It’s that time of year again! It kind of snuck up on me. No, not Halloween, but the week before Halloween — which brings us COFFIN HOP, the annual online event for indie horror and genre authors and artists to reach out to their fans and readers. Authors hold contests, gave away e-books, paperbacks, prize packages, autographed copies, toys, personalized writings, videos, themed jewellery, movie posters, and more. Visit www.coffinhop.com and follow the member links there to see what everyone has for all you trick-or-treaters this year.
This year, they’re doing something special — the COFFIN HOP team has released a collection of some of the best stories from their members. COFFIN HOP: DEATH BY DRIVE-IN includes twenty-one B-movie inspired stories about ”Brains from Space! Robot Squids Gone Wild! Radioactive Microwave Men! Monster Mash Massacres! Crotch Tentacles! Pinterest-loving Werewolves! Cannibal Bikers! Vampire Seduction! A man-eating Toilet! Robot Lincoln & Zombie Jackson!”
All profits from the anthology will be donated to LitWorld.org, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization supporting child literacy and social improvement the world over. The book is available here: KINDLE | SMASHWORDS | PAPERBACK
You can also win a copy right here! Just leave a comment on this post, and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a free e-book of COFFIN HOP: DEATH BY DRIVE-IN, and a free e-book of my new novel, STILL LIFE! Good luck!
Actually, I tell a lie; I already had a couple of Tumblr accounts, one of which I pretty much ignore and the other I use primarily to geek out about Doctor Who.
But I’ve noticed lately that more authors I’m interested in seem to be discovering Tumblr (like Joe Hill and Chuck Wendig, among others), and I’m thinking that this is gonna be the next big “oh my God you have to be on it” social-media platform-building thingy for writers. The last one of those was Pinterest, which I tried to fall in love with, I really did. But hey, this is one I already like, so, bonus!
So anyway, yeah, here’s my new Official Tumblr Presence, which is ostensibly at least somewhat for self-promotion and fan outreach, but which is really turning out to be an excuse to reblog anything creepy and scary and weird and cool. So if you like that sort of thing – and I assume you do, since you’re here – you should probably follow it. Let me know – who else should I be following? Is it you?
O Canada! Happy birthday, neighbors to the north! I didn’t want to forget your day, because quite frankly, I’m a little afraid of you. Oh, sure, you’ve got most people fooled with your quiet politeness, but not me. Not with the way you like watching men strap on skates and beat each other bloody out on the ice. And certainly not after seeing a few of these movies you’ve made.
If you’re in a celebrating mood, why not run out to your local video store (or torrent site, as the case may be) and watch one of these fine films over a plate of poutine?
Black Christmas (1974)
I swear to God the director of this movie must have been a time traveler, because he managed to make a straight-up slasher movie, complete with all the trappings of the genre — an unknown killer, teen-age girl protagonists, point-of-view camera shots, an ambiguous ending — four years before Halloween, the film that’s usually given credit for starting the genre. Crazy.
Shivers (1975), The Brood (1979), Scanners (1981), The Dead Zone (1983), Videodrome (1983), and The Fly (1986)
Ahhh, the early films of David Cronenberg, my favorite horror director. I saw The Fly when I was still young and impressionable and I loved it, and was blown away years later to find out that his earlier work delved even deeper into weird, nightmarish body horror. Good stuff. Weird, weird stuff. What the hell do you guys have in the water up there?
The Gate (1987)
I don’t honestly remember a whole lot about this movie, except that I enjoyed it. The protagonists are kids, so it’s closer to Goosebumps than it is to, say, Saw, but it’s fun and kinda charming.
Love, love, love this movie. Really shows how a creative script can make up for a limited budget. Claustrophobic, paranoid, inexplicable.
Ginger Snaps (2000)
A vibrant, clever, entertaining take on werewolves, with interesting and relatable teen-age girl lead characters. Watching their relationship fall apart is almost as upsetting as any of the horror elements, and the ending is pretty heartbreaking.
This was a great little surprise. It’s basically a zombie movie, and that’s all I’m going to tell you — and I’d urge you to find out as little as you can before you watch it. I highly recommend it. (And I highly recommend you ignore the weird, pointless, kinda artsy post-credits scene. Not sure what they were trying to do there.)
