The Noble Horror Film Festival (2018)

A new Twitter challenge cropped up recently. Even though these are dime a dozen (favorite horror novels! Favorite horror movies! Video games! Music!) one popped out that I’ve never seen before! Here’s a link to the offending Tweet here.

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It’s a unique challenge: If you could craft an all-night horror film festival, what would it look like? It got me thinking. I recently saw John Carpenter’s ‘Halloween’ on the big screen for the first time, and was so happy I could barely stand it. Seeing a classic that like on the screen not only reinforced the power of a classic like this, it always made me want to see more of my favorites up on the cinema screen. You’ve got your soda and the candy you snuck in is snug in your pocket. The lights dim. The first movie is starting…

7 P.M: The Nun (2018)

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“Why are we starting with ‘The Nun’!?”, you shout at the screen in rage. Why would Logan do this to us!? Okay. I want to kick off with something new, and something fun, and most importantly, something really stupid. Listen. ‘The Nun’ is not a great movie. But it had some big scares in it and I love the creepy-monastery-in-Romania vibe. It’s the perfect movie to kick off this festival with.

9 P.M: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

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One movie down. You’re still primed. It’s almost Halloween everybody! And what better way to celebrate than with a little bit of Freddy in your life. ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors’ is as good as Freddy ever got. Sure, I love the original maybe more, but this is a long night of spooky movies. Let’s keep the energy high. That’s why this one gets a prime time slot.

11 P.M: Scream (1996)

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A real and true crowd-pleaser to take us through the Witching Hour. ‘Scream’ is a favorite of mine for many reasons. It still feels fresh, the kills still feel brutal, and the script positively screams. ‘Scream’ is a classic through and through.

1 A.M: Ghostbusters (1984)

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Cats and dogs, living together… You know the rest. This is your wake up movie! Let Ray Parker Jr. fill you with wonderful Halloween energy. Slimer. Stay-Puff! ‘Ghostbusters’ is a stinkin’ classic man.

3 A.M: The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

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Drew Godard and Joss Whedon do an old cliché so much good. ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ is fun and meta. It’s a horror movie made for horror fans. From bargain bin versions of our favorite monsters (and one or two surprises) this one is a breath of fresh slasher air. We’re in the home stretch. Two to go. And they are some of the biggest of the night…

5 A.M: Suspiria (1977)

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A stone cold weird classic. Giallo can be powerful, and this witchy, Alice in Wonderful marvel is everything you could want for a long October night. ‘Suspiria’ would look absolutely break-taking on the big screen.

7 A.M: Halloween (1978)

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THE October movie. As vital to the season as apple cider and pumpkins. It’s the perfect ending to a night of new and old horror classics. You can see influences from this movie in every single one on this list (save for ‘Suspiria’). Let Carpenter’s perfect score end this night of frights.

The film festival is over. Stumble out to your car in the new daylight, tired but smiling. You’ve won. And now for the sequel…

Maybe next year?

My Newsletter is Looking For Test Subjects…

I descended into some new software (Mailchimp) and came out on the other side with only minor scraps and bruises. I’m a little tired, but the treasure I was able to collect may be worth it.

You see…

I’ve started a newsletter!

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The newsletter will be a monthly occurrence, unless I’ve got something exciting to talk about. The newsletter will have Original Fiction, Giveaways, and a special column for newsletter subscribers only!

It’s called ‘Insanity Written’, and it will be a deep dive into whatever topic strikes my fancy! This content will be some primo stuff. I promise you that.

Insanity Written

If you’re interested, I’ve stuck the link below!

http://eepurl.com/dFQI-r

P.S. If you’re a fan of my writing, you’re going to want to subscribe to the newsletter. A big announcement is going to drop soon, and subscribers will hear about it first!

7 Upcoming Books I’m Dying to Read

Happy Wednesday everybody!

We’re barreling toward the one-two-three punch of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and then Christmas. It’s a whirlwind of visits with the in-laws and extended family, awkward conversations with Grandma and some pretty decent food. The good news is that we have some downtime ahead. What better time than to read some books?

Here are 7 Upcoming Books I’m Dying to Read.

