Elsa and I hit Immortal Confusion 2013 last weekend and had a blast. A high point for the DailyNightmare horror-snobs was probably the 7 foot tall statue of Lord Cthulu that graced the Great Room. It’s likeness also adorned the badges. I didn’t dare touch it for fear of dispelling the illusion but its patina resembled lightly aged bronze.
There were plenty of intriguing and informative panels on speculative fiction as per usual. Some topics like “The Old Evil” surely bumped up against horror, though folks tended to use the up-market phrase “dark fantasy.” Potayto-potahto, IMHO.
When we left, our arms were laded with books and faces were beaming with smiles.
My psyche wasn’t crafted for conventions – too many actual humans, far too close and in the case of writer’s conventions, humans who are mostly ape-shit crazy.
(James Frederick Leach writes:) “My extremely short story Bent appears in the Summer Issue of Alien Skin Magazine. It’s a touching tale of young love that is also seriously twisted. Literally twisted. Oh, and it’s also exactly 150 words long.”
CORRECTED AUGUST 2009 – Summer’s over, evidently because the new issue of AlienSkin is live and my story is no longer on-line. I’ll see about posting it soon.
And they say print media is dead! A new nine chapter novella by Koji Suzuki (author of Ring) has recently been published… on rolls of toilet paper. The novella is titled Drop and allegedly takes up about three feet of toilet paper in its entirety. What I found particularly interesting is that the AP story alleges that ghost in Japan traditionally hide in bathrooms.
Japanese Novella printed on Toilet Paper http://news.aol.com/article/scary-toilet-paper/496694#Comments
“We knew not a soul and frankly, didn’t know what to expect from such a convention but the other attendees made us feel right at home”
James Frederick Leach (the Grim Gnome’s alter-ego) says: Mrs Gnome and I are just back from MoConIV in Indianapolis. It was a friendly horror writer’s convention held in a church basement, jointly sponsored by the Indiana Horror Writers and The Dwelling Place, a local church. We knew not a soul and frankly, didn’t know what to expect from such a convention but the other attendees made us feel right at home. “Google-goggle one of us. We accept you. We accept you. One of us!” I read some of my shorter pieces at the Friday night poetry reading and no one booed me off the stage. I also got a chance to sip absinthe… from a Spongebob dixie cup! I left with an armful of books and a lot of good memories.
I wrote a 550-word article about the convention that appears over at Read The Spirit today if you’re curious.
These are the sites of as many of the folks I met at MoCon as I can remember:
• Tom Piccirilli (http://www.tompiccirilli.com/)
Tom’s work has been nominated for several Stoker awards and an Edgar. My favorite line from him this weekend was “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” Amen to that, brother. He inscribed my copy Welcome to Hell: A Working Guide for the Beginning Writer (Fairwood Press, 200) – his friendly but candid introduction to the writing life – with the immensely encouraging note “Your stories kick ass.” Another good book by him, this one fiction, is A Choir of Ill Children (Bantam, 2004)
Welcome to Hell : A Working Guide for the Beginning Writer
A Choir of Ill Children
• Linda Addison (http://www.cith.org/linda/)
Linda organized the poetry reading on Friday night and she most recently published Being Full of Light, Insubstantial (Space and Time, 2007) Her work has won the Stoker award.
Being Full of Light, Insubstantial
• Gerard Houarner (http://www.cith.org/gerard/)
In addition to being an accomplished fiction writer, Gerard also is the fiction editor for Space and Time Magazine (http://spaceandtimemagazine.com/wp/)
• Wrath James White (http://wordsofwrath.blogspot.com/)
Wrath is an unforgettable person from both his magnetic personality and formidable physical presence. Oh, and he’s quite a writer too. His most recent work Succulent Prey (Leisure, 2008) marks his mass market debut. Succulent Prey (Leisure Fiction)
• Steven Gilberts (http://stevengilberts.com/)
For a couple decades, Steven’s illustrations have graced the covers of various works of speculative fiction. I bought a very reasonably priced print of his that depicts a slightly open door with a mob of sharp toothed, swollen headed beasties swarming out. Seemed like a good metaphor for artistic inspiration cause when one of those little buggers bit into you, there’d be no getting it off until it’s finished.
Other folks I met include:
• Jason Sizemore (http://www.apexbookcompany.com/)
And wow, lots of other folks whose names are eluding me at this moment. Good times. Good people.
James Frederick Leach (The Grim Gnome’s alter-ego) reports: I received word last night that Necrotic Tissue accepted my 100 word story “Pisser.” It will appear in the October 2009 issue. Necrotic Tissue also published my piece “A Public Relations Nightmare” in January of this year, which testifies to the good taste and sensible judgment of their editorial staff.
Check out Necrotic Tissue at: http://www.necrotictissue.com/ Their tagline is “Dark is not enough” which also happens to sum up my own personal perspective on the genre quite nicely. For me, even the most preposterously speculative piece has to tell me something about the human condition, even if there are no humans involved in the story at all. But I digress. Necrotic Tissue is becoming a print publication with the July issue after a six issues of publishing as a downloadable .pdf. What this means is that, for the moment at least, a year’s worth of reading is online and available. Check it out. And if you like what you read, consider supporting the magazine through a subscription.
Something roams the wild places down by the Sabine River, something mysterious, something murderous in Joe R. Landale’s novel The Bottoms. The book, a fictional memoir, is a joy to read, by turns suspenseful and horrific, wry and at times melancholic. It’s a well-crafted piece by an accomplished master every bit deserving of the Edgar Award it won in 2000.
In The Bottoms, Harry Collins recounts events that happened to him during his Depression-era boyhood in East Texas after he discovered the body of a woman murdered by a serial killer. One by one, more bodies are found, each bound and mutilated. Harry’s father is the constable to the area which allows him privileged access to information about the killer. Woven into this coming of age tale are local legends about a Goat Man who’s sold his soul, the curious wonders of sexuality as well as the dizzying terror of entrenched racial hatred.
The book is clearly the work of a craftsman. On every page there are one or two sentences that are simply and elegantly phrased. The pacing of the narrative is smooth and I was able to relax as I read, knowing that there would be no surface irritations to disturb the ride. If anything, the ride was a bit too smooth for my tastes, as if all the rough edges had been sanded flat even if some mysteries remain unsolved. This observation is hardly a criticism since the tone and scope perfectly fit the conceit that these are the well-considered reflections of a man late in life.
My only quibble really was a slight touch of what I’d call white-man’s-burden-ism. I’m a Yankee and we suffer from our own forms of entrenched racism so I don’t presume to speak from some morally superior position. I’m just left extremely curious about what the black community depicted in the novel would have done to protect itself from a serial killer. Lansdale does an admirable job of providing plausible insights into this world and granted, since Harry’s father is constable, the novel is weighted toward official (i.e. white) justice. Still, I’m left curious even though I realize that this curiosity is probably an unfair expectation to put on any memoir.
The Bottoms is well worth reading, especially if you enjoy tales of sex murders, satannic Goat men and hooded night riders. It deals rather intelligently with that time of life when we realize we’re living in a world of wonders and horrors and that people we respect sometimes respond to that world in less than respectable ways. Take it to the beach with you instead of that other cookie-cutter mystery novel.
The creepy-good publishers at Horror Library – er, strike that, reverse it – those publishers of creepy goods at Horror Library are sponsoring a contest to keep the chill on this winter.
It’s easy to enter, simply write a post at their blog but you’ll have to do it quickly because the contest ends December 14th.