Sefira& Other Betrayals!

Today is the official release day for my third collection, Sefira and Other Betrayals (which is available in paperback from Amazon here and in hardcover and paperback from the publisher, Hippocampus press, here).  Although I’ve been planning it for some time, this one took a while to arrive, in no small part because what was supposed to be the original, title story turned into an actual short novel in the writing, and then the other original story I decided had to be in it became a novella.  Thanks to everyone who’s been waiting for the book for your patience.

If you don’t mind, I’d like to include the book’s Acknowledgments page here, because you can never say thank you enough times for the good things in your life.  (I know, some of this is redundant, but what the heck?):

Acknowledgments

With this latest book of stories, I am reminded once again of my debt to my lovely wife, Fiona, for her love, support, and patience.  Thanks, Love, for all of it; here’s another bouquet of dark flowers.
The love and support of my sons, Nick and David, is a constant and ever-surprising joy. Thanks, guys; I look forward eagerly to the art you’re making.
Laird Barron and Paul Tremblay remain the brothers I never knew I had, their regular phone conversations one of the highlights of my week. They continue to do amazing work, which inspires me to try to do better in my own fiction. Nadia Bulkin, Michael Cisco, GlenHirshberg, Stephen Graham Jones, Sarah Langan, and S.P. Miskowski arepretty cool, too.
I continue to consider myself fortunate in my agent, the indefatigable Ginger Clark, as well as her assistant, Tess, and the film and foreign rights folks at Curtis, Brown. As the story notes indicate, I owe most of these pieces to invitations from editors, and I’m grateful for the support John Joseph Adams, Ellen Datlow, Nick Gevers and Jack Dann, and S.T. Joshi showed these stories by first publishing them. Thanks, too, to Derrick Hussey and Hippocampus Press for the fine work they did with my last collection, and for publishing this one.
Finally, thanks to you, whoever you are, for the gift of your time and attention (and in many cases, patience—I know this book has been a long time coming). You make books such as this one possible, and I’m grateful for that.

 

 

Also:  that Santiago Caruso:  am I right, or what?

The Wall Street Journal Review

Over at The Wall Street Journal, the very smart Michael Calia has published a combination interview with yours truly and very generous review of The Fisherman.  You can’t do much better than having your book called “the Jaws of cosmic horror.”  Thanks very much to Michael for such a fine article.

The Fisherman–One Month On

My second novel, The Fisherman, has been out for a little over a month, now, and it’s received a number of very kind and insightful reviews.  I hope you’ll forgive me if I post links to a few of them here.

Here’s Shane Douglas Keene, at This is Horror.

Here’s Barry Lee Dejasu at The New York Journal of Books.

Here’s Benoit Lelievre at Dead End Follies.

I’ve also received some lovely reviews over at the book’s Amazon page and on Goodreads.  To everyone who’s taken the time to put down your thoughts on the novel, thanks very much; it’s much appreciated.

 

A Quick Boskone Recap

I had a tooth pulled the day before I drove out to Boston for this year’s Boskone (the 53rd), and I feel like I spent most of the convention telling everyone I met about it.  This may have been due to the pain med I was taking, which, when combined with a beer or two, gave me vivid nightmares in which Billy Bob Thornton’s character from the first season of Fargo was on a murder spree on my side of the Hudson River, and also in which I had to avoid a pair of frighteningly large alligators while trying to swim to my mother’s house.

But I also had the pleasure of staying with Paul Tremblay and his long-suffering family, of meeting up with Brett Cox and JoAnn Cox (who are not related), of hanging out with J.T. Petty and Sarah Langan (who says we’re not related, but come on, really?) and their irrepressible girls, and of seeing Jack Haringa, on the road to recovery from his recent heart surgery and already up to 98% snarkiness.  The lovely Barry Lee Dejasu and Catherine Grant had a bunch of us up to their hotel room for a small party featuring some wonderful beer; Chris Irvin and Errick Nunnally hosted a Noir at the Bar reading on Friday night that I took part in and that went very well; and Erin Underwood launched The Grimm Future, a book of stories inspired by the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, in which I have a steampunkish story inspired by “The Brave Little Tailor.”

GrimmFuture

 

This convention felt a bit more subdued than past Boskones.  In part, I’m sure this was due to the absence of the recently-deceased David Hartwell.  I wonder, too, if it wasn’t due to memories of last year’s blizzard.  But I had a fine time, got to make the acquaintance of some splendid new folks (Chris Irvin, Errick Nunnally, E.J. Stevens), and managed my annual meals at the L Street Diner, the No-Name Seafood Restaurant, and Maxie’s Diner.  Thanks to Erin Underwood and the other fine folks who made the convention happen.  I’m already looking forward to next year.

