An Abundance of Bourbon, or, “Whiskey River Take Me Home”
On Wednesday morning, I woke up in Los Angeles, forgetting that I was still on East Coast time. I stumbled outside in search of coffee and couldn’t understand why it was still dark. Then I fumbled for my phone and glanced at the time and saw that it was only four in the morning. The only people awake were the homeless—and they weren’t nocturnal by choice. They were just out to beat the heat.
Los Angeles is a city that runs on automobiles. Seriously. You can’t get anywhere in Los Angeles without a car, and in truth, because of gridlock, you can’t get anywhere with a car, either. I’m told that the city offers public transit, but much like Bigfoot, Chupacabra, and Dean Koontz novels that don’t feature a dog, I have never seen it. Continue Reading
The day before I left for California, my eight-year-old son and I spent the afternoon in the woods. After hours of swimming in the creek, avoiding snakes, catching turtles and frogs and then letting them go, and pretending we were in a “real-life” game of Minecraft, we sat down on a big rock. Both of us got quiet for a moment.
Then I asked, “So, do you want to talk about me leaving tomorrow? I haven’t done a tour like this since you were born. Is there anything you are wondering about? Are you worried or scared or feeling sad?”
He thought about it for a moment and then said, “Well, Dad, I’m worried you’ll get lost.”Continue Reading
In the song “Hello” (off Ice Cube’s album War and Peace Vol. 2) Dr. Dre raps, “We came a long way from not giving a fuck, selling tapes out of a trunk to moving this far up.”
The first book signing tour I ever did was for 4X4—a book I co-wrote with authors Geoff Cooper, Mike Oliveri, and Michael T. Huyck. It was published in hardcover and paperback, is long out of print, and goes for quite a bit of money on the secondary market these days. The 4X4 tour consisted of two bookstore appearances—Dark Delicacies in Burbank and Borderlands Books in San Francisco—as well as a local cable television appearance. The four of us flew to San Francisco, were joined by artist Gak and author Gene O’Neill, and then drove to the other signing in Los Angeles.
At a rest stop along the way, I managed to sell passerby copies of the book out of the back of our rental car.
In an earlier installment of this column, we talked about the early days of the Internet. I’m taking you back now to the year 1998. There were exactly four websites dedicated to horror fiction—Horror Net (run by Matt Schwartz), Masters of Terror (run by Andy Fairclough), Gothic Net (run by Darren McKeeman), and Chiaroscuro (run by Brett Savory). Think about that. Four websites devoted to horror fiction. By contrast, nearly twenty years later, Google horror fiction and see how many websites you get. But back in the olden days, we had four. Continue Reading
The first time I ever went to Utah, it was to meet with some producers who wanted to option my novel, The Rising. It didn’t work out because we had conversations like this:
THEM: “We see The Rising as sort of a buddy road comedy starring Chris Tucker and Gary Sinise.”
ME: “But it’s a serious novel about a father looking for his son during the zombie apocalypse.”
THEM: “Not if we option it.”
ME: “I’m leaving now.”
As if that wasn’t bad enough, during that trip, I also got hit by a van while crossing the street, which seems to be a common malady among horror writers. In hindsight, that wasn’t a good weekend.Continue Reading
WHC Part 1: A Brief History of the World Horror Convention
The World Horror Convention, more commonly known as WHC, is perhaps best described as an annual trade show for horror writers, publishers, artists, booksellers, agents, and others with an interest in the field. Fans of horror fiction are welcome to attend, too, and they do, but WHC is a professional gathering, and it’s expensive, and you’re not apt to see cosplayers or a guy in the dealer’s room selling bootleg copies of Manimal on DVD like you would at a fan or media convention such as San Diego Comic Con or Dragon Con. The first WHC was held in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1991. There’s been one every year ever since, usually in the United States or Canada, although the 2010 event was held in the United Kingdom, finally putting the World in the World Horror Convention.Continue Reading
Making a Living in a Post Mid-List World without Borders
So, we ended last week’s column about the deaths of the mid-list and the Borders bookstore chain with the following question: “If self-publishing, independent presses, and independent bookstores are more preferable to former mid-list authors then why are you still selling books to mainstream publishers and signing in big chain bookstores, as well, Keene?” Is the answer:
A) Money. B) People are stupid. C) To have a stable, secure writing career in this post-mid-list world without Borders, full-time writers of genre fiction need to diversify.
D) All of the above.
Stephen Graham Jones signed his new novel, Mongrels, at Bookworks in Albuquerque, New Mexico, this week. I’ll be signing at that same store next month. There’s a reason both of us—and many of our peers—chose that store. If you think of the retail bookselling market as a geographical location, it currently resembles the wasteland from a Mad Max movie. But Bookworks, and hundreds of other independent bookstores, are bright, colorful oases sprouting from that formerly toxic ground.
What happened? What caused the apocalypse? And what is allowing these indie bookstores to flourish? Two things: corporate stupidity and the changes in publishing. Continue Reading
My name is Brian Keene. I’m a writer by trade and a road warrior by heart. Neither of these things make for very wise career or life choices, but at the age of forty-eight, it’s a little late for me to decide I’d like to become an IT Specialist or an HVAC technician instead.
Both writing and the road got in my blood at an early age. My parents were transplants from West Virginia, which is like a ghetto with trees and mountains. Seriously. All of the despair and poverty and crime that plague America’s ghettos can be found in West Virginia. But, just like the ghettos, you can also find hope and inspiration (even today, when meth production has overtaken coal mining as the state’s most popular employment opportunity). Continue Reading
If you’ve ever read anything by Brian Keene, then you’ve read something
about Brian Keene. I say this because the man doesn’t just pour himself
into his work; he tears pieces of himself away and fuses them into his
fiction. Check out his podcast and look for the “Secret Origins” episodes, and you’ll see what I mean.
Or, read his new collection from Lazy Fascist Press, Where We Live and Die.Continue Reading
Brian Keene, a name synonymous with horror, and Steven Shrewsbury, best known for his work in the sword-and-sorcery genre, have combined their considerable talents and given us King of the Bastards. Told as a story to a small group of children, it was to be about their grandfather, the king…
“Was grandfather king of the entire old world?”
“No, he ruled but a small part of it. But he was known, feared, and lusted after throughout the entire old world. Kings, women, brigands, and bards—all knew his name. It is KING OF THE BASTARDS.”Continue Reading