Ugh, So I’ve Updated My Blog Already…

From time to time, I remember that I do, indeed, have a blog that I’m supposed to maintain, that the six of you who follow my career–such as it is–actually consult from time to time to see what I’m up to.  Generally, when I remember this, I go through several Kubler-Ross-type stages.  First is denial.  That usually doesn’t work.  Then comes anger at the idea of having to update it.  Then comes…well, frankly other stuff that I’m too lazy to keep this idea going…Blah, blah, blah.

So since I’m here already, I might as well actually update you as what I’m actually doing.

So, definites first.  My new collection LITTLE BLACK SPOTS will be out from Grey Matter Press in probably September or October.  We’re waiting for a really swell Horror Biggie to write a really swell introduction for it.  (I actually know who this is, I just can’t tell you.  Yet.)  This one features 16 stories, half of them unseen by any save me and a ridiculously few other lucky souls, half of them reprinted.  I think some of these stories are my best work, while others of them are my work.

Then, in the spring of next year, my epic novel, THE FEARING, is out from Grey Matter.  It’s a huge, door-stoppery kind of book of which plenty of BIG AUTHORS have great things to say.  You’ll hear more on this one later, but I’m really proud of this work.  If you love grand, apocalyptic tales with multiple groups of characters coming together to DO THE THING, you will love this book.  At least I think so.

I’ve got stories appearing in a few places that you should know about.  I have a story that will be in I CAN HEAR THE SHADOWS, my group project with The 5ive–Joe Schwartz, Erik T. Johnson, J. Daniel Stone and Josh Malerman.  We’re finishing this up right now, and we’ll be looking for a publisher for what we plan as a series of books.  I’ve read all of them except for Josh’s at the moment, and they’re FANTASTIC.

I’ve also got a story called “All You Care to Eat” in a secret project I’ve concocted that does have a publisher, whom I can’t mention yet because they haven’t announced it, for release in probably 2019 sometime.

Also got a secret collaborative project with Brian Kirk, which I will begin soon.

I’m finishing up a tight little 1970s nostalgic coming-of-age horror story called HE LEFT.  No publisher as of yet, but I’ll be shopping it around soon.

Got another story for another secret project with some fantastic, award-winning editor that I can’t yet mention.

Collaborating with another effin’ great author with the initials of J.Malerman, which I can’t say too much about.  Oh, and another secret project with Josh M. that I can’t talk about.

Anything else?  Um, yeah, I have the follow-up to THE END IN ALL BEGINNINGS simmering away, five or six novellas on a theme I don’t want to throw out there just yet.  But I have the title ready.  ALL WE LEAVE BEHIND.

There.  That’s about it.  Blog update until I remember it next.

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My First Audiobook, The Bell Witch!

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I’ve taken my first steps into a larger world.

Audiobooks are something I’ve been into ever since I was actually working in an actual office and actually having to drive back and forth each day.  My commute was about an hour each way, so it was nice to have something to pass the time, rather than annoying, abrasive, semi-funny morning/afternoon DJs.

Enter audiobooks.

Sometimes it’s nice to have someone read you a story.  As long as the narrator doesn’t rub me the wrong way–which is a purely personal thing–audiobooks can be a pleasant way to absorb a book.  Not every book, mind you, and not all the time.  But I love books so much, it doesn’t really matter to me, paperback or hardcover, ebook or audio.  Whatever.  Give me books.

Matt Godfrey, a noted audiobook…narrator isn’t the right word.  More of a performer, really, as the best in this business are.  Matt approached me about The Bell Witch.  Why wasn’t there an audiobook for it?

Good question, since friend and fellow author Mark Matthews had been urging me on for years.  His forays into this were very successful, and he assured me it was an easy thing.

Now, most authors own the audio rights to their works, unless they’ve signed them away.  I own mine, so I could do whatever I wished.  That also meant, of course, that I would be financially fronting the cost of doing this all by myself.  And to do it right, which I always strive for, was, while not super costly, at least a few bills.

But Matt convinced me, and we were off to the races.  And what Matt came up with is just…well…brilliant.  Perfect.  Couldn’t have captured the spirit of the book–both literally and figuratively–better.

Check it out for yourself.  It’s up at Amazon and at ITunes right now, if you’d like someone to read you a good, proper American ghost story–eleven hours of it!

I’m so happy with the results, that I’ll be working with Matt again shortly to produce an audiobook of my upcoming collection LITTLE BLACK SPOTS, which will be out in August. Should be fun!  Until then…

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A Nice Promo for My Story in Behold!

