Go Indie or Go Home

The third leg of the Farewell (But Not Really) Tour started off locally, at The Comic Store—an independently-owned comic book store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (where I was joined by Mary SanGiovanni). From there, it moved on to a pop-up signing in New Jersey, independently-owned bookstores in Rhode Island (where scholar Jack Haringa led a Q&A), and Vermont (where I was joined by Asher Ellis), before eventually circling back home again for a signing at a corporate-owned Books-a-Million chain store in Harrisburg.Continue Reading

Keene’s Eleven

There was a long moment of stunned silence.

Then Dave asked, “Are you insane?”

“No,” I replied, suddenly feeling very foolish. “I mean, Mary experienced it, too.”

“I felt something in the bookstore that day,” she confirmed, “but I don’t know what I think about the rest of this.”

“Oh, I’ve no doubt you guys experienced something,” Dave said. “I’ve had my own encounters with the paranormal over the years. And who knows? Maybe you did make brief contact with Jesus. It’s possible.”

I frowned. “Then why do you think I’m insane?”

“Because you’re not talking about seeing his ghost. You’re talking about stealing his corpse!”Continue Reading

The Year That Roared

“It’s hard to love, there’s so much to hate
Hanging on to hope, when there is no hope to speak of
And the wounded skies above, say it’s much too late
So, maybe we should all be praying for time…”

George Michael – ‘Praying For Time’

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The Dark Highway

“Everybody thought it was a big joke… It was so funny, I just kept on going…Everybody thought I was just going to go on tweaking the Major’s balls to the very end. Which was what I did. Then one morning I woke up and I was in. I was a Prime Walker…So I guess it turned out the Major was tweaking my balls.” Stephen King, The Long Walk

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God and Country

End of the Road

The audience in Morgantown, West Virginia was small—easily the smallest since Albuquerque—but the dozen or so people who showed up were enthusiastic and engaged. One guy, Jarod Barbee, had traveled all the way from Texas. It is December as I write this, recounting events that occurred at the end of July, and I’ve been going back through these columns, collecting them into manuscript format so Cemetery Dance can eventually publish them as a book. Many recurring things jump out at me as I re-read them. Continue Reading

Dickens’s Ghosts

End of the Road

“The allegorical nature of A Christmas Carol leads to relatively simplistic symbolism and a linear plot. The latter is divided into five Staves, each containing a distinct episode in Scrooge’s spiritual re-education. The first Stave centers on the visitation from Marley’s ghost, the middle three present the tales of the three Christmas spirits, and the last concludes the story, showing how Scrooge has changed. The Ghost of Christmas Past represents memory. The Ghost of Christmas Present serves as the central symbol of the Christmas ideal—generosity, goodwill, and celebration. Appearing on a throne made of food, the spirit evokes thoughts of prosperity, satiety, and merriment. Within the allegory, the silent, reaper-like figure of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come represents the fear of death, which refracts Scrooge’s lessons about memory, empathy, and generosity, insuring his reversion to an open, loving human being.” – Spark Notes

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Scares That Care (Part 2)

End of the Road

You ever heard of a crowd being described as “an ocean of people”? That’s what the third annual Scares That Care Weekend Charity Event was like—an ocean of horror movie and television celebrities and their fans, filmmakers and their fans, authors and their fans, publishers and their customers, haunt professionals and enthusiasts, comic book creators and their fans, paranormal investigators and their fans, make-up and special effects artists and their fans, cosplayers, and everyone else—all descending upon the convention hotel in Williamsburg, Virginia, to raise money for burn victims and children and women with cancer.

