Monthly Review (July 2018)

It’s officially summer and this is yet another reason for me to stay inside. But that’s okay. I’ve got plenty of wonderful things to keep me entertained in the comfort of my air conditioned house. Right? Anyway. Here are some numbers for the month:

Story Submissions:

Submissions: 2

Stories Still Out in the Wild: 3

Acceptances: 1

Rejections: 0

You feel that? That’s the sweet wind of a story acceptance.

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Though my story has nothing to do with Nicolas Cage (though an urban fantasy novel featuring Nicolas Cage as some kind of actor-wizard-hero would be tubular in every sense of the word), it’s a story that I can’t wait to share with ya’ll. I can’t announce where it’s been picked up by, but it’s a market I’ve wanted to break into for quite some time.

Three stories are still out and I hope to hear something soon.

What Else Have I Been Doing?

An interview with author Pete Rawlik

Pete Rawlik

On the first Wednesday of every month I’ll be interviewing authors and creators about their newest works, their lives, and what influences them.  Lovecraftian extraordinaire Pete Rawlik is this month’s victim. Tune in on August 1st at 1000 for the next interview with author Kristi DeMeester.

Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham Review

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I also reviewed the spooktastic Batman graphic novel ‘Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham. Take a look here.

That’s it for July. We’re inching closer to autumn so get ready. Here’s one last Nic Cage GIF to keep you company.

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See you soon.

 

Book Review: ‘Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham’

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Written by Mike Mignola and Richard Pace

Art by Troy Nixey

It’s Gotham City, 1928. Twenty years have passed since a madman slew the parents of young Bruce Wayne, heir to one of the city’s oldest fortunes. Twenty years since he fled the carnage of Gotham.
But now Bruce Wayne has returned—and hell has followed. A terrible thing from beyond space and time has awakened. The Lurker on the Threshold has called its faithful servants—immortal sorcerers, reptile men, beings of eldritch cold and fungal horror—to feed our world into its gaping maw.
If the Batman hopes to end the horror, how terrible must Bruce Wayne become?

Collects BATMAN: THE DOOM THAT CAME TO GOTHAM #1-3!

Plot summary taken from Amazon product description. Slight spoilers below…

This was seriously fantastic. This graphic novel is like a mix of everything I love: a Mignola style, Batman and Lovecraftian horror.

It helps that the comic is set in the late 1920’s. This Batman is out-matched for most of these issues, his tech wholly un-prepared to battle the unwholly creations summoned by a very eldritch Ra’s Al Ghul to do what Great Old Ones from beyond are want to do.

Part of the fun of Batman graphic novels like this one is seeing how the creators twist around familar tropes and and villains of The Dark Knight. This one has a portal opening Two Face, an insidious Poison Ivy and a fun use of the Oracle.

These three issues pack in a lot of incredible detail and horrifying art. This is a must read for any Lovecraft or Batman fan.

Interview: Author Pete Rawlik

Welcome to a new monthly post here on my site! I’ll be interviewing authors and creators about their newest works, their lives, and what influences them. This month’s interview is with Lovecraftian extraordinaire Pete Rawlik. Pete has written over fifty short stories, the novels Reanimators, The Weird Company, and Reanimatrix, and the newly released The Peaslee Papers.

Pete Rawlik

Hello Pete! 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?

I was born in North Dakota but grew up outside Philadelphia with summers in Ocean City Maryland. I went to Florida Tech where I studied Marine Biology and Aquaculture. To put myself through college I had a variety of jobs including making donuts, phlebotomist, medical lab technician, and shellfish testing technician. For the last twenty-seven years I’ve been studying ecology and managing environmental monitoring programs in and around the Everglades. I’ve been a life-long book collector, particularly Lovecraftian fiction. For more than twenty years I ran my own rare book shop before I was convinced to stop selling other peoples books and write my own. In my spare time you can find me rummaging through book sales, used book stores and flea markets, or out on the ocean deep-sea fishing.

