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Another Writing Contest: Earn Cash and Publication Alongside Jack Ketchum, Jonathan Maberry, John Everson, Alison Littlewood, Tim Lebbon and MORE!

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Our new anthology, Pieces of Everything features a lot of top notch authors, including: Jack Ketchum, Jonathan Maberry, William Meikle, John Everson, Tim Lebbon, Hunter Shea, Alison Littlewood, Frazer Lee and a whole lot more.

It is, to date, our greatest anthology thanks to a group of wonderful authors willing to support us just as much as we’re willing to support them. And we appreciate that greatly, and find genuine satisfaction in being able to continue pushing their work in the direction of the masses.

And now, it’s time to run another contest, which will differ significantly from past contests.

Let me share all the details:

 

Topic/Theme: OPEN! You can write about anything you’d like, just so long as it incorporates a bit of the macabre, outlandish or science fiction.

Word Count: Do not exceed 4,000 words.

Formats: Submit your stories in either .doc, .docx or .rtf files ONLY.

Deadline: May 10th.

Prize: Publication alongside all of the amazing authors listed (and more amazing authors not listed), as well as a $50 take (you must have paypal) and two paperback copies of the book.

Where to Send your Story: hnrcontests@live.com (if clicking the link doesn’t work, you may need to paste the address in your email). Subject line should read: Pieces of Everything Submission – (story title) – (author name).

ALWAYS INCLUDE YOUR PAYPAL ADDRESS! SHOULD YOUR STORY WIN, I’D RATHER NOT SPEND EXTRA TIME TRACKING YOU DOWN.

The Winner: Only ONE author will win this contest. Craft your greatest piece of work, because you’ll be toeing the line with a lot of eager authors chomping at the bit to emerge the victor and place in this collection alongside these superb talents.

Censorship: No worries on the censorship. I could care less if you’re cursing like a sailor, decapitating dogs, impaling evil children; it matters not. You’ve got a field to run free about!

Winner Announcement will be made May 31st on the site. I will NOT be sending out emails (that’s to keep you returning to the site on a regular basis, obviously!).

And that about sums it up. This is our grandest release yet, and you’ve got a chance to add enough moolah to grab a few cases of beer as well as add an amazing credit to your résumé.

If you have any other questions, drop them right here. Otherwise, get to writing your best stuff, because this is going to be an amazing collection, and I’ve got a feeling the competition this time around is going to be fierce.

SPREAD THIS CONTEST EVERYWHERE! FB, TWITTER, GOOGLE+ – you name it. Get the word moving, Prove you’re the best by decimating competition, but give others the chance to shine!! An easy victory after all, is a victory worthy of little pride!

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Author Mike Robinson Speaks: ‘Between the Interstice: On Lovecraft and Weird Fiction’

Written by: Mike Robinson

Between the Interstice

On Lovecraft and Weird Fiction

 

“Back then, with the visions, most of the time I was convinced I’d lost it. There were other times, though, where I thought I was mainlining the secret truth to the universe.”

———— Rust Cohle, True Detective

 

Behind the wide facade of Speculative Fiction twist the hedge-mazes of fantasy, brood the catacombs of horror and gaze the far-seeing floors of science fiction. Among them, between them, are the closets and crawlspaces of the niche, one of which — a relatively bigger one — is the place of Weird Fiction, a dark storage of many souvenirs from fantasy, horror and science fiction, though dusted with its own special charms.

The former subtitle for my new book, Too Much Dark Matter, Too Little Gray: A Collection of Weird Fiction was actually, A Collection of Speculative Fiction. As one prone to appreciate sprawling ambiguity, to resist specific categorization, it’s a little ironic that I wanted to specify further. But there was a reason for that, besides the stodginess of “speculative”, which has none of the zany, fluid charisma of “weird”.

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Too Much Dark Matter, Too Little Gray cover

While using “weird” may sound like a proud judgment, a literary outcast chest-thumping his identity as such, it’s more a direct homage to the tradition of Ambrose Bierce, Robert Chambers, H.P. Lovecraft and many others. Going further, it’s an accurate classification given my vision of Weird Fiction, a subgenre that, perhaps more consciously than other fields of speculative fiction, stirs together elements of the metaphysical, cosmological and horrific to grimly honor the Big Questions, remind us of our insurmountable ignorance, to pin down our squirming selves into our rightful position in the child’s seat, to whisper, maybe in some alien, mud-packed voice, that, hey, the world is slippery and you won’t ever, ever catch it. The world, in short, is weird.

And past all the horror, the strangeness, that to me is a nourishing thought. Let me explain.

The moment I cemented my decision to not pursue an M.F.A (or any academic training) in writing is vivid. While enrolled at Otis College of Art & Design, I found in my mailbox a little perfect-bound literary booklet featuring work by the graduate students in fiction. I flipped it open to a random story. After wading cautiously into the second paragraph of a painful scrutiny of eyebrow-plucking, I was done. Other entries weren’t much better. Too many of them seemed concerned with stereotypical, high-literary minutia, unfortunately the focus and baffling preference of innumerable professors, awards, journals, and workshops (cough-Iowa-cough).

 

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My first sale, the story The Hand of Spudd in Storyteller Magazine

Personally, I have little interest in quaint journalistic accounts of Malaysian transvestite violinists at the turn of the century (yes, I made that up), or the endless slew of aptly-termed “McFiction” featuring some cocky narrator coming of age amongst his or her overfed, dysfunctional family. No, I prefer going head-on at the Big Questions, going at them, as George Carlin might say, with no less than a sledgehammer. Give me ballsy confrontations with Life, Death, the Cosmos, with Existence, with God.

