Revelations: Whispers and Karl Edward Wagner’s The Year’s Best Horror Stories

My previous two columns focused on contemporary authors who have impacted me both as a writer and reader; Mary SanGiovanni and Ronald Malfi, respectively. We’re going to jump back in time, now… Continue Reading

Revelations: Ronald Malfi

For the most part, the authors featured in these columns have impacted my development and growth as a writer primarily through their work. Ronald Malfi impacted me as a person, first, before I delved into his work. Looking at his career path, getting to know him as a person first has impacted me just as much as his work has.Continue Reading

Revelations: “The Chronicles of Greystone Bay” edited by Charles L. Grant

Today marks the release of my second short story collection, Things You Need, from Crystal Lake Publishing, also the latest installment in the ongoing story of my fictional Adirondack town, Clifton Heights, which owes its existence in large part to not only Charles L. Grant’s fictional town, Oxrun Station, but even more so to the anthology series he edited, The Chronicles of Greystone Bay.Continue Reading

Revelations: Mary SanGiovanni

The aim of this column is to spotlight authors who have been instrumental in my development as a writer. Some of the writers I’ve covered have been legends in the field who are no longer with us; others more contemporary writers who are still very active and influential. I’m revealing them along a semi-chronological path of when I discovered them, not necessarily their publication dates. Today’s installment features a contemporary writer whose first novel had a huge impact on me, as does her continuing work: Mary SanGiovanni.Continue Reading

Revelations: Ray Bradbury

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012.

First period, 10th Grade Honors English. Roughly 9 a.m.

That’s when I heard the news.

Even today, as I write this, I feel a chill. Looking back, it was not only a surreal and an unbelievable experience…it also offered a moment of affirmation for me as a teacher that hasn’t been rivaled, since.Continue Reading

Review: Listen to the Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews edited by Sam Weller

Listen to the Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews edited by Sam Weller
Hat and Beard Press (2018)
224 pages; $45 hardcover; $200 limited edition
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia

I’ll speak more at length about this when I discuss the influence Ray Bradbury has had on me in a future edition of my column Revelations, but suffice to say: I discovered his work late in life. I’m sure I was assigned several of his short stories in junior high and high school—probably the oft-assigned “All Summer in a Day,” “Soft Rains Will Come” or maybe even “The Fun They Had”—but I never had a teacher really bring me to Ray Bradbury. This is probably why—as most of my former and present students will attest—I’ve made it my personal mission to ensure that all my students experience the work of Ray Brabdury while they’re in my class. Whether they love his work, are ambivalent toward it, or don’t like it, they’ll never be able to say they don’t know who Ray Bradbury is, or what his place is in American Literature. Continue Reading

Revelations: J.N. Williamson’s DON’T TAKE AWAY THE LIGHT and “Privacy Rights”

When I first decided the horror genre was for me, (about twelve years ago now, believe it or not), I wrote some stories which were “okay” but were very bound by genre clichés (many of these are featured in my first short story collection, Things Slip Through). Monsters, werewolves, wendigos, women in white, haunted houses, evil doctors, Mothman knock-offs, a few campy vampire stories which thankfully never saw the light of day (one of them, embarrassingly enough, titled “Blood Diner”), serial killers, people who go mad and do terrible things, and some “okay” Lovecraftian pastiches. Continue Reading

Review: Speaking to Skull Kings and Other Stories by Emily B. Cantaneo

Speaking to Skull Kings and Other Stories by Emily B. Cantaneo
Trepidatio Pub (May 2017)
203 pages; $13.55 paperback; $3.95 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia

Reading Emily Cantaneo’s short fiction collection Speaking to Skull Kings is a wonderfully surreal trip into the fantastic unknown. The stories collected straddle all sorts of genres. Each take place in their own universes—realms far stranger than our own, or perhaps only slightly askew of our reality—with their own sets of rules, their own logic. There’s plenty of humanity here, however, and that’s what gives them their power.Continue Reading

Review: And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe by Gwendolyn Kiste

And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe by Gwendolyn Kiste
JournalStone (April 2017)
267 pages; $15.93 paperback; $3.95 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia

And Her Smile With Untether the Universe is an amazing collection of speculative fiction by Gwendoyn Kiste which touches on surreal fantasy but never loses its grip on an all too tangible—sometimes painfully so—sense of reality. This is important for me, because I often find that happens with surreal stories of the fantastic. While I admire the world created and the surreal experience rendered, I sometimes feel distant from the characters and their experiences, and the stories fail to really impact me on an emotional level.Continue Reading

Revelations: T.M. Wright

At one time, T. M. Wright was like Alan Peter Ryan, Charles L. Grant and so many others—just another name I’d heard here and there, most often in a quote from Ramsey Campbell (also, at that point, just another name), which said: “T. M. Wright is a one-man definition of quiet horror.”Continue Reading

Review: ‘Stephen King and Philosophy’ edited by Jacob Held

Stephen King and Philosophy edited by Jacob Held
Rowman & Littlefield (August 2016)
328 pages; $13.56 paperback; $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia

In a documentary filmed many years ago, bestselling author Peter Straub lamented the fact that, ever tongue-in-cheek and self-deprecating, Stephen King once referred to his own work as the equivalent of a “Big Mac and fries.” Straub considered it an unfortunate comparison which didn’t do King justice, that his work was far more substantial than mere intellectual junk food. Continue Reading

Revelations: Paul F. Olson

For the most part, this column travels in semi-chronological order, chronicling the writers I’ve discovered the last few years who’ve had an impact on me as a writer. I will, however, occasionally stray from this chronological path, simply because, well, I feel like it. This is one of those cases, as we discuss writer Paul F. Olson.Continue Reading

Creating Strange Stories: An Interview with Kevin Lucia

Kevin Lucia has been creating strange stories for a long time. It’s a passion project for him, borne out of a love for reading and an overwhelming desire to share the people, places and things that dominate his dreams and nightmares. His work has appeared alongside many genre greats in numerous anthologies and magazines, and now he’s looking to take his efforts to the next level with the pursuit of his very own Patreon. Recently I swapped a few emails with Kevin about his latest project (among other things—he is, after all, the Reviews Editor for Cemetery Dance magazine and Cemetery Dance Online). Enjoy!Continue Reading

Revelations: Gary A. Braunbeck

Gary Braunbeck
Gary A. Braunbeck

I see the sentiment expressed in horror circles often: “I read and write horror, but I don’t often read anything which actually scares me.” Of course, the word to consider here is “scare.” I have this discussion with my English classes every year when we read The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. They always ask, as I’m handing out Jackson’s seminal haunted house novel, “Will this be scary?” I always answer, “Let’s talk about that word and what it means.” We discuss the differences between the adrenaline-based reaction they refer to as “scary”—what they experience while watching a horror movie in the theaters—and the nature of “horror” and being “horrified.”Continue Reading

Review: ‘Bone White’ by Ronald Malfi

Bone White by Ronald Malfi
Kensington (July 2017)
384 pages; $10.17 paperback; $7.99 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia

Seven years ago I was sent an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) for a novel called Snow by some author named Ronald Malfi. I’d not read anything by him then, and at first the novel looked pretty pedestrian. Monsters devastate a town during a blizzard. The initial setup seemed to point in that direction: a flight is cancelled because of the snowstorm, so several folks set out in a rental car to try for home the long way, and come upon a town cut off by the storm. It looked like a fairly simple paint-by-the-numbers affair, albeit written very well.Continue Reading