Micro-fiction is a difficult genre to master. Like poetry, it’s built on the art of distilled language. Expressions of thoughts, emotions, fear, pain, joy, nightmares, and dreams, conveyed through precise word choice and imagery. And the key word here is precise. Micro-fiction can’t be just short. It must be powerful, evocative, emotional…using the very essence of language.Continue Reading
I remember my first Robert Aickman story vividly. It was in February. Early in the morning. As the snow fell outside on an already white winter morning, I sat very still in my favorite chair, reading “The School Friend,” and wondering…just what was I reading? A story about a long-lost friend returning after her father’s death, to comfort her old school friend, who had fallen into a lonely life? Or was this friend something…more? Continue Reading
Suspense/thrillers with “twist” endings usually telegraph said endings, especially if you’ve read enough of them. The victim is really the killer, the killer is really the victim, or the last person you’d expect (because at this point, that trope is as well worn as any horror trope, making us immediately suspect the last person you’d suspect), or actually, it’s the person we thought was the villain all along. It’s why I tend to stick to supernatural horror in my reading these days, because I usually find the mystery in those stories more engaging.Continue Reading
Cemetery Dance reviews editor/columnist Kevin Lucia is writing a Halloween serial novel one day at a time on his blog. We thought it might be something our readers would enjoy as we count down to our favorite holiday! Check out Kevin’s essay on the origins of The Mask, and follow the links at the end to read along.
Two weeks ago, I found the weirdest mask in our school’s dirt cellar.
The dirt cellar—which began life as a fallout shelters in the fifties—is where all sorts of things get stored. Things like old desks, cabinets, bookshelves, toilets, tables…you name it. Boxes of old textbooks, old televisions, all the things a school might store over the years instead of throwing out, just because they “might” be needed sometime in the future.
I’m down there all the time. I’m a scrounger by nature, (I learned it from my Dad, who learned it from his father, who was a teen during the Depression), and I’m always looking for something to add to my classroom. In this case, I was looking for Halloween decorations, because seasonal decorations are also stored in the dirt cellar.
And I found this weird rubber mask. With bulging eyes, stringy black hair, and a gaping black mouth. Inspiration struck, and I decided to take the mask (its rubber felt weird between my fingers) and hang it on my classroom door in the center of Halloween wreath as my own “Marley Knocker.”
The premise of my column “Revelations” is a reflection on fiction I encountered during a specific time in my career; fiction which changed the way I thought about horror, or influenced me in some way. The column has wandered from contemporary writers to masters of the genre, and it will at times wander off the “horror map” and into that hazy borderland of “speculative fiction.”
An author I’ll eventually feature is speculative fiction writer T. L. Hines, and how he shaped my thoughts about speculative fiction, most especially in terms of flawed characters, and how those flaws made those characters stronger. Today, however, I’m writing about Tony’s current project, and that’s his indie effort to bring his first novel, Waking Lazarus, to cinema life. Continue Reading
This, it appears, is the summer of Robert Ford and John Boden. Both have other releases stirring up notice in the weird/horror world—Ford with his novel (co-written with Matt Hayward) A Penny for Your Thoughts, and Boden’s recent release, the weird western Walk the Darkness Down. At this point, it should come as no surprise that the authors of The Compound (Ford) and Jedi Summer (Boden) continue to produce high-quality horror/weird fiction. Because of this, one would expect that a story co-written by them would offer double-barrels of emotionally gut-wrenching fiction featuring empathetic-but-doomed characters in weird situations. Rest assured, Rattlesnake Kisses fulfills that expectation, and then some.Continue Reading
The Saturday Night Ghost Club, by Craig Davidson, isn’t exactly a ghost story. Nor does it feature any overtly supernatural events. However, it is, at heart, about the essence of hauntings. About the things which haunt us, even if they’re buried so deeply, we don’t even remember them.Continue Reading
Our War by Craig DiLouie Orbit (August 20, 2019) 400 pages; $17.74 hardcover; $16.99 paperback; $13.99 e-book Reviewed by Kevin Lucia
This may be one of the most important books you’ll read this year. I say that without an ounce of hyperbole. Given the current climate of our country and its cultural, political, and social polarization, Craig DiLouie has written a heart-breaking, terrifying novel which—I desperately hope—will only be a warning, and not someday viewed as prophetic. Continue Reading
When I proposed “Revelations” to the fine folks at Cemetery Dance, my intent was to examine writers I’d encountered during a specific period in my career. Writers’ whose work had impacted me on a profound level, changed the way I thought about horror, and changed the way I wrote. Never once did I imagine I’d stumbled onto something profound or unheard of. Continue Reading
Boomtown by James A. Moore Twisted Publishing (April 2019) 354 pages; $30 hardcover; $18 paperback; $7.99 e-book Reviewed by Kevin Lucia
Though I’ve heard a lot about Jim Moore’s recurring character Jonathan Crowley, I’ve never read him. Now that I have, I can add another recurring character (joining F. Paul Wilson’s Repairman Jack and Peter Laws’ Matthew Hunter) to my list of “must read characters.” Boomtown is a fast-paced, smooth-reading weird western which hits all the right notes, and now I want to find every Crowley story and read them, yesterday.Continue Reading
Normally, an anthology based on the seven deadly sins would get a bit of a side-eye from me. I hate to say this, but my thoughts would immediately leap to contrived and cliched attempts to take “sins” and turn them into horror stories built out of shock value, nothing more. Continue Reading
I’ve been reading Tosca Lee’s work since her amazing and soul-shuddering debut novel, Demon: A Memoir, and have been a fan ever since. Her lyrical prose and sense of style is always a delight, and over the years she’s become a master at pacing the thriller novel. Her stories move at a furious clip, yet she still manages to weave clever plot twists and craft believable, intimate character portrayals.Continue Reading
I have friend and colleague Bob Ford to thank for introducing me to Robert McCammon’s work. I’m not sure exactly when I stumbled across his blog entry about Boy’s Life, but it must’ve been late summer or early fall 2010, because I read Boy’s Life for the first time not long after. And, I can say—without an ounce of hyperbole—that novel impacted me more than any novel I’ve ever read. It changed me, fundamentally, as a writer. I made me realize the limitless possibilities of speculative fiction. Continue Reading
As I’ve written this series, I’ve found it necessary to achieve a tenuous balance in my recommendations and recountings of the horror which has impacted me as a reader and writer. I’ve bounced a lot between the descriptions “fun and fast-paced” and “literate and full of substance.” The truth of the matter (as I’ve come to discover it) is this: good fiction and, even more importantly, a good reading diet, shouldn’t ever cater to one end of the spectrum exclusively. Stories should move us emotionally, they should make us ponder the world around us, our existence, and life in general. They should say something about the human condition. Continue Reading