Brian Keene Names DUST DEVILS the Fifth-Best Book of 2014

A confession: I love lists.

When I was an adolescent, one of the few books I would actually read (and read and read and read) was THE BOOK OF LISTS. I eventually branched out to THE BOOK OF LISTS TWO, which only fed the list-crazy beast inside of me. I never checked out THE BOOK OF LISTS THREE because by that time I’d discovered Stephen King, and reading about the seventeen worst air disasters in Bolivian history couldn’t quite compare to Carrie White, Jack Torrance, and Randall Flagg.

You Had Me at "Here's"

You Had Me at “Here’s”

But I still love lists and often make them myself. So when folks make lists of horror novels and stories, I tend to perk up doubly. And when one of my favorite horror authors creates a best books of the year list, I sit up rigidly and hungrily examine my laptop screen.

If you’ve frequented this blog at all, you know how much I love the books of Brian Keene. He’s an influence on my work, a friend, and someone whose opinion I value a great deal. Which all leads me to Thursday night’s episode of his new podcast THE HORROR SHOW. If you’re not listening to it yet, you need to jump on board. Brian Keene and Dave Thomas have begun something very special, and the show is already clicking despite being so new.


On Thursday night’s show (Episode 005, available here), Brian unveiled his Top Ten Books of 2014. On the list were many notable and awesome names, and clocking in at number five (right before Stephen King’s MR. MERCEDES snagged the number four slot) was my vampire western DUST DEVILS. Which pleased me greatly. And if you haven’t checked out DUST DEVILS yet, you can right now for only 99 cents.

mr. mercedes

Not only did Brian say very positive things about DUST DEVILS, but he was also kind enough to mention my wife and kids as well. And they in turn smiled from ear-to-ear. If you want to listen to that portion of the show, it happens at around the 12:30 mark.

That’s all for tonight. A big thanks to Brian for reading and saying such positive things about my novel, and thanks to Brian and Dave for producing such an excellent show.

A Wild Vampire Western

A Wild Vampire Western

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to editing WOLF LAND, about which you’ll be hearing quite a bit soon.

Adam Cesare Shares an EXPONENTIAL Playlist

Hi there. I’m Adam Cesare and I’m here because Jonathan invited me.

Instead of trying to soullessly shill our books on each other’s blog, we figured we’d come up with quick musical playlists to pair with our recent releases from Samhain Publishing.


My newest book, Exponential, is a cross-country giant monster story, a celebration of the kind of horror I love reading. I wrote it as kind of a treat for myself, a vacation. It’s a complete one-eighty in terms of tone from my last novel, The Summer Job, which was a densely-plotted thriller that stuck closely to its single protagonist and didn’t contain any explicit supernatural elements.

This playlist is part-soundtrack, part-sizzle reel. Go through, listen to the songs, read why the hell I think they fit my book, and, if you’re properly intrigued, please buy the book and see if you agree with me.

Attitude” by The Misfits (this song’s probably not great for listening to at work, unless you have something you’d like to tell your boss)

Out of my three full-length novels, I like to think of Exponential as the punk song of the bunch. And I don’t just mean that a sneaky way of saying that it’s the shortest of the three. There’s more to it than that.

In Exponential we’ve got no central protagonist (unless you count Felix, the monster, which I kinda do), so add all the creature action and the effect is this fast, in-your-face, fuzzed out feeling. And that tone is the same feeling that this song has, as Muppet-baby-Danzig belts out the lyrics during its under 2-minute runtime.

Used to be a Cop” by Drive-By Truckers

There’s no main character in Exponential, it’s more of an ensemble piece. Like Ocean’s Eleven with way more blood and broken bones.

The cast of characters includes professional gamblers, junkies, mysterious corporate hitmen, and, as this song would indicate, an ex-cop.

David Nez, the cop in the book, is a nicer guy than the one we’re presented with in this song but still: it fits.

