Rachel Bloom’s Irresistible “Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury”

June 6, 2012

This came to me via Paul Goat Allen, who describes it (accurately) as “irreverent.” This is NOT SAFE FOR WORK, nor presumably for the rather conservative Mr. Bradbury.

But it’s just so $@$*@$*ing catchy.

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By Way of Deception: The Making of a Mossad Officer

June 6, 2012

By Way of Deception: The Making of a Mossad Officer, Victor Ostrovsky’s groundbreaking book on the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, came out in 1990. I’ve been sort of half-assedly planning on reading it ever since, and finally got around to it recently.

Unfortunately, it was a huge disappointment. The main problem is that the author doesn’t differentiate between his own experiences and things he’s reporting from other sources; it becomes fairly obvious when you’re reading it that most of the material is lifted — whether from rumor, innuendo, scuttlebutt or legitimate reporting in other sources, I don’t have the foggiest idea, because Ostrovsky’s got all the citation chops of a fourth-rate potboiler, not a serious academic or political book. It comes across as hearsay garbage. What’s more, while Ostrovsky may have broken some news at the time of first publication, there’s nothing in here that was the least bit shocking to me; much of it felt INCREDIBLY repetitious, especially in the first half.

Pretty much everything interesting is confined to the first half, where Ostrovsky discusses his training in Mossad operations; there, the details of spycraft are FASCINATING. Had the book been half as long, I would have given it 4 stars, probably. Had it been three-quarters as long, maybe three stars. But after the halfway mark, Ostrovsky just drones on and on and on and on with the same bland scandals that are basically hearsay. It ends up sounding like “Shooting the shit with the Mossad.” He he seems to be reporting most of these stories either unreferenced or taken from mainstream news stories, but damned if I can tell which is which.

What really made me feel burned, though, is that after a badly-paced second half that LITERALLY PUT ME TO SLEEP ON TWO SEPARATE OCCASIONS WHILE I STRUGGLED THROUGH IT, Ostrovsky tries to wrap it all up with a sort of vapid statement of his moral rectitude. He references an old joke that the worst thing a Mossad officer can say to another Mossad officer is “I hope I read about you in the papers.” He suggests that maybe it takes the light of public inquiry to change the Mossad’s ways.

Yeah…it all seems so quaint, post-9/11, post-Gulf II, post-Afghan War, post-globalization, following Europe’s mounting financial collapse…if the Mossad, or Israel in general, could be induced to change its ways by journalism, unfortunately Ostrovsky isn’t the one to do it, because his thinking and his reporting is too fragmented, confusing, and unclear.

If you’re interested in spycraft, read the first half of the book and skip the rest.

Three Empires On The Nile: The Victorian Jihad, 1869-99

June 6, 2012

"General Gordon's Last Stand," by George W. Joy.

In keeping with a piece of advice from Ray Bradbury that has been making the rounds, in which he suggests that writers must have a slightly creepy love affair with books, I say emphatically that this week I am creepily in love with books about Sudan.

Today, I am particularly in love with Three Empires On the Nile, a brilliant, dry, inspiring and horrifying account of the colonial hijinx that led to the grotesque mismanagement of both Egypt and Sudan in the last part of the 19th century.

The book touches on the crumbling of the Ottoman Empire and the ascendency of British imperialism, with a cast of characters that includes a parade of colonial notables including Gladstone, Gordon, Kitchener and the corrupt pseudo-monarchs of the disintegrating Egyptian vassal state.

Its second half is concerned almost entirely with the rise and fall of the Mahdist State in what is today South Sudan; the bookends of the movement’s rise and fall were the massacres at Khartoum (1885), which saw the death of Charles Gordon, and Omdurman (1898), presided over by Lord Kitchener.

Expanding its scope to include the Egyptian, Ottoman, French, Belgian, and British politics of the time, Three Empires on the Nile is brutally sarcastic toward both Colonialism and Islamism in the way that only 100 years of hindsight can provide.

Filled with colonial pratfalls and oodles of Stupid Prime Minister Tricks, it’s a riveting study in Victorian politics as well as a solid piece of historical adventure horror…oh, and it’s also a history book, not a thriller. Then again, can’t it kind of be both? Hellz yeah, if you’re a Colonialism geek like me.

