Archive for November, 2012

THE NEXT BIG THING

I was invited by both Erik T. Johnson and P. Gardner Goldsmith to participate in what is becoming a viral blog-eruption of talent. It is an honor to be thought of as “the next big thing” by such magnificent authors. You can find Erik’s blog at eriktjohnson.net/blog.html, and Gardner’s at gardnergoldsmith.com. I likewise consider each of these gentlemen “the next big thing” in speculative fiction, and I urge you to online-stalk each, regularly follow their blogs, and seek out their published works. I have had the opportunity of publishing short stories by both of these fine talents. Gardner’s “Sigil” and Erik’s “The Apologies” appear in my most recent psychological horror anthology, Chiral Mad, and Erik’s “The Inconsolable Key Company ” appeared in my first anthology, Pellucid Lunacy. Read the linked blogs!

Now, on to the questions:

1. What is the working title of your next book?

I am currently working on novel number three, Psychotropic Dragon.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

Nearly twelve years ago, I dreamt about a girl with a tribal tattoo inked on her midsection. She was kneeling on the ground, naked, poised with her back arched and her arms held like a dragon unfolding its wings (attached pic). Without seeing the tattoo up close, I knew what it depicted. I awoke with that image burned into my mind. I somehow knew her as a troubled teen named Julie who took a psychotropic/hallucinogenic drug in the form of eye drops (even though none of this transpired in the dream). I rarely remember dreams, but this one stuck. This strange character has haunted me ever since. She wants to live on the page, and I haven’t let her. She showed some skin in my first novel, Palindrome Hannah, and she made an appearance or two in the follow-up, Phoenix Rose, and in a few of my short stories, but until now, I was afraid of giving her story life. Psychotropic Dragon is that story.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Horror. This one is a nonlinear psychological mind trip.

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

The closest I’ve seen to a Julie lookalike would have to be Keira Knightly. The first time I saw Domino, I thought the main character looked familiar. There’s a drug dealer named Chase who could be played easily by a witty Woody Harrison or Kevin Spacey. Julie’s mother could be Carrie-Anne Moss, and her father by anyone who can pull off sinister. Julie’s friend Frankie could be played by Kandyse McClure.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Enhanced by a psychotropic drug taken through the eyes, a troubled youth unravels her dark fantastic past to shed light on an ameliorate reality.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I will soon be looking for representation.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

The first “written” version of this story made it to paper in late 2009, and I’ve been editing and revising as I go along. I’m hoping to have a completed manuscript by early 2013. It typically takes me four years per novel, so I’m still on track.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

None that I can think of, which is sort of the point. I’ve been called the David Mitchell of horror, but that’s only because his work is extremely nonlinear like mine. The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum comes to mind because of the brutality and pacing.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Julie. It’s her story. I’m the vessel.

10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Readers of my first two novels will recognize some of the characters that weave in and out of this novel, including Aeron Stevenson from Palindrome Hannah, who has a big role in Psychotropic Dragon, as well as Hannah, Julie’s daughter. Horror greats such as Thomas F. Monteleone, F. Paul Wilson, Douglas E. Winter and John Skipp have all helped in this novel’s early development.

Who do I consider “the next big thing?”

There are many names to consider. If I had my choice, I’d write a paragraph about all thirty who deserve such recognition, but I can only choose three, so here they are, in no particular order:

Christian A. Larsen. I discovered Chris after he submitted his story “Mirror Moments” to the Chiral Mad anthology not long ago. After falling in love with his story and its delicate prose, I searched his name online and found his exlibrislarsen.com website, where he blogs regularly (side note: a similar thing happened after discovering Erik T. Johnson for the first time, who signed me up for “The Next Best Thing”). I am proud to be in the same table of contents as Chris in the forthcoming Zippered Flesh 2, where his story “The Little Things” will appear alongside Kealan Patrick Burke, W.D. Gagliani, Jezzy Wolfe, and yours truly. I am eager to read his story “The Talent’s in the Bones” in The Ghost is the Machine, where he rightfully belongs with authors such as Joe Hill, Eric J. Guignard and Jonathan Templar, as well as his story “724” in For When the Veil Drops. I look forward to hunting down Mr. Larsen’s other work. He is that good. And I look forward to publishing more of his stories in the future. How good is Christian A. Larsen? Jack Ketchum recently tweeted a line from Mr. Larsen’s “Mirror Moments”:  Kids see things differently; that’s why they make such great victims.” Larsen conveys powerful prose with minimal words.

