Book Trailer

Also while going through my video files, I came across several that my older son, Nick, had shot with David and me during a visit several years ago, with the aim, as I recall, of assembling a book trailer for my second collection, The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies.  I decided to stitch them together, add a bit of public domain music (“Traveler’s Journey” by David Rafael Krux), and here it is.  (Nick made a previous trailer for my first novel, House of Windows, as well as one for Laird Barron’s stories.)

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“How the Day Runs Down:” Post-Performance Q & A (2011)

Seven years ago, Nicu’s Spoon theater company, under the direction of Stephanie Barton-Farcas, staged my story, “How the Day Runs Down” (which, in case you haven’t read it, is written in play form; I’ve described it as my zombie Our Town).  One rainy night in July, my wife and I took the train down to Manhattan to watch the performance.  Afterward, I ventured onstage to answer a few audience questions.  Fiona recorded the thing on our little Flip camera.  I had always meant to edit the thing and share it, but apparently, it’s taken me seven years to get to it.  Consider this a historical curiosity:

The Lovecraft e-zine Podcast Interview, with book list/links

Yesterday, I had the great pleasure of being interviewed on The Lovecraft e-zine Podcast, which is one of my favorite weekly podcasts.  Thanks to Mike Davis, Pete Rawlik, Phil Fracassi, Matt Carpenter, and Kelly Young for their hospitality and good conversation.  If you’d like, you can listen to the broadcast here.

During the show, in conjunction with discussing my recent reviewing for Locus magazine, I mentioned a number of books that are well worth a look.  Some of them appeared this past year, some are a bit older.  I thought it would be a good idea to post links to them here.  If you have a little disposable income, and want to read excellent novels and stories, you might want to check out a few (or all) of these.

Looming Low, eds. Sam Cowan and Justin Steele:  This struck me as one of the major anthologies of 2017.  It brings together a number of up and coming writers of weird fiction with more established writers in the field, and in the process offers fresh insights into the relationships between their work.  (Pair it with Joe Pulver’s Walk on the Weird Side, and you have a nice overview of the state of the field.)

UBO, by Steven Rasnic Tem:  Tem is one of the legends of the horror field, and his latest novel demonstrates why.  It’s an alien abduction story, of a kind, in which monstrous insects spirit people from their beds to a strange planet where they’re strapped to strange machinery that drops them into the consciousnesses of some of (human) history’s greatest villains.  Nothing else I read last year compared to it in terms of sheer weirdness and sheer humanity.  (I also mentioned Tem’s collaboration with his late wife, Melanie, The Man on the Ceiling, which is one of my absolute favorite horror novels of the last decade plus.)

My reviews of S.P. Miskowski’s I Wish I Was Like You and Gwendolyn Kiste’s Pretty Marys All In a Row were posted at the Locus website, but I also wanted to recognize their recent collections, Strange is the Night and And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, respectively.  Kristi DeMeester had a two book year, as well, with her debut novel, Beneath, and collection, Everything That’s Underneath, establishing her as a strong voice in horror fiction.  Nadia Bulkin’s She Said Destroy is a welcome collection of her searing stories; while Philip Fracassi’s Behold the Void contains one of my favorite recent horror stories, the novella, “Altar.”

And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe     She Said Destroy     Everything That's Underneath: A Collection of Weird and Horror Tales     Behold the Void     Strange Is the Night

Finally, during our conversation, I had a chance to mention the work of Thomas Tessier, whose werewolf novel, The Nightwalker, remains a favorite decades after I first came across it in a used bookstore after literally years of searching for it (based on Stephen King’s recommendation in Danse Macabre).  It may be the horror novel I’ve re-read the most; certainly, it’s among the top three or four.  Slender and elegant, Tessier’s novels are overdue a revival.  If you like The Nightwalker, take a look at Finishing Touches or Phantom.

Image result for tessier the nightwalker

 

 

 

Boskone 55 Schedule

 

 

The weekend of February 16-18, I’ll be heading up to Boston to take part in Boskone 55.  I’ve been attending Boskone for I can’t remember how many years now.  It provides me a welcome opportunity to see a number of my friends, and engage in some fine conversation.  If you’re free that weekend, I recommend stopping by for some or all of the convention.  If you do, please say hello.

