Wow. The calendar has flipped a couple pages since I posted the first two parts of this feature about a shelf in my office that's crammed with little bits of writerly inspiration. If you need a refresher, check out Part 1 and Part 2 of The Bradbury Shelf, where you can read about my love of both Ray Bradbury and Universal Monsters -- two staple ingredients found in the Frankensteinian lab that cooked up most of us Boomer-era monsterkids.
Moving over to the right side of the shelf (seen above), you'll find a couple more tips o' the hat to the Universal monsters, namely the Wolf Man. Lon Chaney, Jr.'s Larry Talbot was my absolute favorite monster as a kid, and that early fascination with a cursed character who's looking for a final exit probably goes a long way toward explaining why I still favor anti-heroes to this day. (And, yep, the box over there on the right is a Wolf Man model kit. Though this one's a reissue, I had all the original Aurora monster models as a kid, even those rarer ones like The Witch and The Bride of Frankenstein. Unfortunately, my collection came to a sad end one year when I got a Daisy BB gun for a birthday present -- and more's the pity. After the big gundown, I felt like I'd lined my best friends up against a wall and played executioner; which may sound melodramatic, but, hey, that's the way I felt.)
Besides ol' Lon, this section of the Bradbury shelf also has some writing-related items. Smack dab in the middle is my first Bram Stoker award, presented for my short story collection Mr. Fox and Other Feral Tales in 1993. I've received two other Stokers from the Horror Writers Association, and each one of them is a little different, depending on the year they were awarded. The mold is the same (I believe it's a Gahan Wilson design), but the coloring varies quite a bit depending on the year of issue. Anyway, it's my goal to get five of these little houses. Then I want to enforce the Monopoly board-game rule and turn 'em in to the HWA in exchange for the Bates Motel. I don't know if it'll work, but I intend to try.
Next to the Stoker is (most likely) the last bottle of Night Shade Imperial Stout in existence. This particular brew was produced in conjunction with the last World Fantasy Con, and I liberated it from an ice-filled bathtub during a daring security breach at the Night Shade publishing party. That's my buddy Jeremy Lassen on the label looking particularly Imperial (if you ask me). I'm sure it's a superior brew -- the pale ale (or maybe it was a pilsner) certainly was.
The other stuff on the shelf is Halloween memorabilia. That black cat with the day-glo outline dates from the sixties and used to go up for annual display in the front window of our house when I was a kid -- it's got a kind of retro rockabilly vibe going on that I love . The Jack o' Lantern and skull are actually little battery-operated lanterns my mom passed on to me some years ago -- I'm pretty sure they date from the forties or fifties. Slot batteries in these suckers, and (believe it or not) they still work. I do that once a year, during the week leading up to Halloween.
The last little bit of 10/31 on the shelf is a metal paddle with a black cat design (it's over on the left). This was something Tia found, and it's got a couple little orange plastic balls attached to wires mounted in the handle. If you shake the thing back and forth, those balls set up a hellacious racket against the metal plate. I'm not sure exactly why you'd ever want to do this, but I am pretty certain that if you put this device to work at midnight in a cemetery on Halloween you might actually be able to wake the dead.
Not that I've ever tried doing that myself. Hey, I'm a horror writer. I don't go around messing with the supernatural, especially on Halloween night. I'm kind of superstitious that way.