 

 

 

The Fisherman

I’m very pleased to announce that my second novel, The Fisherman, will be published by Word Horde press.  As was the case with my first novel, House of Windows, this one took a while to find a home:  the genre publishers told my agent it was too literary, the literary people said it was too genre.  Thanks to Ross Lockhart for giving the book a home, and thanks to my agent, the fabulous Ginger Clark, for not giving up on it (or me).  Word Horde has been doing a lot of great stuff, with more on the horizon; I’m happy my book will be part of such exciting fare.

Okay, this is a cover mock up, but it’s still pretty cool.

 

October! (Part 1)

The upcoming month looks to be quite busy for me–which is appropriate, I suppose.  Originally, I was going to list everything I’m going to be doing and everywhere I’m going to be doing it at in one post, but that post became ridiculously long, so I decided to break it up into three (somewhat) smaller parts.  So:  first up is an event that started as a kind of launch party for a book in which I have a story, Seize the Night (which Chris Golden edited and is full of amazing new vampire stories), but which has morphed into a kind of celebration of contemporary horror/weird/dark fiction.  There will be writers engaging in panel discussions, and there will be writers signing books:

Saturday, October 3rd:  The Merrimack Valley Halloween Book Festival (*free* and open to the public!)

Where: ACT Theater Company, 1632 Osgood Street, Osgood Landing, North Andover, MA 01845. http://www.acttheatercompany.com/

When: 10/3/15 from 1pm till 7:30pm.  DOORS WILL OPEN AT 12:45 p.m.

What: Horror and Suspense authors from New England – and all around the Northeast U.S. – will be selling and signing books throughout the event, and participating in panel discussions in the theater about New England Horror Tradition, what makes something scary, new fears, and childhood terrors. The event will conclude with a quintet of authors doing a live reading of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Who: Authors signing and speaking that day include:

Joe Hill, Kelly Link, Brian Keene, Sarah Langan, Christopher Golden, Paul Tremblay, Caitlin Kittredge, Thomas Sniegoski, John Langan, Dana Cameron, Rio Youers, Toni L.P. Kelner, Myke Cole, Mary SanGiovanni, Leigh Perry, Bracken MacLeod, Jack M. Haringa, Jason Ciaramella, Kat Howard, John M. McIlveen, Glenn Chadbourne, Mallory O’Meara, Holly Newstein Hautala, Errick Danger Nunnally, Izzy Lee, Scott Goudsward, Gardner Goldsmith, Douglas Wynne, Kristin Dearborn, Jan Kozlowski, TT Zuma

Sponsored by ACT Theater Company, Andover Bookstore, and Vicious Circle.

Get your FREE TICKETS now!  (We’re trying to get an idea of how many people are actually coming. Please help us out by following the link and ordering your free tickets.): http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2259519

PLEASE NOTE: Andover Bookstore is only equipped to take cash and checks during this event. Individual authors selling books *may* accept other methods of payment, but please anticipate cash and check as payment methods. (And it’s up to the authors themselves as to whether they’ll accept checks.)

Please note that ACT Theater Company is located in a converted industrial space at Osgood Landing. I guarantee you will think you are in the wrong place when you arrive–it doesn’t look like a theater, but it is!

Here is the panel schedule for that day:

1pm: Childhood Horrors—Paul Tremblay, Thomas Sniegoski, Holly Newstein Hautala, Scott Goudsward, Mallory O’Meara (M)

2pm: Seize the Night: New Tales of Vampiric Horror—Christopher Golden (M), Rio Youers, John Langan, Leigh Perry, Dana Cameron

3pm: The New England Horror Tradition—Jack M. Haringa (M), Caitlin Kittredge, Jason Ciaramella, Glenn Chadbourne, John M. McIlveen

4pm: The Anatomy of Horror: What is Scary?—Sarah Langan, Kelly Link, Myke Cole, Errick Nunnally (M), Kat Howard

5pm: We Get the Horror We Deserve—Joe Hill, Brian Keene, Izzy Lee, Mary SanGiovanni, Bracken MacLeod (M)

6pm: Live Reading THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE—Jack M. Haringa, Bracken MacLeod, Brian Keene, Kat Howard, John Langan, Gardner Goldsmith

Who’s signing when at Merrimack Valley Halloween Book Festival? #MVHBookFest
Alphabetical order:

