HPLFF Recap

This past weekend, the Honey Badger and I drove to Providence, RI to take part in their inaugural H.P. Lovecraft Film Fest.  The idea is for Providence to have its own version of the film festival held in Portland, OR every year; though I imagine Providence’s will be every other year, between Necronomicons.  There was a fine turnout on Saturday at the Providence Public Library for a raft of Lovecraft-inspired and -inflected films, and also on Sunday at the Providence Arcade, which was transformed into the Mall of Cthulhu and where Laird, myself, and Paul Tremblay gave a reading.  I had the pleasure of hanging out with Matthew Warren Ritchie, Matthew Bartlett, Phil Gelatt, Jack Haringa, Barry Lee Dejasu and Cat Grant at a number of fine eating establishments; I also met and signed books for a host of lovely people.Thanks so much to everyone involved in making the weekend happen, especially Niels and Carmen at the Lovecraft Arts & Sciences, and Mr. S.J. Bagley, who proved himself a fine host and MC.

HPLFF 2016 Poster

Upcoming Reading at HPLFF

(That’s the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival, in case you didn’t know.  It’s being held the weekend of August 19-21 in Providence, RI.  You can check out the festival website here.)

So on Sunday, August 21, the Honey Badger and I will be reading along with the very tall Paul Tremblay at the Lovecraft Arts & Sciences Store in Providence, RI.  The three of us are part of the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival, which will be going on all weekend.  I have a tentative schedule for Sunday:

10:00 AM vendor setup in the Arcade
11am-4pm vendors in the Arcade (Hippocampus, Necronomicon Press, HPLHS, Arkham Bazaar, and a few local artists, etc).
11:00 AM Child of Cthulhu – Lovecraftian “Children’s” tales read by Christina Rodriguez
12:00 PM Andrew Leman reading
1:00 PM author readings featuring Laird Barron, Paul Tremblay, and John Langan.
2:00 PM Adapting Weird fiction to the screen panel – Phil Gelatt, Andrew Leman, Sean Branney, and hopefully Izzy Lee.
3:30 PM (at Athenaeum) Call of Cthulhu, with live directors’ commentary and wine and cheese reception

If you can make it, that would be great; please say hello.

The Fisherman: Publication Day!

In addition to being the birthday of my talented friend, Paul Tremblay, today is also the official release day for my second novel, The Fisherman.

TheFishermanCover

I’m extremely grateful for all the support I’ve already received, in the form of several very kind reviews.  I’ll put up links to them in another day or two.  In the meantime, I wanted to present an excerpt from the book:  the acknowledgments page.  While writing a novel is ultimately  a solitary activity, it doesn’t take place in a vacuum, and without a lot of help from a lot of people, this book would not have seen the light of day.  So:

 

When I started writing the story that would become this book, my wife was pregnant with our son.  He’s now twelve-going-on-thirteen.  Needless to say, that’s a long time from start to finish.  A lot has happened during that time, a lot has changed, but the love and support of my wife, Fiona, has remained a constant.  More than that:  as the years slid by, she was the one who said, every now and again, “You have to get back to The Fisherman.”  This book wouldn’t be here without her.  Thanks, love, for everything.

That twelve-going-on-thirteen-year-old has blossomed into quite the fisherman, himself these last few years, pretty much on his own.  (I basically sit nearby with a book and try to make comments that don’t sound too ignorant.)  David Langan’s technical advice helped a great deal in making the fishing-related portions of this narrative more accurate, while his love and all-around awesomeness made the rest of my life better.

My older son, Nick, and my daughter in law, Mary, and their trio of astounding kids, my brilliant grandchildren, Inara, Asher, and Penelope the Bean, have brought and continue to bring more joy into my life than I probably deserve.

It’s becoming a critical commonplace to say that we’re currently experiencing a resurgence in the field of dark/horror/weird/whatever fiction.  I happen to think this is true, but what matters more to me is the friendship so many of my fellow writers have offered me.  Laird Barron and Paul Tremblay have been the other brothers I never knew I had, even as their work has made me grit my teeth and tell myself to do better.  Sarah Langan, Brett Cox, and Michael Cisco are pretty good, too.

These last few years, I’ve continued to benefit from the kindness of writers whose work inspired my own.  Both Peter Straub and Jeffrey Ford have been unfailingly generous in their support and example.  While I am at it, let me raise a glass to the memory of the late, great Lucius Shepard, whose encouragement, praise, and fiction I continue to treasure.

My indefatigable agent, Ginger Clark, has been a champion of this book since I sent her its first three chapters a long, long time ago.  Every now and again, Ginger would send an e-mail encouraging me to finish the novel, and when at last I did, there was nobody happier.  I’m grateful for her continuing faith in me and my work.

