Summer Scares Resources

Click here to immediately access the Summer Scares Resource page so that you can add some professionally vetted horror titles into your reading suggestions and fiction collections for all age levels.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

#HorrorForLibraries Giveaway 106: The Clackity by Lora Senf

Today #HorrorForLibraries is celebrating MG Horror with a giveaway of an ARC of one the best Middle Grade Horror titles of the year. It is also a debut. Details below, but first, here are the rules on how to enter:

  1. You need to be affiliated with an American public library. My rationale behind that is that I will be encouraging you to read these books and share them with patrons. While many of them are advanced reader copies that you cannot add to your collections, if you get the chance to read them, my hope is that you will consider ordering a copy for your library and give away the ARC away as a prize or pass it on to a fellow staff member.
  2. If you are interested in being included in any giveaway at any time, you must email me at zombiegrl75 [at] gmail [dot] com with the subject line "#HorrorForLibraries." In the body of the email all you have to say is that you want to be entered and the name of your library.
  3. Each entry will be considered for EVERY giveaway. Meaning you enter once, and you are entered until you win. I will randomly draw a winner on Fridays sometime after 5pm central. But only entries received by 5pm each week will be considered for that week. I use Random.org and have a member of my family witness the "draw"based off your number in the Google Sheet.
  4. If you win, you are ineligible to win again for 4 weeks; you will have to re-enter after that time to be considered [I have a list of who has won, when, and what title]. However, if you do not win, you carry over into the next week. There is NO NEED to reenter.

Click here to see giveaway #105. Our winner was Christina from Thayer [MA] Public Library.

Now on to today's giveaway, The Clackity by Lora Senf. Publisher summary:

Reminiscent of Doll Bones and Small Spaces, this “delightfully eerie” middle grade novel tells the story of a girl who must rescue her aunt by entering a world of ghosts, witches, and monsters to play a game with deadly consequences. 

Evie Von Rathe lives in Blight Harbor—the seventh-most haunted town in America—with her Aunt Desdemona, the local paranormal expert. Des doesn’t have many rules except one: Stay out of the abandoned slaughterhouse at the edge of town. But when her aunt disappears into the building, Evie goes searching for her.

There she meets The Clackity, a creature who lives in the shadows and seams of the slaughterhouse. The Clackity makes a deal with Evie to help get Des back in exchange for the ghost of John Jeffrey Pope, a serial killer who stalked Blight Harbor a hundred years earlier. Evie reluctantly embarks on a journey into a strange otherworld filled with hungry witches, penny-eyed ghosts, and a memory-thief, all while being pursued by a dead man whose only goal is to add Evie to his collection of lost souls. Will she ever find Des, or is The Clackity planning something far more sinister

With the success of Summer Scares, the HWA's commitment to Middle Grade Horror has also increased, including the addition of the first Bram Stoker Award for Middle Grade Horror for 2023. And the timing is perfect because middle grade horror is producing some of the best horror out there.

Over the last few years, I have been posting about Middle Grade fiction in general, writing about why I think more adults should be reading it. Here is an example of one of those discussions.

I am so excited to be a part of this push to get Middle Grade Horror the accolades it deserves while also getting it into more readers hands. The Clackity provides a great example and starting point. 

I will be writing about Middle Grade Horror a lot more in the coming months; in fact, I have a longer discussion of Middle Grade Horror on the general blog today, but in the mean time, enter to win an ARC of The Clackity courtesy of Senf. 

Remember, enter once and you will be entered going forward.

Good luck!

Thursday, November 17, 2022

#HorrorForLibraries Giveaway #105: All Hallows by Christopher Golden

After a few weeks off to recover from 31 Days of Horror, the #HorrorForLibraries giveaway is back, and boy is it a good one. This week I am offering the upcoming book by a NYT Bestselling author, a title I just gave a star to in the current issue of Booklist. Details below, but first, here are the rules on how to enter:

  1. You need to be affiliated with an American public library. My rationale behind that is that I will be encouraging you to read these books and share them with patrons. While many of them are advanced reader copies that you cannot add to your collections, if you get the chance to read them, my hope is that you will consider ordering a copy for your library and give away the ARC away as a prize or pass it on to a fellow staff member.
  2. If you are interested in being included in any giveaway at any time, you must email me at zombiegrl75 [at] gmail [dot] com with the subject line "#HorrorForLibraries." In the body of the email all you have to say is that you want to be entered and the name of your library.
  3. Each entry will be considered for EVERY giveaway. Meaning you enter once, and you are entered until you win. I will randomly draw a winner on Fridays sometime after 5pm central. But only entries received by 5pm each week will be considered for that week. I use Random.org and have a member of my family witness the "draw"based off your number in the Google Sheet.
  4. If you win, you are ineligible to win again for 4 weeks; you will have to re-enter after that time to be considered [I have a list of who has won, when, and what title]. However, if you do not win, you carry over into the next week. There is NO NEED to reenter.