Since this is my favorite band, here’s an alternate DBT song that would fit for a couple of the other characters: “Margo and Harold

Every Which Way But Loose” by Eddie Rabbitt

eddie rabbitt

Jonathan and I agreed that we were going to try to stay close to five songs each, so I really had to deliberate about whether I wanted to include this track or C.W. McCall and Chip Davis’s “Convoy”.

But I guess if I was going to choose one theme song from a 1978 film prominently featuring truckers, car chases, and chest hair: it was going to be this one. And yes, I know that Convoy is actually based on the song, but when I think Convoy, I think Kristofferson and McGraw, not the song.

The song’s connection to Exponential? That’s tenuous. I just like the tone of these films, the way that they present the American West (and its highways and truck stops). I imagine that both of these songs are somewhere on the jukebox of the bar that features prominently in the book.

Man. I’m only just realizing that an orangutan sidekick would have made Exponential ten times better.

Beware of the Blob” by The Five Blobs.

Yeah. This is an obvious one. Samhain’s cover art for the book even ended up being a riff on the poster for the 1989 remake of The Blob.

I don’t want to draw too straight a comparison, though, as I feel like my monster, Felix, has a different enough physiology. Something about him (telling you what would be a spoiler) makes him a lot more mobile than The Blob, better acclimated to the road-trip structure of Exponential.

Blood Like Cream” by Red Fang

If the monster was going to have a theme song, how could you go wrong with that on-the-nose title?

This Portland-based metal act has put out three albums, all of them pretty great. The video for “Blood Like Cream” (like all of their videos) has a flippant “I hope this goes viral” feel to it that may undercut the song for some, but then again: how many metal acts can you unreservedly recommend to fans of Portlandia?

adam c

Thanks to Jonathan for having me. Please join me over at my blog to watch Mr. Janz do the same thing for The Nightmare Girl and see if he has decent musical taste to go with his abundant talent.

And thank you, Adam, for rocking this blog post so wonderfully. If you’d like to see my playlist, you can hop over to Adam’s blog to check it out.

Snow Falls in Indiana; THE NIGHTMARE GIRL Arrives at Your House

I don’t think I’ve ever used a semi-colon in a blog post title, and you know what? It felt good. Darn good. Liberating. A gleeful punctuational rebellion aimed at the new establishment’s anti-semi-colon prejudice. THEY CAN’T KEEP US DOWN!!!!

*blinks, glances around*

Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, what I’d like to get into YOUR system is—

That sounded creepy, didn’t it? Like, really creepy. As in, you’re picturing me in an open-throated, open-chested white silk shirt with tufts of bushy chest hair and some tinted shades leering at you like an extra in Boogie Nights. Or maybe it didn’t get creepy until that last line.

At any rate, THE NIGHTMARE GIRL drops at midnight, and friends, I really want you to check out this story.

I’ll talk more about it soon, but for now, here’s the gorgeous cover:

Joe Crawford and the Fire Cult

Joe Crawford and the Fire Cult

And here’s the link where you can buy it for only $3.85 (digital) or $11.20 (paperback). Or just get it anywhere else books are sold. They should have it. If they don’t, demand that they stock it, and if they refuse, they’re probably the same zealots who oppose the semi-colon.

Have a good night. I’ll be practicing my semi-colons and grooming my chest hair.*

*I don’t actually have chest hair. NOW I’ve freaked you out!

THE NIGHTMARE GIRL Arrives on Tuesday!

Hey, friends. Short and sweet tonight.

I have a new novel coming on Tuesday, and it’s getting rave reviews. In fact, despite the fact that it’s not out yet, it was already named the third-best novel of 2014 over at Horror After Dark.

The cover:

Fiery Terror

Fiery Terror

The plot:

Playing with fire has never been more dangerous.

When family man Joe Crawford confronts a young mother abusing her toddler, he has no idea of the chain reaction he’s setting in motion. How could he suspect the young mother is part of an ancient fire cult, a sinister group of killers that will destroy anyone who threatens one of its members? When the little boy is placed in a foster home, the fanatics begin their mission of terror.