This is, sadly, the first of these films I actually got to see in the theater when it came out. I’m glad I did. Made by the same people who made Cube, this is very creepy, very disturbing, and deals with some ethical questions we may need to face in the not-too-distant future. I know some people felt this film goes off the rails in the last act, but I thought the ending was pretty great.
FILMS I HAVEN’T SEEN YET
Haven’t had a chance to see any of the films below yet, but they have strong enough reputations that I wanted to include them anyway. (Besides, maybe this post will remind me to watch them.)
That’s right — there’s still one last early David Cronenberg film I haven’t seen. At this point, I’m kind of saving it for a special occasion. It looks like a different take on vampires, and those are always interesting to me. (Which is why I wrote one — “Still Life,” available on Amazon on July 19th! Ahem.)
Prom Night (1980)
I know, right? I can’t believe I haven’t seen this yet, either, especially since it helped cement the role of Jamie Lee Curtis in our hearts and minds as everyone’s beloved Scream Queen.
The Changeling (1980)
I do love a good haunted house movie, and from everything I hear, this is one of the best. And it stars George C. Scott, who is awesome.
My Bloody Valentine (1981)
I did see the 3D remake . . . sequel? Reboot? I’m not sure. Anyway, it was terrible. But a friend whose opinion I trust says I really should watch the original, so I’m sure I will.
This looks . . . cute? Is that the right word for a zombie movie? Well, it does. Zombie fans speak of it pretty highly.
I know basically nothing about this, except that it’s supposed to be violent and really disturbing. Works for me. I also hear it’s one you should really avoid spoilers for, so I’m not seeking any out.
The Shrine (2011) and The Moth Diaries (2011)
Don’t know much of anything about either of these two, either, except that Netflix’s magical algorithm fairies think I’ll really like them, and they’re usually right.
So! Any Canadian horror classics I’ve left out? Any input on which one of these films I should watch tonight? Let me know in the comments!
We are finally, finally close to the release date of my first novel! “Still Life” will be available at Amazon on July 19th, 2013.
Want more info? Click on through to my new “Still Life” page to find out more details and get your first look at the cover!
Watch this space — I’ll be telling you all soon about how to pre-order your print copy, a reading in the Seattle area, and giveaways for both print and electronic copies!
Don’t feel like waiting? Send me some e-mail and pinky-swear that you’ll be willing to post a review on Amazon when the listing goes live — doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a paragraph or two on what you liked or didn’t like about the book — and I will e-mail you an ePub or Kindle version right now. (Well, if I’m still sitting at my computer when you read this. Values of “right now” might vary. But as soon as possible!)
I’m excited! Can you tell I’m excited? Can you tell I’ve had too much caffeine? I’ve had way too much caffeine!
Once again, Crypticon Seattle was a blast. This has really become one of my “can’t-miss” events. If you’re a horror fan in the greater Seattle area, I hope you were there, and if not, you really should try to make it next year!
I was about ten minutes late for my first panel, which actually means I was doing way better than last year — last year, I was running too late to make it to my first panel at all. Somehow, it apparently never occurs to me that there just might be traffic on Memorial Day weekend.
But, better late than never. 2012: The Year in Horror Movies with Mark Rahner and Chris Fred was a really fun panel to start my weekend with, even though we rapidly came to the conclusion that 2012 was honestly really kind of a lousy year for horror movies, with Cabin in the Woods, John Dies at the End and the Evil Dead remake being the only notable standout exceptions. (Things we’re so done with: found footage movies, movies that start off strong with a creepy atmosphere but end up showing you way too much.)
Up next was The History of Horror Comics and Freedom of Speech with Kelly Young ,and with Kate Lynch and Aron Tarbuck, the owners of The Dreaming Comics and Games, who really could probably could’ve handled the whole panel themselves. This is a subject near and dear to my heart, and we really had just so much material to cover that it easily could’ve been two panels — one on the rise and fall of horror comics in the 50s and 60s, and one on their return in the 70s and the state of the industry today. I don’t really think this panel got a big enough audience to warrant suggesting that next year, though.
After that, I went and had some dinner at 13 Coins, and came back and watched some short films until I was ready to call it a night.
