything other than delighted for the two of us.  This is the farthest I’ve ever gone in anything like this, and to have done so alongside David was a privilege.  Afterwards, Fiona, David, and I retired to a local pizza restaurant (King’s Pizza in Kingston–highly recommended) together with Nick, Mary, and their kids, plus my sister, Christina, her husband, Tony, and their two kids.  That meal is one of my favorite memories from this past year:  everyone seated at one long table, talking with, over, and into one another, a general sense of well-being and merriment (and pizza!) filling the air.

Almost immediately after that night, however, I had to have my hernia surgery, which kept me out of Tang Soo Do for about six weeks.  When I returned, it was just in time to help Fiona, David, and our Sa Bom Nim put together the studio’s first Halloween party, which was a smashing success and which climaxed with me telling a group of kids and their parents the story of a cursed black belt.

Triumph Halloween 2014

Two weeks after that, David and I participated in our studio’s first annual tournament.  Neither one of us was as prepared as we would have liked; despite which, we both earned medals.  He took second in sparring and second in board-breaking; I took first in weapons (sword) and board-breaking, third in sparring, and fourth in forms.  I was maybe most pleased with the weapons win, for which I adapted one of our forms to use with a sword my older son had given us a couple of years ago.  The tournament was harder for David, who had practiced long hours on a bo staff form that didn’t place.  But he kept his chin up, and later that same night, he was back at the staff, working on new forms for it.

The year to come will be full of a lot of training, as David and I look forward to our black belts (we hope) sometime in 2016.  Thanks to Sa Bom Nims Batista and Duncan, and everyone associated with Triumph, for a great year.

Updates, oh we have updates…

Look at that–I step away from updating this thing, and the next I know, a month and a half has gone by.  Well, rest assured, it’s been a busy time.

In fact, a pair of the more significant events to take place this past fall occurred at the end of September/beginning of October.  That was when I finally went in for a long-overdue colonoscopy and then, later that same week, had an umbilical hernia repaired.  I don’t really see any need for gory details on either, except that both procedures went well and I was fine afterwards (though the hernia surgery took a bit longer to recuperate from than I’d anticipated, and forced me to have a less busy fall than I’d planned).  The reason I mention either of them at all is the fact that I took so long to have them done (this is especially true of the colonoscopy).  Yes, my procrastination was rooted in fear of the unknown/the traumas of growing older.  At the same time, though, the kinds of problems a routine colonoscopy is intended to catch are highly treatable if discovered early enough.  That’s highly treatable.  As with so many things in life, if you see to them before there’s any (obvious) problem, you stand a much better chance of avoiding those problems–certainly, of those problems becoming serious.  In fact, this was part of what pushed me to have the hernia repaired, my regular doctor’s advice that I do so before things became complicated.

There are still things I need to look to:  my cholesterol, for one, so please don’t think I’m here holding myself up as any kind of shining example.  What I am saying is, if it’s time for you to start having these kinds of tests/screenings done, then give the matter serious thought.  If you can do it, that’s great.