Monday, October 22, 2012

Urban Cthulhu: Nightmare Cities now Available on Amazon, While 'The Screamer' Strikes a Chord with Writers and Reviewers

"The Screamer" story art by Tom Kristensen
Urban Cthulhu: Nightmare Cities, the widely renowned anthology of gritty Lovecraftian fiction edited by Henrik Sandbeck Harsken and published on his H. Harksen Productions press, is now available not only on Lulu, but also on Amazon.

I'm quite fond of this book and proud to be among the stellar names assembled within its Paul Carrick cover piece.  The raves for the antho have been fantastic so far (including those in HorrorWorld, She Never Slept, and, and the specific reviews and blurbs for my story have quite frankly floored me.  I have to admit that although "The Screamer" is probably my favorite story that I've written so far (as it hews closest to my own rattling bones in terms of setting and the pseudo factual basis for the story), I was still a bit shocked and delighted that it resonated with peers and reviewers - especially the ending, which was supplied to me by Ives when I was casting about in the dark trying to figure out where this story needed to go.  She showed me The Screamer, the path opened up, and everything fell into place.  I couldn't have done it without her.

Below are a few of the extremely generous and humbling thoughts on "The Screamer" provided by an array of highly regarded - and personally respected - dark fiction writers, readers, editors, reviewers (and often a combo of all of the above):

Jeffrey Thomas said:
"'The Screamer' is one of the best modern horror stories I've read. Ever. I keep wanting to discuss it at greater length and detail, to acknowledge its remarkable construction, its superb prose voice, its volcanic build-up of power (from subtle anxiety to all-stops-pulled-out-madness), and its brilliant sense of metaphor, but I have been too distracted. Oh wait...I kinda just did, a little.
That one story is better than entire short story collections I've read by respected and (so far) better known writers. If you took all the stories in those collections and condensed them into one small mass like a collapsed star, you'd have 'The Screamer'. For real.
I liked how characters I thought were merely placed in there for background detail (and that would have been fine) reappeared later under other... circumstances. I liked the prose voice. I liked the masterfully tuned shift in volume from 0 to 11... The beautifully balanced ending. It is one of my favorite modern horror stories. 
I wish I'd written this." 

Matt Cardin said:
"I read 'The Screamer' today and it was a massive enjoyment. T.E. Grau's use of language, his unfolding of the cosmically apocalyptic-horrific premise, the delectable evocation of honest-to-gods dread -- all were wonderful. Hats off! The words 'the real deal' are prominent in my thoughts as I come away from Grau's depiction of a truly harrowing urban-cosmic undoing of everything." 
"Very, very powerful indeed. One of the best breakdown stories I've read in a long time - I love the richness of the collapse, the blurring of reality/unreality, the sense of terrible cataclysm both within and without the main character - and the language and description is suggestive of a lot more going on beneath the surface. I'm not surprised 'The Screamer' is being put up for nomination." 
Scott Nicolay said:
"I don't manage to read much anymore, but I read a story a few days back that has stuck with me: 'The Screamer' by T.E. Grau. I'd heard it was good, and it is. Damn good. In particular, I keep going back to what Ted did with the ending. It is horrific on a cosmic scale yet elegantly understated at the same time. I expect this one to appear again in reprints, maybe The Year's Best. The Next wave of horror is in good appendages, my friends. Oh, yes it is." 
"'The Screamer' by T.E. Grau is the best story I have read all year. In fact, it tops any short story I read the year before, too! Grau masterfully weaves a tale of terror and madness with a sneaky surprise ending that I definitely did not see coming."  (Full review published by She Never Slept
Brian Sammons said:
"I want to group up three authors right at the start, as there are a lot of similarities between them for me. I became aware of each of them around the same time (about a year to year and a half ago), I’ve read a quite a few things by them since then, often in the same books, and they have never disappointed me with their story telling skills. In fact, they consistently blow me away. They are Glynn Owen Barrass, Pete Rawlik, and T.E. Grau and their stories here, 'Carcosapunk', 'The Statement of Frank Elwood' and 'The Screamer' respectively. These three are the best of the bunch here. When I suggested that there were young Turks in this book, these guys are the ones I was thinking of. They have each rapidly become three of my favorite writers. All fans of Lovecraftian fiction should consider them bright shining stars that need to be carefully followed."  (Full review published by HorrorWorld)

Julia Morgan said:
"The second wonderful story is 'The Screamer' by T. E. Grau... I spent a lot of time trying to second-guess the storyline, and failed to do so. Epically. The denouement was so much better than anything I imagined."  (Full review published by Unfilmmable)

If you haven't already made the move, your excuses are now at an end.  Pick up your copy of Urban Cthulhu: Nightmare Cities, in which "The Screamer" rubs jaw bones and neon with a chorus of stellar writers that make up the following ToC:

“Dancer of the Dying” by Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
“The Neighbors Upstairs” by John Goodrich
“Carcosapunk” by Glynn Owen Barrass
“Architect Eyes” by Thomas Strømsholt
“Slou” by Robert Tangiers
“Ozeelah’s Lake” by Morten Carlsen
“The Statement of Frank Elwood” by Peter Rawlik
“In the Shadow of Bh’Yhlun” by Ian Davey
“The Screamer” by T. E. Grau
“the guilt of each … at the end…” by Joseph S. Pulver

Come ye to the city, a hive of madness and black matter.  Come ye to the city, to die utterly alone.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

2012 Grau Haus Nightmares Holiday Season Photo Shoot: Christmas Cards in October, or Two Beautiful Brides and One Lucky Monster

It seems like I merely blinked my eyes and it was October again.  And not a moment too soon.  What took it so long?  AND WHERE THE HELL HAVE I BEEN LATELY?

