Autumn Is Coming

Just got word from Mike Davis that my story "Cul Du-Sac Virus" is going to be included in his Autumn Cthulhu anthology. As an avowed lover of Autumn (there really is no better season) I'm both honored and excited to have one of my stories among the leaves.






Now in Delightful Digital Surround Sound (if you have digital surround sound

I'm excited to report the last month has ushered in a veritable cavalcade of podcast sales. My science fiction story: "Moving Away" originally printed in the, sadly defunct, 10Flash Quarterly was read by Alex C. Renwick on Toasted Cake, a clever little podcast headed by the incredible Tina Connolly, yes that Tina Connolly.

Also, Pseudopod will be producing my horror story "Saturday," originally printed in Shock Totem #9. I love all my stories, but "Saturday" is one I'm particularly proud of, so it's really exciting to know it'll get the Pseudopod treatment.

Also, also, The Overcast, a fresh, new podcast out of Portland, Oregon will be producing my SF satire "Black Friday" sometime soon. In just a few short months of operation The Overcast has featured fiction from Erika Satifka and Caroline Yoachim, two of my favorite short story authors. I'm honored to be in such august company.

Lastly, my story "Gently Down the Stream" will be appearing in the July issue of The Lovecraft eZine. The eZine is one of my perennial favorites, both as an author and reader. Mike Davis always does an amazing job finding truly talented readers, but also commissions original art for every single story.

To be completely honest, I listen to a lot of podcasts. Not just fiction,but movie and book reviews, history, psychology, interesting news, and pretty much anything that strikes my fancy. In particular, the following are almost always on my iPod.

  • The Horror Movie Podcast: I love horror movies, but don't have a lot of time to watch them, so the HMP crew serve as my first line of defense against terrible cinema. Specifically, I enjoy the mix of academic, critical, and street-level analysis provided by the diverse cast of HMP--whose cast boasts not only a former professional film critic, but also a writer/director, and two PhD's.  
  • The Sci-Fi Movie Podcast: Sensing a theme? I was recently clued into the Sci-Fi movie podcast by a friend, and have been gobbling up episodes ever since. The reviews tend to run from a half hour to an hour, and so are perfect for my drive home from work. Really, what drew me to the podcast was the sheer breadth of their catalog, which covers everything from The Star Wars Christmas Special to The Last Starfighter, to Alien.
  • 99% Invisible: If you aren't listening to this, you should be. Episodes run less than twenty minutes on average (great for a quick jog or drive) and are basically a grab bag of interesting ideas. I haven't pillaged anything yet, but you can bet some of what Roman Mars covers is already worming its way into my fiction. The episodes on the history of the OUIJA Board and Winchester Mystery House are particularly noteworthy.
  • Invisibilia: Sensing another theme? I've always been fascinated with what makes people do and say the things they do. This led to the first of my superfluous degrees and a brief stint in Clinical Psychology…which led me to look for a different career. In any case, Invisibilia not only fulfills my curiosity, but is damn interesting in the bargain. Their very first episode, exploring how and why good people sometimes think terrible thoughts, is one of my favorites.
  • Hardcore History: Okay, so after I got out of Psychology I got it into my head to be a college history professor. Terrible job prospects and pay eventually disabused me of that notion, although not before I'd acquired two more useless degrees. Despite being several years removed from my Early World History classes, I still hold an abiding interest in the past, particularly all the inventive and terrible ways humans have managed to kill one another over the years. Be warned, Hardcore History doesn't cover subjugated knowledges or new social history, it focuses on military matters, pure and simple. But if you're interested in how horrible the Mongol Invasions, or World War I, or the Punic Wars were--look no further. Dan Carlin seems to delight in depicting in gruesome detail the sheer scope and brutality of warfare over the ages, and what emerges is a surprisingly unbiased narrative--sort of like The Gallic Wars meets All Quiet on the Western Front.   

Oh, I also listen to Pseudopod, Escape Pod, Podcastle, The Drabblecast, The Lovecraft eZine, Toasted Cake, and a host of other fiction podcasts, but if you're here, you probably already know all about them.

As always, if there are any podcasts you enjoy, feel free to share them below. Despite my overflowing playlist, I'm always looking for more. 


Feeling Down? Read About a Clown!

So, well, I'm not really afraid of clowns per se, but I've never really been comfortable around them. No particular reason, no formative incident buried in my childhood memories, hell, the father of one of my friends growing up was a professional clown with Barnum & Bailey, and he was hilarious (when I was six).

I've read articles citing everything from the uncanny valley, to the fact clowns model socially transgressive behaviors, to the lingering shadow of John Wayne Gacy on the popular consciousness, and yet, I feel like there's something more primal. Evil Clowns have been around for centuries, Grimaldi from Dickens' Pickwick Papers, being the first I came across (if there are earlier evil clowns I'm excited to hear about them). Really, I feel it's trying so hard to be loved that makes clowns just a little bit monstrous.  

