BONES WILL BREAK THIS FALL

This fall, Written Backwards will release its first fiction collection: Bones Are Made to Be Broken, by Paul Michael Anderson. Here’s why…

A while back, Anderson, a regular to Written Backwards anthologies, responded to a mock book cover created by artist/author extraordinaire Pat R. Steiner (who sometimes creates book covers just for fun, and has a short story called “Kilroy Wasn’t There” in Qualia Nous). Steiner created a mock book cover with a title of Bones Are Made to Be Broken, Stories by Paul Michael Anderson, featuring an image of a woman falling against a wall of water.

I responded with “I’d publish that,” because, well, I have enjoyed every story I’ve read by Paul Michael Anderson. In fact, I’ve published three of his stories to date. His work appears in Qualia Nous, Chiral Mad 3, and the upcoming You, Human I’m putting together for Dark Regions Press later this year. Anderson’s overly-long titles include “In the Nothing-Space, I Am What You Made Me,” and “The Agonizing Guilt of Relief (Last Days of a Ready-Made Victim)” and a not-so-long “The Universe is Dying.” His stories are dark, emotional, highly-literary (in my opinion), and incredibly enjoyable.

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A few private messages and emails went back and forth between us, and we somehow found ourselves talking ideas for such a book collection, which had to be called Bones Are Made to Be Broken. “Feel like writing a longer piece to be included in the collection?” I asked. Apparently Anderson already had a story in mind, a novella that needed to be written called, aptly, “Bones Are Made to Be Broken.”

While discussing the book deal with Anderson, I simultaneously discussed cover ideas with Pat R. Steiner (who was more than happy to create more book cover concepts, a few dozen if I remember correctly). While I loved the original mock cover that sparked all this magic to happen, I was looking for a cover that spoke more of the stories to be included in the collection. Bridges often appear in the stories, so a bridge had to be in there somewhere; water had to be in there as well; and a woman. I’m not sure why, but I wanted a mostly black-and-white cover with some red in the text and a delicate feel to match the delicate stories within. After much fun, we created the following, currently used with the Advanced Reading Copies:

Bones Are Made to Be Broken ARC

As you can see, Pat R. Steiner did a tremendous job capturing the essence of Bones Are Made to Be Broken. Now, here’s something else that happened… because strange things happen sometimes when strange people with strange ideas toss those strange ideas back and forth… the magic happens.

While Qualia Nous was in full swing, Steiner (again, just for fun), created illustrations for each of the stories for the that anthology, which he later put together as a hardbound book called Qualia Nous Illustrated. I have a copy of that beautiful work on my shelves. So, I sent Pat an email out of the blue: “Remember what you did with Qualia Nous? Want to do something similar for Bones Are Made to Be Broken?” More ideas, tossed back and forth. He immediately started with the illustrations, and within a matter of weeks, a simple idea turned into some incredible illustrations for each story in Anderson’s collection. Steiner’s unique style matched the book perfectly. Here are a few:

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Did I mention this book is going to be absolutely gorgeous? Over 440 pages of fiction, 14 illustrations, blurbs by people I can’t yet talk about, an introduction by someone I can’t yet talk about… Okay, I can share a few:

“What a pleasure to read these fresh and darksome tales! Anderson’s style is tensely exciting. His are stories never quite what you think they are going to be about and his endings resonate with fear. He gives us new horizons in horror that are futuristic and psychical. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but “Baby Grows a Conscience” is simply brilliant! You’ll have to read them all. This collection is a treasure for any horror or dark sf fan’s library.”  – Marge Simon, Bram Stoker Award winner, Vectors: A Week in the Death of a Planet.

“Paul Michael Anderson writes like no other writer in dark fiction. His premises, plots, and story structure are unique. Every story in Bones Are Made to Be Broken follows this pattern, and are intriguing and very good. Simply, he writes a Paul Michael Anderson story – the highest compliment any serious writer can hope to achieve. Highly recommended.” – Gene O’Neill, The Cal Wild Chronicles

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Later this fall, the combined efforts of Written Backwards and Dark Regions Press will release Paul Michael Anderson’s Bones Are Made to Be Broken in trade paperback and eBook, which will feature the illustrations by Steiner in black-and-white. Full-color illustrations of each are also prepared for the deluxe signed edition to be released at a later date.

Bones Are Made to Be Broken will include the following:

  1. Crawling Back to You
  2. Survivor’s Debt
  3. Baby Grows a Conscience
  4. A Nice Town with Very Clean Streets
  5. The Doorway Man
  6. Love Song for the Rejected
  7. Surviving the River Styx
  8. The Agonizing Guilt of Relief (Last Days of a Ready-Made Victim)
  9. The Universe is Dying
  10. Reflecting the Heart’s Desire
  11. To Touch the Dead
  12. In the Nothing-Space, I Am What You Made Me
  13. All That You Leave Behind
  14. Bones Are Made to Be Broken (title novella).

