All that, and the motherfuckin’ Vision!
Have you read Josh Malerman? If you haven’t, you’re missing out on a piece of the best horror fiction I’ve seen in decades–namely his debut novel, Bird Box. It’s so well written, so different from anything out there that it’s like a breath of fresh air blowing a lot of other, lesser stuff aside and reminding you of the subtle, disturbing power good horror has.
Josh and I met through exchanging what’re called “consideration copies” of each other’s books for the Stoker Awards. I sent him The End in All Beginnings. He sent me Bird Box. To say that we were each impressed by the other’s offering is an understatement. I think that, despite having just met each other, and even then only through the internet, and despite having never read anything else by the other, we discovered a deep familiarity with each other and our writing.
We’ve both gone on to tweet and talk about the other. We’ve both gone on to be Stoker-nominated authors this year; him in Superior Achievement in a First Novel for Bird Box and me for Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection for The End in All Beginnings. We’ve both talked about meeting up at this year’s World Horror Convention in Atlanta in May and raising a glass. And we will…we will.
But today, oh, today, I saw an interview Josh just gave in support of an upcoming reader event he’ll be participating in. The interview asked Josh to name the five novels that made him fall in love with horror. Josh names The Face of Fear by Dean Koontz, Skeleton Crew by Stephen King, Books of Blood by Clive Barker, The Pet by Charles L. Grant, and…wait for it…The End in All Beginnings by…well…me! Here’s what he has to say about my collection. While you read this, I will be standing over here in the corner, quiet and blushing fiercely:
“A collection of novellas I received in the mail a few months back from a fellow member of the HWA (Horror Writers Association.) I went into it knowing very little about it. Sometimes that’s the best way to read a story, especially a scary one, and sometimes that backfires, which is fine, but it’s true that sometimes it does. So, here I am, now I’m a man and I’ve got my own horror novel published and I’m working on the second one and I open Taff’s book and start reading and a few days later I’m done and I realize (!) that I’ve encountered one of the greats.
“Truly, Taff is great. These stories are so well done, man. I was smiling while reading, getting up and showing my fiancée Allison different passages, texting friends, and eventually writing John himself. And, yes, once again, here I am, falling in love with the genre, and who’s there in the room with me? It’s The End in All Beginnings is who. Sometimes you read a book at a perfectly timed moment in your life and you kinda’ can’t believe that this story, this writer, existed before you knew him. You think, “This coulda’ been the very first scary book I read! The one that got me to fall in love with the genre to begin with!
“And then you realize that, in a way, it is the very first scary book you read because it’s brought you all the way back to the beginning of things, way back when you signed up, when you shivered and smiled and thought, A horror life for me!”
Swoon. Go here to read the entire interview. Josh has tweeted a number of other things in support of my writing and mentioned me numerous times in other interviews, but this one really got to me. And believe me, his opinion of me is fervently echoed by my opinion of him. He’s awesome, and I can’t wait for more of his work to begin to ooze out from behind the door he opened with Bird Box.
I can hint, with a bigger announcement coming soon, that Josh and I will be participating in a project very, very soon. Something very near and dear to my heart. Something involving fellow writers Erik T. Johnson, J. Daniel Stone and Joe Schwartz.
I thought a lot about whether to post this. I mean, who cares really what I think of the passing of Leonard Nimoy? I’m a fan, sure, but not an acting critic or a movie expert. I’m certainly no one who stands in any regard to be able to objectively quantify what this man’s contribution meant to culture, movies, television or even science fiction.
But I was (and am) a fan of Mr. Nimoy’s, and this is my blog. I suddenly remembered that I write this stuff basically for myself…oh, and perhaps the other six of you who read this. So I’m going to discuss here what Mr. Nimoy and his passing meant to me.
There have been two people who I don’t know personally whose recent deaths had an affect on me beyond the usual “Didja hear So-and-so died?” “No. Wow.” The first was a few months back when Robin Williams took his own life. That bothered me intensely. It resonated with me as someone who has suffered from depression. It struck me–still strikes me–as wrong, horribly wrong. How can he be dead? He was so amazingly, joyously, raucously filled with life. How can that amazing essence be gone?
