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Best Books For Halloween

I read horror fiction all year round. I love the genre, and it’s so deep and diverse that it’s hard not to. But October is special. I want to find the stories that put me in that autumnal mood. I want to read about pumpkins on porches and a bitter chill in the air. I want to read about dead leaves and the darkness at the edges of the world.

So where do I turn? What books call out to me? All of these books (while not always tied to Halloween directly) are exactly the kind of things I look for. If you’re on the hunt for something to read in October, I hope this list helps. Let’s get started…

Dark Harvest

 

Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge

Ask any horror fan that’s worth their salt about Halloween reads, and Dark Harvest will be brought up. If you want a pure shot of All-Hallows-Eve terror, this book is where it’s at. It won the Bram Stoker Award, and it deserves it. Norman Partridge has conjured a Bradburyesque tale for the ages.

Poor October Boy… This poor town… You’ll recognize it. After all, you’ve been here before…


 

Robert AickmanDark Entries by Robert Aickman

This was almost a Robert Aickman appreciation post. He may be one of the most underrated authors in our genre. His stories are played so straight, so sterile. But in that formal quiet, horror resides. Aickman referred to his works as ‘strange stories’. It’s unbelievably apt. While his stories sometimes features common tropes (ghosts, haunted houses, evil towns) they are done with Aickman’s own unique style.

I selected Dark Entries because it’s my current favorite Aickman collection. While not Halloween focused per se, this is exactly the kind of unnerving short stories I crave. If you want something a little different, read Robert Aickman.


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Deadfall Hotel by Steve Rasnic Tem

I’ve spilled a lot of ink talking about Deadfall Hotel. There’s a reason for that. Not only is it one of my all time favorites, I think it’s a novel that deserves 1000% more attention. Told over a series of vignettes inside the very strange Deadfall Hotel, the novel focuses on a single father and his intelligent young daughter.

Deadfall Hotel is cold and weird, but it’s also warm and beautiful. Every chapter is a surprise. Every detail is a mystical wonder. It tackles complicated themes such as grief and fear, love and regret. While the book unfolds over many seasons, it just feels right for this time of year.


Dead LeavesDead Leaves: 9 Tales From the Witching Season by Kealan Patrick Burke

I wanted to include at least one more single author collection. I decided this one was perfect for multiple reasons: it’s short. It’s got variety. And it’s all about Halloween! A collection like this one is the perfect way to kickstart the season. While Dead Harvest feels classical, Dead Leaves is contemporary and grand, but somehow coming in under a hundred pages.

Kealan also includes a list of recommendations for the genre, books that he’s found are perfect for Halloween reading. It’s a good list, and it’s made my TBR just a little longer.


Haunted NightsHaunted Nights edited by Lisa Morton & Ellen Datlow

Let’s dig into some horror anthologies. There is an endless wealth of Halloween anthologies in the world, many of which have been haunting me from my TBR pile and may still be on there (looks over my shoulder nervously).

But not many people love Halloween more than Lisa Morton, and Haunted Nights is a tribute to the holiday. It’s co-edited by Ellen Datlow and filled with a list of horror fiction greats. It’s worth your time, and certainly worth the price of admission.


514VESaovlL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgAutumn Cthulhu edited by Mike Davis

 I like it when my collections come with a whole heaping serving of Lovecraftian horror. Thankfully, Mike Davis put out Autumn Cthulhu back in 2016. If you enjoy your Lovecraftian horror a little quieter, this is the perfect collection for you. Over the course of 19 stories, the authors explore the cosmic side of autumn, and all the horrors hiding behind the colored leaves.

I just hope we get an Autumn Cthulhu 2 soon. I need more of that autumn chill in my life.


81zqDem9OvL.jpgSalem’s Lot by Stephen King

I wanted to include at least one Stephen King book on this list. After all, it is a list of horror books. So the question became: which book? Night Shift may be his best short story collection. It may just be my favorite novel ever. But they don’t quite belong on this list. No, I think the honor belongs to Salem’s Lot.

It’s a frightening vision of a regular town that has a truly rotten core. It’s eventual and gradual takeover by vampires is terrifying and ultimately tragic. It’s cold and it feels like it belongs on this list. And a good chunk of the book takes places over the autumn months. King has been good for a long time, and Salem’s Lot proves it.


That does it for some Best Books For Halloween. Have you read all of these already? What are some of your Halloween favorites?

 

The Noble Horror Film Festival (2019)

Welcome to the 2nd annual Noble Horror Film Festival! If you have no idea what I’m talking about, here is the post from last year.

