Monster weekend reads: The Boy Who Killed Demons and The Wake

The Boy Who Killed Demons, by Dave Zeltserman:

Full disclosure, Dave is a friend and with his Kung Fu he could do serious damage of to all of us put together…

Dave writes these modern pulps with attitude and jet propulsion, and has this new-school-old-school nasty streak that–forget getting under your skin–gets under your fingernails. BOY is no different. It’s an epistolary novel from the POV of Henry, a fifteen-year-old who discovers one day that he can see demons hiding among us. Or maybe he’s just a teen having a psychotic break. Like in Dave’s masterpiece The Caretaker of Lorne Field, Dave slowly builds a case for both supernatural and psychological explanations throughout the novel. His brilliant twist here is how closely Henry’s story is a nightmarish, twisted, even satirized homage/version of Peter Parker/Spider-man’s origin story. Instead of the aw shucks Peter, though, we get teens who are as dark and dangerous as the whole wide world, and none of us are ever safe with Dave.

The Wake, by Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy.

A limited series comic, The Wake is one of the best comics I’ve read in the last few years. (While I don’t read as many comics as supergeeks the erudite Jack Haringa and John Langan, I have read my share, and just trust me here with The Wake, all right?)

Split into two parts, five chapters each, the first part mostly (like mostly dead) takes place in the present tense where a group of scientists head to a secret government drilling rig in the arctic. Something’s wrong, and that something is monstrous mermaids? Mermaids, really? Yes. And trust me, they’re awesome. The book bounces around through different epochs and the second part takes place hundreds of years for now, and I really don’t want to detail the plot because it’s only a ten comic series, and I don’t want to make a mess of it (too late). Suffice to say, the writing is sharp, and the artwork, man, the artwork, from panel one, you get a sense of epic and scope and size, and I found myself pouring through the larger splash pages just taking in all of the details. A huge story with guts, ambition, and pulls themes and ideas from so many places (including Quatermass and the Pit, one of my favorite Hammer films). And there are big scary monsters to boot.

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A HEAD FULL OF GHOST cover reveal at Tor.com

The kind folks at tor.com posted my book cover image along with an excerpt.

Go here to read! 

Cover!

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Sneak peek at interior design of A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS and my new author pic.

The title of the post kind of says it all, yeah? Fine, be that way.

Anyway, here are some pictures of the first-look pages I got. Not sure why the pictures came out so dark but they did. At the bottom is my mug. Photo taken by Michael Lajoie and shot at my sister’s house. Her house served as a partial inspiration to the book.

FullSizeRender - 5 FullSizeRender - 7 cover page tremblaypic

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Horror: the musical. Sort of.

Here’s a not-exhaustive list of songs that are creepy or have creepy videos and songs. In no particular order…

1. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Heads Will Roll.”  Okay, so maybe there’s an order. Such a great video. Starts off fun, clever, and it achieves a vibe of true weird and discomfort that should make most mainstream Hollywood horror movies jealous.

2. Protomarytr, “Come and See.” Great song. Horrific video.

3. Murder by Death, “White Noise.” Subtle beauty and creeps here, both sonically and visually.

4. Daughters “The Theatre Goer.” Insane band. Creepy song.

5. The Alarm “The Stand.” Come on, gotta have a song inspired by King’s THE STAND. Well, I say we gotta, anyway.

6. Metallica “All Nightmare Long.” Okay, certainly not the best song on this list, but a Cthulhu-y video for ya.

7. The Drones “Shark Fin Blues.” If Jaws had an Aussie noise-folk counterpart, this is it.

8. Clutch “Texan Book of the Dead.” An American 70’s horror movie put to music.

9. Interpol “Evil.” Great song. Creepy mannequin/doll singing is creepy.

10. Tomahawk “Sweet Smell of Success.” Couldn’t chosen any number of Mike Patton bands/projects, but you get this atmosphere heavy tune.

11. Tom Waits “Murder in the Red Barn.” Title and artist sort of say it all, me thinks.

12. Metz, “Rats.” Rats are creepy. Ask Ben.

13. Shellac “The End of Radio” Apocalypse now.

 

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After the People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones

*For note of disclosure, see below.

Stephen’s latest book, After the People Lights Have Gone Off, is a short story collection published by the new and impressive Dark House Press**. What I admire most about Stephen’s work is how fearlessly he approaches and employs possibility. It’s one thing to come up with the concept, the what-if, but Stephen pokes, prods, and expands his possibilities until you-the-reader arrive at this strange place that is simultaneously shocking and familiar. His fiction doesn’t shy away from the difficult implications and questions, nor does he shy away from the horror of inevitability.

The fifteen stories work individually and as a collective reading experience. You experience Stephen’s stories.

To some of the stories themselves:

“Thirteen” is local legend and hell in a movie theater and hell in a high school relationship. “Brushdogs” is a dread-filled hallucinogenic account of a father and son out hunting that I think could/should be read as a companion piece to “Father, Son, Holy Rabbit” (appeared in The Ones That Got Away). “The Spindly Man” is clever and fun in its group story setting (and its reference to Stephen King’s “The Man in the Black Suit”) until it’s not so fun. “This is Love” made me hurt. I wish I wrote story with the title “The Spider Box.” “Snow Monsters” puts a spin on the bargain-story and this one made me hurt even worse. The title story “After All the People Lights Have Gone Off” is a tour de force ghost story with some images that genuinely left me shuddering in a heap. A heap, I say.

So, yeah, just go buy his book already.

*Stephen is a friend of mine. He does not resemble Frankenstein. We co-wrote a book together (available in Canada now, coming out soon in the USA). Like me he is tall and he hates pickles. It’s the pickles-hate that most threatens my objectivity. But! But! Stephen was a writer that I admired and was jealous of before I met him. I started haunting his email inbox  after I read his genius DEMON THEORY. *)

**Dark House Press has also published the anthology The New Black edited by Richard Thomas and the very cool novel Echo Lake by Letitia Trent. Both books are more than worth your time.

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FLOATING BOY in The Globe and Mail

Very cool mention of Floating Boy and the Girl Who Couldn’t Fly in The Globe and Mail.

A sample:

“As written by Stephen Graham Jones and Paul Tremblay (under a pseudonym), Mary’s narration is a slightly bratty conversation with the reader: sarcastic, defensive, moody, candid and sweet. Odd and fun.”

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The Children of Old Leech lives

The Children of Old Leech (Ross E. Lockhart and Justin Steele, editors)  is an anthology of stories inspired by Laird Barron‘s fictional universe. It’s available now in hardcover, and I just got my copy. It’s a beautifully designed book and I’m so very impressed with Lockhart’s WORD HORDE press.

See the pretty picture:

photo 1

I’ve already read a handful of stories and they’re excellent thus far. I’m humbled and happy to be included as one of the kids who get to play in Laird’s sandbox. I’m the tall one.

 

My story (“Notes for ‘The Barn in the Wild”) is a found notebook kind of story. While the story appears in the anthology (with footnotes standing in for marginalia the lost notebook), first 100 folks who pre-ordered of the book (all sold out, sorry) Word Horde included a chapbook of my story actually written out by hand in a notebook. Check out the interior cover and first page:

photo 2

Those are my chicken scratches. I wrote out the story longhand into a notebook, scanned the pages, and Word Horde turned the scans back into a 100 print run chapbook of creepy found notebooks. So cool and fun!

You can read more about the book and how they put together the chapbook at Marty Halpern‘s blog.

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