On August 23rd, Dark Regions Press will begin a multi-book campaign, which will include You, Human (the first science fiction anthology I’m editing for DRP, which is fully illustrated by L.A. Spooner and Orion Zangara and includes an introduction on humanism by New York Times Bestselling Author F. Paul Wilson), Other Music by Marc Levinthal (the first science fiction novel I’m editing for DRP, which features an introduction by John Skipp), and a few other books in the works by Dark Regions Press, such as Return of the Old Ones, Children of Gla’akiThe Eighth (the debut novel by Stephanie M. Wytovich), and this wonderful book, Bones Are Made to Be Broken by Paul Michael Anderson.

Information on this multi-book campaign can be found here!

 

Bones Are Made to Be Broken

PLASTY

Collaborations have been on my mind lately, mostly because if Chiral Mad 4 and how I’ve envisioned that book as being structured (as a completely collaborative anthology). I recently reached out to artist L.A. Spooner, with whom I’ve worked with on You, HumanAt the Lazy K (a novella by Gene O’Neill), and Enso, a children’s book I wrote last year. I asked him, “Want to collaborate on adapting a short story of mine to help spark collaboration ideas for the next Written Backwards anthology?” We reviewed a few of my older stories from Scales and Petals, my first short story and poetry collection, and agreed that “Plasty” was the most ‘visual’ and would be quite fun to adapt.

So, I rewrote the original 1,500 word short story as a 10-page graphic/comic script (which for some reason grew to 1,600 words), sent the pages to Luke, and he immediately started working on the illustrations, both in black and white, and in full color. He even did the lettering. After some back-and-forth on our collaborative work, we agreed that black-and-white suited the story better, with some color added throughout for better flow, and to punch the reader in the face with some of the disgusting visuals. I have to admit, this story is kind of gross, but not really when you think about it… We even added an 11th page to help bring the story full circle, to visually represent the main character’s mental state as the story comes to a close.

So, here’s “Plasty” for you to enjoy, a collaborative effort between the multi-talented L.A. Spooner, and yours truly. We hope these pages inspire further collaborations between writers, artists, poets, etc. Work together, and have fun!

 

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WILL THERE BE A CHIRAL MAD 4?

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I have been thinking about CHIRAL MAD 4 for quite some time, and have decided that if CHIRAL MAD 4 were to happen, the entire book would spawn from the number 4 … because it’s the 4th volume in a series that may either end at 4, or continue onward indefinitely. But, in order to understand where this fourth volume would be coming from, you have to wade through some history on the series, and some other Written Backwards projects, because it’s all connected in one way or another …

cm_accoladesThe first Chiral Mad (yes, you can click that link to directly buy a copy from Amazon, or the book cover to the left) was a charity anthology. Not a single author was offered payment, other than a contributor copy. Everyone involved donated their work to help create a rather awesome anthology that ended up raising over $6,000 for various Down syndrome charities, the biggest chunk of that being a $3,000 donation to the Down Syndrome Information Alliance. Thomas F. Monteleone wrote an awesome introduction, various stories made various best-of lists, such as Gary McMahon’s “Some Pictures in an Album,” and so on. Lots of famous names, lots of new names now becoming more famous. The book was well-received critically, won some awards, and, well, sparked a series of anthologies.

CHIRAL MAD 2 - COVERChiral Mad 2 quickly followed (yes, feel free to click that link or the book image to purchase), but something new happened with this anthology. Knowing how well the first volume did monetarily, this second volume allowed Written Backwards (a newish small publisher at the time) to pay writers for their work at professional rates ($0.05 per word at the time). That doesn’t seem like a lot of money, but multiply $0.05 by 120,000 words, and you get $6,000, which was paid to the contributors, upfront, out of pocket. Long story short, the anthology did about as well as the first volume (broke about even, and also helped spark further sales of the first Chiral Mad), won some awards, and even won Gary A. Braunbeck one of his twenty-thousand Bram Stoker Awards for his long fiction piece, “The Great Pity.” John Palisano was also nominated for his short story “The Geminis.” The book did well, in terms of an anthology, which means it basically broke even and eventually the $6,000 was recuperated, and everything over that amount also went (and still goes) to charity. Anthologies are expensive, so remember that the next time you hound small publishers for “what’s next, what’s next, when can I submit to the next one” and so on.

