July 31, 2012

Kickstart My Hellbound Heart: an interview with Abomination Magazine's Corey J. Goldberg

After I read and reviewed the inaugural issue of Abomination Magazine yesterday, I had a chance to ask a few questions of its founder and editor, Corey J. Goldberg. Enjoy.

Gef: After being a horror devotee for so many years, what made you decide to start a magazine dedicated to the genre?

Corey: I created Abomination Magazine as a way to give back to the genre which I have loved my entire life. After reading just about every horror fiction magazine I could get my hands on, I decided something was lacking. Numerous horror fiction magazines exist, but none that focus on truly frightening the reader. I decided to fill the niche because it was something that I wanted to read but was unable to find.

Gef: One of the ways you brought the magazine to fruition was a Kickstarter campaign. How did you find that experience, and do you see such campaigns as a new standard with independent authors and editors?

Corey: Kickstarter is a great tool for funding creative projects of all kinds. This was the first Kickstart campaign that I attempted to run and was overjoyed when it was successful. In retrospect there are a lot of things that I would have done differently with the project if I had the opportunity to do it all over again and would be more than happy to discuss the process in more detail with anyone that is interested.

A lot of projects fail because people think they can just put there idea out there and the funds will pour in. In actuality, it takes an exorbitant amount of self-promotion to reach even a modest financial goal.

For editors of other people’s material, crowd funding is a great way to obtain funding. Unless you are extremely wealthy, there may be no other way to pay writers for their work. For independent authors, however, I don’t feel that it’s necessary to run fund raising campaigns. If you want to write a book nowadays, it costs you absolutely nothing to self-publish in e-book format and if the e-book is successful, you can use those funds to create a print run of your publication. The time and effort required to run a successful campaign could be much better spent on the craft of writing itself.

Gef: How do you see the state of horror fiction as a whole these days? Upswing, downswing, pariah in the eyes of the masses--as usual?

Corey: As always, the monster du jour is constantly changing. I feel that we are on the tail end of the zombie infestation and I am excited to see what monster comes out on top in the years to come.

In my opinion the state of horror fiction is as it always is; praised by those that love horror and thought of as a pariah by everyone else. If you follow trends in fiction, it seems as if less and less horror fiction comes out each year, but you will also notice that books that used to be classified as horror are being sold as thrillers or mysteries. Obviously, this doesn’t change the fact that a book is horror, just what shelf it’s being placed on for marketing purposes. As long as people continue to read, the state of horror will continue to be strong.

Gef: Which authors would you say have influenced your own tastes in horror?

Corey: There are so many authors that I love and respect. Stephen King, Richard Layman, David Moody, Peter Straub, Shirley Jackson, Ambrose Bierce, Edgar Allan Poe, Graham Masterton, Ramsey Campbell, Clive Barker, Richard Matheson, and of course H.P. Lovecraft are some of my favorite horror writers. I am also a huge fan of Theodore Sturgeon , Kurt Vonnegut, and Philip K. Dick. I mention these authors separately because they are more science fiction than horror, but have had a huge impact on my tastes.

Thanks to Corey for the interview. Be sure to pay Abomination Magazine a visit at http://abominationmagazine.com

July 30, 2012

Rabid Reads: "Abomination Magazine #1" edited by Corey J. Goldberg

Abomination Magazine #1
edited by Corey J. Goldberg
April 2012

When I opened up the first issue of Abomination, I really didn't know what lay in wait for me. I naturally assumed I would get a few horror stories from an upstart magazine, a couple of which I might actually like. Abomination surprised me.

Corey's introduction offers a sincere message from a guy who loves horror enough to start another venue in which to showcase it, but he makes it plain that it's not just some short stories he wants to highlight. It seems poets and artists are welcome to the fold as well.

Following the introduction is a remarkably good drawing entitled "Bite," of a couple sitting on a bench, though the macabre tone of the actual picture is less romantic and quaint that just that. One of the things I like about illustrations like "Bite," as well as the three others included, is that they complement the written word amplify the tone and timber of a book. What's more, speaking of illustrations, this inaugural issue even included a short story in the form of a comic strip. "The Power of Dreams" by Michael Gedkowski was a Lovecraftian-inspired crime story with graphics as rough as the subject matter.

What brought me to the dance is the stories, though.

William J. Fedigan's "Burning Like Dead Skin" was the first short story and probably made it quite clear that Abomination wasn't out to print pure pulp. The writing style had a kind of staccato feel to it, told through the eyes of a couple very disturbed criminals. It was a bit murky at first, but once I adjusted the style it was a really good story.

"Selection" by W.B. Stickel was memorable, due in part to its reminiscence to an old Twilight Zone episode I remember of a Nazi soldier who learns what it's like to be a Jew under the thumb of German tyrants. Where "Selection" stands apart is its introduction, intriguing characters (especially the visitor named Melaku), and the remorseless tone.

My favorite story would have to be Matthew S. Dent's "Whispers in the Skin Garden." This one harkened back to some of those wonderfully dark fusions of horror and sci-fi from years past. Imagine endless fields of living skin, grown for the purposes of skin grafts and the like in a not-so-distant future, then imagine the poor bastards who have to tend those fields. The grim resignation of the narrator really came through and evoked a lot of sympathy.

At face value, this first issue feels like a hodgepodge of horrors, with its varying forms of storytelling. But if you're a person who is open to dark fiction that comes in a myriad of forms, you may want to keep an eye on this one. For a ragamuffin magazine, it shows a lot of promise.

July 27, 2012

The Stupefying Story Behind Stupefying Stories: an interview with Bruce Bethke

Yesterday, I reviewed the March 2012 edition of Stupefying Stories, an on-going anthology series from Bruce Bethke. Today, I have an interview with the man behind the madness. Enjoy!

Gef: Here's a tee-ball question to kick things off: What was the inspiration in starting up Stupefying Stories?

Bruce: There's inspiration, and then there's motivation.

My two inspirations were George Scithers, founding editor of
Asimov's and later editor of Amazing Stories, and Charles C. Ryan, founding editor of Galileo and later Aboriginal. Thirty-some years ago, when I was a young punk just starting out in this business, George and Charlie were the only two editors open-minded enough to be willing to consider a story by anybody and patient enough to put up with me. Their advice, guidance, occasional whacks on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper, and eventually acceptances and publications, were what launched my career.

