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.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New Trend: Recut Movie Trailers

Two years ago the horror mash-up was all the rage, as we saw Seth Grahame-Smith's additions of zombies to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, begin a horror fiction revolution.  Some were good, some not so good.  In fact, to help you sort through the huge mass of offerings, my new book has an entire chapter on the very best of today's comic horror, including mash-ups.

However, there is a brand new off-shot of the horror mash-up and this is one not to be missed.  Over on You Tube, people are taking classic movie trailers and re-cutting them into horror trailers.  Some of these people have been doing it for a few years, but their popularity is skyrocketing now.  Here are two of my favorites for The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins recut as horror movies:






What I love about this trend is how well it works.  Using the actual movies, these creative people have been able to make a great horror movie trailer.  Specifically, the music that already appears in these classic films is used to heighten the creepy atmosphere.

To see more and keep up on the trend, search You Tube for "recut horror trailer."  You can use my link to automatically run the search.  Have fun!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Stephen King Interview

There is much buzz about Stephen King's recent interview with The Atlantic.

The interview is about the process of writing the story, "Herman Wouk is Still Alive" which appears in the current issue of The Atlantic.  Turns out, he wrote the story because he lost a bet to his son.  But he also talks about his own writing process and fiction in general these days.

Click here for the interview and here for the story.

Shirley Jackson Award Finalists

As I have mentioned before here, the Shirley Jackson Awards are among my favorite in the world of dark fiction.  The 2010 nominees were just released, and I was happy to see some of my favorites.  Click here for the list and analysis from Rose Fox at PW's Genreville:


Novel:

  • Dark Matter, Michelle Paver (Orion)
  • A Dark Matter, Peter Straub (Doubleday)
  • Feed, Mira Grant (Orbit)
  • Mr. Shivers, Robert Jackson Bennett (Orbit)
  • The Reapers Are the Angels, Alden Bell (Holt)
  • The Silent Land, Graham Joyce (Gollancz)
Novella:
  • The Broken Man, Michael Byers (PS Publishing)
  • Chasing the Dragon, Nicholas Kaufmann (Chizine Publications)
  • “Mysterium Tremendum”, Laird Barron (Occultation, Night Shade)
  • One Bloody Thing After Another, Joey Comeau (ECW Press)
  • Subtle Bodies, Peter DubĂ© (Lethe Press)
  • The Thief of Broken Toys, Tim Lebbon (Chizine Publications)
Novelette:
  • “–30–,” Laird Barron (Occultation, Night Shade)
  • “The Broadsword,” Laird Barron, (Black Wings, PS Publishing)
  • “Holderhaven,” Richard Butner, (Crimewave 11: Ghosts)
  • “The Redfield Girls,” Laird Barron (Haunted Legends, Tor)
  • “Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains,” Neil Gaiman (Stories: All New Tales, William Morrow)
Short story:
  • “As Red as Red,” by Caitlin R. Kiernan (Haunted Legends, Tor)
  • “Booth’s Ghost,” Karen Joy Fowler (What I Didn’t See, Small Beer Press)
  • “The Foxes,” Lily Hoang (Haunted Legends, Tor)
  • “six six six,” Laird Barron (Occultation, Night Shade)
  • “The Things,” Peter Watts (Clarkesworld, Issue 40)
Single-author collection:
  • Occultation, Laird Barron (Night Shade)
  • The Ones That Got Away, Stephen Graham Jones (Prime Books)
  • The Third Bear, Jeff Vandermeer (Tachyon)
  • What I Didn’t See, Karen Joy Fowler (Small Beer Press)
  • What Will Come After, Scott Edelman (PS Publishing)
Edited anthology:
  • Black Wings: Tales of Lovecraftian Horror, edited by S. T. Joshi (PS Publications)
  • Haunted Legends, edited by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas (Tor)
  • My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales, edited by Kate Bernheimer (Penguin)
  • Stories: All New Tales, edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio (William Morrow)
  • Swords and Dark Magic: The New Sword and Sorcery, edited by Jonathan Strahan and Lou Anders (Harper Voyager)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

New Book: Zombies: An Illustrated History of the Undead

Zombies!: An Illustrated History of the Undead
Zombies!: An Illustrated History of the Undead by Jovanka Vuckovic came out on March and I had it on the second tier of my to-read list.  Well, after this review by Jeff VanderMeer for the Amazon.com blog, I am moving it up to the top of the list.

In all seriousness, as I discuss in the new book, zombies have been around for a long time, but today's zombies are based on the zombies George Romero created in Night of the Living Dead back in 1968.  With the popularity of a specific kind of zombie sweeping through the popular media, now is a great time to go back and look at the evolution of zombies.  How did we get here?

But WHY are zombies everywhere these days?  This is also an issue I tackle in the book.  Here is a teaser from Chapter 7:  Zombies:  Follow the Walking Dead:
...In our current stressful economic and political climate, where we have been waging long-standing wars all over the world, a mass zombie uprising does not feel that far from our terrifying realities.  This theme underscores the appeal of horror novels as an escape from the true horrors of life.  Things may be bad right now, but at least we are not in the middle of a zombie apocalypse...
My job may ask me to analyze the "why," but the zombie loving reader part of me says, bring on more zombies!

Dorchester Publishing Problems

As a member of the Horror Writer Association, I wanted to support our organization's censuring of Dorchester Publishing.