The Folio Anthology of Horror Stories edited by Ramsey Campbell

Out Now

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I may be cheating a bit (this came out last week), but this is the book that inspired this list. This is one of the most gorgeous horror anthologies I’ve ever seen. It houses a TOC that has some of the greatest horror stories ever printed. It’s also edited by the legendary Ramsey Campbell. This is a little more expensive than the other books on this list, but I 100% think it’s worth it. Just look at his thing!

By the Light of My Skull by Ramsey Campbell

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October 2018

Did somebody say living legend? No? Well I guess I’m saying it now then. Ramsey Campbell is a living legend in the horror field, a writer whose depth and skill never ceases to amaze me. When I was still a fledgling horror fanatic, I discovered his novels and short stories and was completely blown away. His new collection, released in a very snazzy looking hardcover from PS Publishing, collects some of his newer stories.

Guignol & Other Sardonic Tales by Orrin Grey

October 2nd, 2018

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A new book by horror fiction’s favorite skeleton-man is always a cause for celebration. Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts is one of my favorite collections ever, and I can trust Orrin Grey to bring his signature concoction of creepy monsters and spooky movies. Word Horde is one of the best indie publishers around, and this book will look great on my shelf come October 2nd.

In The Night Wood by Dale Bailey

October 9th, 2018

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I talked about this book back in March when I wrote an article much like this one. My excitement has not abated for this contempory fantasy novel. This book has a few of my favorite things: creepy woods, troubled writers and (I assume) folklore  horror. I can’t wait for this one to rock my socks right off.

In The House In The Dark Of The Woods by Laird Hunt

October 16th, 2018

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With a killer title and cover, when I saw this book I had to know what it was about. Turns out it’s about a Puritan woman being drawn into a dark journey. The summary describes almost-human wolves (!) and a ship made of human bone (!). This book sounds all kinds of bizarre and I am in 100%.

The Leaves of a Necronomicon edited by Joseph S. Pulver Sr.

Sometime in November 2018

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A Lovecraftian anthology edited by Joe Pulver is always something to be pumped about. This one is being put out by Chaosium Fiction. The book tracks the impact of a copy of the Necronomicon over decades. With another TOC to kill for (S.P. Miskowski! Michael Cisco! Jeffrey Thomas!) this will scratch that late autumn horror itch.

Creatures of Want and Ruin by Molly Tanzer

November 13th, 2018

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Evil mushroom moonshine during some kind of supernatural Prohibition. A cult making doomsday claims. This story is told by the always incredible Molly Tanzer. Color me excited for this book when it drops mid-November.

And that’s 7 Books That I’m Dying to Read! I’m sure I missed all kinds of books. Let me know what you’re excited for!

Author Interview: Michael Wehunt

Welcome to September’s Author Interview! Every month I’ll be interviewing authors and creators about their newest works, their lives, and what influences them. This month I’ll be interviewing the spooktastic Michael Wehunt!

Michael Wehunt

Hello Michael! I’d like to thank you for joining me here. Let’s start with an easy one: tell us a little bit about yourself. What made you want to be a writer? What do you do in your spare time when you’re not at a keyboard?

Thanks so much for having me. As you requested, I’m pretending not to see the shockingly large number of human bones in the corner or the strange symbols painted in blood on the floor…

I grew up in Georgia and seem unable to leave. I almost have to answer your first question as if it were, What kept you from being a writer? Because that speaks more clearly to how I became one. I think I wanted to be a writer from the age of eight or so, but it never took deep enough root in me for some reason. I was drawn to horror as a child, developed the usual Stephen King loyalty, watched whatever horror films I could. I didn’t have a lot of ways to explore the genre when I was very young, but there was enough to keep me hooked. Still, I let horror literature drift away from me in early adulthood. I still sought out darkness in most things I read – Southern Gothic is a good example, as is anything about sadness and regret, for there is great horror in the everyday – but it would take me a long time to come back to capital-H Horror. I also let thoughts of myself as a writer (or any sort of creator) drift away from me for too long, and looking back it seems I was both not experienced enough in life to try writing seriously and much too scared to fail at it. The latter haunted me for quite some time, until one day in 2011 – I was reading King’s Skeleton Crew for maybe the fourth time in my life – something just clicked, and I was furious with myself for never having tried my hand at this. I felt I had things to say and hadn’t been letting myself speak. Horror felt like a full circle for me, and I didn’t hesitate for a moment as I began, at last, a shaking in my hands, to write that first creepy story.