The late summer sear is (mostly) gone, the trees are ready to slumber, and the night becomes more interesting, now contrasting more starkly with the heat and light of the day with its quick descent into the cold.  The smell of the mountains and sea is now sometimes tinged with wood smoke, allowing one to imagine a place where fire keeps the deadly chill at bay, instead of being used merely as a romantic prop.  Los Angeles is the land of two seasons, so imagination of the elements is a must.  Filmmaker and dark artist Tim Burton, while growing up in Burbank, discerned which holiday was approaching by the decorations at the local department store.  The room temp blue sky world outside doesn't give many clues.

Around our place, we have decorations, too, and October - the official start of Holiday Season - kicks off with the annual Grau Haus Nightmares Holiday Season Photo Shoot, when we celebrate the horror of All Hallows' Eve and look toward Christmas/New Years - the alpha and omega of the seasonal celebration - all in one fell swoop of makeup and hair and molded latex.

Last year, we debuted the GHNHSPS (yes, that looks like a bloated high school acronym, or yet another failing educational district) with our homage to the Addams Family.  Seemed fitting, cuz, well... we pretty much are the Addams Family in our neighborhood.  You know, the family that everyone labels "the weirdos."  The one house on the block where odd music and cryptic verse can be heard filtering from low lit, partially open windows at all hours.  I just wish our domicile was creepier, at least on the outside.  Frightening townsfolk without even raising a pen, or an eyebrow, would be glorious.  But I have hope, and the first time those strolling Latino 'hood missionaries from the local Pentecostal church perform a sign of the cross as they pass by our place will be a proud day for this fella.  Now, I realize that Pentecostals don't perform the sign of the cross, but I want to scare these folks so goddamn much they momentarily revert back to Catholicism, if only for the backup.

This year, we decided to go with a nod to Jame Whale's The Bride of Frankenstein, as we are such huge fans of the film, and the Universal Monster movies in general.  I'm also particularly fond of including Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Lord Byron in the beginning of the film.  I think audiences need to be reminded that these monsters came from the mind of a brilliant teenage girl in the early 19th century.  Also notable is the fact that Mary and The Bride were both played with aplomb by Elsa Lanchester.

And BTW, Franz Waxman's suite in Bride of Frankenstein is magical.  Haunting, soaring, full of dread and weirdness and that classic beauty very rarely found in modern film scores.  This is the perfect background music for writing, reading, dining, raising the dead or just raising your children.  Check out this 1993 re-recording below:

.Now that you've got the mood set, please enjoy a few additional pics from the 2012 Grau Haus Nightmares Holiday Season Photo Shoot.  I think it goes without saying that I'm one hugely lucky monster to have two beautiful brides rattling around this spooky old castle with me.

A kiss after dying...
I think this is how I'm going to walk her down the aisle someday....
Instead of doing a prosthetic for my Frankenstein's Monster look (remember kids, that big squared headed fellow isn't "Frankenstein," as Frankenstein is the last name of the doctor who created him... He's just known officially as "The Monster"), as we originally planned, we picked up this excellent looking and extremely well made Frankenstein mask from Rubie's Costume Co via Amazon

Finished and flawless - The Brides in White
As a professional makeup artist, Ives naturally did the makeup, as well as the hair (mine came pre-finished on both counts).  For Fish, Ives  "erased" Fish's natural eyebrows with glue stick first (to set them down and flat), applied concealer, and then drew in the new shape with liquid liner, which she also used to make the stitches on their faces.

For the white streaks in their hair, Ives used Professional Cream Makeup in white by Fun World DIV, which is a pure white liquid foundation that can be used to lighten makeup (and can be purchased from any major drug store, including Rite Aid).  In this case, Ives tested out hair extensions and decided the liquid white looked more natural, as it bonded and moved with the hair, instead of shaping an extension and applying it.  Ives' interesting factoid:  the consistency of the cream hardens the hair and naturally curls it in the shape of the actual Bride's serpent streaks if your hair is naturally wavy.
I requested a sass shot.  The two came through with flying colors
I love how Fish is curled up into a ball in Momma Bride's arms
I found a Little Bride in the woods...  Fish's expression here is priceless.  No coaching required.  Point and shoot.  She gets it, and always has.  Just an amazing child, and true citizen of the dark and interesting places.
... and kicking everyone's ass.
Happy Holiday Season, everyone, from the Grau Haus Nightmares.  Halloween is just the beginning, with the end everlasting...