Maybe that's why clowns still have a place. Like an old, rickety roller coaster they shudder and screech, rattling through our imaginations in a blur of mismatched clothes and wide, feverish grins. Clowns represent the outsider in every way that counts--their dress, their high voices, the casual violence of slapstick--there's an element of schadenfreude in every performance.  

Why do clowns make me uncomfortable? I don't think I’ll ever know, but, like most things that scare me, I find them absolutely fascinating. So understandably, I leapt at the chance to plumb the depths of my unease in in prose. Better yet, the wonderful editors at Unlikely Story enjoyed my work enough to publish it in their Coulrophobia: Remix anthology.

Right now, it's still in kickstarter stages, but looks pretty set to meet the funding goal, which is great. I'd be shilling one of the $50 rewards (a story critique by yours truly), if someone hadn't already snapped it up. In any case, knowing the quality of the authors I managed to squeeze into this anthology clown car with, I'm excited as hell to see the thing in print.

Don't be scared. Or better yet, be a little scared, it'll make show more fun.


Full Circle

When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time in used bookstores. If you're reading this, I'm sure you had a similar experience. There was one in particular Twice-Loved Books that was close enough I could ride my bike too. It was a big old house that the owner had converted into a bookstore, every room filled almost to the brim with all manner of interesting treasures. Unsurprisingly, the fantasy, science fiction, and horror sections were all in the basement. I would come in on Saturday or Sunday morning, allowance in hand, and over the course of hours work my way from one side of the basement to the other like some genre trogolodyte. 

I'd usually only have enough money for two or three books, but I must have perused hundreds. Even at only a dollar or two a piece they seemed the most luxuries astounding of luxuries--something that would be mine and only mine, at least until I sold it back to Twice-Loved for a quarter or two in the hopes of earning enough to buy another.

Yeah, it was quite a racket, but I was hooked. Still am, in fact.

The reason I'm going on about this is that without Twice-Loved, and more importantly, without that basement full of genre fiction, I'd never have become the author (or the person) I am today. I grew up with Bradbury,Bradley, Norton, Burroughs, King, Howard, LeGuin, Tolkein, Macaffery, Lackey, Feist, and scores of others. Their worlds were mine to explore, to devour, to love.

The value of giving kids and young adults good genre fiction really can't be understated. As readers, and lovers, of genre I feel like it's our duty to be almost evangelical in the pursuit of new audiences, which is why I was so incredibly honored to be part of an anthology aimed at doing just that.

The Young Explorers Adventure Guide is just great, any way you slice it. 20 Stories from some of the best mid-grade genre fiction writers in the field, and also me (somehow). I'm not trying to get you to buy a copy, I'm just excited about the prospect of some kid spending his or her allowance on something I've written. Which is why I picked up a few dozen copies, then turned around and sold them to used bookstores in my area.

Self-serving, yes, a bit, but I make no excuses. My goal is to hook another generation and keep this crazy thing of ours going for years to come.


I Am Very Lucky

So December is shaping up to be a great month publication-wise. First, my story "Citizen of the Galaxy," is in Analog. Seriously, ANALOG--one of the publications that made me want to start writing fiction in the first place.

Adding to the joy, my story "From Salted Earth," appeared in the fourth quarter issue of Worlds Without Master, a fabulous pro e-zine that pushes the boundaries of the sword and sorcery genre by publishing great fiction and short-form roleplaying games.

Last, but certainly far from least, I've got some apocalyptic flash fiction sleighted for publication in Daily Science Fiction on December 16th.

Yes, three pro pubs. Really, really?!

If you're curious--no, I've done nothing to deserve this.   


Doom and Gloom? Not Really

Contrary to all rational expectations given my slew of sales, I've been feeling a little down, lately. Fortunately, I've been able to mine the existential doldrums for all they're worth. The result being a slew of cosmic horror stories, one of which will be appearing in the next issue of Shock Totem (out soon), and another upcoming in Daily Science Fiction. I'm particularly proud of both of these stories, and am quite excited that they found such great homes.

I've never been a strong proponent of authorial privilege. I feel much of art's power lies in its faculty for interpretation, so I'll try not to bore you with any self-obsessed rambles about what I "intended" in writing these stories and others. Whatever you take from my writing is yours.

Apocalypses have always fascinated me. As a horror, dark fantasy/SF writer it stands to reason that I'd take the cosmic view. While the current trend toward apocalyptic (specifically: ZOMBIE) fiction has run the sub-genre somewhat ragged, I can't help but feel there's still a lot of room for exploration. As humans, I feel like we try to understand the apocalypse, figure out its rules, even give it agency in some regards. Part of this stems from our frame of reference—namely that we only have one--and part from who we are as a species. Basically, if we hadn't always been trying to figure everything out, I don't think humanity would've reached such great heights.

But what if the apocalypse was beyond our comprehension? What if there was no why?

Obviously, I borrowed liberally from the usual suspects: Thomas Ligotti, Anna Tambour, Laird Barron, Caitlin Kiernan, Michael Wehunt, and others. I'm not saying I added anything revolutionary to the corpus of cosmic horror/apocalyptic literature, but it sure was fun to grapple with.