In my spare time, I enjoy not being in a hurry. I’m happiest with my partner and dog in the woods, in inconstant shadow and filtered light. If my dog will allow me to, I like to be still in the trees. Nothing is so calming. It is a sort of cathedral. And, of course, I read as much as I can, with varying success. I try to read twice as much as I write and spend twice as much time outside as I do with a Word file open on my computer. It’s all about balance and peace.

I read and was subsequently floored by your collection ‘Greener Pastures’ when I read it last year. The stories in here are terrifying, but they are also richly drawn and complicated. Can you talk a little bit about how ‘Greener Pastures’ came together? I’d be interested in knowing how the creepy sausage gets made.

Thank you so much! Two and a half years of people saying nice things about the book, and it still seems surreal every time. Greener Pastures started coming together simply because a publisher asked if I was interested, and I realized, with a bit of surprise, that I had more than enough material.
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Then another publisher asked the same question, and I started to think it could be a Real Thing. A pretty mundane origin. But I wanted to make sure I wasn’t all in on a collection just to have a collection. I needed to be 100% behind every single story I chose, with as close to zero filler as I could possibly get, or else it would be much better to wait.

But when I began to think of putting stories together in a group, I saw fairly obvious thematic threads running through much of my work – loss, grief, the creepy inexplicable bleeding into personal darkness, and the attempts to cope with these different sorts of terrors at once – and the eleven stories I chose seemed to speak together really well, cross-pollinating each other, echoing and distorting those echoes, with a couple of curveballs thrown in. It felt like a collection of the lost. Yet nothing felt repetitive or redundant with anything else, and I began to get excited and proud in a way I hadn’t been before.

One of my favorite stories in the collection is ‘October Film Haunt: Under the House’. I also just read ‘The Pine Arch Collection’ in The Dark Magazine for this interview (Props on making e-mails scary). Both stories feature film in some way. Are you a big horror movie fan? What are some favorites that always draw you back in?

I love hearing feedback about “October Film Haunt: Under the House,” and if readers have a cumulative favorite in the collection, it’s probably that one. It really sparked my interest in a dialogue between horror films and horror literature, which usually flows in The Dark Michael Wehuntone direction – a book is adapted as a movie. I wanted to write a love letter to found-footage horror and modern (or digital) folklore of the sort that you find in internet creepypasta. Last year I decided to expand upon the October Film Haunt world a little bit with another love letter to found footage, “The Pine Arch Collection.” It’s really interesting to try to comment on what horror fiction (both film and prose) truly is and how it connects with those experiencing it. A sort of meta horror, if you will. I find it fascinating to explore, and my novel interacts with it to some degree as well.

And yes, I love horror movies. They have been my one constant connection with horror since childhood, even when, as noted earlier, I foolishly (but perhaps, all things considered, fortunately as well) stopped reading the genre before I was able to drown in it. The Blair Witch Project remains my favorite horror film of all time. I have defended it many times and am prepared to do so many more times (not forgetting to hug all those folks who love it like I do). Nature as horror, the abstract occult, the periphery providing far more chills than the foreground ever could – the movie excels in so many ways, and I find it always rewatchable. It’s been a big influence, and I’ve enjoyed wearing that influence on my sleeve a bit. Kairo, Ringu, Paranormal Activity 3, A Tale of Two Sisters, Don’t Look Now, Let the Right One In, The Witch, Kill List, Picnic at Hanging Rock (if you want to stretch the definition of horror a bit), and Audition are some of my other very favorites. Hereditary is very recent, but I am certain I will be drawn back to it again and again. It’s vicious and unapologetic like few other movies.

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 advice for any writers looking to get published?

Yes, writing can be deeply discouraging as well as deeply rewarding. In 2016 I wrote a blog post about turning five years old as an author. I tried to give several pieces of advice there as I looked back over what I had learned and how the tired, sounds awake Michael Wehunt.jpgI had learned it. I also wrote a blog post (for Kendall Reviews) after I finished my first novel, which I think could be helpful to beginning writers. The single most important piece of advice I would offer a beginning writer would be to do the best you can with what time you have. Everyone’s life is unique, with different responsibilities, different circumstances, different rejections and different reasons for those rejections, not all of which have anything to do with the author. Try not to be jealous of those who are able to write far more than you do, or those who are finding success more quickly or easily than you are. You have your own variables, your own toolbox, and all those other writers are not your competition. Be happy for them, and they’ll be happy for you. We’re all in this together, just telling stories.