They're my inspirations. Then there's my motivation, which comes from another place entirely. I'd been running an online writing workshop for several years and was getting tired of hearing my workshop writers -- some of whom were producing truly first-rate work -- complain that they just couldn't seem to get a break. So I started looking into it, and realized that yes, the kids were right; there really
are very few editors out there now willing to do for today's new writers what George and Charlie did for me.

So I decided, this is something I can do.

Understand, I don't need to do this. I am not one of those people who's always dreamed of someday being a famous editor. It's even in our business plan: if
Stupefying Stories ever does become commercially successful, the second person we're hiring is an editor-in-chief to take over the day-to-day running of the thing.

(Our first hire will be a good administrative assistant. Believe me, we need one.)

Ergo, I do not do this for the sake of my own ego. I'm doing this because people seem to keep wanting to pay attention to
me, because of some stories I wrote twenty to thirty years ago and some awards that hang on my office wall, and if I can use this attention to instead redirect their focus onto new writers, who are doing great new work now -- well, this would be a good thing, no?

Gef: You make the distinction that Stupefying Stories is less a magazine than an anthology series. Did you opt for that method as a way of focusing on the stories, since magazines tend to contain other items like essays, poetry, and reviews? Or was there another contributing factor?

Bruce: We did consider doing it as a magazine. In fact, a few years back I pulled together a group of investors and we seriously considered buying Amazing Stories, which at that time had just gone out of business again. But the more we studied the idea, the more strongly we came to the conclusion that launching a new magazine -- or buying Amazing and trying to reanimate Hugo Gernsback's corpse one more time -- would be a really great way to blow at least $100K annually, and at the end of the investor's money we'd still have a dead magazine. I mean, consider the recent death, resurrection, and final death of Realms of Fantasy as a case in point.

The age of the subscription-driven monthly or bimonthly magazine is over. You want book and movie reviews? There are better and faster places to get them online. You want a letters column and some sense of interaction with the editor? There's this thing called Facebook. You want gasbag op-ed pieces and science-fact articles? For the love of God, why?

The interesting part is, once we decided to jettison everything that wasn't story, we found we had a product with a much longer shelf-life. It's the non-fiction content that makes a magazine ephemeral. Fiction does not age, or at least it doesn't age as badly as does a book review.

So by making Stupefying Stories a fiction anthology e-book series, this immediately lets us put out a product that we can keep on the market for a long time. A magazine has its month in the sun and then it's done. We can keep a volume of Stupefying Stories available for sale for three years, and take the time to build our readership slowly, as people discover us and go spelunking through our back catalog.

Thus far the model seems to be working. Whenever we release a new book, we also see a jump in sales of our backlist, as people discover that they like what they're reading and decide to go see what else we've published.

Gef: What was the first preconception of running a periodical you saw dashed before your eyes?

Bruce: Given that I come from a Journalism and non-fiction writing background and have spent the past thirty years selling to periodicals and hanging around with publishers and editors, I already had a pretty good idea of what I was getting into. So I guess I didn't have too many starry-eyed preconceptions waiting to be dashed.

The one thing I'd say I really underestimated was the sheer volume of management involved in putting out a publication. Between processing submissions -- in a slow month we get around 200 new submissions, and in our peak month so far we received 500 -- recruiting for and managing our ever-growing crew of first readers, keeping submissions moving through the review | acceptance | rejection pipeline, handling relations with authors, artists, and production personnel, and all the other invisible back-office busywork, I spend one hell of a lot more time managing people than actually editing and publishing fiction.

As I said before: I could really use a good administrative assistant.

But since you're looking for dashed preconceptions, how about this? When I was on the writer's side of this relationship, I never understood why editors made so much use of form rejections and so rarely provided substantive comments. Now that I'm on the editor's side, I fully understand why. When you're dealing with hundreds of submissions monthly, there simply is not time enough to provide meaningful commentary on every submission.

I wish there was. There simply isn't.

Gef: The covers for each installment have been a great blend of striking and strange. Do you offer input to the artists on what the cover art should look, or is it simply a matter of letting them know what you need and let them run wild?

Bruce: Both. I offer input, but that's just the nudge to get the artist started and give him or her a sense of direction. I love to be surprised and impressed by other people's talent, so whenever I give out a cover assignment, I'm always hoping the artist will come back with something far more awesome than what I had in mind. Thus far, our artists have done so.

If you think you've seen some cool covers already, just wait 'til you see what's in the release pipeline for the rest of this year!

Gef: How daunting is a slush pile for you? Is there a recurring annoyance among story submissions that you wish could be wiped from your inbox, or has the wheat-chaff ratio been easy on you?

Bruce: Again, I came into this with the benefit of thirty years' experience and a lot of time spent talking with more seasoned editors, so I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting into. Our wheat-chaff ratio has settled into the expected conformance with Sturgeon's Law. About ten-percent of the submissions we receive are actually worth reading.

Believe it or not, when we first launched, we were afraid we weren't going to receive enough good submissions to make a go of it. That worry lasted about two weeks. Then we started worrying about how we were going to handle our rapidly growing volume of submissions.

And then we got hit with the Great Submissions Blizzard of 2011. More than five hundred stories before it was over. It took us nearly two months to dig out from under it.

We've had to evolve very rapidly since then, and invent a lot of processes from scratch. Being an Internet-based virtual company with staff spread out across 2,000 miles and three time zones, many of the submissions handling processes used by traditional publishers are worthless for us. Just managing contracts when you're dealing with authors who live on every continent -- and yes, we've even received stories from people stationed in Antarctica -- is an adventure. Thank goodness for PayPal.

So, recurring annoyances? Just the usual, I suppose. Funny stories that aren't. Horror stories that are nauseating, not scary. Stories written by people whose ideas about normal human behavior come from watching actors play characters on television, not from observing real humans in their native habitat. Space opera written by people who've clearly watched every episode of every Star Trek series ever made but never had a single original thought about the idea. Military stories by guys whose combat experience consists of playing a lot of XBox. True Blood fan fic. "Little kid discovers that the monster under the bed is real;" there must be some how-to book somewhere that says this is the perfect story to write, because we receive it about five times weekly. Stories from writers who've clearly never read our submission guidelines, because if they had -- especially this part, http://www.stupefyingstories.com/p/what-were-not-buying-now.html -- they'd have known better than to send us that steaming load of crap they sent.

