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
I was one of the most enthusiastic and money-stupid movie/home video fanatics you ever met. This lasted from the early days of VHS on through the DVD revolution and the decline of interest in physical media. I watched at least a movie a night, and often it was more than that. The memories are great, and I loved every every minute of it.
I always loved the movies, and I am old enough to remember times even before cable TV. I loved all kinds of motion pictures, and I enjoyed them at home on TV, in walk-in movie houses, but especially at drive-in movie theaters. There wasn’t, isn’t, and never will be a greater place to enjoy a movie than under the stars, with the biggest screen in all of history up there against the night sky.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.
Option This! Vol. 2
Hey y’all. Happy New Year!
Back in August I posted up a list of three literary works (two novels and a short story) that I think are ripe for film or television adaptation. You can click over to that article and check it out, along with a quick rationale behind why I like adaptations, for the most part.
This month’s article was originally going to be about something different, but that idea has now become so research intensive that it’s threatening to become a two-parter.
I was reminded to run another “Option This!” column last week when I saw a post on author Jeremy Robert Johnson’s Facebook page: Skullcrack City, one of the books I recommended that Hollywood jump on last time, is inching closer to actually becoming a movie.Continue Reading
I was sixteen years old when Star Wars came out. Sure I saw it. Who didn’t? But allow me to go even farther back in time than that.
Science Fiction was always important to me. I had the advantage of having older siblings. Three brothers, and they all read SF. I was introduced to the genre very early on, and in fact the very first real book I read was Robert A. Heinlein’s Have Space Suit – Will Travel. Despite its unsophisticated title, it is a smart novel that is at once a satire, a rousing adventure story, and a sober look at the mechanics of human life in low or zero gravity.
From Heinlein I went on to others, like Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. These guys, and maybe a few others, were about the extent that my brothers delved into the genre. Me, I went on to read it voraciously.Continue Reading
Considered to be one of his darkest works, Stephen King’s Cujo is not for the cowardly. It is relentless in its forward motion, coming at you “like a brick heaved through a window,” as King himself once described.
I’ve made no secret about using this column to bridge the gap between the sometimes-at-odds and sometimes-overlapping horror fiction and horror film fandoms.
But if there’s one thing that unifies all varieties of horror obsessives, it’s our love of crass consumerism and physical media.
In that spirit, I thought I’d make this month’s installment of Paper Cuts a kind of public service. You can email this article to family and loved ones, make the subject heading “I found this interesting” and BOOM! you’ve got some sweet gifts coming to you this holiday season.Continue Reading
You hear it all the time: The book is always better than the movie adaptation. Oddly, I mostly hear it from non-readers. They wearily repeat the mantra they’ve heard from tiresome readers like us. “I know, I know, the book is always better.”
But is it? The source novel of any adaptation is certainly much, much, better in most instances. Nearly all of them, in fact.Continue Reading
BEFORE THE WALK I was having brunch with a friend of mine on a recent Sunday, a horror film actress in fact, who asked: Do you really think there’s anything spiritual about Stephen King’s books?
The question was served cold with a heaping side of skepticism, and it took me slightly off guard. It’s not the first time I have been asked the question since starting this column three short months ago, and I’m always somewhat alarmed by it.
When asked, the first thing that springs to my mind is self-doubt: What if I’m wrong?What if there really is nothing spiritual about Stephen King’s stories and I’m just grasping at straws here? What if I’ve doomed myself to write a monthly column about… nothing? The writer’s worst nightmare. Continue Reading
Antics on the Web: Dick Cavett’s Horror Roundtable by Robert Brouhard
An interview with Stephen King is always a must read, an interview with George A. Romero can be a ton of fun, an Ira Levin interview is always interesting, and a Peter Straub interview is always eye-opening. Now, an interview with ALL FOUR at the same time… scratch that… a full-on hour-long discussion between the four of them, WOW. Mind-blowing. As soon as I heard that Shout Factory TV was hosting a two-part Dick Cavett discussion with these four amazing people, I started clicking my way to see it. Continue Reading