I’ll be in Indianapolis this afternoon / evening for a charity fundraising event for Indy Reads (a local non profit organization that offers free literacy & English as a Second Language instruction). Here’s the specifics: the event will be held at Indy Reads Books (a store associated with Indy Reads). Indy Reads Books is located at 911 Massachusetts Avenue Indianapolis, IN 46202. Their phone number (in case you need directions, etc.) is 317-384-1496. Starting at 5:30 p.m., we’ll be doing a reading / signing event for the benefit anthology Gifts of the Magi. (All funds collected from the book go directly to Indy Reads, none of the authors or editors are paid a cent).
I donated a brief, never-before-published essay to this project called “Lumps of Coal” (it’s about disastrous holiday/spec fic TV and film mash ups, such as the wince-worthy “Bionic Christmas Carol”). The book also includes many short stories by spec fic authors (most of whom are also Hoosiers. Please do stop by and say hello.
Thanks to the magic of Amazon Instant Video, I watched the new Australian independent horror film The Babadook two nights in a row. I just wanted to briefly share my thoughts on it. Up here, I’ll be sharing my spoiler-free thoughts. Spoilers will be hidden further down — after a page break. Note that, in addition to discussing spoilers for The Babadook, I’ll also be discussing spoilers for Adam Wingard’s A Horrible Way to Die , Kubrick’s The Shining , and Friedkin’s The Exorcist as I briefly compare the films to each other.
So, without any further ado, on to my review…
First of all I want to say that (despite its problems) I do recommend watching The Babadook. Essie Davis’ performance as Amelia is one of the more riveting portrayals of mental collapse that I’ve ever watched on film. Superior, even, to Jack Nicholson in The Shining. The tone of the film is exceedingly creepy, and managed to disturb me (and I don’t disturb easily). The second act of the film surges with a sort of nightmare energy that few horror films ever manage to capture. I found that, even after watching the film, it would run through my mind and get to me. The creepiness lingered well into the night. The last film to have that effect on me was 2001’s Session 9.
Moreover, I think The Babadook is (in part) a parable for dealing with trauma. Amelia tries to suppress her grief and rage about the death of her husband in a car accident, which she witnessed seven years ago. The Babadook, as I see it, is grief and rage personified. As a story book in the film says, “you can’t get rid of the Babadook”. In other words, you can’t get rid of grief and the rage that accompanies it. You have to acknowledge grief, come to terms with it (or else, it gets the best of you).
Gripping, compelling character-driven stuff.
Here’s the deal: I’ve started to do nonfiction/journalism work (in addition to my fiction) and I have some fun samples for y’all. This week on the Horror Etc Podcast : my audio interviews with John Kassir (perhaps best known to horror fans as the voice of the Crypt Keeper in the TV anthology show Tales from the Crypt), actors Jeffrey Landman and Erik Preston (of the Halloween franchise), and some representatives from the Asylum Haunted Scream Park who talked to me about their Slenderman live action experience. All these interviews were recorded at the Fright Night Film Fest in Louisville, Kentucky, which I covered as a journalist.
In the near future, I’ll be able to share news about interviews with *other* guests from the event (to appear, in print, in the UK’s SCREAM Magazine). But for right now, just clicky-click the linky-link to listen to these interviews for free!
I’m delighted Ellen dug the story. These sorts of honors put wind in my sails when I’m feeling down (which I have been, lately).
Several other contributors to the anthology were also given honorable mentions. Kudos to Joe Pulver for putting this project together with the help of Miskatonic River Press publisher Tom Lynch. And of course, thanks to “the other Tom” , who has given horror fiction so much over the last few decades. Obviously, without the Grimscribe, himself, there would have been no Grimscribe’s Puppets.
Everything happens at once. By some weird alignment of events (no doubt triggered by strange goings on among the stars) I have previously-unpublished work coming out simultaneously in three new anthologies. You’re busy, I’m busy, so let’s cut to the chase and briefly talk about each.
Editor Jason V Brock has been supportive of my work for awhile now, and I’m grateful for that and proud to have five or ten pages in this huge (over 700 page) anthology. The book includes a previously-unpublished foreword by Ray Bradbury and all new stories from an eclectic mix of authors from just about every branch of dark speculative fiction. I mean, seriously folks…Lucy A. Snyder, Greg Bear, Joe Lansdale, Dennis Etchison, Steve Rasnic Tem, Weston Ochse, S.T. Joshi and…um…me.
(My contribution is a new, 3,000ish word story called “The Squatters”. It’s weird and dark and sexual and surreal).
The t.o.c. for this one looks like the guest list for a wild party (or maybe just a particularly rambunctious cookout). Oh, and speaking of wild — or merely rambunctious — social gatherings…
There will be a signing event for this anthology tomorrow (Thursday, November 6) at 6:00 p.m. in Glendale, California at the Mystery & Imagination Bookstore (238 N. Brand Boulevard ). I won’t be there because Glendale, California is a bit of hike from southern Indiana. But if you’re out that way, please do drop by. They’ll be opening the doors at 5:30. William F. Nolan, Joe Lansdale, Dennis Etchison, Jason and Sunni Brock, Cody Goodfellow, J.C. Koch, E.E. King, and Misty Dahl are all scheduled to be in attendance.
Oh, and, clicky-click on the linky-link for more information about the book.
The next anthology I want to talk about is a special charity fundraising effort called Gifts of the Magi: A Speculative Holiday Collection. All proceeds from this one will benefit the literacy charity Indy Reads. Here’s more about Indy Reads, from their website:
Indy Reads is a not-for-profit organization that relies on volunteers to provide basic literacy tutoring to illiterate and semi-literate adults. Our mission is to promote and improve the literacy of adults and families in Central Indiana. We believe that everyone should have an opportunity to learn to read, and our goal is to make Indianapolis 100% literate. Our programs include one-on-one tutoring, small group sessions, English as a Second Language instruction, and “Literacy Labs” at neighborhood centers.