The most astonishing -slash- depressing thing to come out of our slush pile so far has been the realization that there are a whole lot of people running around out there with advanced degrees in Creative Writing -- BAs, MFAs, even PhDs -- and absolutely no frickin' clue as to what a story is! They send us beautiful wreckage -- sensuous sentences, perfect paragraphs, evocative images, scintillating scenes -- but when you get to the last page, you're left wondering: what the Hell was that all about? Five thousand words of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

If I could automatically filter out one thing from my inbox, that would be it: the piles of words -- sometimes beautiful words -- that don't contain any actual story.

Gef: In the introduction to the March 2012 edition, you cited Beth Cato's "Red Dust and Dancing Horses" as a stand-out. I, too, have to say it's one of my favorite stories of 2012, if not the favorite. When it comes to discovering or providing a stage for up-and-coming authors, how do you see your role as an editor there? Do you feel tempted to break out the pom-poms and add cheerleader to your job description, too?

Bruce: I think I've already answered this one, but yes, "coach" and "cheerleader" are definitely parts of my job, and definitely the parts of it I wish I could spend more time doing.

However, first I need to get the back-office processes running smoothly, and then we need get more books out the door. At the moment we have five books stalled in various stages of production. We've only released two volumes of Stupefying Stories so far this year, as opposed to the seven we should have out by now, so we need to get things moving again. (I should probably mention that while we didn't hit our plan to release a new SS on July 1, we did release three full-length novels that day, albeit through Rampant Loon Press, not Stupefying Stories. So it's not exactly as if we've been sitting around twiddling our thumbs since March.)

Release books first. Do cheerleading afterward.

Gef: Maybe it's me, but I sense a hint of nostalgia in many of the stories that appear in Stupefying Stories. By that, I mean a harkening to the speculative fiction of the mid-twentieth century--not an imitation, but a sentiment or like-minded approach to storytelling. Am I on-base with that or just seeing things through my own Bradburian lens?

Bruce: It's interesting that you make that observation. We are not consciously trying to "go retro" -- well, except for Throwbacks, but that's a special case -- but all the same, we seem to get tagged with this label with some frequency. I think this perceived sense of nostalgia comes from a simple set of stylistic cues. To wit:

We publish stories. With characters. And plots. If what you've written is seven thousand words of formless goo about a hapless schlub who spends the entire narrative sitting in his apartment, wallowing in a puddle of existential despair and paralyzed by the bleak meaninglessness of it all, and who in the end goes nowhere and does nothing, we're probably not the right market for you. Why don't you instead try it on that depressed Goth chick who hangs out at your favorite off-campus coffee shop? I bet she'd really get off on it.

We don't publish porn. We have published stories with sex scenes: T. D. Edge's "Spirit Bags" in the January 2012 issue comes to mind, as it has a scene in it that made a few of our associate editors blush. But we don't publish the kind of fiction that used to be called explicit hard-core porn, before a couple of fortuitous Supreme Court decisions made it respectable and very profitably mainstream.

We don't publish stories about serial killers, the sexual abuse of children, serial killers who sexually abuse children, sexually abused children who grow up to become serial killers, or any other permutation on that those ideas. If that's your thing, there are plenty of other magazines that publish it. We don't.

We don't publish stories that seem to be more about the author's personal sexual problems than about anything of any interest to anyone other than the author and his or her psychotherapist.

We have yet to find a compelling reason to publish a story containing any of the small set of words that used to be called "obscenities." We've accepted such stories, but always found in copy-editing that the author was willing to substitute a more benign word on request. In fact, quite a few authors have told us they only put those words in in the first place because they thought they had to, in order to be considered hip, modern, and edgy.

Look, let's be honest. Walking around with the word "FUCK" written on your forehead was very edgy -- in 1968! But if you take a look at the very short list of the kinds of stories we don't publish, and if it's the absence of these kinds of stories that defines us as being "nostalgic" --

Well, maybe being "modern" is greatly overrated.

Gef: The first year anniversary looms. Anything special planned to mark the occasion or is it simply full-steam ahead?

Bruce: No, nothing special. We've got to get Stupefying Stories back onto a stable monthly release schedule, first. Then we've got two double-length "theme" anthologies in the works that we've got to finish up and release, and after that there's -- well, the usual term is "sister" publication, but this is more like a "disreputable half-brother-in-law" publication that we'll be launching this Fall. But more about that another time.

So no, at this time we are not planning anything special to mark the first anniversary. We're just trying to get books out the door.

Our goal is to make it to the three-year mark. If we're still around in the Fall of 2014, then we'll do some serious celebrating!

July 26, 2012

Rabid Reads: "Stupefying Stories (March 2012)" edited by Bruce Bethke

Stupefying Stories: March 2012 Volume 1, No. 5
edited by Bruce Bethke
Rampant Loon Press (2012)
ISBN: 9780982897461

Since I started reading short stories online through assorted periodicals, I've developed a few go-to spots. We've all got 'em. And with 2012, I found a couple more, one of them being Bruce Bethke's Stupefying Stories. Each issue is different, the latest one I got is the March issue which had the playful "Sex and Dead Presidents" theme.

In the introduction, Bruce makes it known that he's got a favorite in the opening story by Beth Cato, and after I read it I can see why. "Red Dust and Dancing Horses" tells the story of Nara, a young girl living on Mars and wishing she could have a horse. But horses aren't exactly common, not even on that old relic called Earth. So, with the spare parts from her father's workshop, she decides she will build a horse. And finds inspiration when she learns of a special artifact from Earth is being housed in a warehouse she visits for a school project. The awe and inspiration of this story is just spellbinding and it wound up being my favorite from the ten stories included in this issue.

Another standout for me was "Lincoln's Revanant" by Chuck Bordell, a Civil War story about a soldier with a terrible, hereditery gift that gives him a special insight into the war and the killing that ensues. The tragic element is right out there like an exposed bone and you can feel the pain of the protagonist just as if it was.

A segue of sorts is the Civil War when it comes to another story I enjoyed called "Cog Noscenti" by Aaron Bradford Starr, with its wonderfully alternate history tale that has Abraham Lincoln operating as a secret assassin in the wake of his own assassination. The steampunkishly (can that be a word?) resurrected president has some allies from history as well, including the man behind the organization he's working for--and happens to be a former president in his own right. The narrative jumps back and forth a bit much for my liking in a short story, but still a really fun story.

While I didn't enjoy all of the stories, all of them were wonderfully imaginative sci-fi yarns. "Induction Day" by J.R. Johnson was a dragon story of sorts with folksy charm, as opposed to a quirkily dark story about extra-terrestrials by Kersley Fitzgerald called "Greater Love." It's stories like these that I might not find stupefying, but definitely would call them entertaining. If you have discovered this anthology series yet, you should look it up. As themes change from issue to issue, you're bound to find something you like.

