Too Spoopy

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  • In Honor of Women in Horror Month 2015: The Authors

    I’ve read a lot of short stories this year, a lot of them for the podcast I do weekly with one, Charles Meyer, and one Mallory O’ Meara, entitled, MISKATONIC MUSINGS.

    So, before I get boggled down with self aggrandizement, on to some of the best stories by women I’ve read this year! They are not ordered by enjoyment, but rather the order in which I remember them. Though, admittedly, I’m putting the more well-known authors at the bottom of this list.

    Livia Llewellyn

    The Mysteries, which I read in Nightmare Carnival, really put me into a strange state with its descriptions. Very other-worldly and ethereal. I loved the crap out of this story.

    Subsequently, I read a story of hers from Nightmare Magazine, entitled It Feels Better Biting Down, which also was imbued with wonderful imagery, and a creepy character. We covered it on this episode right here.
    It Feels Better Biting Down episode of MM

    I can not wait to get to her collection Engines of Desire. I’ve read she gets into erotica territory, which stands to reason, since the title of the collection is as such.

    Nicole Cushing

    Children of No One, Cushing’s first novella, was a look at a blackened maze, in which children were raised. It irked me out. Recently, I listened to a Pseudopod episode of her story The Orchard of Hanging Trees (Psuedopod episode with Nicole’s story here) which, yes, has also irked me out.

    I’m almost done reading her novella, I Am the New God, which is excellent. If you want messed up characters, and a wonderfully dark atmosphere, Nicole seems to be the one to bring it.

    And yes, I did interview her on my solo podcast…

    A.C. Wise

    Again, I read a story of Wise’s in Nightmare Carnival, entitled And the Carnival Leaves Town. Likewise, I recently covered a story of hers Where Dead Men Go to Dream on a relatively recent episode of Miskatonic Musings (linky, linky). She has a dream-like quality to her prose which is cool.

    Gemma Files

    I only read one story by Files, This is Not for You, which you can read here… http://www.nightmare-magazine.com/fiction/this-is-not-for-you/ A wonderful story about women who hunt men for sport. I’d like to read more of her, and I plan to.

    Helen Marshall

    Another author I only read one story of, this one for Miskatonic Musings again, this one called The Mouth, Open (linky, link). The story, about a man who overeats in Croatia, is wonderfully strange, and is just a real gem.

    Joyce Carol Oates

    Dude, Zombie.

    zombie

    Obviously fear is subjective, but to my mind Zombie is one of the scariest, if not the scariest book ever written. I also read her collection The Corn Maiden and Other Tales, and was summarily annihilated. The title story, about kids who kidnap a classmate and trap her in one rich girl’s basement, is heartbreaking, and terrifying. The darkness of the human heart is something Oates does not shy from. And it’s why her work scares the piss out of me.

    Shirley Jackson

    The Haunting of Hill House is the scariest novel about ghosts I know. We talked about it on this episode of Miskatonic Musings, here (clicky, clicky). It’s a character study, and it’s a classic tale of a haunted manor. And Shirley Jackson is a fucking powerhouse. We Have Always Lived in the Castle, The Lottery: both worth their weight in gold. Jesus can Jackson scare the shit out of you.


  • What I’d like to See in Comics

    Seansouthernbastard

    First and foremost, I am far from an expert on comics. I don’t read any of the major DC stuff, save for the issue of Batman here and there, or something related to Batman. When it comes to Marvel, unless it’s a story about The Punisher, or something related to Stephen King, it’s a safe bet I won’t read it. I mainly read horror comics, and independent comics. And while I obviously seem like a pretentious douchebag right now, I assure you that I merely bring up my interests so you know what kind of perspective I’m coming from.

    Safe to say I represent the fringe of comic fans, the ones who have no idea what The Avengers are up to, or who Superman has laser-eyed recently (Does he use the laser eyes still? I’ve only seen him on Justice League cartoons on Netflix recently.) Regardless, when I walk into my local comic shop, or get an email about a comic, the first thing I want to know is the plot. If it sounds like something I haven’t read a billion times yet, I usually give it a shot.

    Most of the comics I’ve stuck with end up being because of an interesting plot, a cool way of laying out the plot, or a compelling character.

