Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Audio Fiction: 'The Screamer,' 'That Old Problem,' and now 'Low Hanging Clouds' All Available Oline in Free Audio Format

(c) Rhys "Hidden Moves" Owens
Hearing sentences you first crafted in your own head (and then translated to the page by your fingers) spoken for the first time is always a trip.  In fiction, we write our stories in our own internal voice, with distinct modulations, timbre, and emphasis, and then readers translate it into theirs, keeping the experience entirely unique and personal to both writer and consumer.  It remains an echo chamber of the familiar.  That makes hearing ones prose read aloud all the more interesting. 

I spent nearly 12 years writing screenplays, and have seen my work spoken and acted out on the screen by others, who have no tie to the subject matter, or the source marrow from whence it was born.  But that's screenwriting, which has its built-in limitations as far as playing with language.  Unless you're Tarantino or Mamet, it's a visual medium, first and foremost, and the words - the sinewy pop of the language - are often gutted by directors, or pared down by actors that just can't get their mouths around what is was you wrote, or really wanted to write in the first place.  It's a frustrating medium for writers in love with the full palette of language. 

Back to the realm of fiction...  I don't do readings of my own work, as I suffer from a crushing case of stage fright, and realize that if one isn't a natural orator or spoken word natural, the story might suffer in the pauses and fumbles in the vocal communication of the literary arts.  So, readings can either bring life to a written work (if done correctly), or harm it in the ears, and mind, of the audience.  It's a risky proposition, my friends.

The rise of audio books helped to change the entire dynamic, allowing skilled voice artists a medium to read aloud the work of a writer, away from the podium and the klieg lights.  It is a more intimate experience, and can be an effective for a reader to absorb the words of a writer when unable to sit down and stare at a page or digital screen.

In the spirit of audio books (remember when they were called "books on tape"?), there has been a movement afoot lately, where works of short Horror fiction are read by voice artists, peers, and fans, and then posted online, offering yet another way for readers to stuff dark fiction inside their gourds, while also allowing writers a chance to hear their words translated through the brain of another, and then projected into the world by a objective voice.

I'm humbled to say that three of my stories have been read aloud, recorded, and are available for your listening pleasure right this very instant.

First of all, the wonderful Julia Morgan, aka Morgan Scorpion, honored me with a reading of my short story "The Screamer," published in Urban Cthulhu: Nightmare Cities.  Morgan is a Lovecraftian/Weird fic fan who combines her talents as a voice artist to bring sound to so many pieces of classic and contemporary literature, including Poe and Lovecraft.  Not surprisingly, I was quite happy when she asked if she could read "The Screamer," as I knew the story would be in good hands... er, vocal chords.  Plus, what flatlanding Yank doesn't want to hear their work read in a British accent?

If you haven't clicked the link above, please check out Morgan's YouTube Channel.


I wrote the story "Low Hanging Clouds" almost two years ago, then bribed author and editor Bruce L. Priddy with baubles, trinkets, and a hillock of cocaine to publish it on his now unfortunately retired e-publication Eschatology Journal.

About a year later, I stumbled across the Reddit dark fiction journal, The Library of Shadows, and decided to post up "Low Hanging Clouds" there, in an effort to whore myself in every conceivable area of the ether in a very unassuming way.  I received a few lovely comments, and then thought nothing of it after that.

Soon after, David Cummings - who runs the fantastic horror storytelling broadcast site The Nosleep Podcast - read "Low Hanging Clouds" and tried to contact me through the Reddit e-mail system.  Not being a Reddit reg, combined with my Cro-Magnon level of understanding of most contemporary technology, I never checked my messages, so I never discovered his inquiry about doing an audio reading of the story.  Luckily, he took my e-silence as acquiescence, and read, recorded, and broadcast the story himself on the August 12, 2012 edition of the podcast.  It's a fun listen.  His zeal for the genre is undeniable.  


Lastly, but certainly not leastly, Mike Davis of the essential reading Lovecraft eZine published my story "That Old Problem" exactly one year ago, in March of 2012.  In a coincidence of fate, Bruce Priddy, who also serves as an editor at the eZine, read the story for broadcast, hopefully while topless.  You can download the audio version of the story at the top of the top of the page.


So, if you're inclined, or just tired of reading all those icky, monosyllabic words, but still want to check out a bit of Weird/Lovecraftian fiction, please give these stories a listen, and more importantly, dig deeper into the linked sites and journals provided above.

Feed your head, lest it devour you instead.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Strange Aeons: Issue #10 Available for Order, Featuring Comics, Reviews, News, and Original Fiction by Scott Nicolay; Issue #11 on Deck

Praise be to the snooty, antisocial gods luxuriating at the center of all creation - I survived my first year as Fiction Editor of Strange Aeons magazine, and there is no better way to celebrated my one year anniversary than Issue #10, which features a cover by SA fave Mike Dubisch, who created a beautiful, squamous wrap-around piece that is worth the price of admission alone.