In their noble attempts at social redemption and inclusion, many contemporary teachers of literature treat writings in the framework of their political significance. To me, though, such attempts seem nothing more than new forms of division. It is looking at the grains and forgetting the shore. Does the world really need a Marxist reading of Huckleberry Finn, complete with ten-dollar jargon? Academics are on the lookout for the “next best thing”, the new trend in analysis, the new prism through which to see literary works of yesterday and today. I say: what about our shared heritage? Our shared — and uncertain — future? Not as any one ethnicity, gender, party, or faction, but as an entire civilization. A species. A collective piece of this vast Universe.

Of course, much of this material is studied, and much of it is exhaustively considered and written about. Enter Weird Fiction!

As any fellow devotee will know, H.P. Lovecraft — arguably the most esteemed and influential practitioner of the genre — cleaned out the catacombs with his pen, defying tropes of ghosts and vampires and expanding imaginations with interconnected tales of ancient civilizations antedating our own, of towering alien-gods, of unseen dimensions and humanity’s sanity-shattering smallness in an inexplicable cosmos. All this made more impressive by the fact that he wrote in the 1920s, when so much of that stuff was barely on anyone’s speculative radar, including scientists’. His unknowns are truly Unknown, and will forever elude explanation.

Certainly Lovecraft’s work has failings, failings probably more surface-level than those of other lauded authors. He was well aware of his own wooden dialogue (hence, quotation marks are scarce in his pages) and his prose sometimes gushes into the purple. Nevertheless, his voice, with its richly archaic, darkly celebratory cadence, stands alone, and will survive as long as we’re unsure what lurks “out there”.

 

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Me suited up, scoping “out there”

 

Sadly, Lovecraft, and especially his “Cthulu” mythos, have become somewhat franchised, relegated to corners of the market generally aimed at Dungeons and Dragons fans, horror enthusiasts, and nihilistic young adults sporting black fingernails and lipstick. It is a wide “cult following”, but nonetheless a cult following. Although some scholars have acknowledged his importance, many see him as a troublesome bridge from Poe to Stephen King. It is this identity that has, I’m sure, dissuaded many from giving him a serious go. “Lovecraft? Oh, no, I don’t like that horror stuff.”

But back up. Here we come back to the question of Weird Fiction itself, because I don’t necessarily consider the canon, or Lovecraft’s work, “horror”. Certainly there are horrific elements in his work, and his career does include several standard supernatural yarns. But in his treatment of cosmic mysteries, and the shadowed realms of prehistory, his is more a prying curious eye, forcing us to consider those Big Questions, to ponder notions of, and issues with, the likes of religion, biology, cosmology, archaeology, and psychology. He sets you on the outside looking in, a contrast to being in and looking further in to the point of navel-gazing. This exercise of outside-looking-in, one I believe most writers of fiction should undertake, helps in a kind of rounding out of thought.

No matter the genre in which one writes, I believe the best, most poignant stories have at least an undercurrent of  this “larger awareness”, a perception conveying authority and wisdom. So many stories feel constricted by their own world, characters or concerns. Yet to read Lovecraft is to confront directly that raw Unknown that surrounds us, that is us. To get a healthy dose of perspective: a shambling, roaring, behemoth upswell of perspective.

I mentioned earlier that I think such a perspective can be ultimately nourishing. In an era of economic, cultural and political tumult, when millions of Davids the world over shout in fiery voice against the few far-reaching, corrupt Goliaths, there is morbid comfort in knowing that, despite whatever the megalomaniacal egos of sadistic leaders, immoral bankers, or bribe-pocketing politicians might make of themselves, there are impenetrable forces beyond all of them that will cast mocking eyes towards their suited-up, gold-rimmed delusions, if they even care to acknowledge them. Lovecraft, and the general tradition of Weird Fiction, reminds us just how little power the powerful actually wield. After all, Goliath was, what, ten feet tall? When the mountain-sized Cthulu rises once more, those people will be nothing but scrambling ants — along with the rest of us.

 

 

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John Wisniewski Lands Exclusive Interview with Author Kathryn Meyer Griffith!

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Kathryn Meyer Griffith is a name well known author, and there’s a damn good reason for that: Superb talent. With well over a dozen novels to her credit, she’s gained a strong following as a result of strong product. And frankly, we’re happy to have her share a few words with us!

John Wisniewski: What inspires you to write? What scares the reader and holds their attention? 

Kathryn Meyer Griffith: Just something inside me makes me write. Don’t know what it is. I’m a born storyteller, I guess. I sit down at a typewriter or a computer and the stories just come out. I can’t help myself. I actually began writing at age 21, although I’d had a sixth grade English teacher tell me long before that that I’d be a writer someday after an oral story about when my brother and I rode some wild ponies as kids.  I’d always been an artist; wanted to be a singer when I was a teenager when I sang out with my brother, Jim Meyer. But I’d always loved to read and after reading a particularly bad historical romance in 1971, I decided to try to write one myself. Ha, I was so young and really didn’t know what I was doing. I wrote my first novel The Heart of the Rose, my only historical romance (as all my others are more horror, suspense or mystery), and sent it out to endless publishers. I couldn’t sell it, so I tucked it away and worked on it on and off for the next twelve years. But I had to grow up, go through a divorce, remarry and get a full time job in the real world before I gained enough maturity to revise and sell that first novel. Over the next forty-two years I kept writing, no matter what else I was doing in my life (like working full time as a graphic artist for twenty-three years), and I kept publishing. Ah, the horror stories I have of publishers, editors and agents! I ought to write a book on that. And, as of today, I’ve published eighteen novels, two novellas and twelve short stories. So, though I began my life wanting to be an artist and a singer, I became a writer instead…and now realize it was my ultimate destiny. I feel my most complete self, my happiest, when I’m writing my stories.

