If you’ve ordered the unsigned trade paperback of Blue November Storms, your copy will be on the way very soon. The Cemetery Dance warehouse has just been slammed with a 35 title project that will probably end up devouring all of April, but they are shipping regular orders every day. (For those who ordered the signed and remarqued copies, those are already making their way around the country and will hopefully be ready to ship by the end of next month.)
In today’s news, the new eBook edition of Blue November Storms is available for download now:
About the Book:
It’s been twenty years since the group of friends known as the Lightning Five visited their hunting cabin together. Twenty years spent living in the shadow of something they did in high school, an event that forever defined them in the minds of everyone in their small town.
Now they’re returning to the cabin to reminisce about old times and forget their troubles, but mother nature has other plans in mind. Before too long supplies will be running low and the Lightning Five will have to make some hard choices… like who gets to live and who has to die.
Special Bonus Features:
* New introduction by horror legend Ray Garton about why you should never, ever go into the woods
* Twenty original illustrations by Glenn Chadbourne
* Afterword by Brian James Freeman detailing how and why the story was written
* “Ink-slinger: An Interview with Glenn Chadbourne” by Robert Brouhard
* Stunning new cover artwork by Vincent Chong
“Everything in Blue November Storms works. Brian’s lean and vivid prose propels us through a story that surprises and moves; his characters and their relationships with one another ground this otherwise fantastic and frightening story in human experience. The spell worked for me and my bet is that it will work for you, too.” — Ray Garton, from his introduction
I’m pleased to report Blue November Storms, which was originally published in the Cemetery Dance Novella Series years ago and quickly sold out, is finally available again as a value-priced trade paperback for just $9.99.
I’ve always thought of this early work of mine as a bit of a “chills and thrills” B-Movie type of story, so I hope readers who enjoy that kind of horror will have fun with it.
This new edition features a revised version of the text, an exclusive introduction by Ray Garton in which he explains why you should never go into the woods, 20 original illustrations by Glenn Chadbourne, a beautiful new cover painting by Vincent Chong, a bonus interview with Chadbourne about his artwork, and a new afterword I wrote explaining how the story got written in the first place.
You can see a few samples of Glenn’s interior artwork on my website, but I’ll post more here in a few days because they really are amazing.
Here’s the sales copy for this new trade paperback edition:
It’s been twenty years since the group of friends known as the Lightning Five visited their hunting cabin together. Twenty years spent living in the shadow of something they did in high school, an event that forever defined them in the minds of everyone in their small town.
Now they’re returning to the cabin to reminisce about old times and forget their troubles, but Mother Nature has other plans in mind. Before too long supplies will be running low and the Lightning Five will have to make some hard choices… like who gets to live and who has to die.
I just realized this blog is at 49,983 page views, so by the time you read this, it’ll probably be past 50,000. That seems like a pretty cool achievement since I still have no idea what I’m doing with a blog.
To those of you who’ve been reading my work, I just wanted to say thank you for your support. There should be a lot more to come in 2013. In the meantime, here are my five “most-read” posts on this blog if you want to kill a few minutes:
Long time Cemetery Dance contributor Michael Marano took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to discuss ChiZine’s Signed Limited Edition Trade Paperback of his acclaimed collection, Stories from the Plague Years, which will be published in December. (The preordering deadline is November 1st, so time is running out!)
BJF: Can you tell us a little bit about how you assembled Stories from the Plague Years? Was there a method to your madness when it came to organizing the table of contents?
MM: I assembled the collection in the way I did when I stacked my shorter works together and realized, within the larger theme of the Plague Years that holds the book together (the Plagues being the mental, spiritual, and physical sicknesses killed a lot of my friends in the 1980s and early 1990s, like drugs, urban blight, despair, AIDS), there were sub-themes. The section titled “Days of Rage” refers to an anger that comes out of hopelessness that feels like it can’t end. “Prayers for Dead Cities” is about the unreal sickness that messes up your mind when you live in an urban reality that is broken, like what I choked on when I was an apartment building manager in a crack neighborhood in Oakland where the cops wouldn’t come when you called. “Two for Marian” is made of two stories I wrote in order to grieve for a friend whom I loved very dearly, Marian Anderson of the band The Insaints. Her death kicked me apart, inside. And “Winter Tales” are both stories set in the season of winter, but that also refers to a kind of inner winter. The stories treat of suicide in one form or another, except the final story, “Shibboleth.” I wanted to end the collection with a story about a guy who didn’t listen to the temptation to die, but who fought harder than he ever had before to survive.
BJF: What is the oldest story in this collection? The newest?