Bracken MacLeod: 3-5
Brian Keene: 1-4:30
Caitlin Kittredge: 4-5
Christopher Golden: 3-6
Dana Cameron: 1-2 and 3-3:30
Daniel Braum: 1-3:30
Douglas Wynne: 1-7
Errick Nunnally: 1-6
Gardner Goldsmith: 4-5
Glenn Chadbourne: 1-5
Holly Newstein Hautala: 2-3
Izzy Lee: 6-7
Jan Kozlowski: 1-7
Jason Ciaramella: 1-6
Joe Hill: 6-7
John Langan: 3-4
John McIlveen: 1-3 and 5-6
Kat Howard: 3-4 and 5-6
Kelly Link: 3-3:45
Kristin Dearborn: 1-7
Leigh Perry: 3-5
Mary SanGiovanni: 1-4:30
Myke Cole: 6-7
Paul Tremblay: 2-3
Rio Youers: 3-5
Sarah Langan: 1-4
Scott Goudsward: 1-7
Thomas Sniegoski: 2-6
Toni L.P. Kelner: 3-5
TT Zuma: 1-7

 

To reiterate:  IT’S FREE to attend; though the folks putting this on are asking you to register for a ticket so they’ll know how many people to expect.  If you can make it, that would be great; please say hello.

The Nameless Dark

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Some time ago, Ted Grau asked me if I’d take a look at his forthcoming collection of stories, The Nameless Dark, and, if I liked what I read, maybe write a blurb for it.  I said sure.  I read it, and kept reading it, and liked it very much, indeed.  This is what I sent him:

T.E. Grau’s stories range across time and space, from Victorian-era London to contemporary Los Angeles, from America’s western frontier to the bohemian gatherings of Beat-inflected San Francisco.  In prose elegant and engaging, he details the lives of men and women, children and adults, who have arrived at places where the world they know peels away to reveal another, darker place.  It is a place where childhood fairy tales converge with stories of things older still, where the history we know is a mask for things better left concealed.  Grau’s attention to character makes their discovery of this other place resonate long after each story is done.  There are echoes of Bradbury in here, Lovecraft and Chandler, among others.  But it is Grau’s success to evoke these writers without lapsing into pastiche.  Instead, he has produced an impressive, gripping collection of fiction.  I recommend it highly.

–John Langan, author of The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies

For reasons having nothing to do with Ted, the blurb never made it to the printed book.  That’s fine:  I still got to read his stories, so as far as I’m concerned, I came out on the winning end of things.  Ted sent me a copy of the finished book, which was very generous, but he included with it something even more generous, a piece of Ray Bradbury’s stupidly-demolished home (a few fragments of which Ted managed to save before they were carted away).

Talk about being bowled over.  I’ve written a little bit about Bradbury’s importance to me as a writer, but there’s much more to say on the subject.  For the moment, suffice it to say, one of the nicest compliments my fiction has received came from a reader who compared it to Bradbury’s and T.C. Boyle’s, by which he meant that he never knew what he was going to get when he sat down with one of my stories.  For this little piece of his house to arrive felt positively uncanny.  It was like something out of a Ray Bradbury story.  Of course, some of those end…less than ideally for their protagonists.

Before I open my front door and find myself in the southern California of fifty years ago, however, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank Ted for his gift publicly, and to share what I wrote for his book with a wider audience.  If you don’t have a copy of Ted’s collection, do yourself a favor, and pick it up.

E.L. Doctorow (1931-2015)

E.L. Doctorow was one of the first writers I met.  This was at the Egg, Albany’s performing arts center, in the spring of 1990.  He was surprisingly soft-spoken.  He’d recently been named New York State’s state writer, an honor he treated with due irony, asking the audience who came to see him if we could name the state bird, and the state muffin.  He read an excerpt from the beginning of Billy Bathgate, his most recent novel, answered questions from the audience, then dutifully signed books.

I’d been aware of Doctorow for at least a couple of years–mostly as the author of Ragtime, which had been adapted for the big screen, but also of World’s Fair, which had been excerpted in one of those Scholastic magazines we got in English class.  I’m not sure how I learned that he was going to be reading in Albany; mostly likely from a poster for it in the English department at SUNY New Paltz, where I was a senior.  I got the idea that I would go see him, and convinced a number of my friends to accompany me.  Billy Bathgate was newly out in paperback.  I’d wanted to read it since reading its reviews, which were not just positive, but glowing; the upcoming reading gave me the excuse to buy and read it.