But this essentially boils down to putting together the perfect 12 hour horror film festival. From 7 P.M. to 9 A.M. the next morning… Last year I packed it with my favorites, so 2019 is going to get a bit more esoteric…

The lights are dimming. The crowd’s murmurs are dying down… The Noble Horror Film Festival is starting…

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7 P.M: Annabelle Comes Home (2019)

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Last year we started with The Conjuring-Verse entry The Nun. This year I decided to give the spot to the newest film in the massive franchise. I just recently saw this and had a ton of fun. It’s exactly the kind of contemporary horror movie we need in this time slot.

9 P.M: Poltergeist (1982)

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Poltergeist is a stone-cold classic. I don’t care who directed it, I just know that it’s amazing. It’s high energy, it’s beautiful, and it’s thoroughly haunting. It’s one of those horror films that stays quotable always. Say it with me now: They’re here…

11 P.M: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

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As we head into and past the witching hour, let’s spend that time with ole’ Fred Krueger. While Dream Warriors is the most fun of the Nightmare franchise, I think that Freddy was never scarier than he was in the original. The dream imagery on display here is all low-budget goodness. Wes Craven was a boss, and A Nightmare On Elm Street is his first masterwork.

1 A.M: Oculus (2013)

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Mike Flanagan is one of my favorite horror directors. Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House is a masterpiece, but before he made that show, he released Oculus in 2013. His devastating look into a family’s battle against an evil mirror remains underrated.

3 A.M: Hocus Pocus (1993)

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Watch out for the Sanderson sisters… It’s hard not to love this movie. Between the three hilarious/evil sisters and our three young leads, this cast is rocking. ‘I Put A Spell In You’ is simply the best. After Hocus Pocus, we’ve got two movies left…

5 A.M: What We Do In The Shadows (2014)

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When I watched this for the first time about two years ago, it was like a breath of fresh air. Taika Waititi has comedy chops for days. And this film is part The Office and part Interview With a Vampire. It’s funny and irrelevant, and it’s earned the 5 A.M. slot.

7 A.M: Halloween (2018)

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I had to end the night with a Michael Myers film. Last year was the original, but I don’t have a lot of love for the other films in the franchise. But then I remembered 2018’s sterling soft-reboot. It’s everything I could want from a Halloween sequel. Three generations of Strode girls against The Shape once again? It’s the perfect way to end The Noble Horror Film Festival.


The festival is over. Go home and get some rest. And tell your friends. Because The Noble Horror Film Festival will return in October of 2020…

Halloween Month!

For a horror writer or fan, October is our most beloved month. What’s not to love? It’s getting cold, the leaves are turning all kinds of beautiful colors, and the rest of the world takes horror as seriously as we do.

Halloween
A sign of the season…

So on my website, I also wanted to do something a little special. I’m going to be doing a couple of special October posts! First things first, I’m going to be writing a sequel to my Noble Film Festival from last year! This festival feels like it should be an annual thing, so we are going to be doing it all over again.

I’ll also do a book themed post (more on that to come) and an exclusive horror story! I’m treating it as a serial, with a piece coming out every day (starting on the 28th of October) and ending on All Hallow’s Eve! So keep your eyes peeled (not literally) for the spook-tastic activity here at my site!

Monthly Review: September 2019

Hello everyone! It’s been a few months since I’ve done a Monthly Review. Life has been a bit crazy lately, and my writing has taken a back seat. I did have a little movement, and once my schedule clears up, I hope to do more.

Story Submissions:

New Submissions: 1

Stories Still Out in the Wild: 2

Acceptances: 0

Rejections: 0

I submitted a flash story to a monster contest. If the story wins, I’ll know on the first of October. It’s a fun story, and if it doesn’t get picked up there, I’ll find a new locale to send it out to. I’m also still waiting on another story, and I’m thinking it will still be a few more months.

What else have I been doing?

Interview with Laird Barron!

Laird Barron

Photo Credit by Ellen Datlow

In September I interviewed the king of horror-noir, Laird Barron! Laird is one of my favorite authors, so interviewing him here was a check on my writer bucket list. It was a great interview!

My NecronomiCon Book Haul!

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Back in August I attended NecronomiCon 2019! It was a four day convention in Providence, RI, dedicated to H.P. Lovecraft. It was one of the coolest events I’ve ever attended. I bought a lot of books, and this article highlights some of the cool stuff I got my hands on.


I did want to make one more announcement: I’m Interviews to every other month. It was way too tough to hunt down an author to interview and then get them thoughtful interview questions in a timely manner. While interviewing monthly was awesome, I just don’t think I’m doing it justice! I still want to have an article come out in that first week slot, but I may switch up into something a bit more fun. More information forthcoming!

My NecronomiCon Book Haul!