Qualia NousChiral Mad 2 had an open call for submissions, and over 550 submissions were received, along with the 20 stories from invited writers. Now, 570 submissions may not sound like a lot, but multiply 570 by the average 5850 words (I did the math), and you get 3,217,500 words, which is approximately 50 or more novel-length works to sort through to find the perfect table of contents. Many rejections were sent, which is never fun. But, having so many submissions resulted in a great number of fiction stories that were a little too sci-fi for CHIRAL MAD, which sparked an entirely new idea: a science fiction anthology, Qualia Nous. How did this anthology do? Well, it was much longer, contributors were paid professional rates, and was much more expensive ($7,500 or so) to put together. It did well, critically, won the Benjamin Franklin Award, was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award, resulted in two stories winning the Bram Stoker Award for short fiction (Usman T. Malik and Rena Mason), as well as a Nebula nomination for Malik, and an award for the single poem in the anthology by Marge Simon. And some other awards. The CHIRAL MAD anthologies went on hiatus for a while to promote Qualia Nous. The book has made back about 1/2 of what it cost to put together, despite how well it’s done critically. That’s anthologies for you: everyone wants to be in one; no one wants to buy one.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00094]And then an idea for a new ALLEVON series of illustrated books popped into mind (the word “novella” backward), and thus a new series of physically smaller, illustrated trade paperback books began, starting with a novella called At the Lazy K by Gene O’Neill (feel free to purchase that one, too), which was illustrated throughout by L.A. Spooner. Later this year (next month perhaps), the second book in the ALLEVON series will be published, a collection by Scott Edelman called Liars, Fakers, and the Dead Who Eat Them, which is set of zombie novelettes: “Only Humans Lie” and “Faking It Until Forever Comes,” which features a cover and interior illustrations by Daniele Serra. This series will continue through the Written Backwards imprint, as there are already 4 or 5 future volumes already set in motion.

ENSŌSo, here I am, getting distracted by new projects, talking with Dark Regions Press about a possible merger, taking on project after project after project, and then I decide to write a children’s book called Enso to take my mind out of horror and sci-fi for a while (it’s a dark, dark place; a place I nearly left completely). I wanted to write something my kids (okay, not my kids, but my wife’s kids) could read, something other parent’s kids could read, something dark, but less dark. The book was illustrated beautifully by L.A. Spooner, who also illustrated At the Lazy K . I decided to do a signed/limited print run for these, so only 100 were ever made. I still have a dozen or so if you want a copy, but they are mostly gone. I tend to give these out to families with small children. It’s basically four children’s fables about the circle of life, but with my nonlinear spin.

Inkblots and Blood SpotsI keep telling myself that someday I’ll return to my own writing. I have two published novels under my name: Palindrome Hannahand Phoenix Rose, as well as two short story and poetry collections, Scales and Petals, (you can find all of these on the tabs at the top of the main www.nettirw.com page), and most recently Inkblots and Blood Spots (pictured), which hold some of my best work (and yes, you can purchase a copy if you want to make me happy). I don’t write a lot (maybe two or three stories per year on a good year), but people seem to like my writing when I decide to use my brain to craft something of my own, books that are mine. Inkblots was illustrated throughout by Daniele Serra, featured an introduction by Douglas E. Winter, and had some nice blurbs by some pretty awesome individuals. Villipede Publications did a great job putting this together. When I get around to it, I’ll finish novel #3, Psychotropic Dragon (which I’ve been working on for over 10 years), as well as a new mainstream novel I’ve started called Seen in Distant Stars. Other than that, I’m only writing short fiction when invited into certain anthologies, and only by certain people. I just don’t have the time otherwise …

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00009]And then The Library of the Dead fell into my lap. This project was originally conceived by Gene O’Neill and Gord Rollo. I was brought on as a co-editor, and then the publisher asked if I’d be the sole editor, and then later asked if I’d take on the project entirely, which of course I did. So, I put everything I had into this thing. I visited the real library of the dead, a place called Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland, California, took a photo-shoot of the place (see that awesome cover?), forked out just about all the money I had left in my bank account, worked with some amazing contributors, worked with GAK, who illustrated the entire book based on my photography, included some of that photography throughout the book, wrote a tie-in piece called “The Librarian” to guide the reader through the labyrinth … and then something terrible happened. J.F. Gonzalez died, one of the book’s contributors, and so we dedicated the book to him, added additional artwork, and an afterword by Mary SanGiovanni. The anthology won the Bram Stoker Award, and a few others. I’m damn proud of this book, and damn proud of everyone who helped bring this book together. It’s recouped about half of what it cost to build, but I think it’s worth it. Dark Regions Press has recently re-released the book in trade paperback, with a limited deluxe hardbound (illustrations in color) in the works, which sold out basically over night.

CHIRAL MAD 3 - DRP EditionThen came Chiral Mad 3, which was the first book released by Written Backwards as an imprint of Dark Regions Press. Yes, we joined forces, and it was a wonderful collaboration (I’ll get back to collaborations later …) And yes, please click the link and purchase a copy to support us. You will not be disappointed. I pulled every string I could find for this book, and it stands as the most expensive book I have ever made to date, by far. Like, lots of money. I used all my super powers to make this one happen. The entire anthology is illustrated by the legendary Glenn Chadbourne, features an introduction by the one and only Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club), with stories by some of the best in the business, including Jack Ketchum, Stephen King, and, as with all my anthologies, it’s filled with a diverse group of both established, semi-established, and never-before-established writers. But I had to do something different with this book. Yes, there are 45 illustrations. Yes, these books keep getting bigger and bigger. But this time around, I needed more poetry. Lots of poetry. The book is structured chirally, story-poem-story-poem-story, all the way through. It’s a beautiful book. And I keep telling myself, as I do with all of these books, that there’s nothing I can improve upon. Nothing I can do differ–wait …