Click here to see giveaway #104. Our winner was Hana from Port Charlotte [FL] Public Library.

Now on to today's giveaway, All Hallows by Christopher Golden. 

I will let the book review speak for itself. You can also click here for my longer post with more information about this title.

Enter now and you are entered going forward. I will have a copy of the upcoming Stephen Graham Jones coming ups very soon. You don't want to miss out.

STAR REVIEW All Hallows By Christopher Golden Jan. 2023. 336p. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (9781250280299); e-book, $14.99 (9781250280305). First published November 1, 2022 (Booklist)

Bestselling Horror author Golden is back with an original and realistically frightening entry into the popular Halloween night subgenre, but readers will rejoice as they encounter it any time of year. October 31, 1984, on a suburban cul-de-sac, Rick Barbosa is setting up his famous Haunted Wood attraction in the back yard with his 17 year-old daughter, Chloe, for the last time. The entire neighborhood, like most of the country, is at a crossroads as societal change and family drama are coming to a head up and down the street. But this year there are also some creepy, unaccompanied children mixing in with the trick or treaters, children who are from another time and only have until Midnight to escape “The Cunning Man.” Uneasy from the opening moments, this tale builds its tension relentlessly with multiple points of view from a range of neighbors of all ages, revealing unsettling domestic dramas, until it bursts wide open, with multiple twists, each revealing something more violent and terrifying than anyone could have imagined, and leaving no one unscathed. Suggest confidently to fans of a wide range of fresh, violent, and immersive folk horror such as Lute by Thorne, The Autumnal by Kraus, and Hex by Olde Heuvelt.

YA: With its Slenderman meets Stranger Things vibe, Halloween night setting, and a strong cast of teen protagonists carrying the narration, this will be a year-round crowd pleaser for teen readers, replacing titles like Something Wicked This Way Comes as the new Halloween set standard bearer.

Click here for even more by me about this title.

Good luck! 

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Welcome to the HWA's First Annual Spotlight on Veterans In Horror

Last month I welcomed Horror Author David Rose to 31 Days of Horror. You can read his Why I Love Horror essay here.

I met David at StokerCon in Denver this past May when he approached me to ask about creating a Veterans Committee for the HWA to honor those who came before us, honor and promote our members who served, and provide insight into the relationship between veteranhood and a passion for writing horror.

I loved the idea and we made plans to get to work to make it happen. We needed to identify HWA members who are veterans and allow them to get involved ASAP. Using the established HWA spotlight month posts which run on the website throughout the year, we claimed November to Spotlight Veterans in Horror. David did most of the work. He came up with the interview questions, solicited people to join us, and prepped everything to run all month long under the guidance of our awesome social media team.

This is just the beginning of the committee's work, however. David has also started a column in the member monthly newsletter and is recruiting vets to help plan more things.

Below you can see David's introduction to the month and his answers to the interview questions. Please keep an eye on the HWA page all month for more. David and I were elated to see how many HWA member vets reached out to us to participate. 

You can also access past "spotlight" months from the top of the page as well.

Finally, I want to personally thank David for coming up to me with his idea and for his hard work to see it through. I assisted him to get it all going, but he did all the heavy lifting. And he was correct to approach me because there are so many HWA member vets, from diverse identities, who came together to make the coming month's spotlight possible. 

The HWA is a member driven organization, and as the Secretary, I am the first point of contact between the members and the board. So if you too have an idea that you want to pas on up the chain, email me at secreatry@horror.org.




Veterans in Horror Spotlight Introduction by David Rose 

 David Rose is the author of, among others, The Scrolls of Sin and Lovecraft's Iraq. The latter has been included in the 2022 HWA Bram Stoker Award® Reading List. His forthcoming work includes “Shain and Cinnastasia” inSuperstition from Redwood Press, as well as the essay titled “McNaughton’s Witches” in S.T. Joshi’s Penumbra journal. He lives in Orlando, Florida and is a member of the HWA and SFWA.

The Uniform, The Individual November is going to be a very special month for the Horror Writers 
Association. For the first time in its proud history, officially, members who served in their nation’s military will be recognized in the Veterans in Horror Spotlight, via the brand new Veterans Committee.

Here’s the thing, vets are a diverse bunch. And I mean diverse with some real oomph behind it. Political leanings, religions, personalities akin to Rambo while others used to gleefully set up the D&D game in the duty hut. The ranks are teeming with individuality, and a few of us even found our way to the written word. Though vets themselves need little exposure to how vast the veteran community truly is, broadening the public’s and industry’s perception of our community is as noble as it is overdue. 

