Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Lurker on the Threshold...

...was a box of eldritch description. Inside, bound in packing tape and bubble-wrap, was a tome of unspeakable imaginings celebrating the dark worlds of one Howard Phillips Lovecraft, late of Providence, Rhode Island and the Mountains of Madness.

I've got to say, PS Publishing certainly did a knockout job on the extra-crunchy traycased version of S. T. Joshi's Black Wings: Tales of Lovecraftian Horror. The wonderfully understated dust-jacket art by Jason Van Hollander is reproduced on the cover itself, and most of the contributors have signed the volume much more legibly than I did (damn them). For his part, S. T. has assembled a group of writers both unexpected and pleasing to the Lovecraftian aficionado. In other words, I can't wait to crack the covers and get to work reading this one. Up first: a new piece by David Schow (i.e. I just can't restrain myself from jumping ahead).

For you non-collectors, there's also an unsigned hardcover of Black Wings available. And when it comes to synchronicity: while I was writing this post I received an email from an editor about my contribution to Black Wings, a novella called "Lesser Demons" (also the title story in my new SubPress collection). Nothing to report just yet, but sounds like this one's advanced in the second round with shotguns blazing and more than a little grue....

Friday, May 28, 2010

They Say It's Your Birthday...

...and it is. Mine, anyway. It's been a good one so far, even if the skies are (mostly) tombstone gray today in "sunny" California.

But, hey, that doesn't bother me. I still plan to fire up the bbq tonight and grill a celebratory feast. There may even be a Margarita involved. Besides that, the mailman has been dropping stuff on the porch all week, and early this afternoon Tia finally unlocked the birthday vault and let me get my hands on the swag that's been coming my way. That means it's time to shoot some thanks into the electronic ether -- i.e. the musical Twilight Zone card was great, and so was the greeting from Elvis P. I will try not to kill the batteries on these too quickly... and I probably won't have a chance given the other cool stuff I need to peruse, including a Tom Russell tribute CD and a great-looking 10-disc sixties/early seventies boxed CD set (obviously, "You're Pushin' Too Hard," "The Letter," and Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction" will be on replay often). And, yes, it's true. I freely admit that I cling to dinosaur technology. Around here, it's five CDs on shuffle play every morning. Plus, I still have a Sony Walkman and several hundred cassette tapes. That's the power of Maxell Cr02 technology, baby... those suckers were built to last. Hey, even my cheapo TDKs still rock on just fine, thank you very much.

Given the above, it's probably not a surprise that the Iron Man figure I unwrapped today is the old-school first-gen walking rustbucket version. However, the good news is that he does come complete with "snap-on repulsor blast!" On top of that, I received a couple more volumes in the fantastic Dark Horse reissue series of Creepy and Eerie, two favorites B&W comics from my monsterkid childhood. Crack the covers on these bad boys and you're eyeball-to-page with the work of guys like Frank Frazetta, Reed Crandall, Gray Morrow, John Severin, Wally Wood, and Steve Ditko. From where I'm sitting, it doesn't get much better than that.

Anyway, time to check out and get back to the birthday. Have to fire up that bbq and see if the heavens are going to spit on my charcoal. In the meantime, let me leave you with a blast from the past courtesy of Uncle Creepy and the late, great Frank Frazetta. This is horror from back in the day, when werewolves were testosteronic ass-kickers and vampires never sparkled....

Monday, May 24, 2010

Demons on the Tarmac

Good news: Bill Schafer of Subterranean Press was nice enough to have a couple copies of Lesser Demons drop-shipped to me directly from the printer. One is sitting on my coffee table and the other is across the state line by now. Hopefully it wasn't snatched by overzealous guards at the border, but you never know about these things.

Better news: according to a shipping update from the folks at Sub, Lesser Demons is now "on the tarmac." They're currently getting out a pair of Bradbury and Gaiman titles, and then we're up along with collections from Jack Vance and Daniel Abraham. Shuffle that deck any way you want, and that's fine company all the way around.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

David J. Schow (x 3)

For my money, David Schow was word-for-word the best writer to make his mark during the eighties horror boom, when the splatterpunks reared up and roared. So I'm glad to report that I just got word from Mr. Schow (and Ava Gardner) that he's got not one, not two, but THREE (count 'em!) new books on the way this July. Here's the rundown from DJS himself on what's coming:

The paperback: Hunt Among the Killers of Men, a pulpy softcover thriller in the “Gabriel Hunt” series founded by Hard Case Crime kingpin Charles Ardai (who also published Gun Work). The adventures are written as “as-told-to” books, and this one’s my installment. The fabulous cover is by Glen Orbik. Yes, there are guns.