My first panel on Saturday was Horror in Doctor Who with Aron Tarbuck and Peter Clines. This was the panel I’d really been looking forward to. I’m a huge Doctor Who fan (not to mention a published Doctor Who author), so being asked to talk about my two favorite subjects was a huge treat. I was even more excited when I realized Aron was going to be on the panel — I’ve known him for years, and he and I have had many long and involved conversations about the show. We had a large and enthusiastic turnout for this one, reminding me again that my once obscure hobby has reached a level of popularity that continues to delight and amaze me.
Later that evening we had Horror’s Unique Expressions in Comics with Steven J Holetz, Kelly Young, Chris Fred, Kate Merriwether Lynch, Aron Tarbuck, and Svetlana Fedotov. This was better attended than the previous day’s comics panel, and it gave us a chance talk about a broader range of topics.
Motivational Growth was fantastic – all the weirdness of a David Lynch movie with all the manic energy paranoia of Fight Club, plus the always awesome Jeffrey Combs as the voice of a talking mold. What more could you want?
I’d really been looking forward to Sader Ridge, largely because it stars Trin Miller, who is also one of the stars of my web series CAUSALITY, which is in postproduction now. Trin was great to work with and put in a fantastic performance, so I definitely wanted to see what she was like playing a totally different character.
She was terrific, and so is the film — a good, solid, long slow creepy burn, with a clever script and some great performances.
Seeing these films meant I didn’t get home until three in the morning — where I proceeded to stay up for another hour playing on the Internet. What the hell is wrong with me?
I did manage to make it back to the convention on Sunday in time to see Joe Bob Briggs interviewed by Anthony James Kay, which was highly entertaining. I think this kind of panel format is really more interesting and in-depth than a general audience Q&A session, and I’d like to see more local conventions adopt it.
My last panel of the weekend was Female Heroes in Horror with Anthony James Kay, Dara Davey, Eileen Dietz, M. NessK, Ronnie Angel, and Svetlana Fedotov. This was a great panel, and I tell you all about it, but someone actually filmed it, and has promised to put up on YouTube, so I’m just going to post that here when they do.
Such a fun weekend. Can’t wait to go back.
It is Crypticon weekend once again, and I will be there as a panelist! I had a great time doing it last year and I’m definitely looking forward to being back. If you’re anywhere near the Seattle area, and you love horror, you really owe it to yourself to check it out. And while you’re there, you should come see one of my panels! (Remember, while I’m always happy to sign books, I will only sign body parts that are a.) yours, and b.) still attached.)
Friday, May 24th, 6:00pm / Emerald Ballroom A
2012: The Year in Horror Movies
Friday, May 24th, 9:00pm / Emerald Ballroom C
The History of Horror Comics and Freedom of Speech
Saturday, May 25th, 2:00pm / Emerald Ballroom B
Horror in Doctor Who
Saturday, May 25th, 7:00pm / Emerald Ballroom C
Horror’s Unique Expressions in Comics
Sunday, May 26th, 2:00pm / Emerald Ballroom C
Female Heroes in Horror
I seem to have gradually become quite the fan of Joe Hill. A friend of mine recommended his rather excellent comic series Locke & Key a few years back, and that led me to read Heart-Shaped Box and 20th Century Ghosts, which I also enjoyed, but it was just a few weeks ago that I finally picked up Horns, which I loved so much that it immediately put NOS4A2, his next release, on my “must-buy” list.
I had the pleasure of getting my hardback of NOS4A2 signed at Seattle’s University bookstore recently, and went home and started following his Twitter and Tumblr accounts.
Just in time to see this post today, right when I needed to. One of his followers asked him if treating OCD would hinder his writing process. He writes:
I struggled with mild OCD and not-so mild paranoid ideation for decades; it was especially bad in the year or two around the publication of HORNS, a paranoid book written by a paranoid and unhappy man.
For a long time I was determined not to get help, because I was very afraid that if I took a pill, or saw a therapist, it would destroy me creatively. Then one day I realized I didn’t give a shit about whether or not I could go on as a writer… it was far more important to find a way to go on as a person, so I could be the best possible father to my kids, and not a miserable man who couldn’t make his appointments because he had to keep driving home to see if the oven was on.
