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  • Random-Ass Interview: Matthew Bartlett

    mattyb

    Why does massachusetts have so many Dunkin donuts?

    There’s a Dunkin’ Donuts on Main Street where they put in a separate Dunkin’ Donuts in the corner. When I got up this morning, I found they’d put one in my living room. It’s convenient, but I’m afraid I might be responsible for payroll.

    Do you believe in witches?

    I know some witches. I’m just glad you didn’t ask whether I believe in witchcraft.

    Pears or peaches?

    Peaches in pairs.

    Who would win in a fight, Edgar Allen poe or hp lovecraft?

    This is a tough one. Google informs me that Lovecraft was two inches taller than Poe. Lovecraft grew to 200 pounds after he got married; Poe was 140. Poe had a fondness for drink, while I suspect Lovecraft wasn’t one to overdo it. Lovecraft was sickly, though, right? Poe reportedly had a gorgeous singing voice, and Lovecraft predicted the advent of toaster ovens. What were we talking about again?

    If cats could talk, what do you think they’d say?

    Terrible things. Terrible things. And they’d ask for food a lot.

    What do you think you’ll get up to when you’re older?

    If by some miracle I’m not still working, when I’m not moping about my lost youth, I will run errands full time. I’ll be the guy talking the cashier’s ear off. I hope I’ll catch up on reading and writing, too.

    Favorite TV show?

    Curb Your Enthusiasm. I liked Lost a lot until the wrap-up.

    Cashews or almonds?

    Cashews all day.

    If you could go back in time, what time and place would you like to visit?

    London 1888.

    Rain or shine?

    Shine.

    If you could be any kind of monster what kind would you be?

    Probably a werewolf. I would be pretty sanguine about the whole thing, I think. That condition is tailor-made for people who are good at compartmentalizing.

    Favorite swear?

    I like when Brits use the C-word.

    Favorite hair?

    Beard.

    Favorite Care Bear?

    Zeppo.

    If vampires had guns, would they still wear capes?

    Let me answer that question with a question.
    Why do some cinematic Frankenstein monsters have a flat-topped head?

    I assume to make them look more monstrous, and less human.

    If werewolves had top hats hats, you think they’d look dapper?

    I think they’d look just precious, particularly Lon Chaney, Jr., who already looked quite dapper as the Wolf Man even without a hat.

    Can ghosts die?

    You’ll find out in March of 2033.

    Thanks for participating. Have a spooky Halloween.

    You too. BEHIND YOU!


  • Around the Corner: An Essay on Stephen King

    Almost two decades. It’s weird to think that much time has passed since my mom bought me that hardcover of Nightmares and Dreamscapes Christmas of my twelfth year. Before this of course I was reading nothing but those Goosebumps books. They were all the rage with the middle school set back in… Jesus, was it really 1996? Did such a year really exist all those years ago? Did Pogs really exist? Were OK Soda, Sifl and Olly on MTV after school, and video stores really around? The memories are like old photographs from outdated cameras. Those pictures you used to have to shake to get a clear visual of. The ones you had to wait to see how they turned out.

    I remember it was hard to read. Not just because it was one of the very first adult books I’d ever delved into, only shortly after I’d read The Terminal Man by Michael Crichton. I mean it was literally hard to read, as the hardcover was heavy for my little twelve-year old forearms to lift.

    The First King

    I read most of that hardcover of Nightmares with the scarecrow on it on a trip my parents took from our home state of Massachusetts down to South Carolina. My grandparents had a time-share there, and to save money on airfare, my dad decided to drive down.

    I remember being in the back of a mini van, reading by a flashlight. Reading about the Ten O’ Clock People. I have no idea why, of all the stories in the collection, The Ten O’ Clock People is the one I remember most vividly. Perhaps, because it seemed so adult to a twelve-year-old. People on cigarette breaks from their adult jobs, except they were seeing these weird monsters that passed themselves off as human. In that strange way memory works, like those pictures you have to shake that sometimes didn’t come out, the only thing I really remember understanding from the story back then was that quitting cigarettes was hard, and that batmen could in fact be seen if you smoked cigs, and then tried to quit.

    Why I don’t remember about Dolan’s Cadillac as strongly is utterly beyond me. I was in a car reading it, you’d think that would be the one that stuck out. But I digress.

