RA for All...The Road Show!

I can come to your library, book club meeting, or conference to talk about how to help your readers find their next good read. Click here for more information.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Summer Scares Updates More Interviews and First Podcast

I realize that this blog is turning into all Summer Scares all the time, but it is the biggest thing in libraries and horror right now and since this is a blog where those two things meet, well....... [sorry, not sorry]

Again a reminder that ever library can and should be suggesting horror all year long. We are targeting summer because that is when we get the highest number of leisure readers into the library. You can use our suggestions and resources anytime of year though.

Here are some of the updates to the resource page to help you as you work with potential horror readers:
This is just what is new. You can access all of the information on the Summer Scares Resource and FAQ page at anytime here. It is also listed in the right gutter of the blog for easy access from any page.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Summer Scares Updates Just in Time for Us to Open in Wide Release

Summer Scares is going strong. Starting soon we will have 3 episodes on the Ladies of the Fright podcast featuring committee members discussing the program and the specific titles by age group category. You should subscribe now to have these episodes show up automatically in your podcast feed. And while you are waiting for the first Summer Scares episode to drop, listen to their last episode- a conversation with Victor LaValle.

For general Summer Scares info I have this very detailed resource page available at all times here, but basically, Summer Scares is all about reminding library workers that horror makes a good read all year long-- not just in October and/or not just for weirdos.

The program is all about a panel of library experts suggesting titles that are excellent reads for a wide range of leisure readers from middle grade to adult. We have included suggested titles that range from literary to pulp to novels to short stories to graphic novels. We literally have it all!

We also know that once you give out the suggested titles [click here for those], we are confident you will have people clamoring for more, so we are creating more lists of recommended reads all of the time. Enough to keep you filled up with horror suggestions all year long. And trust me, you will need them starting today when all of your patrons come in looking for more books like Us.

Our focus is on "Summer" because that is when we see the biggest uptick in leisure reading among all of our patrons. So we will have lists you can turn into book marks, interviews with authors for your websites and social media [see below for the first 2], and lists upon lists upon lists. Again, there is already a lot of information on the resource page.

But the second component of the Summer Scares program is that for those libraries that want programming, we will help to facilitate an author visit to your library. Because we have the support of the entire Horror Writers Association behind us, we can help with programming as well as reading suggestions.

So watch this blog for more updates of resources, and start using them today. Don't wait for Summer. Your patrons aren't waiting. They are lining up to see a horror movie this very weekend.

And always remember, as I always say-- your horror readers aren't monsters, they just like to read about them.

Newly added to the Resources Page:
  • Committee member Grady Hendrix gave our selected authors the same 6 questions. See their answers to get a sense of the personalities behind the books. Feel free to use these interviews on your websites, social media, and with patrons to supplement the Summer Scares Program:

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Women in Horror Month X: Roundtable Interview with Women In Horror Including ME!

Lisa Morton, horror author and editor extraordinaire asked me to be a part of her Women in Horror Roundtable Interview for Nightmare Magazine's February Issue. The web version went live yesterday. Side note, for those of you who don't know Nightmare Magazine, I have talked about it before, but quickly, it is run by John Joseph Adams, speculative fiction editor superstar.

I want to thank Lisa for including the library perspective in this article. She has a great mix of awesome people here, and I am very proud of the product we have created together.