MM: I really have no idea which is the oldest and which is the newest! I work in a way that is kind of erratic. I get an idea, then I’ll sketch it out, and might even start writing it. Then I put it away if something with a more pressing deadline comes up. Or, I’ll start writing, put it away when I realize I need to do research to make it plausible. Then, while I’m researching that story, I might crank out a story that comes out with no need for research. Chronologically, there’s so much overlap with the composition of these stories, there’s no way to line ’em up in order of their creation.
BJF: What was the most difficult story to write?
MM: Emotionally, “…And the Damage Done” and “Exit Wound”, the two I wrote for Marian as an act of mourning, were the hardest. In terms of stress and chaos, “Winter Requiem” was, because I was living in poverty and I was surrounded by mental and physical illness and a number of people close to me were dying. In terms of research and technique “Shibboleth” was the hardest, to the point that I was talking to an atmospheric chemist at Harvard about what exactly the disaster that “Shibboleth” describes would do to the sky at different latitudes of the planet.
BJF: Were any of them easy to write?
MM: Nope! I don’t want to perpetuate the bullshit myth of the tortured artist, but writing fiction is very difficult for me. I’m just wired that way. Joseph Conrad hated to write, too. That gives me some comfort I guess, because I love that guy. And Thomas Harris, who is a hero of mine, according to Stephen King, finds “the very act of writing… a kind of torment.” I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Writing fiction for me is like trying to shit a sea urchin.
BJF: Can you share a little bit about the two original novellas? Their inspiration and why you included them?
MM: “Displacement” is something I originally wrote back in 1992, believe it or not. I sent it out, and got rejections and good feedback from a bunch of editors, like from my fellow brother in the Cemetery Dance Sicilian Front, Tom Monteleone and Kris Rusch at F&SF. I wrote it as an attempt to create a really compelling horror story in prose that was structured like a One Act Play, with a lot of it just two guys in a room talking. My inspiration for that was William Peter Blatty’s Exorcist III, which has completely terrifying scenes with George C. Scott and Brad Dourif just talking. And then SE7EN came out, and since the novella shares a lot of the same ideas, I thought I’d never sell it. Then I noticed the extent to which SE7EN and other “diabolical killers with poetic inspiration” stories had eaten their way into popular culture, and I decided to tweak “Displacement” so it existed in a world in which SE7EN and other “diabolical killers with poetic inspiration” stories existed.
“Shibboleth” is actually a chapter from a sprawling science fiction novel I’ve never been able to sell. Editors have liked it, but saw no commercial potential for it. It’s a very dystopian work that addresses how a lot of post-apocalyptic books make the apocalypse look like fun. And also how a lot of inferior cyberpunk books make poverty look fun. There was a point in my life when I was so broke and hungry, I really think I had the beginnings of scurvy. Being hungry with bleeding gums, kicking through rubble past boarded up, burnt out buildings isn’t fun. Trust me. I wanted to write about how the “shell shock” of living through an apocalypse and the resulting physical effects of that would affect how people lived and thought and how’d they love each other if all their families had died. My template for that was Europe during the Black Death.
BJF: Stories from the Plague Years was named one of Booklist’s Top Ten Horror Books of the Year. Were you expecting the acclaim the book received?
MM: No! Didn’t see that coming, especially after the murderous drubbing the book took from Publishers Weekly, who raked me over the coals for the book’s epigraph, for God’s sake. I still chuckle over that. I was really moved the Booklist honor, because as a horror writer, any day you’re sharing space on a list that includes Stephen King is a good day. What was also extremely gratifying was “Displacement” being nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award. Being in the same company as Deborah Biancotti, Reggie Oliver, Tim Waggoner, Lucius Shepard and Liz Hand was humbling.
BJF: Would Stories from the Plague Years be a good place for a new reader to experience your work for the first time?
MM: Sure! I like to think that since there’s nine stories, it’s really nine good places to start reading my work. I try to make all my stuff pretty different. If not in terms of theme, then approach and plot. I kinda wanna be a Whitman’s Sampler of a writer, only without the really icky weird fillings that taste like furniture wax.
The Question of the Month has a simple premise: each month I’ll ask a handful of authors to answer the same question and then I’ll publish their responses exactly as I receive them. In these posts you’ll discover how these authors think, giving you insight into where their darkest tales come from. These responses are listed here in the order they were received.
This month’s question is: If you had to recommend just one horror novel for everyone to read, what would it be and why?
Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. Why? Because it’s not only the scariest novel I’ve ever read, it’s also a “literary” novel, so it can demonstrate to snobs and skeptics that the genre can have intellectual heft. In addition, it’s a mainstream work of fiction with no overt sex or violence, so it has the potential to win over milquetoast Middle America, those wimpy readers who flinch and flee at the sight of blood. It’s the perfect poster boy for horror. As far as I’m concerned, Jackson’s masterful novel should be required reading for every human on the planet.
— Bentley Little
I’m going to hail Richard Matheson’s Hell House, because I still recall finding it impossible to put down and wishing I hadn’t stayed up after midnight by myself to finish it. Truthfully, it’s the only book that made me realize that looking over your shoulder because of what you’re reading isn’t always an exaggeration. Forget the timid movie adaptation and go straight for the real thing—Matheson certainly does. — Ramsey Campbell
The Shining by Stephen King. I love that man. I love that book. — Nancy Holder
The one horror novel that I would recommend that everyone should read is Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. As an inward and an outward journey of discovery it exposes the narrator to the nature of evil. Both it and its palimpsest (Coppola’s Apocalypse Now) resonate for a generation (mine) that went to college, San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, or Vietnam in the ’60s. Those of us who did those things (I did all three) understand perfectly Kurz’ (or Brando’s in the film) cry at the end: “The horror! The horror!” — Robert Booth
My answer is Reprisal by Mitchell Smith. Reasons: the nightmarish scope of his human imaginings, the austere and limpid grace of his prose. — Michael Shea
Dracula by Bram Stoker. As a King “expert” it would be expected of me to recommend The Stand, It or even the under-rated Bag of Bones. But, our whole genre is founded and fed by certain great classics. Stoker’s great novel has influenced the horror genre more than any other, and no horror book has had a greater impact on popular culture. Yet, most of those who still read entire books have not actually read this novel. Surprisingly that goes for many horror or dark fiction genre readers. Yes, it is written with a Victorian sensibility and the epistolary style is difficult for many but the payoff from this carefully crafted novel, full of the back-imagery of our minds, is immense. The sexual tension, the multi-layered representational use of blood, the ancient fear of the unknown, and the tools of a newly scientific age, all combine with tremendous characterization and a rollicking good story. Best of all, when the tale is done, a mighty genre lies downstream from its headwaters. — Rocky Wood
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. This is a classic novel for a reason. The story evolves from two thirteen-year-old boys, James Nightshade and William Holloway, who are still at that age where the world is full of unknown mysteries and anything can happen. They are opposites, one adventurous and daring and spur-of-the-moment, the other cautious and grounded and wary. They are at the crossroads of innocence and adulthood. And when a dark carnival comes to town, they find themselves drawn to the darkness by all the possibilities.
And while that’s the core of the story, it’s not the whole story. Something Wicked This Way Comesalso explores a part of human nature deeply rooted in all of us … wishing things were different. The aging school teacher who wants to be young again. The disabled ex-football player who dreams of playing again. The father with a bad heart who fears experiencing life to its fullest because it might mean his death.
And of course, there’s the dark carnival and the small town and the library.
How can you go wrong! — David B. Silva
‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. It’s my favorite book by the best writer in the field. It shows King at his best, with wonderful characterizations of a small town filled with fear. I was 20 years old when I first read it and it dazzled me. It showed what horror writers were capable of and I never looked back. Even three decades later I remember the story vividly. No other book has ever hit me so hard and I recommend it at every opportunity.
— John R. Little
This, at least for me, is a deceptively difficult question because so many exceptional books so easily come to mind. On a strictly personal level, Clive Barker’s The Books of Blood and, before that, Richard Matheson’s Hell House, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula were all huge influences that I believe remain as exceptional “ambassadors of horror” for new readers. However, if I must choose only one, (and possibly a bit of an uncommon or even contentious choice as it is often labeled as “fantasy” rather than horror) I’d have to select Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. The novel is beautifully written, can be appreciated equally by readers of all ages, and touches upon some of our deepest universal fears and aspirations including our fears of growing old, of dying, of lost opportunities, and of lost friendship, among others. The book examines horrors of both supernatural and entirely mundane, human origin and manages to be mutually terrifying and life-affirming and a thoroughly entertaining read. — Norman L. Rubenstein
As I mentioned the other week, my new feature called “The Question of the Month” over at FEARnet is a mix of “The Final Question” from Cemetery Dance magazine and also original content. What I forgot to mention was that last month’s column ran before my blog was launched, so I’m going to post that content here today to catch everyone up.
The feature has a simple premise: each month I’ll ask a handful of horror/dark suspense authors to answer the same question and then I’ll publish their responses exactly as I receive them. In theory, this should give you some insight into how these authors think and where their work comes from. Each month you can read the answers here on this blog or over at FEARnet.com.