As was the case with my previous novel, House of Windows, The Fisherman took a while to find a home.  The genre publishers said it was too literary, the literary publishers, too genre.  Thanks to Ross Lockhart and Word Horde Press for responding so immediately and enthusiastically to the book.

And a final, heartfelt thank you to you, the reader, for the gifts of your time and attention.  You make this writing life I have possible, and I’m grateful for it.

 

If I were going to add any names to this list, it would those of the writers who provided some very flattering blurbs for it:  Laird Barron, Adam Cesare, Michael Griffin, Stephen Graham Jones, Richard Kadrey, Victor Lavalle, Cameron Pierce, Pete Rawlik, and Paul Tremblay.  For about a day, their kind words made me more insufferable to my family than usual.  (“Do the dishes?  Do you know what Victor Lavalle had to say about my book?”)

Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror

I think you have to file this one under bucket-list items you didn’t realize were on your bucket-list:  my story, “The Shallows,” from Darrell Schweitzer’s Cthulhu’s Reign a few years back, will be appearing in Ellen Datlow’s forthcoming survey of recent horror fiction, Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror, which will be out from Tachyon later this year.

NightmaresCover

Some cover, huh?

The table of contents for this book is humbling:

 

  • Shallaballah by Mark Samuels
  • Sob in the Silence by Gene Wolfe
  • Our Turn Too Will One Day Come by Brian Hodge
  • Dead Sea Fruit by Kaaron Warren
  • Closet Dreams by Lisa Tuttle
  • Spectral Evidence by Gemma Files
  • Hushabye by Simon Bestwick
  • Very Low-Flying Aircraft by Nicholas Royle
  • The Goosle by Margo Lanagan
  • The Clay Party by Steve Duffy
  • Strappado by Laird Barron
  • Lonegan’s Luck by Stephen Graham Jones
  • Mr Pigsny by Reggie Oliver
  • At Night, When the Demons Come by Ray Cluley
  • Was She Wicked? Was She Good? by M. Rickert
  • The Shallows by John Langan
  • Little Pig by Anna Taborska
  • Omphalos by Livia Llewellyn
  • How We Escaped Our Certain Fate by Dan Chaon
  • That Tiny Flutter of the Heart I Used to Call Love by Robert Shearman
  • Interstate Love Song (Murder Ballad No. 8) by Caitlín R. Kiernan
  • Shay Corsham Worsted by Garth Nix
  • The Atlas of Hell by Nathan Ballingrud
  • Ambitious Boys Like You by Richard Kadrey

Thanks so much to Ellen Datlow for including me in this, and congratulations to everyone else in the book.

 

Laird Barron’s X’s for Eyes

My longstanding friendship with the Honey Badger is a matter of (by now, frequent) public record.  For me, it began in admiration for Laird’s fiction, and while we’ve discovered many shared passions, undertaken a few insane adventures together, I always come back to his fiction, and how much I enjoy it.  I’ve written reviews of his work (The Imago Sequence, in an early issue of Dead Reckonings, The Croning, in the Los Angeles Review of Books) and I expect I will again.

 

XsforEyesCoverArt

Matthew Revert’s stunning cover..

This isn’t so much a review of his latest novella, X’s for Eyes, as it is an appreciation of it.  I suppose a capsule summary of the story would go something like, A pair of brothers, scions of an American dynasty, are initiated into the true nature of their inheritance.  Except that this would leave out the space probe, and the supercomputer, and the assassins, and the pyramid in the ice, and the other world, and the floating godhead, and all manner of other things.  As the surplus of details I’ve provided suggests, the book is stuffed full, a Big Bang of a narrative, throwing out characters, secret history, cool vehicles, weird monsters, and exotic locales red-hot.  It moves briskly, its narrative voice confident and cheerful.  Its heroes undergo thrilling adventures, encountering nefarious villains, narrowly escaping certain doom.  The story reads like a return to the pulp adventure tradition of Doc Savage and The Shadow, with a bit of Robert Howard and H.P. Lovecraft thrown in, too–and there’s a moment in the story when this is revealed to be very deliberately the case.  For all its good-humored mayhem, though, there’s an underlying melancholy about the novella’s boy-heroes, and, when they glimpse one of their possible fates, a real sense of dread that is not undone by the story’s end.

LairdatWord

Laird reading at WORD, this past October.

A real danger for any artist worth the name, I think, is repetition.  I don’t mean the refining of a particular approach to their art–what I think you find in Cézanne’s painting, say–I mean the cookie-cutter reproduction of what they’ve done before.  It would be easy enough for Laird Barron to have remained where he is, consolidate the gains of his first three collections and two novels and produce more of the same.  As those of us who have been reading his more recent short fiction have seen, however, this is not the path he’s chosen.  Instead, he’s opted to experiment, moving in new and strange directions.  At the same time, much of what he’s writing now connects back to those earlier stories, but does so in a way that opens up new dimensions to them.  There are more stories about the Tooms brothers promised, to which I’m looking forward.  I’m as excited to see where Laird’s fiction takes him next.