full coverYou, Human. That’s right, as part of Dark Regions Press’ return to science fiction, I’ve taken on two additional projects. One of these is Other Music, the debut novel by Marc Levinthal, which features an introduction by John Skipp and will be released sometime in August. The other is You, Human, the first science fiction anthology by Dark Regions Press in who knows how long. I pulled out all the tricks for this one as well, playing off Asimov’s I, Robot, but with a human twist, and three new Laws of Humanity. In fact, the anthology features an introduction on humanism by F. Paul Wilson, as well as dark science fiction and poetry by some of the best in the business. This will be released either late this summer or early this fall by Dark Regions Press.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00074]And I can’t forget Paul Michael Anderson’s first fiction collection, a beautiful book called Bones Are Made to be Broken, which will be released in trade paperback, ebook, and signed limited/deluxe hardback this fall by Dark Regions Press. I’ve published Paul in nearly every one of my anthologies, because he’s that damn good. And now all of his best short fiction (as well as a new novella written specifically for this book) come together in Bones Are Made to Be Broken. You do not want to miss this collection. As always, I am putting everything I have behind this book, because the spine of this book is made to be broken, by you, reading every story over and over again.

The Cal Wild ChroniclesAnd of course there’s the 4-book magnum opus by the legendary, genre-bending master of fantasy, horror, and science fiction. The Cal Wild Chronicles is a 4-book series of trade paperbacks I’m putting together for the one and only Gene O’Neill, which includes The Confessions of St. Zach (with an introduction by John R. Little), The Burden of Indigo (with an introduction by Lisa Morton), The Near Future (with an introduction by Meghan Arcuri), and The Far Future (with an introduction by Scott Edelman). Each book is beautifully illustrated by Orion Zangara, and each book, when put together completes the wonderful puzzle that is Cal Wild. In fact, when you put the spines together, they create the Rainbow Man from the series, and when you place either the fronts or backs of these books side-by-side-by-side-by-side, you complete yet another puzzle. Later this year, Dark Regions Press will publish the entire series within a single volume, which you can pre-order at darkregions.com.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00094]And before we get to Chiral Mad 4, I should mention the anthology that started it all, Pellucid Lunacy. This was the first anthology ever published by Written Backwards, and the cover featured a painting of the arachnid/human skeleton from my dreams that originally spawned the idea for the novel Psychotropic Dragon. Well, enough time has gone by, that the series deserves a reboot. So, as soon as thing slow down a bit (if they ever do), we will re-release this title through the Written Backwards imprint of Dark Regions Press to give this thing more legs. The cover will be getting a reboot as well, as you can tell from this new cover.

But what about Chiral Mad 4. Everyone wants there to be a Chiral Mad 4!

So here’s the deal. The entire writing community has been at war with one another for far too long. Finger-pointing, harassment, racism, bigotry, accusations (both false and allegedly true), people talking about people killing people, politicking, all that social justice bulls**t that seems to be tearing this writing community apart one writer at a time, senseless/endless arguing, blocking, unfriending, blah blah blah … It’s a mess. So here’s what we do … This is how we can (strike that), this is how you can make Chiral Mad 4 happen:

If, and this is a big if, you want CHIRAL MAD to continue, this is how it’s going to happen for a fourth volume. This is not a call for submissions at this time. This is simply an idea. This has the potential of either ending something that was once great (in a big fiery ball of flame), or continuing the evolution of something much greater.

You have to collaborate. You have to work together.

These would be the rules for Chiral Mad 4 (if the anthology were to happen):

  1. Each work has to be a collaboration by more than one individual.
  2. More than two collaborators may be part of the same collaboration (3 or 4 authors writing a story, for example, or more than 2 collaborators working on the same graphic/comic piece)
  3. The more unique the collaboration, the better. (Have someone in mind you’ve always wanted to work with but were too afraid to ask, then that’s most likely the person with whom you should collaborate)
  4. Unique collaborations will go to the top of the reading pile.
  5. Diverse collaborations will go to the top of the top of the reading pile.
  6. No pseudonyms (unless you publish under that pseudonym regularly), and no collaborating with your own pseudonym.
  7. Absolutely no gratuitous sex, violence, abuse, rape …
  8. Play nice.

This is what will be ultimately accepted for Chiral Mad 4 (if the anthology were to happen):

  1. 4 collaborative novellas (15,000 – 20,000 words)
  2. 4 collaborative novelettes (8,000 – 10,000 words)
  3. 4 collaborative short stories (3,000 – 5,000 words)
  4. 4 collaborative short stories adapted to graphic/comic format (1,000-1,500 words, 10-12 pages max)

That’s 16 projects total, and yes, that’s a hefty word count when you add the numbers. This could turn into a part 1 / part 2, depending on word count. There will most likely be a Kickstarter or Indigogo campaign to help fund this project if there is enough demand, and payment would be made close to publication date, most likely late 2017, because:

Payment would be as follows (if the anthology were to happen):

  1. novellas – $0.05 per word, $1,000 max (split between collaborators)
  2. novelettes – $0.05 per word, $500 max (split between collaborators)
  3. short stories – $0.05 per word, $250 max (split between collaborators)
  4. graphic/comic stories – $50 per page, $500 max (split between collaborators)

Play nice.