 Kaffeeklatsch: John Langan and James Moore

Format: Kaffeeklatsch
17 Feb 2018, Saturday 12:00 – 13:00, Harbor I – Kaffeeklatsch 1 (Westin)

John Langan, James Moore

Frankenstein 200 Years Later

Format: Panel
17 Feb 2018, Saturday 17:00 – 18:00, Marina 4 (Westin)

It’s still alive! In 1818, Mary Shelley stitched together a bone-chilling tale of dread and science, and created a monster — whose humanity cut as deeply as Dr. Frankenstein’s knife. This Promethean fiction has inspired authors, fans, and scientists ever since. (Though is it better remembered than read?) What challenges did Shelley face in bringing her story to print? What would she think of her effect on literature over the last two centuries? After all these years, let’s find out what makes this tale tick.

John Langan (M), F. Brett Cox, Steve Berman, Faye Ringel, Bracken MacLeod

Group Reading: Noir at the Boskone Bar — Special Edition

Format: Reading
17 Feb 2018, Saturday 21:15 – 22:45, Galleria – Stage (Westin)

Noir at the Boskone Bar is a special night of reading and fun with our noir, crime, mystery, and horror writers. Hosted by Chris Irvin and Errick Nunnally.

Christopher Irvin (M), Paul Tremblay, Errick Nunnally (M), John Langan, Dana Cameron, Nik Korpon, Gillian Daniels, Bracken MacLeod, Leigh Perry

Notes

Imported from B55

Autographing: E. Ardell, John Langan, Christine Taylor-Buterl

Format: Autographing
18 Feb 2018, Sunday 12:00 – 13:00, Galleria – Autographing (Westin)

E. Ardell, John Langan, Christine Taylor-Butler

Neil Gaiman Anniversary Reads

Format: Panel
18 Feb 2018, Sunday 13:00 – 14:00, Harbor II (Westin)

It’s a notable year for Neil Gaiman, with publication anniversaries for his engaging, ironic dark fantasies The Graveyard Book (10th) and The Ocean at the End of the Lane (5th) — plus from his lighter side, Don’t Panic: The Official Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Companion (30th). Let’s gab about his novels and stories, comics and characters, movies and TV adaptations and rock-star aura.

 

Bracken MacLeod (M), Jane Yolen, Justin Key, John Langan, Trisha Wooldridge

 

https://i2.wp.com/www.boskone.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/cropped-Bow-Shock-Runner-3-Website-1.jpg

Image by Boskone 55’s artist guest of honor, the amazing Marianne Plumridge.

New Year’s

Man, what a year 2017 was.  Talk about a mix of the good and bad (or the wonderful and the dreadful):  while my personal and family life featured a number of highlights, the national political scene swung into something so bad it’s become a parody of itself–which in no way mitigates the harm it’s doing and has done.  In the past, I’ve tried to use social media as a way to keep in touch with friends and family and to share news relevant to my writing life; this year, however, I found myself speaking out more than I ever have about socio-political conditions in the country.  I expect that will continue in 2018.  Oh, and the whole finding-out-I’m-diabetic thing was less than a thrill.

Yet there were good things this past year, and I don’t want to overlook them.  My wife is the joy of my life, as are my sons and grandchildren.  We took a ridiculous fifth dog into our household.  I had the pleasure of being room-Dad for David’s AC/DC rehearsals at The Rock Academy, and then watching him and his fellow cast members dazzle their audiences.  I continued to study Tang Soo Do, and went a good part of the way towards learning the new forms necessary for me to advance to my next rank.  I also taught a good deal at the school’s Saugerties studio, which I found both rewarding and challenging.  As the year came to an end, I was reminded how much I love my friends Laird Barron and Paul Tremblay–seriously, these guys are the best.  I attended my first Necon with Laird and had one of the best conventions I’ve ever had.  The Fisherman won an astonishing two awards, a Bram Stoker Award and a This is Horror award.  House of Windows was re-released in a snazzy new edition by Diversion Press.  I wrote and had accepted for publication a number of stories, and am on the verge on completing my egregiously overdue third collection, Sefira and Other Betrayals.  I finally read Peter Straub’s brilliant The Skylark (not to mention, his astonishing novella, The Process [is a Process of its Own]).  David and I saw a lot of the movies you’d expect (Wonder Woman, Justice League, Spider-man, Star Wars) and went to a number of the Rock Academy’s other shows (including their fabulous punk and metal shows).