From the intro:
To celebrate Women in Horror Month 2019, I asked four excellent female writers and horror experts to join me for a roundtable discussion. Given how the genre seems to be expanding rapidly to include more women at all levels of experience and publishing, I tried to gather a group of women with a range of talents and experience. 
Linda Addison is an accomplished short story writer and editor, but she is probably known primarily as a poet. She is a recipient of the Horror Writers Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and is the only author with fiction in three landmark anthologies that celebrate African-American speculative writers: the award-winning anthology Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction, Dark Dreams I and II, and Dark Thirst. 
Joanna Parypinski made her first professional sale in 2011, and her short fiction has since appeared in the magazines NightmareBlack Static, and Vastarien, and anthologies including Haunted NightsThe Beauty of Death 2: Death by Water, and The War on Christmas. Forthcoming in 2019 is her novel Dark Carnival, and a middle grade tale in New Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. She also teaches English at Glendale Community College. 
Becky Spratford is the public library world’s most visible horror expert. She is the author of the American Library Association’s Reader’s Advisory Guide to Horror (published in a second edition in 2012), and maintains the acclaimed blog RA for All: Horror at raforallhorror.blogspot.com, as well as the original RA for All blog at raforall.blogspot.com. She was a Guest of Honor at StokerCon 2017, and she travels throughout the year talking to librarians about broadening their horror collections. 
Kaaron Warren is an Australian author whose work extends through four novels (Slights, Walking the Tree, Mistification, and The Grief Hole) and six short story collections, including the multi-award winning Through Splintered Walls. Her novella “Sky” from that collection won the Shirley Jackson Award and was shortlisted for the World Fantasy Award. It went on to win all three of the Australian genre awards, while The Grief Hole did the same thing in 2017. She has also taught writing workshops and mentored newer writers.

Click here to read the entire piece. We do not pull any punches here.

It makes for an excellent ending to a wonderful month.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Women in Horror Month X: Review of Larissa Glasser's F4 [With a Bonus Intro to the Bizarro Genre]

Today I have a lot to say both about the Bizarro genre, trans fiction, and I even have a review. This post will touch on a lot of issues that libraries need to be aware of. I have saved it for Women in Horror Month on the horror blog to highlight the inclusion of trans women in our celebration AND  am cross posting on the general blog because there are also issues of collection development, EDI [equity, inclusion, and diversity], and providing access to popular but non mainstream genres.

I know that is a lot, but it is important and I want you all to pay attention because this post contains information for every library worker, from every size library, anywhere across the country, to use to help patrons.

First, I want to begin with an introduction to the increasingly popular speculative fiction subgenre of Bizarro. Excerpted from the Wikipedia page on the genre:
Bizarro Fiction is a contemporary literary genre which often uses elements of absurdism, satire, and the grotesque, along with pop-surrealism and genre fiction staples, in order to create subversive, weird and entertaining world., The terms was adopted in 2005 but the independent publishing companies Eraserhead Press, Raw Dog Screaming Press and Afterbirth Books. Much of its community revolves around Eraserhead Press, which is based in Portland, OR and has hosted the BizarroCon yearly since 2008.... Bizarro [is] "literature's equivalent to the cult section at the video store," and a genre that "strives not only to be strange but fascinating, thought-provoking, and above all, fun to read."
...In general Bizarro has more in common with speculative fiction genres (such as science-fiction, fantasy, and horror)....
Please click here to read more about Bizarro and follow the many citations and links for more info, including the lists of Wonderland Book Award winners [Bizarro's well respected award- you can see every final ballot here] and notable titles.

But even just this brief introduction should illustrate that there is a wide audience for these types of books. They are weird yes, but also fun. This is a place for the "weirdos" to have thought provoking conversations through art, find a community to which they can belong, and have a safe space to express themselves. But what I love about Bizarro, and what you will see in my review below, is that the focus on is on fun! These are books people will enjoy reading, if only they could have access to them.

The Bizarro author most likely to be included in library collections is Jeremy Robert Johnson. I also featured Johnson and one of his more recent works on the horror blog here. I would suggest his work as an introduction to the genre, but here's the thing, once people read and like him, where do they go next? We need to offer more. But how?

Look I realize not every library has space, money, and even a collection development policy that would allow for these weird and often raunchy titles. I know some of you can't even buy Erotica. But here is the thing, Bizarro, like Erotica before it, is gaining in popularity among mainstream audiences. We need to find a way to provide access. I have an easy solution though. For any emerging genre, especially those with sex and/or violence, get a Kindle for the genre. So in this case let's say and Erotica one and a Bizarro one. You load them with ebooks of the most popular titles and authors and you catalog them as "Bizarro Kindle." You can change out titles as often as you want. You can get hundreds of titles for a very low price, and still be able to offer emerging genres to your patrons without sacrificing shelf space.

