It’s a cluster of releases lately, with four projects squirting out in less than a month’s span. This one is a novelette in the latest in the series of mini-anthologies jointly produced by Cemetery Dance Publications and Random House. E-books now, big hardcover omnibus edition later.

DarkScreams7It answers the burning question: What happens when a hard electro band from Mexico City gets kidnapped by a cartel enforcer from MS-13 with a whole other agenda involving Santa Muerte and the land’s legacy of bloodlust, from pre-Colombian human sacrifice to the Matamoros cult murders to the cartel wars?

It’s the most vicious thing I’ve done in ages. Most of it got written last year while I was laid up after a severe knee injury, so, knowing that, you can tell I really wanted to take it out on someone.

I’ll just let some early reader reviews on Amazon take it from here.

• “West of Matamoros, North of Hell” chilled me to the bone. It took me 2 days to finish because I kept getting freaked out. I remember when this happened, “the real part,” and it’s still a chilling story. Also, Brian Hodge always manages to scare me silly.

• Always a favorite of mine, Brian Hodge goes very dark in this not to be missed story about ink and music.

• Without a doubt the most terrifying story in the collection for me. I am well aware of the problems of drug cartels within the boundaries of our southern neighbor, and have seen videos of their savagery. This story seriously hits a nerve.

Amazon

Here’s a project where everybody brought their A-game. I wrote a novella set in the mountains of West Virginia. At the heart of it is a cache of old paintings by an untrained artist who tried to his bitter end to depict the undepictable.

Then the folks at Cemetery Dance Publications and I thought, hey, wouldn’t it be great to illustrate it with folk art-style color plates? Enter artist Kim Parkhurst, who knocked it out of the park. And now it’s up for preorder, in advance of the release in a few weeks.

BIRDS-Cover265Folk horror? It’s that. Cosmic horror? That too. But beyond subgenre labels, what is it? For me, it’s always about the characters most of all. There’s a world-weary gallery owner. And a pair of idealistic junior college students desperate to find a way to stay where they want to live even though their Appalachian region has no future for them.

Then there’s an unnamed chorus of elderly busybodies who provide an ongoing and sometimes contradictory kaleidoscope of windows into the distant past, and the man none of them could understand.

The landscape of mountains and hollows is a character too. And then maybe there’s also the largest living thing on earth in there somewhere.

Yeah, that’s about it. If it sounds like your kind of thing, have at it.

First copy off the press, still with that new book smell.

First copy off the press, still with that new book smell.

In an instantly successful Kickstarter campaign, the world of last year’s Tales of the Lost Citadel anthology is being ported over to a roleplaying game. And other stuff. Which is where I come in…

Citadel-Banner435The project hit its base funding in the first 24 hours, and has since made almost every stretch goal — including the soundtrack I’ll be composing and recording for — with just the last couple goals left…

Including a novel spinning off from “The Sport of Crows.” Which was a novelette wherein I put on my Robert E. Howard pants to unleash a perfect storm of mayhem, bigotry, and honor in a Tolkeinesque world on the brink of total ruin. Sure would be fun to go back in.

So go forth and explore yonder Kickstarter page, and see if anything here catches your fancy enough to back the project.

Citadel-Novel

It’s the one question every writer has heard, probably more times than we can count: “Where do you get your ideas?”

Treasure — sometimes in the places you least expect it.

Treasure — sometimes in the places you least expect it.

I don’t know why it seems so stereotypically targeted to writers. I can’t think of anyone else who’s supposed to answer this with any regularity. So I’m genuinely curious: Do session guitarists get asked this? Research chemists? Or choreographers? A couple months ago I read Twyla Tharp’s quasi-memoir, The Creative Habit, and she left no doubts as to her process, but didn’t mention anyone inquiring about it as if it were some shrouded mystery.

Theory: The mystery comes from writing’s spartan, sedentary nature, in which we work with nothing that anyone else can see. We just type. That’s it. Twyla Tharp goes into her studio and starts moving, and maybe magic happens. It’s probably fascinating and beautiful to observe. But me and my kind? We just sit and type. There is no writer’s equivalent of guitar face. We don’t headbang while channeling stuff through our fingers. There is no body language except slumping. We just sit here and fucking type, with random catatonic states in which not even that happens.

“This is how I look when I work,” said no writer, ever.

“This is how I look when I work,” said no writer, ever.

Guaranteed, if you were in this room with me right now and not allowed to play with the cats, you could only watch me ignoring you, you would be ready to kill one or both of us within five minutes.

It isn’t that we work with nothing. It’s that the raw material has no tangibility on the outside. Still, it’s there, and it has to come from somewhere, either passively … or not so passively, recalling the advice of Jack London:

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.[click to continue…]

I never expected it to shake out quite this way.