As the New Year wheels forward, I’m back writing, because that’s what I do.  I hope the months to come bring you and yours something good.

Here’s a picture of a happy dog, because why not?

Image may contain: dog and indoor

His Never Ending Fury: Stephen King at 70

It was Christine, Stephen King’s 1983 novel about a 1958 Plymouth Fury possessed by its dead owner, that made me a writer.  I read it during the fall of 1983, my freshman year in high school.  It wasn’t the first of King’s works I’d read; the previous summer, I’d checked Cujo out of the local library; before that, some time in seventh grade, I think, the little Scholastic literary magazine we received every month had reprinted King’s story, “Battleground” (edited, as you can imagine, for language [though not, as I recall, for violence]).  I had read Cujo in part because Patty Taylor, with whom I’d gone to St. Columba elementary school for a number of years, possibly as early as first grade, had been a die-hard King fan for at least a couple of years, possibly longer, and her devotion had made an impression on me, made me think I should have a look at one of King’s books.  There was also the sense that King was a more grown-up writer than I had been used to; I wasn’t sure in what way, but my parents, who hadn’t read him, expressed concern that he might be too mature for me (which, with the benefit of hindsight, I realize meant they were worried there might be a lot of bad language in his fiction).

Christine

What a cover, eh?

I’m not sure why I slipped Cujo from the library shelves; maybe it sounded less out and out intimidating than some of the other books?  Whatever the reason, I didn’t connect with the book.  I didn’t hate it; I just found the portrayal of its protagonists’ troubled marriage foreign emotional territory.  It wasn’t enough to put me off King altogether, though, which was why, later in the fall, when the paperback edition of Christine was released, I picked up a copy at the local Book & Record.  And man, what a difference.  I’ve talked in previous interviews about the way the book spoke to my bleeding adolescent heart, my sense of myself as an outsider, self-consciously smart, a nerd, a comic book fan, a teacher’s pet, as far from athletic as it seemed possible to be, as well as the manner in which the book’s villains embodied my caricatured sense of the kids who mocked and picked on me, the jocks and the more affluent students.  Don’t get me wrong:  even at the time, I understood that both the novel’s heroes and its villains were more exaggerated than both myself and my high school nemeses actually were.  But the book cut to the emotional core of my nascent high school experience with astonishing power.  Not to mention, the supernatural elements, which were as over the top and extravagant as anything I’d read in Robert E. Howard or Lloyd Alexander, and which culminated in a battle against the evil car that deliberately invoked the clash between a mounted knight and a monster, a dragon.  I read that book, and I loved it, and I would read it again and then a third time; before I was done with that first reading, however, I knew that this, writing, writing like this, was what I had to do.

That experience, of feeling yourself selected, picked out by a work of art to make similar art, is one that fascinates me.  You don’t find it in every writer’s biography; although Lovecraft talked about it in relation to Poe, and Ramsey Campbell in relation to Lovecraft, and King himself has spoken of it in relation both to Lovecraft and Richard Matheson.  It’s a sensation I’ve continued to experience over the years, every time I sit down with King’s latest novel or collection of stories, a combination of engagement and inspiration, a re-connection to what feels like one of the wellsprings of my own creativity.  It’s funny:  for reasons I can’t quite remember now, I was thinking the other day about the books I’ve continued to re-read over the years.  It’s a strange list:  The Good Soldier, The Great Gatsby, My Mortal Enemy, Great Expectations, The Portrait of a Lady, The Turn of the Screw, Heart of Darkness, Ghost Story,  and Koko are some of the titles on it, as are Pet Sematary, The Shining, Night Shift, Skeleton Crew, and Danse Macabre (I quote that last one all the time).  It says something profound to me about King’s work that it’s capable of sustaining that kind of repeated attention.

At the end of Christine, there’s the suggestion that the evil car has not been truly defeated, that it’s on its way for the novel’s protagonist.  It’s meant to be an unsettling image, and it is, but it’s the one I want to close this short birthday appreciation with, a figure for King’s ongoing importance to me and to so many other writers.  If it’s a little sinister, I’m sure he’d be fine with that.