That all sounds good to me. Literacy is a cause I feel especially moved to support, as I feel strongly that (in addition to offering many practical, day-to-day benefits), it plays an essential role in facilitating the exercise of one’s civil liberties.
A lot of fellow-Hoosiers are in this one, and it’s edited by John F. Allen, E. Chris Garrison, and R.J. Sullivan.
I donated a short humor piece to this one (called “Lumps of Coal”). It discusses two TV shows (and one movie) which try to graft a cheery holiday message onto genre entertainment (and fail miserably in the process). Folks who enjoy my short fiction may find this essay to be a bit of an odd duck, as it has more to do with my appreciation of so-bad-it’s-good pieces of pop culture and absolutely nothing to do with serious literary endeavors, but sometimes a girl’s allowed to let her hair down, eh?
Next up? Women Writing the Weird II: Dreadful Daughters. I was invited to submit a short story to this anthology and ended up contributing a novelette called “Non Evidens”. It’s a previously-unpublished piece. This one has moments of dark satire and moments of strangeness, but — as it’s my take on mother-daughter relationships — there are some serious aspects to it, too.
Here’s the list of contributors (besides me): Merrie Haskell, J.S. Breukelaar, Sandra McDonald, Janett L. Grady, Victoria Hooper, Tantra Bensko, Rachel Kendall, Roberta Chloe Verdant, Amelia Mangan, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Michele Lee, Deb Hoag, Janis Butler Holm, Nancy Collins, Sarah A.D. Shaw, Lorraine H McGuire, Nikki Guerlain, Peggy A. Wheeler, Aliya Whiteley and Charie D. La Marr.
It’s especially good to see my friend Michele Lee and weird fic acquaintance Nikki Guerlain in this one.
Please consider purchasing one (or all) of these publications, y’all.
This past weekend I taught a writing workshop at the Speculative Fiction Guild’s retreat (at a lovely cabin in the woods not far from Indianapolis). A few weeks before that, I attended (and did some freelance journalism) at the Fright Night Horror and Halloween convention; a few weeks before that, I attended (and taught) at Context; a few weekends before that I coordinated the HWA booth at ScareFest.
And so on, and so on.
I’ve traveled a lot this year. Boston for ReaderCon, Portland for World Horror. Three events in the Midwest and East Coast for my April book tour. All these other things recently. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy it…but I’m also looking forward to some down time. I’m especially looking forward to sitting on my front porch with a mug of hot apple cider and handing out candy to the 100+ trick-or-treaters I typically get at my house. I look forward to making more progress on my next novel. I look forward to recharging my batteries, so I can go out and do it all again next year.
But yeah, at least for a few months, my suitcase gets some rest. And that’s a good thing.
I’ve been asked to fill in on one additional Context panel, The Well-Rounded Creative (Saturday at 5:00 p.m.)
So, my revised Context schedule looks like this:
Panel: Writing NonFiction (For Fiction Lovers) 10am Saturday / Morrison Room
Panel: The Well-Rounded Creative 5:00 p.m. Saturday / Morrison Room
Signing: 11am Sunday / Dealer’s Room, Context signing area
Teaching: Discovery Writing Workshop: 1pm Sunday / Stansbury
There are few conventions I love more than Context (a con focused exclusively on books, based in Columbus, Ohio). Without a doubt, it’s my favorite con in the Midwest. There are enough familiar faces there to make it a sort of family reunion, but also enough structure (writing classes, panels, etc.) to tickle one’s neurons.
Six years ago, when I first started writing again after a lengthy hiatus, I attended a short story critique group Gary Braunbeck offered at Context. All the participants sent in stories ahead of time, to each other and to Gary. We read all the stories before the con. Then, during the workshop, Gary — and all the other students — provided critiques. As we went around the table and discussed each story, we really dove into the nuts and bolts. I recall it as being an intense three-hour experience on the Friday night of the con. It was probably the most important night of my writing career. I went into the workshop with an (undeserved) ego. I left with an appreciation of how little I really knew. Humbled, in a good way. Rendered teachable.
It set the foundation for everything that followed.
And here, six years (and many stories) later, I am now a teacher of a writing workshop at Context. (Specifically, I’ll be teaching a class that will provide tools for the discovery writer — aka, “pantser”). There are still a few spaces available, by the way.
What a journey it’s been. I’m proud to be a part of Context and look forward to teaching there.
In addition to teaching, I’ll be on one panel and I’ll have an assigned time to sign books.
Here’s the full schedule:
Panel: Writing NonFiction (For Fiction Lovers) 10am Saturday
Signing: 11am Sunday
Teaching Discovery Writing Class: 1pm Sunday
If you’re at the con, please do say hello. I’d love to meet you.
I’m overjoyed to announce that Ross E. Lockhart has acquired my first novel, Mr. Suicide, as a July, 2015 Word Horde release. I’ve worked with several great editors during my career and Ross is no exception. His suggestions for Mr. Suicide helped me take the book to the next level. I can’t wait to share it with all of you.
Thanks to everyone who has helped me as I’ve climbed this mountain — all the readers, mentors, teachers, supporters and friends.I’m glad to join Ross, Justin Steele , J.M. McDermott, Molly Tanzer, and the rest of the Horde (can I be the one in the back with the battle ax?).
Look for more information about Mr. Suicide (and many other topics) in an extensive forthcoming interview with Sean Moreland over at Postscripts to Darkness.