But back to the main point here. This definition of Bizarro and its appeal focuses on the fun, which it is. But it is important to also note that this is a place where people who might not fit into mainstream society can also express themselves, hence my focus on a trans framed title by Larissa Glasser today-- F4.

I am going to explain why I loved this title and think all library workers need to be aware of it below, but I also want to make a stand here and proclaim that I include trans women in celebrations of women in [fill in the blank]. I know there are some in the Women in Horror month world who take issue with including trans women, but I am not one of those. And in fact, I specifically chose Glasser to highlight this month to make my position clear.

But the real reason I am highlighting Glasser today is because she is a great writer. I was first introduced to Glasser when she was on a panel at StokerCon last year. She was sitting next to Victor LaValle. I don't remember the exact question, or her answer, but I remember sitting there watching and listening to Larissa answer a difficult question. I was also watching Victor watching her, nodding along. When Larissa finished, it was Victor's turn. He said something to the effect of--She answered it perfectly. I have nothing to add. He was right and I knew that I needed to meet this smart, fascinating woman and read her book.

And so I did, and the book, it was awesome [more below]. We connected and I also found out that Glasser is one of us, a Librarian too.

I asked Glasser to introduce herself to all of you. Here is what she wrote:
Larissa Glasser is a Librarian-Archivist from New England. She writes dark fiction centered on the lives of trans women, library science, and heavy metal. Her work is available in Transcendent 3: The Year's Best Transgender Speculative Fiction [Lethe Press], Tragedy Queens: Stories Inspired by Lana Del Rey & Sylvia Plath [Clash Books]. Her debut novel F4 is available from Eraserhead Press. Larissa is a Member at Large of Broad Universe [a not for profit that supports women writers and editors in the speculative genres]. She is on Twitter @larissaeglasser and on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Larissa-Glasser/e/B077VRYC8L/

Now to my review of F4 which I highly suggest you use to start your own e-Bizarro collection:

First let's begin with the publisher's summary:
A cruise ship on the back of a sleeping kaiju. A transgender bartender trying to come terms with who she is. A rift in dimensions known as The Sway. A cruel captain. A storm of turmoil, insanity and magic is coming together and taking the ship deep into the unknown. What will Carol the bartender learn in this maddening non-place that changes bodies and minds alike into bizarre terrors? What is the sleeping monster who holds up the ship trying to tell her? What do Carol’s fractured sense of self and a community of internet trolls have to do with the sudden pull of The Sway?

Further Appeal: I know I have said it already but I cannot stress how fun this book is. There is adventure, a steam punk frame, science fiction, great character development, and a compelling plot filled with action, emotion, and interest. Carol is a hero to root for- a trans woman hero to root for. And that is key. This book is both a great genre romp that also features a trans main character. This is key.

Carol is a complete person. Bring trans is part of who she is and while this book talks a bit about her
"hatching," it is more about her and this fun, slightly raunchy, strange adventure. This is so important. We need to read and know about books like this so we can learn about the trans experience. This book taught me so much while I had fun reading it. It opened a window to the trans woman experience, feelings, and even terminology [I had urban dictionary open while reading this book and learned so much]. I am someone who tries to be inclusive and accept people for who they are but until you have a chance to understand them from their experience how can you?

As library workers who want to help people find titles both that reflect their experiences and open them to the experiences of others-- what we call "own voices"-- we need titles like this one; a book that is a great read, has a trans woman hero, and is not solely about coming out.

This book manages to weave an overall theme about how humans transform things to fit their needs in a way the encompasses the entire story not just the transgender portions. It was enlightening and thought provoking. Really. Amidst all the weird, crazy, and sexual action, there was so much to ponder here. Thought provoking issues for all humans to consider. It was eye opening for more than just the "trans education" I received. This was a nice surprise.

