The Anniversary of Lovecraft Leaving

Today is the anniversary of H.P. Lovecraft’s death, back in 1937.

For those in the business, it’s near impossible to conceive of modern horror without Lovecraft’s influence.  Granted… giant tentacle monsters, arcane spell books, and murderous cults are all fun, but I’m talking about his style.  He gave us a sense of lurking dread and impending doom that was frequently hinted at as monstrosities so far beyond human understanding that insanity was a blessed ending.  And lunacy usually was the fate of many of Lovecraft’s characters, if he didn’t just outright kill everybody.

His was a complex blend of theological horror and dark science fiction.  Entities roamed the stars that were so grand in comparison to us, we feeble humans would do little more than worship these creatures.  He explored the burgeoning field of quantum physics as a type of magic, and although he never left the American East Coast, his characters traveled far.

Lovecraft died young, near penniless, believing himself a failure.  Today, there are numerous volumes published every year by contemporary authors honoring the work he began.  There are toys, clothing, games, and other types of merchandise all based off his creations.  There is a literary award fashioned after his likeness.  His name itself has become an adjective to describe not only a kind of story-telling, but an overall type of horror.

Thanks again, Howard…

 

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Editing like Mad…

I’m working madly on the last bits on my next e-novella, a collection of 12 tales called Preeminent Hollows.  It’s going to serve as a set of prequels, official known as The Prologues To The Chaos Narratives.  The Chaos Narratives is a new series I’m working on, the 1st novel Stagnant Absolution, sitting half done at over 39,000 words.  Some of the tales in Preeminent Hollows may have been read before, perhaps in Fragments Of Ruin, but here we find these and other stories are all connected in a single universe… a world of trickster gods and murderous ghosts, of Dimensionauts and S’allow Men.  A world where mental asylums come alive, occult shops are best avoided and a blacker house is never seen. 

Preeminent Hollows should be released as an e-novella the first week of May, along with a major anouncement.  Stagnant Absolution has a planned release for end of summer.

“Mists Of Blackfen Bog” by Court Ellyn – art promo

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52989

The promo art I recently completed for Mists of Blackfen Bog.  While the image may be a work in progress, the tale it’s supporting is a finished masterpiece of epic fantasy, one I highly recommend for fans of the genre.

Mobb-cellyn-2

Court Ellyn is an amazing author and colleague who has just released an e-novella that any fans of George R.R. Martin or Robert Jordan will fall in love with.  It’s a haunting tale of epic fantasy, told with Ellyn’s wonderful prose, once serialized at SilverBlade online magazine.  Of herself, Court Ellyn says: “I write character-driven fantasy. I love world-building, magic, dragons, swords, and all the other ingredients that go into the high fantasy genre. That said, I try not to write anything that reeks of Tolkien influence.  Between paragraphs and revisions, I moderate discussions at LegendFire.com, the best community of amateur writers in the universe.”

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52989

Imaen, a disillusioned, bitter priestess, is forced to accompany her mentor into the icy swamps to learn why the spirits walk and to help put them to rest again. But when her mentor is attacked and slain by one of these spirits, Imaen must find the courage and the faith she needs to solve the mystery on her own. If she fails, the evil behind the outbreak could claim her soul as well, leaving her a forlorn spirit wandering through the mists of Blackfen Bog.

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52989

Top 10 Book Recommendations for Non-Readers

As both an author and a guy who runs a used books store, I talk about books a lot.  No, I mean a lot.  I’m always trying to get people to read.  A majority of non-readers will say they don’t bother with books because they “don’t have the attention span.”  However, I’m starting to discover that’s not really the case.  A vast quantity of folks recall the books they were forced to read back in school, and those memories aren’t fond.  Well guess what, I freakin’ hated Moby Dick, too.

