Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Publishing News - 'Return of the Prodigy' to be published in CTHULHU FHTAGN!, the new Lovecraftian anthology from Ross E. Lockhart and Word Horde, slated for August 2015 debut

Cover art by Adolfo Navarro/cover design by Scott R. Jones

Every story sale is cause for celebration. Every single one, every single time. How can it not be? I simply cannot imagine ever becoming jaded to the circumstance where a publisher read and enjoyed your story to such an extent that they not only want to put it in their book that will be marketed around the world, but they also want to pay you money for the right to showcase your writing, in hopes that it will earn them money in return. That's heady stuff, be it your first story sale or your 101st.

And while I have loved and felt blessed for each story sale in the past, placing a story with certain editors and publishers give one an extra thrill, due to the quality of their books, their track record and conduct in the industry, and the esteem in which you hold them.

Such is the case with Ross E. Lockhart and his not-so-new-anymore press Word Horde, which is rapidly becoming THE place for the best in Weird, horror, Lovecraftian, and just generally dark fiction. And, in what will mark my third appearance in a Lockhart/Word Horde project, I am extremely proud to announce that my story "Return of the Prodigy" will be published this August, 2015 in Cthulhu Fhtagn!, the newest anthology of Lovecraftian fiction following in that cosmic slug trail of bar-setting quality blazed by Lockhart's first two Book(s) of Cthulhu, which were released during his enviable run at Night Shade Books.

"Return of the Prodigy" follows two middle-age vacationers from Omaha, Nebraska, as they journey to the discount resort island of Walakea in the South Pacific to celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary, and find more than just a bargain waiting for them on the black sand beaches. I enjoyed writing the tale, as it's pulpy, a bit humorous, and interwoven with satire of a specific type of people that I know so well. I've written a lot of comedy in my career, but not much recently. It was good to stretch those muscles a little with this story.

You can pre-order Cthulhu Fhtagn! right here in this very spot. In the meantime, check out the recently released ToC, which includes genre veterans and relative newcomers, as well as some of the finest names working in speculative fiction and horror - cosmic or otherwise - today:

Table of Contents

Introduction: In His House at R’lyeh… – Ross E. Lockhart
The Lightning Splitter – Walter Greatshell
Dead Canyons – Ann K. Schwader
Delirium Sings at the Maelstrom Window – Michael Griffin
Into Ye Smoke-Wreath’d World of Dream – W. H. Pugmire
The Lurker In the Shadows – Nathan Carson
The Insectivore – Orrin Grey
The Body Shop – Richard Lee Byers
On a Kansas Plain – Michael J. Martinez
The Prince of Lyghes – Anya Martin
The Curious Death of Sir Arthur Turnbridge – G. D. Falksen
Aerkheim’s Horror – Christine Morgan
Return of the Prodigy – T.E. Grau
The Curse of the Old Ones – Molly Tanzer and Jesse Bullington
Love Will Save You – Cameron Pierce
Assemblage Point – Scott R. Jones
The Return of Sarnath – Gord Sellar
The Long Dark – Wendy N. Wagner
Green Revolution – Cody Goodfellow
Don’t Make Me Assume My Ultimate Form – Laird Barron

From the publisher:

PREORDER NOW – SHIPS IN AUGUST! The Cthulhu Fhtagn! trade paperback is signed by editor Ross E. Lockhart and comes with a free eBook in your selected format. The eBook will be emailed to you when available. If you would like your paperback personalized, please include your personalization in the Order Notes box on the Checkout page.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Editing News: STRANGE AEONS Issue #16 now available, featuring comics, interviews, 'The Shunned House' film download, and new short fiction by Molly Tanzer and Lon Prater

Cover by Mohloco

In addition to my writing endeavors, I also am the Fiction Editor for a fabulous little magazine known as Strange Aeons.

Through the years, we have showcased some of the best in cosmic, horror, Weird, and Lovecraftian fiction, comics, news, and reviews, and our upcoming issue is no exception.

I am honored to announce the inclusion of two new, previously unpublished pieces of fantastical fiction in our most recent edition, Issue #16.  Molly Tanzer's "One Hot Chapatha" is a slice of capacious fantasy with such complete characters, creatures, and geographies that it seems ripped from a novel or book series. I really dig this piece, and is the first bit of pure fantasy that I've accepted for publication in Strange Aeons.  Lon Prater's "Elder Brother" has a Kafkaesque flavor to it, seasoned with Wells and Lovecraft, its strange, totalitarian setting as futuristic as it is antiquarian.  Both tales are fine additions to the Strange Aeons canon, and we are proud to bring them to you, our dear and gentle and slightly unhinged readers.

As for the rest of the issue, please see this recent release from SA Central:
We're kicking off the year in style with a truly amazing cover by the incomparable Mohloco! You can check out more of his artwork here.