As for writing, I can remember back into middle school writing short stories during rainy summer days when I couldn’t get out on Big Assawoman Bay. I still have some of this, including a trunked novella, a pastiche of Robert E. Howard’s Skull-Face stories. I wrote some in college, mostly bad poetry but a few science fiction stories in the Larry Niven vein. I dabbled a little bit after college writing for various fanzines. I had my first professional sale in 1997. As for why I write, I can only say its because I want to tell stories. I see things and just get ideas that won’t let me rest unless I put them down. I’ve spent many a sleepless night just writing notes down so that it would clear my head.

I’m a big fan of your novels and the interwoven stories of the Peaslee family and Dr. Stuart Hartwell. It’s truly impressive the way that your books include so many events/characters from Lovecraft’s body of work. Did this take a lot of planning to pull off? What kind of effort goes into a Pete Rawlik novel?

Reanimators, The Weird Company, Reanimatrix and The Peaslee Papers all grow out of this idea I had of doing a timeline for Lovecraftian fiction. Peter Cannon has already done this for Lovecraft’s fiction, but I wanted to do it for other writers as well. In doing so I made copious notes (some of which have been published as the Lurking Chronology) and wrote a chapter of the history of pre-colonial Miskatonic Valley (published in Crypt Reanimatorsof Cthulhu #104). It was while prepping the next chapter of this project that I realized that several of Lovecraft’s characters from different stories where all in or near Arkham at the same time. The possibility of a crossover piece occurred to me and I began writing what was at times called The League of Lovecraftian Gentlemen, The Club Miskatonic, The Miskatonic Men’s Club, and finally became my novel The Weird Company. The problem I had was that I really wanted the Reanimator to be in this book but based on the time lines I had made Herbert West and his partner were simply unavailable. To resolve this, I decided to invent my own reanimator, someone who would act in West’s place who had all his abilities but none of his history. But in order to make this person work he needed his own back story, so I wrote a story about him, and then another, and another and another. Doctor Hartwell actually comes from Lovecraft, he’s Armitage’s doctor in The Dunwich Horror, I just tweaked him a bit, Doctors are wonderful professions to use as characters because they tend to encounter many people who are outside their usual circles, and whom often have problems. Integrating him into the other stories of the mythos was just easy. By the time I understood his character I had a whole novel written about him, that became Reanimators.

The Peaslee Papers and Reanimatrix were built in similar ways, focusing on characters that were in Lovecraft’s stories, but were never really resolved. In The Shadow Out of Time we spend a great deal of effort looking at Pr. Peaslee and what happened to him and his son Wingate, but very little time is devoted to his wife Alice, his other son Robert, and his daughter Hannah. I wanted to write stories from their perspectives, to see how what happened had impacted their lives. I was also very inspired by noir fiction, Reanimatrix is an homage to noir, particularly the book Laura by Vera Caspary (made into a fine movie by Otto Preminger). The Peaslee Papers was a very experimental piece, not quite a novel, but nor is a strictly a collection of short stories. I like to think of it as an epic, one that follows members of the same family across the entire life-span of the human species from when we were little more than primates until the heat death of the universe. A little ambitious, but people seem to have liked it. One of the things that all of these efforts have in common is extensive timelines, that often range from floor to ceiling. This allows me to make sure I maintain continuity both within and between books.

I love the way that your novels are dotted with references to stories and characters from all different genres and mediums. The first time I spotted an Indiana Jones reference, I nearly lost my mind. How do you go about including them? Do you keep a reference master list somewhere?

My fiction is often full of references to other pieces of fiction, both within the horror genre, but also in mysteries and in popular fiction. It’s a habit I picked up from writing for the anthology series tales of the Shadowmen (Blackcoat Press) which focuses on crossover characters in French literature. I love dropping these little jokes in, although admittedly some are never caught by my readers, while others send them into hysterics. I’m able to do this because I tend to be obsessive about things I love, particularly when it The Weird Company.jpgcomes to media. I’ve been collecting Lovecraftiana for most of my life, but I also have collections of Nero Wolfe, The Thin Man, Charlie Chan, Mr. Moto and more recent things like Dexter and Wicked. I want to stretch the boundaries of genre, and at the same time play with solving problems or discrepancies that haven’t been discussed by their own authors. For example, in one of his early movies Charlie Chan mentions that he is eighty years old, he then goes on to keep having adventures into the 1980s which would push him well past one hundred and twenty-five years of age, he’s pretty spry for someone that old. My solution is to make him an early and unknown benefactor of the reanimation treatment, like wise a few other ageless or wound-resistant detectives. The problem is I don’t keep track, and I end up having to reread my own books or ask my friend Rick Lai what particular references mean. For example, I mention Darrow Chemical in several of my books and this is a direct reference to the film Return of the Living Dead, but as has been noted, it is also a nod to Geof Darrow who created the comic book Doc Frankenstein. Many writers do this, and Win Scott Eckert and Sean Levin have written several volumes documenting such events throughout literature going back centuries.