    To be frank, I remember the weight of Nightmares and Dreamscapes more than I remember the content of the book itself. Like the first time you learn to do something, how what you often remember is the first time you were proficient at it. Not how you finally learned how to stay up on that bike without training wheels, but rather the time you rode down the street to go get pizza with some friends.

    The first King book I really remember the plot of was ‘Salem’s Lot. I was huge into vampires, my mother having those Vampire Lestat books all over the house, and she waxing poetic on Dracula, and her no doubt reading me stories of vampires. So, when I went into a text by this really cool author who wrote about monsters and scary adult stuff, and it was about vampires, you can bet I was over the damn moon.

    I still remember the cover was a pale vampire, with fangs out, and neon purple outlining his face, against the black. It was the Signet edition. I remember being really creeped out by the town, by the Martsen house. My family had moved from a house on a busy street in another town, to a larger house on a quiet street in a very rural town. The move no doubt had a lot to do with the resonance the novel had with me.

    By that summer I was verily King obsessed. And, it was time for my family to go on our yearly summer vacation to the Samoset Resort in Rockport, Maine.

    I grew up in Massachusetts. Yes, we’re a state in New England, but well, we’re not like Maine. Maine is a way bigger state. And, most importantly, Maine has some woods you can really, truly get lost in. Maine has small towns sorta like Jersusalem’s Lot. Not that they’re full of vampires, but they are very small.

    There’s a different vibe to the state. Things move slower. Or, maybe people from Massachusetts are just really hyper. Who knows? Point is, you can’t spend any time in Maine without hearing something about Stephen King. Hell, I’d argue you can’t go anywhere in New England without hearing something about him. But, back in the 90s, you really couldn’t escape his looming shadow.

    For the first time, in that summer of my twelfth year, I noticed there was a picture of Stephen King in the lobby of The Samoset Resort. He had those signature coke bottle glasses on, the frames of which seem to be a favorite among serial killers and computer programmers if you go through pictures of either from the late 80s and 90s. For some reason he also had a mustache, a green button up shirt, and green cowboy boots. I’m not making this up, if you ever happen by The Samoset Resort in Maine, go check.

    At some point that year my mom told me her friends used to be neighbor’s with the Kings in Maine. They told her how he owned a pink Cadillac he kept in the driveway, and how there was a black iron fence with bats on the top outside the house.

    My grandfather on my mom’s side grew up in Maine, too. We’re pretty close, gramps and me.

    So, you see, all of these things, my relatives and my mom’s friends from Maine, our yearly vacation to a resort in Maine King had, it turned out, visited, and my budding young imagination, everything combined that summer to put me in the prime head space for The Gunslinger, the first book in The Dark Tower series.

    The Gunslinger hit me like a slap to the face. I was never one of those kids that liked cowboys before this. And suddenly here’s this story about a desert, and a mythical cowboy with hands fast as lighting. Here’s this story about a man in black, a magician who wants to set The Dark Tower to toppling, destroying everything. For the Tower is everything, friends. It holds up our very existence on it. And here’s me, reading about a boy named Jake, who wakes up in Roland’s universe. Jake, who was alive in New York City, until he was pushed into traffic and died.

    I became Jake that summer. And King himself was Roland. I was following the path of the beam; a path this man who grew up not so very far away from where I grew up wrote about. And I got the sense that King was never very far off, you understand? It sounds very silly, but it almost seemed that summer like I was meant to read The Gunslinger.

    I finished The Gunslinger, and needed to read more of the books in the series. I needed to read more Stephen King. I became down right fanatical.

    It all started with that one book my mom probably bought me for Christmas because she wanted to encourage me to read. I’m sure she didn’t think that two decades later, I’d have two tattoos on my body dedicated to King’s fiction. I’m sure she didn’t think I’d spend so much time and energy reading so much Stephen King.