I always start by asking them what types of movies they like.  After they list a few titles, I usually proceed to shock them by revealing that half the titles they’ve just listed were originally books. I’ve found guys are especially surprised to learn that Fight Club, The Road, Dexter and Rambo: First Blood were all books.  “Who’s Ian Fleming?”  **sigh**

So, screw the elitists and their high-brow literature, here are the 10 books I’ve found I most frequently recommend to non-readers to try out.  While these may not be my favorite books, or even my favorite authors, they can be wonderfully escapist fun for a ton of people.  In no real order…

 

#1. CLIVE CUSSLER, Atlantis Found – The most famous of the “bromantic” writers, Cussler fills his tales with two buddies who run around blowing crap up, finding treasure, and rescuing hot scientist chicks.  You occasionally learn something about science, politics or weapons, usually while the main protagonists are cracking jokes during intense gunfire.  In this particular tale, they discover an ancient civilization, kill a bunch of new generation Nazis living in Argentina and save the planet.  Again.  One of the books in this series, Sahara, was made into a movie.

#2. ANNE RICE, The Witching Hour – Everybody talks about her Vampires, but this massive novel has everything necessary for adult paranormal romance; a vicious ghost, a torrid love affair, psychic powers, and a mega-rich family with enough depraved violence in its family tree to make Jerry Springer’s head explode.  Two sequels take the story into even more bizarre territory, and Rice’s last two Vampire novels tied back to the ancient New Orleans family.  You can’t even shelf the Cullens near the Mayfairs.  If you’re waiting for the next Twilight movie or season of True Blood, grab this.

#3. TIM DORSEY, Florida Roadkill – Sometimes you just need a story that’s so over-the-top that it would terrify most people to compete with today’s basic cable.  This would be the book.  Serge and Coleman running amok across the state, in a tale that I can only describe as “Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas acted out by 21st century sociopaths.”  Definitely not for everyone, it takes a certain type of wack-job to enjoy this book.  However, everyone I’ve chosen to lend it to has loved it.  That probably says something about me and my friends.  Try to imagine if The Hangover or Clerks II had gratuitous violence.

#4. DOUGLAS PRESTON & LINCOLN CHILD, Relic – Yep, there was a movie that came out based on this book over a decade ago, but they cut out the main freakin’ character.  Agent Pendergast and his stories always seem to end up back at the NY Natural History Museum and tend to lean toward the “almost” supernatural.  These books read like movies, intelligent but action-packed, full of memorable characters usually coming close to unspeakably horrible deaths.  Somewhere between The X-Files and Criminal Minds, if they showed it on The Discovery Channel.

#5. CLIVE BARKER, The Books Of Blood – My absolute love of Barker’s work is well known.  Sadly, so few outside the genre realize how many tales from the collection have been made into movies, and how many more are brilliant.  Once I start listing Midnight Meat Train, Candyman, Nightbreed, Lord Of Illusions, Dread and the title piece, folks’ eyes go wide.  Sure, I’m listing the official volumes 1-3 along with the unofficial 4-6 here, but so what?  He’s terrified two generations now, and I want to see him hand out more nightmares.  75% of the ideas you’ve seen in movies from AfterDark’s 8 Films To Die For owe allegiance to this guy.

#6. JANET EVANOVICH, One For The Money – We’re working backwards this time, since this movie adaptation doesn’t come out until this summer.  However, character Stephanie Plum has a huge legion of fans and I actually understand why.  After my Mom and Dad both giggled through a few titles, I read this LOL Mystery and found it to be the perfect book to recommend when someone isn’t sure what they’re in the mood for.  Just imagine any random romantic comedy, but make it funnier then toss in a few guns and a murder. 

#7. MICHAEL CRICHTON, Prey – Much like Barker, a lot of people don’t realize how many films they’ve seen are based on book by this late master of the research novel.  While I could mention Jurassic Park, Congo, Sphere, Disclosure, Rising Sun, Timeline, or Eaters Of The Dead/The 13th Warrior, I think his tale of self-aware nonatech horror should be checked out.  While it can get a little science-heavy at times, his presentation of AI nanobots eating people and replacing them with evil clones is just too awesome to be missed.  It’s a zombie film told with very sneaky Terminators, but way more freaky than how that sounded.

