Monday, July 26, 2010

The Monster Squad

Brian Keene, me, and J. F. Gonzalez at the World Horror Convention in San Francisco, 2006. To paraphrase Don "Soul Train" Cornelius: You can bet your last money it'll be a stone gas, honey.

And it was.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Johnny Halloween Special Offer

Just a reminder that the special preorder offer on Johnny Halloween at Cemetery Dance will be ending soon. Order the new collection before 11:59 p.m. EST on Monday, July 26th, and you'll get a $15 off coupon for a future order. If you're buying the signed limited edition, that's like getting the book for half the cover price.

While I'm at it -- thanks to all who've preordered the book, and thanks for the emails and the enthusiasm. Glad to hear you're looking forward to another Run with the October Boy, and (as always) I appreciate the good word.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Is It Just Me, Or...

...would FarmVille be a lot more exciting with Triffids?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Double Trouble

It's my pleasure to post this fantastic illustration of Chaney from young artist Kevin Nordstrom. For those of you who haven't picked up Lesser Demons yet, Chaney's the (as close as it gets) hero of "The Iron Dead," the original 17,000 word pulp-inspired novella which appears in my new short story collection from Subterranean Press. As for Kevin, he's a young gun who's done covers for Marvel's Epic line and concept art for Wildstorm, and he dedicates this piece to his late uncle, Herbie Faurote, who always encouraged him as an artist. (And check out Kevin's blog for some cool views of classic characters; I especially love his take on the Creature from the Black Lagoon -- that's one bad hunka Gillman!)

As for Lesser Demons, it's the subject of Part 4 of Interview 5.5.5. with Blu Gilliand at Click on over for the good word on hardboiled horror and noir, fan favorites and my favorites in the collection, and the future of Mr. Chaney (a.k.a. The Man with the Hand Built in Hell).

Harvesting "The Jack o' Lantern"

Today over at Interview 5.5.5., I'm talking Dark Harvest with Blu Gilliand. Check out the new interview here.

And as a tie in with today's interview, here's an excerpt from the new Dark Harvest tale which will appear in Johnny Halloween. "The Jack o' Lantern" is a prequel to the novel, and as you can see, the October Boy is back... Enjoy!



Cornstalks crackle as the October Boy shoulders into a small clearing. Moonlight fills that scooped hunk of the world, where stalks are rat-gnawed nubs trampled by a larger predator… a predator the Boy scents.

The scent is immediate. It hangs heavy as a shroud. The cool north wind combing the fields this Halloween night cannot banish it. The Boy’s viney fingers twine tightly around the hilt of the butcher knife that fills his hand, as if he’ll have to cut himself free of the stink before he can move so much as an inch.

But hesitation — real or imagined — is not a quality contained within the growing armature of the October Boy’s body. He steps forward, his carved pumpkin head twisting on its braided-vine neck, beams of orange light spilling from his triangular eyes as he examines the shorn clearing.

There’s a thing on the ground in the center of the circle. Another carved head, but one not like his own. Lanternlike, it burns. Flickering in the darkness, tongues of fire licking moisture within its hollowed confines. Casting a grinning shadowface that stretches across trampled stalks to the the Boy’s severed-root feet. Spilling those predatory scents in this territory marked as his own, a stench that is nothing like the wild October scents of cool fall nights and cinnamon-laced gunpowder that have marked his birth and will mark his death.

The candy heart trapped in the Boy’s woven chest beats faster as he travels the grinning map cast at his feet. He closes on the thing in the center of the circle. The shadowface gleams, its reflection contained on the polished surface of his blade as the Boy bends low. Yes, fire lives inside this carved head. Yes, the hollowed mouth spits moist crackles. Yes, a rabid grin spreads wider than any mouth can stretch, and its eyes are wells roiling with flame, and it is both exhibit and proof of a madman’s art. But this strange Jack o’ Lantern is nothing like a brother to the pumpkin-headed creature that holds the knife. This face — what remains of it — is not a carved product of the dark earth. It is a construct of flesh and bone. A human head, cored and hollowed — a half-dozen candles flickering within scraped red confines. Grinning a lipless grin over purple gums, a grin with bloodstained teeth rooted in a mouth that laughs no more.

But somewhere out there in the darkness, the October Boy hears laughter.

It lingers until it is eclipsed by another sound.

The sound of gunfire.

* * *

The Boy whirls away from the flickering Jack o’ Lantern. But there’s nothing out there to see but night, and stars, and the dull glow of the town waiting beyond.

He is alone in this clearing. The predator who lurked in this place is gone. Only the killer’s trophy remains. In the end, this matters little to the October Boy, for tonight he too is a trophy. One that travels on two legs, destined to be slain if he makes a single misstep. One that knows this clearing is but a brief stop on a run that is a dead heat, with odds that never fall in his favor.