Collaborate.

Make something beautiful.

Email cm4@nettirw.com for more information, questions about collaborations, etc.

And if you want to keep seeing volumes of CHIRAL MAD year after year, please purchase a copy of volumes 1, 2, and 3. Tell our friends. Tell your family. Help spread the word about these anthologies (as well as other Written Backwards / Dark Regions Press anthologies), because that’s how we stay in business and keep producing such fine books.

Coming soon, a collaboration with L.A. Spooner to adapt my short story “Plasty” from Scales and Petals.

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LIARS, FAKERS, AND THE DEAD WHO EAT THEM – ALLEVON #2

I have been holding onto this announcement for a while now, and I know some of you have been waiting ever so patiently, but I can finally announce the next book in the ALLEVON series by Written Backwards. If you’re not familiar with ALLEVON, these are smaller, illustrated, trade paperbacks from some of the best writers of speculative fiction working today. The name of the series is “novella” in reverse (What else would you expect from a imprint of Dark Regions Press called Written Backwards?), and focuses on original fiction under 40,000 words.  The first book in the series, At the Lazy K, by Gene O’Neill (an award-winning writer of science fiction, fantasy, and horror), was a novella published in May 2015, and featured illustrations by L.A. Spooner, as well as an introduction by Rena Mason.

So, how do you follow a book that is part western, part ghost story, part drug-rehabilitation, and a literary, multi-genre exploration into the rich cultural history of northern California?

With something unexpected.

Zombies.

Liars, Fakers, and the Dead Who Eat Them by Scott Edelman is officially the next book in the ALLEVON series! Liars, Fakers, and the Dead Who Eat Them is a collection of two zombie novelettes that dance together in a wonderfully-horrific, undead embrace. This second book in the series will be illustrated throughout by British Fantasy Award winning artist Daniele Serra, who is responsible for creating the incredible cover below. And, of course, Scott Edelman is a gem. The book will collect two original novelettes: “Only Humans Can Lie” and “Faking It Until Forever Comes.”

Since I’ve been holding onto this announcement for a while, this also means I’ve been working on this book for a while, and so it’s nearly finished. Yes, if everything goes well, expect a mid- to late-August release date!

More information coming soon!

Allevon #2

 

 

YOU, HUMAN

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What does it mean to be alive? What does it mean to be real? What does it mean to exist? And most importantly, what does it mean to be human? You, Human, Michael Bailey’s first science fiction anthology for Dark Regions Press, will tackle those heavy questions. Twenty-four mind-bending works by some of the best in the business explore humanism through science fiction’s various sub-genres, split into three sections by poetic law.

The Three Laws of Humanity:

  1. A human being may not injure another human being or, through inaction, allow another human being to come to harm.
  2. A human being must obey the orders given it by other human beings except where such orders would conflict with the first law.
  3. A human being must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second laws.

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Bram Stoker Award winning editor Michael Bailey brings sci-fi back to Dark Regions Press with heart in this genre-bending anthology of dark science fiction and poetry. With fiction illustrated beautifully throughout by world-renowned artist L.A. Spooner, with poetry and spot illustrations supplied by the always-impressive Orion Zangara, and with an incredible introduction on humanism by New York Times bestselling author F. Paul Wilson (Panacea, the Repairman Jack series), Asimov’s three laws of robotics are re-evaluated and revised to help define humanity.

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“I think we can all agree that consciousness, self-awareness, and sentience – the capacity for subjective feelings and perceptions – are indispensable to humanness. The comingling and interaction of all three lead to sapience – the capacity to act with reason and judgment. Apes and dolphins are considered sentient, but not sapient.  Sapience builds civilizations.” – from Wilson’s introduction to You, Human.

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Dark Regions Press makes a return to dark science fiction in this latest of illustrated anthologies by Michael Bailey, the person behind Pellucid Lunacy, the first two volumes of Chiral Mad (1, 2), the Benjamin Franklin Award winning Qualia Nous, the Bram Stoker Award winning The Library of the Dead, and most recently Chiral Mad 3, which was illustrated throughout by legendary artist Glenn Chadbourne and which featured an introduction by Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club, Lullaby, Choke, et al).

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You, Human will contain the following works of fiction, which will be split into three sections (one for each of the three laws) by poetry. In no particular order:

  1. “I Am the Doorway” – Stephen King
  2. “Robot” – Mort Castle
  3. “101 Things to Do Before You’re Downloaded” – Scott Edelman
  4. “Cosmic Fair” – Darren Speegle
  5. “The Star-Filled Sea is Smooth Tonight” – Thomas F. Monteleone
  6. “Executive Functions” – Lucy A. Snyder
  7. “Hopium Den” – John Skipp
  8. “Dog at the Look” – B.E. Scully
  9. “Ditch Treasures” – Richard Chizmar
  10. “The Pretty Puppets” – Marc Levinthal
  11. “Pink Crane Girls” – Autumn Christian
  12. “The Cause” – Laura Lee Bahr
  13. “Keepsakes” – Hal Bodner
  14. “The Goldilocks Zone” – John R. Little
  15. “The Jupiter Drop” – Josh Malerman
  16. “Key to the City” – Cody Goodfellow
  17. “The Universe is Dying” – Paul Michael Anderson
  18. “Fallen Faces by the Wayside” – Gary A. Braunbeck
  19. “It Can Walk and Talk” – Dyer Wilk
  20. “What Goes Up Must Come Down” – Janet Harriett
  21. “The Immigrants” – Erik T. Johnson
  22. “Gumi-Bear” – Erinn L. Kemper
  23. “Unity of Affect” – Jason V Brock
  24. “The Fourth Law” – Marge Simon

Poetry will include the following, by Marge Simon:

  1. “In Accordance With the Laws”
  2. “Less Than Human”
  3. “Future Imperfect: Broken Laws”

Coming this fall from Dark Regions Press

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KNOW A NOMINEE

Prior to the Bram Stoker Awards ® this year, volunteers within the Horror Writers Association began a series of interviews called “Know a Nominee,” in which final ballot nominees of the various award categories were asked a series of questions to provide readers insights and information about the nominees and their work. Some of these interviews were posted on the official Horror Writers Association’s Facebook page (I’m not sure if any made it onto the HWA website or newsletter, as they have in the past) and for a while it was going well. This is typically a great series of interviews. Unfortunately, because this is a volunteer-run organization, life sometimes gets in the way for volunteers, and well-loved projects, like this one, get pushed to the back burner, forgotten like a pot of previously-boiled hot dogs found floating in cold water the next morning. My own interview was for The Library of the Dead, which was nominated (and eventually won) for Superior Achievement in an Anthology.

As it turns out, a handful of interviews took place this year (some posted, most not), and sometime between pre- and post-Stoker season this interview project sort of disappeared into the ether. A handful of interviewees (like me) were left scratching our heads, wondering if the interviews were ever going to be published as the first StokerCon drew near. And then that date flew by, and a few others, and then a dozen more. What happened to the interviews? Upon asking about this very question within the organization, this prompted more confusion among members: “I was never interviewed…” and “What happened with the Know a Nominee interviews?” and “Interviews?” and my own question of “Since the Know a Nominee interviews sort of fizzled out, can we post our interviews elsewhere so they don’t go wasted?” (or something like that). Apparently, not all nominees this year were interviewed, which is too bad… This is a fun part of the award season, where you really “get to know” the nominees in the various categories (hence the name). For me, this interview series is an opportunity to get to know those outside the con scene (which is where we really get to know each other).

Know a Nominee was left abandoned mid-stride this year because of understandable, unforeseen happenstances in the lives of organization volunteers (it happens), yet here we are now, well past StokerCon and the Bram Stoker Awards ®, and there are interviews waiting to be exposed. There are shriveled hot dogs floating in cold water at the back of the stove, and they either need to be reheated and finally served, stored for later consumption, or thrown out.

After reaching out to the Horror Writers Association, those interviewed (and still stuck in interview limbo) were told we could use these Know a Nominee interviews elsewhere on the interwebs, if we so pleased. Three options: throw it out, store for later, or reheat and serve now. Interviews take time away from other projects we could be working on, so why let them go to waste? Why not put them out there? Who cares if it’s still hot or not, luke-warm, cold… Okay, yeah, interviews are best served hot, but so what. Most of the forgotten interviews run between 1,000 and 2,000 words (I have only asked four others, so you will have to deal with that estimate); mine runs about 1,600. So, without further ado, here is my reheated, barely palpable Know a Nominee interview, which was conducted by Brock Cooper, a member of the Horror Writers Association.


Please describe the genesis for the idea that eventually became the work for which you’ve been nominated. What attracted you most to the project?

The Library of the Dead was conceived by the collaborative minds of a gruesome twosome: Gene O’Neill and Gord Rollo. They happened upon Chapel of the Chimes, a crematory and columbarium in Oakland, next to the beautiful Mountain View Cemetery. It’s a massive labyrinthine building, and within its walls are the ashes of over a hundred thousand of California’s dead, most of which are contained within incendiary urns on shelves reaching from floor to ceiling, three stories high. But these are not ordinary urns. Most are brass, or golden, and they are shaped like books, and because of the building’s unique interior design, most of the rooms (and their libraries) are lit naturally by the sun through stained glass, some entire rooms glowing gold. It’s a wonderful place, and I highly recommend putting it on your list to see if you’re in the California Bay Area. There are gardens inside, and fountains, and other treasures, but the books make this place unique. What if each “book” not only held the ashes of the dead, but their stories as well? What happens when opened? What if there’s a ghostly librarian who wanders the halls at night, a caretaker of sorts? That’s the premise of the anthology Gene and Gord wanted to make. Somehow it landed in my lap. And somehow I was convinced to write “The Librarian,” the intertwining story linking the tales together. And now I’m proud to see a book about this library of the dead nominated for the Bram Stoker Award ® for anthologies, along with the story/introduction by Norman Partridge called “Special Collections,” which is up for long fiction.