Okay but back to the fun again for a second. The set up-- the kaiju ship [it reminded me of Leviathan for grownups] in particular was cool. I liked the world Glasser created here as a speculative fiction fan.

And finally, there is the plain fact that Glasser herself is a writer to watch. I think I made that clear above, but seriously, she has the writing chops. Her stories are being accepted in anthologies from trans themed to general speculative fiction. She is garnering critical acclaim everywhere she goes, and as I mentioned above, Victor LaValle knows how smart and talented she is, and he knows what he is talking about. You don't need to just trust me.

Please do yourself a favor and read this book. It will both open your eyes to trans framed stories AND Bizarro.

Three Words To Describe This Book: Fun, Speculative, Compelling

Readalikes: The great thing about Bizarro is that there are so many places the genre can take you. Please refer to the author list here and especially those who have won the Wonderland Book Award, but here are a few I can suggest from personal experience:

  • Jeremey Robert Johnson [mentioned and linked above]
  • Brian Everson
  • Carlton Mellick III
  • Laura Lee Bahr
  • John Edward Lawson
  • C V Hunt
There are many more to see at this link, but those are a few of the current authors who you should check out.

Also, just look at the Eraserhead Press lineup of authors. I know Rose O'Keefe, the publisher personally, and I know her love for the genre. If she publishes it, the quality is good.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Women in Horror Month X: StokerCon 2019 Has Some Awesome Women Guests of Honor

Going back to Tuesday's post about supporting living women horror authors [plenty of links to find vetted examples], I thought I would highlight 3 specific ones of note today, and they also happen to be among the StokerCon 2019 Guests of Honor. Below is the official info from the StokerCon website with additional information by me added in italics.

But first a quick note-- StokerCon 2019 will be May 9-12 in Grand Rapids, MI. I will be there the entire time. Library workers are welcome at the entire con, but specifically I have planned a wonderful and affordable Librarians' Day on May 10th. It comes with lunch and free books. And GoH Stephanie Wytovich will be appearing on the final panel too. Click here to see the details and to join us. If you are staying overnight, let me know and I will personally bring you around and introduce you to anyone you want.  Friday night's Final Frame Film competition is always a great time and of course, the Stoker Banquet on Saturday night too.

KATHE KOJA is a novelist, playwright, performer, director and independent producer. Her work crosses and combines genres, from horror to historical to YA. Her novels—including The Cipher, Bad Brains, Skin, Strange Angels, Going Under, The Blue Mirror, the Under the Poppy trilogy, and Christopher Wild—have won awards, been multiply translated, and optioned for film and performance. She creates performative fiction events, both solo and with an ensemble of creative artists, including Drunk on Words, Dracula, The Heights, and Night School. She is based in Detroit USA, along with her husband, artist Rick Lieder, and Dash the cat.

Becky's further comments: Ms Koja is a great example of the breadth of creativity we see from women in horror. Also, her performative fiction events are amazing and she can bring them to libraries. 

Shirley-Jackson Award Winner KAARON WARREN published her first short story in 1993 and has had stories in print every year since. She was Guest of Honour at World Fantasy Convention in 2018 and has been shortlisted for the Stoker Award and the World Fantasy Award. Her stories have appeared in Australia, the US, China, the UK, and elsewhere in Europe, and have been selected for both Ellen Datlow’s and Paula Guran’s Best of the Year Anthologies. Kaaron has lived in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Fiji. She has published five novels (Slights, Walking the Tree, Mistification, The Grief Hole andTide of Stone) and seven short story collections, including the multi-award winning Through Splintered Walls. Her most recent short story collection is A Primer to Kaaron Warren from Dark Moon Books. Kaaron was a Fellow at the Museum for Australian Democracy, where she researched prime ministers, artists and serial killers. In 2018 she was Established Artist in Residence at Katharine Susannah Prichard House in Western Australia. She’s taught workshops in haunted asylums, old morgues and second hand clothing shops and she’s mentored several writers through a number of programs. She will be Guest of Honour at Stokercon and New Zealand’s Geysercon in 2019. You can find her at http://kaaronwarren.wordpress.com/ and she Tweets @KaaronWarren

Becky's further comments: If Ms Warren lived in America I am certain she would be a household horror name. Her work is amazing and universally acclaimed. I have talked about her here on the blog, including this guest post where she explained Why I Love Horror to all of you.