And what scares my readers is what scares me…or any feeling human on this planet.  Fears of the unknown or survival, fears of losing those we love, fear of losing the comforts of the lives we have, fears of the end of the world, fears of pain…or fears of supernatural horrors such as vampires, demons, witches, insane murderers or real live hungry dinosaurs. All those things scare the bejesus out of me – along with fears of driving at night and not having enough money to live on.

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JW: Whom are some of your favorite horror authors?

KMG: The classic horror authors like Anne Rice, Dan Simmons, Stephen King and Dean Koontz. I also like Joe Hill, his writing reminds me of his father’s. Lately, though, I can’t seem to find any new horror writers I really love, but I’ll keep looking. I like the traditional horror where it’s the story and the characters that count, and believable motivation for what they do or don’t do…not profanity, graphic gore or sex. And I want excellent writing. Writers break the rules if you must, but keep me interested enough to continue reading. 

JW: Are you interested in occult subjects, or maybe just vampires and witches?

Dictionary definition of the Occult:supernatural or magic: relating to, involving,

or characteristic of magic, witchcraft, or supernatural phenomena.

2. Not understandable, not capable of being understood by ordinary human beings.

3. Secret or known only to the initiated.

KMG: Funny you should ask that question.  As I actually wrote a whole chapter on “Putting the Occult in to your Fiction” in a 2012 book of author essays by my publisher Damnation Books/Eternal Press titled Telling Tales of Terror. Yep, I wrote a whole chapter on that subject.

So the answer for me to your question would be: yes, I’m interested in other aspects of the occult. Early in my career (1989) I wrote about a demon-possessed Colt Python gun in my book Blood Forge. I’ve also written about demons in my 2010 book A Time of Demons. I’ve covered werewolves, ghosts, and almost anything else that goes bump in the night. So yes, I write about anything supernatural or magical. It’s the story that comes to me and if a ghost would be the best way to convey my concept then it’s a ghost I write about. If a live dinosaur (which is in some ways magical to me because they don’t/can’t exist) is needed, then I write about a dinosaur. The only thing I don’t write about in the magical realm are fantasy; fairies, dragons, etc.

JW: Are you a fan of horror films, Kathryn? Any particular favorites?

KMG: Yes, I love horror films. But they must not be slasher/sexy/mindless creations with no plot and no decent characterizations. I love the old-fashioned suspense/mystery/basic-good-versus-evil character driven films where the story is as important as the special effects. Movies like SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, GODZILLA, GHOST STORY and THE WOMAN IN WHITE.  ALIENS. I liked the earlier SALEM’S LOT and THE SHINING from Stephen King. I don’t like a lot of blood and gore or sex just for their sake. And I want to feel something for the characters before the plot starts putting them in danger, maiming or killing them off. Simple, I like a well-made, well-filmed horror movie with a heart. Happy ending not required. Oh, and I love a good ghost story movie. I wish they’d make more of these types of horror films. Lately, they’re hard to find.

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JW: Have you heard or read any true life accounts of Vampire Clans that exist in America?

KMG: No. And I don’t find people who believe/think they are vampires very interesting. There are no such things as real vampires…only people who are misguided enough to want to drink blood. I write about supernatural creatures, though I don’t believe in most of them. Oh, except ghosts…I have seen a ghost. Once. When I was sixteen I saw my great-Aunt Mary wandering my night time hallway the night before she was to be buried. Now that was scary.

JW: Why do you choose small towns as the locales for your stories, as places where anything can happen?

KMG: Well, not all my books are set in small towns. In my 2012 Epic EBook Awards Finalist, The Last Vampire-Revised Author’s Edition  I have my apocalyptic survivor vampire-woman starting in St. Louis and traveling all across the United States in her quest to find her sister and evade other less friendly vampires. My 2014 Epic EBook Awards Finalist Dinosaur Lake takes place in Crater Lake  National State Park. But on the whole, I set my stories in small towns because small towns are what I know. I’ve lived in small, quaint towns all my life and cherish their quirks and truths.

JW: Could you tell us about your projects for the future, Kathryn?

KMG: In over thirty years of being published I’d never had my books made into audio books. That changed last January. ACX made it possible for me to put all my novels into audio. Right now I’m finishing up the last seven of my nineteen audio books with ACX (where when they’re done they’ll be for sale at Audible.com, iTunes and Amazon). It’s taken over a year to get the first twelve out and I’m hoping my narrator/producers get the last seven done in the next five to six months.

I’ve began the sequel to my 2014 Epic EBook Awards *Finalist* novel Dinosaur Lake…Dinosaur Lake II: Dinosaurs Arising and I just self-published my revised sequel to my murder mystery Scraps of Paper, All Things Slip Away , with a stunning new cover by Dawne Dominique. After that I plan on finishing (I wrote half of it eight years ago but set it aside) the long awaited sequel to my 1994 Witches. Then I plan on writing the sequel to my end-of days horror novel A Time of Demons…and, hopefully, after those more horror novels and stories. If I have the time left.

JW: Has a film company approached you about a possible adaptation of one of your novels?

KMG: No. But I have high hopes that one day the representative for a film company or a producer will read one of my books and want to make a movie of it. I’ve had many reviewers say that they can see my Dinosaur Lake or my The Last Vampire-Revised Author’s Edition as a movie. It just hasn’t happened yet. I often wonder, though, how I’d feel if someone wanted to option one of them. Could I bear to see what they would do to one of my children? I’m not sure. I’d have to face that when it would happen.

Visit Kathryn’s Amazon page now.

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Our Poetry Collection, ‘Passages of Pain, Lyrics of Loss’ is Now On Sale for Just $.99!