This month’s question is: why horror?
Given the immensity of the gulf between what we desire and what we must live with, given also our own dread of what lies in us of both monstrosity and transcendence, horror was an inevitability. — Peter Straub
Because there’s nothing so extreme — from there you can work your way back to courage, loyalty, community, tenderness. Then there’s that old sex ‘n death thing…. — Jack Ketchum
Horror is a genre in which I can throw characters into dire situations, strip away the veneers of their self-imposed personas, and then explore with them their most basic human emotions and reactions. — Elizabeth Massie
I misspelt “humor” on the application. — Kealan Patrick Burke
I read horror for the same reason I read any other kind of fiction. I want strong stories about interesting and sympathetic people. The bonus with horror, as with science fiction, is that the writer can conjure a world of his own to comment on our world. Ramsey Campbell and Christopher Fowler are two good examples. They twist reality into hyper-reality so that a visit to a pharmacy can become a horrific comment on the medical system. Their monsters are not only the great dark Them, they’re also Us. — Ed Gorman
Why horror? … Indeed. Because horror in all its manifestations says … and sometimes whispers … the deepest, darkest secrets about what it means to be human…. Horror addresses and, when brave, confronts the twin terrors of existence … and non-existence. — Rick Hautala
Horror! What a rotten name for an amazing genre. Because Horror’s great appeal isn’t just the screaming and the gore–it is a voyage into our spiritual natures. It asks questions about that “otherness” that’s so important in our lives, but which we cannot taste, touch, smell, see or hear. Horror allows us to encounter that dimension, which we intuitively believe in, but lies just beyond our fingertips. — Simon Clark
Because, as–for instance–H. P. Lovecraft so deftly asserted, the greatest fear we can experience is, not the fear of the dark, or the fear of death, mutilation, rape by monsters, impregnation by para-dimensional abominations, or what have you, but the fear of the unknown. No genre transfigures this fear more potently to the reader than the horror genre. Even in great “literature,” I’ll contend. True, great literature often exists on a much more important level than horror (though not always!) but it seems to me that horror must stimulate the reader’s mental pressure points more effectively and more consistently than other genres. It must! And with that mental stimulus comes the provocation that makes us ponder our inner-selves. Provocation is the key, and it can be just as legitimate in horror as any other field of creativity. I very passionately appreciate the works of, say, Faulkner, Kafka, Sartre, Marquez, etc., and regard their literary contributions as paramount and more significant than even that of the most astute horror writers. Ah, but horror is so much more fun, isn’t it? And the provocation of thought that it induces in us is just as functional. — Edward Lee
Haunted houses, bloody footprints, hitchhiking ghosts, and devil dogs–the stories I heard in the backyard as a kid were the first stories that made my imagination boil, and there was something about them I understood. Or wanted to, because those stories always left questions. Did that really happen? Could it happen to me, and what if it did? The tale became a springboard to an answer or conclusion that made the reader/listener reach, and that’s a very good thing. — Norman Partridge
Why not? Nothing wakes you up in the morning or lets you know you’re alive like a good scare does. — Brian Keene
It’s not that I made a conscious decision to write in the horror genre. It’s just that when I wrote, what came out of me didn’t fit anywhere else. — Ray Garton
The Exorcist: The 40th Anniversary Revised Limited Edition by William Peter Blatty
featuring original artwork by Caniglia
Earlier this year, William Peter Blatty announced that he had revised his original manuscript for THE EXORCIST to be published as a special 40th Anniversary edition.
Lonely Road Books will be publishing a deluxe, oversized, slipcased and signed Limited Edition of this version of the book next year. This edition will feature full-color artwork by Caniglia and will be limited to just 374 copies of the Limited Edition and 26 copies of the Lettered Edition, making it an extremely collectible edition.
About the Revised Special Edition:
For the special 40th Anniversary Edition of The Exorcist, William Peter Blatty has returned to the manuscript, reworking portions of the book that never satisfied him. Due to financial constraints and a pressing workload at the time, he was forced to forego a desired revision. “For most of these past forty years I have rued not having done a thorough second draft and careful polish of the dialogue and prose,” Blatty says. “But now, like an answer to a prayer, this fortieth anniversary edition has given me not only the opportunity to do that second draft, but to do it at a time in my life—I am 83—when it might not be totally unreasonable to hope that my abilities, such as they are, have at least somewhat improved, and for all of this I say, Deo gratias!” Among the changes, Blatty has added a chilling scene introducing the unsettling minor character of a Jesuit psychiatrist.