The hardcover: Internecine, my first novel since 2003’s Bullets of Rain; what I hope is received as a “suspenser .” Yes, there are lots more guns. (That’s Thomas Jane on the cover — twice — as rendered by Tim Bradstreet).

The pricier hardcover: The Art of Drew Struzan, which is pretty self-explanatory except that THIS is a book of comps — all the different interpretations of various movies before they get to the poster-painting stage (like those vetoed Indiana Jones posters with the swastikas on them, or the SIX OTHER VERSIONS of the famous Creature from the Black Lagoon limited-edition print). Drew speaks at length on these and his retirement from the Hollywood grind; I interpret what he says. Virtually no guns at all in this one.

Norm again: guns or no guns, this is a triple-shot of great news. Can't wait.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Graduation Day

In what sometimes passes for the real world, I'm a night supervisor at a college library. I'm lucky enough to spend most of my evenings with a great student staff, and every year I have to say adios to a few of them when graduation rolls around. Just a few more days and that time is here.

The way I see it, that's a full bucket of more's the pity. Sure I'm happy for the grads, but I'll miss them, too. I know my fellow supes feel the same way. Four aces will be gone from our deck this year, and we said our goodbyes at a lunch where we survived flying Japanese cutlery and Polynesian beverages. So here's to you -- Chris G, Kate, Lesley, and Steph. You'll be missed. My life's got a little more spark for knowing you, and I hope you feel the same.

But wait a second. Mr. Garcia. Yeah, you. Get back here. You've still got one semester to go, and there's a truck of 808.39s in the back with your name on it. Let's get 'er done!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Black Wings: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror

Just spotted a review over at Fantasy Magazine of this new anthology from S. T. Joshi. Paula Guran had this to say about my contribution:

"The small town (and surrounding world) of Norman Partridge's 'Lesser Demons' goes seriously amok one day, but a no-nonsense sheriff and a wet-behind-the-ears deputy manage to survive the mayhem zombie-like demons bring to their parts. The deputy starts reading a bunch of damned books -- since this is Lovecraft territory you can take that literally -- and thinks he can fix things. After all, you can't just 'shotgun the whole damn universe.' Or can you?"

Well... maybe you can try.

I haven't received a copy of Black Wings from PS Publishing yet, but I'm hoping it will make the trip to my mailbox soon. With stories by David J Schow and Laird Barron, I'm really looking forward to cracking the covers on this one. And I certainly had a blast writing "Lesser Demons." Never thought I'd type "The End" to a piece where I'd site H. P. Lovecraft and Jim Thompson as the two biggest influences, but here it is. Hope you enjoy it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Three the Hard Way

Forget Jim Brown, Fred Williamson, and Jim Kelly, because there's a new interview over at Dark Scribe Magazine with me, Tom Piccirilli, and Gary Braunbeck. Warning: in the day of the easily digestible Twitter-bite, this particular chat-fest is a six-course meal. So bring your teeth and bring your attitude, and dig down deep with three guys who've seen the dark side of the street. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Occultation in my Mailbox

I love swag, especially when it comes from a guy like Laird Barron. Which is another way of saying that talented inhabitant of the Pacific Northwest just sent me a copy of his new collection from Night Shade Books: Occultation and Other Stories. Even better, the book contains two stories that weren't in the manuscript version I had the pleasure of reading: "Mysterium Tremendum" and "Six Six Six." Just like Laird to toss in two original pieces for a collection. That's a great bonus, and I look forward to reading them soon.

Of the rest of the collection, here's my blurbish assessment: "Laird Barron is one of those writers who makes other writers want to break their pencils. I'm serious. His work is that good. Worse than that, he's an original (damn him!), and the finest writer to join the ranks of the dark fantastic in a long, long time."

