A Shitload of (Brief) Updates…

IMG_8506 - Edited_picmonkeyedIt’s been a little over three weeks since I’ve posted here. A lot has been going on. I’m going to try my best to keep this brief, though, by making each update relatively concise.

That sound acceptable?

Good, let’s begin.

Thank You, Carmichael’s Bookstore

Last Thursday, Louisville’s Carmichael’s Bookstore hosted me for a reading and signing event to celebrate the recent release of my novel Mr. Suicide (and my forthcoming short story collection, The Mirrors). Carmichael’s was a Publishers Weekly Bookstore of the Year in 2009 and it’s the epicenter of Louisville’s literary scene, so I was really pleased to appear there.  Here are a few pics of the event I’d like to share with you.

IMG_8506 IMG_8512 IMG_8571 IMG_8590

And, hell, while I’m at it, I’ll also share a video of the event. Here I am reading the first chapter of Mr. Suicide.

By the way, Carmichael’s still has a handful of signed copies available for sale (at both the Frankfort Avenue and Bardstown Road locations).  If you’re in the area, that’s the easiest way to get a signed book.  (If you’re not in the area, I’d suggest you order the Mr. Suicide Bundle directly from my publisher, Word Horde.  That’s another way to get a signed book, at no extra cost.)

Anyway, thanks again to Carmichael’s for being such a hospitable host. Independent bookstores are an important part of the publishing ecosystem and I hope you’ll join me in supporting them. Thanks, also, to all the folks who came out to the event and made it a really special evening for me.

July Postcards Mailed

I’m a bit later with this than usual, but I just completed the July mailing to members of the Nicole Cushing Postcard Club. Technically, I’m getting in just under the wire for this one (as I’m mailing them in July). But, yeah, most of you will be receiving these in early August.  It’s been such a hectic month.  Apologies for being a bit late.

As with every month, I feature an obscure, dead writer on the postcard.  This month’s author in the Obscurity Showcase was a friend of Henry Miller (but is nowhere near as famous).  Who is he?  Check your mailbox to find out!

More later.  I gotta run.

Scares That Care & Carmichael’s Books

I’ll be making a couple of personal appearances to support the recent release of my novel, Mr. Suicide.

This coming weekend (Friday July 24th through Sunday July 26th), I’ll be appearing in Williamsburg, Virginia at the second annual Scares That Care Weekend.  Scares That Care is an IRS-approved, 501(c)(3) charity that raises money for those who are seriously ill and need help with medical expenses.  One of the ways they raise money is by holding this convention. I’ve not met the con organizers, but just from interacting with them online they seem like good, experienced folks.

Throughout the weekend, I’ll be selling and signing books at the Author’s Alley section of the con.  I’ll have many copies of Mr. Suicide for sale (along with various other odds & ends).

I’ll also be a part of author programming. Friday night at 9 p.m. I’ll be appearing on a panel about panels (a meta-panel?). Its official title (per Brian Keene’s website) is:  “DO WE STILL NEED WOMEN OF HORROR PANELS?”  Given the time of night (Friday at 9) and the large number of participants, I’m expecting the mood for this one to be rather on the rambunctious side.  Should be interesting.

Sunday from 12:30 – 1:00 p.m., I’ll be doing a reading.  My hunch is I’ll probably read something from Mr. Suicide.  Maybe a short bit from that and a piece of flash fiction.  We’ll see.  I need to think about the time constraints.  Maybe I’ll read a bit and do a short Q&A afterward.

In any event, I haven’t been to a Mid-Atlantic horror con since the heyday of the late, lamented Horrorfind.  So, I’m hoping to not only meet lots of readers, but also reconnect with some old friends I haven’t seen in many years.