Promoting HWA members who are vets, whilst also showcasing their work and uniqueness: this will be achieved via a two-prong effort. First, Unquiet Front, a column that has been appearing in the HWA monthly member newsletter. The second is the spotlight itself, where vets will provide their answers to a few questions the Veteran Committee has since shot forth. 

We hope you find this addition both informative and fun. 
 
To Get a Feel For How This Month Will Go, Here is My Interview. Hope You Come Back to Meet More of Our Vet Members All Month Long. 

Tell us a bit about your military service. Years? Branch? Specialty?

I was in the Marine Corps from 2002 to 2006 (plus a little volunteer service back in 2009, but it was so brief I hardly count it). I'd started in artillery but kicked and screamed until I was finally allowed to try out for Marine Recon. Upon passing its hellacious vetting I became a Recon Marine; something I'm eternally proud of, and the role in which I deployed to Iraq in late 2004.

What role, if any, did reading and writing play during your military service?

Prior to joining, I really hadn't read much other than The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. It was in the barracks of Camp Lejeune and inside the cramped trailers outside Fallujah where I became a real reader. Henry Miller, Michael Crichton, Dan Brown, you name it. If it was a portal my head was stuck through. Writing: I had written a lot as a kid. In fact, between 5th grade and my senior year, English homework read aloud had risen the eyebrows of a few teachers who I suppose I'd, up until then, given them reason to view me mostly as trouble, or to not know I existed altogether. Anyways, a couple of years into my enlistment I found writing again. It was sporadic and navel-gazing and hilariously dripping with young 20s angst...but it served its purpose, you could say. Some of it was poetry and said "high art" was amassed into a book called From Sand and Time. It won a national award in 2018, ha! 

What inspired you to start writing?

I don't know, and I hope I never learn that answer. 

What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?

Will this be viewed as a confession? Heresy? A bit of both? I never got into horror proper. Don't get me wrong, I love Stephen King and marvel at how Ligotti can even put his pants on in the morning if he views the world so bleakly. But my taste prompted me down the shadowy well of dark fantasy and its conjoining tunnel: weird fiction. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith and their unsung genius of a literary descendent; the late, great Brian McNaughton. This is the work that demented me like wine, so much now I am driven to make a contribution.

I think at the heart of this question is why do you like things that are scary? I classify fright into the broader genus of darkness, and, for me, the villain almost always steals the show. A "good villain" makes the difference between a masterpiece and something that was...well, okay. My mother's preacher once told me I romanticized darkness. I think he meant this as a precaution, but it apparently launched me into a writing career.

What role, if any, does your military experience play in your writing? Until recently, I made a point not to include much of my military experience in my work. Not that I'm traumatized by it or that I'm ashamed of it or anything, I think I just wanted to hammer away at objects that I viewed as entirely my own. Interestingly enough, though, looking back I see how brotherhood (good or bad), relationships with authority (good and bad), and violence all play key roles in stories that take place in an entirely different world.

These days, I'm weaving my times in Recon with my work like one big, blood-soaked basket. It's been really fun, and I hope to do so for many years to come.

What is your favorite depiction of military service in all of literature? Why?

That is an interesting question because the answer, I believe, will expose much about how a person views the military, and perhaps the world at large. There are so many good books I've read about war and its warriors -- Bravo Two Zero, Generation Kill, Marine! The Life of Chesty Puller and, in a way, its utterly heartbreaking sequel Fortunate Son -- all of these enriched and (as good books should) changed my life. It may just point to the iconoclast in me, but my vote has to go to Anthony Swofford's Jarhead. I read it at a time when I'd just received a Ph.D. in the disparity between reality and officialdom. Through Swofford, a voice whispered in my ear. It spoke of truth and beauty, and how those things are one and the same, despite whatever gatekeeper may rail on otherwise. This realization has informed much of my fiction and I couldn't be more grateful.

How do you feel military veterans and the broader military experience has thus far been represented in the horror genre?

I'm not sure it really has. Seems to me there's a lot of space for creation here.

Who are some civilian characters in horror that you think would have made for great soldiers?

I have to pull from the deep bag of dark fantasy, but I think Ringard in McNaughton's "Ringard and Dendra" would have made a fine infantryman. There's something about his calm toughness. He would certainly do well in the woods, and his special relationship with trees may very well serve as an additional weapon, if not an information-gathering system [insert chuckle and self-satisfaction that I haven't given too much away].

Who are some military veteran horror authors you recommend our audience check out?

Hmmm, I'm going to go with Charles L. Grant (1942-2006). His style isn't the easiest for me personally, but there's no denying his place in the genre. This past StokerCon, Thomas Monteleone mentioned him to me. Thanks, Thomas!