Soon the cult leaders will summon their deadliest hunters—and a ferocious supernatural evil—to make Joe pay for what he’s done. They want Joe’s blood and the blood of his family. And they want their child back.

And the glorious full-page back-cover ad in Famous Monsters of Filmland:


Friends, some are saying this is my best novel yet (it’s number eight, for those of you keeping track).

I hope you read it. I hope you care about the characters. I hope it scares you. I hope you root for the good guys and detest the bad guys.

At any rate, it’s almost here…

One Week until the Nightmare…and Loads of Other News!

Hey, friends. Daughters are in the bathtub. Son is styling his post-shower hair like Wolverine. Wife is folding laundry.

I be bloggin’.

Fiery Terror

Fiery Terror

And getting excited about THE NIGHTMARE GIRL, which is hurtling toward you next week. Some are calling it my best novel yet, and I can’t wait for you all to read it. Add to that the fact that the book is discounted to only $3.85 at the Samhain Horror website or $11.20 if you’re a paperback kind of reader, and I’d say the time is right to check this one out. Here’s the synopsis:

Playing with fire has never been more dangerous. 

When family man Joe Crawford confronts a young mother abusing her toddler, he has no idea of the chain reaction he’s setting in motion. How could he suspect the young mother is part of an ancient fire cult, a sinister group of killers that will destroy anyone who threatens one of its members? When the little boy is placed in a foster home, the fanatics begin their mission of terror.

Soon the cult leaders will summon their deadliest hunters—and a ferocious supernatural evil—to make Joe pay for what he’s done. They want Joe’s blood and the blood of his family. And they want their child back. 

There’s also a new interview with me at the awesome Wag the Fox book blog. And tons of amazing reviews of my work at Goodreads. And a killer deal still going on for three of my most popular books.

For 99 cents you can still grab EXORCIST ROAD, SAVAGE SPECIES, and DUST DEVILS.



Gotta go now. The girls are beginning to prune. My son is ready to fight crime. And the wife…well, she’s probably petting our puppy. I better join them.


New Book Trailer! Here comes THE NIGHTMARE GIRL…

Samhain Publishing and its horror imprint Samhain Horror have been extremely good to me. The other day, they surprised me with the news that they had created their first-ever book trailer, and it happened to be for my upcoming release. I absolutely love it and hope you do too. So, courtesy of all the amazing people at Samhain, here is THE NIGHTMARE GIRL book trailer:

Coming in January

Coming in January

Wasn’t that fabulous? You can preorder THE NIGHTMARE GIRL now or wait until it drops on January 6th. Either way, I hope you check it out. I’m very, very proud of it and can’t wait for folks to read it. Oh, and if you haven’t yet, why not pick up my three 99-cent ebooks (for a limited time)? You can get EXORCIST ROAD, DUST DEVILS, and SAVAGE SPECIES for dirt cheap now!

Have a great day, friends.

Thanksgiving/Black Friday Sale!

Hey, all. Hope you all are enjoying a feast today. We feasted, though we’re not descending into complete gluttony until tomorrow. I’ll also be hanging Christmas lights on the uppermost peak of our house, so if you hear a loud thud at some point in the midmorning, you might send a good thought my way.

To celebrate Thanksgiving and Black Friday, the Samhain Horror store has discounted every single one of its titles, which means you can get novels like THE SORROWS, DUST DEVILS, and THE DARKEST LULLABY for three bucks and change. My new novella EXORCIST ROAD is only $3.15. Even my longer books like SAVAGE SPECIES, CASTLE OF SORROWS, and HOUSE OF SKIN are marked down to $4.55. Check out the great deals here!

The Beast Returns

The Beast Returns

And have a fantastic Thanksgiving, friends!

