RA for All...The Road Show!

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What I'm Reading: NightWhere

As I mentioned in this earlier post, I was honored to introduce John Everson at an event for librarians.  He was a huge hit! This was a big coup since out of the 100 people in the room, maybe 5 of us would call ourselves horror fans.

In preparation for the event, I read Everson's newest novel, NightWhere which is currently up for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Novel.  The awards will be announced on June 15th. And after reading NightWhere, I understand why this novel is up for a Bram Stoker Award.

Let's start with the frame.  As I said here, NightWhere is like most of Everson's works-- violent and sexual.  But it is not gratuitous sex and violence because of the complex and compelling frame he build to support the novel.  NightWhere is  an invite only sex club, or at least that is how it seems at first.  Rae is happily married to Mark, but she has always needed more sexually than him.  Mark happily indulged her needs by visiting different swingers clubs, but when Rae and Mark finally get an invite to the elusive NightWhere, things change forever.

Narrated alternatively by Rae and Mark, we see Rae loose herself to demons of NightWhere. And I am not exaggerating, there are real evil demons here.  She gets caught up in the sex and violence and her soul is being taken by the club and the evil force that runs it because this is no ordinary pop-up club.  It ceases existing during the day and magically reappears somewhere anew at night. Those inside subject themselves to horrible violence for pleasure--violence against themselves and others.  If you live until dawn, the club magically heals you while you sleep the day away.

Mark spend most of the book trying to get back into the club to save Rae.  He eventually gets some help, but Rae may be too far gone.

NightWhere begins with one of the best prologues I have read in awhile. It sets up an atmosphere of pure terror and dread that hangs over the introductory chapters of the novel. As a reader, I rushed through the first few chapters knowing something TERRIBLE was going to happen, and even with that knowledge and expectation, what Everson delivered was even more terrifying and awful than I had been imagining.  Kudos to him.  I read a lot of horror, and even I was shocked.

The novel also does a great job of creating a world where pure evil lurks just on the outskirts of the real world.  In my opinion, this is the best kind of horror; a story which COULD happen; a terror which could be lurking just around  the corner.  Specifically, as a Chicagoland resident, I was also interested in the Chicago and its suburbs setting.  The club NightWhere even appeared right near my actual house at one point in the novel.  Freaky...

As usual for Everson, the two protagonists were also very well developed.  I have said it before, but it bears repeating: in a male dominated genre, Everson writes female characters very well.

On a personal note, for me, there were too many sex scenes.  I started skimming them, but they do match the visceral violence punch for punch.  Together the sex and violence adds to the well built world of the club and its demons.  And, since it is the world building that is the strongest asset here, I was ultimately fine with it.

Finally, NightWhere pays off with a true horror ending.  There is no wimping out here.  Things end badly and the demons are still going...maybe even next setting up shop in a neighborhood near you...

Three Words That Describe This Book: graphic sex and violence, excellent world building, nightmarish atmosphere

Readalikes: John Everson's 2 biggest inspirations for his brand of horror are Clive Barker and Edward Lee.  Both write graphic horror like Everson, full of sex and violence. I would highly suggest Imajica by Barker and City Infernal by Lee.

If you are looking for more straight forward erotic horror, Lucy Taylor is the best for that.

I have heard people call this Fifty Shades for horror fans.  I agree but it is NOT horror for Fifty Shades fans.  Do not mix that up.  This is not a romance book at all.  It may be about a sex club, but romance fans will be disappointed.  There is no happily ever after for anyone here.  NightWhere is a bad, bad place that steals your soul.  Love, no matter how strong, cannot beat the demons.

But, if you have horror fans who want to also read erotica, NightWhere is the perfect book for them.

Finally, if you like Everson's character development, violence level, and world building, but could do with a little less sex, check out Brian Keene.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

STOPPING ALONG THE WAY: A Guest Post by Author John Everson

Today I will part of the Adult Reading Roundtable's Genre Boot Camp at the Naperville Public Library.  I am both a host, as a member of the Steering Committee, and a speaker at today's event.