July 25, 2012

Wish List Wednesday #118: John Langan's & Paul Tremblay's "Creatures"

WLW is a recurring blog segment in which I highlight a book I have on my wish list. Sometimes it's a new release, sometimes a beloved classic, and sometimes it's a hidden gem.

Okay, when I found out this anthology existed, all I needed to know was the theme--monsters--and I was on board. And then I saw the table of contents.

Creatures, edited by Paul G. Tremblay and John Langan, is an anthology that collects short stories from the past three decades, penned by some of the best authors around. Joe R. Lansdale, Clive Barker, Sarah Langan, China Mieville, and Norman Partridge to name but a few.

I love monsters, so it's all too easy to place this book on my wish list. And when you've got a collection of renowned writers with their takes on various things that go bump in the night, all the better. I've read short stories by Langan and Tremblay, so it should be interesting to see what they come up with in terms of compiling an anthology like this.

Does this sound like an anthology you'd want to read? Any other monster anthology you'd care to recommend?

July 24, 2012

What's Your Favorite Anthology? Here Are Five of Mine.

There's no shortage of good to great anthologies out there, and it feels like I've read only a smattering of them. Lord knows I still have several on my to-be-read pile that I simply won't be able to highlight during this Summer of Shorts marathon. But, I thought I'd mention five today that I think everyone should track down and read if they haven't already.

And, after you've seen my favorites, if you feel so inclined to share some of your favorite anthologies, please leave a comment and let me know. If their not on my bookshelf, I can always put them on my wish list.

#5: Machine of Death edited by Ryan North - I think it was Camille Alexa who alerted me to this anthology, back when they were accepting submissions for its followup. Handily enough, they provided a PDF copy free of charge as inspiration. Well, not only was it that, but the anthology was a refreshing original theme and had a ton of great stories that capitalized on the unique premise of a machine that told you exactly how you were going to die.

#4: American Gothic edited by Joyce Carol Oates - This is actually one of the first anthologies I ever read, one I found in a used-book shop for a few bucks, and has wound up in a place of permanence on my bookshelf. I've read some of Oates' own short fiction, and considering her knack with frightful tales, it's no wonder I enjoyed this collection of macabre gems so much.

#3: Darkness edited by Ellen Datlow - Twenty of the best horror stories from the last twenty years all in one book. I originally sought it out so I could read "The Pear-Shaped Man," which practically became urban legend in its own right, as I had a devil of a time trying to find that one story. The other nineteen stories, however, are equally terrific and really show how keen an eye Ellen Datlow has for dark fiction.

#2: Supernatural Noir edited by Ellen Datlow - It should come as no surprise that I'd have Ellen Datlow's name appear twice on this list, since she seems to be the preeminent practitioner of horror anthologies. This book had a superb roll call of authors, all with stories that blends crime fiction and other noir-ish genres with the supernatural. The anthology, as far as I'm concerned, is damn near perfect for my tastes.

#1: October Dreams edited by Richard Chizmar and Robert Morrish - The anthology that truly is perfect for my tastes would of course revolve around Halloween, my favorite holiday of the year. Nearly as enjoyable as the stories are the Halloween memories shared by many of the authors. But when it comes to anthologies I'm looking for short stories more than anything, and this anthologies delivers.

So ... what's your favorite anthology?

July 23, 2012

Rabid Reads: "Demons" edited by John Skipp

Demons: Encounters with the Devil and His Minions, Fallen Angels, and the Possessed
edited by John Skipp
630 pages
ISBN 9781579128791

Darkeva was charitable enough to ship me a copy of this impressive--and weighty--anthology. It's damn-near a tome in trade paperback form. In a sense, it feels appropriate for a book about demons and spectres, things that haunt and oppress, should have some gravity to it. Like a monkey on your back. Oddly enough, that's almost exactly the kind of demon this book starts off with, in the first story, Adam-Troy Castro's "Cherub," about a world in which each persons inner demons reside squarely on their shoulders.

John Skipp has found a near perfect balance of humor and horror with an ensemble of stories from acclaimed authors of the past and today's up-and-comers, a few icons in between. It's pretty hard to find fault with an anthology that not only captures a theme so completely, but provides such a rich variety of stories that shine a light on the idea of demons and the evil inside us all.

There are over thirty stories in this book, closer to forty if I went back to count. Some are brief aperitifs with snapshots of the devilish, and a couple weigh in closer to novella length. A couple are excerpts from iconic novels like that of The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, and if you're going to throw in a snippet from a novel about demons, you may as well as go with the most infamous novel in the world on the subject.

For me I had as much fun reading the blasts from the past, like Charles Beaumont's "The Howling Man" and W.W. Jacobs' "The Monkey's Paw", as I did reading stories by authors whose work I'd yet to sample, like Maggie Stiefvater's "Non Quis, Sed Quis" and Livia Lliewellyn's "And Love Shall Have No Dominion." The book starts things rolling with quite a few classic demonic tales, which act as a prelude to what the more modern authors have to offer.

One of my favorites is Robert McCammon's "Best Friends," which is a roaring novella that veers into crazytown quickly and only gets crazier as it goes. I mean, it's one thing to feel trapped on a hospital floor with the insane, but it's quite another to wind up like one of them when one patient's delusions come true. I always hear McCammon's name bandied about when it comes to recommendations, so it looks like I need to make one of his books a priority to read this year. Another fave is Weston Ochse's "20th-Level Chaotic Evil Rogue Seeks Whole Wide World to Conquer." That one was just an acerbic treat to read with a protagonist that was utterly disdainful, but ultimately I could still root for the guy--just a little. Alethea Kontis' "The Unicorn Hunter" was a stand-out with its tinges of fairytale elements amid a book full of grotesqueries, though a story involving the hunting and slaughtering of unicorns wasn't without its own share of bloodshed. The ending of that one offered a bit more wistful reaction than the others though, and was a welcome change of pace.

I could go on and on but different stories in this book, but I'll simply wrap this up by saying this is a delicious anthology that should be one every demon-lover's bookshelf. John Skipp also has a couple other anthologies through Black Dog & Levinthal about Werewolves and Zombies, so I'll have to make it a point to see how perfectly he encapsulates those monsters.

