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
Fear Itself: The Horror Fiction of Stephen King (Not Exactly A Review)
One of my favorite activities is treasure hunting at thrift shops, flea markets, estate and yard sales. I do it just about every weekend. I’m not looking for a deal on golf clubs, or vintage clothing. I don’t look at the tools or the toys. I pass the knick-knacks and the cooking supplies right by.
You probably guessed it. I look for books. And vinyl record albums. Movies, too but not as much as I used to. Books and records are mostly my things nowadays.
Sometimes I will be at a thrift shop, and I’ll see a jag of books all in the same genre, or bunches of them by an author or two. It always makes me sad. I imagine, and it’s usually true, that a reader and collector has passed away. His or her books found no new home from family or friends, and they get dumped at a thrift shop. Occasionally they will be inscribed, or have those accursed owner’s bookplates in them. The bane of any serious book collector.Continue Reading
Shortly after the publication of Mr. Mercedes, Stephen King announced that the book was the first in a trilogy that would be connected by the City Center Massacre (in which a psycho named Brady Hartsfield stole a Mercedes and plowed into a crowd of people who were waiting in line at a job fair in a struggling Mid-western city).
Hartsfield got away with that crime but was—during the commission of an even more audacious and nefarious scheme—eventually brought to justice by a rag-tag group led by retired police detective Bill Hodges. Hartsfield was effectively taken off the playing board at the conclusion of Mr. Mercedes but, at the end of the second book, Finders Keepers, King hinted strongly that this villain would be back, front and center, for the finale. He also suggested that the third book would be closer to a traditional King novel, by which I mean it might have supernatural elements.
The phrase “End of Watch” will be familiar to anyone with more than a passing knowledge of police dramas. In one context, it refers to the day when a cop retires. On another, more ominous level, it refers to a cop killed in the line of duty. Bill Hodges has already experienced the first usage—the question the title of the third book poses is whether he will experience the other.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
Paper (n): material manufactured in thin sheets from the pulp of wood or other fibrous substances, used for writing, drawing, or printing on
Cut (v): make (a movie) into a coherent whole by removing parts or placing them in a different order.
The Top Werewolf Films You (Probably) Haven’t Seen But Should: Stephen Graham Jones Talks ‘Mongrels’
When I initially pitched the idea for this column to the editors at Cemetery Dance Online, it was a very, uh… loose pitch. The “hook” was me discussing horror movies and horror fiction, wherever they happen to intersect.
Amazingly those suckers visionaries at CD were cool with that. Also I keep coming up with jokey clickbait headlines, so that probably helps. There is a list of “Top Werewolf Films” somewhere in this interview, but you have to read to find it.
Having no set format means I get to have guests. Which is a long-winded way of saying that, this month: I wanted to talk to one of my favorite authors! And he said yes!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
I hear quite a bit of talk about supporting writers by penning reviews of their work at places like Amazon. I suppose it does help a little, even though neither I, nor anyone I know, puts any stock in that sort of thing. I know that there are legitimate reviews out there, but there are also kiss-ass pieces by friends of the subject, just as there are hatchet jobs by those who dislike the author. Sometimes an author will have the temerity to voice an unpopular political opinion, or perhaps write a bitchy Facebook post. I’ve seen jackals gather ’round to defecate upon books by these writers as a form of revenge. As insane as it sounds, it really happens.Continue Reading
On the evening of February 10th, 2016, John got into his black Cherokee Jeep and went to console an old friend. It seemed like the right decision at the time. He had received Sally’s email just after sundown, informing him of the news that her brother, Peter, had died of an overdose. Sally and Peter had been John’s friends in a time and place that seemed as far away as the memories of his early childhood, and yet it had only been four years ago. These had been his “party” friends. Four years had passed since John made the decision to get sober, and, as such decisions will do, it had created distance between himself and his old friends. He hadn’t told them he couldn’t hang out with them anymore. He wasn’t that kind of guy. He hadn’t even made any concerted effort to stay away from them, really. They just drifted, as friends sometimes do when the road of life they had once tread together diverged in separate directions. Continue Reading
With a title like What I Learned From Stephen King, I suppose at some point you and I are going to need to sit down and discuss the subject of teachers. I also suppose now would be as good a time as any.
Stephen King once said, “Good teachers can be trained, if they really want to learn. Great teachers, like Socrates, are born.” He should know. He taught writing to high school students at Hampden Academy in Hampden, Maine, plus spent a year teaching as a writer-in-residence at his alma mater, the University of Maine, in the late 1970s while still establishing himself as a writer. Continue Reading
I understand that you have a job to do. I don’t like it, any more than I like the job done by the taxman. I guess both are necessary evils. We all have an appointment with you, sir, though I do regret that engagement. I am trying to accept the inevitability. Yet I feel that you have been working overtime too much of late.
You’ve taken famous people we’ve known all of our lives. Friends, family members. Your given duty, I realize, but perhaps you could take a holiday. An extended one.Continue Reading