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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

LocusMag265If 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 just leave it at this: Waking up to such news is a fine way to start a day.

Get the cure here…

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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.”

SOMS-Cover-265The thing about H.P. Lovecraft is that with his towns, there’s already something obviously wrong with them, and it goes back a long, long time. So I loved the notion of an uncaring, even hostile, universe juxtaposed against this idyllic illusion of safety, peace, and prosperity. And illusion it was: These were also the early Cold War years, under an ongoing threat of nuclear annihilation, where the defensive reaction against missile strikes taught to schoolchildren was “duck and cover.”

My take on this illusion, “This Stagnant Breath of Change,” is actually set in the late 1980s, in a town that not only hasn’t changed in a generation, but can’t. Because there are oligarchs at every level, and if it suits their purposes, they won’t hesitate to make some perfectly terrible decisions selling out the rest of us.

Or, as the kids of Tanner Falls used to sing:

“Old Mad Donald had a town,
ia ia oh!
And in that town he had a goat,
 ia ia oh!”

Ramsey Campbell thinks it works just fine. From his introduction to the book: “Brian Hodge takes on Lovecraft’s love of the past, in particular as epitomised by small-town America, and transforms it not just into a nightmare but an authentically Lovecraftian specimen.”

Edited by Doug Murano and D. Alexander Ward. Published by Hazardous Press in trade paperback and e-book editions. And it’s freshly released this weekend.

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2113: Letting My Geek Flag Fly

by Brian on January 19, 2015

in Fiction

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.

Rush-Then-&-NowI’m one of 16+2 writers brought on board for 2113: Stories Inspired By The Music of Rush, to be edited by Kevin J. Anderson. It’s all happening with the blessings of the band, in particular drummer extraordinaire Neil Peart, with whom Kevin worked on a novel based on Rush’s latest album, Clockwork Angels. See more here, in Kevin’s neighborhood.

As no other band has, Rush seems to have been with me throughout my entire life — definitely since adolescence on. They’ve accompanied everything from high school misadventures to my weekly IT maintenance routines on our home network. I never had to rediscover them. They never downshifted into a nostalgia act, coasting on past glories and the fumes of diminishing expectations. They’ve always been there as an ongoing, vital presence, with more to look forward to.

The song I’ve chosen for this book is “Witch Hunt,” from Moving Pictures. It’s been a favorite ever since I first heard it in my dorm room my first year at the University of Illinois. For my tastes, it’s the most ominous track Rush has ever done. So that’s fitting. The dirge-like, plodding pace was a departure for them; as a keyboards geek, I loved the epic Oberheim synth chords of doom; and lyrically, it remains as chilling as ever.

Yeah, this one:

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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Lovecraft’s Monsters: Can You Ever Really Get Enough Of Them?

May 5, 2014

Oh, Lovecraft … you could be such a fussy fellow, but your whacked-out imagination is the gift that keeps on giving. The Ellen Datlow editorial byline on this beast should be all the imprimatur you need for quality control. But I’ve read my contributor copy straight from Tachyon already, and can confirm: Yup, this is […]

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Whom the Gods Would Destroy: It’s A Major Award!

March 19, 2014

So it’s official: after making the shortlist for DarkFuse’s Readers’ Choice Award, Whom the Gods Would Destroy takes the win for Best Novella of 2013. Fellow Coloradan Jon Bassoff took Best Novel, with Corrosion, making it an improbable all-Boulder sweep. There’s a plaque coming — nice, but you can tell from the photo what I’d […]

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Whom the Gods Would Destroy: The End of the World Begins At Home

February 28, 2014

This essay on the origins of my recent release, Whom the Gods Would Destroy, was originally done for the publisher, DarkFuse. I think it belongs here, too… Some questions dog us almost from the cradle to the threshold of the grave. “What really happens to us when we die?” — top of the list, I’m […]

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