I am also honored to be introducing our final speaker of the day, horror author and Naperville resident John Everson.

John is an award winning Horror author who I called a "Pulp King" in my book.  Here's how I defined a "Pulp King:"
This heading refers to the fact that they write mainly paperback horror novels. They are the best of the newer generation of these writers; in fact, all of the authors and titles included here are critically acclaimed if not award winners.  Although they each have their own style, all six authors rise above the mass of paperback horror offerings due to their above average character development and their originality in storytelling. They also all use a fairly high level of gore in their stories, incorporate a large coming-of-age theme, and have their protagonists fighting villains both human and supernatural. Finally, it is important to note that these authors can be expected to release at least one, if not more, novels a year and contribute to a few short story collections, all, quite possibly, for different publishers. 

Everson fits this mold. He is an author whose novels should be included in any public library collection that has any horror beyond Stephen King already.  His novels are crazy scary, featuring well developed characters that readers come to love, especially some of the best female characters you will find in paperback horror.  He is also one of the masters of setting an uneasy stage from the first page and then steadily, relentlessly builds the dread and anxiety to a level that literally overwhelms and envelops you as a reader. [For those librarians out there who are not horror readers themselves, I need to remind you that this is a good thing for horror fans].  Everson uses a lot of blood and sex to drive home his chills.

Earlier this year John and I did a book swap.  I gave him a copy of my book (which features him and his work in multiple places) and he gave me a copy of NightWhere for our collection. It is not just me who likes John's novels.  Our copy of NightWhere has been off the shelf since we got it, only returning this past weekend.  I wanted to write a review of the book, but I had to interlibrary loan it in order to get a copy. Speaking of, look for that review soon. In the meantime, NightWhere has also been named as a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award in the category of BEST NOVEL.  See, you really need to check this guy out.

I am honored that Everson took time out of his busy schedule (see below, he is off to New Orleans soon to, hopefully, take home his second Stoker Award) to not only appear at the ARRT event, but also for allowing me the chance to introduce him to a whole new audience of potential readers.  I am also happy to report that while John's books are evil, violent, and terrifying, he is a great guy.  He proves my adage that horror fans are not monsters, we just like to read about them.

I know not all of you could make it to Naperville, so in preparation for the today's event, I asked John if he would share some of his thoughts with my readers, near and far.  

So thanks John and take it away...

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STOPPING ALONG THE WAY
By John Everson

I really hate it when people pronounce pithy platitudes like “It’s all about the journey.” (I really like alliteration though).

They just sound so pat, so smug . Would you be out of your comfy chair taking the journey if you didn’t REALLY want to reach the destination?

There is, of course, some truth in the old saw though. Life really is a million little journeys to this, that and the other, and you spend a lot more time getting to any of the goalposts than you do actually enjoying those moments of victory or defeat at the end. So it is important to focus on what’s going on this minute… not to always be looking ahead. I used to be horribly impatient about it all. Still am sometimes, but I find my “zen” a little more often now.

Early in my writing career, I wrote a story about someone who goes nutters while “Waiting for the Mail.” The story was really about me, inspired by my obsessive impatience in waiting for those acceptance (and rejection) letters from magazines for my stories. Back then, I always had a dozen different stories shipped out to all sorts of books and magazines and I was constantly waiting and hoping for a reply on one of them. Every day I spent hours wondering if a good letter was going to arrive in the mail. Every day, I used to talk to my wife on the phone from work in the afternoon and ask “Is there anything for me in the mail?” Sometimes I made her open the notes when they came in, too impatient to wait until I got home from work. More often than not, they were “thanks, but…” letters. But now and then, there was a “Dear John” letter that said “Yes, we’d sacrifice small rodents for the privilege of putting your vile tale into print so 137 people can read it via mail order…”

Obviously, this was long before the age of e-mail and webzines. But you get the drift. I was always impatient about “the score.” It consumed me.

