Cover design & illustration by Russell Dickerson.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

The Moon Will Look Strange by Lynda E. Rucker

For several years I’ve been collecting horror anthologies. Some have focused on a theme and some have been “best of” annuals. In the second category I’ve found certain editors can be counted on to gather and reprint truly exceptional stories. Stephen Jones’s Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, Paula Guran’s The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror, and Ellen Datlow’s The Best Horror of the Year have no reason to apologize for hyperbole. These are editors who read widely and with great respect for the genre. The work they deliver is extraordinary and well worth the cover price.

While making my way through annual anthologies and reading magazines such as Black Static, Supernatural Tales, Shadows & Tall Trees, and Nightmare Magazine, certain names turn up time and again. One writer whose work I’ve come to admire very much is Lynda E. Rucker. In fact, after reading a couple of her stories I began to look for her name as a sure-fire sign that the volume before me was going to be good.

Karoshi Books, a British small press, is run by award-winning editor Johnny Mains, Peter Mark May of Hersham Horror Books, and Cathy Hurren, a production editor at Routledge. Last September Karoshi Books released The Moon Will Look Strange by Lynda E. Rucker, one of the best story collections of 2013. This is another instance in which a small press identifies an undeniably superb talent far ahead of bigger, more bureaucratic publishing companies.

MoonStrange 
The Moon Will Look Strange pulls together some of the Rucker stories that appeared earlier in magazines and anthologies (some a few years old and some quite recent) as well as three new stories original to the collection. It’s a beautiful book full of strange, dark-edged, eerie tales. I can’t recommend it highly enough. If you like weird fiction, or horror with an emphasis on literary excellence and precise psychological insight set in fascinating, dreamlike locations, you will fall in love with Rucker’s world.

Among the many delights of The Moon Will Look Strange:

“The Burned House,” in which a woman is inexplicably drawn to the remnants of a personal tragedy.

“No More A-Roving,” about a young traveler who can’t seem to move on from the hostel where he’s chosen to rest, and where odd little occurrences remind him of his longing for connection and his perpetual need to remain in transition.

“The Chance Walker,” a story that will keep you up all night double-checking the windows and doors, and that one spot where it seems there ought to be a door.

“The Moon Will Look Strange,” a sharp, painful study of a father’s grief and the length to which he will go to reclaim what he’s lost.

“These Things We Have Always Known,” one of the first Rucker stories I encountered, and still quite impressive after several reads. This is a perfect illustration of the author’s gift for marrying a character’s state of mind to the physical environment.

“The Last Reel,” first published in Supernatural Tales, a very creepy story about a woman who returns to her deceased aunt’s house and makes a shocking discovery, all the while carrying on a cinematic trivia game with her boyfriend.

These are tales you will not forget. The settings seem familiar and yet off-kilter, like landscapes in a dream, or places remembered from a journey years ago. The loneliness and complex desires of the characters will haunt you. No one is better at capturing rare (and terrifying) moments of numinous wonder.

2013 was a year of many fine novellas and story collections. I’d place The Moon Will Look Strange near the top of the list. If you love short fiction as an art form and as a deeply emotional/psychological experience, you can’t miss with Lynda E. Rucker.
For more Rucker fiction read Supernatural Tales 24, Shadows & Tall Trees #5, and Nightmare Magazine (June 2013), as well as Little Visible Delight, an anthology I co-edited with Kate Jonez, published by Omnium Gatherum Media. For non-fiction read Rucker’s brilliant column, Blood Pudding, in Black Static and her blog, in the pines. You can also hear an audio version of “The Last Reel” at Pseudopod.

Monday, January 27, 2014

ASTORIA on the Bram Stoker Awards preliminary ballot

It's always a pleasant surprise to be recognized for something special in your writing. This month my novella Astoria is included on the preliminary ballot for the Bram Stoker Awards. The awards are administered by the Horror Writers Association. To be on the preliminary ballot does not make the book a nominee. In the next few weeks members of HWA will vote to trim the list down to four (or five) nominees in each category.

There were many excellent books published in 2013, and in all likelihood Astoria will be eliminated in the next round. But it's nice to be recognized and lovely to be (as my husband calls it) a Preliminee. Many thanks to my fellow writers and members of HWA for including my novella. And congratulations to everyone on the ballot.