I was exhausted, but I had no choice but to cast myself into that ocean, to dive into that sea of humanity and hope I wouldn’t drown. Continue Reading

Scares That Care (Part 1)

End of the Road

Scares That Care is an IRS approved 501 (c)(3) horror-themed charity that I donate my time and name to. We fight real monsters of childhood illness, cancer, and more by financially helping families experiencing these overwhelming hardships. Each case is unique. We provide money, toys, utilities, and other items to help sick children and their families. We do the same for women fighting breast cancer. And we also partner with actor Kane Hodder (the Friday the 13th series) to aid children who have suffered serious, life-altering burn injuries.Continue Reading

Time Bubble

End of the Road

And thus began the most grueling part of the book signing tour since Tod Clark and I had driven across the American West—John Urbancik and I spent five days in mid-July crisscrossing Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. That no doubt sounds romantic and adventurous to some of you. Hell, up until a few years ago, it would have sounded romantic and adventurous to me, as well. It would have been my idea of fun. Sadly, it’s not so fun when you’re approaching fifty. Continue Reading

Camelot

End of the Road

“So,” author John Urbancik said as we drove across Florida from Tallahassee to Land O’ Lakes, “let me see if I understand this correctly.” (That’s how John talks. If you’re writing dialogue for John Urbancik, he would never say something like, “Let me get this straight” or “You’ve gotta be shitting me.” He would say, “Let me see if I understand this correctly.”)

“You’re on the second leg,” John continued, “of a book signing tour for The Complex and Pressure. In the first week of this second leg, you’ve been orphaned by the publisher of one of those books, and you’re waiting to hear the outcome of that. You have also seen three previously scheduled signings unceremoniously cancelled by the venues. A bookstore and a vehicle caught on fire, the radiator in your Jeep blew up, and you are running low on money, hope, and gas—and running even lower on fucks to give.”Continue Reading

End Times

End of the Road

To get to New Orleans, you’re pretty much going to have to drive across a bridge. That’s what I was doing the morning of July 16, on my way to sign at Tubby & Coo’s Mid-City Book Shop. I was still thinking about warnings from dead friends, and about balance and patterns and nice fans and fires and the theory of Eternal Return. Continue Reading

Brian Keene’s End of the Road: Balance

End of the Road

Welcome to End of the Road, a nine-month weekly column in which I talk about my ongoing cross-country promotional tour for my new novels Pressure and The Complex. If you’re just joining us, a quick recap—everything was going swimmingly and our hero was triumphant until he received a dire warning from what is either a) the spirit of his deceased best friend, or b) his subconscious tricking him into thinking it is the spirit of his deceased best friend. Since that warning, things have gone from swimmingly to terribly awry. Our hero—having consumed two bottles of bourbon after learning that a) a major signing has been cancelled, and b) he is now orphaned at his mainstream publisher (who published one of the books he is currently out on the road promoting)—is currently passed out in a hotel room in Chattanooga. We now rejoin the column, already in progress…Continue Reading

Brian Keene’s End of the Road: Confluence

The fog burned off with the sunrise, the new radiator worked fine, doing what radiators are supposed to do, and the storm was now yesterday’s memory. I reached Chattanooga in record time, arriving at noon. I was due to sign at a wonderful independent store called Star Line Books at three that afternoon. With time to kill, I checked into my hotel, and then met up with Eddie Coulter and Gavin Dillinger for drinks and a quick bite. Continue Reading

The Tao of the Cow

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The Tao of the Cow

Cow (Photo Copyright 2016 Brian Keene)
(Photo Copyright 2016 Brian Keene)

The storm reached its peak somewhere near the border of Virginia and North Carolina. The rain seemed to fall almost horizontally, and the wind rammed into vehicles, pushing cars and tractor trailers alike across entire traffic lanes. I gripped the wheel until my knuckles turned white, and chomped my cigar—a Drew Estate Tabak Especial—a little harder between my teeth. My coffee, long since cooled, sat perched against my crotch. Eyes on the road, I switched off my radio, and Clyde Lewis’s Ground Zero podcast vanished. I risked a glance in the back of the Jeep, making sure my cargo was safe and dry. Everything seemed fine. My duffel bag and laptop case were still there, as were the dozen boxes of Joe R. Lansdale’s books, which I was transporting to a convention for him. Continue Reading

Homecoming

EndofRoad-web

Homecoming

Sunlight reflected off Three Mile Island’s nuclear cooling towers as my plane landed. After three weeks of traversing California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, I was home for seven days. The first thing I did (after getting my Jeep out of long-term parking) was drive to my ex-wife’s house. She and my son had been babysitting my cat while I was away. I hugged all three of them and then sat down on their couch and accidentally fell asleep for fourteen hours.Continue Reading