First 3 chapters of A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS online, plus a giveaway!

William Morrow is giving away 10 advanced reader edition copies of A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS between now an 4/26. All you have to do is follow the link to enter.

Enter the giveaway!

My publisher has also posted the first three chapters online. A sample! A taste! A teaser? Eh, go read ‘em if you want the early look.

“This must be so difficult for you, Meredith.”

Good luck and enjoy!

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Snowy reads for the snowbound

File under: if you can’t beat them, join them. I’m joining the snow. There’s no sense fighting it anymore. With that in mind, here’s a small list of lesser-known or less-obvious snowy tales well worth checking out.

In no particular order:

DARK MATTER, Michelle Paver. I’m a sucker for creepy stories, or any stories really, set in the arctic or antarctic. Snow and ice? Check. Beautiful and desolate isolation? Check. Spooky quiet and shadows on the ice? Check! I liked the epistolary approach and there are plenty of genuinely goose-bumpy moments. Mild complaints: the diary approach was ditched at the climax (cheating!) and the end was a bit rushed. But minor quibbles really. An excellent arctic ghost story.

PYM, Mat Johnson:  Chris Jaynes is a professor of African American studies at a small white college, but is denied tenure because he won’t be the token black on the Diversity Committe and he wants to teach Edgar Allen Poe in an attempt to find the root of Whiteness. He finds a slave narrative that seems to prove Poe’s Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym is a fictionalized account of true events. Jaynes then takes a small, all African American crew down to Antartica to search for the lost island of Tsalal (a lost island of black people desrcibed by Poe in PYM). They get waylaid by Poe’s white Yeti-monsters instead! Part biting social and racial commentary, part satire/comedy, part adventure/horror story, part academic treatise, PYM is an utterly original novel. One so original, it shows there might just be some hope for big publishing. PYM is brilliant, brazen, fearless, angry, funny, weird, and totally unlike anything else you’ve read.

 

THE CREEP, John Arcudi, Jonathan Case: Poignant and haunting comic about a detective who suffers from a physical deformity that appears in mid-life.

YOUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE, YOUR CHILDREN ALL GONE, Stefan Kiesbye: Gashlycrumb tinies crossed with Chuck Palahniuk/Craig Davidson. A novel of interconnected tales of monstrousness, depravity, desperation in a small, incestuous German town. Clinical though oddly beautiful narrative style. The best stories within the larger story were truly unsettling and creepy. While the shock end of each chapter grew a tad bit repetitious and the lack of distinction between the first person narrators was an issue, for a book about the non-supernatural gruesome/shock (of which there are plenty), the novel was impressively restrained with what it didn’t show and let linger in the imagination. One of the more disturbing books I’ve read in recent memory. This one has stuck with me.

AVAILABLE DARK, Elizabeth Hand: Punk photographer Cass Neary  of the brilliant Generation Loss (which you should go read now, right this second, if you haven’t done so already) is back. Neary dives headlong into the violent underground world of Norwegian black metal when she’s hired to authenticate macabre photos that a famous fashion photographer is selling to a mysterious bidder. Hand’s prose is impeccable, as always. The story is tight and fast. And for you horror types, with all the talk of gruesome murders, old gods, and the near-apocalyptic landscape of Iceland, you can all but forget the cover calls it a “crime” novel.

ESSEX COUNTY, Jeff Lemire: Essex County is a tiny community in Ontario, Canada (and it’s where The Nobody was set as well). Three main stories deal with family issues that span decades and generations. The first story is about a super-hero obsessed little boy (who wears a mask and cape, and is bullied) raised by a distant and gruff uncle, finds secret companionship with a “slow” local. The second is about an older man reliving his estranged relationship with his brother while being forced into a nursing home. The third focuses on the nurse who cares for the old man, how she copes with the secrets of the town’s past and present. Again, like The Nobody, desperation mixes with a quiet dignity, and the stories filled with genuine emotion. Impressive stuff.

ONE DAY THE ICE WILL REVEAL ALL ITS DEAD, Clare Dudman:  Haunting account of a doomed Greenland exploration by German scientist Alfred Wegener. I love this book.

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My Boskone schedule: Friday, February 13th to Sunday, February 15th.