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Valentine’s Day is in the bag, and so is HNR’s third official ebook release. Passages of Pain, Lyrics of Loss is a collection of poetry that includes roughly 60 eclectic pieces from authors such as Robin Dover, Vincenzo Bilof, Colin Smith, Matthew R. Davis and more.

Having contributed quite a bit to this collection myself, I can tell you first-hand it’s a profoundly personal collection that explores the darkness of the heart far more frequently than that of the haunted house, serial killer or monster. It was, for me personally, quite painful putting together, and I’ll openly admit my apprehension and anxiety during this entire process.

It’s been taxing.

But if you’ve ever battled with vices, or had your heart torn from your chest cavity, or engaged in mental warfare and the struggle to overcome poverty, then you’re human. And you’re likely going to find something that taps a nerve within this collection. It’s just not your typical collection of poetry.

There’s heart in this collection. There’s passion bleeding through every word. At $.99 it’s not a risk, but a worthwhile investment that’s going to remind you that poetry is pretty damn intense.

Here’s the link (you can also click the images for the direct purchase link) – let’s get the sales rolling in, continue our trend of high debut charting, and blow some unsuspecting fans away!

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The Top Ten Scariest Zombie Stories In History

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Written by: Emmet O’Cuana

8 As I watched, ligaments grew on them, flesh appeared and skin covered them; but there was no breath in them. [...] 10 So I prophesied as ordered, and the breath came into them, and they were alive! They stood up on their feet, a huge army!
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Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore’s The Walking Dead continues to gobble up morsels across the media landscape. The original comic series from publisher Image has been adapted into novels, video games and of course a television show, which despite some ups and downs is still one of the most-watched genre programs today. Game of Thrones pips it to the post, but then it also features those stubbornly off-screen ‘snow zombies’. Clearly there is an audience for this cult monster of video nasties and horror fiction that can trace its ancestry all the way back to the Bible and Gilgamesh.

This pop culture zombie apocalypse began in earnest in the wake of successful films like 28 Days Later and Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead. Many still claim George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead is the definitive depiction of the undead and the influential novelisation of his Dawn of the Dead has recently been republished to the delight of fans (in fact Romero has a cameo in one of the books listed below). Horror writers have done their best to meet demand, with a horde of new book titles that fit snugly into the Z-word genre.

Some depict a world overrun by the undead, while others prefer an otherworldly sideways universe of goblins and ghouls living comfortably just out of sight of mainstream society e.g. Mike Carey’s zombie hacker in his Felix Castor novels. There has been goldrush of zombie comics following The Walking Dead’s success – with Ian Edginton and Davide Fabbri’s Victorian Undead particularly fun, as it merges zombies, the London cholera epidemic and Sherlock Holmes!  The ravenous zombie has even chewed its way out of the cult horror book stacks to take on the literary set, courtesy of Colson Whitehead’s ponderous Zone One.

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Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett

Pratchett’s Discworld novels are a grab-bag of every fantasy trope you can think of mixed in with an uncannily apposite appropriation of contemporary satire. Undoubtedly one of the key humourists in modern writing, this loosely connected series – for those of you lucky enough not to have experienced them yet – are guaranteed to make you laugh like a fool.

Reaper Man takes that popular notion of Death taking a holiday – everyone from José Saramago to Family Guy have had a go – and neatly segues into the issue of undead rights. Whereas George Romero gave us the sympathetic zombie Bub in Day of the Dead, and Isaac Marion’s Warm Bodies delivered on its promise of a zombie Romero and Julie, Pratchett gives us Reginald Shoe. Shoe is an activist who tries to motivate fellow zombies, vampires, ghouls and Boogeymen with irritating sloganeering like a supernatural pamphleteer. In a neat stroke Pratchett has lovingly pastiched the rising social consciousness of zombie fiction, with the undead standing in for any number of minority groups, and reduces it to absurdity.

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The Iron Hunt by Marjorie M. Liu

When I was eight, my mother lost me to zombies in a one-card draw.

As opening lines go, Liu’s is a killer. The origin of demon slayer Maxine Kiss has just the right about of family drama pathos and horror fiction excess, with the girl growing up to become a heavily tattooed avenger. The last of a line of monster killers known as Hunters, Maxine tackles the undead hordes raised by zombie queen Blood Mama, as well as demons trying to invade our world. The plot itself is both tight and neatly descriptive – Liu has a talent for offhand lines that stick in the memory -  and the mixture of horror and fantasy is well done. Maxine’s powers are connected to her elaborate tattoos, which come alive at night, introducing several inventive fight scenes. Then there’s the depiction of the zombie itself, here closer in kind to the vodun possessed form than the Romero-zombie popularised by The Walking Dead. A quick read bursting with ideas.

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The Nightside, Needless to Say by Simon R. Green

There was a vague uneasy feeling in my bowels and then a sudden lurch as something within made a bid for freedom.

The messy business of zombie body fluids tends not to be dwelt on by writers. After all, they are already a nasty, smelly, bitey lot. In terms of suspense, it is preferable to keep them off-side until the plot calls for a rush of violence and blood-letting.

Whereas Simon R. Green in this short story originally published in Powers of Detection: Stories of Mystery and Fantasy edited by Dana Stabenow comes up with an inventive way of conveying the plight of hapless protagonist Larry Oblivion, trusting to (very literal) toilet humour instead of maudlin descriptions of undead longing for life. Green’s story is set within a series titled The Nightside, depicting an otherworldly London of dark magic under neon lights. Poor Larry is trying to solve the mystery of his own death and accompanied by his former partner/vodon priestess Maggie, comes up against gangland mages and has a faerie wand in place of the trusty old shooter. Green knows enough about supernatural horror and detective to cherry-pick the best elements from both for this tight little tale.