R.B. Payne. I met Richard a long time ago at one of the Borderlands Press boot camps, where we battled with red pens and bled over pages until we realized we weren’t only fighting on the same side, but sparring, making each other better. And then we kept battling throughout the weekend, and again at another boot camp a few years later. Only recently have I really dug into his work as a fan, seeking out his publications. I must say, I have enjoyed every word. Lovecraft-inspired The Shadow of the Unknown is the first anthology to publish Richard alongside yours truly, and his story “The Laramie Tunnel” is one to remember. I personally invited Mr. Payne to Chiral Mad and was sent a story called “Cubicle Farm,” one of my quickest decisions. A third of the way through the initial read, a voice in my head was saying, “Yes, I like where this one’s going because I don’t know where it’s going. This one is definitely in the anthology.” To date, there are three official reviews of the anthology; two of these have mentioned “Cubicle Farm” as one of the standouts. Look forward to Payne.

Meghan Arcuri. What can I say about Meghan Arcuri? The palindrome ‘wow’ comes to mind. Meghan and I have met twice in person: first at Borderlands, and second at AnthoCon 2012, where she participated in the official release of Chiral Mad. She read part of her story “Inevitable” and held everyone on the edge of their seats. She then shared that “Inevitable” was her first publication, and that it was her first reading. (side note: this is also her first horror story). This floored everyone. Over the conference weekend, many notable authors approached asking, “Where did you find her? She’s incredible!” and publishers asking “Do you think she’d send something to me?” She amazed Gary A. Braunbeck with her reading, as well as Charles Day. Both mentioned to me how much they enjoyed her story. Meghan is an amazing new talent and my final author to consider as “The Next Big Thing”. I am glad to have met her and we’ve shared many hours together discussing the art of writing. R.B. Payne is to blame for our relationship, and I thank him wholeheartedly. He sent an email prior to submitting his story, a warning of sorts, letting me know Meghan would be sending me something: “She’s heading someplace serious as soon as she gets more writing chops. Anyway, just sayin’”

So, those are my three. Follow the links and seek them out. You will not be disappointed.

VIRAL MAD – PART 1

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, viral marketing has played a major role in the success of Chiral Mad thus far. So, to keep the virus spreading, I’ve collected a plethora of information about the anthology here, including some awards, reviews, and other promotion. Read and spread. That’s how it works.

First, the awards. Chiral Mad was recently listed as an Award finalist for the 2012 USA Best Book Awards by USA Book News, and in two separate categories: Anthologies: Fiction, and Best Cover Design: Fiction. It was also a finalist for the 2012 Halloween Book Fest Awards earlier this year.

Second, the official reviews. There will be a lot of reviews coming in for this anthology in the near future (and I’ve been asked three times this week for additional review copies… one in Italy, even), so I thought I’d collect them in various blogs as they arrive to keeps things simple for those that are interested and want to follow along. For those that choose to skim, I’ve created some review cliff notes below, although I’d recommend reading the reviews in their entirety.

Horror World review of Chiral Mad
“Get this book… as win/win as it gets.”
“Little slices of life as seen through a gaze set firmly askew.”

This is a great review of Chiral Mad by Horror World, and I couldn’t be happier. I am also noted as a recognizable name alongside Jack Ketchum, Gary Braunbeck, Gene O’Neill, Gary McMahon, Gord Rollo, and Jeff Strand, which is quite the honor. While I don’t quite agree I should be placed on the same virtual pedestal/ bookshelf as these amazing authors, it’s already been said and can’t be taken back! The review mentions Jack Ketchum’s “Amid the Walking Wounded,” (‘delivers the goods’), R.B. Payne’s “Cubicle Farm,” (‘hell of office drudgery examined with wonderful results’), Gary A. Braunbeck’s “Need,” (Braubeck never disappoints… weird and dark and downright depressing’), Gary McMahon’s “Some Pictures in an Album” (‘a reason to be frightened… plenty of paranoia’), and A.A. Garrison’s “The Bad Season” (‘a glimpse of a mad man’s mind’).

Hellnotes review of Chiral Mad
“Every contribution is well written and literate, most are highly compelling, and each is constructed with an entire test tube full of asymmetric molecules.”

Hellnotes offers another good review of Chiral Mad and I love the blurb. The review mentions R.B. Payne’s “Cubicle Farm,” Monica J. O’Rourke’s “Five Adjectives” (‘deceptively simple’), Gary McMahon’s “Some Pictures in an Album” (‘the ultimate tale of paranoid creepiness’), Gord Rollo’s “Lost in a Field of Paper Flowers” (‘punch-in-the-gut’), and Jeff Strand’s “A Flawed Fantasy” (‘quality snuff literature’). This review is kind of a mixed bag of tidbits, but it’s a good one.