The October Report, Second Installment:WORD, The H.P. Lovecraft Forum, and A Group Reading at the New Paltz Public Library

I know, I know:  it’s December, for the love of Pete, practically 2016.  Probably, I shouldn’t bother, but I can be pretty compulsive when it comes to completing stuff.  So:

I.

The second half of my busy October began the Thursday before Halloween, with a mid-morning trip to New York City along with the Honey Badger, so the two of us could read that night at WORD, a  fine independent bookstore in Brooklyn, at a Halloween-themed event organized by the brilliant Alex Houston.  Once in Grand Central, we went our separate ways, me to lunch with my outstanding agent (Ginger Clark, for those who may have forgotten), and him to a long photo shoot at his agent’s (Janet Reed).  The weather was rainy and windy in the extreme.  Ginger and I enjoyed an excellent lunch at a French restaurant, during which we talked over my adventures during the first part of October, as well as my third novel (in process).  After lunch, I met Laird at Janet’s office, where he was deep in the photo session.  I have to admit, it was fascinating to watch the couple who were taking his picture at work.  (The older I get, the more interested I find I am in anyone who’s good at something.)  I succeeded in keeping my heckling to a minimum.

The shoot done, Laird and Janet and I caught a cab to Brooklyn, where we found a pub near WORD.  The three of us succeeded in consuming a platter of very delicious sliders and chips, after which, we were met by the editorial team from Penguin who had been responsible for the republication of Ray Russell’s The Case Against Satan, for which Laird had written a new preface.  They were a charming and fun group, and walked with us to the bookstore.  There, we were met by Alex and the night’s other readers, Livia Llewellyn, Ryan Britt, and Tobias Carroll.  A considerable crowd filled the bookstore’s basement reading space; I was happy to see Ellen Datlow, Michael Calia, Robert Levy, Ardi Alspach, and well-known diva Theresa DeLucci among its numbers.  The reading itself went well:  Ryan Britt made some interesting and amusing references to vampire trousers.  Laird read from his introduction to The Case Against Satan, and a brief excerpt from the novel, itself.  Livia delivered a powerhouse reading; she’s a talented and inspired performer of her own work who never fails to impress, and if you have a chance to see her read, you should.  Tobias Carroll read about half of one of Thomas Ligotti’s stories, and I have to say, brought out a humor I hadn’t recognized in Ligotti’s work before.  I read a self-contained narrative from my story, “Corpsemouth,” which appeared in Ellen’s The Monstrous.

Me at WORD

Let me tell you about Ellen Datlow…

After the reading was done, the booksellers kept the store open while my co-readers and I signed a lot of books for a lot of very nice people.  Then it was off to a local Polish restaurant for still more food (hunter’s stew, very tasty), before Laird and I began the trek to the nearest subway station, and home.

I’ll be honest:  reading at WORD has been one of my personal goals for a few years, now.  Thanks to Alex Houston and the fine folks at the store for making it happen.

 

II.

The day after WORD was the annual H.P. Lovecraft Forum at SUNY New Paltz, number 28 by my count.  Organized by my friend and mentor, Bob Waugh, the Forum has been bringing all sorts of scholars and artists to the New Paltz campus to discuss Lovecraft’s fiction and its impact since I was a college freshman.  This year’s program was among the more modest:  Bob and I each read selections from upcoming, Lovecraft-related stories, but we were joined by artist Stephen Hickman, who brought along copies of his Lovecraft-related sculptures, whose genesis and development he shared with us.

Hickman Lovecraft Pieces

The Original You-Know-Who

 

III.

The day after the Lovecraft Forum, I took part in a group reading sponsored by Inquiring Minds, the local independent bookstore.  Sadly, the bookstore had been damaged by a freak flood; happily, the local public library stepped in and hosted the event.  Half a dozen more or less local writers, including myself and the Honey Badger, read to a full house that included a couple of my students (who were amazed to discover I was an actual writer).  As we read, college students dressed in their Halloween costumes for the contest being sponsored by the bar across the street wandered past the windows, as if extras in the stories we were reading.

And I’m happy to report, the bookstore recovered from the flooding, and about a month later, I read there with Bob Waugh to celebrate the release of his first collection of stories, The Bloody Tugboat and Other Witcheries.

Bloody Tugboat Cover

This is a strange, strange book…

 

 

IV.

So that was October.  Thank God it only comes around once a year.  But a sincere thank you to everyone who was involved in making the various events I took part in happen, and to everyone who attended them, and to everyone who asked me to sign a book or sent a kind word my way.