Anyway, you'll find that out for yourself if you pick up this collection. My tip is to grab it while the grabbing's good, because I'll bet Occultation will find a slot on most of the award ballots next year. And, hey, while I'm at it: if you missed my American Frankenstein interview with Laird, you can check it out here.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Great Openings #3

"Where he walked, the trees had all dried up and died, a long time before. Cooper took big strides, the scuffed-up workboots he'd been given crunching through the dusty top layer of leaves. Underneath, the ground had stayed wet, the older leaves rotting into a damp pulp knitted with twigs. He'd been told, and believed, that spiders lived under the leaves, big brown and grey tarantulas come up out of the dry riverbeds. A plank shelf in one of the farm's sheds held a row of rust-lidded Mason jars, each one's glass clouded over with silk, a dead thing curled up in the nest of its own legs at the bottom. Old Man Vandervelde's son Bonnie had caught them when he was a kid and had left them there, a little collection arranged beside the papery snakeskins nailed to the wood, curling like unspooled flypapers, with little clicking rattles at the ends. The snakes supposedly crawled around under the leaf muck, too. And rats -- Cooper had spotted the paired sparks of their eyes before, the rats watching as he passed by, then scurrying back to their warrens in the orange trees' roots. This goddamn place -- Cooper felt his boot slide from beneath him, and barely caught himself from falling. Nothing but a bad idea...."

--In the Land of the Dead by K. W. Jeter

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Demons in the House

Spotted another review for Lesser Demons over at Sacramento Book Review. Check 'er out.

As a writer, it's always interesting to track developing reaction to a new book. Sometimes critics agree, and sometimes they don't. With short story collections, following comments about particular stories can be interesting, too. It's always fun when a hand's down favorite appears, which is another way of saying that unanimous praise is always great. But the flip side of that definite pleasure is that reviewers will often split over one particular story in a collection, too. Some will love it...others, not so much.

Looks like the splitter in Lesser Demons is "The House Inside," my tale of sentient toys, a mutant spider, and an unforgiving sun. This reviewer pegs it as a don't-miss piece of work, but others seem to be looking for more answers in "House" than the story contains. What it's really about for me is questions. In other words, I don't believe that answers always can be found -- in life or in fiction. That's the way that "House" is built...from the writer's side of the page, anyway. Ditto the title story, "Lesser Demons."

Of course, as Patrick Swayze once said in a movie called Road House: "Opinions vary." Writing is a two-way street. I've always believed that. That's one reason I pay attention to reviews and readers' comments. I'll be following the feedback on "The House Inside" as Lesser Demons hits, so keep the comments coming.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Lesser Demons Update

SubPress honcho Bill Schafer checked in with word that Lesser Demons is now at the printers. The bluelines have been approved, and pages are rolling off the presses. Subterranean should be shipping the finished product by the end of the month, so odds are that I'll have a nice birthday present come 5/28. Here's hoping, anyway. Can't wait to hold the finished product in my hands.

Advance reviews have been great, and fellow writers such as Jeffrey Ford and Laird Barron have been generous with their praise. Lesser Demons consists of ten tales, including the first appearance of a brand new 17k retro-pulp novella. "The Iron Dead" features a Depression-era monster hunter by the name of Chaney, owner of a mechanical hand built in hell. Reaction to that piece has been fantastic, and more than a few advance readers have pegged "The Iron Dead" as their favorite tale in the collection. Since one of the stories I've got on the burner is a new Chaney tale, that's what you might call fuel for the fire.

Thanks to all of you who have already pre-ordered the book. If you queued up your copy over at Amazon or another online bookseller, don't worry if you get an email saying that Lesser Demons is out of stock or they're having trouble getting it. Copies aren't out quite yet. If you haven't pre-ordered, you can fix that up with the handy SubPress link right here.

Grab that sucker, and hold on tight.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ving the Mall...with a Shotgun...

Finally kicked off that flu bug-- mostly, anyway. Ugh. It was a bucketful of no fun. I hate being sick. For one thing, it's so damned unproductive. Mostly I just sit there and think of all the things I should be doing, but can't.

And while I'm at it: when you've got the flu, it's probably not the best idea to queue up the Dawn of the Dead remake for repeated viewings. I did that, and I found it's just a little too easy to start identifying with those shambling gutbuckets. Fact is, after awhile you begin to expect that Ving Rhames is going to come around a corner, kick the Kleenex box out of your hands, and point a shotgun in your face.

Anyway: Dawn of the Dead is boxed up and back on the DVD shelf. I am off the couch and at the keyboard. Tune in tomorrow for a Lesser Demons update as I kick this blog back into gear.