Then, on Thursday July 30th at 7:00 p.m. I’ll be appearing in Louisville at Carmichael’s Books (Frankfort Avenue location).  I enjoy visiting lots of different bookstores, but I’ve long-considered Carmichael’s the epicenter of Louisville’s literary scene. And they maintain a strong, smart genre fiction section (indeed, I’ve spotted Word Horde titles there in the past, long before my novel came out).  And it’s not just Word Horde.  They sell genre stuff you just don’t think you’d be able to find at a Louisville book store.  I’ve seen books published by Tachyon there.  I bought Brian Evenson’s Windeye  (published by Coffee House Press) there.  So,  I’m quite pleased to have this opportunity to appear there.

I’ll also be doing dropping by a few podcasts in the next week or two.  But more about those tomorrow. I have a busy week ahead of me, preparing for the upcoming road trip. Gotta get movin’.

I Fucking Love The Small Press

photo(81)How do I fucking love thee, small press?  Let me count the ways!

I love reading small press horror books.  Both my physical shelves and my Kindle are full of them.  In fact, if you love horror fiction chances are you’re a small press junkie, too.  Since the end of the ’80s mass market boom years, the small press has been picking up much of the slack in the genre.

I also love reading stuff at the darker, more deranged end of so-called literary fiction (which also tends to come to me via small presses — and the occasional university press — offering work in translation).

If I relied exclusively on NYC for my reading, I’d be screwed.  Yes, there are some quality titles that emerge from larger publishers (I keep hearing great things about Paul Tremblay’s A Head Full of Ghosts and Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, for example).  But NYC is not chomping at the bit to reprint Hermann Ungar’s strange tale of corrosive anxiety, abasement, and mutilation, The Maimed.  For that you’ll need to go to Twisted Spoon Press.  Nor is NYC likely to pick up the nightmarish work of Mário de Sá-Carneiro.  For that you’ll need to go to Dedalus Books.  Want to read The Nightwatches of Bonaventura?  The University of Chicago Press can hook you up with a copy.

Much like Clive Barker’s Midian, the small press is a haven for literary monsters.  (And yes, I’m aware of the irony of using a mass market example to illustrate my point.  Just humor me.)

I’m proud to be such a literary monster. No…”proud” doesn’t begin to capture it, I fucking love being such a literary monster. I have no inferiority complex about currently working with publishers headquartered in Petaluma, California and Vancouver, Washington instead of NYC.  Nope…I like being relatively unique and I’m grateful to have an opportunity to sing my dark, weird song.

I might be wrong, but I look at things this way…

One reviewer calls my work:  “mind-bending“.

Another calls it: ” outré

Another calls it: “cerebral” but also “taboo”

Others call it:  “brutal”, “extreme” and “disturbingly graphic”

And yeah, the word “transgressive” gets mentioned sometimes.

For my readers, such adjectives highlight why they dig my stuff.  You guys get it.  Maybe the sound of such words makes you intrigued. But to average NYC publishing industry folks?  The sound of wet farts would probably be easier on the ears.

My new novel, Mr. Suicide (debuting today from Ross Lockhart’s small press, Word Horde) is pretty much the textbook example of a book that NYC would never touch, simply because of its tone and style. (And the same could be said for my forthcoming story collection, The Mirrors, coming out from Cycatrix Press).

Thank goodness there’s Midian — where being bizarre, brutal, graphic and transgressive is an asset, not a liability.

If you’re reading this, chances are you have at least a little bit of literary monster in you, yourself.  Maybe your ears are just a tad bit too pointed?  Your teeth just a little too sharp? Your nails too suggestive of claws?  That pain in your upper back…might that not be your wings starting to sprout?

Don’t panic.  These are good things.

Let’s not wish our uniqueness away.  Let’s celebrate it.

I fucking love being a literary monster, and Mr. Suicide is a book that I’m fucking proud of.  Will you take a look at my strange baby?

Back Cover Description

MrSuicide_FrontCoverLike everyone else in the world, you’ve wanted to do things people say you shouldn’t do.