The second of these people is Leonard Nimoy. Didn’t know him. Never met him. But I feel like I knew him. I mean, I’ve known of him since I was three or four years old, watching Star Trek with my deceased and beloved grandfather, who loved it and passed that love on to me. I have known Leonard Nimoy for more than four decades, longer than I have known anyone outside my immediate family. Nimoy, in fact, recently began tweeting about his desire to be an honorary grandfather to anyone who’d have him. I immediately tweeted that I’d certainly take him on as mine. I never heard from him, of course, didn’t expect to, but it was a touching gesture to his fans.
But still I didn’t know him, just the characters he portrayed on television and in the movies. Of course, there was Spock. He wrestled with the effects this iconic role had on his career and on his life, but ultimately embraced it and the character. My belief is that Spock has become one of the greatest fictional characters in our culture. He was as American as anything, a noble mongrel, a man of two cultures, yet ultimately able to be more than the sum of his parts. He carried a quiet dignity and gravitas, and despite his claim of being non-emotional, we all knew, we all saw the heart within him, deny it as he might.
And here’s the thing. In the beginning of his role, the character of Spock was probably at least 50 percent due to the writers. But as the role progressed, Spock grew more and more because Nimoy poured more of himself into the character. By the end, Spock was Nimoy and Nimoy was Spock. Again, I didn’t know the man, but everything I’ve read speaks to a gentle man, noble, with a sense of fairness and equity, a strong sense of loyalty and, ironically, a wicked sense of humor. That this all managed to shine through in his artful portrayal of a supposedly unemotional man is testament, I think, to what kind of man Nimoy himself was.
I think we all reach an age where some iconic person from our cultural youth passes away and leaves a searing hole in our psyche. Leonard Nimoy was that person for me. I didn’t expect to be as moved by his death, touched by the final few Tweets he sent, saddened to hear the expressions of condolences and pure, aching sorrow from members of his Star Trek family and others. I want to watch a few Star Trek movies or have an In Search Of… marathon with my boxed set of the complete series, but not right now. It seems too raw, too sad to see this fantastic character and know that the man who imbued him with such life is no longer here. That there will be no more opportunities to hear his gravelly voice, to see his raised eyebrow.
And I stop to wonder if, as some writer who escapes me has said, I’ve reached the age where life stops giving me things and starts taking them away.
OK, well these are my late-night musings anyway, as the snow falls outside and all around is quiet, no traffic or airplanes high overhead or dogs barking in the distance. All quiet except for the gentle hiss of the falling snow.
Now, time for TheraFlu and bed!
The fine folks over at Grey Matter Press are positively giddy over my Stoker Nomination for The End in All Beginnings. So excited that they’re offering you, my loyal blog followers, a super-secret special offer, if you don’t already have a copy of the book. This is done just for you, so follow the super-secret special instruction on how to accomplish all this. PAY ATTENTION BECAUSE AS PART OF THIS, YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO DO SOMETHING FOR ME. I know, I know. There’s always a catch, but at least this one’s a good one.
(And even though this is super-secret, just for you, my sweet, sweet blog follower you, I have no illusions that you might be inclined to share this surreptitiously with other unfortunate souls who don’t yet have a copy of The End in All Beginnings. So, whatevs. Share away. Just make sure, they, too, follow the instructions!) Now…take it away Grey Matter:
To borrow a phrase from a famous first lady, we at Grey Matter Press believe that it truly “takes a village” to support the efforts of independent horror authors. And in this case that “village” is you, the online blog community and valued friends who have been a source of inspiration and encouragement for the exceptionally talented horror author John F.D. Taff.