I was dazzled.  The combination of Doctorow’s prose–Billy Bathgate, who narrates the book, is, as Doctorow put it, “a rhapsodist”–and the subject matter–Billy becomes part of Dutch Schultz’s gang–held me spellbound.  It’s a potent blend, the lyric and the violent.  Plus, the novel was set in New York State, ranging from New York City to Saratoga.  Under the sway of Faulkner, I had been trying to make more use of local material in my own fiction; Doctorow offered a compelling example of it.  I neglected most of everything else I was supposed to be doing for school, preferring to linger over the novel’s pages.

When I handed Doctorow my copy of Billy Bathgate for him to sign, I told him this.  Actually, it spilled out of me in a rush.  I had been extremely nervous, standing in line to have my book autographed.  Reading the novel, I had formed a mental picture of Doctorow as this towering genius, well-above the concerns of a twenty-one year old college student.  Yet as I told him how impressed I was by the book, how I might fail all my classes because I’d been reading it, instead of what I was supposed to (a bit of exaggeration), but that was okay, because it was such a great book, his features softened, and I realized that he was moved by my babbling.  “Thank you,” he said, “thank you for telling me this.”

It was a moment of revelation:  he’s like me, after all.  And (by extension) if he can do this, so might I (some day).  It was as obvious as such revelations often are, but the effect was such it lingers, still.

In the years to come, I read more of Doctorow’s work:  Ragtime, and World’s Fair, and Welcome to Hard Times, and the astonishing Book of Daniel.  In recent years, I fell behind on his fiction; I kept meaning to get to City of God, but other things cropped up.  I’ve read enough, though, to know his accomplishment was considerable, and his works will endure.  I’m grateful for his fiction, and I’m grateful for his moment of kindness to a kid who was overwhelmed to meet him.

Billy Bathgate Cover

Sefira and Other Betrayals

I’ve kind of announced this already, in a couple of recent interviews, but it seems a good idea to me to make it official:  I’ve recently signed the contract for my third collection of stories, whose working title is Sefira and Other Betrayals.  It’ll be forthcoming from Hippocampus Press in early 2016 (right now, we’re thinking February).  Paul Tremblay has agreed to write the introduction; I’m still working on the person for the afterword.  I’m also hoping to get Santiago Caruso back for the cover, his schedule permitting.  The table of contents will consist of:

“In Paris, In the Mouth of Kronos”

“The Third Always Beside You”

“The Unbearable Proximity of Mr. Dunn’s Balloons”

“Renfrew’s Course”

“Bloom”

“Sefira”

This last will be an original novella which is looking to top out somewhere around 30,000 words.  It’s about a woman hunting a succubus.

My gratitude to my agent, Ginger Clark, for her usual diligence in handling the contract negotiations, and to Derrick Hussey of Hippocampus, for being willing to work with me again.  There’s no pre-order listing for the book, yet, but rest assured, I’ll let you know when there is.

Stephen King: A Top-Ten List

A few weeks ago, the Honey Badger put up a list of his top-ten works by Stephen King.  Since reading it, I’ve been thinking about compiling my own list of favorite King works.  The problem is, King is part of my writing DNA in a way distinct from almost any other writer.  It was because of reading his Christine during the fall semester of my freshman year of high school that I was set on the path to becoming a horror writer.  After I discovered his work, I read and re-read it over and over again, learning something new from it each time.  There are things he’s written that are engraved on my bones.  So no surprise:  once I sat down to puzzle the matter out, trying to limit my favorites to ten proved much more difficult than I had expected.  Not to mention, there are several of King’s more recent works that I still haven’t gotten to.  Here’s a list, then, that is both reasonably accurate and completely unsatisfying:

1.  Night Shift

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2.  Skeleton Crew

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3.  Different Seasons

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4.  Full Dark, No Stars

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5.  Just After Sunset

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6.  Hearts in Atlantis

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7.  The Stand

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8.  The Shining

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9.  Pet Sematary

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10.  The Dark Tower II:  The Drawing of the Three

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The list is accurate because these are works to which I’ve returned time and again, and which have stuck with me in the years (in some cases) since last I read them.  It’s unsatisfying because it might consist of another ten works with equal accuracy.  It’s interesting to me to note how many of my choices are books of King’s stories.  I think it was Harlan Ellison who said, some years ago, that it was in King’s stories that you found his greatest accomplishments.  I’m not sure I’d completely buy that, but there’s an awful lot of good stuff in a book like Night Shift or Skeleton Crew.

People’s mileage with King tends to vary, the way it seems to with Tolkien.  I love his stuff, and can’t wait to get back to it.