July 20, 2012

The Joys of Short, Dark Fiction: a guest post by KV Taylor of The Red Penny Papers

We start things off this week where we left off last week--TheRed Penny Papers. Today, however, we're treated to a guest post from one of the lead editors at the online periodical, KV Taylor. I reviewed the spring edition of Red Penny Papers last Friday, so after you read this, you can click here to read that. Enjoy.

The Joys of Short, Dark Fiction
by KV Taylor

At The Red Penny Papers, my co-collector John and I make no bones about our preference for the dark. Pulp of all kinds, from the somber to the hilarious, is welcome, but we do ask that it has that edge to it, that sharp little stab -- or that giant axe-wound. It doesn't have to be horror; dark fantasy, dark sci-fi, even dark historicals can all work to that end, and can even be funny at the same time. All that's needed is that push that forces us, the readers, to face some fear or doubt we have to shove aside to get on with our everyday business. Good dark fiction is a discovery not just for the author, but for the reader, and the best dark fiction is a conversation between them.

The problem is that this can be hard to sustain over a long period of time. I love horror movies, but with most of them, by the time I get to the end, I'm like, "Yeah, okay, you're trapped with some zombies and there are brains everywhere; I'm kind of over the part where I was afraid of you, by now." Part of that is the tendency of dark fiction, especially pulp, to abide by certain tropes that when overplayed make us all roll our eyes--many of which are well-documented on the famous Strange Horizons site. One of the best ways to sustain that tension is to subvert the tropes, turn them inside out, or show them to us through different eyes, which is what we like best at The Red Penny Papers.

But even that can be a stretch. Darkness seems to have the best sucker-punch effect in small, potent doses, where the author doesn't have to sustain, but to build and then release with perfect timing. It's harder to do effectively, but so brilliant when it works. It takes a clarity of purpose that often eludes a writer (or, at least, this writer) on the first draft or planning stages, but it's well worth while.

For example, compare an overwrought horror film with one of the terrifying early episodes of Supernatural or scarier X-Files episodes. Almost all of the disappointing horror in the world could've been improved if crammed into a forty-five minute episode instead of being unnaturally spread out over the course of a meandering two-hour film. Quick, sharp, painful, leaves you spinning and hurting but eager for more. That's how you know you've read a good story, that feeling in the guts.

It's part of why short fiction will never die, and why we like to celebrate it so much. But it's also a difficult format, perhaps more so than the novel, depending on who you ask and what they're more used to writing. It's true what they say: it's not the story, it's how you tell it. And authors of short fiction know this better than most, I reckon.

That's why I, at least, love them so much.

KV Taylor is an avid reader and writer of dark speculative fiction and super-powered love. Originally from the Appalachian foothills of West Virginia, she currently lives in the D.C. Metro Area with her husband and mutant cat. In her spare time she enjoys comic books, Himalayan Buddhist art, loud music, her Epiphone, and Black Bush. She edits for Morrigan Books and collects The Red Penny Papers in her dining room.

July 19, 2012

Rabid Reads: "Red Penny Papers (Spring 2012)" edited by KV Taylor and John Cash

Red Penny Papers Vol. II Issue 3 (Spring 2012)
edited by KV Taylor and John Cash

It was through Camille Alexa's serialized novella, Particular Friends, that I discovered Red Penny Papers in late 2010. It was a great bit of steampunk-ish storytelling that exemplified a tone brought forth by the periodical. It has become a go-to place for "sensationalist and fantastical fiction." And I recently had the chance to read their spring issue.

This issue kind of ran the gamut with six stories, but I suppose there was a lean towards psychological horror this time around. The first story, "Bone Daddy," definitely had that psychotic tinge to it. Britney Smith presented two long-time friends who as little girls created an imaginary friend and guardian of sorts they called Mister Johnny Trick. But it's when the two women are reunited and one of them still holds a deep abidance to their bone daddy that things become really strange.

The next story was a bit lighter fare, as Nicki Vardon's "Garlic Squash" blended a bit of fantasy and noir with a touch of farce about a world in which vampires are out in the open and one bartender tries to make ends meet, then receives an enticing offer from a bloodsucking customer.

The two stand-outs in the issue came at the end, and from two authors with whose works I've become familiar. "Sacrifice" by Natalie L. Sin puts Japan in the spotlight with a wonderfully noir-ish horror story about a lovesick man forced to kill his best friends in order to save the woman he loves only to have his entire world collapse entirely, then have the ghosts of his deeds come back to haunt him in a way no one could have expected--no one but Natalie, that is. I've really liked Natalie's stories in the past, but this one I absolutely loved and I'll rank it easily as one of my favorites for 2012.

And then there was Tonia Brown's "Pins and Needles, Silk and Sawdust." The story takes place almost entirely in a mortuary as a mortician works on the bodies laid out on slabs. But more than that, he talks with them and they talk back. There are three men from different walks of life, and a young girl. All dead, and all carry on a conversation concerning The Wizard of Oz, death, and their lots in life. This all takes place as the mortician is conflicted with the idea of his wife wanting to start a family, a notion he's long been against due to seeing far too many children brought in for him to work on. It's a sad story, but tempered with humor and a nice bit of poignancy at the end. I liked it, but when the Oz stuff was brought up by the characters, I was hooked. Another great find and really good work from Tonia yet again.

Nothing more to say, really. With six stories, two of which I would classify as must reads, all of which are freely available at the Red Penny Papers website, as well as an e-book copy on Smashwords, it's a steal.

July 18, 2012

Wish List Wednesday #117: Weston Ochse's "Multiplex Fandango"

WLW is a recurring blog segment in which I highlight a book I have on my wish list. Sometimes it's a new release, sometimes a beloved classic, and sometimes it's a hidden gem.

When I started reading through the anthologies on my to-be-read pile, in preparation for the Summer of Shorts marathon, I read stories by accomplished writers whose work I'd yet to read. One name that popped up in a couple tables of contents was that of Weston Ochse.

The guy, to put it plainly, is a great storyteller. And, as it turns out, I already had this particular book on my wish list when it was first advertised by Dark RegionsPress. Granted, that was based solely on the incredible cover--I hadn't even read one of his stories yet.

Multiplex Fandango brings together sixteen of Ochse's best short stories from over the years, some of the more macabre, more horrific stories in his repertoire. And if they're anything like the ones I've read in House of Fear and Corrupts Absolutely?, then I think I would love this book to death.

Have you had a chance to read his work before? If so, got any other recommendations?