Ready for spec fic and snow in Boston? I know I am. Looking forward to seeing everyone soon.

Friday the 13th: When Sequels Run Amok

Friday 20:00 – 20:50, Harbor II (Westin)

On Friday, March 13, 2015, the 13th movie in the Friday the 13th franchise will be released. As a genre, horror movies seem prone to extended franchises. (Okay, soFriday the 13th falls far short of the 23 James Bond movies.) Still, on this ominous Friday the 13th, we pause to consider this likewise significant date and the release of the cursed-number movie and wonder when — and whether — enough is too much for this and other horror movie franchises?

Jack M. Haringa (M) , Christopher Golden, Paul Tremblay , Mallory O’Meara

Writing for Teens vs Adults

Friday 21:00 – 21:50, Harbor I (Westin)

With so much crossover, is there a difference anymore? And where does middle-grade fiction fit? Editors and authors discuss.

Carrie Vaughn (M), Melissa Marr, Hillary Monahan, Paul Tremblay, Jordan Hamessley

Great Horror for Teens and Tweens

Saturday 11:00 – 11:50, Burroughs (Westin)

Teen fiction is more than BFFs, family issues, and dystopias. A whole lot more. There is a world of dark and dangerous beings who walk the night and infest the pages of teen and tween horror. Panelists share the books that inspired them to love reading and writing horror. Does adult and teen horror differ? Is there a line that should or shouldn’t be crossed? What new stories are coming out that you should be reading?

John Langan (M), Christopher Golden, Jack M. Haringa, Sarah Langan, Paul G. Tremblay

Murder, Mystery, and Mayhem

Saturday 20:00 – 20:50, Burroughs (Westin)

Dark fiction and suspense are natural bedfellows. What is it about their synergy that works so well? How do you walk the line between mystery and suspense when there are monsters tearing their way through the plot? And how do dark fiction and horror help generate or amplify those nail-biting moments that make readers blaze through a story to see how it ends?

Leigh Perry (M), Dana Cameron, John Langan, Paul Tremblay

Casting Your Lot with Shirley Jackson

Sunday 14:00 – 14:50, Marina 4 (Westin)

From “The Lottery” to “The Haunting of Hill House, ” Shirley Jackson’s work has not only helped to shape the horror genre, but to inspire writers both inside and outside of the genre. Moreover, the New York Times describes Shirley Jackson as having two styles: “She could describe the delights and turmoils of ordinary domestic life with detached hilarity; and she could, with cryptic symbolism, write a tenebrous horror story in the Gothic mold in which abnormal behavior seemed perilously ordinary.” Is this an accurate summation of Jackson? What more is there to her work and her legacy? Does she continue to inspire and shape horror today?

F. Brett Cox (M), Laird Barron, Paul G. Tremblay, Jack M. Haringa

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Anniversary of the great Molasses flood in the North End of Boston, 1919.

A truly bizarre and awful event in the history of Boston, with a molasses tank collapse that resulted in the death of 21 people. In A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS this event makes an important cameo as it helps to introduce the relationship of the two sisters (Merry and Marjorie) involved in the novel.

See a slideshow of photos here.

Stephen Puleo’s riveting book DARK TIDE is a fascinating account of the tragic event placed within context of the history/climate of the city at a time of epidemic (the flu) and concerns over terrorism by anarchists. Definitely worthy of shelf space in your home.

Dark Tide by Stephen Puleo

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A Head Full of Ghosts ARE’s

A box of these beauties landed on New Year’s Eve. ARE stands for Advance Reader’s Edition; these are pre-publication copies sent out to reviewers and bookly type persons. Anyway, the timely arrival is hopefully an auspicious sign of things to come for GHOSTS in 2015. (Release day is June 2, 2015)

I kept these beauties up late on their night of arrival so they could see the ball drop. They were tired the next day but are dutifully keeping up with their new year’s resolutions…so far.

ghostsarcs

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Excerpt from a new short story, “________”, up at Stone Skin Press

Letters to Lovecraft is a new anthology edited by the fabulous Jesse Bullington. I have a story in it. And check it out, the story has like the sickest title ever.

“______”

The publisher is posting excerpts from the stories online, one a day. Today is my day. Go check it out, and then go buy the anthology.

 

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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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