The 21st-century end of the Mahdist story, incidentally, is the Muslim Brotherhood, which descended directly from the Islamism that created that group and therefore ultimately Al Qaeda, and the coup that led to Sudan becoming the very first Sunni state governed by Sharia law.

But wait, there’s more; the British expeditions into southern Sudan were originally prompted by the slave trade, which was an atrocity perpetrated primarily by northern, lighter-skinned Arabic-speaking Muslim Sudanese against the southern tribal peoples, primarily Christian and animist.

Sound familiar? Why, yes, yes in fact, the racial, ethnic and religious factors that drove the slave trade in Gordon’s time are precisely what drive it today, along with the mass slaughter of Sudanese blacks by government-supported forces, including both Sudanese government troups and Arabic-speaking Janjaweed militias in Darfur and what is now South Sudan. (South Sudan seceded last year — successfully, apparently, with international help).

But what makes this book so enjoyable is the evident disgust it heaps on the political animals of Victorian England and the arrogant and criminal disregard they showed both for their own heroes (Gordon) and their subject peoples. Concerned with resources and markets, not people, Colonialists of this era often wrapped themselves in the mantle of humanitarianism in order to royally fuck shit up. I have no doubt that at times, they believed they had the best of intentions. Of course, the other side of the coin is the frank corruption and ineffectiveness of the Egyptian and Ottoman states — or, even more so, King Leopold, who never had any good intentions for his private corporate rule over the Congo.

The title is, I believe — like all the best history book titles — a double-entendre; “Three Empires on the Nile” could be the British, Ottoman and French Empires…or it could be the British Empire, the Mahdi State and the Egyptian Empire, which may rightly be called that insofar as its conquest of Sudan was, in the minds of its leaders, explicit imperial expansion. Corruption and Egypt’s dependence on Britain meant that it could never become a real empire — but one doesn’t need to read very deeply to see the similarities between atrocities of every flavor, and the irrelevance of all good intentions in doing anything more than justifying self-interest.

The book’s very last line says it all: “Today, the price of a child slave in Khartoum is $35.”

Three cheers for Gordon and Kitchener and Gladstone. Three cheers for Muhammad Ahmad, self-proclaimed messianic redeemer of the Islamic faith, and Isma’il Pasha, Khedive of Egypt. Now somebody stick a fork in our ass and turn us over, we’re done.

Taste the Blood of Christopher

May 27, 2012

Christopher Lee as Dracula in Horror of Dracula-Resize

The incomparable Sir Christopher Lee is 90 years old today.

Yes, he was Saruman in Peter Jackson’s brilliant Lord of the Rings films — and perfect for the role, maybe partially because he was surely the one member of the acting cast who was most in love with those books, reportedly re-reading them each year. He was also the only one to have ever met J.R.R. Tolkien in the flesh.

And yes, he was a genuine piss-and-vinegar type in World War II, volunteering first for the Finns in the Winter War against the Soviet Union, and thereafter in the RAF and as an intelligence officer for the Long Range Desert Group in North Africa.

But between those two events, Lee was in literally hundreds of film roles. (IMDB lists 276 acting credits in total, from the Kaleidoscope TV series in 1946 to 2013’s The Hobbit: There and Back Again, where he will reprise his role as Saruman.

Most importantly to me, Lee played Dracula in a series from Hammer Studios — among my very favorite horror films of all time. I love them for their spot-on Gothic atmosphere and shameless melodrama; these are not films that apologize for being what they are. They chew the scenery like it was made of peanut brittle.

It was the quality of the acting — Lee and Peter Cushing chief among them — that always sold those movies to me. They might have needed such creative salesmanship because of relatively low budgets and familiar plots — but true professionals like Lee never seemed to work at bringing it home. They made it look not only effortless, but genuinely scary no matter how crazed the maniacal laughter he was called upon to issue in concert with umpteen-twenty violin stabs. Cheesy movies have never scared the ever living hell out of me the way Hammer flicks did — and still do, if I’m drunk enough, despite repeated (and I mean REPEATED) viewing of several of the best of them. If Lee ever phoned it in, then he did so the way Freddy Kruger did, if you know what I mean.

