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Walking and Talking:
Things to Come in 2020

February 29th, 2020

“If you’re going to talk the talk, you need to walk the walk.” You know the expression. It’s all about the importance of doing, as in Death of a Salesman, where all-talk Willy Loman is amazed to learn that all-walk Bernard is going to argue a case before the supreme court.

“The Supreme Court!” Willy says. “And he didn’t even mention it!”

To which Bernard’s father replies, “He don’t have to – he’s gonna do it!”

Don Keefer reprising his Broadway role as Bernard in the 1951 film version of Death of A Salesman, with Fredric March as Willy Loman. IMDB.com

I find it helpful to remember that exchange when I fall behind on this blog. “I’m busy walking the walk,” I tell myself, even though there are folks out there who manage both.

A few years back, I did a blog post on “The Writer & Social Media,” in which I quoted Robert J. Sawyer (one of the first sf writers to have a blog) on the current state of author websites. “Almost all author webpages are appallingly hard to read, not updated, and lacking in current content,” Sawyer said. Now, to be fair, those qualities likely results from writers being busy writing stuff that pays. Nevertheless, to avoid being one of those guys with an out-of-date webpage, I’d like to take a moment to share some news about what I’ve got cooking for 2020.

Here’s a quick preview:

First up, hot off the presses, is Issue 12 of Unnerving Magazine, the publication that a recent review in Amazing Stories called a “must-read” for fans of the horror genre. The current issue includes a feature titled “My First Horror” with Cat Rambo, Daniel Kraus, and Richard Chizmar; an interview with the prolific William Meikle; and a roster of fiction that includes my story “Circle of Lias.”

“Lias” first appeared in Tom Montelelone’s Borderlands 4 back in 1994, and though it received good notice, it has only been reprinted once (in my collection This Way to Egress) until now. “Lias” is one of my personal favorites, and I’m thrilled to have it back in print.

Next, coming to earbuds everywhere, the popular horror-story podcast The Wicked Library will soon be launching its tenth season with a roster of all-new creepy tales.

Founded by writer and vocal performer Nelson W. Pyles, The Wicked Library’s stated mission is “to provide a showcase where you can find the work of the best existing and up-and-coming voices working in the world of Speculative Fiction and Horror.” The episodes are performed by a talented team of voice actors and produced by Daniel Foytik of 9th Story Studios, with musical scores by resident composer Nico Vetesse.

Each installment is available for free at The Wicked Library website, where listeners have the opportunity to access additional content by signing on as a patreon member. It’s money well spent.

Season 10 of The Wicked Library launches in March, and among the stories will be my new novelette “The Other Kind,” for which I’ll also be doing the audio narration. But there’s no reason to wait until then to become a listener. Dive in now, and you’ll be hooked when “The Other Kind” lands in your podcast queue. I recommend starting with Season 9’s “Cinnamon to Taste,” by Christi Nogle. Featuring a strong performance by Sara Ruth Thomas; it was my introduction to the series, and I’ve been a regular listener ever since.

And coming up in the journal Dissections, I’ll have a new essay titled “Existential Threats” in the forthcoming issue, which is scheduled to coincide with this year’s installment of The International Conference of the Fantastic in the Arts to be held March 18-21 in Orlando, Florida. The essay presents what I trust is a timely consideration of two vintage short stories — Ray Bradbury’s “The Murderer” and Arthur C. Clarke’s “Dial F for Frankenstein.” Considered together, the stories present a dire warning for the world of 2020. I’ll share a link to the issue as soon as it’s available.

Also in the works is a U.S. edition of Nightmares. The Mexican release generated good notice when it made its debut at the SusteFest International Film Festival in Valle de Santiago last October. The new edition will contain the first U.S. publication of Mick Garris’s “Chocolate” (the story that became the basis for his Masters of Horror segment of the same name), the first English-language publication of a story by Sandra Becerril (one of Mexico’s bestselling horror writers), a gripping piece of psychological terror by Richard Christian Matheson, and the first-ever American reprint of one of my tales from This Way to Egress. We’re also working on including some special content that will be new to the American edition. I hope to have more to report on this one soon.