July 17, 2012

Rabid Reads: "The Darkest Shade of Grey" by Alan Baxter

The Darkest Shade of Grey
by Alan Baxter
54 pages

Red Penny Papers puts out some fun serialized stories, and their latest has been released as a complete novella available for purchase.

The story revolves around David Johanssen, a down-on-his-luck crime reporter who can read people's auras and glimpse moments from the pasts of the dead. While investigating the murder of a young woman in one of the rougher neighborhoods in a big Australian city, an old derelict approaches David on the street asking David to tell his story like he does for the dead. David brushes the guy off, his mind already muddied with the turmoils in his life, but the homeless man haunts him. And it's only when David finally confronts that he discovers the stranger is not the only one with a strange story to tell. And the investigation could either lead David to renewal or ruin.

This might be the first time I've read Alan's work. It's the first I can recall at any rate, and it was definitely a story that suited me well. The gritty, almost hard-boiled style of the story worked well with the escalating weirdness that kept heaping on the main character. I don't know if I could get away with calling it urban fantasy, but if I can, then it's certainly the kind of urban fantasy I like. The suspense doesn't really build until about the midway point when an ominous figure gets between David and his story. Then, things get really interesting.

The pace is a bit slow, but it's more character-driven than action-driven. The ending satisfies, though it requires a bit of charity by way of suspension of disbelief. I've got plenty of that to spare though, so it was no issue with me. Definitely a good find from Red Penny, and a nice introduction to Alan's work. If he's got more like this, I'll have to watch out for it.

July 16, 2012

Rabid Reads: "House of Fear" edited by Jonathan Oliver

House of Fear
edited by Jonathan Oliver
384 pages
ISBN 1907992073

Ghosts are one of my three faves in genre, so an anthology featuring stories by Joe R. Lansdale, Sarah Pinborough, Tim Lebbon, and a host of others sounded too good to resist. After I snagged a copy from the aptly named Spooky-Reads.com, I sat down to be enthralled.

Things kick off with a really chilling tale by Lisa Tuttle called "Objects in Dreams may be Closer than they Appear," about a woman who is roped into a road trip with her ex-husband through back roads in search of a home they tried to find when they were married, but never could. It set the pace for the book really well, by showing how the atmosphere and tones of the stories were likely going to be anything but conventional.

"Florrie" by Adam G. Nevill had to be one of the creepiest stories of the bunch, as a guy moves into a fixer-upper and goes madder and madder the longer he lives under its roof. Adam is apparently an accomplished novelist with more than one haunted house novel under his belt. I need to find one of those novels.

Weston Ochse may have written my favorite story from the whole book with "Driving the Milky Way." It's about a group of kids spending the summer hanging out together in the Arizona outback. It's usual boy shit until they meet a girl and the rusted-out RV on her grandparents' property. It basically becomes their clubhouse, but when they go wandering into the desert one night for an adventure, it becomes a whole lot more. Loved. This. Story.

For what I considered a wonderful and all-round disturbing Twilight Zone vibe, there were stories like Rebecca Levene's "The Windmill" about a prisoner and his growing torment behind bars, and Christopher Priest's "Widow's Weeds." The style of the writing might not carry notes of Rod Serling, but the subject matter certainly does.

There's nineteen stories in all, and I can't say there was a bad one in the bunch. I'm a sucker for ghost stories, mind you. Plus, I'm a fan of quite a few of these authors already, and several more of whom I've heard nothing but the highest praise, so it should be no surprise as to how good this anthology should be. Jonathan Oliver prefaces each story with a brief introduction, which is a nice touch, but I admit I was hoping for a little extra by way of author's notes on the inspiration for each story. That's just something I'm partial to though, and I can't begrudge any book that doesn't include them.

House of Fear is about as wonderfully rich as you could ask for from a garland of ghost stories, and it seems Jonathan Oliver is one more anthologist I need to watch for down the line.

July 13, 2012

And the winner is ... (Summer Reads Giveaway)

All right, the SUMMER READS giveaway is over, the winner's name is drawn, and a big congrats goes out to ...


She'll be getting signed copies of Brian Keene's The Cage and Kilborn/Crouch's Serial.

Thanks to everyone who entered, especially those who left comments with their favorite novellas that they've read recently. My wish list exploded.

Stay tuned in August when even more giveaways hit the blog, but in the mean time be sure to check out all of the great guest posts and interviews cropping up on the blog for the SUMMER OF SHORTS marathon.

July 12, 2012

Writing Like Crazy: The Fading Light By Which I Write

It's been a long damned time since I wrote a Writing Like Crazy post, due mainly because I haven't had much to talk about with regards to my writing. I write stories, submit them, get rejected, repeat ad nauseam. Well, I finally have another acceptance to report. Come September, you'll see my short story, "Where Coyotes Fear to Tread," appear on the pages of Fading Light: An Anthology of the Monstrous from Angelic Knight Press, and edited by Tim Marquitz.

I signed the contract a while back and the finishing touches for the anthology are underway. I'll be highlighting the anthology in greater detail in September, upon its release, with a blatantly biased review-of-sorts and a week-long slew of Fading Light goodness. Should even be a giveaway to go along with it all.

In the meantime, here's a little teaser to whet your appetite via Tim's blog:

Born of darkness, the creatures of myth, legend, and nightmare have long called the shadows home. Now, with the cruel touch of the sun fading into memory, they’ve returned to claim their rightful place amidst humanity; as its masters.

Fading Light collects 30 monstrous stories by authors new and experienced, in the genres of horror, science fiction, and fantasy, each bringing their own interpretation of what lurks in the dark.

Table of Contents:
  • "Parasitic Embrace" by Adam Millard
  • "The Equivalence Principle" by Nick Cato
  • "A Withering of Sorts" by Stephen McQuiggan
  • "Goldilocks Zone" by Gary W. Olson
  • "They Wait Below" by Tim Olbert
  • "Buck" by Mark Pantoja
  • "Blessed Be the Shadowchildren" by Malon Edwards
  • "The Beastly Ninth" by Carl Barker
  • "Late Night Customer" by David Dalglish
  • "Rurik's Frozen Bones" by Jake Elliot
  • "Wrath" by Lee Mather
  • "Friends of a Forgotten Man" by Gord Rollo
  • "Altus" by Georgina Kamsika
  • "Angela's Garden" by Dorian Dawes
  • "The Long Death of Day" by Timothy Baker
  • "Out of the Black" by William Meikle
  • "Degenerates" by D.L. Seymour
  • "Dust" by Wayne Ligon
  • "Der Teufel Sie Wissen" by T.S.P. Sweeney
  • "Born of Darkness" by Stacey Turner
  • "Lottery" by Gene O'Neill
  • "Where Coyotes Fear to Tread" by Gef Fox (Hey, that's me!)
  • "The Theopany of Nyx" by Edward M. Erdelac
  • "Double Walker" by Henry P. Gravelle
  • "Light Save Us" by Ryan Lawler
  • "Dark Tide" by Mark Lawrence

... and there are even going to be bonus stories from CM Saunders, Regan Campbell, Jonathan Pine, Peter Welmerink, & Alex Marshall, so watch out for those.