I’m starting to get more patient these days about actually reaching the goalposts… and enjoying the places in between. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still impatient when it comes to the status of my books and stories and I look forward to getting responses from editors (and sometimes I still prod them!). But I’m finding it easier to wait, to enjoy the simple things like listening to Internet radio while having a beer at night in my home office, after a long day at work.

Today I’m giving a talk to a group of Illinois librarians on the topic of my personal “author” journey… and horror fiction. It was an honor to be asked and I’ve been looking forward to this event for several weeks now. It’s at my local library, and I’ll be meeting librarians from all over the region – a wonderful opportunity to introduce them to my work (and hopefully, of course, they’ll then introduce it to their patrons). But part of me hates for it to actually get here… because once this blog is posted and the event begins, the day will flash by in a heartbeat. Sure, I’m a little nervous about giving the talk – what if I stumble, lose my train of thought, face a room full of blank stares? What if nobody laughs at my jokes and they all walk away thinking I’m an idiot? What if I discover at the end of the address that my zipper was open the whole time?

But those are honestly not big concerns.

I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of fellow booklovers, and it will all be great. But it will all be over too soon. Sometimes reaching the destination can be bittersweet, because, to quote another old saw, nothing lasts forever.

Likewise, the upcoming Bram Stoker Awards on June 15th.

This year, my sixth novel NightWhere, was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award in the Novel Category. Back in 2005, my first novel, Covenant was recognized for achievement in a First Novel, but this is the first time any of my books have been nominated in the general novel category, so naturally I’m excited. The awards are being given out in New Orleans next month, and I’ll be attending the ceremony, but part of me almost doesn’t want the event date to appear. For the past few weeks (and for a few weeks more) I’ve been a Bram Stoker “nominee”! There’s a good feeling to that – almost like, at the moment, everyone on the ballot is a winner. But once the announcements are made, a lot of authors will tighten their lips in a hard smile, and feel loss.

It would be amazing if NightWhere won – this was a novel I first envisioned a decade ago, but was frankly, too afraid to write for a long time. The plot called for it to be an over-the-top extreme, erotic horror novel, and I wondered “what would people think” if I went through with it. Now that it’s been out in the world for ten months with probably the most consistently positive reviews of my career and an award nomination, I guess I have my answer.

But I’m not impatient right now. I’m just happy it was nominated and enjoying the days leading up to the awards ceremony. Whatever the outcome, I’ll toast my fellow writers after the ceremony is done. It will be a great night of fellowship with a lot of people I respect as both writers and friends.

In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy talking books today with librarians – the people partially responsible for NightWhere coming into being, since librarians helped feed my thirst for stories of imagination as a kid. Oh, the hours I used to spend in the library!

So I guess I am enjoying the journey. There’s a story in every stop along the way.

Who needs a destination?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Contest offer by Jeffrey Wilson


Dark Fiction writer Jeffrey Wilson, author of The Donors (review here) and friend of RA for All: Horror (click here for his guest post) was kind enough to pass on information about the first ever FANFEST at the International Thriller Writer's Thrillerfest coming in July.

Wilson also has a new supernatural thriller coming out in June, entitled Fade to Black.  I will have a review up on that next month.  But just a note about Wilson.  His brand of supernatural thriller is very popular to a general public library audience.  We had great success circulating The Donors last Fall.  We even featured it on our new release section of the webpage.  He writes compelling story lines with sympathetic characters, who encounter evil supernatural beings, but the good guys come out on top in his books.  They have more traditional dark fantasy endings rather than pure horror ones (where it is not unusual these days for the main character to die). This makes Wilson a great choice for people who want to experience a bit of horror, but don't want to be overwhelmed by terror.

See below for details on the contest.

JOURNALSTONE PUBLISHING AND AUTHOR JEFFREY WILSON ANNOUNCE THEIR CONTEST FOR TICKETS TO THE INAUGURAL FANFEST EVENT AT INTERNATIONAL THRILLER WRITER’S THRILLERFEST IN NEW YORK.

