Interview: Christian Haywood on Adapting Stephen King’s “L.T.’s Theory of Pets”

By now you’ve likely heard of Stephen King’s “Dollar Baby” program, in which he grants the rights to adapt one of his short stories to fledgling filmmakers for a buck. Frank Darabont is perhaps the best-known graduate of the “Dollar Baby” program, having adapted King’s short story “The Woman in the Room” before going on to helm one of the most acclaimed King adaptations of all time, The Shawshank Redemption (not to mention the undervalued, in my eyes, adaptation of King’s The Green Mile).

Writer/director Christian Haywood is among the latest “Dollar Baby” filmmakers. He and his crew have launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the filming of their version of King’s story “L.T.’s Theory of Pets.” Recently, he answered a few questions for us about the project.Continue Reading

Review: The Big Crush by David J. Schow

The Big Crush by David J. Schow
Subterranean Press (February 28, 2019)
125 pages; $40 limited edition hardcover
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

David Vollmand is like a lot of people: he has a job that confines him to a chair and a screen every day; he has a good friend to tip a beer with after work; he has a loyal dog waiting for him at home; and he has an unrequited love from many years ago. Like many people, he finally gives in to temptation and hops on the Internet to see where “the one that got away” got away to.

Unlike many people, reconnecting with an old flame could cost him his
life.Continue Reading

Review: Kingdom of Needle and Bone by Mira Grant

Kingdom of Needle and Bone by Mira Grant
Subterranean Press (December 2018)
125 pages; $40 limited edition hardcover
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Lisa Morris certainly isn’t the first eight-year-old child to fib about her health so her parents won’t cancel a much-anticipated trip to a giant theme park. She is, however, the first child whose fib led to approximately 10 million deaths and a dramatic shift in the way the human immune system works.Continue Reading

Review: Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias

Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias
Broken River Books (October 2018)
212 pages; $15.99 paperback; $7.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Coyote Songs opens with a father-and-son fishing trip. Don Pedro and his son, Pedrito, have their lines in the water, and have entered that peculiar lull familiar to everyone who’s ever been fishing—that time when relaxation and anticipation are jockeying for attention. As author Gabino Iglesias writes:

When fishing, nothingness was full of possibility, quietness was a timeless inhalation before a scream, and inaction was just a fuse of indeterminate length before an explosion.

It doesn’t take long to get to the explosion, which arrives in the form of a devastating act of violence that is the novel’s true beginning. From there, Coyote Songs splinters into many stories. In this excellent Book Riot interview, Iglesias noted that he needed “a plethora of shoulders on which to place the weight of something as big as pain, migration, suffering, justice, bilingualism, multiculturalism, and syncretism.” So we follow Pedrito on his quest for revenge; a coyote who initially helps children cross the border, but is soon led to his true, sacred mission; a young man, fresh out of jail, who almost immediately finds himself back on the run; an artist looking for new, impactful ways to channel her vision; and a pregnant woman who lives in fear of the thing growing inside her.

Some of these stories come together while others follow separate paths, but they are all united by the author’s raw eloquence. There are moments of pure beauty here, punctuated with jarring scenes of uncomfortable violence. There are scenes that would be at home in any contemporary crime blockbuster, and there are moments that would highlight any midnight creature feature.

It’s entertainment, yes, but it’s far from mindless. Coyote Songs bristles with the anger, disappointment and frustration that so many feel in their day-to-day lives, and Iglesias does not hesitate to point fingers at the source of those emotions. This may put some people off, and that’s a shame. His is a voice among those that are shouting to be heard—a voice we cannot afford to ignore, even though the truths he tells are often ugly and uncomfortable to hear.

Review: The Best Bad Things by Katrina Carrasco

The Best Bad Things by Katrina Carrasco
MCD (November 2018)
400 pages; $17.70 hardcover; $13.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Most years, come November, I’m looking to cleanse my palate after a month of Halloween-related horror book and movie bingeing. I usually turn to crime fiction (even though I find that horror and crime are closely intertwined — but that’s an essay for another day). Today, I’m looking at my first post-Halloween read, a story of Victorian-era opium dealing called The Best Bad Things.

Alma Rosales is a former member of the Pinkerton Agency, an early version of our nation’s F.B.I. Rosales has been dismissed from its ranks following a disastrous mission that left her partner dead. She’s made her way to Port Townsend, a Pacific Northwest hotbed of various illicit activities, particularly drugs and prostitution. She’s there to infiltrate and upend one of the area’s leading opium distribution networks, a move that could go a long way to restore her standing in the Agency.

Jack Camp is a roughhousing dockworker and member of that network — a member with aspirations of being much more than a footsoldier. He’s got a plan to find out who is stealing product from his boss, Nathaniel Wheeler, and to head off the authorities that are sniffing around Wheeler’s operation. If it works, his plan will greatly improve his standing in the organization.

Thing is, Alma Rosales and Jack Camp are the same person.

In Alma Rosales, author Katrina Carrasco has created an unforgettable lead, a walking powder keg of raw emotion whose every move is driven by her appetites for sex, for power, and for violence. Alma is playing two sides in just about every facet of her life, and her ability to maintain control while juggling dual identities and agendas is awe-inspiring.

Carrasco is juggling a lot here, too, and it’s sometimes a little difficult to keep up with the narrative. But hang with it — the tight, often beautiful prose will keep you invested even when the plot is hard to rein in, and Carrasco is eventually able to wrangle her runaway storylines into a satisfying conclusion.

The Best Bad Things is an intricately twisty, immensely enjoyable piece of crime fiction; a debut by a promising novelist worth watching.

FANGORIA Has Risen from the Grave

For a while there, it looked like we’d lost her.