Another booming blast beckons him. And another. The October Boy cannot linger here, not if he wants a chance at staying alive. He is built for movement. This is what he must do to survive the human gauntlet that waits ahead in the night.

So the Boy turns his back, following his shadow away from the light cast by the mangled skull.

The black road waits.

A whisper through the corn, and he is on it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Interview 5.5.5.: Novels vs. Short Stories

The second installment of my interview with Blu Gilliand is now up. Today we're talking about novels vs. short stories, my approach to both, and some of my favorite writers and novels. You can check 'er out right here.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Johnny Halloween is Back!

Once upon a time, Cemetery Dance publisher Rich Chizmar called me up. "Write me a Halloween story for the magazine," he said. "But make it a dark suspense story."

"Do you want a mean one?" I asked.

"Sure. Make it as mean as you want."

So I did. The story was called "Johnny Halloween." It was about the kind of ghosts you can never outrun, and it appeared in Cemetery Dance alongside a Stephen King tale. Even so, folks noticed it. Especially editors. "Johnny Halloween" made it into Mystery Scene's Year's Finest 25 Crime and Mystery Stories, and I received several anthology invitations based on the tale's popularity.

Given that little slice of history, it's with great pleasure that I announce Johnny Halloween is back at Cemetery Dance, this time as the lead story in a special Halloween collection due this fall. Along with a fantastic Alex McVey cover, Johnny Halloween features a half-dozen tales of the darkest season, including a new story set in the world of Dark Harvest.

That's right. The October Boy returns in the pages of Johnny Halloween -- and this time he's got a shotgun and one bad döppelganger on his tail. There's also a brand new introduction and a nonfiction piece on the Zodiac Killer ("The Man Who Killed Halloween"). You can check out all the details right here, plus snag a $15 coupon for a future purchase if you preorder the book in the next seven days.

In the meantime, keep your eyes on the shadows. Listen for the whisper of that October wind. It's coming your way... and sooner than you might think. Interview 5.5.5

Over at, I'm Blu Gilliand's first victim for a new feature called "Interview 5.5.5." That means I'll be answering five questions about five different topics over a period of five days.

Today: it's Norman Partridge on Writing. Check 'er out.

(And for those who reported they had trouble with that link, try this one.)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Dedication Day

A couple of books hit the doorstep today here at Casa Partridge. When I cracked the covers, it turned out that both of them were dedicated to me... and by a couple of very fine writers.

First up is Tom Piccirilli's new one from Tasmaniac Publications, The Last Deep Breath. This is another in a series of what Pic's calling noirellas, dark crime tales that aren't quite novel length but weigh in heavier than short stories. I've enjoyed every one Tom's written to date, and even had the pleasure of writing the introduction to The Nobody, an unforgiving hunk of noir that approximates (in fictive terms) the result you'd get if you set to whittling a human heart that won't stop beating until the last midnight shadows fall.

Coming up next is Nate Southard's new one, He Stepped Through from Bloodletting Press (looks like the book itself is now out of print, but an ebook is still available). Nate's the writer who wrote the rockabilly riot of a vampire story I mentioned last week, and he doesn't waste time with this one, kicking his mash-up of crime and Cthulhu-ania into gear from jump. I love a guy who doesn't mess around and answers the bell with both fists flailing, and that's the way Southard writes. I have a feeling I won't hit the sack tonight until I polish this one off.

Anyway, thanks for the dedications, amigos... and the inscriptions. They warm my heart, and I'm having a little bit of a Frank Capra/George Bailey moment sitting here with these books tonight. Which is way past odd, considering they're a couple of dark burrows of noir and horror -- but, hey, I guess in a strange way that stuff can make for a pretty wonderful life, too.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Shroud for Demons

There's a nice review of Lesser Demons over at the Shroud Magazine blog. In part, Kevin Lucia says:

"Like Bradbury's The October Country, Lesser Demons features stories of a wide and diverse nature, and Partridge himself displays a unique sense of lyricism. Also, for a collection of 'dark fiction', Partridge still manages to infuse several of his tales with hope and a sense of resolution, if not happy endings, which is hard to find in horror and noir fiction, something that makes enduring the darkness worthwhile."

In other news, I'll have a feature interview in the upcoming Halloween issue of Shroud, along with a surprise or two. Stay tuned...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Nate Southard, Rockin' Good!

Uh-huh-huh. I didn't expect I'd be reading a Texas-fried drive-in movie of a tale tonight, but that's exactly what I got when I clicked on over to Nate Southard's new story, "That's All Right." This one's got a couple of rockabilly cats in a '49 Merc, vampires, and Elvis. Seeing a young writer channel all that stuff kind of restores my faith in the next generation, i.e. if you're a fifties B-movie fan like me, you'll dig this deeper than those grave robbers in those great old E. C. Comics.

So click that link above and have some fun. And as my buddy Randy Fox would say: "Y'all watch out for them Draculers, y'hear?"