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?

Writing advice seems to be all over the place these days, because there are lots of new and interesting ways to get published. What I have seen work, and what has been my experience is that you have to start small and work your way up. The purpose of publishing houses is not to publish your book, it’s to make money, pure and simple. And these houses have limited slots every year, so shoving in a novel by a new writer isn’t at the top of anybody’s list. It happens, but that person is in competition with well-established writers with established readerships. Think of it this way, you don’t walk into an architectural firm, get a billion dollars and just start designing skyscrapers, you start small, show people what you can do, develop a track record and then when someone asks what your big plan is you whip out that thing you’ve been working on in secret for the last five years. Also, when you develop that track record, make sure its good. If you wrote a story for anthology x and it was rejected, don’t scream about how unfair things are, that won’t look good in the future. Editors talk to each other all the time. Similarly, if you are invited to an anthology, and promise them a story about vampires, with a length of 5,000 words and a deadline of January, you damn well better do it. Don’t deliver a 10,000 word story about werewolves two months late. Its bad form and won’t win you any friends. I can’t tell you how much work I have gotten because I’m capable of delivering on subject, on word count and on time, where other people haven’t. Its not just about talent, its also about professionalism, and doing what you said you would. That can go a very long way.

The other thing I’ll add is don’t throw away the trunked stories. Once you’ve established a relationship with editors those stories are going to become very valuable. They might be early work, and not up to your new standards, but they can be rewritten. You know now what was wrong with them. Fix them, and put them in your back pocket for when suitable and suited venues suddenly show up. I keep a whole stack of holiday-themes stories laying around just in case, because every few years somebody inevitably wants to publish a scary Christmas anthology.

Reanimatrix.jpgThe Peaslee Papers

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

What’s next for me? For writers that’s always the big question, right? Its an occupational hazard, your book comes out and you’re on tour and the interviewer asks what’s next? Never mind the blood I just spilled for the last two years, and how I haven’t seen my family during the daylight in months. What is next? Can I say nothing? I want to say nothing. But that would be a lie.

The sequel to Reanimatrix is finished, with a working title of the Eldritch Equations and Other Investigations, it follows the further adventures of Robert Peaslee and Megan Halsey as they open up a detective agency in Arkham and have to deal with what appears to be the deaths of several math students at Miskatonic University. Its inspired by a line in the Lovecraftian rock opera Dreams in the Witch House.

I’ve put together a collection of my short fiction for publisher Gehenna and Hinnom, we’re calling it Strange Company, which is a reference to one of my stories, a one-time publisher of weird fiction, and the general tone of the book. We’ve pulled together a bunch of my stand-alone mythos stories, some mythos stories set in alternate histories, and some stories that are just plain weird but don’t belong to the mythos at all. Its my first collection and I’m looking forward to seeing it in print.

I’ve got a handful of stories subbed and another handful waiting to see print. Look for things – no, I can’t talk about that – well I wrote this piece for – no that’s not announced yet either. OK, I have ten stories and three poems awaiting publication, and another four stories awaiting acceptance/rejection. Is that enough?

No, well how about this. There’s an anthology I edited, called The Chromatic Court, it’s a riff of the common trope that the Yellow King is an avatar of Hastur, asking what are the avatars of the other Lovecraftian gods? How do we merge the themes of art, color and mythos into a single story? We got a bunch of good stories, more than we could use in just one volume, by some familiar names, some by people who I always wanted to work with, and some by new people who are just starting out. 18th Wall productions is the publisher and it should be out in 2019, I think.

