choir of beasts try 4bSMALLThe question has been asked:  will my forthcoming collection The Mirrors include The Choir of Beasts?

The answer is:  yes and no.

For the uninitiated, The Choir of Beasts is a limited edition chapbook published by Dunhams Manor Press (the weird fiction imprint of Dynatox Ministries) in 2013.  How limited?  Only twenty five numbered copies (and a handful of publisher copies that I sold or gave away, myself).  As one might expect, given the tiny print run, they sold out very quickly.

The chapbook is comprised of three stories, “The Choir of Beasts”, “The Temple of the Fly”, and ‘The Sermon in the Pit”.  “The Choir of Beasts” takes up roughly seventy-five percent of that chapbook. The other two stories (set in the same world as “Choir”) take up the remainder.

The Mirrors will reprint “The Choir of Beasts”, but will not reprint “The Temple of the Fly” or “The Sermon in the Pit”.

This seems to be the best solution for everyone involved.  It makes a significant chunk of the chapbook available to a larger audience, without completely sacrificing the specialness of the chapbook.  The chapbook is the only place to find “The Temple of the Fly” and “The Sermon in the Pit” (and I don’t see any reason, at this time, to make those pieces available elsewhere).  I want the limited edition to retain some of its limited-ness, if that makes any sense.

Oh, and another thing:  the version of “The Choir of Beasts” that appears in The Mirrors is just a hair different from the version in the chapbook.  Don’t misunderstand me:  there are no differences in plot or characterization.  But I found the need to give the story another polish and I added one or two new sentences, just to flesh out things that I felt needed greater fleshing out.  (The truth is, I gave most — if not all — the stories another round of polishing.  Tightening bolts.  Buffing out scratches.  That sort of thing.)

Oh, and ANOTHER thing:  I can officially confirm S.T. Joshi is writing the foreword for The Mirrors.  (Actually, I can now say that he has already written the foreword.  I’ve seen it.)

Any more questions?  I’d be happy to answer them in the comments section, below.

Moonlighting as a Horror Journalist

Recently, as a Scream issue 28way of supplementing my income, I’ve started writing some nonfiction pieces for genre magazines.  The first fruits of this endeavor appear in this month’s issue of the UK-based Scream magazine.  I interviewed Nightmare on Elm Street 3‘s Jennifer Rubin and Halloween 5‘s Don Shanks and both pieces made the cover.

UK readers should be able to pick up a physical copy of the magazine in stores.  Readers outside the UK can get an electronic copy on the magazine’s website (they call this program iScream…what a hoot!)

Coming in Late Spring/Early Summer: THE MIRRORS

Things are hectic, so I’ll make this brief. My first full-length short fiction collection, The Mirrors, will be coming out soon from Jason V Brock’s Cycatrix Press.

Jason has been an enthusiastic supporter of my work for awhile now (my stories have appeared in Nameless magazine and in his anthology A Darke Phantastique). In fact, we first discussed the possibility of Cycatrix publishing this collection almost two years ago at a pitch session at WHC in New Orleans. (Three cheers for WHC pitch sessions!). Anyway, it’s sweet to be able to talk about this, now that the contract is signed.

I’m also pleased to announce that S.T. Joshi is involved with the project (he mentions it briefly near the end of his most recent — January 2 — blog post).

I’ll be disclosing more details about this one as we get closer to publication. It’s going to be a busy year. This book comes out in late spring/early summer. My first novel, Mr. Suicide, will be released by the good ship Word Horde in July. Things will no doubt get a little frantic, but that’s a good problem to have.  (In fact, I’m not inclined to view it as a problem at all.)  I’m grateful that six and a half years of perseverance in the writing game is paying off. I’m also grateful for my readers.  You may not yet be legion, but you’re passionate. Thanks for traveling with me this far into the journey. I’m looking forward to seeing what you think of this year’s crop of books.