An Interview with Kristopher Rufty

Hey, friends. I apologize for the blog silence lately, but I’ve got a special treat for you this weekend. My good friend and fellow writer Kristopher Rufty agreed to answer a few of my questions, and even if my questions were inane, his answers weren’t. He’s an awesome guy and a fantastic writer, so without further preamble, check out what he has to say…

Moreland, James, Everson, Kristopher Rufty, and Me

Moreland, James, Everson, Kristopher Rufty, and Me

Some readers have compared your stuff to the stories of Richard Laymon. How do you feel about that comparison, and is there a specific Laymon story you enjoy the most?

I’m honored whenever somebody compares my writing to his. One person actually apologized when they told me PILLOWFACE reminded them of a Laymon book. I asked why they apologized. Their answer was because his stuff is so outrageous. Smiling, I told them that’s one of many reasons that I like writing. You can be outrageous and there’s no limit to what you can do.

The comparisons are rewarding, but at the same time, I don’t want anyone to think they’re deliberate. I love Laymon’s work the most, but I never wanted to copy him. I like how he’s able to tell so much by writing very little and that’s what I try to do with each story of mine. Because I was worried about the Laymon, Lee, and Ketchum comparisons, I wrote OAK HOLLOW in a completely different voice than my usual. I tried to write in an almost Joe Hill and Bentley Little sort of style. And Don D’Auria sent it back to me. He said it was a great book, but I needed to write it again in my real voice. He told me not to let the comparisons hold me back. I explained how I worried that people thought I was trying to copy those guys, and he said he used to edit them all and he’d be the first to accuse me if he thought it was true. Then he told me I reminded him of Ray Garton, so I figured I was in good hands. J

There are so many Laymon stories that I love. Even the not so popular ones. DARKNESS, TELL US is a lot of fun. I’ve read it multiple times. I also like DARK MOUNTAIN, a lot. Again, not one of his popular stories but, to me, the writing is flawless. QUAKE is as close to perfect as you can get for a truly horrifying story that makes you sweat with tension. That one wound me up so much one night that I never went to sleep. It’s very intense, steals your breath.

I love the Beast House books. THE CELLAR was my first Laymon story and I was hooked from there, but my favorite of the three (four counting FRIDAY NIGHT IN BEAST HOUSE) is probably THE MIDNIGHT TOUR.

IN THE DARK might be a close second choice for my favorite.

Hmmm…if I have to pick one, I choose THE STAKE. Great concept that’s done in such a unique way. It has everything he’s known for on its pages and is written in perfect, punchy prose. Plus, it takes its time building up to the wild climax. Larry Dunbar might also be my favorite Laymon character. For writers like us, Jonathan, this book is required reading. We get to see the life of a successful midlist writer caught in a situation that he would’ve written about in one of his own books. Could you imagine what would happen if you found yourself stuck in something you could have written? Wow!

THE TRAVELING VAMPIRE SHOW and ENDLESS NIGHT might tie for my third favorite. Aargh! So many to choose from. I love them all the best!

I’ve read a good deal of your stuff and loved it all. I haven’t read Proud Parents yet, but its cover is one of the coolest covers I’ve seen in years. How did that cover come about?

Wow, thank you, man. I’m very happy you like the cover. I believe I had the idea for the cover before the book was even finished. There’s a scene in the book where a character is flipping through Gabe’s drawings and finds many grotesque childhood memories captured in crayon. The cover is one of them and there was another one created for the back cover that features Greg (the Dad) burying a body, but it’s hidden underneath the cover copy. If you look very closely, you can somewhat see part of it.

I love the old garish paperback covers from the 70’s, 80’s, and early 90’s. Since PROUD PARENTS is also a tribute to those books, I wanted the cover to reflect that. The artist nailed it. It’s probably my favorite, next to A DARK AUTUMN.

Gorgeous Wickedness

Gorgeous Wickedness

One thing that makes your work so engaging is your characterization. Can you pick one or two of your characters that you like most of all? And why did you choose these characters?