Superior Achievement in a Novel

Michaelbrent Collings – Darkbound (Amazon Digital Services)
Michaelbrent Collings – The Colony: Genesis (Amazon Digital Services)
John Harwood – The Asylum (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Joe Hill – NOS4A2 (William Morrow)
Stephen King – Doctor Sleep (Scribner)
Lisa Morton – Malediction (Evil Jester Press)
Fuminori Nakamura – Evil and the Mask (Soho Crime)
Sarah Pinborough and F. Paul Wilson – A Necessary End (Thunderstorm/Maelstrom Press)
Christopher Rice – The Heavens Rise (Gallery Books)
Gord Rollo – Only the Thunder Knows (JournalStone)

Superior Achievement in a First Novel

L.C. Barlow – Pivot (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform)
Michael Bray – Whisper (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform)
J. Lincoln Fenn – Poe (47North)
Geoffrey Girard – Cain’s Blood (Touchstone)
Kate Jonez – Candy House (Evil Jester Press)
Christian A. Larsen – Losing Touch (Post Mortem Press)
John Mantooth – The Year of the Storm (Berkley Trade)
Rena Mason – The Evolutionist (Nightscape Press)
Jonathan Moore – Redheads (Samhain Publishing)
Royce Prouty – Stoker’s Manuscript (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel

Charles Day – The Adventures of Kyle McGerrt: Hunt for the Ghoulish Bartender (Blood Bound Books)
Patrick Freivald – Special Dead (JournalStone)
Kami Garcia – Unbreakable (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Geoffrey Girard – Project Cain (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
Hannah Jayne – Truly, Madly, Deadly (Sourcebooks Fire)
Tom Leveen – Sick (Harry N. Abrams)
Joe McKinney – Dog Days (JournalStone)
Cat Winters – In the Shadow of Blackbirds (Harry N. Abrams)

Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel

Ed Brubaker – Fatale Book Three: West of Hell (Image Comics)
Caitlin R. Kiernan – Alabaster: Wolves (Dark Horse Comics)
Brandon Seifert – Witch Doctor, Vol. 2: Mal Practice (Image Comics)
Cameron Stewart – Sin Titulo (Dark Horse Comics)
Paul Tobin – Colder (Dark Horse Comics)
NOTE: As there are only five selections, the Graphic Novel category will not appear on the Preliminary Ballot but will move directly to the Final Ballot. Word of warning: these are not considered “nominees” until the Final Ballot is announced.

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction

Dale Bailey – “The Bluehole” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, May/June 2013)
Gary Braunbeck – “The Great Pity” (Chiral Mad 2, Written Backwards)
James Chambers – Three Chords of Chaos (Dark Quest Books)
Benjamin K. Ethridge – “The Slaughter Man” (Limbus, Inc., JournalStone)
Gregory Frost – “No Others Are Genuine” (Asimov’s Science Fiction, Oct./Nov. 2013)
Greg F. Gifune – House of Rain (DarkFuse)
Eric J. Guignard – Baggage of Eternal Night (JournalStone)
Dustin LaValley – The Deceived (Thunderstorm Books)
Rena Mason – East End Girls (JournalStone)
S.P. Miskowski – Astoria (Omnium Gatherum)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction

Colleen Anderson – “The Book With No End” (Bibliotheca Fantastica, Dagan Books)
Michael Bailey – “Primal Tongue” (Zippered Flesh 2, Smart Rhino Publications)
Max Booth III – “Flowers Blooming in the Season of Atrophy” (Chiral Mad 2, Written Backwards)
Patrick Freivald – “Snapshot” (Blood & Roses, Scarlett River Press)
David Gerrold – “Night Train to Paris” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Jan./Feb. 2013)
Lisa Mannetti – “The Hunger Artist” (Zippered Flesh 2, Smart Rhino Publications)
Samuel Marolla – “Black Tea” (Black Tea and Other Tales, Mezzotints)
Helen Marshall – “The Slipway Grey” (Chilling Tales, EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing)
John Palisano – “The Geminis” (Chiral Mad 2, Written Backwards)
Michael Reaves – “Code 666” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, March/April 2013)

