The Fully Extended Arctic Stoat.
Monthly Archives: August 2012
Cracked the 1,000 follower mark! Yippee! Just thought I’d share!
Go about your daily business, citizen.
Sold a story over the weekend, which made for a great weekend.
The story was “The Two of Guns,’ a nifty little western piece about a gun that can’t miss. Incidentally, it was the first “real” short story I ever wrote (20+ years ago), and it was the first story I ever sold, to a defunct little horror magazine called Eldritch Tales. Was thrilled to have sold it back then, and thrilled now to have sold it as a reprint. It was bought by a western horror antho called Edge of Sundown. I’ll give more details about it when I know more.
Also have stories appearing in Horror Library V and Black Ink Horror 8, both to be out sometime this year!
Gabino Iglesias, the prolific reader and reviewer for HorrorTalk.com, has given Little Deaths a great review. I’ve posted some of it below, but definitely go to here to read the entire thing. And follow Gabino on Twitter @Gabino_Iglesias.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: variety can make the difference between a good short fiction collection and a great one. In the case of John F.D. Taff’s Little Deaths, variety doesn’t even begin to describe the dazzling array of themes, tones, and voices the author was able to cram into the compilation. From creepy horror and heartbreaking stories of loss to spooky narratives written in a Poe-esque prose and tales that can only be called Lovecraftian in nature, Little Deaths has something for everyone.
Little Deaths kicks off with Bolts, a story most collectors will be able to identify with. Ace lives with his girlfriend Rachel. He makes a living buying and selling collectibles online, but keeping too many of them around often causes the couple to have disagreements. While fighting with Rachel about a life-size Battlestar Galactica Cylon he plans to keep, Ace finds a treasure: the actual prop neck bolts Boris Karloff used in Frankenstein back in 1931. He makes the purchase and patches things up with Rachel. Soon after, disaster strikes. Scared, sad, and in denial, Ace will do whatever it takes to makes things right again, and the bolts will play a vital, and disastrous, role.
While Bolts is the first standout in the collection, it’s far from being the only one. Here are some other stories that stuck with me:
• The personal account of one man written by a younger neighbor, The Water Bearer tells the story of Jim, a guy who worked maintaining a young doctor’s house and grounds in 1923. Dr. Evander Wilson had recently lost his wife when Jim came to work for him. What follows is a creepy and somewhat Lovecraftian narrative full of brackish water, the smell of decay, and dark secrets.
• Child of Dirt mixes horror with emotional tension in a way that the reader will probably feel sorry for the man having to deal with the creature looking up at him from the cradle.
• I love stories that have body modification as an element in the narrative, and Orifice is a fine example of just how far something like a tattoo can be taken by capable hands.
• Darkness Upon the Void is one of the most memorable psychological/physical horror stories I’ve read in a while. It begins with a man named Ed Martinez squeezing a tiny white worm out of his forearm and gets progressively nastier from there. There is a religious element to the story that makes it even more interesting as Ed’s mental state is questioned and the creatures coming out of his body increase in size and gruesomeness. While the tale might be too much for those with weak stomachs, lovers of hardcore horror will definitely get a kick out of this one.
• Horror is not often simultaneously eerie and heartbreakingly sad. Here, the 16th story in the collection, brings those two very separate things together very well. The premise is simple: a man’s dog is killed by a car and then comes back to look for his owner. It might sound undemanding, but the tension is kept sky-high throughout the story and the writing is very touching and emotionally gritty. Love, loss, loneliness, and ghosts all come together to make this one a standout.
• Last but not least, The Mellified Man is one of the absolute best stories in Little Deaths and one of the most unique short pieces you’ll ever read. Bobby Jenkins is a man with only one vice: candy. His sweet tooth keeps him constantly on the lookout for new sugary delicacies. When he walks into The Alhambra, a new candy store that offers the best sweets from around the world, he becomes a habitual visitor. Despite tasting great things on a regular basis, Bobby wants more. Aziz, the store’s owner, delivers the goods. Once the once-in-a-lifetime treat is devoured, Bobby starts to feel different and things go from incredibly sweet to nightmarishly sour.
Taff is a very talented writer, but his attention to detail is what sets his work apart. Each description is rich without being boring and each setting is as unique as the characters that inhabit them. Also, most stories engage the senses. For example, in The Water Bearer, The Scent, and The Mellified Man, smells play crucial roles.
Collections are never perfect and there are always one or two stories that readers will not be crazy about. However, this collection will surely satisfy many readers. Given its variety, it’s almost impossible not to find something you like. If you’re looking to liven up your horror reading, Little Deaths will do it in a big way.”
Thanks, Gabino! Glad you liked it.
Go here to pick up your copy today!
Well, more like one and a half. The Hellnotes review, which you can read here, has been posted to Amazon, where I have about a dozen reviews now for Little Deaths. Go here to read them…and to buy yourself a copy of this kick-ass book.
Then, there’s book reviewer Sean Kimmel, who maintains a site called Fringes of Horror. Sean got a copy of my book and had this to say about it:
“As with most collections some of the stories stick out more than others. Still there’s not a bad tale in the book. Most have a slow burn effect and a subtle nature behind the words and often the end results are down right chilling.
I highly recommend giving this entertaining collection a read (19 stories in all). You wont be disappointed.”
Go here to read Sean’s full review and visit his great horror site!
My friend, John Milton, posted a great new review for Best New Werewolf Tales, in which I have a story, “Three Dog Night.”
I’ve excerpted some of the review below, but please go to Andy Erupts to read the entire review.
“Best New Werewolf Tales Vol 1 comes with 20 short stories, some of the highlights for me were the following:
Jonathan Maberry kicks off the book in style with a private investigator/ horror mash-up that really works inLike part of the Family.
In Baby, James Roy Daley ramps up the horror and takes the sub-genre in a direction that I don’t think any film would dare to go.
David Bernstein’s The Trojan Plushy is a dark tale demonstrating the lengths a desperate man will go to in order to find justice.
John F.D.Taff takes werewolves to the dog pound in Three Dog Night and unleashes the power of man’s best friend.
William Meikle melds genres together in Hairs and Graces, giving a fantasy horror twist to a private detective tale.
An internet shopper gets more than he bargained for in T.J.May’s Unlucky Moon.
… and I guarantee you that you’ll never have read anything like David Wesley Hill’s SQ 389!
Although this book quite clearly has some big-hitting authors attached to it, its real strength lies in the unique nature of each story. As I have already stated, I find the sub-genre revolving around lycanthropy quite tired and many films/ books simply feel like retreading old ground. That is not the case here at all.”
And, of course, go here to buy yourself a copy. It really is that good!
A reviewer named Littlevoice left me a great 5-star review for Little Deaths at Amazon. Read it below, buy it here:
“I’d seen and enjoyed John Taff’s work here and there before reading “Little Deaths”, so it was a treat to receive his collection for review. This is dark speculative fiction that caters perfectly to my tastes – well-crafted and imaginative, brimming with original concepts, and relying largely on developing a sense of unease rather than shock-and-gore to affect the reader. Personal favourites include –
“Child of Dirt”, which explores a taboo question that must enter the minds of many a new father; what if my child isn’t really mine?
“The Mellified Man”, putting a new spin on another old taboo – cannibalism.
“Snapback”, a cleverly constructed sci fi horror that takes on time travel.”