Space Monkeys and Book Sales

•15/06/2017 • Leave a Comment

Have you been wanting to pick up the short story collection that the New York Times Book Review called “superb” (pron. soo-POIB) and compared to the work of Flannery O’Connor, Ambrose Bierce, and Cornell Woolrich, but money is tight? Well now, here’s your chance to see what the hub-bub is about, bub. Follow the instructions below from my publisher, ChiZine Publications, to get an e-copy of 13 VIEWS OF THE SUICIDE WOODS for $1.99! Nosir, you can’t beat that.

While you’re there, you might as well give up coffee for the rest of the week and splurge on some more books. They’re all great. But buy mine first. 😉

THE WOODS HAVE BEEN WAITING.

Okay, people at the party, here we go!


In honour of Albert II’s sacrifice back in 1949 as the first monkey in space, CZP is dropping its eBook prices to $1.99 ACROSS THE BOARD! (Don’t ask what the connection is; that’s a secret!) Simply go to this link:

http://chizinepub.com/books/

scroll down, and send the titles of the book(s) you want in an email to savory@cogeco.ca (anything that has a “Buy the eBook” link at the bottom of its page—which is nearly everything—is fair game!). You’ll then receive a PayPal invoice for the total amount. Pay it, then we send you your books. Easy-peasy! If you’d prefer to pay by eTransfer, we can absolutely do that, too—I would just send you a PDF invoice instead.

This sale will last for one week only (starting immediately, and ending June 21st at midnight EST), so please spread the word to your friends, family, fans, and foes.

We won’t be doing this again anytime soon, so don’t delay!

I Know What You’ll Read This Summer – The New York Times

•01/06/2017 • Leave a Comment

Oh, Dark Lord! I can’t even begin to tell how you cosmically happy I feel at this exact moment. I feel like I could eat black holes and shit stars!

^_^

ASSEDIO!

•09/05/2017 • Leave a Comment

It’s (temporarily) out of print in English, but if you read German, and soon ITALIAN, my first novel, MOUNTAIN HOME is out there! For Italian audiences it’s titled “Siege,” but most importantly, between the covers it’s the version of the book I want readers to have. Coming soon from Good Kill Edizioni.

In the meantime, check out this cool cover by Giampaolo Frizzi!

 

Good Kill

COVER REVEAL: Hank Early’s HEAVEN’S CROOKED FINGER

•07/04/2017 • 1 Comment

Look at this beautiful cover for my friend, Hank Early’s debut novel, HEAVEN’S CROOKED FINGER.

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I am more excited about this book release than I am about anything else I can think of this year! (Well, anything else that I didn’t write, natch.) Hank Early is the pseudonym of one of my favorite writers, John Mantooth. This guy’s work is astounding, and not only should you pre-order this book NOW, I’d encourage you to go back and get his work under his other name. You will not be disappointed.

But don’t take my word for it!

“Hank Early’s Heaven’s Crooked Finger is a twisty, page-turning, modern Southern Gothic that packs an emotional wallop. His everyday and down-and-out characters are authentically rendered. Fans of Daniel Woodrell and Donald Ray Pollock take notice, Heaven’s Crooked Finger is the real deal.”

-Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and Disappearance at Devil’s Rock

A short excerpt:

I was sweating when the door to the inner sanctuary swung open, and I saw the throng already swaying to the sporadic thunking of Aunt Mary Lee’s arthritic fingers on the tuneless piano. Daddy held two snakes, a large rattler he’d been using for years and a smaller cottonmouth found a few days earlier in some brush down near Ghost Creek. Stepping into the sanctuary, I believed I felt it. The wind. Daddy said it was a breath, and when it took a hold of you, you might feel your feet lifted off the ground, your lungs expanding with the fresh air of heaven. I waited, closing my eyes, willing it to come in.  

I had always wanted to believe in something. I still do.