How many times in your life have you wanted to slap someone? Really, literally strike them? You can’t even begin to count the times. Hundreds. Thousands. You’re not exaggerating. You’re not engaging in… whatchamacallit? Hyperbole? You’re not engaging in hyperbole.

Maybe the impulse flashed through your brain for only a moment, like lightning, when someone tried to skip ahead of you in line at the cafeteria. Hell, at more than one point in your life you’ve wanted to kill someone; really, literally kill someone. That’s not just an expression. Not hyperbole. Then it was gone and replaced by the civilized thought: You can’t do that. Not out in public.

But you’ve had the thought…

How to Get the Book

You can order Mr. Suicide directly from Word Horde by visiting this link.  (If you order direct from them, they can attach a signed book plate).  Also, by buying the trade paperback, you’ll get the ebook thrown in for free.  Word Horde calls it the “Mr. Suicide Bundle”.

Or, you can get it from Amazon.

Or Barnes & Noble

Or Zeisings.

Remembering Tom Piccirilli (1965-2015)

I just came home, checked Facebook, and found out about the death of Tom Piccirilli. I met him once, fleetingly, many years ago, at the Horrorfind convention in Baltimore (if memory serves correctly). But I never got a chance to get to know him well (personally).

I did, however, greatly appreciate his work. The truth is, I don’t like a lot of modern horror fiction. But Piccirilli, at his best, was a master at combining savagery and smarts. Anyone who aspires to work in this field needs to read him. His characterizations of the tormented (and their tormentors) stand at the forefront of the genre.

I’ll give you two specific recommendations. First, I’ll recommend his lesser-known (but fucking brilliant) novella Clown in the Moonlight (think Hubert Selby, Jr. + occult magick…or people who think they’re doing occult magick). Second, I’ll recommend his better-known Every Shallow Cut…a demented, Great Recession version of The Catcher in the Rye. Envision Holden Caulfield reimagined as a 50-something pulp crime writer who’s seen better days — and sales — but finds himself somehow empowered (or…pseudo-empowered?) by committing acts of violence during a brief, cross-country romp.

And there are many, many other great works by him, too. (Those are just the two I love most). He also excelled at the short story and wrote many novels.

Mr. Piccirilli may be gone, but he’s left behind some fascinating pieces of his consciousness for us to hold on to. I’m sure that offers little consolation, at this time, to those who knew him personally.  But I think it’s worth mentioning.

Some Initial Reviews for THE MIRRORS & MR. SUICIDE

The Mirrors Revised CoverMrSuicide_FrontCoverSo, here’s the deal…

Soon I will have not one, but two, new books released into the wild.  (My debut novel Mr. Suicide and my first full-length story collection The Mirrors).  For quite awhile now, I’ve been busy working on these books.  My editors and I have done a tremendous amount of work on them.

The writing, the re-writing, the editing…all of that is done in relative isolation.  It’s just me and the editor working away on the project for months on end.  Honestly, at that stage of things, I’m concentrating so much on the task at hand that it’s easy to forget the ultimate goal is releasing the book to the readers.

But, before you know it, the publication date is just around the corner and the first reviews start to trickle in.  I think it’s natural for writers to be a bit nervous at this stage.  How will the world judge our strange babies?  I’m happy to say that both The Mirrors and Mr. Suicide have collected strong reviews in the last week or so.

Let’s start with The MirrorsThe review blog Horror After Dark gave the book five stars, and writes:

Wildly imaginative and creative, I’m stunned by the quality of this volume. The tales are consistently good-whether they be totally out of the realm of possibility, (invisible babies? see Non Evidens), on the verge of possibility, (purchasing a newly tattooed or tanned skin? see The Peculiar Salesgirl), or too late to stop, (see The Cat in the Cage), each one brings its own intensity to the reader.