Plus any questions you might have regarding the state of a zombie’s bowels will be answered.

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On Stranger Tides, by Tim Powers

The fiction of Tim Powers is strongly recommended for anyone looking for a heady balance of ideas, historical detail and prose style. While the use of this book’s title for the last Pirates of the Caribbean, along with several plot elements, no doubt represented a neat pay day for the author, it is a shame we will probably know never see the actual story on the big screen.

Powers in his wisdom delivers a plot that serves up Blackbeard, The Fountain of Youth and….zombie pirates.  This should come as no surprise to anyone who has read The Anubis Gates, which skipped from the poetry of Coleridge to time travel and werewolves, and here Powers is able to reinvest the swashbuckling style of nautical adventure with a more modern sensibility, as well as lashings of horror and suspense.

Again though. I feel we were cheated out of an amazing zombie pirates movie here.

Boneshaker

Boneshaker, by Cherie Priest

Seattle used to be an uncomplicated trading town fed and fattened by gold in Alaska, and then it had dissolved into a nightmare city filled with gas and the walking dead.

Priest’s steampunk Seattle has mad inventors, zeppelins, a mother fighting to rescue her son and…well yes, zombies.

The author’s worldbuilding here is part of the book’s strong appeal. This is no cheap Victorian knock-off with goggles attached to top hats. Her alternate history of America has a scientist scam the Russians, who still own Alaska, out of capital to create the titular Boneshaker, a device intended to help mine the regional tundra. Instead he uses it to rob a bank. In the process of committing the crime the conniving Leviticus Blue’s device sets off a terrible earth-quake that releases a poisonous gas which kills the citizens of Seattle and then reanimates them as carnivorous ‘Rotters’.

Warren Ellis and Max Fiumara’s Black Gas has a similar plot, with gruesome imagery to boot. Priest has fashioned up more of an adventure story, but there is a chase sequence involving the Rotters which alone is worth the price of admission. Protagonist Briar Wilkes endures zombies, zeppelin pirates – and even a 19th cyborg! – during her quest to rescue her son Zeke. A great romp, well worth a read.

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Herbert West–Reanimator, by H.P. Lovecraft

He was a loathsome, gorilla-like thing, with abnormally long arms which I could not help calling fore legs, and a face that conjured up thoughts of unspeakable Congo secrets and tom-tom poundings under an eerie moon. The body must have looked even worse in life–but the world holds many ugly things.

Ah racism. It goes with Lovecraft like butter on toast. Reading the 20th century’s true master of horror, the man who set in motion the careers of countless other writers down through the years, is always a troubling experience. It is difficult to set aside the race-hatred and resentment of immigrants bubbling away beneath the surface of Lovecraft’s often compellingly imaginative lyrical prose. To mount a defence of Lovecraft the man is a waste. What is most notable is how strong his influence still is on the writers who followed him.

Herbert West is a pulpy counterpart to Mary Shelley’s Victor Frankenstein absent any sense of honour or sympathy. West is a doctor whose experiments on corpses with the assistance of the narrator carries an echo of Edinburgh murderers Burke and Hare.  He uses outbreaks of typhus, as well as the First World War, as a means to obtain more bodies to experiment upon while also studying for his medical degree (fun fact – Shelley’s hero never completed his education).

Lovecraft’s description of the reanimated boxer Buck Robinson is contemptible though, a loathsome outpouring of middle-class privileged hatred for other races. In its own way Herbert West may not only be an influential zombie story, it is also be a hallmark for the ugly strain of racist language that appears in horror fiction.

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Pontypool Changes Everything, by Tony Burgess

If you have seen the excellent horror film Pontypool with the always reliable Stephen McHattie – drop your expectations. The original Burgess novel and its film directed by Bruce McDonald are only slightly related. In fact Burgess has included his thoughts on the adaptation process in recent editions of his horror novel, arguing that the film-makers were obliged to take his story in an entirely different direction.

Far more successful in its use of experimental prose than Colson Whitehead’s overwritten Zone One – a zombie novel for Martin Amis fans if there ever was one – Burgess makes language itself the method by which the zombie virus is contracted. The descriptions of people slowly slurring their words, then slipping into word salad before becoming murderous monsters is genuinely terrifying to read. It also is a far superior approach to horror, the sign of a genuinely talented writer, than the literary equivalent of a zombie film jump-scare. Main character Les Reardon, who is extremely mentally disturbed, not only makes for an unreliable narrator for this blood-soaked chaos, Burgess also refuses to treat him as yet another clichéd madman. Troubling and powerful writing, this book will creep into your mind like an ear-worm.

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Handling the Undead, by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Lindqvist has already proven himself – in both his native Swedish and through the English translations of his work – a master of horror. He takes typical tropes of the genre, say vampires in Let The Right One In and malevolent ghosts in Harbour, then delivers a touching love story that is also one of the most disturbing reads you’ll encounter or murderous spectres who really, really, like the music of The Smiths.

He’s a fascinating writer. Handling The Undead takes on zombies and marks a sharp contrast to the popular notion of an undead apocalypse. Instead Sweden’s government efficiently rounds up all the returned and makes use of that famous socialised state-medicine to care for the bewildered zombies and their families. To say any more would spoil this books many charms. Lindqvist trades more in existential dread here at the implications of a world where the dead come back than schlock gore, as well as fine character work to establish the psychological shock of those still alive who witness what unfolds. Essential reading.

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World War Z, by Max Brooks

The book of war, the one we’ve been writing since one ape slapped another, was completely useless in this situation. We had to write a new one from scratch.