YBDFH_2017(175)For a few years, just to have something to shoot for, it’s been an unspoken stretch goal to see three separate stories make it into various year’s best editions. Which seemed as though that would take three different anthologies.

First, it was Paula Guran with her pick of “Mommy’s Little Man” for The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2017. That’s one.

Next it was Ellen Datlow seeing fit to drop “It’s All the Same Road in the End” into The Best Horror of the Year Volume 9. That’s two.

BHoY_v9(175)And then, a couple weeks later, came Ellen’s gobsmacking followup that she would also be concluding the book with “On These Blackened Shores of Time.” One author represented by two stories in the same volume…? That almost never happens.

But there it is. Three is three.

Coming in June and July. Maybe I’ll even be off the fainting couch by then.

After months of a vow of silence, I can at last make utterances about this without getting flogged.

Deep-One-165Last fall, I had a dream gig. For the first volume in editor Stephen Jones’ next “mosaic novel” project, a slice of cosmic noir called The Lovecraft Squad, I had the pleasure of retelling “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” from the viewpoint of the pre-FBI agent key to breaking the case open. I’ve never devised a character quite like him, and evidently he went over so well he’s become a recurring figure throughout the book.

Which should be due out this October.

Because I try to look for the silver linings, how this came out is one of the good things that emerged from jacking my knee last year. That put me behind on everything, so I didn’t start the piece until last October, while Doli and I were seaside in Oregon. A lot of sensory impressions from the coast that found their way in might never have otherwise occurred to me. Plus, that’s where I discovered the wolf-eel, courtesy of the sign at the Rogue Brewery’s bayfront tap house in Newport.

Took one look at that beautiful blue-green face and said, not unlike Tom Hardy in Taboo, “I have a use for you…”

Wolf-Eel-Cafe-425

That little bird newly landed over in the Connect widget? Yeah.

twitter-logoI held out as long as I could, but the Twitter tractor beam finally latched on and pulled me in. Apparently I showed up several years too late to claim my just plain name, so if’n you’re of a mind to, you can find me there as @BHodgeAuthor.

Still working on getting the wind beneath my wings. Be nice.

An 8-Step Guide to Doing the Impossible

February 2, 2017

There’s one factor that changes any scenario which exceeds what you believe you’re capable of doing: a gun to your head. What’s that, Hercules? You say there’s no way you can possibly clean out the Augean Stables in one day? [clickety-click] How about NOW? For most of us, the guns may be metaphorical, but they’re […]

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Dawn of Heresies: New Novel Alert!

January 18, 2017

When my back was turned this past weekend, they sneaked out my newest novel. Like the Hellboy novel I did some years back, Dawn of Heresies is the result of what I call getting to play in someone else’s yard … in this instance, the White Wolf gaming universe in general, and specifically, the world of […]

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The Abandoned Interview

January 12, 2017

The beginning of the year is a good times for wrapping up loose ends. Here’s one. Several months ago, at an online magazine, I took part in a group interview with a few other writers, including Jasper Bark, Jonathan Janz, and Mercedes Murdock Yardley. Word was, Kealan Patrick Burke would be joining us in mid-stream. […]

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The 5 Most Useful Books I Read In 2016

January 4, 2017

Surrealist artist Salvador Dali was almost as quotable as Oscar Wilde. I’ve always liked this nugget in particular: “At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven, I wanted to be Napoleon. My ambition has been growing steadily ever since.” Which is about what you’d expect from a guy with a […]

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“Mommy’s Little Man” Rises Again

December 23, 2016

Just slipping this in as filler in a pre-holiday week when nobody is, or should be, paying attention… Editor Paula Guran has tossed “Mommy’s Little Man” — last month’s heartwarming family comedy — into the mix for the 2017 edition of The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror. Which makes me happy, but what I […]

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Tales of the Lost Citadel: “The Sport of Crows”

December 13, 2016

If you were one of the Kickstarter backers of this shared world anthology — think the Walking Dead invades an alternate Middle Earth — then Yule is coming early for you. Squalling, newborn copies are making their way into the world at this very moment. Thanks for putting up in advance to help make this […]

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“Mommy’s Little Man” — Now Exclusively at DarkFuse Magazine

December 1, 2016

I think it took less time for me to say yes to the invitation, write this brand new story, then see it fast-tracked to publication, than it has for me to post about it here. Ulp. If you’re a DarkFuse subscriber, this new foray into x-treme family dysfunction is ready and waiting for you there. […]

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Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror: “Our Turn Too Will One Day Come”

November 3, 2016

Landmark new anthology alert, hot off the presses this week. Like editor Ellen Datlow’s 2010 antho Darkness: Two Decades of Modern Horror before it, Nightmares is a kind of state-of-the-art roundup, gathering 24 works from the years 2005 – 2015. Me, I’m just happy to be tagging along for the ride, taking one more lap with […]

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