56 pages of gorgeous B&W and Color Comics by Rob Corless, Brandon Barrows, Shelby Denham, and Eric York! Short Story Fiction by both Lon Prater and Molly Tanzer! Articles, Columns, Reviews and so much more can be found waiting inside, including interviews with the HP Lovecraft Historical Society and (the musical) Dr. Hill himself, Jesse Merlin!

And if that wasn't enough... for a limited time... you can watch or download your very own copy of Maelstrom Production's award-winning film, THE SHUNNED HOUSE !!! 

And as an added bonus, a Lobby Card for the same film! 

Issue #16, back issues, t-shirts, prints, and special editions can be purchased by prancing down this rabbit hole right here

Friday, April 3, 2015

TC Book Review: Following up on his award-winning debut collection, Nathan Ballingrud continues dark excellence with novella 'The Visible Filth,' now available from This Is Horror

Cover by Pye Parr

Very little of what is classified as horror fiction or contemporary Weird fiction scares me, and that's okay, because I don't read this style of literature to be frightened. I don't like to be frightened. Truly terrified. Who does, really, if we are being totally honest with ourselves? There are plenty of undertakings one can pursue if genuine fear (not thrills, or shock) is the end result, and I don't see me or anyone else I know heading down those paths, either in a literal or metaphorical sense.

Instead, I read this style of fiction for the wonder of it all, and while the atmospherics can sometimes be unsettling, they usually just end up being cool, or interesting, or awe-inspiring in their fantastical rendering. But in terms of true terror, that is reserved for the decidedly non-fiction realm of real life monsters that burn down villages and break into your homes and hunt women and defile children and devour innocence like they're on some sort of infernal time clock. For all but the true believers, supernatural fiction is fantasy, and fantasy is never scary, as how could something that is admittedly not real serve as a threat to the safety and well being of me and my loved ones?

But Nathan Ballingrud, who does write horror and Weird fiction as well or better than anyone else tapping the keys today, is straight-up scary. Not him personally, as he's a lovely fellow. But the people, places, and things he unleashes onto the page can often be horrifying in all the full-bodied definition of the word. And I like it. My Lord, do I ever like it.

Perhaps its the sense of authenticity of the characters and settings, both of which wear the weight of imperfection like a favorite pair of jeans. Most likely, this conjuring of discomfort from within the reader comes from the way deeply buried human flaws are exhumed, dissected, and laid bare to the humid air, then left there for all to witness, without apology. The abomination of the cut wide human soul. That's unsettling stuff, and that's what Ballingrud writes, like the Larry David or Ricky Gervais of dark fiction. Squirms coated with gooseflesh.

After wowing the horror fiction world in 2013 with the release of his debut collection North American Lake Monsters, which earned him nothing less than a Shirley Jackson Award and the fierce admiration of his peers, Ballingrud continues to build his lasting legacy of pitch black, uncomfortable fiction with his new novella The Visible Filth, published by This Is Horror (an outfit I hadn't heard of prior to ordering this book, but will return to as a customer based on the professionalism and care provided by owner and managing editor Michael Wilson). This is a taut story, shot through with suspense that binds together the strips of shapeless horror of seemingly everyday people and circumstances like a filthy quilt sew with piano wire.

The story is set in New Orleans, but it could be a slice of life in any city or small town where there are bars and college students and eroding relationships. And roaches. And cell phones. This is horror with a firm sense of place, but it is also universal enough that you can feel it churning on your neighborhood block. The evils done and the threats posed aren't ripped from a pulp mag. They could be taken from the morning paper, from text drenched in terrified mystery.

None of the four main characters are incredibly likable, nor fully happy, which seems an honest appraisal of life amongst twenty- and thirty-somethings dwelling in and around the bar scene, no matter the zip code. The leads are flighty and morose and devoted to self medication, spiritually empty in that vaguely nihilistic way of slacker narcissists. A love triangle threatens to destroy an already unstable square, but before this can happen, a random act of violence in a dingy barroom is all that it takes to link a hidden vein of depravity into the group, and plunge these players into a glistening black tunnel that unspools in front of them, the ghastly terminus unknown.

The Visible Filth, like much of Ballingrud's exceptional writing, is an exercise in indefinable - but somehow familiar - horror beyond our control, or even our explanation. Monstrous things are happening just below the veneer of normal life, and all you can do is watch. And you do watch, despite revulsion, and despite your shame. The fact that you like it unlocks something inside you, and you sit, at a bedside, the roaches gathering patiently, and you wait for what is coming.

Nathan Ballingrud is an American writer of horror and dark fantasy. His first book, the short story collection North American Lake Monsters, was published in 2013 by Small Beer Press to great acclaim, including winning the Shirley Jackson Award and being shortlisted for the World Fantasy, British Fantasy, and Bram Stoker awards. He lives in Asheville, NC, with his daughter.