    And actually, when it comes to comics I end up dropping, I imagine it’s for the same reason I’d stop reading a super hero story. Blood and guts and cool monsters, or, alternately, great action, and cool villains simply aren’t enough. And when I say it’s not enough, I don’t mean I won’t read those comics anyway. There are plenty of comics I’ve read for cool monsters and blood and guts, or rarely for great action and cool villains. No, what I mean is, the comics I end up going back to, the ones I recommend to non-comic fans or other comic fans, are the ones where there are compelling characters, and a well crafted story.

    Alan Moore has an interesting book “Alan Moore’s Writing for Comics,” in which he discusses some of what he feels are issues with comics currently.

    “Admittedly, it would be fairly easy for the industry to survive comfortably for a while by pandering to specialist-group nostalgia, or simple escapism, but the industry that concerns itself entirely with areas of this sort is in my view impotent and worthy of little more consideration or interest than the greeting card industry.”

    One series I’ve really enjoyed in 2014 was been “Clive Barker’s The Next Testament.” Haemi Jang’s art, and the color by Vladimir Popov certainly helped, but primarily it was the story by Clive Barker and Mark Miller that moved me to keep reading this series. “Next Testament,” tells the story of what is essentially a hybrid of God and the Devil mixed into one rainbow colored being known as Wick , that is brought to our modern society after being unearthed by a rich man named Julian Demond. The story is haunting, grotesque. And while the human characters can often come across as very stock, Wick is fascinating. You can’t wait to hear what he has to say next, and his words are given weight by the fact he can also destroy a city in the blink of an eye. Yet, I’d love this character even without any powers. Wick just has this powerful gravitas to him you can’t help but be intrigued by.

    There have been a few other comic adaptations, things like the adaptation of “Stephen King’s Dark Tower series,” and “Clive Barker’s Nightbreed,” or “John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China,” which I’ve enjoyed. I like all of these series, but I hesitate to recommend them in an article about what I’d like to see going forward in comics. And the reason is simple: what I would like to see more of in 2015 and beyond, are original stories, be they horror or otherwise. Original stories as in original characters not from a film, or book series.

    Moore’s has a few good quotes pertaining to comics as a medium when related to film, and literature.

    “Rather than seizing upon the superficial similarities between comics and films or comics and books in the hope that some of the respectability of those media will rub off upon us, wouldn’t it be more constructive to focus our attention upon those ideas where comics are special, and unique?”

    I’ve found some of my favorite comics in 2014 were about, at least by comic standards, fairly simple and not mega-huge larger than life plots. Take “Southern Bastards,” an Image title about a corrupt southern town written by Jason Aaron, with art by Jason Latour . It’s one of my new favorite series, and I can’t wait to get my little wiry hands on each new issue. And straight up, “Southern Bastards,” is a simple story of corruption, and people searching for justice. Yet, the series is able to hit dramatic notes and hit me with the feels harder than anything else I’ve read this year. And it’s an original story, not based off any existing book or film, with a first arc primarily revolving around an old man and the town he grew up in!

    “The Fade Out,” by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips was far from a diverse cast, as it takes place back in what I think is the fifties in Hollywood, but this falls under the category of a different type of story leading to originality. I liked it too, because I’m a sucker for period pieces on Hollywood, or really any kind of story on Hollywood.

    One series in 2014 which really surprised me was “The Field,” with story by Ed Brisson, and art by Simon Roy. It’s only a four issue run, but it managed to pack enough mystery and shock, and most importantly memorable characters to make me plow right through it. A man with amnesia, and a world that has apparently gone bat-shit insane.

    In the interest of time, I glossed over a lot of the unique stylistic reasons in the art and the writing of the series listed that made me enjoy them so much. Rest assured that they knock it out of the park.

    In general, I’d like to see comics include different kinds of characters, from all walks of life. The series I enjoyed and listed certainly don’t contain any wildly unique characters. I’ve heard amazing things about the series Sex Criminals, but I haven’t read it yet, so can’t speak on it.
    The most important thing in my mind comics can do is to stop trying to rigidly tell “comic stories.” I was talking with the owner of my local comic shop one time a year or so back. I’ll paraphrase, as I don’t have an eidetic memory. I was telling him something to the effect that I wasn’t into traditional comics, and expressed how I wanted to start trying to write comics. Told him how I wasn’t into superheroes, really, so wasn’t into traditional comic stories. He sort of gave me a look, and proceeded to say some things I’ve taken to heart when it comes to comics. He told me that comics are a medium, and not a story type. He asked me, if I’d say I wasn’t into traditional movie stories, or into movie stories. I responded something like, no, I’d say I’m not into this type of movie, this specific genre, or I’d say the name of the movie. He helped me put things in perspective. Told me, there is not specific type of comic or comic story. That any story can be told in a comic, in the same way you could tell a story in a movie, or in a book.