JournalStone’s Jeffrey Wilson, author of THE DONORS ,  THE TRAITEUR’S RING, and the soon to be released supernatural thriller, FADE TO BLACK, will be one of 22 International Thriller Writers authors who will host fans at the Inaugural “Fanfest” event, a new addition to ITW’s annual Thrillerfest held each July in New York City. The Fanfest will be an intimate event affording fans the opportunity to spend time with some of their favorite authors, mingle with the writers and other fans, enjoy cocktails and receive some great gifts from their sponsoring author. Other ITW authors attending include Lee Child, Heather Graham, RL Stine, Steve Berry, Michael Palmer, MJ Rose, and Joseph Finder, just to name a few. It promises to be a blast, so don’t miss your chance to attend.
Each author and publishing house will use its own criteria to select the lucky fans. Here is how JournalStone’s will work:
Readers wishing to attend the event, to be held July 12th from 6:00-8:00 pm at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan, will send an email to Jeff explaining why they should be the one to attend and spend the evening with Jeff and his fellow ITW authors and fans.
The winners will be notified by email not later than June 1st.
The Winners will be responsible for any travel or accommodations to and from the event. Attendance at Thrillerfest is not required, but this is a great event so why not make a weekend of it?
Send you emails to Jeffrey@jeffreywilsonfiction.com as soon as possible. Be sure to include your full name as well a contact email where we can reach you, and of course your compelling reasons why you would like to join us in New York. In the subject line please put ITW CONTEST.
Please do NOT enter if you are unable to make it to New York on July 12th to attend the event!
Learn more about Thrillerfest and Fanfest at http://www.thrillerfest.com/
Learn more about Jeff and his work at http://www.jeffreywilsonfiction.com and look for his newest book, FADE TO BLACK, scheduled for release on June 14th, at your favorite bookseller.
FanFest

Come meet your 2013 Participating Authors along with ITW Co-Presidents Kathleen Antrim and Lee Child!
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When: Friday, July 12, 2013 from 6:00-8:00pm
Where: Ballroom I at the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan
We’re very excited about our first ever FanFest! Certain ITW authors are hosting a special signing and cocktail party for a group of lucky fans. This event is open to all ThrillerFest registrants and the selected fans that each ITW author host invites. Fans will need a special badge to get in, so please check in at registration before heading to the party.
The evening kicks off at 6:00pm with a special signing for all the FanFest authors. Next, everyone will gather in Ballroom I at the Grand Hyatt for a cocktail party from 6:30-8:00pm where they can spend quality time with their favorite author and indulge in the beverage of their choice.
Fans will take home a special swag bag created especially for them by their ITW author host along with lots of good memories! Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

My All New Horror Webinar is Now Available!

I'm back.

Well, what started as a break for Spring Break turned into a 1 month hiatus for the horror blog.

I was actually working on new horror material for a webinar that is hosted by the Mid-America Library Alliance. Click here for details.  I have 2 webinars there.  One is Re-Charge Your Book Club but the other is Thrills and Chills @ Your Library: How to Help Your Scariest Patrons.

Anyone can purchase these webinars for viewing; you do not have to be a member.  Again, all the info is here.

So while I was not on the blog working on horror in April, I was busy creating new content in a different form. I am very happy with this 1 hour intro to all things horror for the public librarian and public library patron.  It has a ton of new material, even for those who own or have read the book.

But now I am back.  I will be posting 1 to 2 times a week with an increase as we get closer to ALA where I will be in attendance promoting horror authors and my own book (published by ALA Editions); including giveaways and coupons.

I have some guest posts and reviews in the works too.  And of course, I am currently gobbling up NOS4A2.  So far, it has been worth the wait, and I am so glad that I listed Joe Hill as the "New King of Horror." in my book.  He is living up to it and then some.