Here is the letter, President Rocky Wood sent to the company:

This e-bulletin is authorized by HWA's National Board of Directors.
Open Letter to Dorchester Publishing:
To the Attention of Robert Anthony, President, Dorchester Publishing

Dear Mr Anthony:
We have been made aware of numerous claims by our Members and other authors that reflect poorly upon Dorchester’s business practices. This is particularly the case with the Leisure imprint.
On behalf of our Members I write to remind you that Dorchester/Leisure has been removed from our Approved Publisher List. New Dorchester/Leisure authors cannot use their relationship with your organisation as status credits for our Membership categories.
We request that you pay all HWA members who are owed Royalties by Leisure/Dorchester no later than 30 April 2011. We also request an immediate assurance that Dorchester will fulfil all your contractual obligations to all HWA members published prior to 31 March 2011; that you provide a full and accurate accounting of Royalties due as per your contracts with each HWA member; and pay all future Royalties in full and on time.
We also request Dorchester audit your catalog and that of your Associates to determine that no fiction is offered for sale in electronic format in breach of authors’ copyright or other rights; and that Dorchester compensate HWA members for any electronic copies of their work that has already been sold in breach of their rights, no later than 30 April 2011. 
We request that Dorchester provide immediate active assistance to all HWA members wishing to revert rights where that reversion is consistent with Dorchester’s existing policies and/or contractual obligations.
Leisure/Dorchester should also cease and desist from publishing any material written by HWA members where that member has requested Leisure to do so within your mutual contractual obligations, and in any format - printed or electronic. 
Should Dorchester complete these requests and show ongoing good faith towards all authors, including HWA members, HWA will reconsider Dorchester’s status.
Rocky Wood 
President HWA (in accordance with Resolution of the HWA Board)
For more information from the HWA please click here. 


For an author's perspective, check out Brian Keene's homepage.

Backlist Not To Miss: Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson: Novels and Stories (The Lottery / The Haunting of Hill House / We Have Always Lived in the Castle)In this installment of "Backlist Not to Miss" I wanted to highlight one of my favorite writers, Shirley Jackson.  Last year, the Library of America released Shirley Jackson: Novels and Stories , with an introduction by Joyce Carol Oates, honoring the work of Jackson.

Before I go any further, I have to say that if you have never read Jackson's story, "The Lottery," stop reading this post, click here, read it, and come back.  Seriously.  Go! It is one of the best short stories ever written (horror or not).

Jackson's writing is an atmospheric and menacing blend of psychological suspense, horror, and dark fantasy.  These are stories that make you squirm without graphic violence.  They are character driven stories with a more literary style than her genre peers.

Jackson's work was ignored by critics for quite sometime precisely because she was so hard to pigeon hole into a genre.  She wasn't literary enough, but at the same time she wasn't horror enough either.  But her work has stood up to the test of time as Oates points out so well in Shirley Jackson: Novels and Stories.

One of the things that has helped to renew interest in Jackson's writing is the fact that popular fiction has caught up to her.  Writers in all genres are adding psychological and dark fantasy elements into all of their books.  However, while works like Jackson's are becoming more popular they are still just as hard to pigeon hole, so in 2008, the Shirley Jackson Awards were started to honor, "outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic."


For a full list of winners released in 2007, 2008, and 2009 use the links I have provided.  Titles that came out in 2010 are being considered right now and will be announced at Readercon 21 this summer.

If you like Joyce Carol Oates, Joe Hill, Alexandra Sokoloff, Sarah Langan, Sarah Waters, or Peter Straub you should try Shirley Jackson.

For the full Backlist Not to Miss archive, click here.

Review: The Horror! The Horror!

Just before heading off to vacation, I read The Horror! The Horror!: Comic Books the Government Didn't Want You to Read! by Jim Trombetta

This is a great book for anyone interested in the evolution of comic books and/or the horror genre during the 20th Century.  The book is extremely well laid out too.

The book is constructed of a series of essays in chronological order with examples of over 100 covers and pages of example comics.  He chronicles the witch hunt that Congress started by having hearings on comics which ultimately forced the comics industry to censor itself.

His main argument is that while these stories were shocking, they still captivated millions of readers.  Trombetta uses his research to show us the range of horror comics that were available, assesses their themes and appeal to readers, and then gives us the wonderful reproductions of examples.  I was particularly intrigued by the chapters on the earliest appearances of werewolves and zombies in these comics.

I loved the covers he included.  They are all the more striking after you read the essay with which they are paired, but this book shines when Trombetta includes entire stories.  I really felt like I was reading these comics in their proper historical context for the first time. While The Horror! The Horror! may not be as comprehensive a text on the comics hearings as David Hajdu's The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America, this book is worth a perusal for its unique blending of history with excellent visual examples.

One complaint is that he does not have enough images from industry leader EC, but I can imagine that has something to do with reproduction rights.  The examples Trombetta did include shine because he obviously thought very hard about which images and stories worked best to support his arguments.  That attention to detail makes the book stronger.

The Horror! The Horror! is a book for fans of comics and those who love old fashioned horror.  I was pleasantly surprised by the sophistication in the drawings and how they manipulated the readers emotions.  Some of these "old fashioned" comics were satisfyingly scary, even to someone like me who has "been there, done that."  I found myself going back to reexamine some of the covers.

Thankfully, many libraries bought this book after it got a good review in Booklist, so see if you can borrow a copy.  Mine came with a DVD with more images, but not every library loans those out.

Three Words That Describe This Book:  Horror Comics, Historical Analysis, Visually Satisfying

Readalikes:  Besides the aforementioned The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America, I would also suggest Four Color Fear: Forgotten Horror Comics of the 1950s by Greg Sadowski, The Weird World of Eerie Publications: Comic Gore That Warped Millions of Young Minds by Mike Howlett and The Mammoth Book of Best Horror Comics edited by Peter Normanton.

In terms of the best modern horror graphic novels, here is a preview from Chapter 13 of my upcoming book in which I list 10 Graphic Novel Picks for Horror Readers.  I will give you 5 for now: