Looking Back at 2013, Looking Ahead to 2014
My novella, Children of No One was published, and earned a fair bit of praise (including a strong blurb from my literary hero, Thomas Ligotti, and a favorable review from Black Static‘s Peter Tennant — who compared it to John Fowles’s The Magus). A Horror World review compared it to the early work Clive Barker. There was even a positive review up — for a while — on the Famous Monsters of Filmland website.
And then…there were the reviews on Goodreads. These were a bit more polarized. There was very little middle ground. Readers either loved it or hated it (which, to my mind, is a good thing…it means I hit a nerve; my work actually says something, you know?). My favorite Goodreads review comes from Kristin (a book blogger at Blood, Sweat, and Books) who used an animated .gif of Stewie Griffin to describe her reaction, and then wrote: “I came away from reading Children Of No One feeling dirty, like I just witnessed something so deplorable that it should of (sic) never been put to paper in the first place.” And, hell, she liked the book. Gave it four stars. Ha! If that was the commentary accompanying a four star review, you can just imagine what the two star reviews looked like!
Another novella, I Am the New God was sold in 2013 (but won’t be coming out until this April). I was blown away when another one of my literary heroes, Jack Ketchum, offered it a nice volley of advance praise. Given that one of the main themes of the book is the monstrosity of the very concept of God, I expect it to provoke controversy and perhaps even more polarized reviews on Goodreads. One can only hope additional Stewie Griffin .gifs can be pressed into service to channel the outrage.
I had many short stories purchased and published in 2013. I saw my work make its way into Weird Tales — a magazine in which I’d long-aspired to appear. Not only did my story make it into Weird Tales, but it was often praised in reviews. One of the oddest moments of 2013 was when I found the Weird Tales story praised on the pop culture website Ain’t It Cool News.
Another aspiration was achieved when I finally earned active membership in the Horror Writers Association (after seeing the publication of three short stories sold at professional rates). Around the same time, I found out Ellen Datlow selected three of my 2012 short stories for her honorable mention long list for Best Horror of the Year, Volume 5. James Everington listed my story “The Peculiar Salesgirl” in his Best of 2013. Last night I found out that Tangent Online selected my Weird Tales story for its 2013 Recommended Reading List .
All of this feels great. I don’t think about it very much, but when I list everything like that, it’s hard to not feel proud, you know?
Something else happened in 2013 that bears mentioning. I’ve had to get used to folks in Indiana describing me as a “rising star”. It’s the big fish in a small pond effect, I think. Believe me, I have no delusions that I’ve achieved anything other than mildest of mild renown (and I believe it was the aforementioned Mr. Ligotti who said “There’s no obscurity like mild renown”.) But, this year, I was recognized in the grocery store (by a man who’d attended one of my appearances). I also had a younger writer tell me she felt anxious/intimidated to talk to me, because I’m allegedly a big deal. (Yeah, such a big deal that hours before I met her I was on my knees cleaning cat shit out of a litter box).
I also received more fan mail in 2013 than I ever have, before. That’s one of the best parts of the job, I think. I love hearing from all of you. On days when I feel a little down, such correspondence helps.
Anyway…again, I’m fully aware that this is all big fish / small pond stuff. But it does take some getting used to. I’ll admit that part of me kind of digs it. But another part of me is still baffled by it.
And what’s ahead for 2014? Well, I already mentioned I Am the New God, which will be released by DarkFuse on April 8th. I’m working on the marketing and promotion aspect of that release. I’ve submitted a short story collection to a publisher and look forward to hearing if it is accepted. I’m also close to finishing the first draft of a novel, tentatively titled Mr. Shadow.
I’ll be attending WHC in Portland, Oregon, this year. (I enjoyed last year’s WHC in New Orleans). I’m looking forward to reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones. I hope to make it back to Context, as well. There are also some tentative plans being made for me to coordinate a Horror Writers Association booth at ScareFest in Lexington, Kentucky in September. Other than that, the convention schedule seems a little up in the air. I may focus less on conventions and more on targeted speaking engagements and online PR such as podcast appearances, etc.
I’m excited about my writing career. I love writing — just the act of it — so much. All the accomplishments I’ve listed are significant, I know that. But at the end of the day, they’re not why I write. I write because of the thrill of the indescribable brain-orgasm that rushes through me when I’m fully immersed in crafting fiction. I write because writing is my crack. This is an important point, to me. I never want to become so jaded that I lose that thrill, or that focus.
I don’t write to become wealthy (although wealth would be nice). I don’t write to win awards (though awards would be nice). At the end of the day, I write because writing feels great, and because I treasure my readers. All my brain-orgasms would be masturbatory if not for the fact they were shared with those of you who read my stuff (okay, that came out sounding a little gross, but you get the point). So, if you’ve purchased one of my books, thank you. If you’ve posted a review of my work on Amazon or Goodreads, thank you. If you’ve told your friends about my work, thank you. Thank you, thank you so much.
Now let’s kick some more ass in 2014, eh?