Is that enough, please let that be enough. I’m dying here.

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 a very deep stack of books right now in the to be read pile. Scott Sigler’s Pandemic, all of David Hambling’s Harry Stubbs novels, Sherlock Holmes books by James Lovegrove and Lois Gresh (separately), Ruthanna Emrys’ Winter Tide, Byers’ Hep Cats of Ulthar, Kiernan’s retrospective mythos collection, and a few other things. I was a big fan of Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. Some where along the line that series got away from me. I was in a library store recently and they had the entire series in hardcover for a dollar a piece, so suddenly I added a dozen novels to the stack. This is just the top of the stack, what I pick up to actually read is anybody’s guess. And that guess will be as good as mine.

Last question: where can people find your works?

All of my books appear to be available from Amazon, or in finer specialty bookstores. I’ve seen fair representations in Providence and Portland, where I would expect to find my stuff. If you can’t find something you’re looking for let me know, drop me a line on Facebook, I usually respond within a day or so. If I don’t have an extra copy, I might know who does.

 

 

Monthly Review (June 2018)

Are we in the Dog Days of Summer yet? It certainly feels like it. My leg surgery that I mentioned last month went very well and I’m back to work (ugh). My submissions dropped off a bit this month because I’m still waiting to hear back on so many. Here are the numbers for June…

Story Submissions:

Submissions: 1

Stories Still Out in the Wild: 4

Acceptances: 0

Rejections: 0

What Else I’ve Been Doing:

E3

e3-2018

Video games, video games, video games. I watched every conference that I cared about and got very excited about some upcoming releases. I have some favorites and a few disappointments as well (Fallout 76). You can see more of my thoughts here.

Tune in next month for a pretty exciting interview with author Pete Rawlik! It will be the first of a new feature here. I’ll be interviewing authors and creators about their newest works, their lives, and what influences them. The first interview is incredible and I think the rest will be as well.

That’s it for now. Thanks for coming around. Stay cool everybody.

 

5 E3 Games That I Will Be Buying

I know this is a author website but I can’t help but be excited for E3. So if you can forgive me for this diversion, I’m going to geek out for a minute. The biggest video game convention of the year was packed to the gills with incredible announcements and news from nearly every developer. I decided to write this up to make sense of all the awesomeness. I’ve also decided to exclude games that have releases too far in the future (new Elder Scrolls!!! Cyberpunk 2077!!!) to try and narrow the list down. So here is the list from least to most.

5: Dying Light 2

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The first Dying Light was a underrated game. Developer Techland has announced that this game will be bigger and better in every way. They’ve updated the combat system and added some RPG elements as well. If the developers are to be believed, then choices will really matter for this one. I’m very excited to see how it all plays out.

4: Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey

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I just platinumed Assassin’s Creed: Origins earlier this week and finished that game out very excited for whatever Ubisoft was going to do next. The updated combat and traversal elements made the grind of the previous games into something truly magnificent. Just like Dying Light 2, Ubisoft Quebec has promised an addition of more RPG systems. I’m excited to Spartan Kick some people off some things when this game drops in October.

3: Metro: Exodus

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Russian post-apocalyptic first person shooter. Resource management and mysterious monsters from unknown places. I played the Metro games when they were remastered and I enjoyed them immensely. The gameplay trailers showed a beautifully desolate world that also looks very dangerous. I’m ready to kill some monsters as soon as this game drops.

2: Spider-Man

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Ummmm… This game looks insane on every level. A Spider-Man game with a Batman: Arkham combat system and a story that looks like it matches with the best of what Rocksteady conjured up. The complexity and speed of this game looks to be everything I could dream of in a superhero game.

1: The Last Of Us Part II

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This is the big one. Anyone that owns a modern PlayStation is beyond excited for this sequel. The Last of Us is a masterpiece. Harrowing. Brutal. If I had to pull a non-gamer into this pixel world, The Last Of Us would be the game I would load up. The gameplay we saw shows a game that has doubled up on the violence and darkness. Sony has been on a role lately. Spider-Man comes first. Then this one. It’s going to be a good year.