Or maybe Lee didn’t have to phone it in because the familiar — at times, even hackneyed — plots didn’t need any apology. Were they created with love, or as shameless profiteering? Fuck if I know — I suspect a little of both. The Hammer Dracula films unapologetically rehashed the Universal Horror of the ’30s with the gusto of a fanatical Rocky Horror Picture Show cast marooned in the suburbs, but with a moviemaking mojo that, on second or third or fifth viewing, remains to my eyes remarkably credible given their available resources.

If just one studio could turn out the kind of credulously reverent retellings of classic stories that Hammer did in the late ’50s through the early ’70s, I would never say one nasty word about dumbass Hollywood remakes again.

And if just one leading man could scare the living shit out of me the way Lee’s Dracula did when I first saw these flicks on Saturday afternoons, we wouldn’t need found-footage gimmicks to conjure pure terror and bona-fide storytelling.

I stand in awe, and occasionally sheer terror. Bravo, Mr. Lee; bra-MFing-vissimo.

A Rainbow in the Night: The Tumultuous Birth of South Africa

April 18, 2012

A Rainbow in the Night: The Tumultuous Birth of South Africa by Dominique Lapierre is, ultimately, a good book about a great story. It is only “good,” in and of itself, rather than “great,” because while parts of it are amazing, and all of it tells an amazing story, too much of it tells an amazing story in overwrought, hand-wringing fashion….like far too much writing about South Africa.

The main problem with it is that it begins as a fairly objective, fairly reasonable and very well-told history of South African history pre-World War II (which is back when the racism that would become Apartheid was not yet formalized).

That’s good — it’s going strong. The bad news is that it turns about halfway through into a hagiography of the poor. It’s also a hagiography of Mandela, which I feel like I’ve heard a thousand times. The real messy story feels like it’s avoided in favor of pouring out overwrought prose about how hard it was to be black during the Apartheid era. I’m already fairly clear that it blew pretty seriously. That’s why I’m reading a book on South Africa in the first place. Lapierre hits too hard on the same old messages of martyrdom, which makes this book not an effective history.

Don’t get me wrong…I don’t think “objective” makes a lot of sense when it comes to Apartheid, racism or Afrikaans-dominated South Africa. But I also don’t need to be beaten to death with overheated, overwrought, hand-wringing prose about the troubles of the poor. I read a LOT of books on Africa, and I see the kind of heartfelt, weepy prose engaged in here to be borderline condescending. It’s not intended that way, sure. But certainly many African writers express a deep-distaste for the hand-wringing of the West vis-a-vis Africa, and this book seems to be guilty of that. Lapierre is sort of the chief of it, having written a number of very good but very overwrought pieces of tragedy tourism (Five Past Midnight in Bhopal, for instance, and his magnum opus City of Joy). With Joy, he certainly did the right thing…spending part of the proceeds of the book to set up a foundation to help the poor of Calcutta — whom the book is about. I don’t fault his impulses, only his execution, in City of Joy as well as Rainbow in the Night. It’s not that he’s done anything wrong as that the way he does it, to some extent, dehumanizes rather than humanizes the poor of the developing world — at least to Lapierre’s Western audience.

I understand that Lapierre (and presumably his translator…not sure if this was written in English or French) are trying to communicate the agonies of being poor and black in South Africa — which are EXTREME today and were vastly more so during the Apartheid era. But I found the overdone prose in certain sections to be somewhat insulting in its obviousness.

That said, however, Lapierre’s heart is in the right place, and it’s the most accessible (and actually LEAST overwrought) thing I’ve read to-date on South Africa. The struggle the black South Africans, Mandela included, went through is amazing. I do wish there had been less hagiography and more, for instance, about the Zulu nationalist movement to the North, which opposed the African National Congress, and the criminal elements that flourished in the slums in the context of rampant soul-crushing poverty; it is in THOSE elements, it seems to me, that South Africa’s contemporary troubles have their origin.

We can attack the white Afrikaaner fascist racist murderers all we want. But as Michael Moorcock said, “All tyrants are pretty much the same, but there are many kinds of victims.” By spending the second half of this book making the racist demons as demonic as possible and the black South Africans saintly, I feel Lapierre has missed the real story in the ongoing triumph and tragedy of the struggle in post-colonial Africa overall, not just in South Africa. The result is an immensely readable book but one that’s a bit hard to take seriously as history, insofar as it concerns the Apartheid period itself (after World War II).