What’s something about veterans most people don’t know?

Veterans are way more diverse than the general public assumes. There's one boilerplate narrative out there that champions each and every veteran as a selfless, patriotic hero. There's another which contends in a rather patronizing way that vets are the victims of sly propaganda -- and the "best and the brightest" is more a euphemism for "you poor things." Neither is true. When it comes to motivations and beliefs, vets are almost as diverse as the populations they come from. I'm rather sure the answers from my fellow HWA members during this spotlight will show this to be so.

Monday, October 31, 2022

31 Days of Horror: Day 31-- Introducing 2023's Summer Scares Spokesperson....Daniel Kraus

Today is the day, the announcement of the 2023 Summer Scares Spokesperson. You can click here to access the Summer Scares Resource page to read the full press release. 

It's New York Times bestselling author Daniel Kraus!

Kraus is not new to Summer Scares. Rotters was one of our inaugural YA picks back in 2019, and he has filled in whenever we needed an extra author every year since. And, he is also a librarian and former editor at our sponsor, Booklist.

But this year, we are especially excited to have Kraus officially on board for 2 main reasons.

  1. Kraus is a Guest of Honor at StokerCon 2023 in Pittsburgh this coming June. We are excited to celebrate him doubly at the event.
  2. And this is KEY, Kraus writes Horror for every age level. We wanted an author who represented the adults, teens, and middle grade readers we are seeking, and I would argue that no one else in the Horror world has proven that he can scare readers at every age as well as Kraus can.
You can visit the Summer Scares 2023 Resource Page for today' press release and the 2019-2022 Summer Scares Archive for more information about Summer Scares but for 31 Days of Horror, we asked Kraus to share his thoughts on the program and Horror in general.

What he gave us is absolute Horror perfection. Enjoy.

----------------------------------------

Being named the 2023 Summer Scares spokesperson feels like coming home.


It also feels like a call to arms.


The small Iowa town where I grew up only had one modest library, but it was the stuff horror dreams (and maybe a few outright nightmares?) were made of. Built in 1893, the Jefferson County Library was the first Carnegie Library west of the Mississippi. Though no longer used as a library, it still stands today—and is every bit as spooky. Stern red brick. High vertical windows. An archway over the entryway featuring a jade-eyed owl. It’s both handsome and slightly reminiscent of a nineteenth-century lunatic asylum.


[If you want an image: http://www.fairfieldculturaldistrict.org/heritage/Library/siteindex.htm]


Inside, it only got spookier. Old portraits with glaring eyes. Blank-faced statues. Two small floors of stacks, which grew dark near the back. A giant, outright terrifying bison head hanging over a stairway leading to a dimly lit top-floor museum. Inside were everything from shark jaws to taxidermized animals that had started to rot through their fur.


I got scared a lot at that library. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.


[If you want spooky images of the library in the 1890s: http://www.fairfieldculturaldistrict.org/heritage/Library/tour.htm]


If I were transported back in that library circa 1987, I could take you directly to the Stephen King section. To the paperback spinner rack where I first came upon Clive Barker’s Books of Blood. To the shelf with the bound copies of old Mad Magazines, which, for reasons I can’t articulate, scared me senseless. To the corner of the kid’s section featuring nonfiction titles on ghosts, hauntings, and the paranormal. To the LPs. Oh, lord, the LPs. How many times did I go into my basement, turn out the lights, and lose my young mind over haunted vinyl like Sounds to Make You Shiver!, House of Terror, and A Story of Dracula, the Wolfman, and Frankenstein, which I can still quote from verbatim.


The library was filled with frights. But unlike the threats and insecurities of school bullies, creepy adults, and the half-understood scourges of poverty, mental illness, and abuse all around me—all around everyone, no matter what town you lived in—the library’s frights could be controlled


I could dial up the horror whenever I wanted: Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon, its spooky dust jacket a taunting dare. Or I could dial it back down: Watership Down, a book about rabbits for crying out loud, but recommended via King’s Danse Macabre—and a lot more harrowing than I expected. (I read a large-print edition, by the way, the only copy the library had.) It all worked its dark magic.


Horror didn’t just change my life. It saved it. 


In the 1980s, the pervading idea was that children and teens who were into horror were, at best, budding perverts and sickos, and at worst, up-and-coming satanic cultists. This notion wasn’t helped by the flourishing of VHS rental businesses that relegated the horror section to the scuzziest back corner, equating it with the Adult section behind the curtain. Grimy, grindhouse-era box cover art seemed to revel in it with such infamous box covers as Faces of Death and Fulci’s Zombie. Horror in that era conjured up images of 42nd Street New York cinemas—drug-addicted sleazoids getting murdered by black-gloved knife-wielders. In a cruddy dumpster inside a seedy Manhattan alley—that was where your kid’s body would be found if you let them continue down horror’s grim path. 


