Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #192

We’ve been spoiled in recent years by getting two novels from Stephen King. 2016 will see the end of that streak. The recently published End of Watch is the only book from King we’ll see this year. Later this fall, though, we’ll get Hearts in Suspension, edited by Jim Bishop, a collection of essays by King and others about his time as a student at the University of Maine. The publisher says that King’s essay is quite long (the longest of the set of about ten essays by various authors), and that the essay is “funny, truthful, and an involved work about Steve’s experiences during the 60’s, 70’s and the anti-war work of the Vietnam era, and so much more.”Continue Reading

'Night Shift' and the Nature of Fear

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Night Shift and the Nature of Fear

nightshiftLet’s talk about fear. We won’t raise our voices and we won’t scream; we’ll talk rationally, you and I. We’ll talk about the way the good fabric of things sometimes has a way of unraveling with shocking suddenness. – Stephen King, Introduction to Night Shift

I finished reading Stephen King’s first collection of short stories, 1978’s Night Shift, a few months back, but have avoided writing down any thoughts on it.

No one wants to expound on a subject of which they feel they have little to contribute, and for me everything that needs to be said about Night Shift was said perfectly by Stephen King in his introduction to the book. In fact, it may be one of the most perfect pieces King has written, if not certainly the most perfect he had written in 1978.

King’s opening act serves as an essay on the nature of fear: why he writes horror, and why people read it. I found myself not only more mesmerized, but more haunted by this than any of the tales in King’s gruesome set list. Continue Reading

Into the Breach

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Into the Breach

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

The Hype's Not Wrong. You're Wrong: A Horror Fan's Guide to Staying Positive

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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 Hype’s Not Wrong. You’re Wrong: A Horror Fan’s Guide to Staying Positive

I’m not delivering breaking news when I say that civility and nuance are the first things to go once people plop their butts in front of their computers. But that doesn’t mean it’s not true.

And look, I get it, I’ve been guilty of logging in after a long day and treading down the warpath, looking to get the venom out. And sometimes I end up standing by that venom (especially if it was a good zinger on Twitter, no regrets there), but most times I wish I hadn’t.

But as a reader, movie guy, and—most importantly—a horror fan who values the opinions of those I’m friendly with, there’s a certain brand (flavor? variety?) of venom that I feel like I see way too often. What is this scourge on the horror community?Continue Reading

Scenes from a Mall and a Parking Lot

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Scenes from a Mall and a Parking Lot

The authors with the staff of Bradley's Book Outlet. (Copyright 2016 Vicki Haid)
The authors with the staff of Bradley’s Book Outlet. (Copyright 2016 Vicki Haid)

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.

That was in 2001. Continue Reading

WHC Part 3: Old Friends and Other Revenants

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WHC Part 3: Old Friends and Other Revenants

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.
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'Fear Itself: The Horror Fiction of Stephen King' (Not Exactly A Review)

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Fear Itself: The Horror Fiction of Stephen King (Not Exactly A Review)

(Photo Copyright Mark Sieber 2016)
(Photo Copyright Mark Sieber 2016)

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

Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #191 — Review: 'End of Watch'

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End of Watch by Stephen King
Scribner (June 7, 2016)
448 pages; $18.00 hardcover; $14.99 e-book
Reviewed by Bev Vincent

End_of_Watch_coverShortly 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

WHC Part 2: Spirits

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WHC Part 2: Spirits

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

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WHC Part 1: A Brief History of the World Horror Convention

zombee03The 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

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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.

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How the Mid-List Died

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How the Mid-List Died

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

The Top Werewolf Films You (Probably) Haven’t Seen But Should: Stephen Graham Jones Talks ‘Mongrels’

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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’

Mongrels_cover-678x1024When 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.

And while that loosey-goosey connective theme has probably turned off some readers (“now we’re just reading a list of books he likes? Get out of your own butt, guy!”), it’s meant that I basically get to write about whatever I want and have it get a bunch of eyes on it.

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

In Which We Answer Who, What, Where, and Why

In Which We Answer Who, What, Where, and Why

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

Indie Publishing is the New B-Movies and Here’s Why That’s A Good Thing

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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.

Indie Publishing is the New B-Movies and Here’s Why That’s A Good Thing

sharknado-4-sequel-greenlitThe age of the B-movie is dead.

Well, it’s died twice, actually, but still the term persists.

First of all, we should probably get on the same page and define what we mean by a B-movie, before I start telling you why I think it’s dead. And what I think has replaced it.

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