Posts Tagged ‘ Psychotropic Dragon ’

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

WILL THERE BE A CHIRAL MAD 4?

CM4 - teaser

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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POSITIVE +

The world is negative. Admit it. I’ve slowly learned this through life, which is why I radiate positivity. I don’t try to be positive, it just happens. I am a positively charged being. If you’re close, you can feel it flowing off me like some kind of magnetic field, and if you are feeling negative, my superpower will draw you in and wrap around you like a blanket and keep you warm. I will make the hairs on arms stand on end. I will make you smile. And if you don’t, there’s something seriously wrong with you.

I guess that’s why I originally chose to write psychological horror. My work typically highlights beautiful things hidden in the darkest of places. If you’ve read Palindrome Hannah or Phoenix Rose, or any of my short fiction or poetry in Scales and Petals, you know what I’m talking about. Since I first started writing horror (sometime in 1999), and then publishing (2001), my work progressively darkened.

Palindrome Hannah, the debut novel, questioned coincidence and dealt with subjects such as suicide, multiple personalities / possession, domestic violence, child abuse, poverty, mental instability, bullying, and other horrible things. Dark, horrid puzzle pieces that hopefully formed something more beautiful.

Phoenix Rose, the follow-up novel, questioned reality and dealt with sad subjects like family loss, childhood trauma, mental disorders, and the unforgiving balance of life and death, while also focusing on spirituality, hope, sacrifice, and rising from one’s ashes.

While writing those two novels, I published Scales and Petals, a collection of short stories and poems. While a few of the works are on the lighter side of the dark, the rest dive into some rather horrid places. And it only gets darker from there.

Psychotropic Dragon, what I’m currently calling my last horror novel, is ultimately a love story. It is also the darkest, most difficult thing I have ever written. It has taken me over ten years (12?) to get this thing on paper. I kept putting the project on hold because I just didn’t want to finish the damn thing. I’d revisit the novel over the years, writing in bursts of 5,000 to 10,000 word chunks, and then the manuscript would sit for a while. Over a year, at one point. Finally, I gave myself a goal and cranked out the last 15,000 words over the course of a few weeks. Such an exhaustive process. And now it sits again, unfinished, waiting to be edited and rewritten, and edited some more. A few pre-readers are taking a shot at it, but there’s still work to be done. What’s it about? Psychotropic drugs, hallucinations, sex (the good and the absolute worst), child abuse, sexual abuse, dissociative identity disorders, the great eclose of the human condition, and other “real” things. Sick stuff. Some sick, beautiful stuff. It’s a love story, right? Right…

Anyway, there’s even more dark stuff in the works with Inkblots and Blood Spots, what I’m calling my last horror collection. This book contains the short stories and poems written between Phoenix Rose and Psychotropic Dragon. Dark, dark stuff. Dark, but transitional. After closing both of these future books, however, you will realize why these may be my last two “horror” projects. I hope you understand. Truth be told, only a tenth of what I read would be considered horror, and my writing style appears to be going down that path as well.

What about the anthologies?

DSIAPellucid Lunacy was my first editing project, a collection of psychological horror that raised a little over $2,000 for Breast Cancer and Down Syndrome research (donations split down the center), and was a recipient of the International Book Awards and winner of the USA Book News “Best Book” Awards.

The second anthology, Chiral Mad, also psychological horror, fared much better in terms of funds raised for charity. The Chiral Mad tally currently stands at $4,260, with all proceeds going to the Down Syndrome Information Alliance. That is positively amazing. Recently, the DSIA sent a thank you letter for their first check of $3,000. To date, Chiral Mad has received rave reviews and is the recipient of the following:

– Shortlisted for the Grand Prize of an unmentionable award, to be announced May 6th, 2013!
– London Book Festival winner for Anthologies/Collections
– This is Horror Awards, Anthology of the Year runner-up
– USA Book News “Best Book” Awards (Fiction: Anthologies), Finalist
– USA Book News “Best Book” Awards (Best Cover Design: Fiction), Finalist
– Halloween Book Fest Awards, Honorable Mention
– A few more surprises are in store soon…

While I may be cutting back on my own horror fiction (perhaps cutting it out completely), I will continue to edit and publish charity anthologies. That is a certainty. Will they all be psychological horror? Perhaps not, but perhaps yes. Perhaps most certainly yes. If I’m invited to write for a specific horror-themed anthology, I will consider it, but I don’t see myself writing horror anytime soon. What I write will probably have dark elements, but will not be straight up horror. My latest 5 or 6 published stories are borderline horror anyway, so I’ve already started down a more positive path with my writing. “Primal Tongue,” “Bootstrap” and “Hiatus” are examples of this.

Before I forget, I need to mention that Surviving the End (in which my story “Hiatus” appears), edited by Craig Bezant, recently won the Australian Shadow Award for edited publication. This is sort of the equivalent of the Bram Stoker Awards for Australia. Awesome news. “Birthday Suit,” a short story by Martin Livings, also in Surviving the End, won for short fiction.

Anyway, what shall I write? Am I retiring from writing horror altogether? I’m not sure. I’m leaning toward young adult fiction, or even a younger audience. Maybe both. Maybe more than both. Kids are reading, but I look on the shelves under “Young Adult” and I see crap. Vampires, Sex, Werewolves, Sex, Zombies, Sex… it’s too much. Kids need to read something more realistic, something positive. If I go down this route, there will be dark elements in my fiction, but my work will be overall positive, because that’s what the world needs.

Positivity rocks.

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.