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Late last month I attended what has to be the most awesome event ever: NecronomiCon Providence! If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a 4-day convention dedicated to the works of H.P. Lovecraft, as well as other giants in Weird Fiction. It’s four days of film festivals, author readings and other events. It’s one of the best parts of the convention is the books! The Vendor Hall is filled with authors and publishers, looking to sell you their extensive back catalog. I left some room in my suitcase and brought some true treasures back. Because I don’t have anything else to write about this month, let’s look at said treasures!

I picked these two books up directly from Jonathan Raab of Muzzleland Press. Muzzleland’s first anthology was also my first real publishing credit, so I’ve been a fan of them for years now. Jonathan is a pretty great guy, and both of these books look awesome. Cinematic Gothic Horror is an excellent idea for an anthology, and Jonathan’s new novel sounds like the meta-slasher tale that I need this time of year.

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I also picked up Ross Lockhart’s Giallo Fantastique. I own this one on Kindle, but I’ve been wanting to add this book to my real shelf for quite some time. If you’re a giallo fan giallo.jpgor a fan of excellent fiction, you should consider grabbing this one as well.

Continuing the theme of excellent publishers, I finally got my hand on Nightscape Press’ Ashes and Entropy.jpgnew anthology of horror noir, Ashes and Entropy. Several of the stories were signed, which looks great next to the lush art inside. I also got a chance to hang out with Robert S. Wilson and his wife, who are really wonderful people.

It’s no secret that I’m a big John Langan fan. I snagged this book from the Lovecraft Arts and Sciences storefront at the Arcade mall. I got to hear John read, and then tried not to geek out to much when I met him. It was the same story with Nathan Ballingrud. Two of the best writers in the genre, and I got personally signed copies of their books. Pretty awesome, and a highlight of my Providence visit.

I treasured my time in Providence, and I hope to have another article coming soon that will summarize my time there. If you love Weird/Horror media, NecronomiCon is worth every penny to attend.

 

Interview: Laird Barron

It’s just now September, which means we are arms length away from autumn. But summer isn’t done yet, so let’s fill some of the time with a new Author interview! Every month I’ll be interviewing authors and creators about their newest works, their lives, and what influences them. This month I’m chatting with the king of horror-noir, Laird Barron!

Laird Barron

Photo Credit by Ellen Datlow

Hello Laird! Thank you for joining me for this interview! For my first question, I want to go back to your origin story. What made you want to be a writer? What lead you to lay out words on paper for a living?

Hi, Logan. Thank you for the conversation.

I was interested in writing before I knew the alphabet. Wrote three novels by my early teens and filled a few boxes with stories, story fragments, and poetry. The idea of appearing in anthologies and magazines alongside my favorite authors was an ambition that floated around on the periphery. I recall poring over Harlan Ellison’s introductions to his Dangerous Visions books and was impressed that so many famous authors corresponded or hung out. That collegiality seemed pretty swell to a kid living in isolation in Alaska. Writing as a means to earn money didn’t coalesce until I actually started selling stories in 2000.

Your new novel Black Mountain released back in May. Both that book and your previous one (Blood Standard) feature ex-mob enforcer turned P.I., Isaiah Coleridge. When creating this character, did you draw inspiration from other books or films of the genre? 

I’ve written hardboiled characters for many years to maneuver myself into position to depict Isaiah Coleridge. He’s not a regular person, even by pulp standards. Achilles, Beowulf, Hercules, and Krishna, among others, sleep in his blood. Hunters from the Stone Age dream in his hindbrain. I’ve long thought Jules Winnfield from Pulp Fiction and Hawk from the Spenser series were fascinating. Some of my inspiration for Coleridge’s baseline aesthetic draws from that well, and the wells of John D. MacDonald, Roger Zelazny, and on the darker end of the first-person narrator spectrum, Jim Thompson.

On the film front, Takashi Miike’s general tone is influential. Peckinpah and Bergman, same. Watch it all and be awed. Michael Caine’s Carter in Get Carter. Peter Fonda was such an effective force of banal evil in The Limey. Refn’s Only God Forgives and Too Old to Die Young are way up there. I’m anticipating Destroyer with Nicole Kidman

As I read both Blood Standard and Black Mountain, I felt like I could see the groundwork for future threats that Isaiah may come up against. I’m excited to see how it all plays out! Will we be seeing more of Isaiah in the near future?

I’m working on the third chapter in Coleridge’s saga. It’s called Worse Angels and will hit shelves in 2020. He glimpsed the darkness that underlies the daylight world in Black Mountain. Unfortunately, the darkness has also seen him.

A lot of young writers I talk to get discouraged with the grind (sending stories out on submission, etc.) and the constant struggle that is the publishing world. Do you have any general advice for any writers looking to get published?

I don’t have any advice that isn’t out there. Here’s how I look at it.