Speaking of which, why is this subtitled “The Tumultuous Birth of South Africa?” The author’s intention is to establish that the period from the landing of the first Dutch settlers on the Cape to the establishment of pluralist democracy is *ALL* the birth of South Africa…but out of context, it’s a little bewildering of a subtitle. It seems like it misleads the potential reader a bit.

The book still gets an honored place on my bookshelf, principally because I think it’s SO accessible that I hope it’ll be read by people who wouldn’t tackle a denser book or a more nuanced history about South Africa. The struggles the black South Africans and the Apartheid-opposing whites, Indians, those of mixed race etc. went through should be known to every person of conscience everywhere in the world.

Therefore, my nitpicks aside, if a zillion people read this book the world will be a much better place, and for that alone it gets some extra credit.

When all is said and done, it is an inspiring book and well worth reading.

By the way, Did I Mention ‘The Panama Laugh’ Was a Finalist For the Bram Stoker Award

April 15, 2012

It seems I got a day job again, and practically abandoned this blog, as well as Boiled Hard.

So I never mentioned that my military-noir-anticorporate zombie apocalypse The Panama Laugh was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award, given by the Horror Writers of America.

This is the main award given for the genre of literary horror. It’s about the most amazing thing in the world, and the last damn thing I expected. I’m flattered to have been a finalist.

I even drove to Salt Lake City for the awards ceremony at the 2012 World Horror Convention. No, I didn’t win, but WTF? I’m just lovin’ the ride.

The award went to the more than worthy Allyson Bird, and congratulations to her! And thanks to everyone who voted for me (or voted for another book they liked more — which is fine, too.)

That title again is The Panama Laugh, and you can get it wherever better books are sold. Shitty ones, too.

Thanks again to everyone who’s read the book and liked it. The sequel is rattling around in my head, but no, it’s not sold yet. Meanwhile, back at the day job…

Circlet Press’s New Ebook Edition of Francesca Lia Block’s Erotic Classic ‘Nymph’ on Sale Through Valentine’s Day

February 5, 2012

 

(This post first appeared on Tiny Nibbles — LINK NSFW)

 

Boston indie publisher Circlet Press has been publishing erotic science fiction and fantasy since the early 1990s. One of my very favorite books they ever published was Nymph, a little hardbound collection of linked erotic stories by Francesca Lia Block.

Cooked up in a gumbo pot from equal parts ultra-hotness and ultra-gothness, Nymph is an amazingly sexy exploration of a Southern California fantasyland in which a scorchingly erotic love affair with a lost mermaid can be a Venice Beach surfer’s 6 a.m. — before he even gets coffee. Packed with melancholy eroticism and urban loneliness, Nymph pirouettes across the sexual spectrum in unpredictable ways. It shows the full range of Block’s “sensual, dream-like” approach to fiction, but in Nymph, it’s soaked in explicitly romantic sexual description that can be as beautifully heartbreaking as it is erotic.

In case you’re missing my point: Nymph is one of my favorite erotic books ever. And it just came out in a new ebook edition, available at the Circlet Books website for just $4.99, in PDF, mobi and epub formats. Here’s how Circlet describes this brilliant collection:

As in her other works, Block weaves together themes of subtle magic, youthful hopes, modern urban decay, and deep emotion, told with lyrical storybook language.The stories in NYMPH bear all the hallmarks of classic Francesca Lia Block — punk-spirited characters who celebrate love, life, and art–with one important difference: this time the author carries her vision through the full range of emotion and erotic interaction that her mature audience appreciates.

An interconnected series of stories, NYMPH is a special journey through the lives and loves of characters like Plum, a Crayon-haired girl who has a gift: if she makes love with a person, that person will then meet their true love, or Tom, a burned out surfer whose luck changes when he is rescued by a mysterious, wheelchair-bound woman, or Sylvie, a chronically depressed poet who finds beauty in unexpected places. Block’s erotic explorations of these smoky, kaleidoscopic fables are anything but conventional; these are stories of love, loss, and life, about the healing power of sex and bonding.

[Link.]

When it came out a decade or so ago, this book raised more than a few eyebrows. That’s because Block is primarily known as the creator of the Weetzie Bat books, a six-book series for young adults.

