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
I first heard Norman Partridge’s name when talking to Norman Prentiss at my second Borderlands Bootcamp in 2010. It came up by happenstance. During dinner, Norman was talking about how someone at the most recent World Horror Convention had mistaken him for Norman Partridge, because of their similar first names. Norman Prentiss‘ wistful response was, “I only wish I was Norman Partridge.”
Not only has Norman Prentiss been a wonderful friend and editor, he’s also been a trustworthy guide to powerful voices in the genre. His endorsement certainly put Norman Partridge’s name on my TBR list. So, the following Halloween, when folks started chattering about this Halloween novel which had been published a few years before—Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge—I figured it would be the perfect entry point. And, boy howdy…what an entry point it was. About the time I hit this beautiful block of prose, which snapped with the ferocity of high-voltage wire, I was hooked…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
When I first conceived of this column, my intent was to focus on authors and how their body of work influenced me during a specific period in my development. After several columns, I realized that while maybe an author’s entire body of work didn’t necessarily impact me, one or two of their novels had—hence my previous column about Don’t Take Away the Light, by J. N. Williamson, and The Reach by Nate Kenyon and The Pines, by Robert Dunbar (subjects of future columns). Continue Reading
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
I see the sentiment expressed in horror circles often: “I read and write horror, but I don’t often read anything which actually scaresme.” 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
I can’t remember where I read it—one of his blog posts, or in one of his now out-of-print blog collections—but Brian Keene once recounted the story of how he and some fellow writers, early in their career, visited a used bookstore while at a convention (maybe World Horror; I can’t remember). Excited at their own writing futures, while browsing the stacks, looking for their favorite classic authors, they discovered, with a rising sense of unease, a number of authors they had never heard of before. Writers who had at least ascended to paperback fame (of a kind) only to descend once again beneath the waters of obscurity, with barely a ripple. Continue Reading