Let’s get something straight. I’m not a big exclamation mark guy. But in several of my recent blog posts, I’ve been using exclamations. I’m not proud of this. Nor do I condone the overuse of this type of punctuation. Please believe me when I say I’m aware of the problem. And working on it. But these things take time.
Now, onto the good news!
1. SAVAGE SPECIES is now available on Audible.com. This one is narrated by Randy Hames, who has narrated some of Richard Laymon’s novels. Randy is unbelievably good at what he does, and I think you’ll really enjoy his version of my book.
2. I was interviewed at the awesome Gal in the Blue Mask blog on Halloween. You can read it right here.
3. BLOODSHOT: KINGDOM OF SHADOWS is still only $1.99 on Amazon. Download it to your Kindle here.
5. THE NIGHTMARE GIRL and EXORCIST ROAD are both available on NetGalley, which makes it easier for many of you reviewers out there to check them out. THE NIGHTMARE GIRL, by the way, releases in January and continues to receive extremely positive advance notices.
6. I received an incredibly cool fan gift the other day. It’s pictured below.
7. Check this blog next week for more cool things, including an interview with Kristopher Rufty, a good friend and a great writer.
Have a great weekend, friends!
These are obvious lessons, but they’re ones I find myself continually learning as I continue on my writerly walk:
There is no finish line.
There is no such thing as “making it.”
There will always be challenges.
For me, there will always be fear. Fear of failure, fear of the unknown. Fear of trying something new (and failing). Fear of rejection.
I will always need to face my fears and overcome them.
I will always be a perfectionist.
I will always be more sensitive than most people and care more than I should.
I will always need to remind myself to relax, to smile, to laugh, to breathe.
The above statements are facts. I sometimes have trouble admitting or accepting them, but facts they remain.
It’s how I’m wired.
So other than the fact that both Hunter Shea and Kristopher Rufty are my friends, what do they have in common?
They’re both fantastic writers?
Yep, that’s true.
They were part of the big Samhain Horror launch back in the fall of 2011 and have become two of the imprint’s most popular authors?
Okay, that’s also true.
They’re both fine Americans, fans of Neo-Dada art, and have never been in my kitchen?
*heaves sigh* Okay, those things are all true, too. At least I’m pretty sure they’ve never been in my kitchen. But I know for a FACT that Hunter and Kristopher are such fanatics for Neo-Dada that they made a pilgrimage to the Genpei Akasegawa exhibit in Brussels last spring.
But the OTHER thing they have in common—the thing I’m absolutely delighted about—is that they’re both big fans of my latest novella, the supernatural thriller EXORCIST ROAD. Hunter calls it “the best fiction book on possession since THE EXORCIST.” Kristopher said it was “the first book in years to give me genuine gooseflesh.”
And if that wasn’t cool enough, Kristopher was kind enough to interview me on his blog. You can find the whole gory affair right here. And Hunter included EXORCIST ROAD in his Horrortober reading list. He talks about my novella here.
That’s all for tonight. Talk to you soon, friends in art.
I’ve met a great many people since I started this writing gig, and Hunter Shea and Jack Campisi are two of the coolest ones. Hunter is an outstanding author you should already be reading, and Jack is a writer you’ll be reading in a few years. They host the show MONSTER MEN and were kind enough to invite me as a guest. The results, though terrifying, can be viewed right here.
In our interview we discuss my works, my struggles, my hopes and dreams. They got things out of me that have never been revealed before. So check it out, friends. You’ll never be same. Chances are, you’ll be emotionally scarred and irrevocably diminished in several fundamental ways. But you will be affected. That I guarantee.
Or be scarred by it too.
Where will Mads Mikkelson (HANNIBAL), Jon Bernthal and Scott Wilson (THE WALKING DEAD), and Linda Blair (THE EXORCIST) all be this weekend?
Hanging out with me!
If you’re within driving distance of Indianapolis, I’d love to see you at HorrorHound Indy this weekend. I’ll be signing books with some awesome Samhain Horror authors (like John Everson, Tim Waggoner, Mick Ridgewell, Adam Cesare, and David Searls), and I’d love to meet you (or see you again).
Talk to you soon, friends!
THE EXORCIST. LEGION. SON OF THE ENDLESS NIGHT.
Some of the best horror novels of the past half-century have examined demonic possession and the rites of exorcism. The topic itself is extremely complicated and even more controversial. Clearly, however, the concept of exorcism is a fascinating one that continues to enthrall readers and moviegoers everywhere.
