Best of 2016

Best movie’s a hard call, especially as I’ve yet to see The Eyes of My Mother or Nocturnal Animals or Moana or Kubo and the Two Strings. Also? I doubt I’ve seen just all that many of the award-contenders either. But I did luck into a few good theaters/iTunes rentals/Netflixes:

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The Ones That Got Away in Italian soon

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Racconti is putting it out November 10th or so, here. They’re the publisher with the dead bug:

Pretty cool group of people, near as I can tell. And, as the title-in-English loses its punch in Italian, they dialed back to the collection’s original title, “The Meat Tree.”

Here‘s their page on it, with the full jacket, but here’s just the front of it. Pretty cool stuff:

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Building Your Bad Guy

Was just on a panel about villains at Denver ComicCon—actually, my second villains-panel there—and then, just now, I went all the long way down to Alamo Drafthouse to see Footloose on the big screen for the first time in thirty-two years, then listened to the Sir Patrick Stewart episode of The Nerdist on the way back, and . . . it all left me thinking, I guess. About antagonists, and the building of them.

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A Good Week for Novellas

Y’all been hearing the same thing I have? That we’re kind of easing into a novella-friendly space? Like:

And more and more, I’m sure. As for what constitutes a novella, a short novel, a novelette, a long story . . . who knows. I mean: editors know. There’s word-count thresholds. Granted, they maybe vary from house to house, from mag to mag, but they’re more or less not all that different from one another.

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Lake Access Only

Which is a slasher I wrote  . . . two years ago? I’d just reread The Virgin Suicides, and thought, Man, that was cool, sure—along with American Psycho, maybe the book of the nineties—but, wouldn’t it be cooler if that royal first-person delivery could be used to deliver something with a lot of people dying in gruesome ways? So: Lake Access Only. Which turned out cool. At least, I verymuch dig it. Yet to sub it anywhere, though, as it’s a weird one. Also? I may dig into it this summer, see if I can make it work as a screenplay instead. Which’ll require just completely ripping its innards out, and putting completely different innards in. But that’s how adapting goes. Anyway, LAO, its kind of central . . . I want to say ‘secret,’ but it’s more of a reveal, which of course the slasher is special-made to deliver right at the end. That reveal in LAO, I just found it on the shelf at Goodwill. Which is to say, had I found this sunglasses case before writing LAO, I probably wouldn’t have written it, as it was already in the world, and things that are already in the world aren’t really worth writing about.

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Couple Books

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Read two this week, each so, so excellent. Got like fourteen seconds here to say something about them, but I’ll try to steal fourteen more, too, as I can’t not say something about them:

Horrorstor was fun, definitely, but, gotta say: I keyed on the horror stuff, but the IKEA stuff, it went right past me, I think. I’m both not remotely interested in furniture or . . . ‘decor,’ is that the word? and, probably because of that, I’ve never been in an IKEA. I think I heard a comedian do a bit about it, once? And I know I saw one from an interstate. Anyway, the design of that one was fun, and the story worked. My Best Friend’s Exorcism, though, this one’s a whole new order of novel. I mean, sure, it’s got the design-fun—it looks like a yearbook, a little—and it’s definitely drawing on the same well of nostalgia Ready Player One does, that being a well I spend some time at myself, but more than all of that, this is just a story that’s:

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Three Reads

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Southern Gods

A lot of novels out there, they play with the tentacley, the eldritch, the elder, but this one . . . I don’t know. It kind of does it, first, in a way that doesn’t seem like ‘play’ at all, but more important, it does it in a way that kind of rewrites the world I thought I had an all right handle on. Southern Gods‘ running explanation for just the metaphysics or cosmic underpinnings of our world, they make scary sense. However, grand as that may sound, the real trick of Southern Gods, it’s that it manages to thread all that “Supernatural Horror in Literature” stuff in so seamlessly with a dramatic line that cooks. The pacing the dialogue, the action, the gore, it’s all done as well as can be done. This feels like a novel someone went over like a hundred and eighty times. To our benefit. Seriously. The writing chops on display here, they’re something to study, to learn from. However, just try: you’ll get wrapped up in the story, completely forget that you’re a writer. That’s what good novels do—turn you into a reader-only. I can’t recommend this one enough.

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Serious Poeming

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Layli Longsoldier, killing it on the page. This is exactly how art can work. I would say how poetry can work, but, really, this feels bigger than just one form, one medium. As the poem talks about.

Click here to go there, and then never leave, except to spread this poem more and farther:

My big plan? That there’s a recording online of this getting read out loud. By her, by someone.

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Al Jazeera Panel

Was live, and now it’s here. Good times, good panel, good hosting; we could have gone a couple hours I figure. And, we were all talking before things cued up, and I don’t think any of us are trying to pull JK Rowling down. I mean, all writers owe her for creating a whole generation of readers, yes? I know I was always there at midnight, waiting for the next Harry Potter, and I’ve kind of ceremoniously handed her books on to my kids. At the same time, though, in her “History of Magic in North America,” we/Natives may come off a bit like a fantasy creature. For some cultures, maybe this is cool, I don’t know. Problem for us, it’s that it’s been going on for a while now, and’s just one more way to invisible us, to lock us in the past, all that. Anyway, rather than policing every representation, maybe we should just see misrepresentation as an opportunity to educate, yeah? And, as for why Rowling’s catching all this grief from all over for this, for what’s really just a few paragraphs in four pages, it’s probably because her fiction goes so wide that people feel it’s not something they can shrug off, as it/she kind of informs reality.

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Three More for the Shelf

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Last three I read over the last . . . ten, twelve days? Something like that.

I know, I know: how have I ever called myself a horror writer without having this one on my mental bookshelf? No excuse. It’s good, too. Most interesting, maybe, is the way Bloch starts so many of the chapters by kind of peeling up the last one, and then going through what went on over here in the story while that other chapter was happening. The effect, of course, it’s that we kind of a see the thing developing from a lot of angles, and come out feeling we know it pretty well. I don’t think I’d ever do it, or recommend someone do it, as it always feels like padding, like the writer’s nervous there’s not actually enough story here, so’s making sure to document every single footstep. But it works here. Also? I was able to pair this up with seeing on the big screen, in 35mm, which was about the coolest thing ever.

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