What’s next for you? Any new books or stories on the horizon?

I am, unfortunately, taking 2018 off as an author. It was a sad but necessary decision. But I have my first novel’s first draft waiting for edits, and my second collection of stories (tentative title: The Pine Arch Collection) is ready to go and will be a bit heftier than Greener Pastures. Before long I’ll be getting those two books into shape and sending them out on submission, so they are very much on the horizon, delayed as they are. Then I will turn to writing something shiny and new. Well, maybe extremely dark rather than shiny, but new all the same.

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 am painfully behind on my TBR pile. The books I’m looking forward to have already been out for a while. Julian Barnes’ novel The Noise of Time. Lucia Berlin’s posthumous collection, A Manual for Cleaning Women. Kristi DeMeester’s first novel, Beneath. (Her story collection, Everything That’s Underneath, is really good.) Gwendolyn Kiste’s debut collection, And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe. But there’s some exciting stuff out recently. Gemma Files (one of my favorite authors) has a new collection out. Jeffrey Ford’s new novel Ahab’s Return was just published. Simon Strantzas has a new collection in October. In the literary world, it will be a matter of doing some research to learn what 2018 releases I’ve painfully overlooked since being out of the loop. For now, though, I’m trying to focus on the mountain of books that already exists in my house.

Last question: where can people find your works?

I have a bibliography page that lists everything I’ve published with relevant links. I try to post regularly on my blog’s home page when something comes out or semi-regularly about miscellaneous topics such as thoughts on writing or the horror genre. Feel free to follow my blog and stay connected!

New Story Alert: ‘Night Shift at the Blue Acres Care Facility’

I mentioned a new submission acceptance and it’s officially out in the world!

My story ‘Night Shift at the Blue Acres Care Facility’ is featured on the third episode of the Hooks of Horror Podcast!

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It’s a great new podcast that gives a prompt every month that is then recorded and put out. The narrator does an incredible job. The show is high quality. I’ve included a link below:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/hooks-of-horror/id1409415525?mt=2#episodeGuid=5b88dcbbe17657bc09eb42c8

Enjoy!

Monthly Review (August 2018)

It’s August and that means we are TWO MONTHS AWAY from October which is the best month of the year and please don’t fight me on this because you will lose. August was a busy month for me for a lot of reasons (started taking classes, work craziness, lots of reading to do). So here are some numbers for the month:

Story Submissions:

Submissions: 3

Stories Still Out in the Wild: 2

Acceptances: 1

Rejections: 4

Fhtagn! Four rejections this month! The first three shot-gunned into my inbox on the 1st of the month to remind me that humbleness is a virtue that people should have (or something). I can’t speak for the cruel intentions of the universe.

I sent two of the stories back out, and one of them (a reprint) is back in the story armory. I’m struggling to get some new stories done, but these last few months have been a little dry. I’ve got my eye on a few deadlines for upcoming anthology/magazine calls that I hope to have a stories completed for. But August wasn’t all doom and gloom!

I do have one acceptance… But I can’t talk about it yet! More to come on this.

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What Else Have I Been Doing?

An interview with Kristi DeMeester!

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Kristi had an amazing 2017 and has quickly shot up my list as one of my favorites in the Weird Fiction scene. Read the interview I did with her here to get her take on a bevy of topics (her life, her novel, where you can catch her future work). My next interview will be with Michael Wehunt on the 5th of September.

‘Pickman’s Gallery’ by Ulthar Press

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Ulthar Press’ newest anthology hit shelves on the 18th of this month. It features my story ‘A Pickman Original’, a piece detailing the occupational hazards of being an art collector. To celebrate it’s release I wrote a piece about it’s subject (Richard Upton Pickman) that you can find here. You should also totally buy a copy of this from Ulthar Press or Amazon. Matthew Carpenter has put together another amazing book that I hope all horror fans glam onto.

