Dark City: Let the Pre-Orders Begin

by Brian on June 23, 2015

in Fiction

Awhile back, David Barnett of Necro Publications gave fellow scribe Gerard Houarner and me each half a book to play with, and a kind of weird urban theme gelled naturally.

DARK-CITY-Cover265Gerard split his share between two stories with the evocative titles “Burning Bright in the Invisible Night” and “The Fear Puppet.” My chunk is an epic novella called In the Negative Spaces, which came together by throwing the oddest combination of elements into a bowl and going at them with an immersion blender: domestic violence survival, alternative evolution, Manhattan real estate rapacity, Russian mob tattoos, smart-ass dream journaling…

And somewhere in there, caramel-and-sea-salt brownies are served. Come for the brownies, stay for the blizzard and interdimensional  chaos.

Publisher-direct hardcover and softcover preorders are now live in advance of the August 7 release.

Or if you want to lock in that Kindle delivery now, Amazon will let you do that too.

New feature alert. For that subset of readers with an itch to peek inside the factory to see how the sausage gets made, this is for you. I choose to think it could be more than self-indulgent wankery … that along the way, you might get steered toward a secret ingredient or two that went into the mix, and decide it’s worth checking out at the source.

ChildsXmasAs I mentioned previously, the new Better Weird anthology was conceived as a tribute to the late David B. Silva, who meant a great deal to a great many people. He published 7 or 8 of my earliest stories, and I wanted what I did to reflect that heritage. Problem was, I’ve written upwards of 100 more since then, and a number of books, and don’t much feel like the same person — let alone the same writer — anymore.

But I could at least try to work the same way. Which, back then, usually meant grappling onto a stupidly simple idea and milking it for as much I could. This time, all I had to do was look out the window. It was late winter, and had been snowing for days.

Idea: What if it didn’t stop?

It really was that simple.

The title, “Eternal, Ever Since Wednesday,” is how poet Dylan Thomas describes the latest snowfall in his classic reminiscence “A Child’s Christmas In Wales.” Under our roof, late every December 25th, we give that another listen. The print edition is magical enough, but better still is hearing Thomas read it himself, in a recording from 1952. The man had a voice fit to coax and command angels.

Early in my own story, I wanted to capture the same sort of magic I remembered from snow days, all the way from gradeschool through college … before too much of a good thing turns into a nightmare, and winter takes hold within as well as from without.

It always makes my tail quiver to be involved with new projects and see them born. The thrill never gets old. But there’s an extra layer of bittersweet significance to this one.

BetterWeirdCover265Better Weird is a tribute anthology to writer / editor / publisher David B. Silva. When in the 1980s he launched a quarterly magazine called The Horror Show, it gave a lot of fledgling writers their start. I was one of them. Outside of pieces in school literary magazines, Dave bought and published the first stories I ever sold. Definitely the first ones I ever mailed across the country.

He did more than publish. He mentored. And anybody who remembers the magazine will recall Dave’s regular editorial sign-off: “Better weird than plastic.”

After Dave died in 2013, his longtime friend and colleague Paul F. Olson rounded up a roster of writers who became fixtures in the magazine, and set us loose for one last go-around. Rich Chizmar, who has credited Dave with the inspiration to launch Cemetery Dance Publications, was the obvious choice of publisher.

E-book for now. Hardcover edition coming later.

I’ll have a few more words on this later in the week. For now, here it is, just a click or two away…

Cemetery Dance Direct • Amazon (Kindle) • B&N (Nook) • Kobo

Here’s a different approach to publishing an anthology.

DarkScreams(Sm)Dark Screams is a joint project between Cemetery Dance Publications and Random House. First, Random releases it in 5 ebook installments, in a variety of formats. Then CD will issue the whole thing in a print edition that will probably be big enough to choke a hippo.