My choice of genres, in other words, wasn’t the popular choice, nor the choice promoted by most adults and parents. My mom was an exception; I’ve written about her influence dozens of times. Who I ought to celebrate more, however, were my librarians.


Did the books I checked out at the library upset me? Often they did. But that was, and is, the value of horror to me: the testing the limits. As a kid, that meant finding out what scared me, retreating a bit, analyzing my reaction, and then returning to the scene of the crime and borrowing that book again, or renting that movie again, to see if I’d mastered my reaction over it. 


A horror fan might run away—but they always come back.


Many people lose this adventurous spirit as they get older. Not horror readers, and certainly not horror writers. We are always pressing, always probing, always seeing how far we are willing to go. This doesn’t make us lesser citizens of the world. It makes us better citizens of the world. 


Time and again, you’ll hear the old chestnut from those who have met a horror artist and said with astonishment: “I couldn’t believe how nice they were!” That is correct. Horror writers and readers are empathy experts. We understand the commonality of fear. And it is fear—and fear’s sister emotion, hope—that drives us, at a societal and biologic level, toward every major decision of our lives. This is how, piece by piece, culture evolves.


Where do the most important societal changes come from? The fringes. What is the genre most identified with fringes? Horror. Along with romance/erotica, I would argue, horror is the genre that operates on deepest of gut levels. It is the bellwether, the harbinger. It the genre that not only dares to be transgressive, but has transgression imprinted into its very DNA.


The same things that make horror the genre that understands fear is what makes horror the genre that welcomes one and all. Because in the dead of night, when our lives are threatened, when the blood and adrenaline are pumping, there are no divisions between us. We realize that we are all part of the same family.


And who are the midwives of that family? Who are the hosts that bring so many of us together, to celebrate what scares us, thereby celebrating what we have in common? Librarians. I am endlessly grateful to the librarians who had confidence that I, and millions of others, could navigate our boundaries as readers. The librarians working today are doing that same work, fighting to help readers find themselves as children, teens, or adults, and doing so under increasingly hostile conditions. We must support them in every way we can. 


It’s only fair. They supported us first.


Daniel Kraus is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and graphic novels. He co-authored The Living Dead with legendary filmmaker George a. Romero. With Guillermo del Toro, he co-authored The Shape of Water, based on the same idea the two created for the Oscar-winning film. Also with del Toro, Kraus co-authored Trollhunters, which was adapted into the Emmy-winning Netflix series. He has won two Odyssey Awards (for Rotters and Scowler), and The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch was named one of Entertainment Weekly‘s Top 10 Books of the Year. His books have been Library Guild selections, YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults picks, Bram Stoker finalists, and more. His work has been translated into over 20 languages. Daniel lives with his wife in Chicago. Visit him at danielkraus.com.

Sunday, October 30, 2022

31 Days of Horror: Day 30-- A Goodbye From HWA President John Palisano

Today I would like to formally say goodbye to a dear friend and our fearless HWA leader, John Palisano. Tomorrow is officially his last day as the President of HWA. 

John has been kind and welcoming to me since the very beginning, when I knew no one as a Guest of Honor at StokerCon 2017. After many years of service to HWA, John is stepping down and passing the keys to the Horror kingdom into the very capable hands of another John, John Edward Lawson.

There will be much time to talk about Lawson in the future, but today, I asked Palisano to participate in 31 Days, not to tell us why he loves Horror [which he has done before], but rather, to make a final public statement as President, and in true JP fashion, he did not disappoint.

Love you man. Can't wait to work with you again,

And now, here is JP.

-------------------------------------------

We could spend this valuable time reciting a list of accomplishments, or reviewing the highlights and lowlights of my service to the members of the HWA. You’d like the salacious stuff, wouldn’t you? Of course.

But all of that’s been well documented already. My preference is to leave you with a dark fable, because what it all comes down to for each and every one of us—the reason we are here—the reason we’ve been drawn together inside these torch lit caves and around these campfires—are stories. Specifically very, very dark stories. So, here’s one that says goodbye just as it says hello. 

 *** 

Silhouettes form in the gray mist. Fellow travelers arrive, called toward the dark, fantastic light to find and mine the stories and carry them across the icky, blood-soaked sand. The treasures they find can be so exquisite—like the burning sensation from a lingering cut. As much as it hurts, the itch feels good enough to scratch and obsess over while glimpsing the layers of fat and tendon beneath a calloused hand.

As the shapes approach, I think of what a gift it’s been to sit on this dark shore’s lifeguard stand—one made from the sea-weathered bones of the guides who’ve served before me. The travelers come, some well-prepared and just looking for the lantern’s light to guide them toward the next outpost. Others come hungry and in need of nourishment and strength, all carrying their own stories to tell.