Superior Achievement in a Screenplay

Fabien Adda and Fabrice Gobert – The Returned: “The Horde” (Ramaco Media I, Castelao Pictures)
Brad Falchuk – American Horror Story: Asylum: “Spilt Milk” (Brad Falchuk Teley-Vision, Ryan Murphy Productions)
Bryan Fuller – Hannibal: “ApĂ©ritif” (Dino De Laurentiis Company, Living Dead Guy Productions, AXN: Original X Production, Gaumont International Television)
Daniel Knauf – Dracula: “A Whiff of Sulfur” (Flame Ventures, Playground, Universal Television, Carnival Films)
Glen Mazzara – The Walking Dead: “Welcome to the Tombs” (AMC TV)
NOTE: As there are only five selections, the Screenplay category will not appear on the Preliminary Ballot but will move directly to the Final Ballot. Word of warning: these are not considered “nominees” until the Final Ballot is announced.

Superior Achievement in an Anthology

R.J. Cavender and Boyd E. Harris (ed.) – Horror Library: Volume 5 (Cutting Block Press)
Marc Ciccarone (ed) – Blood Rites: An Invitation to Horror (Blood Bound Books)
Eric J. Guignard (ed.) – After Death… (Dark Moon Books)
Michael Knost and Nancy Eden Siegel (ed.) – Barbers & Beauties (Hummingbird House Press)
Ross E. Lockhart (ed.) – Tales of Jack the Ripper (Word Horde)
Lori Michelle (ed.) – Bleed (Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing)
Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. (ed.) – The Grimscribe’s Puppets (Miskatonic River Press)
Jeani Rector (ed.) – Shadow Masters: An Anthology from the Horror Zine (Imajin Books)
Anthony Rivera and Sharon Lawson (ed.) – Dark Visions: A Collection of Modern Horror, Volume One (Grey Matter Press)

Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection

Nathan Ballingrud – North American Lake Monsters: Stories (Small Beer Press)
Laird Barron – The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All and Other Stories (Night Shade Books)
Max Booth III – They Might Be Demons (Dark Moon Books)
Kenneth W. Cain – Fresh Cut Tales: A Collection of Dark Fiction (Distressed Press)
James Dorr – The Tears of Isis (Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing)
K. Trap Jones – The Crossroads: A Collection of Narrative Horror (Hazardous Press)
Caitlin R. Kiernan – The Ape’s Wife and Other Stories (Subterranean)
Chantal Noordeloos – Deeply Twisted (TMH Publishing)
Gene O’Neill – Dance of the Blue Lady (Bad Moon Books)
Reggie Oliver – Flowers of the Sea (Tartarus Press)
S. P. Somtow - Bible Stories for Secular Humanists (Diplodocus Press)

Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction

Barbara Brodman and James E. Doan (ed.) – Images of the Modern Vampire: The Hip and the Atavistic (Fairleigh Dickinson)
Gary William Crawford (ed.) – Ramsey Campbell: Critical Essays on the Modern Master of Horror (Scarecrow Press)
William F. Nolan – Nolan on Bradbury: Sixty Years of Writing about the Master of Science Fiction (Hippocampus Press)
Jarkko Toikkanen – The Intermedial Experience of Horror: Suspended Failures (Palgrave Macmillan)
Robert H. Waugh (ed.) – Lovecraft and Influence: His Predecessors and Successors (Scarecrow Press)
Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock (ed.) – The Works of Tim Burton: Margins to Mainstream (Palgrave Macmillan)

Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection

Vincenzo Bilof – The Horror Show (Bizarro Pulp Press)
Bruce Boston – Dark Roads: Selected Long Poems 1971-2012 (Dark Renaissance Books)
G.O. Clark – Scenes Along the Zombie Highway (Dark Regions Press)
David C. Kopaska-Merkel – Luminous Worlds (Dark Regions Press)
Helen Marshall – The Sex Lives of Monsters (Kelp Queen Press)
Marge Simon and Sandy DeLuca – Dangerous Dreams (Elektrik Milk Bath Press)
Marge Simon, Rain Graves, Charlee Jacob, and Linda Addison – Four Elements (Bad Moon Books/Evil Jester Press)
Bryan Thao Worra – Demonstra: A Poetry Collection (Innsmouth Free Press)
Stephanie M. Wytovich – Hysteria: A Collection of Madness (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Me & Johnny at the Blog Mansion

Johnny Worthen (author of occult thriller BEATRYSEL, now available on Amazon and at The King’s English Bookshop in Sugarhouse) and I have a chat about fiction, Southern writing, using initials instead of a 'real name,' and how to care for dolphins indoors. All of my secrets and some of Johnny's are revealed, so don't miss this interview at The Blog Mansion.