Today brings Volume 3, which I share with Peter Straub, Jack Ketchum, Jacquelyn Frank, and Darynda Jones. My chunk of it is a 12,000-word novelette titled “The Lone and Level Sands Stretch Far Away.” Yes, I stole the last line of Percy Shelley’s “Ozymandias.”

It’s just another “apocalypse-obsessed girl-next-door triggers a marital five-year-itch, gets you into parkour and urban exploration, and reality falls horribly apart” story. I know, I’m going to have to quit milking that storyline sooner or later.

If you’re collecting the full quintet: Volumes 1 and 2 are already out, obviously. Volume 4 is scheduled for August 4, and Volume 5 for October 6. The print edition? Don’t ask hard questions.


B&N (Nook)iTunes (ePub)Kobo

So there’s a new champion for “longest, most involved thing I’ve written that isn’t a full-blown novel.” I’ve just turned it in, it all came together quickly, and right now it’s on the fast track for publication in August.

Impending-StormsPage-per-page, In the Negative Spaces relied on the most eclectic mix of research topics I’ve ever thrown into the blender together. Including, but not limited to:

  • Manhattan real estate
  • The Cambrian Period
  • Life as a doorman
  • Alternate evolution
  • Russian mob tattoos
  • DMT trips
  • Secret recipe for sweet & salty brownies

Further details to come once the publisher makes things more official. Until then, have a brownie.

[Photo by Paul Bica. Cropped and used under Creative Commons licensing. Because there’s no cover art yet but this caught the right mood.]

In case you’ve missed “The Same Deep Waters As You” — my novella of H.P. Lovecraft’s Innsmouth — the first three times it was published in the last year and a half, this fourth time may be your final chance ever!

New Cthulhu 2 coverAt least until my next collection or something comes out. Working on it.

Even if you’ve read “Deep Waters” already, this whopper still packs over 400 more pages of newish stuff from the likes of Laird Barron, Angela Slatter, Caitlin R. Kiernan, John Shirley, W.H. Pugmire, and a bunch more.

Ever have those days when you’re convinced you’re a mite on a spinning blue ball of rock and mud that’s a mere squeezee ball in the hands of intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic? We know just how you feel.

It’s all a kind of best-of roundup drawn from between 2010 to 2014. Most of it’s still new to me, though. Can’t wait to dive in for the rest.


Behind the Scenes: Shadows Over Main Street

by Brian on February 27, 2015

in Fiction

So here was a good idea: Just before its release in January, the editors of Shadows Over Main Street: An Anthology of Small-Town Lovecraftian Terror began running a weekly series of author notes. Brief essays mapping out the ideas — the nostalgia and the nightmares — behind the stories.

ShadowsOverMain2Every little bit helps the cause. The book has already been a category #1 best-seller at Amazon.

This week it was my turn, unraveling the DNA of “This Stagnant Breath of Change.” If you read it on-site, you can backtrack to the other essays. If you don’t like click-throughs, it’s right here, too:

Horror and crime and whatever it is that David Lynch does nail it best: Small towns may look placid, even idyllic, on the surface, but more often than not, they’re festering underneath.

Just the other day, I saw — I wish I recalled where — the summary of a study concluding that, despite all the fears directed at the big bad city, you’re more likely to be murdered in a small town. The worst murders I’ve ever heard about took place in a tiny town twelve miles from the one I grew up in, and still lived at the time. They haunted me for the twelve years they went unsolved. They did not happen in a vacuum; they were the worst in an aberrantly bloody time. A few years ago, I wrote an essay about them, and the era they emerged out of, for a book benefiting the West Memphis Three … victims of another multi-layered small town nightmare whose extended cast of characters would strain credulity if you tried to pass them off as fiction.

So I found the idea of placing a Lovecraftian story in a retro small town setting instantly appealing. I loved the juxtaposition of the comfortably familiar and the unfathomably alien.