STEPHANIE M. WYTOVICH is an American poet, novelist, and essayist. Her work has been showcased in numerous anthologies such as Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories, Shadows Over Main Street: An Anthology of Small-Town Lovecraftian Terror, Year’s Best Hardcore Horror: Volume 2, The Best Horror of the Year: Volume 8, as well as many others. Wytovich is the Poetry Editor for Raw Dog Screaming Press, an adjunct at Western Connecticut State University and Point Park University, and a mentor with Crystal Lake Publishing. She is a member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, an active member of the Horror Writers Association, and a graduate of Seton Hill University’s MFA program for Writing Popular Fiction. Her Bram Stoker Award-winning poetry collection, Brothel, earned a home with Raw Dog Screaming Press alongside Hysteria: A Collection of Madness, Mourning Jewelry, and An Exorcism of Angels. Her debut novel, The Eighth, is published with Dark Regions Press. Follow Wytovich at http://stephaniewytovich.blogspot.com and on twitter @SWytovich

Becky's further comments: Ms Wytovich is a powerhouse. Her words are lyrical, terrifying and heartbreaking, no matter the story's format. But she is also a brilliant historian of the genre. I saw her "Final Girl" presentation at StokerCon last year and it was one of the best things I did at the Con. She also teaches classes on horror as it is written today. She is a name you need to know. On her website, linked above, she is also running her own series of interviews with Women in Horror.  

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Women in Horror Month X: Support Living Women Horror Authors

One of the most important things we need to remember as we help horror readers in the library is to offer them titles by current, living authors.

Yes, the classics are great. You'd be hard pressed to find someone who likes Shirley Jackson more than me, but in general, library workers tend to suggest classic works of horror in higher numbers than living authors.

Some of this is a familiarity factor. As I have mentioned many times here on the horror blog, library workers in general are "scared" of horror. They aren't familiar with the genre or its current authors and have concerns about how to suggest scary and possibly gory books that they do not enjoy themselves.

Of course helping you to battle this lack of information and help you to help more horror readers is the whole reason I write this blog, but I need a little help from you.

Instead of only suggesting dead authors and their classics to our patrons, let's try to suggest living, working authors. Why?

Well first, even the most horror averse reader knows who Stephen King is and have heard of Dracula. Let's show them that we know about great new titles and authors too. We need to give the patrons titles they wouldn't have figured out about on their own, whether that's by direct suggestions, displays, lists, or just by having them in our collections.

Second, horror is in the middle of an exciting period. Not only is it hot and popular, but the books coming out are very good. Even I am surprised by how good the vast majority of books are these days, and I am a fan.  I review many of the best horror for libraries here on the blog. You can find my reviews always in the Horror Review Index or you can click on the Reviews tag to pull up the most recent reviews first.

Third, those of us who enjoy books, any book not just horror, should consider how we spend our money. When we buy books by living authors we are supporting them financially and allowing them to continue to write more. If we want new books to suggest to our readers, to help them find the joy of discovering a great new read, and to keep them coming back for more help, there need to be new books.

I think Women in Horror Month is the perfect time to discuss this general good rule of thumb for all RA Service, not just horror related, because women are writing some of the best and most interesting horror period, full stop.

To get you started suggesting living women of horror right now, here is a reminder of recent titles by women in horror that I have suggested and of course the Ladies of Horror Fiction have you covered year round.

If you you don't have time to go through it all right this minute, I would suggest you start by handing out HUNGER by Alma Katsu to someone today. Most public libraries own it and it has wide appeal-- imagine the Donner Party but with an evil, supernatural force stalking them too. Hey, it could have happened; it's not like many people survived ed to tell us the truth. Click here for my more detailed review.