2020 was a hell of a year to be reading Stephen King’s 1978 novel, The Stand….never mind devoting an entire podcast to it.
Jason Sechrest thought the same thing — in fact, he was reading it when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. He took to Twitter with his thoughts about the book, and with a dream about examining it in detail in a podcast, and before he knew it he’d assembled an amazing lineup of co-hosts: director Mike Flanagan, author Tananarive Due, and journalist/author Anthony Breznican. The result is a six-episode podcast that is entertaining, informative, and incredibly timely. (You can WATCH The Company of the Mad: The Stand Podcast at TheStandPodcast.com, or LISTEN on Apple Podcasts here.)
With the final episode set to go live on January 20, Sechrest took a few moments to talk to Cemetery Dance about the origins of the project, and what he and his mad company learned along the way.Continue Reading
I was waiting on my copy of the Gift Edition of The Shining from the Cemetery Dance “Stephen King Doubleday Years Set” to arrive, so I thought I’d search for some unboxing videos so I could see what people thought about it — and to get a closer look at the finished product. One of the first ones I found was by a guy named Jeff Terry.
I hit the play button, and was greeted by some dude in what appeared to be a basement. The wall behind him was of grey brick, and a poster of Pennywise the Dancing Clown leered over the guy’s shoulder. The guy was wearing a black jacket, a set of enormous skull rings, and had a skull-shaped bottle of liquor on the table in front of him. He talked for a minute or two, and then proceeded to open the box containing the book, using one of the biggest damn knives I’ve ever seen.
In his introduction to this, his latest collection, Joe R. Lansdale writes, “It’s no secret that I like to write a variety of stories in a variety of genres, and my favorite of those is the Lansdale genre.”
Lansdale goes on to explain what that genre is, but all you really need to do to understand the “Lansdale genre” is to read the stories that follow the introduction. Reading these stories is like taking a peek into Lansdale’s mind, a one-of-a-kind universe where cowboys fire six-shooters at Tyrannosaurus Rexes; where apes don space helmets and fly to the moon; where one-eyed space aliens tend bar in an old mining town saloon.Continue Reading
In her introduction to The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror Volume 1, editor Paula Guran writes “Most of these stories begin with a world you can identify with. Then…the world changes. The normal is subverted.”
My first thought was, “That’s horror fiction in a nutshell.” (My second thought was, “That’s 2020 in a nutshell,” but I don’t want to get into all that.)
The stories Guran has chosen for this, her eleventh volume in this series (the first ten were published by Prime Books), back up her assessment. These are stories of worlds that you will probably recognize; or, at the very least, be able to relate to on some level. These are stories of ordinary beings trying to persevere under extraordinary circumstances. These are stories of extraordinary beings looking to reshape the world around them. These are stories of what happens when “the normal” is intruded upon, wiped out, rethought….or undone.
A few highlights:
Rebecca Campbell’s “The Fourth Trimester is the Strangest” follows a new mother as she fights through a postpartum horror show. As her sleeplessness and fear ratchets up, so does the fear she and those around her feel for her baby, and for the damage that may come at her suddenly unreliable hands.
Sam J. Miller’s “Shattered Sidewalks of the Human Heart” depicts the surreal encounter between a New York cab driver and a post-King Kong Ann Darrow. The cabbie takes Darrow away from yet another vapid red carpet event, and unexpectedly finds himself privy to her plans to avenge the death of the god-like ape.
“Conversations with the Sea Witch” by Theodora Goss tells of the meeting between a woman who was once a mermaid and an old sea witch. The two get together often to discuss the life-changing decisions they each made in the past, and how things turned out for them in the aftermath.
I’d call “About the O’Dells” my favorite of the collection. Pat Cadigan writes about a young girl who witnesses a murder, and who is (understandably) haunted by what she saw. Years later the killer — or someone the girl strongly believes is the killer — re-emerges, and the girl finds herself collaborating with a revenge-seeking ghost.
Guran has put together a solid collection here, filled with intriguing characters, fresh approaches to old tropes, and sound storytelling. This is definitely a great book to have around when you want something quick and good to read. It’s introduced me to a number of new names that I’ll be seeking out in the future. Recommended.
Jonathan Maberry first caught my eye nearly 15 years ago with Ghost Road Blues, which was both his first novel and the first novel in the Pine Deep Trilogy, which also includes Dead Man’s Song and Bad Moon Rising. The town of Pine Deep has popped up here and there in his work since the completion of that original trilogy, but with Ink it’s back center-stage.
For those of you who haven’t read the Pine Deep Trilogy yet, don’t worry — Ink stands on its own. I haven’t re-read those books since their original release, but that didn’t keep me from enjoying this book as its own story. However, I highly recommend picking them up — it’s a great trilogy, and reading them will certainly enhance your experience with Ink.
