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).

Bird Box Special Edition - Cover

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 - Cover

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 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.


Not much time remains to turn in your collaborative short stories, novelettes, novellas, or graphic adaptations. Please email submissions to cm4@nettirw.com.


Updated (01/23/17):

Lucy A. Snyder has been chosen to co-edit Chiral Mad 4!

More than twenty requests were received over the last few days to co-edit the anthology (from writers and editors around the world), and after careful consideration, series creator/editor Michael Bailey has chosen to work with Lucy to bring you something entirely new with Chiral Mad 4, an entirely-collaborative anthology.

While previous volumes of Chiral Mad focused more on psychological horror, with most stories having some sort of chiral aspect in plot or character development or structure, Chiral Mad 4 will be open to just about anything, as long as the story has some sort of dark or speculative element. The only required chirality is with the collaboration itself … multiple minds working as one, in other words, to create something entirely new. We want this anthology to be as diverse as humanly possible, and will be looking for stories that bend and…

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Today is Yes Trespassing day! The debut fiction collection by Erik T. Johnson is officially released to the wild. While the collection will be launched by Written Backwards at StokerCon 2017 in Long Beach later this month, the book is now available to order in trade paperback at Amazon.com. Horror. Wonder. Mindscrewing. &c! 436 pages and 1.6 pounds of awesome.

Yes Trespassing collects twenty-five, or maybe twenty-six or -seven or perhaps twenty-eight (let’s say it’s twenty-eight) individual works by Erik T. Johnson, some previously-published, some appearing in this book for the first time, stories like “The Leaf” and “Krug’s Pen,” “The Depopulation Syndrome,” “The Invention of the Mask” (which you can find on the front cover), “The Depopulation Syndrome” and the novella Scissors Seldom Come. Trespass. Read the horror, the wonder, the mindscrewing. This book will change you.

“Erik T. Johnson is insanely gifted, and Yes Trespassing is proof. This collection rattles, roars and shrieks with cognitive dissonances, phosphorescent settings and darker-than-fuck themes. From the handwritten notes to the drawings, this was a unique experience. In some stories, what you except to be a straight narrative devolves into lunacy. Then, what you expect to be lunacy, turns out to be nothing of the sort. You just don’t know which road Johnson wants to take on. Consider that this eclectic collection’s greatest strength. This reader was fascinated by the unexpected journeys. You can’t get these stories out of your head.” – J. Daniel Stone, author of Blood Kiss and The Absence of Light.

“[You] will thrill to the many conceits contained herein, marvel at the anoxic heights and the plutopian depths, become slightly queasy at the monstrous malformations of reality and despair at a glimpse of universes less than a nudge removed from our own.” – John F.D. Taff, author of The End in All Beginnings.


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The Cal Wild Chronicles is complete! This magnum opus by Gene O’Neill (illustrated throughout by Orion Zangara) concludes with The Far Future, the fourth and final book in the series. Science Fiction, Horror, Fantasy … Gene blends them all.

Michael Bailey 2 (FINAL IMAGE)

Each book features a separate introduction: John R. Little for The Confessions of St. Zach (Volume #1), Lisa Morton for The Burden of Indigo (Volume #2), Meghan Arcuri for The Near Future (Volume #3), and Scott Edelman for The Far Future (Volume #4).

Michael Bailey 3 (FINAL IMAGE)

Book #4 will make its official debut at StokerCon 2017 at the end of this month, and the entire series will be available so you can complete your set. And did I mention the entire set looks gorgeous on bookshelves with its 4-part spine image?

The Cal Wild Chronicles

This four book series was a joint effort by Written Backwards and Dark Regions Press. Look below for the cover images for each book in the series. Clicking each will bring you directly to their Amazon.com pages for purchasing so you can collect the whole set in affordable trade paperback.



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“Had it not been for Scott Edelman and the other comic book storytellers of that time, I would have never wanted to become a writer, I would have never persisted until I actually became a writer, and I would certainly have never written The Rising, which means that zombie literature might not have enjoyed this new heyday.”

So says Brian Keene in his introduction to Liars, Fakers, and the Dead Who Eat Them, a collection of zombie novelettes by seven-time Bram Stoker Award nominee Scott Edelman, which includes “Only Humans Can Lie” and “Faking It Until Forever Comes.


A Vegan chef believes meat is murder. A determined waitress longs for stardom. He hopes to convince the world to abandon killing animals. She hopes to convince a director to make her a star. Both of those hopes are challenged when a zombie apocalypse traps them in small towns where their dreams might come true—or else be crushed under the weight of an invading undead horde. Join Tim and Shelley as they struggle to survive—and retain their sanity—in a world where death suddenly holds no dominion.


Both novelettes are illustrated throughout by Italian artist Daniele Serra with half-page, full-page, and page-spanning artwork.  Check out some of these killer illustrations! Serra also designed the artwork used on the cover.


Liars, Fakers, and the Dead Who Eat Them is the second book in the Allevon series by Written Backwards, following Gene O’Neill’s At the Lazy K (pictured below, and now only $8.95), which was illustrated by L.A. Spooner, and featured an introduction by Rena Mason.

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These specialty numbered books are a smaller 8″x5″ trade paperback size, each illustrated by a different artist, and the designed for those who enjoy literary/speculative fiction, as well as for book collectors looking for something unique to add to their libraries.


Liars, Fakers, and the Dead Who Eat Them is available now at Amazon.com for the low price of $8.95, and will be celebrated with an official launch at StokerCon 2017 in Long Beach, California at the end of April, with author Scott Edelman.