That sums up my E3 favorites. There was a lot of incredible looking stuff floating around this year. It’s a great time to be a gamer.

 

NPR’s Summer Poll: My Picks

NPR Bookshelf

It’s aliiiiiive indeed! I spotted that NPR is doing their Summer Poll via social media and I was very excited to see that the focus this year is on horror. The challenge that NPR put up this year (link here) is a tough one. Here’s what they’re asking for:

‘So what scares you? Besides clowns, I mean, because everyone is scared of clowns. Use the form on this page to vote for your five favorite horror novels or stories. Based on what you tell us, our expert panel of horror lovers (Tananrive Due, Stephen Graham Jones, Grady Hendrix and Ruthanna Emrys — more on them soon!) will curate a final list of 100 titles guaranteed to keep your spine chilled and your teeth rattling no matter how hot this summer gets.’

Five picks! I’ve read so many incredible collections and novels over the years that choosing five turned out to be harder than expected. I dove into my Goodreads and came out on the other side with five picks I think that any horror fan can applaud.

Stephen King’s IT

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Let’s talk about the first book that scared the crap out of me. This beast of a book has it all: clowns, werewolves, Lovecraftian monsters, and murder of all kinds. Some of the imagery that Stephen King creates has stuck with me forever. This is a must add for NPR’s list.

Deadfall Hotel by Steve Rasnic Tem

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I reviewed this book on here previously. Everything I said still holds true. This novel dives into one of the most fascinating settings I’ve come across in a horror novel. This is a powerful book that deserves so much love.

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

Heart Shaped Box

A rock star under attack by a vengeful ghost. Everything that Joe Hill writes is wholly creative and always terrifying. The quest that the protagonist in this novel undergoes is harrowing. This novel won every horror fiction award under the sun and MAN does it deserve it.

Swan Song by Robert R Mccammon

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Forget about ‘The Stand’. If you want a big fat post apocalyptic horror novel, look no further than this one. The action and horror in this thing are gonzo on every level. This is a jaw dropping ordeal and belongs in this five.

Occultation by Laird Barron

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I wanted to put a collection on this list and I can’t think of a better one. Every story is this collection is perfect. If you haven’t read this, hurry to wherever it is that you buy books and do that.

Those are my five! I’m excited to see the list that NPR and it’s panel of experts put together.

Monthly Review (May 2018)

Happy spring! I hope you’re enjoying your time and enjoying lots of good fiction and film. I’m here again just to give you a snapshot into my own going adventures in the writing world.

Story Submissions:

Submissions: 4

Stories Still Out in the Wild: 4

Acceptances: 0

Rejections: 2

My Hotmail Rejection Folder just got two new friends. The good news is that I sent the stories out basically right away and edited two older stories that have been sitting unused for a little while.

My novella outline is still coming together and I hope to have a good chunk of it done in the coming weeks.

What Else I’ve Been Doing:

Assassin’s Creed: Origins

Assassin's Creed

I have a new gaming obsession and it’s called Assassin’s Creed: Origins. This is a beautiful game world with the addictive gameplay that the franchise has cultivated over the years. The new RPG elements that they’ve added make the ‘sneak-kill-sneak’ loop infinitely more fun. Add in a bunch of new weapon types (including giant battle axes!!!) and I can’t believe how much fun I’m having.

Rear Window

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My wife and I have decided to fill in some of our classic film blanks lately. We’ve done some Hepburn, some Monroe, and now it’s time for some Hitchcock. I’ve seen most of the classics (Psycho, The Birds, Vertigo) but this one has long slipped by me. We rectified this on a stormy afternoon in the beginning of the month and I’m still kicking myself for WAITING so long. This thing is a masterpiece of suspense and design from top to bottom. Stewart is excellent as always. The neighborhood and the stories told around them builds this narrative to its eventual breaking point in the most fascinating way.

I’ll be having leg surgery early on in June, so I should have some time to catch up on reading and writing. I’ve been reading some great novels lately and I’ll be posting some reviews when I get a chance. Take a moment to follow me on Twitter (@logan_noble). Keep writing and reading everyone.