I wish I had more to report at this time with regards to my writing, but all I can say at this point is that I have three others stories that have been accepted to other markets, but no contracts signed or concrete dates of publication just yet. The last time I jumped the gun on an announcement, the market died, which was a bit of a trend for my stuff--I was starting to wonder if I was a bad luck charm for mags and anthologies--so I'm not getting ahead of myself.

Once I've got some good news to share, I'll be sure to shout it from the mountaintops.

July 11, 2012

Top 5 Horror Anthologies & Collections: a guest post by Darkeva

Darkeva is one of my go-to horror and dark fantasy bloggers. You can check out her great contributions to book blogdom at Darkeva's Dark Delights. But before you go gallivanting off to read her work there, I suggest you check out this guest post she wrote, which offers her five favorite horror anthologies and short story collections. Enjoy.

Darkeva’s Dark Picks 
Top 5 Horror Anthologies and Collections 
~By Darkeva~

I didn’t start out as a fan of short fiction, but the horror genre is replete with anthologies and collections, as with its sister genres, science fiction and fantasy. Still, it was only when I became a reviewer that I started to appreciate the form, and have been exposed to a greater variety of works than ever before by reviewing such materials.

Since Edgar Allan Poe, himself one of the great masters of the short story, many a horror scribe has penned short stories, and some excel at this while others find their comfort zone in novels, not to mention there are plenty of horror and dark fantasy writers who are fantastic at both. At the request of one of my favourite horror bloggers, the wonderful and witty Gef Fox, who, incidentally, has penned his own tales, I have put together a list of my top five horror short fiction collections and anthologies from the last few years. There are too many short stories I've enjoyed to point out, and so many great works to consider, but I think these picks have something different to offer, whether they're contemplative and force readers to examine the depths of human nature like “Masters of Horror: Damned if You Don’t” or just plan fun like “Rock N Roll is Dead” from Blood Bound Books. If you’re unfamiliar with the titles listed, I urge you to seek them out and give them a gander.

1. The Devil’s Coattails - Eds. Jason V. Brock and William F. Nolan

A unique anthology: contains original, never before published works by Ramsey Campbell, John Shirley, Jason V Brock, Marc Scott Zicree, Norman Corwin, Gary Braunbeck, Steve Rasnic Tem, Melanie Tem, Earl Hamner, Jenny Brundage, Nancy Kilpatrick, Jerry E. Airth, Sunni K Brock, Richard Christian Matheson, Paul J. Salamoff, Paul G. Bens, Jr., William F. Nolan, Dan O'Bannon, Richard Selzer, James Robert Smith, and Wilum Pugmire/Maryanne K. Snyder. Opaque vellum pages, printed with 100% vegetable inks using windpower; printed and bound in the USA. Trade has a nice hardcover binding in cloth boards.

2. The Red Empire by Joe McKinney

The Red Empire is the Army’s secret weapon against insurgents the world over. A gigantic colony of inch long, super-intelligent fire ants, The Red Empire is capable of fighting any enemy, no matter where they’re hiding. But when the military transport tasked with delivering this weapon washes out in a flash flood along the Texas-Mexico border, and the ants are loosed upon the countryside, no one is safe…
Included in this collection are seven additional tales of murder and injustice, things criminal and darkly supernatural. McKinney takes us from the ghostly sorrow of a grieving parent to the depths of a Lovecraftian nightmare, from a sanity-destroying discovery by one of America’s greatest writers to a love lost that won’t let go until a man is driven over the edge. Tales of horror and human depravity you won’t dare miss!

3. Rock N Roll is Dead, Ed. Marc Ciccarone

***We are proud to announce that Rock ‘N’ Roll is Dead received 4 honorable mentions in Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year 2011. G. Winston Hyatt, Rex McGuire, Belen Lopez, and Natalie L. Sin! It’s unanimous, if you haven’t checked this book out yet, you need to!

Blood Bound Books presents an anthology of horror & music. Get ready to rock with the set list from hell! 24 deep tracks guaranteed to leave your ears ringing. Each story either deals with music directly or was inspired by songs in one form or another. G. Winston Hyatt strikes a deep chord with all metal heads in his story End of the Line, Nathan Crowder examines the price of fame in The Invitation and asks the reader: is it better to burn out or fade away? Find out what happens to a young drummer lucky enough to buy the drum set of his favorite musician in Trap Set, and walk down the nightmarish streets of a concrete jungle know only as The City. This is a Blood Bound Books style concert, so crank it up ‘cause rock will never be the same.***

4. Masters of Horror: Damned if You Don’t Ed. Ian Kupstis

Featuring fiction by F. Paul Wilson, Scott Nicholson, John Shirley, Blaze McRob, Armand Rosamilia, and more. Party people, your nightmares have been fulfilled...
Some of the darkest horrors are those that we choose to inflict on ourselves. In the hands of the MASTERS OF HORROR, the evils of drug use, alcoholism, scarification, obesity and obsession have been amplified into bloodcurdling cautionary tales…19 Terrifying tales and a nonfiction detoxification guide await you within. Sacrifice your vice with the MASTERS OF HORROR. You’re literally DAMNED IF YOU DON’T.

5. Living After Midnight Ed. Craig Clarke

Q: What happens when heavy music inspires dark fiction?

A: Hard and heavy stories.

The concept behind Living After Midnight: Hard and Heavy Stories is simple: 63,000 words' worth of horror and dark fantasy inspired by the authors' favorite hard rock and heavy metal bands. From the music of Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest (of course), and others come exciting tales of zombies, ghosts, wizards, serial killers, and more. You don't have to like hard and heavy music to enjoy these stories--just hard-rocking genre tales.

July 10, 2012

Over the Moon: An Interview with Anthony J. Rapino

After reading and reviewing Anthony J. Rapino's creepy collection, Welcome to Moon Hill, I had a chance to ask him a few questions about the book and his writing. So enjoy!
Gef: What is the inspiration behind Moon Hill, the collection and the town?