To all I say, “May your travels be light and your words carry you far” as they pass. The night sky turns red as a crimson sun rises over a sea as dark as pitch. Millions of small wave crests glisten like faraway stars. Now it’s time.

From behind the vast, limitless shroud of sky and sea, light footsteps approach. Soon, another slender silhouette approaches. His face is familiar. His demeanor is calm and robust. He reaches out a hand. “I’m ready,” he says. “Are you?”

“Yes,” I say. “Time for the transfer.” With a sure hand, I offer the lantern, holding it for a moment until I’m sure he’s got it. When he does, I nod. “Now it’s yours to shepherd well.” “Of course,” he says. “That’s why I answered the call.”

The sands open at my feet. I slip downward, the ground taking me in. I can feel mites biting as the Earth surrounds me. Shutting my eyes to the pain, I seperate my thoughts from my mind and think of a thousand stories written by two-thousand hands. Buried to my neck, my gaze takes in the new lantern holder just as its dark anti-light beams blaze. The dark eats anything too bright.

The new lantern holder climbs up onto the station, it made of bones cracked and full, darkened from the sea winds and spray.

Soon my bones will be made a part of the guard tower, too—just as soon as the sand spits them out, clean and glistening with saliva and salt water. They’ll be added and placed where needed, just as many others have before mine.

Darkness curtains me as I’m swallowed. The mites breach the innermost chambers of my skull. Other than my bones, I’ll leave a dark mark on the sands, its shape an organic puzzle for those who might encounter it. In time it will wither away; wind and tides will insure as much.

The travelers will keep coming, drawn by the dark beams, their journeys only just begun. The last thing I hear is his voice, speaking to a new arrival. 

“May your travels be light and your words carry you far.” 

 *** 

Here’s to you, all within the dark light of the HWA—and to those outside its walls, too. Thank you for allowing me to guide you these past years. John Edward Lawson is going to be an amazing lantern holder. I can’t wait to see how the HWA grows over the next several years. See you somewhere along the dark shores of discovery, friends. 

“May your travels be light and your words carry you far.”

Memento Mori 

John Palisano 
October 31, 2008— October 31, 2022

Saturday, October 29, 2022

31 Days of Horror: Day 29: An excerpt from Nuzo Onoh's A Dance for the Dead out This Tuesday

Author Nuzo Onoh is back after a five year hiatus with a brand new novel [out 11/1] and she offered all of us an exclusive except.  You can also read this excellent CrimeReads piece she wrote this week entitled "5 Female Demagogues of Horror.

Below is some information about Onoh and her novel, A Dance for the Dead which received this excellent advanced blurb:

“Nuzo Onoh’s A DANCE FOR THE DEAD is a thrilling, creepy, and moving novel about betrayal, sacrifice, redemption…Very powerful. A story I won’t soon forget.”

--Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and The Cabin at the end of the World


It has been five years since Nuzo Onoh, widely known as the Queen of African horror, released a novel. In that interval, she has published a novella, The Unclean, been twice longlisted by the British Science Fiction Association Award and shortlisted by the Nommo Awards, published stories in multiple anthologies including The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from African and the African Diaspora, Africa Risen Anthology, Picnic in the Graveyard anthology, and the highly acclaimed collection, Revelations: Horror Writers for Climate Action featuring many of the big and rising names in the horror genre, amongst several other anthologies.


For Nuzo’s fans and horror lovers around the globe, the long wait for another African Horror chiller is finally over. Nuzo’s latest novel, A DANCE FOR THE DEAD, is released on 1st November, 2022 by Stygian Sky Media. The novel is described on the publisher’s website as “a chilling African-horror tale of sibling betrayal, dark rituals, malevolent curses, and supernatural vengeance by the undisputed “Queen of African Horror” Nuzo Onoh.” 


The highly prestigious Publishers Weekly, describes the book as a “gripping dark fantasy…The vibrant worldbuilding and steady pace keep the pages flying. Readers are sure to be impressed”. Acclaimed horror author, Jeremy Bates has this to say about the book, “Nuzo Onoh’s novel, A DANCE FOR THE DEAD is a mesmerizing and terrifying thrill-ride from start to finish. I haven’t read anything really like this before.” And the award-winning Australian author, Eugen Bacon writes, “Nuzo Onoh writes simply and powerfully, masterful at a calibre of African horror that yanks out your outrage, solidifies your fear.” 


Going by the mostly 5-star early reviews on Goodreads, the Queen of African Horror is back to her rightful throne. A DANCE FOR THE DEAD follows the tragic story of two princes, Ife and Diké, and the consequences of betrayals, abuse of power, prejudice, and supernatural vengeance. In hallmark Onoh writing, the book brims with superstitions, powerful magic, malevolent ghosts and brutal cultural practices in the notorious Ukari village, the fictitious African village in Onoh’s stories that has become the equivalent of Derry in Stephen King’s works.