As the title of this post mentions, Pope Francis has just reinstituted exorcism, calling it “a form of charity that benefits the sufferer.” Whether demonic possession is real or not, and whether or not exorcism is “a form of charity” are fiercely debated questions.
In my very-soon-to-be-released novella EXORCIST ROAD, two priests attempt to exorcise a fearsome demon inhabiting a fourteen-year-old boy. If you enjoy a spine-tingling tale and have ever enjoyed a story about demonic possession or exorcism, I hope you check out EXORCIST ROAD. And even if you haven’t read or seen an exorcism story, now is a great time to pick one up.
I have to go now. I’m editing one novel and writing another. I’ll be telling you about both of them soon…
Have you heard about my new novella? Even though I’m primarily a novelist, there are readers who actually prefer my novellas to my novels. They’re crazy, of course, because I’m awesome in either length. But yeah, some folks dig the novellas more.
There have been three novellas thus far: WITCHING HOUR THEATRE (which I’ll post some news about soonish), OLD ORDER (which you’ll enjoy unless you’re looking for an Amish romance, in which case you’ll leave me a one-star review on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and chastise me for not writing a wholesome story that features the Plain People doing, well, plain things, I guess), and THE CLEARING OF TRAVIS COBLE (which has an ending that once caused a co-worker to look at me like I was the lovechild of Ted Bundy and the Devil himself).
And now there’s a fourth. EXORCIST ROAD is the longest novella I’ve written, clocking in at well over a hundred pages. It’s also the first story I’ve written entirely from the first-person point-of-view. It’s also the first time I’ve dealt with demonic possession (in my fiction, not real life, though I sometimes wonder about my wife when she’s sleep-deprived—KIDDING, LOVEY! Don’t throw anything at me! You’re always sweet and loving and—*flees into another room*). Lastly, it’s my first Chicago story, which is sort of exciting. I love that place.
Here’s what it’s about:
Possessed by a demon…or by the urge to kill?
Chicago is gripped by terror. “The Sweet Sixteen Killer” is brutally murdering sixteen-year-old girls, and the authorities are baffled.
A seemingly normal fourteen-year-old boy has attacked his entire family and had to be chained to his bed. His uncle, police officer Danny Hartman, is convinced his nephew is possessed by a demon. Danny has sent his partner, Jack, to fetch the only priest in Chicago who has ever performed an exorcism.
But Jack has other plans tonight. He believes the boy isn’t possessed by a demon, but instead by an insatiable homicidal urge. Jack believes the boy is the Sweet Sixteen Killer. And he aims to end the reign of terror before another girl dies.
That’s all for now. I really think you’ll enjoy this one. So check it out. And read about the Sweet Sixteen Killer, the Chicago cops, the conflicted priests, the pretty mother on whom one of the priests has a crush, and the boy who just might be possessed.
Peace, friends. And stay off those Ouija boards.
Howdy, friends! Here’s a new interview with me that discuss all sorts of things, including some seriously exciting stuff…
Okay, confession time. I’ve been putting off writing this post because these are the two guys whose work I knew the best going into the Scares That Care Weekend in Williamsburg, Virginia, and it’s really difficult for me to set aside Fan Jonathan from Professional Writer Jonathan.
Then again, maybe I don’t have to.
Yeah, I probably embarrassed Bryan Smith and Tom Monteleone with my last blog post, but I meant every word I said, and I’m not very good at pretending to be something I’m not. I tried to be cool when I sat there signing books with Bryan Smith, but I kept thinking to myself, “This guy is one of the best writers working today. You’re sharing a table with him. This is happening.” When I talked to Tom Monteleone, I felt a similar rush of excitement and disbelief.
Basically, I have a hard time pretending I’m unexcited by interacting with people who helped mold me as a writer and who’ve given me untold hours of reading pleasure. Which means I wasn’t sure how to act around Jack Ketchum and Brian Keene. I think I did okay. I mean, neither of them took out a restraining order against me, so there’s that. And neither threw a drink in my face or ran screaming from my presence. So…how did they act?
Let’s take Jack and Brian in turn.
(*I’ve decided to call Jack Ketchum/Dallas Mayr by his real name at certain points in this post because, well, that’s how I think of him. I mean, I think of him as both Jack Ketchum and Dallas Mayr, so I’ll be using both names. Just to confuse you.)