    You can tell any story you want in a comic. You don’t have to write a comic in the hopes that it’ll become a movie, or get the respect of a novel. Comics are great because they are what they are; they can tell visual stories, but with the power of the written word. Comics occupy the sweet spot between visual art, and text based art such as short stories, or novels.


  • Shadows of the Past with a story by Yours Truly

    “Shadows of the Past,” is currently in ebook for a buck ninety-nine, and will soon be available in a hard copy, with flippable pages, and the like. The anthology is a collaborative effort on the part of members of the Arkham Horror Book Club, which has a definite penchant for the works of one H.P. Lovecraft, though discusses other works of horror fiction.
    “Shadows of the Past” is filled with stories of history, and horror. My story in the antho is entitled “A Smile Too Wide.” The story takes place during the Haitian slave revolt, and explains the origin of the vodun cult mentioned in Louisiana in “The Call of Cthulhu” by H.P. Lovecraft.

    Check out the cover, made by one Farah Rose!

    shadowsofthepast

    You can purchase the ebook here.


  • Blog Tour Writing Process Horse Shit

    First and foremost, here is the link for this ol’ blog tour jazz. This is the person who nominated me for this. T.J. Tranchell, writer of Horror Warning Signs, and new cohost of There Are Other Worlds Than These.

    Link over here!

    So, I was asked by a fellow blogger T.J. to talk about my writing process for a blog tour thinga-ma-jig which I’m far too lazy to read the other posts in right now. Being the awful narcissist I am, I jumped at the chance to talk about my process, of creating shit none of you really rightly give a fuck about right now.

    Being ADD as all Hell, my first step is getting motivated to write. Soon after, I have to isolate myself, and give myself a good five minute warm up period, to get my brain in the right headspace. If it’s fiction, sometimes I need more than that. A post like this I don’t really care if it’s stylish, ya dig? This is closer to just having a conversation with someone. When you talk to someone at a BBQ, you rarely fret too much about the word choice, at least too much. But, when you’re writing something you want to make an impact, the nerves can get in the way. Hence, getting back to the point, it takes a little longer to get into “the zone.” So, most of the initial writing process is motivate, isolate, and then get the brain ready to create. I find some kind of background noise helps, but I can’t handle anything to thrashy initially. I can’t listen to screechy vocals for some reason when I try to write, and I can’t do rap music either. So, either something with no lyrics, or something with low key vocal styles. Right now I’m listening to the new Daman Albarn, called Everyday Robots. When I wrote my first book, a lot of it was to the Ravenous soundtrack. I realize that soundtrack is also partially produced by Daman Albarn (lead singer of Blur, guy from the Gorillaz) so maybe I should just stick to writing with Albarn stuff.

    My note process I’m still in the process of figuring out. Sometimes I go off of notebooks, sometimes text documents I save on my laptop. I usually have to write names down, those are the things I forget instantly. You must understand, I’ve probably written 30ish stories at this point, and many of them are in the short form. So, in my head, I remember the guy or girl, but especially if it isn’t a character from a novel, I might only discuss them for five to ten pages. It’s akin to remembering the name of a person you talk to a party one time, and then you meet them again, and have to remember what their name was. I’m awful with names, man.

    The writing rituals have become a lot healthier lately. Creating the first book most every writing sesh I’d smoke a bowl, then have a cup of coffee, then write. In college, writing the two scripts I crapped out, I chain-smoked cigs. A lot of writers turn to the hooch. I will admit to having written while drunk, and it is a lot easier, because your inhibitions are lowered. I believe it was Hemingway who said write drunk, edit sober. Well, I’m happy to report a cup of caffeine, or even just some gum can do it for me now. I find things I can repetitively do are good for writing. Chewing gum, eating pretzels or some other snack akin to it, where not too much is left on your hands. Being perfectly frank, I’ve been prescribed Adderall for my ADD since I was 12, and so if I really need to work on something, say to hit a deadline, I’ll take one or two of my little blue friends. But, I try to avoid prescription speed whenever possible; tt wreaks havoc on the bowels.