Je Suis Charlie

Taking time to write a blog post about the Charlie Hebdo killings seems stupid. I have a lot of shit on my to do list right now. Commenting opens a can of worms. And, of course, if I say something controversial I may be misunderstood or pigeonholed in a negative light. I’m a little neurotic. The last concern is probably unwarranted (and is undeniably selfish). But it’s there.

And, let’s face it, it’s not like I’m Neil Gaiman or Stephen King or Stephanie Meyer. It’s not like my two cents about Charlie Hebdo is going to make headlines. It’s not like there’s a demand for me to make a statement about things.

Even so, I feel compelled to say something. I feel it’s necessary.


Because, like the staff of Charlie Hebdo, I’ve often criticized religion. Sometimes in harsh, colorful and – dare I admit it in these walking-on-eggshell times? – scatological and irreverent terms.

After forty-one years on this planet, I’ve come to this conclusion: religion is a speeding bus that takes a lot of people where they need to go but runs over a lot of pedestrians in the process. And when the inevitable collisions happen, they’re always hit and run (sometimes, but not always, accompanied by cheers from the passengers on board). Sometimes (as with the fundamentalist Christian ex-gay movement), the injured pedestrian amazingly manages to  pursue the bus, bang on its windows, and beg to be let in.  The bus driver esteems himself merciful to let the limping man come aboard.

There are lots of reasons people get on buses. They advertise that they’re going to a desirable destination (far better than wandering aimlessly or, heaven forbid, staying put where you are). Infinitely better than admitting there is no desirable destination, that this grubby street corner is it, that the universe is just one grubby street corner after another. Moreover, one can share an esprit de corps with one’s fellow passengers (far better than traveling alone).

American Christianity was the make and model of the bus that ran me over, and so my fiction often addresses my concerns about that institution. Earlier in my career, this took the form of transgressive satire in fiction and performance art. As far as I can tell from the few cartoons I’ve seen, some of this work came close to the flavor of Charlie Hebdo. In more recent times, my emphasis has been less on satire and more on exploring the horrific nature of the Christian faith. (And yes, I do not think “horrific” is too harsh a word for systems of thought and behavior which offer solace, but only if granted submission in return).

But, as it should now be abundantly clear, a bus is a bus is a bus…

What pisses me off the most about the attacks is that they’re clearly an attempt to intimidate those who would satirize the Muslim faith. And the chilling effect is already taking place, particularly among my friends on the far Left (who seem to have spent a cursory five seconds mourning the deaths but have gone on now for five days wagging moralizing fingers at many of the corpses).

One would think that punching at god (or someone who claimed to speak for god) would be the ultimate “punching up”.

Based on this blog post, you may assume that I belong to the Right. And…here’s the kicker, I don’t. I’m generally anti-war. Definitely anti-torture. Appalled by the flagrant violation of privacy underway with domestic surveillance. Deeply uncomfortable with nationalism. Anti-Guantanamo. I condemn any and all vandalism and violence towards Muslim individuals and mosques in the wake of this attack (and all others).

But I feel the need to stand up with my peers at Charlie Hebdo, my brothers in blasphemy. And, in closing, fuck the terrorists.  Fuck em in the ass.

Only Seven Months Away…

mr. suicide in Locus

MR. SUICIDE listed in the trade magazine LOCUS.

This Afternoon’s Event in Indianapolis…

IndyReadsAd1I’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.

THE BABADOOK’s Lost Opportunity

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.


Read the rest of this entry

So I Interviewed the Crypt Keeper…

Horror Etc InterviewsHere’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!

Ellen Datlow Offers Honorable Mention for “The Company Town”

Grimscribe's Puppets

Ellen Datlow recently listed her honorable mentions for Best Horror of the Year #6 and my story “The Company Town” (from the Thomas Ligotti tribute anthology The Grimscribe’s Puppets) made the cut.

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.

A Flood of Anthology News

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.

FINAL_Cover_600_DARKE__75890.1405382115.1280.1280Editor 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.

SFG Christmas antho picThe 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?

women writing the weird ii dreadful daughtersNext up?  Women Writing the Weird II: Dreadful DaughtersI 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.


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