What was the most challenging part of bringing the concept to fruition? The most rewarding aspect of the process? 

Each story in the anthology is something unique, written by different writers with entirely different voices, and some collaborative, such as Mary SanGiovanni and Brian Keene’s “The Last Thing’s to Go,” or “Fault Lines” by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon. Different ashes. Different stories. Each golden book within the library had to contain a different story that needed opening, with characters ultimately finding their way back to the library, and that was the only common ground when I first started this book. Bringing the stories together into something cohesive required stylistic illustrations (which were created to perfection by the wonderful GAK) to help fuel the reader’s imagination, and photography of the real library of the dead in California, as well as “The Librarian” piece to help tie the stories together, which is its own story within the anthology. As you move through the book, this second-person narrative guides you along, your own personal librarian pulling golden books from shelves and opening them for you as you are guided from room to room, exploring the ‘tales the ashes tell’ (which happens to be the final story by Gary A. Braunbeck), until you realize you’re not only lost within the labyrinth of golden books, but becoming part of the library itself. The anthology contains black and white photography I took of Chapel of the Chimes, and 17 original illustrations by GAK (all inspired by the photography; if you look closely, you’ll see some of it captured within the art). All of these things had to be fused together seamlessly to make The Library of the Dead, which turned out to be quite a beautiful golden book. The most rewarding aspect of this process? Well, the book can be read like a novel, with each unique story serving as a different chapter of something larger. Something difficult that happened along the way was the loss of J.F. Gonzalez, to whom the book is dedicated. One of his final stories is in this book, called “It’s Getting Closer,” and GAK created a special illustration for him at the end of the book.

What do you think good horror/dark literature should achieve? How do you feel the work for which you’ve been nominated fits into or helps give shape to that ideal?

All good literature, dark or not, should move the reader emotionally. Good literature should fling one’s emotional state around until left exhausted. Without emotion, we are nothing. Horror, when done well, evokes fear, dread, uneasiness, terror, anxiety, all sorts of things … And when done well, the reader shouldn’t even notice it’s happening to them until it’s too late, until they set the book down, perhaps swearing a single word under their breath. All they know is that the pages kept flipping by as they got battered and got lost in the story (or stories), which is the whole point of a book. Good literature should spark memories: loss, pain, hope, failure, redemption, sacrifice, and I could go on for pages and pages about everything a book should do to its reader, but I won’t. What I think makes The Library of the Dead work so well is that it makes the reader part the book itself, pulls them along from tale to tale, and I think that’s why so many people have reacted positively. Some readers skip around anthologies, looking for familiar names or whatnot, reading those stories first before reading others, and some jump from story to story in no particular order. If you do that with The Library of the Dead, you are missing out. The book is designed to be read from cover to cover, first page to last page. The book is a journey, and the reader is part of the journey. They should be pulled inside this golden book and trapped inside with its ashes.

I’m curious about your writing and/or editing process. Is there a certain setting or set of circumstances that help to move things along? If you find yourself getting stuck, where and why?

Both my writing and editing processes are chaotic and should not be studied. My work is sporadically prolific, and periodically dormant. It’s probably unhealthy. If I find myself stuck, it means I’m not doing something right and should either do something else, or start over. Sometimes listening to music helps motivate the creative process.

As you probably know, many of our readers are writers and/or editors. What is the most valuable piece of advice you can share?

Create the most beautiful thing you can possibly create. It’s as simple as that. When you die, what do you want to leave in your wake? What do you want to be remembered for creating, a half-assed story everyone’s read before, a half-assed book no one remembers, or something completely original, something that cannot be easily forgotten?

If you’re attending WHC this year, what are you most looking forward to at this year’s event? If not attending, what do you think is the significance of recognitions like the Bram Stoker Awards?

I’m not sure I’ll make WHC this year [note: I ultimately did, and was able to spend some time holding the ashes of the great Richard Laymon], but I plan to attend StokerCon. I look forward to hanging out with those I’ve connected with over the years. I’m planning a signing event for The Library of the Dead, as well as the launching the next anthology, Chiral Mad 3. About half of the contributors in those anthologies will be attending StokerCon. Should be fun.

What scares you most? Why? How (if at all) does that figure into your work or the projects you’re attracted to? 

Memory loss scares me more than anything. Alzheimer’s. Much of my work (both my own fiction/poetry, and those I publish) is considered psychological horror. Losing one’s mind, one’s thoughts, one’s memories of who and what made them what they are … that is the most terrifying thing I can think of happening to a person, and I constantly wonder if it will happen to me. I guess that’s why I put a lot of myself in my writing. Every story I publish, whether mine or another’s, holds a different part of me, something that moved me emotionally, something I’ve pondered, a thought, a feeling, an instance. If I someday lose those memories that made me, I hope I’ll at least be able to read about those parts of me, whether I know it’s me or not.

What are you reading for pleasure lately? Can you point us to new authors or works we ought to know about? 