Thank you, again. To know that you enjoy the characters is very relieving. Favorites? That’s tough. Believe it or not, I really like Wendy from THE LURKERS. People hate her, but, to me, she’s just misunderstood and very bad at expressing herself through outlets that aren’t anger. SPOILER ALERT: I received emails from readers outraged that Wendy survived in THE LURKERS and so many of the nice characters were killed. I was happy that she made it. It really showed that her love and devotion to Gary could keep her motivated during such a nightmarish ordeal. She wasn’t unscathed by any means and on the last page we know her story isn’t over. I was happy to revisit her in THE LURKING SEASON. Hopefully she will be forgiven for some of her actions in the first book when she comes back in the second one.

Joel from PILLOWFACE is another favorite. A twelve-year-old horror fan living in a world of fantasy that shields him from the horrors of the real world around him. Myself at that age. But I’d like to think that if I befriended a maniac straight from the horror movies that I adore, I wouldn’t be so quick to follow the same path as Joel. Maybe it’s his lack of guidance, but the boy makes a lot of terrible decisions and too many innocent people pay the price.

But my favorite of them all has to be Detective John Stiltson. He’s been with me since I was fourteen years old, pecking away on a typewriter in my bedroom. He’s popped up in so many stories I’ve written throughout the years that I feel like I know him best out of anybody I’ve written about. He’s in ANGEL BOARD as a main character and OAK HOLLOW in a small role. I hope to spend more time with him in the future. He was almost in THE SKIN SHOW, but I quickly decided not to have him come in and take over the book. It was about Andy Raab and if Stiltson showed up, heads would roll.

But he’ll be back soon. I want to do a book that focuses on Stiltson and his trusty partner, Giles. Kind of a crime novel, but with horror elements sprinkled throughout. I have the title and the premise in mind, but haven’t sat down to work on my notes for it.

Fast-Paced Terror

Fast-Paced Terror

What is your favorite part about being a writer? Is there a least favorite part?

Great question. Nobody’s asked me what I like least about being a writer. Maybe I should start there. Honestly, what I like the least is not getting to write more than I already do. I had a huge health scare last year that I’m still trying to recover from. It was one of those close-the-door moments at the doctor’s office when he explained my options. I thank God that it didn’t turn out as badly as the doctor prepared me for. But the future was unknown and I didn’t get to write too much for a long time afterward. My wife helped me set up in the bedroom and I wrote the majority of PROUD PARENTS and all of THE SKIN SHOW in bed. But those weeks where writing was scarce, I felt like an addict in need of a fix. I couldn’t sleep. I was moody and irritable, not a pleasant person to be around. But when I was able to get back to work on PROUD PARENTS, I noticed a quick improvement in how I felt. My attitude changed. I felt better, excited, and eager. Hungry. By the time work began on THE SKIN SHOW, I couldn’t be stopped.

So what I like least about writing are the days I don’t get to do it at all.

And what my favorite part is everything about the process. I love those moments when I can sit back and let the story flow from my brain through my fingers, the days my hands struggle to keep up with the flow. I call it a creative dump from my brain, like it’s been holding it in during a long drive and finally found the rest stop toilet. The story just plops out. Haha. Gross, I know.

I love watching the characters grow. Wendy from THE LURKERS is the perfect example of this. So is Sheriff Ben Holly from PRANK NIGHT. Greg and Sheila from PROUD PARENTS. Miles from THE SKIN SHOW. These characters start off as one type of person, then they quickly adapt into something stronger. But there’s also a flipside to that. There’re those characters that start off strong but quickly decay into something you’re not expecting. I’ve been surprised more than once when somebody I think will live to the end are quickly dispatched in a rather gruesome way.

And I love hearing from my readers and getting to meet them. Last March in Horrorhound a reader came to the table with a stack of my stuff for me to sign. Another person came with a framed DVD sleeve of Psycho Holocaust for me to sign. That was a humbling experience. I felt like, maybe for the first time, that I was finally there, you know. It still makes me feel tingly whenever somebody pops up and tells me they enjoyed one of my books. I know I can’t win them all, and I don’t, but when I do I’m very grateful.