The book begins with an African saying, “When a man’s penis grows too big for his loincloth, he shouldn’t be shocked when a monkey mistakes it for its banana” But readers should not be deceived by this humorous opening. While there are flashes of humour in the story, the plot is one that is filled with the kind of terror and brutality that will leave readers unsettled long after they have read the final page.


Prince Diké is the first son of the King, heir to the throne and leader of the fearsome warrior cult, the Ogwumii. His younger brother, the handsome Prince Ife, is a famed dancer, with an addiction to Palm-wine and merry-making. Despite being engaged for over three years, Ife is still to marry the village beauty, Ada of the Nightingale Voice. In frustration, the king instructs Diké to arrange with the Ogwumii warriors to abduct Ife and force him into marriage.


Ife panics. His best friend, Emeka, suggests they abduct Diké instead. Dike’s abduction would plunge the kingdom into panic and scuttle the unwanted marriage to Ada of the Nightingale Voice. Emeka has always hated and envied Diké and Ife, unaware of the dastardly intention behind Emeka’s plan, agrees to the abduction.


The book blurb states:  On a moon-lit night, Diké, heir to the Kingdom and leader of the terrifying warrior cult, the Ogwumii, falls asleep inside his bedroom. He wakes up to find himself trapped within the secret shrine of the village deity, a dark cave forbidden to all save the powerful witchdoctors. Overnight, the mighty warrior-prince becomes an Osu- an untouchable and outcast. In disgraced exile in the forbidden shrine, his sole companion is the raging ghost of a murdered slave girl, wrongly sacrificed to the gods on the false prophecy of a lecherous witchdoctor. To break the Osu curse, Diké must find the traitors who orchestrated his downfall and embark on a terrifying journey to the ancestors' realm, a deadly quest that could end his life or return him to full citizenship and glory.


This brief synopsis already gives readers a taste of the dark thrill awaiting them. The ghosts are powerful and malevolent, while the witchdoctor rules in evil supremacy. Intrigues and treachery are abound and readers will be left rooting for vengeance and redemption. The below extract from the book will give readers a taste of what to expect from this latest offering from The Queen of African Horror. Happy reading.

_________________________________


(Except from A DANCE FOR THE DEAD)


A terse silence hung in the air, a silence of screeching hate. The witchdoctor stared coldly at the gathered warriors.


“Diké, son of Ezeala of Oma clan, hear this!” he pointed a blood-reddened finger at Diké. “I once again pronounce the curse of The Shadow Crows on you! A dark cloud now hovers over your head, a cloud of crows, the shadow of misfortune and pain. You have become the foolish chicken that walked out of the protection of its mother’s wings and became food to the preying hawk. Even as you stand before me today, your body has already become meat-feast to the grave worms.”


 Dibia Okpoko turned and faced the stunned warriors, his eyes blazing. “Hear this! Any of you warriors who refuses to abduct the slave-girl for the sacrifice, shall also be burdened with the curse of The Shadow Crows. Your foolish leader has commanded that you reject the heart of the slave-girl and I will not punish you for obeying your leader. That is the law of your cult, after all. But you must obey the laws of the land by performing your duty to the gods, which is to bring the human sacrifice into the shrine. Go now and bring the slave-girl that you may all live. As for your leader, he is doomed. I, Dibia Okpoko, have spoken, and the words I sow have never failed to harvest crops.” 


He turned back to Diké and spat into the soil. “As for you, proud prince, upon your foolish head be your doom. The black birds have spread their invisible wings over you and the clouds above you have turned to night in the middle of the day. Start counting your days, proud prince, and remember to count backwards, not forward.”


For several terse seconds, the two men glared at each other, hatred blistering like an inferno between them. Finally, Diké picked up his machetes and turned and walked away from the shrine-grove. He waited to hear footsteps behind him, the fearless feet of his warrior-leaders and his father.

 

He heard nothing. No one followed him out. 


A sudden shiver layered his skin with goosebumps. He shook it away with a loud curse as he stalked away from that place of death. Every man has his own palm-lines, his own lines of destiny, he thought. He could not fight Chicken-Legs’ doomed destiny. He could only fight his own. He didn’t believe that the decrepit witchdoctor had any powers over his destiny, regardless of his threats. Should misfortune come, he would handle it with the fortitude of a man. Should death come instead, he would face it like the warrior he was and fight it without fear, without mercy, and with great respect.