After a rocky period of unfulfilled subscriptions and digital-only issues, Fangoria — a horror institution as venerable as Rick Baker, Jason Voorhees or Stephen King — appeared to be gone for good. Former editor-in-chief Ken Hanley threw the last shovelful of dirt on the coffin in early 2017 when he Tweeted, “For those wondering: there will likely never be another issue of Fangoria, especially in print, unless there’s new ownership.”

But we should have known, right?

We know what happens in horror movies. A beat after the monster is declared dead and the heroes turn their backs on it…there’s a sign of life.

Sooner or later, the monster always comes back.Continue Reading

Review: Silverwood: The Door

Review by Blu Gilliand

There’s collaboration, and then there’s art by committee.

Art by committee rarely works. The committee might have formed in order to pursue a common goal, but it’s typically made up of people with different agendas and different ideas on how to reach that goal. These individuals are often more interested in how this committee is going to elevate them to the next, more important committee than whether or not this committee achieves its goal.

Collaboration also involves individuals working together in pursuit of a common goal, but the difference lies in the approach. Collaborators blend their ideas and visions and voices in service of that goal. The idea isn’t to stand out, but to choose the right ingredients to achieve the best possible end result.

Silverwood: The Door is a collaboration…and a successful one, at that.Continue Reading

Review: Driving to Geronimo’s Grave and Other Stories by Joe R. Lansdale

Driving to Geronimo’s Grave and Other Stories by Joe R. Lansdale
Subterranean Press (October 2018)
272 pages; $26.70 hardcover
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing several Joe R. Lansdale novels, collections and stories in my time. It’s almost to the point where I’ve run out of superlatives to share; where the limitations of my vocabulary and ability make me want to just say, “Here’s a new Lansdale book. It’s good, as usual. Go throw money at it.”

But Lansdale deserves better, and you do, too. So, please follow along as I attempt to find new and interesting ways to heap praise upon Lansdale and his new collection, Driving to Geronimo’s Grave and Other Stories.Continue Reading

Silverwood: The Door – An Interview with Brian Keene

Silverwood: The Door is the follow-up to Silverwood, an original video series from Tony Valenzuela’s Black Box TV (episodes are available on YouTube). Brian Keene acts as showrunner for a writers room featuring Richard ChizmarStephen Kozeniewski, and the Sisters of Slaughter – Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason. The result is a 10-episode series, released in weekly installments in both prose and audiobook formats beginning in October.  The team promises a mix of horror styles encompassing slashers, splatterpunk, psychological, Lovecraftian, and more.

Brian Keene writes novels, comic books, short fiction, and occasional journalism for money. He is the author of over forty books, mostly in the horror, crime, and dark fantasy genres. Keene also hosts the popular podcast The Horror Show with Brian Keene, which airs weekly on iTunes, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, and elsewhere via the Project Entertainment Network. His Cemetery Dance column “Brian Keene’s History of Horror Fiction,” in which he follows the art form of telling spooky stories from its cave-bound roots up through the present day, will be returning from hiatus soon. In the meantime, Keene took the time to answer a few questions about his work on Silverwood: The Door.Continue Reading

Review: Our Lady of the Inferno by Preston Fassel

Our Lady of the Inferno by Preston Fassel
Fangoria Presents (September 2018)
376 pages; $13.50 paperback; $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Two women.

One is a businesswoman navigating the male-dominated world of the Staten Island landfill system. She is respected, if not entirely understood, by her peers.

The other is a businesswoman, too; she’s also a den mother of sorts, fighting hard for a group of girls who see her as protector and savior. Under her guidance, they navigate the flesh-for-cash trade of New York’s 42nd Street. She is both respected and feared by her peers.

One of these women is deeply, dangerously insane.Continue Reading

Silverwood: The Door – An Interview with Richard Chizmar

Silverwood: The Door is the follow-up to Silverwood, an original video series from Tony Valenzuela’s Black Box TV (episodes are available on YouTube). Brian Keene acts as showrunner for a writers room featuring Richard ChizmarStephen Kozeniewski, and the Sisters of Slaughter – Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason. The result is a 10-episode series, released in weekly installments in both prose and audiobook formats beginning in October.  The team promises a mix of horror styles encompassing slashers, splatterpunk, psychological, Lovecraftian, and more.

Richard Chizmar is a New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Amazon, and Publishers Weekly bestselling author. He is the co-author (with Stephen King) of the bestselling novella, Gwendy’s Button Box. He has edited more than 35 anthologies and his fiction has appeared in dozens of publications, including multiple editions of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and The Year’s 25 Finest Crime and Mystery Stories. He’s also an accomplished screenwriter and the founder/guiding force behind Cemetery Dance. Recently, he took on another project: answering these questions about his work on Silverwood: The Door.

Continue Reading

Silverwood: The Door – An Interview with The Sisters of Slaughter

Silverwood: The Door is the follow-up to Silverwood, an original video series from Tony Valenzuela’s Black Box TV (episodes are available on YouTube). Brian Keene acts as showrunner for a writers room featuring Cemetery Dance founder and publisher Richard ChizmarStephen Kozeniewski, and the Sisters of Slaughter – Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason. The result is a 10-episode series, released in weekly installments in both prose and audiobook formats beginning in October.  The team promises a mix of horror styles encompassing slashers, splatterpunk, psychological, Lovecraftian, and more.Continue Reading

Review: We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix

We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix
Quirk Books (September 18, 2018)
336 pages; $16.50 hardcover; $14.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

The idea that rock ‘n roll is the Devil’s music is as old as a Robert Johnson blues riff. It’s an idea that’s been mined by countless musicians and writers over the years, to varying degrees of success. Leave it to Grady Hendrix, acclaimed author/historian of ’70s and ’80s horror fiction, to breathe new life into one of horror’s most well-worn tropes.Continue Reading