YEAR OF THE DRAKEIN

Year of the Dragon will not return until 2024, but next year, 2018, will hopefully be the year I unleash Drakein upon the world, a project I’ve been working on for over ten years. Drakein-5 is a hallucinatory street drug taken in the form of eye drops, and the fuel behind Psychotropic Dragon, the composite novel / meta-novel I’m co-writing with _________________ (name withheld).

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Basically, it’s a novelette wrapped around a novella wrapped around a short novel, illustrated throughout by the likes of Daniele Serra, Glenn Chadbourne, L.A. Spooner, and Ty Schuerman. This book is going to be completely insane. One of the darkest projects I’ve ever attempted. Currently there are over 50 illustrations: some full-page, some half-page, some swimming on and off the page.

The novelette is 10,000 words, the novella will be 20,000, and the short novel portion is around 45,000. Here’s a snip-it from the novel:

 

She remembered holding the syringe that first time, hands trembling. Such a small thing—a third the size of your typical medicinal syringe, the needle a quarter-inch long. Smaller than a cigarette. “Looks like water,” she had said to Chase. The clear liquid inside appeared iridescent under direct sunlight, as if having an oily consistency. She heard it turned bluish-green under black lights. “What happens if I take more than two drops?” Chase had looked away, then, smiling out of the corner of his mouth. “It’s like any drug. Affects each differently. Two drops, no more. It’ll last a couple hours max, and then it’s back to earth. After you level, you can take more.

 

What’s a composite novel? “A composite novel is a literary work composed of shorter texts that—though individually complete and autonomous—are interrelated in a coherent whole according to one or more organizing principles.”

Who is my collaborator? Well, that has to be kept a secret for now, but know that it is someone well-loved in the writing community. Perhaps someone you might not expect.

Some of you have been waiting a long time for this book, so I’m going into overdrive to finally make it happen. Here’s a snip-it of the novelette, in case you can’t wait that long.

 

Somnambulism. That’s what my psychiatrist calls it. Differentiating between dream state and reality is often difficult, which is probably part of the reason for the sleep deprivation. A fear of falling asleep. What if I don’t wake up? What if I can’t wake up? What if the reality I think I know is the dream, or vice versa?

What can you expect out of this book? Expect the unexpected. Expect to be knocked completely out of your socks. Expect to become part of the book, hallucinating from your own dose of Drakein. This book is a trip.

Psychotropic Dragon is a unique collaboration. Along with the writing, this strange book has had many assists along the way. Jack Ketchum, John Skipp, Gary A Braunbeck, Douglas E. Winter, Thomas F. Monteleone, F. Paul Wilson … all have helped this book become something special.

That’s all I can reveal for now, along with Ketchum’s full blurb:

 

Psychotropic Dragon is addictive, scary, and at times, mind-blowing. But it’s the human element that keeps you turning the pages, the wounds to the psyche which we recognize immediately. The human element … and a fierce narrative style. – Jack Ketchum

ADAM’S LADDER – 100% FUNDED!

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Thanks to your help, Adam’s Ladder is now completely funded! This next anthology by Written Backwards has raised enough funds to pay all contributors professional rates for their work.

The book will be released in trade paperback and eBook in mid-October, and in deluxe hardback the following month. There is still time to pre-order one of the signed & numbered deluxe hardbacks, but these are very limited (only 100 ever produced). What now? Well, we still have about 20 days remaining in the campaign, which means we are on our way to unlocking free books!

When the campaign reaches $7,000 (less than $450 away), campaign backers will receive a free trade paperback of the first Written Backwards anthology, Pellucid Lunacy (10th anniversary edition), and when it reaches $8,000, this unlocks another free trade paperback of the (to-be-revealed) next book in the illustrated Allevon series (I’ll give you a hint: it’s a short novel). So, keep the pre-orders coming, help us reach our unlock goals (which are close!), and you will get some free books to go along with your copy of Adam’s Ladder.

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Basically, if you pre-order a deluxe hardback now (or if you already have), you will get 2 free additional trade paperback books when we reach these goals.

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ADAM’S LADDER – 82% FUNDED!

Update, as of 11:00am, 09/20/17: We are nearly there!

Adam’s Ladder is now 82% funded, thanks to your generosity, and to an incredibly lucky campaign backer who snagged the signed Stephen King book. Along with pre-ordering in eBook, trade paperback, and deluxe hardback, there are a few editing and book design packages available, but they are going fast. There is even a $4 option for coffee lovers, and rare/signed books available now and again throughout the campaign. Help us get to 100% so we can bring this book to life! Once completely funded, unlocks will be made available to offer campaign-backers free books as our way of saying thanks!

To see how you can help, click the image below, or anywhere you see Adam’s Ladder. This is an all-or-nothing campaign. Written Backwards has taken over production of this book from another publisher, so pre-orders are vital in bringing this book to life, and to assure that writers and artists are paid professionally for their work. Upon reaching 100% funding, Adam’s Ladder will immediately go into print production, with trade paperbacks and ebooks available in October, and the  hardbacks in November. So, you won’t have to wait long to receive your books.

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If you are thinking about pre-ordering the deluxe hardback, please note that only 100 of these will ever be produced, so they will be quite the collector’s item. The 100-numbered limited hardcover edition of Adam’s Ladder, signed by editors Michael Bailey and Darren Speegle, will be bound in black leatherette, with silver foil stamping on the cover and spine, a full-color wraparound dust jacket, and printed on 60# natural offset paper. Those pre-ordering the hardback will also receive a trade paperback of Adam’s Ladder, as well as the eBook. And if we reach our unlock goals, you can expect up to two additional free trade paperback books and an eBook of the next anthology by Written Backwards, for as little as $95.

Support small press, and we will keep cranking out quality fiction!

The full Table of Contents includes:

“Ch-ch-changes” – Chaz Brenchley
“Filigree, Minotaur, Cyanide, Bloom” – Damien Angelica Walters
“How He Helped” – Ramsey Campbell
“Spirits” – Gene O’Neill
“The Mythic Hero Most Likely to Squeeze a Stone” – B.E. Scully
“My Father, Dr. Frankenstein” – John Langan
“Undersound” – Mark Morris
“A Laughing Matter” – Erinn L. Kemper
“The Serile” – Paul Meloy
“Eyes of the Beholders” – Lisa Morton
“Strings” – Tim Lebbon
“Sliced Bread” – Jeffrey Thomas
“I Will Be the Making of You” – Rena Mason
“Nameless Citizen” – Brian Evenson
“Painting the Burning Fence” – Roberta Lannes
“Pitty This Busy Monster Not” – Scott Edelman
“An End to Perpetual Motion” – Mark Samuels
“Swift to Chase” – Laird Barron

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ADAM’S LADDER PRE-ORDER CAMPAIGN!

Written Backwards is taking over the production of Adam’s Ladder, an anthology of dark science fiction co-edited by Michael Bailey and Darren Speegle, but we need your help to bring this book to life!

To help fund this project, an Indiegogo campaign has been established and will now through October 15th. This is an all-or-nothing campaign, so help out if you can. Full funding will assure that all contributors receive professional payment for their work. And upon funding, campaign backers won’t have to wait long to receive their book orders. The trade paperback and eBook  are scheduled for release in mid- to -late-October, with the deluxe hardback available in November.

Click the Adam’s Ladder cover below to visit the Indiegogo campaign.

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What is to Become of Humankind?

The future of humankind as an ever-changing organism is a subject of much debate. Where is our evolutionary path leading? Will the next rung take the form of mental transcendence, will it set humankind on a course toward divinity, or will this uncertain path involve a dark and terrible reversion?  Co-editors Michael Bailey and Darren Speegle present eighteen tales of dark science fiction that explore the course of evolution, written by some of the best literary minds in the fields of science fiction and horror:

  • Laird Barron – “Swift to Chase”
  • Chaz Brenchley – “Ch-ch-changes”
  • Ramsey Campbell – “How He Helped”
  • Scott Edelman – “Pity this Busy Monster Not”
  • Brian Evenson – “Nameless Citizen”
  • Erinn L. Kemper – “A Laughing Matter”
  • John Langan – “My Father, Dr. Frankenstein”
  • Roberta Lannes – “Painting the Burning Fence”
  • Tim Lebbon – “Strings”
  • Rena Mason – “I Will Be the Making of You”
  • Paul Meloy – “The Serile”
  • Mark Morris – “Undersound”
  • Lisa Morton – “Eyes of the Beholders”
  • Gene O’Neill – “Spirits”
  • Mark Samuels – “An End to Perpetual Motion”
  • B.E. Scully – “The Mythic Hero Most Likely to Squeeze a Stone”
  • Jeffrey Thomas – “Sliced Bread”
  • Damien Angelica Walters – “Filigree, Minotaur, Cyanide, Bloom”

Adam’s Ladder will be published in eBook, trade paperback, and in a 100-numbered / limited edition (signed by its editors, Michael Bailey and Darren Speegle).

Does it have a book trailer?

Click this image below:

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What will the trade paperback look like?

Something like this:

What is to Become of Written Backwards?