    You see, the power of Stephen King has always been that he has put himself into his stories. King has never been afraid to get personal with his fiction. But I would argue another layer of the onion, once peeled, is that for people in New England, especially in the 90s, King was like a rock star, like an actor, like a famous athlete. King was always around the corner, you understand? He always seemed like you might see him at a Red Sox game, or see him getting an orange Crush at a gas station at a rest stop somewhere in the middle of nowhere New Hampshire. So, when you get someone who is so honest with their fiction, throwing so much of themselves into it, and then you come to find out he likes to ham it up in credit card ads, and likes to see his picture in the magazines, and likes to cameo in some of the adaptations of his work into films, or mini series…

    I still feel like he’s just around the corner. I don’t think that feeling will ever go away, to be honest. And, I’m also not sure if I should be thrilled, or a little irked out by this feeling. After all, this is also a guy who wore serial killer glasses for many, many, many years before finally switching them up. This is a guy who, when he was about the age I was when I got Nightmares and Dreamscapes, used to collect newspaper clippings of killer Charles Starkweather.

    Deep down, down where the memories sit in an album on a shelf in my mind, I know the important thing is the feelings his fiction evoked in me; is the way the fiction, and learning about the man made me feel about myself. The importance of Stephen King in my life, particularly in the 90s, was, and has always been, that he’s made me realize the power of the imagination, and the power of image. The reason King’s fiction was so pivotal, and say, Crichton’s was not, is that Crichton never seemed like he could have been someone like me.

    Almost two decades, man. So many words. So many books. That’s a lot of time. That’s a life time for some.

    You might be wondering, so what? So a horror nerd got a good PR team, and you ate it right up, so what’s the big deal, who cares?

    I gotta’ be like one of those hippies from Woodstock in my response. You had to be there, man. I can’t really explain it to you.


  • Fuck You Pay Me Mentality

    It’s the new attitude I’m trying to adopt, in regards to my stories. In regards to the art that I spend hours laboring over.

    I’m not a very smart man. I think most of the important lessons I have to teach are simply from living through certain events, and forming an opinion based upon how it feels in retrospect.

    Let me tell you all a story. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English about ten years ago, with a minor in film. I’d dabbled off and on with short stories, and reviews in college. Primarily, I spent my time working on screenplays. I always assumed I would be a screenwriter, and then- well, then, nothing. I’ve always suffered from a lack of self esteem, and from feelings of inferiority. So, as is typical when it comes to my creative output, I never did anything with it.

    Anyway, cut to a few years out of college. I’d had a series of retail jobs, and one gig as an assistant teacher with autistic teens. And, spurred on by words of encouragement from my new girlfriend at the time (almost eight years with her soon, I love my woman) I started to work on short stories again. And I attempted to shop them around.

    Being the classic shoot off the email first, ask questions last type of man I am, my first attempts to sell short stories were doomed from the start because I didn’t bother to research the markets I was sending my stories too. And granted, a few might have fit, but the market was tough to get into, and I was brand new at the story game. But, admittedly, most of the stories I sent off just didn’t fit thematically with the markets I sent them too. The best example I have is that I sent an extreme horror story with graphic sexual content to an anthology to contain stories with monsters. See, just didn’t take the time to read up on the guidelines. That’s a great lesson kids: read the fucking guidelines before you send a story.

    So, I learned from that, and started trying to shop stories to the right markets; to openings where the stories would fit. And, somewhere along the line, I shopped a story to a place where the payment was a contributor’s copy. In essence, your payment is a physical copy of the book you’re in. And I got my first short story acceptance! And I was thrilled. The acceptance gave me the ego boost to continue to write stories, and shop them.

    And then, for the next seven years or so, I sold myself short. I submitted work to small presses, and magazines where I knew it would be easier to get in, because they weren’t paying me any money. And very rarely I’d go for a paying market, get shot down, and then go back to writing stories, and letting them be used in anthologies or web magazines for free.

    I’ve finally started to shop stories for paying markets again. And shocker: it’s tough to get people to pay you for your stories. But, I plan to keep shopping them.

    Don’t sell yourself short, like I did, and continue to do. Even if you were say, the worst cashier in the world, your employer would still pay you for your time at work. So, why is it any different for stories? Why is it that we allow magazines and short story anthologies to pay us nothing, and just blithely assume that it’s going to be good for us? Why do we work for hour after hour, and accept nothing for it?

    Because we are afraid we aren’t good enough to deserve money? I went to the RMV today. I had to renew my license. It took over an hour to talk to a lady, who asked me like two questions, took my picture, then sent me on my way. The RMV pays all of its employees, and they are slow as shit.

