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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

Horror Drive-In: A Call to Preorder

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A Call to Preorder

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

What I Learned from Stephen King: 'Christine' & The Roads Traveled

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Christine & The Roads Traveled

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

Paper Cuts: Binge Smarter: 4 Film Books Every Horror Fan Should Read (and Movies to Go With Them)

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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.

Binge Smarter: 4 Film Books Every Horror Fan Should Read (and Movies to Go With Them)

danseSo far this column has been about two things: horror fiction and horror film. And where they overlap. With various digressions where it has suited my mood.

But the name “Paper Cuts” is broad enough that it shouldn’t limit our book discussions purely to fiction titles. Right?

In that spirit, here are four nonfiction film books (some criticism, some history, some reference) that I think every horror film fan should read.Continue Reading

What I Learned From Stephen King: What Makes a Great Teacher

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What Makes a Great Teacher

1.

kingteach1With 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

Horror Drive-In: Dear Mr. Death

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Dear Mr. Death

Mark Justice
Mark Justice

Dear Mr. Death,

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

Horror Drive-In: Retro Drive-In Snowstorm

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Retro Drive-In Snowstorm

vhsTimes change. People change. Priorities change.

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 Cuts: Option This! Vol. 2

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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.

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

Horror Drive-In: Why I Dislike 'Star Wars'

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Why I Dislike Star Wars

SWPosterI 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