‘Night Shift at the Blue Acres Care Facility’

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I put together a free story for a submission to The Hooks of Horror Podcast. This kills two birds with one stone. I get to submit a story, and you get a free story to read! So here it is. I hope you enjoy it!

With that we say goodbye to August.

One month closer to October.

Who is Richard Upton Pickman?

In honor of my story ‘A Pickman Original’ appearing in Ulthar Press’ newest anthology ‘Pickman’s Gallery’, I thought I would take a dive into the character that the anthology is centered on. The original call for the book asked for stories centered on or connected to the infamous artist. If you’re interested in this anthology (you should be!) I think it would help to know a little more about it’s strange subject.

Who is Richard Upton Pickman?

The character was created by renowned horror author H.P. Lovecraft. He first appeared in a story entitled, ‘Pickman’s Model’, written in September 1927, and published in the October 1927 issue of ‘Weird Tales’.

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If you haven’t read the story, I suggest you check it out. It’s available for free online, or for very cheap other places. I think it may be one of my favorite of Lovecraft’s stories. Here’s a quick synopsis, taken from http://www.yog-sothoth.com:

The story revolves around a Bostonian painter named Richard Upton Pickman who creates horrifying images. His works are brilliantly executed, but so graphic that they result in the revocation of his membership in the Boston Art Club and he is shunned by his fellow artists.

The narrator is a friend of Pickman, who, after the artist’s mysterious disappearance, relates to another acquaintance how he was taken on a tour of Pickman’s personal gallery, hidden away in a run-down backwater slum of the city. As the two delved deeper into Pickman’s mind and art, the rooms seemed to grow ever more evil and the paintings ever more horrific, ending with a final enormous painting of an unearthly, red-eyed and vaguely canine humanoid balefully chewing on a human victim.

A noise sent Pickman running outside the room with a gun while the narrator reached out to unfold what looked like a small piece of rolled paper attached to the monstrous painting. The narrator heard some shots and Pickman walked back in with the smoking gun, telling a story of shooting some rats, and the two men departed.

Afterwards the narrator realized that he had nervously grabbed and put the rolled paper in his pocket when the shots were fired. He unrolled the paper to reveal that it is a photograph not of the background of the painting, but of the subject. Pickman drew his inspirations not from a diseased imagination, but from monsters that were very much real.

According to H.P. Lovecraft’s text ‘History of the Necronomicon’, Pickman vanishes from his home sometime in 1926. He does appear again in ‘The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath’ as a ghoul.

I think ‘Pickman’s Model’ works so well because Lovecraft captures the breathless horror that he’s known for so perfectly. We feel like we’re there with Thurber as he descends further into his friend’s studio. While the descriptions of the art and the ghouls feel quaint by today’s horror standards, it’s hard to deny the sense of terror that this Lovecraft creates. At first we assume that Richard Upton Pickman is mad. But the truth is so much worse.

Want More Pickman?

I can’t blame you. He seems like a cool guy. Little eccentric, but who isn’t? Here’s where you can find him:

‘Pickman’s Other Model’ by Caitlin Kiernan

This is one of my favorite short stories ever. The story acts as a sequel of sorts to the original story, but with some added bite. I read it when it was reprinted in ‘New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird’, edited by Paula Guran.

‘Pickman’s Gift’ – A quest in the game ‘Fallout 4’

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A quest in Bethesda’s massive RPG has you helping/hurting a murderous artist that shares a name with our subject. The Fallout franchise loves a good Lovecraftian reference, and this one is a corker. Though this isn’t the exact same character, it’s the closest you’re going to get digitally. It’s one of the better side quests in the game, so I suggest you step out into the Commonwealth and seek it out if you haven’t already.

Lastly…

Pickman's Gallery

I mentioned it above but I can’t let you go without one last plug. I can tell you now that this collection will be worth every penny that you lay down. Matthew Carpenter has put together an incredible TOC that deserve your attention. When this drops later this month, I’ll let you know. I’m also considering having a give away for a copy, so be ready for that.

That’s everything you need to know about Richard Upton Pickman. I didn’t mention everything (I didn’t talk about the Night Gallery episode because I have not *gasp* seen it), but I think I hit the highlights. Am I missing any good Pickman stuff? Let me know in the comments below!