You knew this was coming. Following on from a series of chapters advising readers how best to survive a zombie attack in the directly titled The Zombie Survival Guide, Max Brooks then introduced a series of short anecdotes about recorded zombie attacks. My favourite was the French Legion story, a clever take on the subgenre that made excellent use of its isolated desert setting. This book had somehow switched from a humorous take on survival guides to an actual horror novel. Then Brooks brought us his second book.

Famously Brooks based his ‘oral history’ on Studs Terkel’s The Good War, using this model to bring to life just how ordinary lives could be torn apart by a zombie epidemic, but also lending the events a brilliant global sweep. One of the major disappointments of the Joe Michael Straczynski script drafts was how localised and narrow its scope was – the eventual film actually improved on this slightly, but the great cast of characters Brooks had assembled were still missing for the most part. World War Z feels like a proper lived-in zombie world and also acts like a counterpoint to the heroic survivalist fantasy of zombie/doomsday fiction. Everything from the Battle of Yonkers to the nutrition starved Otaku fending off his turned neighbours; French sewer divers to the receding figure of a lone hitchhiker in the rear mirror; give a sense of scope to the cost of human lives lost.

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Feed by Mira Grant

This book is the business. It’s a seventies government paranoia thriller for the blogger era; a zombie horror novel with lashing of gonzo journalism. Though on reflection Hunter S. Thompson never got to behead a zombie….to our knowledge. Feed is the first – and arguably the best – of the Newsflesh series by Grant, positing a world where an experimental cancer cure creates the freak pathogen that leads to the zombie outbreak. Feed impresses not only in the depiction of how this effects the world – in contrast to Lindqvist’s benevolent treatment of the outbreak, here the medical industry becomes a tyrannical controlling influence over all aspects of everyday life – but its convincing appeal to a scientific explanation for how zombies come about.

In just over a century we have gone from Herbert West’s mysterious reanimating fluid to an almost convincing argument that an experimental virus could be at fault for the dead coming back to life.

Georgia and Shaun Mason, our zombie slaying blogger journos, are also compellingly realized, a brother-sister duo whose bond helps raise the tension when the shuffling horde attacks. The fear factor increases when the tropes of a conspiracy thriller are used to facilitate the conceit of a zombie viral outbreak along the campaign trail of an election. A fast-paced plot, combined with great characters and a fascinating innovation of how zombie biology works, make this an extra-special book.

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Order ‘When Red Snow Melts’ Featuring Joe R. Lansdale and Terry M. West for Just $2.99 Before Winter Bleeds Away!

Our first Christmas anthology, When Red Snow Melts has done wonderful, charting as high as #19 upon debut over on Amazon, and we’d like to keep the sales piling in before Winter has passed. The collection boasts more than 30 stories from some amazing authors including Joe R. Lansdale, Terry M. West, Ian McCain, Richard Barber, Glenn Rolfe and plenty of others! At just $2.99 it’s a bloody steal!

Head over to amazon and order this one up ASAP!

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Eryk Pruitt ‘Dirtbags’ Review

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Written by: Paula Limbaugh

“We are all infected and impure with sin,” he said.  “When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags.  Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.”

Whoa, talk about fear factor, this is one creepy read!  Eryk Pruitt brings to life Calvin Cantrell, an insignificant nobody with aspirations to become the best serial killer ever.  Dirtbags reads like an episode of an Investigation Discovery show, a blunt, in your face telling of insanity in the making.

Calvin can’t hold a job, he’s married to a stripper and he’s always dreaming up the next get rich scheme.  His latest plan is to get his wife Rhonda working at a restaurant in order to seduce the owner and blackmail him.  However the restaurant owner, Mr. London has his own agenda, he wants to hire Calvin to kill his ex-wife. All it takes is this one request to awaken Calvin’s true calling.

Calvin enlists the aid of an old high school acquaintance to accompany him on his first kill but when things begin to go south, Calvin rises to the occasion and makes his first kill alone.  From there on in, it’s no holds bar, Calvin’s a man on a mission and he’s going to make sure everyone knows, he’s numbering the kills and the numbers are climbing.

Rhonda who has been helping Calvin stage his deeds is beginning to see the cracks in the veneer.  She reaches out to her old boss Bubba Green at the strip club for help, but when he rebukes her she decides it’s all or nothing with Calvin and gives him her all. The cops are closing in and the pace is getting frantic, there’s only one way this can end or is there?

What a great debut novel, I’m so looking forward to more by Eryk Pruitt.  He gave real depth to his characters and even made me feel a little sad for Rhonda. Be careful next time someone knocks at your door!

Order it right here.

Rating: 5/5

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We All Love to Write, but What About… Movies? Filmmaker Kurt Larson Tells All What it Takes to Make a Movie

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We’ve got a lot of creative minds wandering these parts. Among the lot are countless writers, and even a few filmmakers. But if you happen to be an author itching to learn what it takes to make the transition to filmmaking, we’ve got a piece posted over on our sister site AddictedtoHorrorMovies that is an absolute must read! Filmmaker Kurt Larson (the mad genius behind the ultra-enjoyable Son of Ghostman) breaks it all down, telling the masses exactly what it takes to piece together an unforgettable indie flick!

Check it out right here, this is the kind of info that you just can’t miss!

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Robert McCammon ‘I Travel By Night’ Review

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Written by: James Keen

“It was the stuff of nightmares, this death in life.” – ‘I Travel By Night’. Robert McCammon.