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Yeti Stomps (Again)

Stomping On Yeti reviews "Red Rover, Red Rover," saying it might just be the best horror story the big albino beast has read this year. And hey, that kind of praise (and comparisons to Stephen King) are always guaranteed to make a writer's heart go pitty-pat. Gracias!

As for availability, "Red Rover, Red Rover" isn't in the trade edition of Lesser Demons, but it's the extra jolt of juice you get (in chapbook form) if you buy the limited edition, which you can still grab over at Subterranean Press.

Other than that, kicking back a little for the Fourth. Good mail day today with a letter from my cousin Wild Bill, including a pic of him in the cockpit of a MiG-17 ready to revive the Cold War and give Ivan some payback. Decompression last night in the form of Zombieland (thumbnail review: any movie that tips its hat to Steve McQueen's Wanted: Dead or Alive "Mare's Leg" Winchester is all right with me). Recompression in the form of knocking off a couple thousand words of an overdue short story. Which means I'm not quite ready for fireworks yet... but I'm getting there.

So, as they used to say in the old days, "Have a safe and sane holiday, kids." Though we're all about spare parts here at American Frankenstein, be sure and keep yours attached... and enjoy!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Of Ectoplasm and October

Thanks for the emails about my ghost story entries last week (The Night Shift & And Then, As It Grew Later). For you ex-student crew members who've dropped me a line: Yep, I haven't forgotten those other haunted library stories you mentioned, but I'm going to keep those locked up in the shadows until October. After all, I've got to have a few ghost stories to tell when Halloween rolls around.

Even though I'm currently gearing up for the 4th of July weekend with a shuffle play of Springsteen, Mellencamp, Dave Alvin, and the Del-Lords, I'm already looking forward to October. It's going to be a good one. Dark Harvest will be released in mass-market paperback this September, and a couple Halloween surprises are moving forward. I'll have some news on those soon. Until then, stay tuned...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

On Story Notes

In the past couple weeks I've been kicking the whole idea of story notes in collections around with a few readers and writers, and nearly every one of them has mentioned that they read the notes in Lesser Demons before reading the stories themselves. No harm, no foul on that score. I plead guilty, too. If there was a twelve-step program for readers who skip directly to the notes, I'd be in it.

Of course, I love introductions, too. Thankfully those are placed right up front, so I don't have to feel guilty about reading them first. Story notes can be a different deal, though. Sometimes they show up as a preface to the tale itself, and sometimes as an afterward. And often they're placed together at the end of the book (as is the case with Lesser Demons). So jumping ahead and reading them first can be a little spoiler-ific, if you know what I mean.

Getting my start as a writer in pre-internet days, notes were a great source of information about the writing business, both creatively and commercially. That's what got me hooked on them. I was desperate for that kind of knowledge, and I couldn't Google a writer I admired and find a dozen interviews online. When I was looking to learn the ropes, Google didn't exist.

And it's funny -- the writers who spoke best to me back then were Stephen King and Joe Lansdale, and I'd still put them at the front of the pack today. Joe's a great storyteller both on and off the page, and his notes read like he's talking shop at a convention or a coffee shop. And though King is about as far from an "average bear" writer as you can get, it's always interesting to check his creative pulse. Get him going in the nonfiction department -- as in books like Danse Macabre and On Writing -- and you won't find sharper content anywhere. (Though even King can miss the mark occasionally; I remember one collection where he explained how writing short stories really can pay off financially, when most writers believe they don't. From where I was sitting, King's comments made sense for one guy -- Stephen King. For the rest of us, doing a short story means you can pick up a check that'll replace the water-heater or dishwasher, or get you through the checkout stand at Trader Joe's for a handful of weeks. And I'm talking about writers who've been at it awhile and have earned their chops.)

So King and Lansdale collections? Yep, I go for the story notes first almost every time (though I've got to say I was proud of myself with King's Just After Sunset -- I managed to hold off and read the stories first through great force of will). Fact is, the notes are one of my favorite things about picking up a new collection by either of those gentlemen.

As for my own work, I've had a lot of fun writing notes and intros. The introduction to The Man with the Barbed-Wire Fists -- where I explained how my hometown drive-in theater helped shape me as a writer -- is one of my favorite pieces. I had a great time writing the story notes for Lesser Demons, too. In them you'll learn about my finishing routine when completing a new story, and how a black filing cabinet I bought in college transformed itself into a bit of creative portraiture (maybe not quite out of the Dorian Gray playbook... but somewhere in the ballpark if we're speaking imaginatively). I also discuss playing in the fictive sandboxes of writers as disparate as H. P. Lovecraft and Richard Laymon, and the inspiration I've drawn from The Twilight Zone and old-school pulp fiction.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the notes at the end of Demons... and don't worry if you can't help yourself and read them first. That's definitely an impulse I understand.