Anthony: The inspiration for the town of Moon Hill was something of a slow burn.  Early on in my writing career (I'm talking a decade ago), I thought it'd be interesting to write within my own fictional region--similar to King's Castle Rock--in Northeastern PA (where I live).  That was about as far as I took it.  Years and years later, my one-time "first reader” mentioned in passing that a number of my settings (for short stories) appeared to be in and around the same rural town. 

It turns out, I had always been writing about Moon Hill; I just didn't know it.  Still, it wasn’t until 2010, when I started writing my second novel, that I finally gave the town a name. 

The collection, Welcome to Moon Hill, was an idea that occurred to me about a year ago.  It was just one of those passing fancies that people sometimes have.  One of those, “Oh, that’d be cool,” moments.  It didn’t go any further for three reasons:  I had a new novel coming out soon through Bad Moon Books, I was working on a new novel, and to get the collection out in a timely manner would mean self publishing. 

The decision to move ahead with the Moon Hill was somewhat abrupt.  I won an ebook cover design from Rebecca Treadway, and figured I should use it.  In the meantime, I had also become interested in experimenting with the now popular Kindle publishing model, and I thought it’d be cool to have this collection out as a “sampler” for people interested in purchasing Soundtrack to the End of the World, but unsure if they’d like my writing style.

Gef: "From Your Body They Rise" has to be my favorite story from the collection. Where the heck did the inspiration for that story come from?

Anthony: I’m rather proud of the fact that everyone seems to have a different favorite story in the collection.  I’ve had over a dozen different people (some on Facebook, some on my website, some in reviews) mention their favorite story, and so far none have been repeated.   Even more interesting is that my personal favorite story has yet to be mentioned at all.

Like most of my stories, the inspiration often comes from a normal situation that I start wondering about, playing with the old “what if” question.  This particular story stems from my own close encounter with a deer carcass.   You’ll be happy to know I did not poke at it.  What I did do was play around with the idea of expectations.

If one were to poke a dead deer, what would you expect to be inside?  Rotting guts?  Maggots?  Other types of bugs?  I worked backward from there, trying to think of the most unlikely things one might find inside a deer carcass.  The rest of the story simply evolved naturally from that point.

Gef: "The Plumber" is probably one of the more darkly-tinged and tragic stories of the bunch. When it comes to putting a collection like this together, do you have trouble striking a balance among the tones and styles of the stories, or do you just let it fly? What's the process in creating a collection like Moon Hill?

I purposely tried not to strike a balance.  This might seem strange, but I feel one of my strengths is that I write in all sorts of styles, tones, and genres (though most speculative in nature). 

Rather than attempt to create a one-note collection (what some might call “balanced”), I strove for variety.  In truth, the inspiration for the organization of this collection came in part from Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, wherein the main character, Rob, discusses the art of making a mix tape.  From the movie: "The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem."

Simply put, I had three goals:
  1. Pair stories together that would create new meaning due solely to proximity
  2. Keep the readers on their toes; never let them feel comfortable with the direction of the collection
  3. Never let the reader get bored
Goal number one was accomplished through what I call “sister stories.”  These are the stories that have either a similar theme or plot.  They were paired in order to inform one another and create new meaning when considered together.  One example of this is “Mail Call,” and “No Touching at All.”  They both explore the themes of isolation and relationships.

Goal number two was accomplished simply by including stories from a wide variety of genres and tones.  It also connects in many ways to goal number three, which was accomplished by purposefully doing a 180 after most stories.  For instance, after a very long story, I placed a very short one.  After a somber story, I placed a funny one.  After a scary story, I placed an inspirational one.  It’s like a pallet cleanser.

It’s worth noting that I knew ahead of time many people would read this as “disjointed,” or think that I just threw a bunch of stories together (which couldn’t be further from the truth).  Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t.  That’s for the readers to decide.

Gef: There have been collections in the past that have used a town or person, or some other connecting thread. John Saul's Blackstone Chronicles spring to mind. Are those books something you've been drawn to in the past? Got any favorites?

Anthony: What most often makes me want to read something is the plot and concept.  So no, I’m not usually drawn to a collection due to a unifying thread, though I do enjoy collections like that.  What I enjoy even more than that is when there are recurring characters.

Interestingly, the most-often mentioned disappointment with Welcome to Moon Hill is that there is no overarching framework that the stories work within (like The Canterbury Tales, or Chuck Palaniuk’s Haunted ), and that characters do not recur.  It was never part of my plan to do that, but looking back, it would have been an interesting addition, and it’s something I have noted for any future collections. 

Gef: You also have your debut novel, Soundtrack to the End of the World, out this year. Tell us a bit about it.
Anthony: Soundtrack is the story of Marty Raft, who finds himself trying to survive in a post apocalyptic world while holding on to the one thing that truly matters to him: family.   In many ways, it’s experimental.  I attempted to work outside the conventions of a zombie novel while not straying too far from what people love about a good PA/Zombie novel:

Who knew the end could sound so good.

A suicidal nudist strolls into traffic.  An eccentric Buddhist claims he can occupy other people’s bodies.  All the while, whispers of a new form of entertainment blow through town.  Prompted by these strange occurrences, Marty Raft, a not-so-gentle giant, investigates and discovers underground clubs peddling music that induces an out-of-body experience.   Marty and a wannabe comedian, Corey, set out to prove these special frequencies are nothing more than a hoax, or at worst, a mass-drugging.  Instead, they uncover a secret with world-ending possibilities.

If you can hear the music, it’s already too late.

Gef: At the end of the collection there's an excerpt for Harry's How-To, an impending novel based in Moon Hill. Can readers expect any cameos from characters in this collection?

Anthony: Absolutely!  Actually, I think readers can expect a lot of what they wanted to see in the short story collection appear in this novel.  Namely, you’re going to get reacquainted with old friends from the collection, re-visit familiar locales, and get a chance to dig deeper (much, much deeper) into the history of the town and what makes it so special.  This novel will very much be a showcase for the town of Moon Hill.  It will reveal secrets as well as pose new questions.  It is expansive, with many new characters as well (as you might expect from the excerpt). 

 Gef: Thanks, Anthony. As for the rest of you, you can find Welcome to Moon Hill and Soundtrack to the End of the World available for purchase online on Amazon. And be sure to pay Anthony a visit at his website or on Twitter.