[....] Completing HORNS, and getting it right, was the hardest thing I’ve ever done as a creative person, because I did it with an interior voice constantly screaming in my ear that it was all wrong, that publication of the book would destroy all the good will I had created with Heart-Shaped Box. I got the novel written – and it came out good, Goddamn it – even though I usually began my day by searching my office for listening devices.
Can a little bit of OCD be adaptive for a creative person? Maybe [....] But it’s very hard to be successful as an artist when you’re flinching from imaginary terrors and on the run from imaginary enemies. [....] I wrote most of NOS4A2 after getting on Paxil and getting into therapy and dealing with my problems. It was hard-going at first, but in the end I wrote the novel with joy and excitement. I owed it to my kids to get my shit together. If getting right emotionally has helped me to do some of my best work, that’s just a fringe benefit.
Honestly, before I read this, I had no idea that Joe Hill struggled with mental health issues. I know I’ve written before about writers and depression, and about the problems with depression I’ve personally faced.
I’ve actually been having a hell of a hard time lately, even though I really haven’t talked about that much here0. Left to my own devices, having no other obligations other than simply to write hasn’t been the liberating experience I thought it would be. It’s been paralyzing. On days when I’m not feeling too overwhelmed and depressed to sit down at the keyboard, I too often find myself instead sitting there in a blank state of free-floating anxiety – elevated heart rate, shallow breathing.
I’ve been getting through it, a little at a time. I have been managing to make myself write, although not nearly as much as I want to – my daily word count is still pretty pathetic, which is another source of anxiety.
Another big issue I have at the moment is that my current work-in-progress is very, very different in style and tone from anything I’ve ever published, and so I have that very same interior voice thah Hill mentions constantly screaming in my ear that I’m not writing what everyone wants from me, even though I think what I’m writing is fun and good and even though everyone I’ve described the project to seems very enthusiastic about it. I still can’t seem to just relax and let myself work on it.
But reading this post reminds me that even artists I greatly admire have some of the same problems, and that they’re not insurmountable. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not an oncoming train.
So, just in case you ever read this – thank you, Mister Hill, for sharing this much, for being so honest about what you’ve been through. It helps a lot.
Finally put together something I’ve had in mind for quite a while — an e-book collection of short stories especially for the subscribers to my Announcements List. I really appreciate the people who invite me into their inboxes to let them know about my new books and new projects, and I wanted to do something nice for them.
Here are a few words from the book’s introduction, laying out the theme:
So when I wanted to put this collection together, I decided that it needed to be a collection of stories that were about friendship. That was not difficult to accomplish; friendship is a theme I keep coming back to again and again in my fiction. In her review of SLICES, Elizabeth Twist wrote:
The failures and beauties of human relationships are at the core of Michael’s work [....] SLICES is at its strongest when considering the many permutations of men’s relationships, most sadly and beautifully in the context of male friendship, brotherhood, and love.
I think that’s a pretty fair statement of what many of my stories are really about.
A lot of fiction in general — I mean, seriously, a lot of it — is about romantic love. I get that. Love is madness. It can drive us to our highest heights and our lowest depths. That’s an engine that can drive a million stories.
But I think that, in my experience, the worst things you often end up doing in your life, the stupidest things, are the things you end up doing for your friends. Standing up for your friends can fuck you up; helping them out of the trouble they get into can lead you deeper into danger than you would ever end up on your own.
With that in mind, I’d like to present some stories of people who have gone too far in the name of friendship, trusted the wrong people and made some bad decisions, and ended up on the edge of everything they ever considered possible. I hope you enjoy them.
“WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE” contains one sample story from each of my three anthologies, and a bonus novella that hasn’t been published anywhere else! There’s a history behind this story and a reason why my subscribers will be the only ones to get to read it — but you’ll find that out when you download the book and read the introduction.
If you’re already on the mailing list, you should already have your email with the download links — it went out this morning. If you’re not a subscriber yet, why not subscribe right now? Once you confirm your subscription, you’ll be directed to a page with the download links.
Let me know what you think. I look forward to hearing from you all!
Well, okay, if you’ve been to Bloodletters in the past few days, you may have seen them already, but I never really got a chance to post about them between the time I found out that the new covers had gone live on Amazon and the time I ran out the door to drive down to Portland for the HP Lovecraft Film Festival (which was awesome, by the way).