Kirkus review of Chiral Mad
“A glimpse into the lives of people entering or already inhabiting the soul of darkness.”
“A compilation of entertaining, if often disturbing, stories.”
“Skillfully mixed and matched.”

Another good review (if you go by the blurbs above), provided by Kirkus Reviews, mentioning the many topics of horror and madness captured in the anthology: Monica J. O’Rourke’s “Five Adjectives” (‘things that can trigger madness’), Ian Shoebridge’s “White Pills” (‘tenuous perception of reality’), Meghan Arcuri’s “Inevitable” (‘sense of desperation’), Gord Rollo’s “Lost in a Field of Paper Flowers” (‘memories and the damage they can cause’), Chris Hertz’s “There are Embers” (‘sudden emergence of repressed memories’), Michael Bailey’s (yours truly) “Underwater Ferris Wheel (‘casually chilling’), Jeff Strand’s “A Flawed Fantasy” (‘gritty’), and Julie Stipes’ “Not the Child” (‘dreamlike’).

Third, fan reviews. Sometimes the best reviews are those by readers, so I’ve included reviews by both Goodreads and Amazon. If you’ve read Chiral Mad, I highly suggest that you write a review, even if it’s only a few words of positivity/negativity. Writers love reviews of all kinds. The more the merrier.

Goodreads reviews of Chiral Mad
“I’m not sure I’ve read another anthology that was as pleasingly edited as this one by Michael Bailey. It is chiral, by definition… There are thirty great reasons to buy this anthology. Twenty eight of them are the stories it contains, the twenty-ninth is the editing, and the thirtieth is because you need to be looking out for your fellow travelers on this planet.”

Amazon.com reviews of Chiral Mad
“A success story in the anthology department!”
“A perfect book for cuddling up with on a cold fall night. Each story is unique, spooky and thought provoking.”

There are currently two five-star reviews on Amazon. They specifically mention Gord Rollo’s “Lost in a Field of Paper Flowers,” Chris Hertz’s “There are Embers,” Gary Braubeck’s “Need,” Patrick O’Neill’s “Alderway,” P. Gardner Goldsmith’s “Sigil,” Jon Michael Kelley’s “The Persistence of Vision,” and Pat R. Steiner’s “The Shoe Tree.”

Fourth on the viral agenda are the various bloggings and tweetings, and facebookings:

Jack Ketchum has helped the virus spread by Tweeting a quote from the book (‘Kids see things differently; that’s why they make such great victims’ – Christian A. Larsen, “Mirror Moments”) and commenting on the book, calling it “a solid antho.” (thanks Jack!)

Speaking of Christian A. Larsen, he has been regularly blogging about Chiral Mad as well, which you can follow by clicking on his name. Not to mention some of the other contributors of Chiral Mad: John Palisano on his website and Erik T. Johnson at Yes Trespassing, Pat R. Steiner, A.A. Garrison at Synchroshock, Eric J. Guignard, Andrew Hook at Nitrospective, and the one and only P. Gardner Goldsmith.

Chiral Mad was recently featured on Darkeva’s Dark Delights Friday Fright Feature, mentioned as a well put together anthology for a worthy cause, with book information and a link to the book trailer.

If you are blogging about Chiral Mad without my knowledge and helping to spread the infection, I sincerely thank you, and I hope you reach out to me to let me know so I can mention it in VIRAL MAD – PART 2.

I think that’s it for now…

CHIRAL GLAD

CHIRAL MAD - COVER

Chiral Mad, the second psychological horror anthology by Written Backwards, has been out for just over a month now. Official publication date: 10/11/12. Unofficially, it was released at the second annual AnthoCon (hosted by The Four Horsemen) in New Hampshire exactly two weeks ago: 11/10/12, so it’s really only a few weeks old. We had a launch of the book with readings and signings by Gary A. Braunbeck, P. Gardner Goldsmith, Meghan Arcuri, Jon Michael Kelley, Patrick Lacey, and yours truly. To celebrate, 50 copies of the book were donated (purchased beforehand by a generous third-party, a $600 donation) and handed out via swag bags to the first 50 to register at the event. Nearly all of the copies I brought with me sold out, and there seemed to be a lot of buzz over the charity (Down syndrome), the cover, and the fine contributors of this project.