I have a story in Behold: Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders, which, neatly, one the Stoker Award this year for best anthology.  Edited by the super nice, super talented Doug Murano, it includes a story from me, “A Ware That Will Not Keep.”  It’s a story I’m particularly proud of, so this little ad promoting it is very cool.  Give it an eyeball or two.


Little Black Spots, Summer 2018

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My next book, Little Black Spots, coming late this summer, 2018.

Isn’t that an awesome cover?

Notice it says “With a Special Guest Introduction.”  Yeah, I’m working on that, and it will be filled in with someone great, I promise!

The TOC has 16 stories in it, 8 previously appearing, 8 brand, spankin’ new.

  • The Bunny Suit   NEW
  • The Depravity of Inanimate Things
  • The Dark Level
  • Everything Must Go   NEW
  • A Winter’s Tale   NEW
  • Their Hands   NEW
  • The Night Bird
  • Just a Phone Call Away
  • The Immolation Scene
  • Purple Soda Hand   NEW
  • Three Dog Night
  • The Night Moves
  • A Kiss from the Sun for Pardon   NEW
  • The Bitches of Madison County
  • Gethsemane, In Rain   NEW
  • The Coriolis Effect or Chiromancy for Beginners   NEW

More on each of these stories as we get closer to publication date.  But I am inordinately, superlatively proud of this collection.  I think it’s some of my best work yet.  And I’m tremendously excited to share it with you.  As always, Tony and everyone at Grey Matter has done a tremendous job with this book.  They’re now five books deep in my oeuvre–with the definitive edition of Little Deaths, Kill-Off, The Bell Witch and Stoker Award-nominated The End in All Beginnings. 

And…who knows?  Maybe a big, major announcement of something freakin’ awesome coming soon?  Oh yeah….


Providence and Stuff

So, I went to the Horror Writers Association’s StokerCon two weeks ago.  Yeah, it’s taken me this long to process it.  It was a great con, and I was able to connect with a lot of people there, which is ultimately why I go.  Make the connections.  Get to know people.  And develop lots of projects that will keep me busy and (perhaps) gainfully employed in future months.

I was able to hang out extensively with my Blood Brother, Erik T. Johnson, author of YES TRESPASSING.  That was great and very cool.  We were able to pitch I CAN HEAR THE SHADOWS–the follow up to I CAN TASTE THE BLOOD, featuring both of us along with Joe Schwartz, J. Daniel Stone and Josh Malerman.  I think this one will see life somewhere in 2019.  We’re all working on our stories right now, and this one sounds terrific so far.  Joe Schwartz–JOE FUCKING SCHWARTZ–is writing a horror story for this.  I shit you not.

I got to see my good friend and editor Doug Murano win the Stoker Award for Best Anthology for Behold: Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders!  And this was after Doug’s harrowing trip cross country in an SUV filled with his wife and four little kids, many of whom were sick.  I had a story in Behold, “A Ware That Will Not Keep,” which made it to the preliminary ballot but not the final ballot, so this was a pleasant bit of news.

I also got to see Patrick Freivald, Rena Mason, Lisa Morton, Ellen Datlow, Jim Chambers, Brian Matthews, Nicole Cushing, Tom Deady, Pete Kahle, Chad Stroup, Brian Kirk, John Palisano, Eric Guignard and Stephanie Wytovich.  I got to moderate a panel on long fiction and do a reading from my short story “The Coriolis Effect or Chiromancy for Beginners,” from my upcoming collection Little Black Spots (more on that soon).

I also emerged with a project that Brian Kirk and I are working on, and that I am VERY excited about.  And I got two huge names interested in another Big Project that Josh Malerman and I are working on.  MUCH more on this later.

I also met a few people I was really looking forward to meeting.  One of them was Alan Baxter, a great guy and author of the phenomenal Crow Shine and Hidden City, and a new member of the Grey Matter Press family!  Another was Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and Disappearance at Devil’s Rock.  And the other was Victor LaValle, author of The Ballad of Black Tom, The Changeling (which I am now reading), and the devastating Destroyer graphic novel, which I finished last night. And to be utterly gratuitous, here’s a picture of me and Victor.  Great guy and a super author!

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All in all, a super conference, with a lot coming out of it.

More on all these projects in the very near future…and there are things ticking with Little Black Spots and The Fearing. Soon….so very, very soon.