– From Heaven’s Crooked Finger (available 11/7/17)

PRE-ORDER HERE

Thirteen Days to the Suicide Woods: Day 13 — The Thirteenth View

•13/03/2017 • Leave a Comment

Before I was a writer, among other things, I was a philosopher. I taught ethics, but before that, as a graduate student, I studied Existentialism and the works of Albert Camus and Friedrich Nietzsche.  The epigraph to 13 VIEWS OF THE SUICIDE WOODS is a favorite quote of mine by the latter:

“And perhaps many will, like myself, recall how amid the dangers and terrors of dreams they have occasionally said to themselves in self-encouragement, and not without success: ‘It is a dream! I will dream on!’”
—Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy

I write and read and watch fiction because it allows me to dream. When I engage with fiction I can dream of being someone else for a little while. I get to be a person who isn’t afraid of drowning, who knows exactly what to do in the worst circumstances, who does the right thing even though it’s emotionally difficult. In fiction, I get to be young again, I get to be Black, I get to be a woman, I get to be gay, I get to be all the things I’m not but I wish I could understand just a little bit so that I can know better what it’s like to be fully human. When I read fiction, I get to dream. I can dream of being free and strong and unrestrained. I can dream of standing up and being better than I am.

Mostly though, I dream of not being afraid.

Because everything I’m afraid of is another view of my personal Suicide Woods. Everything I’m afraid of is the place where I will go to give up and die. And fiction is the force that holds on to me and says, you can weather this too. But still, I am afraid.

I am afraid of the water.

I am afraid of being weak.

I am afraid of not being liked by everyone.

I am afraid of losing my family.

I am afraid of not being able to cope with my feelings of inadequacy.

I am afraid of letting people down.

I am afraid of getting old.

I am afraid of being alone.

I am afraid of being with people.

I am afraid of how being a victim of sexual abuse has broken me.

I am afraid of destroying myself because I push down pain and sadness to appear strong.

I am afraid of myself.

I am afraid.

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But still, I dream.

And I will dream on!

The Woods Have Been Waiting

Thirteen Days to the Suicide Woods: Day 12 — Vineyard Horror

•12/03/2017 • Leave a Comment

One year at my favorite writers’ conference, NECON, I was standing in the hotel lobby, staring at the flyers beside the check in desk, trying to find a menu for a local pizza place, when I ran across a card that showed a wet, red foot. Intrigued, I pulled the card and saw it was advertising a local winery. Anyone who knows me even a little bit knows I love wine. More than any beer or other spirit (yes, more than whisk(e)y), I love dry, tannic, earthy reds—pinot noir especially, but also barbera, and tempranillo wines. None of these varietals grow well in New England, but I was still intrigued by the image of a glistening red, nude woman’s foot.

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This wasn’t the picture, but you get the idea.

The picture was sensual, but it also more than hinted at gore with the red juice and dark grape skins sticking to the foot in the image. To me, in that setting, there was something very sinister about the implication of what that woman had done. How she had become stained. She had crushed something delicate and wore the evidence of its destruction on her skin.

Yes, yes, I know. Most people who’d see this advertisement would think of people laughing and having fun getting dirty making something delicious, meant to be drunk in fun. Maybe they think of that episode of I Love Lucy. I’m not most people. I think about the violence of winemaking. I think about the intimacy of that violence, the sexuality of it done with nude feet (though mostly by press, but let’s indulge our imaginations) and rolled up pants, or even better, a playfully lifted skirt.

The thought of it immediately made me recall the Poème de la vigne (Poem of the Vine) sculpture by Gustave DorÊ in front of the de Young Museum in San Fransisco.

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Gustave Doré created this vase for French winemakers, who exhibited it at the 1878 Paris World’s Fair. It represents an allegory of the annual wine vintage, taking the shape of a colossal wine vessel decorated with figures associated with the rites of Bacchus (the Roman god of wine). The revelers include cupids, satyrs and bacchantes, who protect the grape vines from pests. [source]

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That, naturally, made me think of Frederick Hart’s Ex Nihilo sculpture on the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. (and how its design was stolen and inverted—or perverted as he successfully charged in his lawsuit—for the movie The Devil’s Advocate). My imagination was off to the races.

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I’d long wanted to write small town occult horror story in the tradition of Thomas Tryon or The Wicker Man, and by the end of the conference weekend, the story of an outsider coming to an insular and somehow threatening wine making community was finished in my head. I just needed to get it down on paper. Most of the time I come home from any conference, but after NECON in particular, I am driven by creative inspiration that burns bright and hot. This fire was uniquely kindled, however.