    There’s nothing wrong with accepting some kind of monetary compensation for your work, especially if the people you are giving it to plan to make a profit off of it. Complacency doesn’t mean a snowball in Hell if you don’t go anywhere because of it. Go get devastated for a while. It’s worth it, trust me.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • Do What Makes You Happy

    Like many writers, I get preoccupied with monetizing my hours of work. It only makes sense; you bust your ass, you expect to get a reward for it. Yet, I’m here to tell you that the writing might end up being the only reward you get.

    Sure, you might get some fans, might get some people who enjoy reading your stuff. But, the bottom line is, don’t expect to become a millionare, or even a thousandare, from this. It’s a difficult thing to hear, and to accept, but your writing might not lead you anywhere. You might not see fame or fortune in your lifetime from the thing you spend hours doing.

    This of course raising the next obvious question. If all of this hard work might not lead to anything, then why do it at all? Now, we get to the heart of this. Of all this.

    H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe are two of the most, if not the most, influential writers on the horror genre; the genre which I love, and am proud to be a fan, and contributor to. Neither of them saw much money, or fame in their lifetimes. Yet, their vision continues on, and their work has influenced more writers than I can name.

    There are still days when I forget my own advice, by the way. Days I get angry I have to stay at a retail job I hate to make money. But, you need money. And there isn’t a great chance you’ll make a living wage being a writer. So fuck it. Write because you love it, because it makes you feel like you’re accomplishing something. But, there’s no shame in trying this out, and realizing it isn’t for you. If you love it, do it, and if not, go do something else that makes you happy. Because at the end of the day, life is about trying to find your own personal place, in which you are content.

    I’m getting there. It’s a slow process.


  • Where I’m at with The Writing

    Many years have gone by since I first got the idea in my head to be a published writer, in the public sphere. And with those years, undeniable and ever-present problems have haunted the house of my mind. Simply put, I have a lot of trouble not worrying while writing.

    These fears run the gambit, from coming off like an uninformed idiot, to my very style itself. I’m not dense, and am aware that I read like a coked-out, distracted narcissist a lot of the time. I’m all too aware of my abuse of the first person pronouns, and of my lack of vocabulary. My word repetition is staggering, and sometimes it’s on purpose, but a lot of the time it isn’t. Don’t get me started on my fluctuation from incomplete, to long run-on sentences.

    Over the years, my idea of what this site and these articles should be has changed. When I started, the plan was to have it be a blog chronicling my attempts to make it as a published horror novelist. Of all the trials and tribulations of finding an agent, and shopping a first novel around.

    And then I finished my first book. And I don’t know, many factors kept, and still keep me from publishing it. Many people told me to self publish it, and I just don’t want to do that. But, I’d be lying if I said last summer, I didn’t go through a couple editors. I’d be a liar, if I didn’t tell you I got a friend to make me a cover for the book, so I could in fact self-publish it.

    But things just didn’t feel right. I tried to change the style of the book, to add dialogue after an editor’s request, to what was on its first draft always supposed to simply be a letter. A serial killer’s letter, and who on Earth writes a letter, and adds in dialogue complete with “this type of shit,” he said. In its first form, it was supposed to read like something you’d find hidden in a guy’s sock drawer. A really long letter, that was a confession, of sorts. Other factors came into play. Not feeling like the character described the 18 states he visited enough, and a lack of faith in my own editing, and the ability of others to edit my first novel, means that yet again, it will stay a thing I send to friends every once and a while. I’ve moved on.

    Yet, I still had this site. I’d paid for a domain that intentionally had my name in the title.As I was writing the first book, it was always my plan to have reviews on this site. To showcase my interests, and influences. To tell people about the real stinkeroos, and the gems. But, after the first book was trunked, suddenly all the site seemed to be about was reviews. Oh, sure, every once in a blue moon I’d throw a link to a short story I got published. But, I lost the fire I once had. And, so, for about a year or more, this site has been left by the wayside.

    I hopped from site to site, writing freelance. And I’m still welcome to contribute at a couple, I’m pretty sure. One not so much, but I ain’t got time to dwell on that bullshit.