Jack Ketchum is one of my primary influences as a writer. Stephen King calls him “the scariest man in America,” and I can’t disagree. In my humble opinion, he has written four classic novels (The Girl Next Door, Off Season, Red, and The Woman) and a whole lot of other outstanding novels and short stories. I wrote this post about Ketchum’s fiction a couple years ago and mean to write another one about his work soon. The title of that long ago post was “The Ketchum Blade,” so named because of how deeply his fiction cuts. I dare you to read The Girl Next Door and not be emotionally moved. Whether that emotion is outrage or sorrow or despair or something else, you will feel something when you read that book. More likely, you’ll feel a number of emotions, which shows how astute and versatile Ketchum is.
But what of the man?
Dallas Mayr, I’m happy to report, is extremely kind, intelligent, and…well, classy. You ever hear someone say “(Insert name) has It“? Well, that applies to Dallas Mayr. Most people couldn’t live up to the legend of Jack Ketchum. Cary Grant, for instance, never could live up to people’s expectations of him off-screen. But Dallas Mayr/Jack Ketchum does. Yet there’s absolutely no affectation to worry about with him, no elitism. He treats everyone with warmth and wit, and though I was deeply afraid of meeting him (you know, a guy doesn’t want to make a fool of himself in front of one of his heroes), his personality soon put me at ease, and I got to spend several wonderful moments just talking to him.
Did you know, by the way, that he was once Henry Miller’s literary agent? Half of you are gasping in shock, while the other half are frowning at your monitors. To the former group I say, “Yes, he actually knew and learned from one of the literary giants of the twentieth century.” To the other half I say, stop reading this blog post and pick up Tropic of Cancer. Now.
Anyway, hanging out with Jack Ketchum/Dallas Mayr was one of the biggest thrills I’ve experienced since becoming a writer, and I can’t wait for the next opportunity to talk to him again.
So what about Brian Keene?
I’ll just be honest. Brian’s public persona—at least as I’ve always viewed him—is that of a rebel, a fiery and outspoken debunker of lies, and a fiercely talented author.
After meeting him, I can say it’s all true. He doesn’t suffer idiots, he doesn’t do things the way the system dictates one should do them, and he is indeed fiercely talented.
But one of the highlights of my summer was seeing another side of him. And by the way, if you want to cling to the above persona as his only persona, I suggest you stop reading now.
Here’s the thing you might not know about Brian Keene: He has a huge heart.
He might not like my saying that, and like Jack/Dallas, he’ll probably be embarrassed by this blog post, but I think it’s important for people to know the human beings behind the words. And the human being behind The Rising, behind Levi Stoltzfus, behind too many incredible books to mention in this meager space, is one for whom I have an incredible amount of respect.
Samuel Johnson once said, “The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.”
Let’s be honest here. My writing career (hopefully) is in its early stages. I’m proud of what I’ve done so far, but I am far from a household name, and there are a great many more readers who haven’t heard of me than those who have. I do what I can for my favorite authors—I recommend their work to anyone who will listen, and I blog about their stuff here—but really, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll be able to bring more wealth or fame to a guy like Brian Keene. He has written books that have sold more than half a million copies (!), and along with 28 Days Later and The Walking Dead comics, he was the guy who started the zombie phenomenon that continues to dominate popular culture. More importantly, his work continues to get better because he is devoted to his craft, he continues to read actively, and he has the discipline and the drive to always strive to improve himself.
So why would someone like this take the time to a) add me as a celebrity guest at an incredible charity convention, b) treat me like I’m someone special from the moment I walked into the Doubletree Hotel in Williamsburg to the moment we parted on Sunday afternoon, and c) invite me to every meal and allow me to spend time with him, his girlfriend, her son, and several other of his friends?
I’ll tell you why. It’s because Brian has a sincerely kind heart, and he remembers what it was like to know no one.
But I think what I appreciate most about Brian is how sincere and real he is. There isn’t one ounce of artifice with him. He did give me advice about writing, but mainly what he talked about was the importance of family. Speaking of family, one of my favorite memories of the convention was the moment when he dashed into the celebrity room mock-screaming because he was being chased by two newly-painted little girls who turned out to be my daughters.
And lest you think we spent the weekend in hushed conversation as he earnestly divulged the secrets of writing success, I should also mention he has a fantastic sense of humor and shared stories that made me laugh and gape, sometimes simultaneously.
So after writing nearly fourteen hundred words about two of my favorite writers, I’ll leave you with this thought: If ever I achieve a tenth of what these fine writers and men have achieved, I’ll remember my first Scares That Care convention. I’ll remember that everyone has to start somewhere, and that those who have the ability to make a newbie feel accepted and valued should do so in every way they can.
So thank you, Dallas and Brian. You made me feel like more than a fellow writer. You made me feel like I belonged.