Dallas Mayr Has Passed Away

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The amazing Jack Ketchum, Lifetime Achievement Winner

One of my writing heroes has passed away.

Dallas Mayr, aka Jack Ketchum was the giant in the industry you might not have heard of.  He wrote suspense/horror classics like The Girl Next Door, Off Season, Peaceable Kingdom, and a huge number of short stories. He wrote what is unquestionably one of my favorite short stories ever, “The Box.”

Want some kismet?  Jack’s story “The Box,” which went on to win a Stoker award in 1994 for best short story, first appeared in Cemetery Dance.  As it turns out–and I didn’t realize this for a while–my short story “Three Silent Things” also appeared in that very same issue of Cemetery Dance.

I first met Jack back at the World Horror/HWA convention in Portland in 2014.  I went alone, didn’t know a whole helluva lot of people yet.  I was pushing The End in All Beginnings, my novella collection.  Tony at Grey Matter had booked a reading for me and had sent me a box of ARCs to hand out as I saw fit.

I walked the little trade show part of the con one afternoon, and there, sitting alone at a table with no one around was Jack Ketchum.  If you’ve met me, you know I am a friendly person by nature, approachable, garrulous, interested.  But I am not generally the type to approach people I don’t know…especially people whom I respect or admire.  But, screwing my discomfort to the sticking place, I walked up to Jack, introduced myself and told him I was a huge admirer of his, especially his story “The Box.”

Now, as old and impaired as I was–and continue to be–I did not realize that this story that I had an abiding admiration for was in the same issue as one of my own stories.  But Jack was friendly, and we spoke for a while.  I told him I was a writer just getting back into the industry, and that I had a book coming out.  I had a copy of said book clamped in my hand, and he inquired about it.

I showed him the book and offered him a copy.  He accepted it, then passed it directly back to me.  “You have to sign it first.”

I wasn’t accustomed to this.  Hadn’t signed too many copies of my own books at that point, and was a little flummoxed.  I took the book back and hastily inscribed it, putting into print that I was disconcerted by signing a book over to him.

He took the book, we shook hands, and that was it.  I’d met one of my writing heroes.  Done.  Great experience.  He was a nice guy. It was definitely something I’d remember.

Cut to about two months later.  I’d written something here on this blog about that meeting, and I got a notice from WordPress that I had to approve a comment left on the blog posting.  I stared at the response in question for several minutes trying to figure out who the hell Dallas Mayr was.

The response was this: “In your inscription to me you wrote, ‘I feel funny signing a book for you.’ Can’t think why. THE END IN ALL BEGINNINGS is accomplished stuff, complex and heartfelt. There’s an attention to character and an access to feeling that’s very refreshing indeed. So thanks for the good read, John, and good luck with that Stoker.”

Then I saw the signature;

Best, Dallas aka Jack Ketchum

I nearly passed out.  Really.  Here this man who was an idol took the time to not only speak with me–and encouragingly, I might add–then had accepted a copy of my book, took it, actually read it, and took the time to hunt me down to leave me that note.

In the ensuing months, he also tweeted about the book at least twice that I saw, incredibly glowing things. In one of them, he called the book “the best novella collection I’ve read in years.”

Did I ask him if we could use these for blurbs for the book?  Of course I did.  And he agreed.

I met him a few more times.  The pic above is me with him after the Stoker Banquet in Atlanta in 2015.  I was a finalist in the fiction collection category for The End in All Beginnings.  I didn’t win, but that was okay.  I got the opportunity to have my picture taken with him. I will cherish it.

We talked a few more times over the years.  He read a few more things of mine and was incredibly complimentary and incredibly gracious.  I have a few things of his signed on my bookshelf…including a copy of that issue of Cemetery Dance with our stories in it.

When I finally remembered, I sent him a note about it, and he was pleasantly surprised.  When I saw him next, which I think was also in Atlanta, I brought it with me, and he signed it. It will never leave my possession.

I may never be as big or successful an author as Dallas Mayr.  But I hope I am as good a person.  I try to be just as accessible, just as approachable, just as supportive to other writers as he was.

I’m sorry I won’t get to see him again.  I’m sorry I won’t get that electric thrill of shouting “Dallas!” across a crowded room, as if speaking a secret code.  I’m sorry I won’t be able to buy him any more promised drinks.  I’m sorry for his family and friends.  And for this industry, that’s lost not only a gigantic author, but a gigantically good man.

 


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