Weetzie Bat is every bit as interesting as Nymph, and far more important in the history of sexuality, for completely different reasons. Despite its young adult audience, the Weetzie Bat series shamelessly portrayed sexual orientation, attraction and choice as mutable across a range of options. Its main character chooses to be a single mother, and invites her two gay best friends into a Beatles-fueled threesome so that the child will belong to all of them. With its celebratory pro-queer view, the Weetzie Bat series radicalized the sexual politics of adults writing young adult fiction, without including a single explicit sex scene or the faintest whisper of exploitation. Wrapped up in magic and sexuality and set in the dreamland known as “Shangri-L.A.,” the series revolutionized queer representation in young adult fiction, portraying a wonderfully wholesome exploration of alternative lifestyles, chosen families, and even true love.

Plus, it’s just a damned lot of fun to read. Unfortunately, Block’s prominence within young adult fiction meant that booksellers and libraries didn’t know what to do with Nymph, and in my opinion it’s never gotten the recognition it deserves. When it comes to urban erotic fantasy, Block’s Nymph is sui generis and, more importantly, mind-bendingly sexy.

It may be short, but it’s lingered longer in my consciousness than many a one-night stand. Like so many of Block’s erotic love affairs, the book’s brevity only makes that last kiss sweeter and saltier as you turn the final page. Because every kiss in this beautiful book is laced with Venice Beach salt spray…and tears.

‘The Panama Laugh’ Makes the Preliminary Bram Stoker Award Ballot!

February 1, 2012

Bram-Bubble

This happened a week or two ago, but I’ve been so busy I haven’t been able to keep up with my blog posts. Anyway…My debut novel The Panama Laugh is on the preliminary ballot for the Bram Stoker Award from the Horror Writers Association! I’m not a “nominee” yet, and I’m definitely not a “finalist,” yet. But I’m very excited to be on the ballot.

Needless to say, I’m thrilled, and completely blown away — this was pretty unexpected. I’m greatly honored to be in such great company. It reminds me what a privilege it’s been to work with such incredible writers over the years. On the preliminary ballot are, among others, many people I’ve worked with. There’s my good friend Shade Rupe, to whose fantastic anthology Funeral Party II I contributed “Viva Las Vegas,” and with whom I collaborated on an (as yet unproduced) screenplay; there’s my fellow Night Bazaar blogger John Hornor Jacobs; there’s Maria Alexander, who wrote several wonderful articles for me when I was editing Eros Zine, the brilliant Brian Hodge, who contributed two completely incredible stories to my Noirotica series, Caitlin R. Kiernan, a contributor of wonderful pieces to several of my anthologies including Noirotica 2 and Brothers of the Night, Nancy Holder, who contributed a magnificent story to In the Shadow of the Gargoyle, one of the Ace Books anthologies I edited with Nancy Kilpatrick, plus such luminaries as Robert Dunbar, Jeff and Ann Vandermeer, Jonathan Maberry, Adam Troy Castro, Marti Noxon of Buffy fame, John Ajvide Lindqvist, author of Let The Right One In, and — GASP — Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Alan Moore, Peter Straub, Ellen Datlow…the list goes on. I’m absolutely amazed to have my name mentioned in the same breath as people like this.

In case you don’t know about the Bram Stoker Awards, here’s what Wikipedia says about them:

The Bram Stoker Award is a recognition presented by the Horror Writers Association (HWA) for “superior achievement” in horror writing. The awards have been presented annually since 1987, and the winners are selected by ballot of the Active members of the HWA. They are named after influential Irish horror writer Bram Stoker, author of the novel Dracula, among others.

[Link.]

Have I mentioned, by the way, that Stoker’s Dracula is one of my favorite novels of all time?

Here’s the complete preliminary ballot, from HWA’s site. (Again — just to remind everyone — I’m not a “nominee” or a “finalist” yet. I just made the preliminary ballot…which doesn’t take away from the honor.)