    The hardest part of writing for me is staying consistent, and continuing to plug away at projects. There’s a definite reason I have at least 30 short stories, and only one novel. A novel is a long commitment, and short stories come a lot easier. Much less of a commitment with a short story. A major problem is that I have three podcasts, this blog (which I never update, so it isn’t a problem) and Adventures in Poor Taste on my plate. So, again it comes down to motivation. There is no right answer as to what I should work on. All of the projects and sites I write for are rewarding in different ways, so I kind of just have to stick to one or the other for a certain period of time, then double back, so as to try and keep everything somewhat up to date. But, I make no bones about the fact with so much shit in the air, occasionally stuff gets left by the wayside for a while. My second novel, for instance (which might not even stay a second novel, we’ll see) is on the back burner, because I decided I finally wanted to write a comic script, and try to find an artist for it.

    The hardest part of the process is convincing myself it’s worth it. I know, I know, so many have the whole “if it isn’t fun, don’t do it,” line they spout off. Guess what? It’s not always going to be fun, even if you love writing today. Sometimes it is simply work, and you have to come to grips with that if you’re going to be a writer. But, take this silly blog. No one reads it anymore, and at this point I just view it as a domain I want to hold onto, which can work as an online writing resume. And, occasionally, it can also serve as a place to do fun stuff like this.

    I had a site drop me one time because an editor said I was rambling and incoherent. I sort of am, so not sure how I should end this post. I guess the main point I’m trying to get at is you do have to get into a routine, but most importantly, you have to get into a sort of hypnotic state. So, if you have anything you can do to ritualize the process, I think it helps you make it a routine. I was experimenting with a playlist per project, but I shitted out on that. Still, a steady stream of sounds you get used to, or snacks to snack on, Hell, even a place to go, which is only for writing and nothing else, these things help.


  • The Add Horror Fan: Don’t Worry, Just Do the Damn Thang

    So many things to do, how do I know which one to do? I don’t. I just try to stagger all my creative projects out. All is creation. I figure it’s the same part of the brain, so whatever I work on is good. Listening to The Winding Sheet by Mark Lanegan right now.

    I worry a lot about seeming stupid, scatter-brained, and, dare I say, rambling, and incoherent. I guess the only shit that makes it uniquely horror-based is that’s the genre I tend to gravitate towards.

    I lose motivation real easy. You might notice I don’t update this blog a lot. You gotta understand, i have a lot to do, and the traffic on this is quite low. Right now, I’m just trying to build up an audience in the most effective fashion.

    But shit, let’s talk horror cruuud. Just watched You’re Next for the first time. Loved the score, though it was overbearing, and loved the look of it, though I thought the story was a bit nonexistent. Watched some movie called Contracted. Terrible acting, but the practical effects were rad.

    Just read a story by Julio Cortezar, known as Headache aka Cefalea. Cortezar released it in the fifties in his short story collection Bestiario. It was a cool story, real paranoid. However, perhaps it was the translation, and all the latin, but it was quite confusing. Nifty story though, here’s the link where you can read it. Has a very awesome picture by Dave Mckean at the top above the story. It is pictured below.

    headache

    I’m trying to get There Are Other Worlds Than These back up. Line up change, and I don’t feel like throwing anyone under the bus, so I won’t discuss it much. I feel bad enough about the change, so let’s just leave it at this; sometimes in this life you have to make decisions. You have to do things you feel are for the best in the interest of getting your projects off the ground. The King cast was fucking stagnating, and I am far from without blame for that. I’d lost steam on it. Hopefully the new cohosts will help me get There Are Other Worlds Than These off the ground. I plan to have a lot of fun, and if I don’t, I’ll just hand it off to one of them. Not like I don’t have way to much other shit going on right now.

    For instance, Spooky Sean’s Podcastery… I gotta get a guest and record a new episode of that fucker! Perhaps AJ and TJ from There Are Other Worlds Than These? I just realized they both have abbreviations, and the letter “J” in their names…