Gary A. Braunbeck gives quite the performance with his readings (I’ve had the opportunity to hear him read four times in my life), and likewise gave an emotional reading from his story “Need.” I had someone after the launch comment, “Man, that guy gives a performance…” Meghan Arcuri held listeners at the edge of their seats with her reading of “Inevitable” and shocked everyone in the room afterward by admitting it was her first publication, and her first reading experience. P. Gardner Goldsmith, as always, gave a memorable reading of his story “Sigil.” I would hire this guy to be the voice behind any of my works (audiobooks someday). In fact, since I’m not a fan of reading my work aloud, Gardner ‘volunteered’ to read my short story “Plasty” at a separate reading event, and had the crowd both laughing and holding back the bile in their throats with his audible charisma. Patrick Lacey was in attendance at the book launch as well and remarked that his story “Send Your End” was his first publication, which resulted in a round of applause. From reading his story, one would guess Patrick to be a veteran of the craft. We were limited by an hour for this reading/signing event, so a few of the authors, like Jon Michael Kelley, volunteered to instead discuss an important object in his story “The Persistence of Vision,” captivating the audience with his description of thaumatropes. Many authors approached me at the event and asked if they could submit something for the next project.

“How did you gather all of this talent?” I was asked regularly at the convention. “How did you get [fill in any of the following here: Jack Ketchum, Gary Braunbeck, Gary McMahon, Gord Rollo, Gene O’Neill, Jeff Strand] and all of these other awesome people into one anthology?” The answer I gave was simple, but longwinded: “These are all great people, in- and outside of publishing. Every one of them. I sought out 1/2; the other 1/2 came to me. I mentioned that all proceeds (every cent) from the anthology would go to Down syndrome charities, and gave a challenge of interpreting chirality, and they came to me.”

A month earlier, at KillerCon in Las Vegas, I was able to meet with seven of the Chiral Mad contributors, including Jack Ketchum, Gene O’Neill, P. Gardner Goldsmith, Eric J. Guignard, Monica J. O’Rourke, John Palisano, and Aaron J. French. There was a lot of early buzz for the project at this event as well, and we took some photos, signed a few things, and had a wonderful time. All great people, as I mentioned before. Not only do these individuals have immense pools of literary talent trapped in their minds that somehow find way onto paper, they are some of the finest examples of humanity.

Viral marketing is what really made this project take off. Social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter and various blogs by contributors spread word of this anthology like the overused analogy of online wildfire. Creating a teaser book trailer (and later an official version) helped as well. The few days following the book trailer launch resulted in a couple hundred additional submissions. If you’re wondering, over 400 short stories were submitted to Chiral Mad. 28 made it into the book. 1/2 of the 28 were personally invited and submitted something extraordinary; the other 1/2 sought me out and submitted something incredible. All 28 authors tackled chirality differently, and all 28 created amazing stories.

So, where are we at after just over a month, or two ‘unofficial’ weeks? Let’s just say that the first charity anthology released by Written Backwards, Pellucid Lunacy, has raised a little over $2,300 to date. We’ve met that mark with Chiral Mad already, which is something incredible.

How do we keep the ball rolling and raise even more money/awareness for Down syndrome? Viral marketing. Word of mouth. Reviews (they are starting to surface). Social networking. Sharing. Blogging. Giving copies as gifts. Donating copies to libraries. Let’s spread some Chiral Mad.

BLOG BIRTH

So, WordPress…

This may be the new blogging headquarters of Written Backwards. I’m thinking of merging this website with the main site, or possibly even using this as the new nettirw homebase, but we’ll have to wait and see. It depends how well I end up liking WordPress. So far, I’m impressed at the simplicity. If all else fails, I can always setup a blog.nettirw.com and point it here.

Check out some of the titles in the top menu. I only have Palindrome Hannah and Phoenix Rose working as guinea pigs, but I’ll import/migrate the other titles soon.

Social-networkists can follow online at facebook.com/nettirw (there’s also a link to like the Written Backwards facebook page on the right hand side of the screen). If you’re one of those myspace people, you can follow me at myspace.com/nettirw, but be forewarned, I rarely go there because I hate myspace and it’s as readily used as Google+, which I don’t plan on joining anytime soon. Twitter? twitter.com/nettirw, but the facebook page and twitter pages are basically synchronized… or they should be. I’ll have to test that out again.

E-mail me anytime at written@nettirw.com. I’d love to hear from you.