NOVEL:

RECS:

Ballot Required
Lamberson, Greg — Cosmic Forces
Longfellow, Ki — Houdini Heart
Malfi, Ronald — Floating Staircase
O’Neill, Gene — Not Fade Away
Warner, Matthew — Blood Born
JURY:

Ballot Required
Conlon, Christopher — A Matrix Of Angels
Dunbar, Robert — Willy
McKinney, Joe — Flesh Eaters
Oliver, Reggie — The Dracula Papers, Book 1: The Scholar’s Tale
Thomas, Lee — The German

FIRST NOVEL:

RECS:

Ballot Required
Bird, Allyson — Isis Unbound
Lee, Frazer — The Lamplighters
Reynolds, Graeme — High Moor
Talley, Brett J. — That Which Should Not Be
Wagner, Jeremy — The Armageddon Chord
JURY:

No ballot required, the following works will proceed directly to the Final Ballot. Please note these works may not be described as Nominees until the Final Ballot is formally announced.
Jacobs, John, Horner — Southern Gods
Roche, Thomas — The Panama Laugh

YA NOVEL:

RECS:

Ballot Required
Faherty, J. G. — Ghosts of Coronado Bay, A Maya Blair Mystery
Holder, Nancy — The Screaming Season
Maberry, Jonathan — Dust & Decay
Matthews, Araminta Star — Blind Hunger
JURY:

Ballot Required
Blake, Kendare — Anna Dressed in Blood
Kraus, Daniel — Rotters
Ness, Patrick — A Monster Calls
Oppel, Kenneth — This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein
Roth, Veronica — Divergent

GRAPHIC NOVEL:

RECS:

Ballot Required
Hill, Joe — Locke & Key, Volume 4
Maberry, Jonathan — Marvel Universe vs. The Punisher
Maberry, Jonathan — Marvel Universe vs. Wolverine
Mignola, Mike and Golden, Christopher — The Plague Ships
O’Reilly, Sean; Nassise, Joe; Weick, Halston — Candice Crow
JURY:

Ballot Required
Brosgol, Vera — Anya’s Ghost
Fialkov, Joshua Hale — Echoes
Jensen, Jeff — Green River Killer
Moore, Alan — Neonomicon
Smith, John — Cradlegrave

LONG FICTION:

RECS:

Ballot Required
Breaux, Kevin James — Dark Water: Beaming Smile
Calvillo, Michael Louis — 7Brains
Little, John R. — Ursa Major
O’Neill, Gene — Rusting Chickens
Schwamberger, Ty — The Fields
JURY:

Ballot Required
Hodge, Brian — Roots and All
Kiernan, Caitlin — The Colliers’ Venus (1893)
Lindqvist, John Ajvide — The Music of Bengt Karlsson, Murderer
Shearman, Robert — Alice Through A Plastic Sheet
Straub, Peter — The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine

SHORT FICTION:

RECS:

Ballot Required
Bailey, Michael — “It Tears Away” (The Shadow of the Unknown)
Lillie-Paetz, Ken — “Hypergraphia” (The Uninvited, Issue 1)
O’Neill, Gene — “Graffiti Sonata” (Dark Discoveries)
Palisano, John — “X is for Xyx” (M is for Monster)
Warren, Kaaron — “All You Can Do Is Breathe” (Blood and Other Cravings)
JURY:

Ballot Required
Ausubel, Ramona — “Atria” (The New Yorker Magazine, April 4, 2011)
Ballingrud, Nathan — “Sunbleached” (Teeth: Vampire Tales)
Castro, Adam Troy — “Her Husband’s Hands” (Lightspeed Magazine)
King, Stephen — “Herman Wouk Is Still Alive” (The Atlantic Magazine, May 2011)
Saunders, George — “Home” (The New Yorker Magazine, June 13, 2011)

SCREENPLAY:

RECS:

No ballot required, the following works will proceed directly to the Final Ballot. Please note these works may not be described as Nominees until the Final Ballot is formally announced.
Ball, Alan — True Blood: Spellbound (Episode #44)
Goodman, Cory — Priest
Nolfi, George — The Adjustment Bureau
JURY:

Ballot Required
Gimple, Scott M. — The Walking Dead, episode 13: “Pretty Much Dead Already”
Gimple, Scott M. — The Walking Dead, episode 9: “Save the Last One”
Noxon, Marti — Fright Night
Ovrehahl, Andre and Havard S. Johansen — Troll Hunter
Sharzer, Jessica — American Horror Story, episode 12: “Afterbirth”

ANTHOLOGY:

RECS:

No ballot required, the following works will proceed directly to the Final Ballot. Please note these works may not be described as Nominees until the Final Ballot is formally announced.
Carbone, Tracy L. — NEHW Presents: Epitaphs
Hutton, Frank J. — Tattered Souls 2
Skipp, John — Demons: Encounters with the Devil and His Minions, Fallen Angels, and the Possessed
JURY:

Ballot Required
Dann, Jack and Nick Gevers — Ghosts By Gaslight
Datlow, Ellen — Blood And Other Cravings
Datlow, Ellen — Supernatural Noir
Datlow, Ellen and Terri Windling — Teeth
VanderMeer, Jeff and Ann — The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities

COLLECTION:

RECS:

Ballot Required
Burke, Chesya — Let’s Play White
Connolly, Lawrence C. — Voices: Tales of Horror
Gresh, Lois — Eldritch Evolutions
Haines, Paul — The Last Days of Kali Yuga
Morton, Lisa — Monsters of L.A.
Ochse, Weston — Multiplex Fandango
JURY:

Ballot Required
Fowler, Christopher — Red Gloves: The London Horrors
Kiernan, Caitlin R. — Two Worlds and In-Between
Llewellyn, Livia — Engines of Desire
Oates, Joyce Carol — The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares
Oliver, Reggie — Mrs. Midnight and Other Stories

NON-FICTION:

RECS:

No ballot required, the following works will proceed directly to the Final Ballot. Please note these works may not be described as Nominees until the Final Ballot is formally announced.
Bannatyne, Lesley Pratt — Halloween Nation: Behind the Scenes of America’s Fright Night
Mamatas, Nick — Starve Better
Mogk, Matt — Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Zombies
JURY:

Ballot Required
Crawford, Gary William, Jim Rockhill, and Brian J. Showers, Eds. — Reflections in a Glass Darkly
Rupe, Shade — Dark Stars Rising
Shultz, David E. and S.T. Joshi, Ed. — Letters to James F. Morton
Tibbetts, John C. — The Gothic Imagination
Wood, Rocky — Stephen King: A Literary Companion

POETRY:

RECS:

Ballot Required
Alexander, Maria — At Louche Ends: Poetry for the Decadent,the Damned & the Absinthe-Minded
Clark, G.O — Shroud of Night
Borski, Robert — Blood Wallah and Other Poems
Simon, Marge — The Mad Hattery
Ward, Kyla Lee — The Land of Bad Dreams
JURY:

Ballot Required
Addison, Linda — How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend
Boston, Bruce — Surrealities
Marshall, Helen — Skeleton Leaves
Schwader, Ann K. — Twisted in Dream
Simon, Marge — Unearthly Delights

Night Bazaar: Good Night, Mrs. Calabash, Wherever You Are

December 30, 2011

Over at The Night Bazaar, I’ve posted my final column:

This is my final column for The Night Bazaar. The blog was conceived as a way to promote writers who had books coming out from Night Shade in 2011, and next year it’ll be promoting writers who have books coming out from Night Shade in 2012, so that puts me on the night train to the big adios, suckers.

Thanks to Courtney for getting this blog up and running — it’s been a blast. And it’s been a pleasure to blog with talents like Bradley, Kameron, John, Stina, Katy, and Martha, not to mention our brilliant parade of guest bloggers.

I haven’t got the foggiest idea what the new year will hold for me, writing-wise, since the novels I’m currently working on are not yet sold. I hope to work with Night Shade again, but not every book works for every publisher, and it really isn’t anything personal. So in the meantime, here’s where you can find me in the year to come.

Read the rest of this column at The Night Bazaar.

Hellhound on my Trail

December 23, 2011

From this week’s Night Bazaar column, my second-to-last:

This week’s topic is  “What was the year like for you as a writer.” Such a topic is dangerous for me. It encourages me to navel-gaze, something I’m far too good at. So, honoring the mood of the season, I’ll try to keep it moderately brief, and hopefully maudlin as hell.

2011 was the third year I’ve lived without a day job (though the first year, 2009, was a partial one). I like it. I’ve also loved my day jobs, but there’s something exceedingly “special” — in both its ironic and non-ironic senses — about being able to focus totally on reading and writing.

And when I say reading and writing, that’s what I mean. Reading is the side of the writing life that I never thought I’d like so much, and for me, it has to be a daily occurrence, or I lose a sense of what I’m here for.

Read the rest of this column at The Night Bazaar.