***


A DANCE FOR THE DEAD (paperback) is now available for preorder from all reputable retailers. Click here to order 


A special edition hardcover is also available from the publisher. Click here to order


(About the Author)

Nuzo Onoh is a Nigerian-British writer of Igbo descent. She is a pioneer of the African horror literary subgenre. Hailed as the "Queen of African Horror”, Nuzo’s works have featured in numerous magazines, podcasts, and anthologies, as well as in several academic studies and publications. 


Nuzo holds a Law degree and a Masters degree in Writing, both from Warwick University, United Kingdom. She is also a certified Civil Funeral Celebrant, licensed to conduct non-religious burial services. An avid musician with an addiction to JungYup and K-indie pop music, Nuzo plays both the guitar and piano, and holds an NVQ in Digital Music Production from City College, Coventry. She currently resides in The West Midlands, United Kingdom, with her cat, Tinkerbell.


Friday, October 28, 2022

31 Days of Horror: Day 28-- Why I Love Horror by Meghan Arcrui

As the 2022 blog-a0-thon winds down, I am happy to present  a post from my friend and colleague, Meghan Arcuri, a talented writer and the current VP of the HWA. While the President leads the organization, the VP of the HWA does the bulk of the work day to day work of making sure all for he wheels are turning. And with a new President about to begin his term [more on that in a few days], Meghan has been busier than ever.

She is a rising writer to watch and I greatly appreciate the time she has taken to be a part of my Why I Love Horror series, especially because of the story she has chosen to tell. This is not your average "Why I Love Horror" testimonial of a life long fan. But I will leave that for you to discover below.

Loving and Fearing the Void
By Meghan Arcuri 

Confession time: I’m afraid of the dark. I’m afraid of disease. I’m afraid of sticking my feet over the edge of the bed (because the monster will grab them … obviously). And I’m afraid of scary movies.

Coming from a horror writer, this might seem odd.

Always a sucker for irony, I think it’s hilarious.

I did not grow up wanting to be a writer, let alone a horror writer. Hell, I didn’t read much horror at all. But one thing led to another (read: when I became a stay-at-home mom, I started reading tons and tons of books and thought, “I could do that!”), and I found myself at Borderlands Boot Camp – a three-day writers workshop. Since the founders were Tom Monteleone, F. Paul Wilson, and Doug Winter—giants in the horror writing community—most of the attendees I met wrote horror. I was surrounded by horror writers. Fortunately, these were some of the nicest people around, and they encouraged me to take a stab at the genre.

At first, I was like, “Ewww … horror.” 

But then I actually sat down and gave it a try, and, well … I loved it.

Writing horror allows me to explore characters and situations entirely outside my realm of existence. I’ve written about some deplorable people who have done and said things I would never dream of in real life. And guess what? It’s kind of fun. It’s fun to play around in that headspace, roll around in their evil, get to be a baddy for a second. I imagine it’s akin to an actor sinking her teeth into a juicy, villainous role.

It also, at times, helps me to lean into my fears. Explore them. Look at all the possible angles and outcomes and, ultimately, help me deal with them.

This is one of the reasons I like reading horror, as well. Watching a character battle demons, go to hell and back, and overcome a variety of obstacles can be satisfying and self-affirming.

Reading horror also reminds me that sometimes things are messy. Sometimes there is no happily ever after. And that allows me to reflect back on my life and acknowledge that—much as I might try—everything does not have to be perfect.

And sometimes? I just love a cool speculative concept (see Josh Malerman’s Unbury Carol), amazing world-building (see Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation), or a strong heroine (see Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic).

I’m living proof that you can be a fraidy-cat and, at the same time, enjoy the void.

But I’m still not sticking my feet over the edge of the bed… 

Two Recent Projects:

1) I edited a small collection of Charlotte Riddell stories. If you love Victorian ghost stories, you can't go wrong with Riddell. A past master who deserves more attention, she knows how to keep the pages turning. It was a limited run, but you can find out more about it here. You can also hear me talk about it on the Weird Christmas Podcast.

2) I was asked by the director of my local high school drama club to adapt one of my stories for the stage. They wanted to do something for Halloween. I was honored to be asked and enjoyed the process of adapting the story. I chose “Green with Hunger,” a tale based on the Wicked Witch. You can find the original story here. 

Meghan Arcuri is a Bram Stoker Award®-nominated author. Her work can be found in various anthologies, including Borderlands 7 (Borderlands Press), Madhouse (Dark Regions Press), Chiral Mad, and Chiral Mad 3 (Written Backwards). She is currently the Vice President of the Horror Writers Association. Prior to writing, she taught high school math, having earned her B.A. from Colgate University—with a double major in mathematics and English—and her masters from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She lives with her family in New York’s Hudson Valley. Please visit her at meghanarcuri.com, facebook.com/meg.arcuri, or on Twitter (@MeghanArcuri).