One of the many advantages that come with self-publishing is the fact that even after your book is “published,” you can still easily make changes to it whenever the mood strikes you. Here are the covers that my anthologies had up until this past week:
Now, there was nothing wrong with these. They were good covers. I thought they looked professional, several people have complimented me on them — I could have happily left them as they were.
But I had just recently finished a major revision of my novel-in-progress, Still Life, and I sat down to design a cover for it. (Changing gears from writing and editing to purely visual graphic design is one way I trick myself into thinking I get to “relax” while remaining productive.) I could have used the same font and layout for the new cover as I did with the anthologies — or to look at it from a marketing standpoint, the same “trade dress” — but I wanted to do something different, something really vibrant and lively. I wanted the book to look like some really exciting pop-culture object, something irresistible to pick up.
What’s that? You want to see that cover? Oh. Umm, sorry, you don’t get to. Not yet, anyway. It’ll be a couple of months, still, until the book is ready for release, and I’m going to reveal that cover a little closer to the drop date. So you’ll have to wait a bit longer. (Unless you’re on my mailing list, that is, in which case you might want to check your in-box sometime in the next day or two.)
Anyway! My point is, I ended up liking the layout of the new cover so much that I decided to go back and redo all my existing covers to match. Partly so that my books will still have a consistent look-and-feel when the novel does come out, but mainly, I admit, because I just thought it would be cool. Check out the new covers below, and let me know what you think in the comments.
Oh, yeah, speaking of covers I’ve designed — you should really go check out the new book by my friend Ron Miles – 3500: An Autistic Boy’s Ten-Year Romance with Snow White. It’s a true story, and it’s pretty wonderful and heartwarming, so in other words, pretty much exactly the opposite of what I write. Ron commissioned that cover design from me, and I’m glad he was so happy with it. 3500 is free right now, and we’re right down to the last hour or so of that promotion, so go grab it while you can.
I’ve been on kind of a Clive Barker kick lately. I’ve been a fan of his for years, and he’s always been a huge influence, but it seems like he’s been looming especially large in my personal zeitgeist these past few weeks.
For starters, I’ve been following the man himself on Facebook, and that’s been seriously fascinating. The things he posts there are very honest, personal, and insightful, and if you want a glimpse into his life and thought processes, you should really check it out.
Are you a Hellraiser fan? Then you should also check out a new podcast called We Have Such Films To Show You. A couple of fans are watching all nine Hellraiser films, and devoting an episode of the podcast to each one. The first couple of episodes so far are funny and engaging, and it’s interesting to hear these two talk about why they love these movies at the same time as they nitpick their many, many flaws. I don’t really normally listen to podcasts, but I’m enjoying the hell out of these.
If you have seen the Hellraiser movies, remember how the second film really takes the setting shown in the first movie and just kind of blows it wide open? The way it pulls back and increases the scale of the world we’re shown? That wider scope is central to one blogger’s argument that Hellbound: Hellraiser II is one of the best movies ever made, and, well, while I wouldn’t go that far, I will say that’s always been one of the main reasons I love the film. Ready to have your mind blown open again? Go and read the first issue of the Hellraiser comic for free online. I’d been vaguely aware that Boom! Studios had started a new Hellraiser comic a couple years ago, but somehow, I’d missed the fact that Clive Barker was actually the one writing it. This first issue gave me that same feeling of increased scale, with its grand sweeping vision of hell, and it almost makes up for all the disappointing movie sequels. I’ll definitely be picking up the rest of this series.
Finally, the main thing that’s had me bouncing up and down with excitement lately is that I’m going down to Portland, Oregon this weekend to see Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut at the Portland H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival. If you’ve seen Nightbreed, then you know two things — first, it’s freakin’ awesome, and second, it, uhhh, doesn’t always make a hell of a lot of sense. It feels like there’s a lot you’re missing — and there is! The studio, once they realized they’d actually greenlit a film where the monsters are the good guys, cut the damn thing to ribbons in the editing room. For years, a decent director’s cut of this movie has been one of my holy grails, and this is as close as I’m likely to get — all of the missing footage has been restored, albeit from a low-quality VHS copy that had been thought lost for years and finally turned up in a dark and dusty corner of Clive’s office. I can’t even tell you how psyched I am for this, and if you can possibly make it to Portland, you should come, too.