Over the last ten years, Written Backwards has published multiple award-winning anthologies, fiction collections, and standalone novels and novellas, ranging from dark science fiction to horror. Previous anthologies include the Bram Stoker Award-winning The Library of the Dead, the Benjamin Franklin Award winning (and Stoker nominated) Qualia Nous, and three volumes of Chiral Mad (the latest also up for a Stoker). Books published by Written Backwards have seen eight individual works nominated for the prestigious Bram Stoker Award, with three of those stories taking home the statue. Other stories/poems have been nominated for the Nebula, the Rhysling, and others. Foreword Reviews Book of the Year, the Indie Book Awards, the Independent Publisher Book Awards, the Eric Hoffer Book Award, the International Book Award … Written Backwards titles have seen over two dozen literary accolades over the years through its handful of titles! But we need your help bringing the next project to life: Adam’s Ladder.

With your help, Written Backwards can continue in its legacy to:

  1. Seek out diverse voices, both new and well-established.
  2. Pay writers, poets, and artists professional rates.
  3. Provide fair publishing contracts.
  4. Design and publish some of the most beautiful books imaginable.

What is to Become of this Campaign?

You’re probably wondering where your money will go for this particular campaign. Here’s the breakdown:

  • 63.64% – goes directly to the writers, which includes professional payment at a per-word rate, plus the cost of contributor copies for the various editions of the book.
  • 31.22% – goes directly to publication costs for the eBook, trade paperback, and hardback editions of the book.
  • 5.14% – covers shipping.
  • And that’s it. Zero profit will be made from this campaign. Any additional funds raised will go directly to future Written Backwards projects, some of which are already lined up as expansions/unlocks within this campaign.

This is an all-or-nothing campaign, so if it doesn’t reach it’s goal, the project gets canned. Anthologies (let’s face it), are expensive to make (but we all want them), mostly because there are so many incredible contributors involved. We need to raise $6,500 to make this book happen, so we’ve come up with some enticing perks.

And that’s how you can help …

Written Backwards has some tricks to bring you even more great (and FREE) books in the form of campaign unlocks and future anthologies.

 

Pellucid Lunacy was the first anthology published by Written Backwards, and after ten years, the book is getting a face-lift. When the campaign reaches $7,000, all backers (contributing $95 or higher) will receive a complimentary copy of the trade paperback!

The title and author of the third illustrated book in the Allevon series by Written Backwards will be revealed when the campaign reaches $8,000, and all backers (contributing $95 or higher) will receive a complimentary copy of the trade paperback.

The title and tentative cover of the next dark science fiction anthology by Written Backwards will be revealed when the campaign reaches $12,000, and all backers (contributing $95 or higher) will receive a complimentary digital copy in either PDF or EPUB.

[ to-be-announced ] will include fiction by:

Michael Marshall Smith
Ian Watson
Roberta Lannes
Scott Edelman
B.E. Scully
Lynda Rucker
Brian Evenson
Erinn L. Kemper
Chaz Brenchley
Tlotlo Tsamaase
Gene O’Neill
​Richard Thomas
Paul Meloy
… and others TBA

 

GOBLIN – A REVIEW OF JOSH MALERMAN’S LATEST CREATION

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Josh Malerman is the author of the novels Birdbox (nominated for both the Shirley Jackson Award and Bram Stoker Award®) and Black Mad Wheel, and his most recent book from Earthling Publications is a fragmented novel called Goblin. I was fortunate enough to receive an Advance Uncorrected Proof to read and review.

Why am I reviewing this? Well, Josh is an all around nice guy, and he happens to write incredible fiction. I adored his debut novel, Bird Box, and highly enjoyed the next, Black Mad Wheel (although I love the Brazilian title Red Piano (Piano Vermelho) perhaps more than I should). I have also had the opportunity of publishing a few of his shorter works, including “The Bigger Bedroom” in Chiral Mad 3, and his Stoker-nominated dark sci-fi novelette “The Jupiter Drop” in You, Human. And later this year, Dark Regions Press will be publishing Bird Box Special Editionwhich I had the pleasure of designing inside and out, and which contains a new tie-in novelette called “Bobby Knocks” (pre-order for the deluxe hardback edition has since sold out, but copies of the 500 signed / numbered edition are still available).

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Also, I am a big fan of fragmented novels, or meta-novels (all four of my own novels, published and yet-to-be-published, are in this strange format), so of course I took an interest in Goblin, “a novel in six novellas.”