Sunday, January 05, 2014

2013 - A Partial List


So this is how last year went.

Spring
Supernatural Tales named my story "A.G.A." as 'best of' in the reader poll for ST#21, published the previous year.

My novella, Delphine Dodd was nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award.

March
Black Static 33 featured Pete Tennant's review of Knock Knock and Delphine Dodd, as well as an extensive interview.

July
Omnium Gatherum published Astoria, the third book in the Skillute Cycle which includes Knock Knock and Delphine Dodd.

September
The Gothic Imagination ran a two-part interview, written by James Campbell.

My installment of The H Word column, "In Search of Horrible Women" was published in Nightmare Magazine.

December
Omnium Gatherum published Little Visible Delight, an anthology I co-edited with Kate Jonez.

Cheers and best wishes for 2014!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Goodreads Book Giveaway: Little Visible Delight

Our publisher Omnium Gatherum is giving away two print edition copies of Little Visible Delight, the anthology of new fiction I co-edited with Kate Jonez. For an epub look at the book, and a chance to win a print edition, sign up at Goodreads.

 Often the most powerful and moving stories are generated by writers who return time and again to a particular idea, theme, or image. Obsession in a writer's imagination can lead to accomplishment or to self-destruction. Consider Poe and his pale, dead bride; his fascination with confinement and mortality; his illness and premature death. Or Flannery O'Connor's far less soul-crushing fondness for peacocks. Some writers pay a high price for their obsessions, while others maintain a crucial distance. Whichever the case, obsessions can produce compelling fiction.

Little Visible Delight is an anthology of original stories in which eleven authors of dark fiction explore some their most intimate, writerly obsessions.

Table of Contents
The Receiver of Tales by Lynda E. Rucker
Needs Must When the Devil Drives by Cory J. Herndon
A Thousand Stitches by Kate Jonez
The Point by Johnny Worthen
Calligraphy by James Everington
This Many by S.P. Miskowski
JP by Brent Michael Kelley
Kestrel by Mary Borsellino
An Unattributed Lyric, In Blood, On a Bathroom Wall by Ennis Drake
Black Eyes Broken by Mercedes M. Yardley
Bears: A Fairy Tale of 1958 by Steve Duffy




Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Little Visible Delight





Often the most powerful and moving stories are generated by writers who return time and again to a particular idea, theme, or image. Obsession in a writer's imagination can lead to accomplishment or to self-destruction. Consider Poe and his pale, dead bride; his fascination with confinement and mortality; his illness and premature death. Or Flannery O'Connor's far less soul-crushing fondness for peacocks. Some writers pay a high price for their obsessions, while others maintain a crucial distance. Whichever the case, obsessions can produce compelling fiction.

Little Visible Delight is an anthology of original stories in which eleven authors of dark fiction explore some their most intimate, writerly obsessions.




Table of Contents

The Receiver of Tales by Lynda E. Rucker
Needs Must When the Devil Drives by Cory J. Herndon
A Thousand Stitches by Kate Jonez
The Point by Johnny Worthen
Calligraphy by James Everington
This Many by S.P. Miskowski
JP by Brent Michael Kelley
Kestrel by Mary Borsellino
An Unattributed Lyric, In Blood, On a Bathroom Wall by Ennis Drake
Black Eyes Broken by Mercedes M. Yardley
Bears: A Fairy Tale of 1958 by Steve Duffy

Friday, October 04, 2013

Knock Knock and Delphine Dodd reviewed

"Along with Brendan Connell’s The Architect, I rate Delphine Dodd as the best novella I read in 2012, and Knock Knock as the best book I read in any category."

Thanks to Peter Tennant for posting his Black Static 33 review of Knock Knock and Delphine Dodd at his delightful blog, Trumpetville.