But the more I tossed around ideas, the more I felt compelled to not just use the small town setting, but try to pry away at the reverence American culture has for them in the first place. What better vehicle for this than a town that not only hasn’t changed, but can’t?

We excel at conjuring up Golden Age nostalgia that celebrates what’s genuinely good about small towns by overlooking everything about them that wasn’t worth preserving. For instance, the legacy of what have been called “sundown towns” … that is: If you have the wrong color skin, you may get away with walking our streets in daylight, but make sure you’re gone by evening. I grew up a few miles from one of those, too; spoke to people who remembered seeing the sign along the road in.

Even more crucial was getting at how the good old days were really the province of the good old boys, with their networks and a vested interest in preserving the status quo, so everything remained ripe for the picking. Which, to me, is the real relevance for today, as Main Street scales up to Wall Street.

I tapped quite a few memories of where I came from to weave into “This Stagnant Breath of Change,” and they were good ones. I hope that comes through. Just the same, I was reminded of Hemingway’s subtly barbed comment on St. Louis: that it was a good place to be from.


“Cures For A Sickened World”: Now Recommended By 1 Out Of 1 Professional Journals

February 6, 2015

Got word the other day that “Cures For A Sickened World,” my story in last fall’s anthology, The Spectral Book of Horror Stories, made Locus magazine’s Recommended Reading List for 2014. If you’re unfamiliar with Locus, it might best be described as Publishers Weekly for speculative fiction. And if you’re unfamiliar with Publishers Weekly, let’s […]

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Shadows Over Main Street: The First of Lots of New Works Coming in 2015

February 1, 2015

It was one of the most instantly appealing concepts I’ve ever been asked to participate in: cosmic horror set against a backdrop of golden age, small-town America. Or, as the subtitle puts it, “an anthology of small-town Lovecraftian terror.” The thing about H.P. Lovecraft is that with his towns, there’s already something obviously wrong with […]

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2113: Letting My Geek Flag Fly

January 19, 2015

2015 is shaping up to be a busy year with a highly ambitious schedule. One of those projects may be small in scale — my part, at least — but my stoked-factor is mighty. I’m one of 16+2 writers brought on board for 2113: Stories Inspired By The Music of Rush, to be edited by […]

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Author of the Week @ the Lovecraft eZine

September 17, 2014

In the past few months, I’ve gotten on well with Mike Davis, founder of the excessively cool and informative Lovecraft eZine. This week, I’m the featured Author of the Week there, which keeps up with this trend of mini-interviews that has clustered the past few months (really, see the Press page under 2014). I’m already […]

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New Story Alert: “Cures For A Sickened World”

September 13, 2014

Freshly baked this month by England’s Spectral Press is The Spectral Book of Horror Stories … which editor and way-back-in-the-long-ago fellow Dell/Abyss author Mark Morris hopes is the first of an ongoing series. So buy the thing already and help make that a reality! My piece? “Cures For A Sickened World,” it’s called, and you […]

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Dark Advent As It Always Should’ve Been

July 9, 2014

Get your forklifts ready. Cemetery Dance Publications’ long-awaited Big Fat Hardcover Edition of my early post-apocalyptic epic, Dark Advent, is slated for release late this summer. An e-book edition will follow within a few months. One reason to go for the print edition: the gorgeous cover art wrought by artist Vincent Chong, who also did […]

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Worlds of Hurt: Live, Now With 90% More Hurtin’

June 17, 2014

Once more into the breach, as another earlier book makes the transition into e-book format. DarkFuse has released Worlds of Hurt, which isn’t quite like any book I’ve done before. You could call it a collection. Or you could call it an episodic novel, containing a novel-within-the-novel. Mostly, though, I just think of it as […]

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Worlds of Hurt: One Mythos, No Waiting

May 20, 2014

Alert readers may have noticed that the short novel World of Hurt is not yet among the books of mine that have made the transition into e-book format. That’s because for quite some time I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it. While it can stand alone, it’s still part of a larger […]

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