The places where you are really, really hot to get published are rejecting 98 to 99% of all comers. A significant number of writers can’t sell a second story or a second or third book to the same publisher. It’s a game designed to make you quit. Learn to manage your expectations accordingly. You’ll be happier.

Let’s talk about books for a moment. What’s in your To Be Read pile right now? Any books you’re looking forward to in the future?

I have read or am reading manuscripts by several authors. I’m also revisiting crime and noir novels from my youth. Chandler, MacDonald, Leonard. J. Todd Scott and Hilary Davidson have excellent crime novels out. Crumley’s The Last Good Kiss is a classic I overlooked until recently. Glad to have rectified that. Will be switching gears and hitting up thrillers soon—Martin Cruz Smith and Frederick Forsyth come to mind.

Last question: if you woke up tomorrow in a Laird Barron story, how do you think you would fare? If you came across a copy of The Black Guide, would you take it home with you? And how long would it take you to abandon your place at the Frazier Estate Apartments?

A Laird Barron story is merely a possible outcome of everyday existence. We have a border collie. Smart as a whip. I frequently hide somewhere in the house and she searches for me. The best trick is to challenge her a little. So, I hide when she is unaware and then wait for her to notice.

The other night I had the great idea to crouch in the dark under the dining room table. I waited patiently. Five minutes, ten minutes, now I’m a bit uncomfortable, fifteen…I figured out later that doggo and girlfriend had gone off and fallen asleep. Somebody hiding under a table to surprise his or her dog might be a Laird Barron story detail.


Yet another insightful interview! I’d like to thank Laird for his time, and thank you dear reader for joining me! If you want to pick up any of Laird Barron’s work, go through his website here: lairdbarron@wordpress.com.

And if interviews are your thing, please check out the rest of my Interview series!

The first interview with Lovecraftian extraordinaire Pete Rawlik! 

The insanely talented Kristi DeMeester!

The spooktastic Michael Wehunt!

Horror’s favorite skeleton Orrin Grey!

Artist and cryptid king Trevor Henderson!

Haunted radio jockey/author Matthew M. Bartlett!

Horror podcast maverick Gemma Amor!

Horror author (and birder!) Carrie Laben!

Video game critic (and video game Jedi) Alex Kane!

Strange story specialist Simon Strantzas!

Myth-maker Georgina Bruce!

Stoker Award Winner Nicole Cushing!

 

 

My Summer Reads So Far!

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It’s summer time! The breeze is coming in off the water, the sun is out, and… I’m at work. Bummer. But don’t despair! I’ve had the chance to explore fantastic and horrific worlds from the air-conditioned comfort of my living room. I wanted to put together a post to share all the excellent books I’ve been reading this summer.

Wounds: Six Stories from the Border of Hell by Nathan Ballingrud


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When I was a kid, I spent a LOT of time in the local library. It was nice and cool for one, and for a very big two, it was filled with books.

So it seemed fitting that I start the summer off by borrowing Nathan Ballingrud’s newest collection. Wounds was truly impressive. It may be my favorite collection of the year. The world building and terror constructed here kinda’ blew my mind. I was sad to see it end.

A Collapse of Horses by Brian Evenson


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A Collapse of Horses has been in my TBR pile since late last year. When my wife and I visited Boston, we (of course) had to visit the Harvard Book Store. When I saw this fantastic cover, I knew I had to grab it.

With all the attention on Brian’s new collection, I figured it was time to unearth this book and dive in. I LOVED this collection. I find it hard to describe what I like best about Brian’s works. They are as cold as Aickman’s, but with the twisted logic of Ligotti. Maybe? Just read them. It’s sheer nightmare fuel.

Song for the Unraveling of the World by Brian Evenson


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And speaking of nightmare fuel… Brian Evenson has a new collection! While I think it’s not as perfect as A Collapse of Horses, Song for the Unraveling of the World is still an incredible read. Reading these back-to-back was like drinking some kind of sweet poison.

The Dream-Quest of Velitt Boe by Kij Johnson


the dream quest

I decided to reread The Dream-Quest of Velitt Boe because it’s perfect for summer! It’s warm, interesting, and deep. It’s a short book about a long trek through H.P. Lovecraft’s Dreamlands. While I was never a fan of Lovecraft’s Dreamlands, Kij has made them a mysterious delight. I want to hang with Velitt and the cat. Please.

The Grand Dark by Richard Kadrey


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And now for the book I’m currently reading! Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim books are favorites of mine, so the promise of a new Kadrey creation made me take note. Though I’m only about mid-way through, I’m in love with this vile Steampunk fantasy world. Kadrey knows how to world-build and make it fun.


Those are my summer reads! Do you have any go to summer reads? Beachside or otherwise? Fill me in below!