But you get more than just the wrapping paper, friend.  Lords of Light, do you ever get more... I'm talking about... er, writing about 52 pages of gorgeous color and B&W comics by Rob Corless, Vincent Ferrante, Ben "1314" Hansen, D.C. Stuelpner, Shelby Denham, and Eric York. And once again, another set of two fresh and wriggling Anno Ktulu collectible trading cards.  We also have book reviews, news from around the Weird-o-Sphere, interesting adverts for outstanding fiction and other dark matter, and more.  Yes, that's right, MORE.  What is this "more," you might ask?  I'm sure as hell not going to tell you, you nosy so-and-so, as the "more" in Strange Aeons remains a secret only revealed to those who order and hold our honest to goodness pulp mag in their soft, beautiful hands.

Of course, as Fiction Editor, I draw special attention to the prose piece we feature in each issue.  For Issue #10, we have something truly special in Scotty Nicolay's story "You Are What You Eat," accompanied by an illustration from SA in-house artist and part-time limerick scribe Nick "The Hat" Gucker.

Scott has been generating the right buzz from the right people for a while now.  Laird Barron has called him a writer to watch.  He appears with me in the (now sold out) Aklonomicon, adding his story of cosmic horror in the South Pacific "Ana Kai Tangata" to the noxious mix.  He has his debut fiction collection coming out in spring of 2014 from Fedogan & Bremer.  After reading his story in the Aklonomicon, I decided to invite Scott to submit for Issue #10.  And while I was hoping for - and expecting, to be quite honest - something great from Scott, I had no idea what he was sending me.

"You Are What You Eat" is quite literally one of the most affecting, extraordinary, and totally UNIQUE short stories I have ever read, unlike anything that has come out recently.  It's a piece of not only Weird fiction but profoundly weird fiction, that is unsettling and brutal and sad, while at the same time oddly uplifting.  I can't do it justice without giving anything away, and I'd rather gnaw off my index fingers than to that, as it would rob readers of a revelatory experience that ranks up with with first discovery that amazing band or movie or author that is so damn good you can't believe that everyone else hasn't heard of them, but at the same being thankful that not everyone has (yet), because for a little while, this beautiful secret is yours and yours alone, allowing you to share it with those whom you deem worthy, and then watch the word spread with a mixture of sadness and pride.

For "You Are What You Eat," I share with you writer Scott Nicolay with neither sadness nor pride, as I certainly didn't discover him, and I want him to sell two million books.  Writers this good need to, if we are ever going to re-balance the scales between bestselling schlock and small press exceptionalism.

While you're waiting for your issue to arrive via post, airlift, and/or trained fruit bat, feast on these page teases.  FEAST ON THEM!  Then go buy the magazine.  Wood pulp doesn't grow on trees.

Issue #10 continues another chapter of "Anno Ktulu" (written by K.L. Young and Vincent Ferrante, pencils by Ben "1314" Hansen, graytones by Chris Hagerman, letters by Eduardo Martinez), a superhero story set amid the Lovecraftian Mythos, which debuted in serial form in Issue #9 after launching with an oversize, one-shot special edition currently available at the Strange Aeons mothership website.  As noted in prior postings, the one-shot ties into the ongoing "Anno Ktulu" storyline that will be running all year in Strange Aeons.  Get in on this innovative story of superheroes set in a Lovecraftian universe now, as you definitely don't want to miss this.

"Forbidden Lore" gives news and reviews devoted to the Weird, cosmic, and horrifying, and never in that same order twice.

Who are THOSE people mentioned on the Arnaud de Vallois cover to I Am Death, Cried the Vulture?  Bloody hacks!

Have you ordered yet (Issue #10 or our many lovely back issues, prints, chapbooks, and T-shirts)?  What, are you fingers broken?  Strange Aeons continues the proud tradition of such classic Silver Age pulps like Heavy Metal, Creepy, and Eerie.  You know you love this stuff.  We love this stuff, too, which is why we do what we do.  Check us out for the first time, if you haven't already.  For those loyal readers, thank you from the bottoms of our flinty, twisted hearts for your ongoing support.  We can't continue to pay people to create cool shit for us - and ultimately you - without subscribers and per-issue patronage.  Stay golden, and we'll stay at it.

Issue #11 is now coming together, which will feature original, previously unpublished fiction by Gary McMahon, one of my favorite current horror writers, who also likes to make the rest of us feel like toadish turds with his karate, workout, and jogging updates.  I was honored that he subbed, and pleased that I was able to accept his piece, which will continue the line of short fiction excellence established by Strange Aeons.  Other stories shimmying in the pipeline will only add to the luster.

Stay tuned!  Stay alive!  Stay reading!