About the Book: The Exorcist, one of the most controversial novels ever written, went on to become a literary phenomenon: It spent fifty-seven weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, seventeen consecutively at number one.
Inspired by a true story of a child’s demonic possession in the 1940s, William Peter Blatty created an iconic novel that focuses on Regan, the eleven-year-old daughter of a movie actress residing in Washington, D.C. A small group of overwhelmed yet determined individuals must rescue Regan from her unspeakable fate, and the drama that ensues is gripping and unfailingly terrifying.
Two years after its publication, The Exorcist was, of course, turned into a wildly popular motion picture, garnering ten Academy Award nominations. On opening day of the film, lines of the novel’s fans stretched around city blocks. In Chicago, frustrated moviegoers used a battering ram to gain entry through the double side doors of a theater. In Kansas City, police used tear gas to disperse an impatient crowd who tried to force their way into a cinema. The three major television networks carried footage of these events; CBS’s Walter Cronkite devoted almost ten minutes to the story. The Exorcist was, and is, more than just a novel and a film: it is a true landmark.
Purposefully raw and profane, The Exorcist still has the extraordinary ability to disturb readers and cause them to forget that it is “just a story.” Published here in this beautiful special Limited Edition, it remains an unforgettable reading experience and will continue to shock and frighten a new generation of readers.
About this Special Edition:
With an oversized page size and an extremely low print run, this special edition will feature a high-quality paper stock, a deluxe binding selected from the finest materials available, and cover artwork and original illustrations by Caniglia. This stunning special edition will be like no other book in your collection.
My new feature called “The Question of the Month” over at FEARnet is a mix of “The Final Question” from Cemetery Dance magazine and also original content.
The feature has a simple premise: each month I’ll ask a handful of the genre’s authors to answer the same question and then I’ll publish their responses exactly as I receive them. In theory, this should give you some insight into how these authors think and where their work comes from. Each month you can read the answers here on this blog or over at FEARnet.com.
This month’s question is: What is the future of horror?
Writers in pain. Their wounds, unconscious or otherwise, define the genre. — R.C. Matheson
I don’t know what the future of horror will be, but I always live in hope that whatever it is, it’ll be a bit more subtle, quietly disturbing, surreal, and otherworldly than a lot of the trends we’ve recently seen. Something that instills genuine dread rather than aiming to shock or gross out. Not because I dislike accessible, splattery fun, but just to shake things up a bit. I’m loathe to use the word “cerebral,” but something with a bit more depth would be nice. Can we rewind to the ’80s and welcome Clive Barker as the future of horror, please? That would be grand. — Brett Alexander Savory
The future of horror is the past–the sins of the past, that is, repressed and otherwise, which have been at the heart of virtually every horror story since Horace Walpole wrote the first gothic novel way back in 1764. — Dale Bailey
The great thing about horror is that it doesn’t give a crap about the future or the past. It’s immune to trends. Humans will never lose interest in sex or death. — Scott Nicholson
My hope is that horror will blaze a course through this present fascination with extreme violence without any subtext or meaning—simple shock and brutality—and start re-exploring the concepts that make the genre so powerful. Without a human element to these stories, the characters are just so many pieces of wood waiting to be hewn and chopped into kindling. If horror is to have a future beyond revolting people and making them scream with cheap scares, writers, readers and moviegoers alike need to rediscover that the best horror is about bad things happening to characters in whom we have an emotional investment. — Bev Vincent
The future of horror is…assured. The arc of expression seems to be following the media arc as a whole: less attention to print, more to video games and movies, but horror reinvents itself to fit. Horror will prosper as long as people get a frisson down the spine from things that go bump in the night. — Holly Newstein
The future of horror? The past. As always. — Glen Hirshberg
People (or Soylent Green, if you prefer the packaging). Us. With our capacity for feeling and inflicting pain, our reaction to mystery and the unknown, our appetite for the world and each other, we’ll be drawn to horror like lemmings to a cathartic sea for a while. The Greeks dug it, we dig it. However the source medium may evolve, as long as there are people, there will be both the inspiration and audience for horror. Horror will truly be dead when we’ve split angel from demon and cast off the monsters inside us. And we’re a long way off from that feat of genetic engineering. Or exorcism… — Gerard Houarner
It’s vampires who sparkle in the sunlight, like David Bowie in his sequined androgynous glam-rocker phase, or maybe it’s werewolves who crap strawberry scented sprinkles. I’m pretty sure it’s one of those. — Gary Raisor
What is the future of horror? WHO THE FUCK KNOWS? But I betcha we’re about to find out! (P.S.: The future of horror starts right… about… now.) — John Skipp