Not long after that review came in, the popular website LitReactor offered praise for Mr. Suicide

Extreme and taboo are definitely two appropriate descriptors for Mr. Suicide. However, there are novels out there that out-gore and gross-out on every page. Cushing doesn’t give us an all-out splatterfest, aiming more for a narrative that unsettles its readers psychologically, disarming them from time to time with bursts of graphic violence. She handles this more cerebral approach deftly; and yet, her pages still seem to bleed, or at least to writhe with rotten blood itching to get loose. And this blood can infect you. See, the novel is a first-person account written in second-person, creating a strange cognitive dissonance with the protagonist and his actions, projecting his sick existence onto the reader, absorbing us into his worldview and forcing us to not only see but feel, deep under our own skin, his personal world.

Oh, and then shortly after that, Gef Fox (over at the review blog Wag the Fox) had some very nice things to say about my work, calling me:

…one of the better and more unique voices in horror to arrive this decade.

It’s a bit overwhelming to get praise like that, and I hesitate to even share that lest I seem like I’m some sort of egomaniac.  But I’ve been in this business long enough to know that it’s okay to celebrate the praise when it comes.  There are no guarantees in publishing.  Just because people liked your last book doesn’t mean they’ll like the new one.  If folks dig your stuff, it’s okay to enjoy that they dig it, unashamedly.

If you’re interested in reading Mr. Suicide you have a couple of different options.  If you pre-order directly from Word Horde, you can get both the trade paperback and the ebook for $14.99.  ($14.99 is the cost of the paperback, and they throw the ebook in for free).  They call it the “Mr. Suicide Bundle” and you can click on this link to order.  You also have the option of pre-ordering direct from Amazon.  Here’s the link for that.  (Note:  release date for the book is July 15th…although some folks who ordered directly from Word Horde have already gotten their copies.)

If you’re interested in reading The Mirrors, you can pre-order it directly from Cycatrix Press.  We did a “soft release” of that book at WHC (where we sold ARCs at a reduced cost).  But I’m in the process of giving it one additional polish before its official release.  We were originally planning for this book to come out on July 1st, but due to a bout of illness I suffered that has been slightly delayed.  But it should be out soon.  (Check here for updates).

June Postcards Mailed

Dear Members of the Nicole Cushing Postcard Club:

Your June postcards have just been sent.

This month’s Obscurity Showcase is occupied by an author so obscure that we can’t say , with full confidence, exactly who he (or she?) was.  But we have a decent hunch.  For more information, check out the postcard.

Okay, now I gotta put my nose back to the grindstone!



My Interviews with Greg Nicotero & The Bannisters

Nicole  Interviewing NicoteroI recently had a really great time at WonderFest, a Louisville-based convention that I covered for Scream magazine.  I’ll be writing an article on the con, itself, for the Scream website.  I’ll also be writing up several of the interviews I conducted at the con for inclusion in the magazine itself.  Just as a teaser, here’s a pic of me interviewing Greg Nicotero (special effects legend and co-executive producer of The Walking Dead).

Cover-311-724x1024Oh, and speaking of my interviews for Scream, the next issue (#31) will include my interview with Phantasm star Reggie Bannister and Gigi Fast Elk Bannister (special effects artist and co-producer for Phantasm:  Ravager).  They share some pretty interesting behind-the-scenes stuff.

Okay…so now I must head out.  Very, very busy here these days.  Which is a good thing.

Appearing at Scares That Care Weekend

I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be appearing at the Scares That Care Weekend in Williamsburg, VA (July 24-26).

This event combines the horror fiction world, horror film fandom, and charity fundraising to help various people with medical expenses. According to the event website, Scares That Care, Inc. is an IRS approved, 501(c)(3) charity.

I encourage my east coast friends and readers to consider making the road trip for this one. I’ll be selling & signing copies of THE MIRRORS and MR. SUICIDE in the author’s alley area of the con, appearing on a panel, and doing a reading. If you’re a reader and I haven’t met you yet, I’d really dig hanging out.


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