Until then … scop on!

Nightmares at Sustefest X!

November 7th, 2019

The southern portion of Guanajuato, Mexico, is a magical place – lush, mountainous, and dotted with volcanic craters arranged like the stars in the Big Dipper. It’s also home to the Sustefest Film Festival, which this year hosted the release of Nightmares, the new Spanish-language anthology featuring stories by members of the Nightmare Cinema writing team.

The festival’s opening ceremonies began the night of October 25 at Cinema Valle, a former movie palace in the heart of Valle de Santiago. With its marquee proclaiming SUSTEFEST and its façade fitted with an eight-foot poster of Nightmares, the theatre was our introduction to the festival that is now in its tenth year of bringing fantastic films to the Mexican heartland. Following a Q&A session with the press, the Nightmares authors moved inside for a screening of two classic segments of Showtime’s Masters of Horror, featuring Richard Christian Matheson’s “Dance of the Dead” and Mick Garris’s “Chocolate.”

The next day took us across town to Valle de Santiago’s Municipal Auditorium and a Nightmares release event hosted by festival organizer Carlos López Cardona.

Edited and translated by Mexican best-selling author Sandra Becerril, Nightmares features four stories — three of which are appearing for the first time in Spanish.

“Transfiguration” by Richard Christian Matheson first appeared in Visitants: Stories of Fallen Angels & Heavenly Hosts (Ulysses Press 2010) and has since gone on to be featured in The Best Horror of the Year: Volume Three (Night Shade 2011) and Shivers VIII (Cemetary Dance 2019). It is a haunting tale about a long-haul truck driver on a hallucinatory drive through the Alaskan wilderness.

Mick Garris’s “Chocolate,” the previously unpublished story that serves as the basis for the Masters of Horror film of the same name, centers on a man whose dreams are linked to another person’s reality. The story is a fine example of emo-horror (a genre that also describes Garris’s Nightmare Cinema segment “Dead”).

Sandra Becerril’s story “Meintras Duermes” (“While You Sleep”) is a frightening tale that supports one reviewer’s assessment that “Sandra Becerril is one of Mexico’s most important horror writers.”

My story “Ajuste de Cuentas,” originally published as “Reckoning” (This Way to Egress 2010), takes place in a cloistered church hidden in the Pennsylvania woods. It involves kidnapping, murder, and a ritual that is at once terrible and redemptive.

Nightmares can be ordered in print (limited and trade editions) from Sustefest Ediciones and as an audiobook from Beek — the Spanish-language equivalent of Audable.com. Though currently available only in Spanish, English-language editions may be in the works, details TBA.

Other Sustefest highlights included director Emilio Portes presenting a screening of his film Belzebuth in a sprawling cemetery on the eastern edge of Valle de Santiago. Hailed by critics for breathing new life into the demonic-child genre, the film is currently available in the US on AMC’s Shudder.

The festival closed with Hugo Félix Mercado‘s Cygnus, a horror/sf hybrid that Anton Bitel of Sight and Sound describes as “a paranoid tale of a man looking back at cosmic data from many aeons ago and […] finding reflected in it a dark mirror of himself and his own crumbling psyche.” Sounds like my cup of meat, and I had hoped to catch it while at Sustefest. Unfortunately, I was across town attending an author’s dinner during the screening. Rest assured, I’ll be looking out for a US release of Cygnus in the months ahead.

Sustefest X concluded October 27, and the tireless Carlos López Cardona tells me he already looking ahead to next year’s installment. Given the success of this year’s festival, it’s sure to be a winner.

Next up, a report from World Fantasy in LA. Until then, you can click the player below to check out some video highlights of Sustefest X. If it looks like it fun, that’s because it was.