In this new novel, something is targeting citizens of Pine Deep and stealing their most precious possessions — their memories. It’s not just taking these moments from these people, it’s feeding on them, erasing them from existence. For many of the victims, memories are all they have, and losing them is the equivalent of losing their last tenuous grip on life.
I’ve long been in awe of Maberry’s talent. He does not write small books — I’d say 400 pages is about average for him. But his characters are so real, his scenes so vivid, you never feel bogged down. You come out of a Jonathan Maberry book not having read it, but having lived it. It’s the highest compliment I can pay to a writer, and Ink once again earns that accolade for its author.
Reading Ink was, for me, like returning to a place after along absence. It’s a place you once called home, and while lots of things are different now, there’s enough there that’s recognizable to bring those old feelings to the surface. Those feelings — those memories — are just what the monster in this book is feeding on. Losing those moments, those feelings, those memories, is a scary proposition, and Maberry’s work brings that feeling to dreadful life. Highly recommended.
Ronald Kelly has been spinning his throwback style of horror since the early 1990s, blending the no-holds-barred sensibilities of Jack Ketchum with the quiet dread of Charles L. Grant. He’s recently dropped a themed collection, The Halloween Store and Other Tales of All Hallows’ Eve, just in time for our favorite holiday. With these stories (plus a couple of nonfiction essays), Kelly aims to invoke those wind-swept October nights when freedom and fear walked hand-in-hand.
Kelly, who has a long history with Cemetery Dance that he touches on briefly in this interview, was kind enough to answer a few questions about these new stories and more.Continue Reading
In her introduction to this omnibus, Nancy A. Collins describes how comics of all kinds attracted her at an early age. Her interest in the medium kicked off right about the time the Comics Code was losing its once-considerable grip on the industry, which put her in a prime spot to catch the wave of horror comics that began flooding the newsstands. She talks about picking up copies of Eerie and House of Secrets as part of her weekly haul — but it was the cover of a comic featuring a certain muck-encrusted monstrosity squaring off with a werewolf (drawn by horror maestro Bernie Wrightson) that really stood out to the young fan.Continue Reading
If you look back over the history of horror fiction, there are a few names that have become synonymous with the genre. Stephen King. Edgar Allan Poe. Shirley Jackson. Clive Barker. Ellen Datlow may not have quite the same level of mainstream recognition as these authors, but her influence on horror fiction (not to mention fantasy and sci-fi) stands equal.Continue Reading
Adam Cesare, author and Cemetery Dance columnist, has been a fixture on the horror scene for nearly a decade. Early books like Video Night and All-Night Terror made him an instant favorite among fans of horror fiction, and he’s continued developing his skill and style with books like The Con Season and The First One You Expect.
His new novel, Clown in a Cornfield, is generating the sort of next-level buzz those of us who’ve been reading Cesare’s work since the beginning have been expecting. Adam was kind enough to take time during a busy book-launch week to talk with his old Cemetery Dance editor, who may or may not have taken the opportunity to press him relentlessly about writing for us again….but mainly asked him questions about the new book.Continue Reading
Not too long ago, journalists Eric Vespe (formerly of Ain’t It Cool News, among others) and Scott Wampler (formerly of birth.movies.death, among others), got together to discuss an idea that would evolve into “a Stephen King podcast for Stephen King obsessives.” The Kingcast invites guests from the entertainment industry to discuss the King novel or short story of their choosing, along with the film or television adaptation of that work.
Like most anthologies, Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy 3 is a bit of a mixed bag. There are no bad stories here, but some resonated with me more than others. No doubt each reader will have his or her own favorites; rather than try and predict what those will be, I’m just going to share a few of mine.Continue Reading
So Shanna got a new job at the movie theater, we thought we’d play a fun prank on her, and now most of us are dead, and I’m really starting to kind of feel guilty about it all.
Stephen Graham Jones packs a lot of information about his new book Night of the Mannequins into that opening sentence. You get a hint of events to come, a clear idea of the tone, and an important clue about the attitude of the narrator, all in less than 40 words. That, my friends, is talent.Continue Reading
Borderlands Press has a built an outstanding back catalog of titles with its Little Books Series, attracting an array of legendary-or-heading-there authors including Charles L. Grant, Jack Ketchum, Josh Malerman, Sarah Pinborough, Caitlin R. Kiernan, and a host of others. These tend to sell out quickly—including the entry we’re looking at today, A Little Amber Book of Wicked Shots by Robert McCammon. So, while today’s review may not serve as a call for you to rush out and buy this book—I mean, I ain’t sellin’ mine, and I doubt many others will, either—let it be a lesson for you to get on the Borderlands Press mailing list so you can start grabbing these titles when they are released.Continue Reading
A life in academia always struck me as a somewhat safe, even enviable career choice. I mean, what could be so bad about a career dedicated to increasing knowledge—your own, and that of others? What could be bad about a workplace where you’re surrounded by books and intelligent colleagues, and you’re encouraged to pursue whatever niche interest catches your eye?