I wrote the whole thing in about forty-eight hours, inspired by an image of a single woman’s foot, and all the sensuality and carnage it implied. I’d joked at the con that I wanted to start a new movement as a subset of what I thought of as “Harvest Horror,” titled instead, “Vineyard Horror.” Scary stories that revolve around wine and intoxication. Since then, I’ve met a couple of kindred spirits (notably Michael Griffin, whose Dim Shores novella An Ideal Retreat is something you NEED to read) who feel the same way about the subject. Like other writers provide soundtrack listening suggestions for their work, we’ve discussed pairing our stories with wine recommendations and tasting notes. The world of Vineyard Horror is ripe on the vine, in my opinion.

So, please, open a nice Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, have a couple of glasses, and enjoy The Blood of the Vine.

The Woods Have Been Waiting

NEXT STOP: The Thirteenth View

 

Thirteen Days to the Suicide Woods: Day 11 — Easter Eggs

•11/03/2017 • Leave a Comment

I throw “Easter eggs” into a lot of stories. Little hints and names and nuggets that are supposed to pass by you if you aren’t familiar with them. But if you are familiar, they’re meant to make you smile or think a little.

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For instance, a few stories in 13 VIEWS OF THE SUICIDE WOODS are set in places familiar to me and a few other people.

I wanted to set The Blood and the Body on the top floor of a three-story house to subvert the imagery of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven stacked on top of one another. As Em ascends, things become more sinister for her. But I didn’t want to have to think too hard about the layout of the house or the neighborhood around it, so I set the story in a friend’s former condo. I wanted a setting I could easily call to mind, but also, I wanted to poke at my friend by doing bad things to people in his study. I think he was amused. His only comment to me about the story (when he read an early draft), is that his back yard below the deck was brick, not concrete.

In The Bones has a similar moment on a high wooden deck, though it’s not the one at that friend’s condo. That one’s set outside on a law school friend’s apartment in Connecticut. Both scenes outside, however, are informed by my own experience with my first cigar on that deck.

My law school friend had smuggled at Cuban Cohiba across the border from Canada for me (those lawless Canadians!). He gave it to me at a party and left me to my own devices on the deck. Though I hadn’t ever smoked one before, I used to smoke clove cigarettes in college and thought I knew what I was doing. I got the thing evenly lit like I’d watched a couple of other people out on the same deck doing and then took a big drag, filling my lungs. I found out rather quickly, you don’t inhale cigar smoke. I didn’t want to choke and let on that I had no idea what I was doing, so I held the smoke in. I couldn’t breathe, I went blind, my head was spinning, and I was death-gripping the rail of his third story deck so I wouldn’t topple over the side and fall to my death. My friends saw how badly green I was turning (despite the dark night) and all had a good laugh. The friend who gave me the cigar informed me that it wasn’t a joint, I didn’t have to hold it. Lessons learned. I now know how to smoke a cigar, and I tend to get nervous on upper story decks.

The second half of that story is set in the hospital where I had my appendix out.

Blood Makes the Grass Grow takes place in a couple of locations I encountered on a family getaway in Maine a few years ago. We were vacationing with friends who had a dog who got injured jumping into a pond after a stick. The vet is the one we found on Yelp. And yes, that organic farm with the Rasta flag and the sign with the vegetable pun on it really exists (though everything about the proprietors, their real business, and their visitors are all fiction). That’s my dark vision of the Maine state motto: The Way Life Should Be!

Finally, The Boy Who Dreamt He Was a Bat and This Last Little Piece of Darkness are stories unique to this collection. Only a handful of people have read them. Bat is set in the house I lived in as a child in the Berkshires and on the shores of a lake in which I almost drowned. Darkness was also set in a childhood residence—this time in a duplex on the other side of the country. They’re chilling places that make me feel little and helpless when I think of them. I don’t expect anyone to find those Easter eggs. Those were hidden a long time ago in places only I know, so no one would ever find them. Except, I’m giving them to you now.

The Woods Have Been Waiting

NEXT STOP: Vineyard Horror