    I have changed the name of this blog, (at least the header), many times. From Spooky Sean’s Sinful Bloggery, it was shortened to Spooky Sean’s Bloggery, and then to simply, Spooky Bloggery. I changed the theme and overall design of the site, and it was a bitch and a half. I got rid of my links, because the new theme didn’t look great with them, but I’m thinking about adding a few back to the side of the page.

    Which brings me back to why I’m writing this. I guess in a way I do want this to become about Sean M. Thompson the fiction writer again. I started writing for a site called Adventures in Poor Taste, so I have a great venue to showcase my nonfiction reviews, and articles. I don’t want to stop writing reviews and write-ups for this site entirely. But, I’d prefer to steer more towards analysis of multiple works on here. Because let’s face facts, my traffic is in the gutter, and I don’t give a fuck anymore. Why not make this a place I vent? Why not make this an actual blog?

    I still worry while I write. I worry I’m not writing the right thing. I worry I sound stupid. I worry that my style sucks. I worry that maybe I should just give up on this site, and just write for Adventures in Poor Taste, and maybe I should give up the fiction entirely.

    I stretch myself very thin. I’m currently doing a review of every single episode of Community, I do at least 1 comic review a week. I contribute to my own podcast, which in a fun and unexpected way stopped being merely a plot to get traffic up for this site, and started being about interviewing people I am intrigued by. I started as a co-host on a podcast known as Miskatonic Musings. I’m still attempting to help the crew at AIPT get their podcast off the ground. And, starting soon, I’ll be one of 2 hosts on a Stephen King podcast.

    But, when does that leave me time for the fiction? This question plagues me. The logical part of me knows it’s obvious; Sean, you write for the sites people read, and you contribute to the things that people take in. And, going with that, I would only contribute to AIPT, and Miskatonic Musings.

    But nonfiction is not why I started this journey. I realized last night that I need the fiction. I remembered last night why I started my first book in the first place. I am a man with a lot of problems. I’ve suffered from depression for my whole life. I’ve suffered with social anxiety disorder. I have Attention Deficit Disorder. And with all this comes a lot of pain, a lot of sharp memories, which bleed me internally every time they rear their ugly heads. I have a lot of anger, and I have nowhere to direct it. So, for better or worse, writing a book as a serial killer helped me to channel some of that anger. The most fucked up individual you can think of, namely the character from my first book, was a great way to express all the hatred, and sorrow in my heart, without having to come out and say “I am Sean M. Thompson, and I am fucked.”

    Because I am not “fucked,” as glamorous as that would be, and as easy as it would feel to just accept that. I have my problems, sure, but I am a caring and compassionate human being. I am a good friend to many, a good boyfriend (I’ve been told), and above all I am a person that wants to help people. You, reading this, I want to entertain you. I want to make you go through emotions. I want you to have a place you can go to help you when you don’t know how to deal with your own life. I want to make you think, laugh, cry, what the fuck ever. As long as I’m entertaining you. As long as I’m giving you what I so desperately needed all my life; a safe outlet, and a place to escape to forget about all the bullshit inside.

    Bottom line is I don’t give a fuck anymore what I write for this website. I just want to write. And if you’ll indulge me, I’m going to tell you about what I have going on from time to time. Because this is a place where I can truly be me. Where I can interview artists I respect, and where I can tell you about my attempt to create my own art, even if sometimes it drives me nuts.

    I started what I think will be another book a few months back. And the other day, I decided that even if I have to scale back contributing to some of the sites and podcasts where people actually read me, or listen to me, I want to give it another go.

    I want to prove to myself that I can write another book. Ideally it won’t take another two fucking years, lol.

    I’m not going anywhere. So even if this will just be a place where I practice writing, and my main audience is me, I don’t give a shit. Because creation is better than nothing. And because writing this made me feel a lot better, made me feel like I shouldn’t give up.

    To all the people who have been here since the start, thank you. And to all you new people to come, I’d like to welcome you. Because I’m here for you. If you’re going through some shit, I want to hear it. I’m linking the Facebook page for this blog below. If you need someone to talk to, I’m here.

    You should never give up on your dreams. I’m not giving up on mine.

    Spooky Sean’s Facebook Pagery