Another Great Read

Another Great Read

What’s on the horizon for Kristopher Rufty? Can you talk about the projects you’re working on and what else you have planned?

I love talking about what’s coming next. Sinister Grin Press picked up my novel JAGGER and will be releasing it in December. They’re planning a huge promotion to coincide with the release. I think they’ve already booked podcasts, interviews, and have a lot more plans for it. It’ll be available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book. I’m really excited about this book. It’s my killer dog story, but told in a way that I think has never been done. I put characters from my independent movie, Rags, in the book and had so much fun with them.

Somewhere around that time I’ll put out the e-book and possibly the paperback of BIGFOOT BEACH. The hardcover will come next year sometime with some other surprises inside. This book was a blast to write. The idea started two years ago when I went to eat lunch with my kids at school and somehow we got on the subject about how we all have big feet. I made a comment that if somebody saw our footprints in the sand at the beach they’d think a Bigfoot was running loose. It was one of those moments where the idea exploded in my head and I couldn’t talk for a few moments as the story just assembled itself right there. My kids have been excited to see this one come out, so I can’t wait for people to read it.

Thunderstorm Books wants to put out one more new one from me before the end of the year also, but I don’t know if it’ll make it. This one might be the first of 2015, but if I can get the rewrites done in time, it just might print before Christmas. Either way, it’s going to be a beautiful book. This one is my vampire tale, set in the 50’s in a small farming town in Wisconsin. That’s about all I’m going to say for now.

I have two titles coming from Samhain in 2015. The first will be THE LURKING SEASON, a sequel to THE LURKERS, and the other I won’t name just yet. I turned it in last week, so I can talk more about it soon.

Also, Audio Realms will release the audiobooks for PILLOWFACE and OAK HOLLOW before the end of the year, plus some more next year. I’ve heard samples of these books and I’m very happy with how they turned out.

I also have to have a book turned in to DarkFuse by May. It’s my first of three for them. It’ll come out the year after, with the other two following each year after. So I’ll be busy for a while and I couldn’t be happier.

Thanks for having me on your blog, buddy. It’s always fun. Can’t wait to hang out again and talk about writing and old horror paperbacks. Congratulations on EXORCIST ROAD, such a powerfully horrifying story that I still think about. It’s one of those that’ll stay with me forever.

And that’s a wrap. See what I mean about Kristopher? Not only does he write outstanding, edge-of-your-seat books, he has impeccable taste in other writers.

So check him out now. I promise you’ll have a great time!



Pod of Horror: “Janz is horror’s next big thing”

Happy weekend, friends! It’s lovely here in Indiana. No, really. And great news about one of my novels only makes the weekend lovelier.


One of my favorite podcasts is Mark Justice’s wonderful Pod of Horror. After naming my SAVAGE SPECIES one of the top three novels of 2013 (along with Stephen King’s JOYLAND and Bentley Little’s THE INFLUENCE), Mark decided to review my recently released novel CASTLE OF SORROWS in the brand-new installment of PoH (#71, just click “Download”). Here’s one highlight:

“Is it scary? Let me put it this way. Janz has been taking his horror steroids. He’s juicing on Richard Laymon and Jack Ketchum, with a hint of Edward Lee.”

And this…

“CASTLE OF SORROWS ups the ante for all future Janz novels. It’s his scariest and most disturbing, by far.”

And then my favorite part:

“Janz is horror’s next big thing.”

The Beast Returns

The Beast Returns

That’s all for now, folks. Next up, news about my just-released novella EXORCIST ROAD.

A Demon and a Serial Killer

A Demon and a Serial Killer


I Survived the Monster Men!

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.

monster men

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.

And after you watch the carnage, why not check out my new novella EXORCIST ROAD? I’ve got a feeling you’ll enjoy it.

Or be scarred by it too.

A Demon and a Serial Killer

A Demon and a Serial Killer