Back in the late 1980′s Robert McCammon published ‘The Wolf’s Hour’, a period piece that involved elements of lycanthropic fable set against the grim backdrop of the Second World War. A spy novel replete with blood and supernaturally instigated hair growth that this reviewer didn’t much care for, finding the horror elements to be entirely unnecessary to the otherwise intriguing plot and implemented in a rather clunky manner. Perhaps excising the werewolf component might have greatly benefited a novel that had a rich and rewarding story to tell anyhow. Instead an initially compelling conceit was arguably hamstrung by an awkwardly inserted supernatural narrative thread. ‘I Travel By Night’ appears to be McCammon’s attempt to take another genre stalwart – this time the vampire- set his tale in a post American Civil War era and have his toothy protagonist, one Trevor Lawson, set up as a “gunslinger and an adventurer who handled all matters for a price”, a ‘child of the night’ who sports business cards emblazoned with the curious legend, “I Travel By Night.” The results of this particular combination of period piece/horror story this time around proves to be arguably more effective than Gallatin’s hairy Bond-type escapades.

An entertaining horror novella and a welcome return to a genre that served to establish his formidable reputation as one of the leading exponents of horror fiction, this is, as you would expect from a writer of McCammon’s caliber a well-written, moody piece that moves from the gin-soaked bars of New Orleans to the wrecked township of ‘Nocturne’. Employed to rescue the relative of a wealthy politician who has been taken hostage by a group known as the ‘Dark Society’, a shadowy enclave demanding a specific and biblically significant number of gold coins, whose only other stipulation is that it must be Lawson, and no other, who must endeavor to broker the trade.

McCammon sketches out Lawson’s history with economy but not a great deal of flair. The character’s vampiric origins echo other examples the most ardent followers of the genre will have come across before, in particular Lawson’s ‘device’ that allows him in avoiding the slaughter of innocents has its antecedent in George R.R.Martin’s creatures of the night novel ‘Fevre Dream’. Diverting though it is, it’s fairly predictable and it’s to the author’s credit that he knows well enough not to allow his narrative to outstay its welcome by avoiding a bloated page count. One of the more enjoyable aspects of ‘I Travel By Night’ is McCammon’s knack for crisp and incisive description and it is evident throughout. One character is described as “a thin lumberjack with maybe six teeth in his head and black hair that had been cut under a soup bowl” for example, but the energy in his narrative is often undercut by risible lines of dialog that hints at a writer enamored of late fifties American Western cinema, to wit, ‘We don’t want no trouble here, Mister,’. Along with the repetitive references as to the questionable ‘sanity’ of his lead and while sporting an admittedly atmospheric climax, it’s invariably a rather mechanical reading experience with minimal substance.

For genre fans who like their vampires old fashioned and their tales briskly told, this is certainly an attractively mounted story, but for those weary of vampires in general there’s very little here that is likely to enthrall. Engagingly told but frankly near anaemic in terms of terror or suspense, this, hopefully, is merely a taster of what might prove to be something more substantial to come from one of the genre’s best writers, as the author certainly leaves the door open for a follow-up.

Order it right here.

Rating: 3/5

 

 

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Larry Brooks ‘Pressure Points’ Review

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Written by: Wayne C. Rogers

The second novel that was published by Larry Brooks is Pressure Points. Though not a horror novel, this book is reminiscent of the theatrical film, The Game, starring Michael Douglas, because nothing is as it seems on the outside. What Darkness Bound does for ladies dressed in black leather, Pressure Points does the exact same thing for self-help seminars.

Now, let me pre-warn the readers out there that Pressure Points isn’t a fast paced book, though the story does move rather quickly. This book is like a slow-burning fuse that creates strong leading and supporting characters, and pushes its way forward as brick upon brick of intense suspense is added to the structure, until the whole thing finally reaches an exploding climax.

Neither the reader, nor the main characters in the book, will know what’s real or simply a masterful illusion as each page is carefully turned. The one and perhaps only thing the reader may be assured of is that a lot of people are going to die before the ending is finally reached!

The story deals predominantly with Brad Teeters, Pamela Wiley and Mark Johnson. All three are high-ranking employees of the Wright & Wong advertising and marketing agency in Seattle, Washington. Brad is the “people” person who’s capable of selling any potential client on the agency’s ability to meet their needs. Pamela is the creative source behind the agency’s success, and Mark is the genius from the business end. Each of these people have their strong and weak points, and all three have now reached a particular point in their life where they want more than the agency is willing to give.

When the three characters approach Ken Wong (the sole surviving founder of the agency) and inform him of their intent to instigate a hostile takeover of the firm, he reluctantly agrees to their demands, but only on one condition. Ken tells the trio that he’ll willingly turn the agency over to them; but first, they must attend and complete a self-help seminar in northern California.

The rationale behind this unexpected maneuver is that Wong hopes the seminar (one he, himself, recently attended) will help them to see the error of their ways and that they’re not ready to successfully run the business.

All three team members, hungry for what they consider to be their justly rewards, agree to spend a week at the seminar, not knowing how it will drastically change their lives. One other thing that’s not known is that each of them has marked for death and that the real challenge will be in staying alive!

Pressure Points reminded me a great deal of the novels that were published back in the fifties, sixties, and early seventies when strong character development and avid suspense were the most important ingredients of any well-written thriller…when the whole point was to keep the reader guessing right up till the very last page. Mr. Brooks succeeds on this level. Strange as it may seem, however, the one character I was most drawn to was Brad Teeters’ wife, Beth. She reminded me somewhat of the “Dark Lady” from Darkness Bound in her ability to manipulate the people around her in order to achieve her personal goals. Not only is she smart, beautiful, and sensuous, Beth Teeters is also as dangerous as a Black Widow spider. She’ll do whatever it takes to protect her and her husband’s interests, even it means having a clandestine affair with Ken Wong, or seducing others in order to put her own game into motion. This is definitely a woman you don’t want to cross!

All in all, Pressure Points is an excellent follow-up to Larry Brooks’ first novel. It’s a page-turner of the best sort and will keep you guessing in a futile effort to figure out what’s going to happen next.