To extend our gratitude to you, the loyal and engaging followers of this blog who’ve made this online community a vibrant village over the years and with whom John has built many long-lasting friendships, we’re offering an exclusive opportunity for you to get copies of his Bram Stoker Award-nominated collection THE END IN ALL BEGINNINGS at HALF OFF the cover price. Order today and you could also join an exclusive group of horror lovers who will be among the first to read his highly anticipated upcoming novella, THE SUNKEN CATHEDRAL, prior to its release.
For a limited time only, when you purchase copies of THE END IN ALL BEGINNINGS from ShopGreyMatterPress.com, using the discount code below at checkout, you will receive a 50% discount on all trade paperback and eBook versions (ePUB or MOBI) of this Bram Stoker Award-nominated collection purchased. (Sorry, shipping is extra.)
And, as valued members of this community, we want to hear your thoughts on this critically acclaimed collection. Everyone who reads THE END IN ALL BEGINNINGS and leaves a review at your favorite Amazon location worldwide (make sure to share a link to that review here so he can read your opinion), will receive a free eBook version (ePUB or MOBI) of his upcoming novella THE SUNKEN CATHEDRAL before its official release this spring.
The discount code below is made available exclusively to you and can only be used for purchase of copies of THE END IN ALL BEGINNINGS at ShopGreyMatterPress.com.
Visit ShopGreyMatterPress.com and get your copies of Taff’s Bram Stoker Award-nominated THE END IN ALL BEGINNINGS today! Review the title on Amazon and be among the first to read John’s harrowing upcoming release, THE SUNKEN CATHEDRAL.
Discount Code: JIY4EDJJ8IV1
(Discount code expires March 13, 2015)
Just saw this morning that The End in All Beginnings came in as the runner up for UK site This is Horror’s Best Fiction Collection of the Year, losing out to Stephen Graham Jones’ After the People Lights Have Gone Out. We’re also both up for the Stoker in the Fiction Collection category, so here’s hoping that I place better in that… ; ) My good friend Josh Malerman won in the novel category for the brilliant Bird Box. So, congrats Josh!
Onward to the Stokers!
So, the Horror Writers Association announced the final ballot for its 2014 Bram Stoker Awards, which is like the Oscars for the horror industry.
My novella collection, The End in All Beginnings, published by Grey Matter Press has made the final ballot for Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection!
I am now officially a Stoker-Nominated Horror Author! Thanks to Anthony Rivera and Sharon Lawson at Grey Matter and the indomitable R.J. Cavender, my editor!
Awards are bestowed at the World Horror Convention held in Atlanta this May. Or as Deb calls it “Horror Prom.”
Say a prayer, cross your fingers, etc.
I am officially Stoked!
Go here to view the full ballot, and congrats to all the other very fine authors who are featured there–Rena Mason, Usman T. Malik, Eric Guignard, Joe McKinney, Jonathan Maberry, Patrick Freivald and my newest bestest friend Josh Malerman!
I have been bestowed with the unlikely moniker of the “King of Pain.” It’s something I’m curiously proud of because I think it speaks to the poignancy of my work. But pain in real life? Fugeddabout it! Who needs that shit?
I’ve made quite a few friends over the interwebs during the last couple of years; people who’ve found me because of my writing and who have grown from great supporters to great friends. There are a lot of them, too many to squeeze into this posting (hmmm…perhaps another time?), and that’s not really the point today. Today two of my friends need help, and it’d be great if you could see your way clear to maybe offering some.
David and Amy Spell are fighting the good fight. Amy was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. If you know anything about the various forms of cancer, you know that pancreatic cancer is the absolute motherfucker of the cancer world. A little over a year ago, I lost a beloved uncle to the disease and so I have something of a personal vendetta against it.
In addition to everything else about it, it drains a family’s resources to be able to fight it. So, David and Amy have reached out for help, with some fairly specific goals for the money raised. David, with his horror review site, The Scary Reviews, is a vocal supporter of the independent horror press and horror authors, and I urge you to take a look at the fundraiser page and help out if you can. They are both good people, and I’d love to see them get all the help they possibly can during this difficult period.