#8. CHARLES STROSS, The Atrocity Archives – Like Dorsey’s book, this take a certain type of weirdo to appreciate.  However, this one needs a reader who’s looking for the tale of a sarcastic computer tech working for a British government BlackOps group that routinely battles monsters that bare a suspicious resemblance to stuff that crawled out of H.P. Lovecraft’s imagination.  Oh, did I mention the story is told in a manner reminiscent of Douglas Adam’s Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy?  LOVE this book.  Um, there’s really nothing else like this in the universe, except for perhaps Christopher Farnsworth’s awesome novels.

#9. JEFFERY DEAVER, The Vanished Man – While the film The Bone Collector came and went years ago, the ongoing detective adventures of Lincoln Rhymes and Amelia Sachs continued.  Crammed with so many twists your head will snap off, it’s the NYPD and their quadriplegic consultant facing off against a criminal who’s a trained escapist artist and illusionist.  Hard for CSI guys to work when their evidence burst into flames before turning into a dove.  This is simply a great mystery novel (the fifth in the series) that should appeal to anyone who likes TV cop dramas.

#10. CHRISTOPHER MOORE, A Dirty Job – Known for a plethora of zany tales, some slightly offensive to those with more delicate sensibilities, this particular tale is perhaps his safest.  Don’t, however, think that makes it any less insanely fun.  Seriously, when a neurotic beta-male usually beset by hypochondria get tapped to be an Aspect of The Grin Reaper when his wife dies suddenly after giving birth, you may not be sure what to expect.  But between losing The Great Big Book O’ Death, scary Sewer Harpies, feeding pet Hellhounds assorted kitchen appliances and a baby daughter who accidentally kills things when she says “kitty,” you find yourself laughing hysterically.  Very Shaun Of The Dead. 

That’s it, now you non-readers have no excuse.  Find a title and jump in.  Don’t worry, I won’t ask for book reports.

Barker’s Bodies

Barker-beauty-msm

One of the 2 images I created to use as platforms to present quotes from one of my greatest literary influences, Clive Barker. A horror author who’s work manages to be both transcendental & visceral, he has penned such modern classics as The Hellbound Heart (Hellraiser), The Books Of Blood (various films including Nightbreed, Candyman, Midnight Meat Train and Dread), Imajica, The Thief Of Always (along with Abarat as children’s books), The Great And Secret Show, Cold Heart Canyon and many more.

Presented here is “Male.”  The “Female” piece can be viewed at http://antius777.deviantart.com/art/Barker-s-Bodies-female-203611992 , but since it contains the image of a woman’s nude torso, you’ll only be able to view it if you have a DeviantART account with the correct settings. 

Shaking my fist at Leisure Horror *shakes fist*

I’d just like to mention once more how, as someone who loves to read horror fiction as well as write it, I’m still totally pissed that Leisure Horror went kaput.  Thanks to them, I discovered the depravity of Edward Lee.  How am I gonna complete my blood-stained collection now?  GAH!  I discovered Douglas Clegg, Brian Keene, and Jack Ketchum through those guys.  If I didn’t know what to buy, I would literally just grab anything available out by Leisure Horror.  Why?  Because never once did I get a book that I found disappointing. 

Of course, I just convinced an acquaintance of mine to snag Ketchum’s “Off Season” on Kindle.  He yelled at me when I saw him later, and told me it was the most twisted thing he had ever read.  I just blinked at him and said, “Um… that’s why it’s good!”

Now that I think about it, maybe there was simply too damn much talent rolling out of there.  Or madness.  Yeah, probably the madness…

 

Essay up at Indie Paranormal Book Reviews

http://indieparanormalbooksreviews.blogspot.com/2011/03/guest-author-brian-fatah-steele-story.html

At the excellent Indie Paranormal Book Reviews, I’ve now had the honor of being a guest author.  My essay, “The Story Under Covers” is posted there, a piece about the cover art of books and how important it is.  I discuss some differences in design, the concept of “branding,” and what those visuals can mean to both readers and authors alike.  From the iconic imagery presented on the Twilight covers to writer/artist combined marketing, I hope you wander over there and check it out.  A huge thanks to Michelle for providing such an awesome site!

http://indieparanormalbooksreviews.blogspot.com/2011/03/guest-author-brian-fatah-steele-story.html