There’s one last thing I want to mention. I definitely wouldn’t want to be Kenneth Wong when Beth Teeters gets her revenge.

Order it right here.

Rating: 5/5

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The Top 5 Bizarro Fiction Novels

Written by: Tim Meyer

Just what is Bizarro Fiction? Well, it’s a term that was adopted by independent publishing company Eraserhead Press (and a few others) that comes to mean “a contemporary literary genre, which often uses elements of absurdism, satire, and the grotesque, along with pop-surrealism and genre-fiction staples, in order to create subversive works that are as weird and entertaining as possible”, according to Wikipedia. Pretty cool, right? For me, I try squeezing as much Bizarro into my reading regiment as I possibly can, without overloading my brain and turning it to mush. And that’s not because the subject matter is ludicrous and off-the-charts ridiculous, but because Bizarro is often thought-provoking and deeply rewarding, the way most literary fiction should be. Below, I’ve compiled a short list of my favorites.

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5 – ALL YOU CAN EAT (Deadite Press) by Shane McKenzie – If you can’t tell by the title and the cover, this book is about a Chinese Buffet that turns people into cannibals. All You Can Eat follows the story of Juan and his illegal journey across the border, in hopes of making a better life for his family. Basically, the buffet Juan ends up working at has some very addictive meals on the menu, and when the kitchen runs out, the customers go berserk and look for other ways to satisfy their overwhelming hunger. I’ve read a few of McKenzie’s novellas and you better have a strong stomach if you plan on giving this one a try. It’s disturbing and at times, downright disgusting. It’s also awesome, which is why it made this list. It has everything you want from a Bizarro/Horror novel. Great character development, tight themes, and the pacing is unbelievably quick. It’ll definitely leave you hungry for more McKenzie an hour after you finish reading.

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4 – BIGFOOT CRANK STOMP (Deadite Press) by Erik Williams – If the title alone doesn’t make you chuckle, than you probably won’t enjoy this. It’s off-the-wall antics and absurd premise will probably turn away some folks, but honestly—I never thought a story about a Sasquatch who’s addicted to meth would be so highly entertaining. But it is. Maybe not as thought-provoking as some of the other titles on this list, Bigfoot Crank Stomp will surely have you laughing, crying, and writhing your nose in disgust.

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3 – APESHIT (Deadite Press) by Carlton Mellick III – Carlton Mellick III is probably the most notable Bizarro Fiction author. Apeshit was one of my first Mellick experiences and from then on, I was hooked. This book pays tribute to the classic American horror story about a group of teenagers vacationing in a cabin in the woods—but don’t forget, this is Bizarro. And that means you’re in for a little more than the typical horror story. A hideous mutant, strange fetishes, and a toothy vagina are just some of the elements you can expect from this title. If you’re looking to get into Bizarro, this is the perfect place to start. It’s as engaging from a literary perspective as it is from a horror one.

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2 – HELP! A BEAR IS EATING ME! (Eraserhead Press) by Mykle Hansen – Well, the title about says it all. Yup. This book is literally about a man being eaten by a bear. Trapped beneath his SUV in the middle of an Alaskan Forest, Marv reflects on his current situation and blames everyone else in the world for his problems except for himself. I literally laughed out loud on every page. Hansen’s voice is sardonic and his prose hits with pinpoint accuracy. While this might not be a “horror novel” per se, it’s so damn enjoyable that it deserves to be on this list.

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1 – THE CANNIBALS OF CANDYLAND (Eraserhead Press) by Carlton Mellick III – Okay, I couldn’t help it. I had to throw one more Mellick novella on the list. Remember that childhood game you used to play? Well, forget about that shit. Welcome to a different Candyland, one where the inhabitants food source is—YOU! I’m pretty sure I downed this entire book in one sitting. Maybe two. It’s easy prose makes for great pacing and the weirdness of the content fuels you to the end. Not to mention it has great, relatable themes. This book is chiefly why Bizarro works and if you’re skeptical about the whole thing—start with this one. You won’t be disappointed. Even if you don’t “get it”, I guarantee you’ll be entertained.

 

 

Tim Meyer lives near the Jersey Shore (but don’t hold that against him). He is the author of ‘In the House of Mirrors’ and several other horror novels. His new zombie novel ‘Less Than Human’ is now available on Amazon.

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Kevin Lucia ‘Things Slip Through’ Review

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Written by: Glenn Rolfe

Kevin Lucia’s Things Slip Through isn’t your average A to B adventure. It’s a collection of short stories about the strange things happening in a town called, Clifton Heights. I say short stories, but this isn’t your typical collection of shorts, either. We join the sheriff and Gavin for an evening at the local diner. From there, Lucia brings us deeper and deeper into the little New York town, and into a number of its dark corners. Throughout, Lucia builds the characters and town, much like he would if this was a straight up novel, but here, he’s chosen to glue the pieces together via Gavin’s journal entries. It’s an interesting way to put a book together, for sure. The only novel that comes to mind that is close to it would be That Which Should Not Be by Brett J. Talley.

In Things Slip Through, the horror flows from “real” horror (racism), to the mythical Wendigo, to trans-dimensional disappearances, and seemingly, everything in-between. While I did find a couple of the journal entries to be a bit slow or repetitive, the majority of them are fantastic. Lucia’s writing is so excellent that it pulls you through any mild-hiccups along the way.

I wasn’t sure how I wanted to rate the book after finishing it, but just this morning, found myself wanting to dive back into Clifton Heights and learn more. That’s the sign of a pretty amazing piece of fiction. I give Things Slip Through, 4 stars. But it’s really more like a very strong 4.5.

Order it right here.

Rating: 4/5

 

 

 

Take a deeper look at The Glenn Theory here, where you’ll find all you need to know about this ambitious new talent.

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