I don’t have as much time to read for pleasure as I’d like, so I guess I’m picky, a bit eclectic since most of what I read is unpublished. Read my anthologies and you’ll see a trend of new, emerging talent. Among the staples everyone should be reading, such as Ketchum, Braunbeck, Castle, Morrell, O’Neill and Edelman, look for work by those who have recently knocked my socks off with their writing: Josh Malerman, Emily B. Cataneo, Paul Michael Anderson, Erik T. Johnson, Damien Angelica Walters, Erinn L. Kemper, Meghan Arcuri, Mercedes M. Yardley (notice the amount of female voices in this list), Stephanie M. Wytovich, Autumn Christian, Laura Lee Bahr, Jon Michael Kelley, Christian A. Larsen, Usman T. Malik. How many names do you want? How about some voices I’ve recently discovered that have been around for a while, but I find quite remarkable: Jason V Brock, Hal Bodner, Darren Speegle, Lucy A. Snyder, Richard Chizmar, Michael McBride … I could seriously go on for a while. A full list of who you should be reading can be found in the anthologies I publish through Written Backwards and Dark Regions Press: all three Chiral Mad volumes, The Library of the Dead, Qualia Nous, the upcoming You, Human

Thank you in advance for your time and participation. 

 

BRAM STOKER AWARDS ® – THE LIBRARY OF THE DEAD

THE LIBRARY OF THE DEAD - DRP Edition* UPDATE: pre-order for the deluxe signed/limited edition of The Library of the Dead sold out within the first 24 hours, but the trade paperback is still on sale for 33% off at Dark Regions Press.

The Library of the Dead took home the Bram Stoker Award ® for Superior Achievement in an Anthology at the inaugural StokerCon in Las Vegas, NV, hosted by the Horror Writers Association.

I’m still in shock, and at a loss for words, so I’ll keep this short. StokerCon was quite an event, with a book-signing/release for both Chiral Mad 3 (which sold out!) and The Library of the Dead  (which moved quite a lot of copies). Many contributors from both anthologies were available and signed copies like mad. We filled out a bunch of  tip/signature sheets for the future deluxe limited editions coming soon from Written Backwards / Dark Regions Press, including Chiral Mad 3, The Library of the Dead, You Human (the first science fiction anthology in a long time from DRP), The Cal Wild Chronicles (Gene O’Neill), and Other Music (Marc Levinthal). The best way I can describe this mass-signing chaos is through pictures, which you can find at the end of this post.

CHIRAL MAD 3 - DRP Edition

A few copies of the deluxe signed/limited hardbound edition of Chiral Mad 3 remain, which can be pre-ordered by clicking the cover image above; this will be signed by everyone involved, except for King. Chuck Palahniuk, Glenn Chadbourne, and all other contributors will be signing these books, so you will want to pick up a copy. The trade paperback is available for purchase now if you don’t want to wait that long.

As for the conference, I served on only one panel this year alongside fellow anthologists Ellen Datlow, Thomas F. Monteleone, and Stephen Jones, attended a few readings, and kicked back to enjoy the company of longtime friends alongside my better half, Kelly Rumble (who for some reason thinks we’re getting married in a few weeks). Some of the highlights of this ultra-packed weekend include hanging out (lunches and drinks and aftermath shenanigans of celebratory Irish Car Bombs) with mentors Tom Monteleone and F. Paul Wilson (who Kelly Laymon calls ‘Pauly’), my own past HWA mentoree, Meghan Arcuri (an excellent writer), and one of the best damn female voices writing today, Erinn Kemper. And who can forget the wonderful Jack Ketchum, who I was able to dine/drink with on two occasions over the last few weeks (thanks to the World Horror Convention two weeks prior). And of course Gene O’Neill, who is always a treat, meeting Scott Edelman for the first time (after publishing a few of his works), as well as hanging with Hal Bodner, Jason V Brock, Stephanie Wytovich, Weston Ochse, Yvonne Navarro, Mercedes Yardley, Marge Simon, Lucy Snyder, Eric Guignard, Rena Mason, and I’m sure I’m missing a few names here, but basically a who’s-who of Written Backwards titles. The most horrific part of weekend was standing in front of a room packed full of my peers to accept not only one Bram Stoker Award ® for The Library of the Dead, but a second statue on behalf of Mort Castle, Sam Weller, Chris Ryall, and Carlos Guzman for Shadow Show: Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury, which won for Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel. So many great memories… One of the most bizarre, perhaps, was accepting both awards on behalf of Brian Keene, who could not be there (an inside joke).

13179348_10206412283767871_5977074888684614861_nTo help celebrate the Stoker, Dark Regions Press is offering 30% off the trade paperback edition of The Library of the Dead, as well as on pre-orders for the deluxe signed/limited hardbound edition to be released later this year (limited to 26 lettered A-Z). Click the book either above or below, or click here, and enter BRAMSTOKERAWARD as your coupon code when checking out for a 30% discount. If you prefer Amazon, or you run into any problems, you can find it here.

Anyway, the chaos I promised…

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THE LIBRARY OF THE DEAD - DRP Edition