The first page of the Advanced Uncorrected Proof, as well as the back cover, totes heavy praise for Malerman’s latest: “Goblin is a mesmerizing, terrifying tight-rope walk” from Clive Barker; “Malerman has created a Derry for a new generation” from Sarah Pinborough; “Goblin is another triumph from Josh Malerman” from Christopher Golden; and many others. So what kind of blurb would I give? How about this, something longer and encompassing his other works:

“Josh Malerman’s Bird Box is a mastery of fear, capable of holding breaths hostage until the very end, while Red Piano (yes, I’d use that title) reveals he’s not yet done holding our throats. He is a writer capable of forcing us to turn the page, turn the page, turn the page. Goblin is Malerman having absolute fun with his literary hand, an apology of sorts, to all of us, really, Josh saying “Here, have something  lighthearted to read for once, but while you’re at it, I’m going to keep you captive in this devilish little town I’ve created.” Stephen King gave us the end of his Castle Rock with Needful Things, and now Josh Malerman gives us his Goblin, yet it feels like a new beginning of this crazy town.”

So what is Goblin? At first I thought the book might be about goblins, something tongue-in-cheek, something not-so-Malerman, yet I was quickly pleased to discover Goblin is the name of a small town in which all six of the linked / intertwining novellas take place. In Goblin it rains, unrelentingly, and surrounding the town are the terrible North Woods, as green as the book’s cover, and living within the town limits is a great jelly bean assortment of odd characters.

A Man in Slices starts things off, about a young man in a love so deep he sends body parts through the mail to his girlfriend. This is followed by Kamp, a ghost story, of sorts, the title of which is the main character, who lives in a hollowed-out skeleton of an apartment and sleeps on a Plexiglas bed in fear of nightly visitations. Happy Birthday, Hunter! centers around a meat-themed birthday party for a man addicted to big-game hunting, with all the town invited, and his fascination to take down the endangered Great Owl of the North Woods. In Presto, a young boy learns real magic from a magician calling himself the Roman Emperor. The penultimate story, A Mix-up at the Zoo, is perhaps my favorite of the six, in which parallel stories about Dirk Rogers, who works at both the Goblin Slaughterhouse and the Goblin Zoo, clash during his emotional breakdown caused by working such odd jobs. Finally, The Hedges, probably my second favorite tale, is about Goblin’s biggest tourist attraction, a seemingly never-ending hedge maze crafted by a man’s struggling with loss. Each of these stories mesh, and are a hoot (I couldn’t help myself, since the Great Owl plays a big part in all of this).

Some of the most brilliant novels are titled after main characters, and Goblin is no different. The most addictive character, perhaps, is Goblin itself … a fun little town.

Goblin is available for pre-order from Earthling Publications (October 2017), and features beautiful cover artwork (pictured above) by Allison Laakko, an introduction by James A. Moore, and interior artwork by Glenn Chadbourne. You can find the pre-order page by clicking any of the Goblin links on this site, or by clicking on that glorious cover.

If you are a fan of Josh Malerman, you will want a copy of this book.

ADAM’S LADDER

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ADAM’S LADDER, a dark science fiction anthology I co-edited with Darren Speegle, is coming soon from Dark Regions Press. This is the follow-up to DRP’s highly successful return to science fiction with last year’s anthology, You, Human, and Marc Levinthal’s debut novel, Other Music. We’re hoping for an August release for the trade paperback edition.

Table of Contents includes:

“Ch-ch-changes” – Chaz Brenchley
“Filigree, Minotaur, Cyanide, Bloom” – Damien Angelica Walters
“How He Helped” – Ramsey Campbell
“Spirits” – Gene O’Neill
“The Mythic Hero Most Likely to Squeeze a Stone” – B.E. Scully
“My Father, Dr. Frankenstein” – John Langan
“Undersound” – Mark Morris
“A Laughing Matter” – Erinn L. Kemper
“The Serile” – Paul Meloy
“Eyes of the Beholders” – Lisa Morton
“Strings” – Tim Lebbon
“Sliced Bread” – Jeffrey Thomas
“I Will Be the Making of You” – Rena Mason
“Nameless Citizen” – Brian Evenson
“Painting the Burning Fence” – Roberta Lannes
“Pity this Busy Monster Not” – Scott Edelman
“An End to Perpetual Motion” – Mark Samuels
“Swift to Chase” – Laird Barron

What is to become of man?

CHIRAL MAD 3 – ACCOLADES

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Chiral Mad 3 was recently announced as a winner in the Fiction: Anthologies category of the International Book Awards, so a hearty congratulations to all contributors.

Written Backwards titles recognized for the International Book Awards include:

The anthology was also nominated for a Bram Stoker Award® for Superior Achievement in an Anthology, and is currently a Finalist for Foreword Review’s Book of the Year Awards, also known as the Indies/IndieFab, with winners to be announced June 24th.

And while the anthology was submitted for the Benjamin Franklin Awards, there was a mix-up and the book was judged as a children’s book in on of their young adult categories (quite funny), so the book will be re-entered properly next year.