Tuesday, September 28, 2010

On the Street

The mass-market edition of Dark Harvest is now available from Tor Books.

Go ahead. Make my day.

Monday, September 27, 2010

In the House

Guest-starring on The Bradbury Shelf: my new collection, Johnny Halloween, from Cemetery Dance. Just got my first copy of the book today, and the cover looks fantastic up-close-and-personal. Copies are due to arrive even sooner than expected -- they'll be in the CD warehouse tomorrow, and preorders will ship later this week... so look for a dark slice of Halloween in your mailbox soon!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Just Another Pleasant Valley Sunday...

Since Neve is just about eight months old, the bride and I decided it was well past time we took her out to do the restaurant thing. We've got a favorite old school Mexican place, and that looked like the ticket for her first dining out experience. Plus: Dad wanted carne asada tacos. And: we owed a good friend a lunch (and probably a lot more than that -- she can't stop buying Nevie clothes), so we figured we had some backup.

Hey, Sunday afternoon. An outdoor mall that's seen better days. We figured it'd be pretty quiet. Imagine our surprise when we walked into the joint and were confronted by a packed house, a full-on Sunday brunch buffet in progress, several birthday parties, and eight strolling mariachis. We nearly turned tail and ran, but I've got to hand it to the kid. Neve was a champ. Those mariachis were all whistles and screams topped off with a couple of blaring trumpets, and they could have rattled the fillings right out of your teeth if they'd halfway tried (and they were kind of trying today), but Nevie just ate them right up. And they did the same with her -- one of the violin players came over and played "Pop Goes the Weasel" and "Old MacDonald" for Neve while she danced around on Momma's lap. Smiles were traded all around.

So: a good day. My daughter had fun. I had some of that and tacos, too. And I didn't even ask the mariachis to play "De Guello," which is what I used to do before fatherhood mellowed me. Instead, I listened to them play "Como Han Passado Los Anos" and was tempted to ask my wife to dance... but Tia's Canadian, and I didn't want to embarrass her in front of all those mariachis and birthday parties and everything. But it was a moment... and a good one.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Meanwhile, Back at Vampire Lake...

Heard from Subterranean Press honcho Bill Schafer that my 14k novella "Vampire Lake" will be included in Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy 2 after all. The piece ended up meshing well with an anthology built around signature author-created worlds and alternate versions of this one... though I'll bet green money that my tale ends up to be the meanest dog in the bunch. "Vampire Lake" is definitely one of those stories that stacks up the bad guys against the worst guys.

Top-drawer bunch of writers in this one, too: Blaylock and Powers, K. J. Parker, Caitlin R. Kiernan, and Joe Hill, just to name a few. Plus the antho will weigh in at over 100k, so it looks like most of the contributors turned in novellas. That's good news, and so is the publication date. January 2011 isn't that far off.

Anyway, click on over and check out the details. And if you want a little taste, here's the opening of "Vampire Lake":

They heard the bounty killer an hour before they saw him. Out there in the desert night. Playing that harmonica of his, though the sounds that came out if it weren't anything you'd call music. But he kept at it, and the racket carved the desert sands like Lucifer trenching a brimstone field with his pitchfork. A man who could raise that kind of hell with a harmonica was a man who could unsettle a room full of other men.

And that's why the customer sitting in Rumson's saloon did the things they did. Some slapped coin to the bar and made their exits. Others ordered up and drank more deeply, which pleased the barkeep. Still others unbuckled their gunbelts as the man with the harmonica drew nearer. They rolled leather studded with sheathed bullets around holstered Colts, and they stowed those weapons far from reluctant hands.

Outside, the harmonica had grown silent. The creak of saddle leather put a crease in the night. Then footsteps sounded across plank boards, and the bounty killer came through the batwings of Rumson's place.

He wore a patched coat the color of the desert, and he was dragging a man on a chain. One yank and the bounty killer bellied up to the bar. The gunman set his harmonica on the nicked pine surface. No one noticed the blood on the tarnished instrument, not with the poor skinny bastard trussed up in chains and padlocks crouching at the killer's feet. As far as the occupants of Rumson's saloon were concerned, that was the hunk of misery worth looking at, not a bloodstained Hohner that blew sour even on days that were sweet...

Friday, September 24, 2010

When You Flip That Calendar Page...

...a new Norm Partridge book will be shipping from Cemetery Dance. That's right, Johnny Halloween is due to arrive from the printer sometime next week, and preorders will be shipping the first week of October. That means everyone should have their copies of this special Halloween collection well in advance of the day itself.

Also: CD's offer of free shipping for Johnny Halloween will be ending soon. If you want to get in on that action, click on over and do the deed right here. If you snooze, you lose, pardner.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Kindling the October Boy

Had some emails in the last couple weeks about the different editions of Dark Harvest, and I just thought I'd set the record straight. Right now, my signature Halloween novel is available as a trade paperback and as a Kindle download from Amazon. On September 28th, it'll also be available in mass-market paperback... so you should be seeing it in your favorite bookstores again, too. If you can't find it, ask for it, and be sure to tell the folks behind the counter that they need to get a stack of those suckers before Halloween (i.e. if you want to do a writer a favor, that's how the deal gets done).

A few of you have asked about the Cemetery Dance hardcover, Unfortunately, it's long out of print. I still have copies, if you're looking to purchase an inscribed hardcover for your collection or as a gift. If you're interested in Dark Harvest (or any of my other books), shoot me an email at the address over on the right side of the page.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sometimes I Think Life is Just a Rodeo

The trick is to ride... and pick out a really good Sunday morning shuffle play (or: here are five more reasons I still love my CD collection):

Friday, September 17, 2010

Halloween in the House

Approval copies of Johnny Halloween arrived in the Cemetery Dance offices today, and Brian Freeman reports that we've got a great-looking book. With CD's heavy production schedule this year, the warehouse has been hit hard with 5,000+ orders... but the good news is that the next shipping priorities are Johnny Halloween and Peter Straub's Pork Pie Hat.

I'll post updates as I get 'em, so stay tuned...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Early Influences: The Bad Good Guys (Part One)

When I was a kid, Walt Disney’s Scarecrow of Romney Marsh terrified me. If you’re a baby boomer, you just might know why. If not, I’ll give you the short version: The Scarecrow (played by Patrick McGoohan, better known for Secret Agent Man and The Prisoner) was a real mean piece of work. By day he was a vicar named Dr. Syn, but by night he donned a scarecrow costume and rode with a gang disguised as demons and ghouls. The locals thought he was a highwayman (or worse), and McGoohan did all he could to reinforce that belief. He smuggled goods and lynched his enemies (or pretended to, anyway). Needless to say, the Scarecrow did nasty real well -- when he wasn't barking orders in a voice that sounded like it boiled up from the guts of a sinner, he laughed like a demon who’d gargled with a busted bottle of acid. Compared to the action you’d find going on over at the Ponderosa on Bonanza with Pa Cartwright and Little Joe, this was pretty startling stuff. It was sort of like watching a series where Uncle Walt's Zorro jumped across the Atlantic, cut a deal with the devil, and started raising a full crop of hell.

If you saw McGoohan’s Scarecrow when you were six, it was the kind of thing that could put a mark on you. It marked me, anyway. The Scarecrow was one of my first encounters with a heroic character who played by a set of rules that was more fitting for a villain -- at least, Dr. Syn made it appear that way. When he put on that mask, he did not mess around. Seemingly, he was doing good by employing evil. For me, that was a concept that took root and dug in deep. It made the Scarecrow a fascinating character, one of a select crew I'll blog about in the coming weeks here at American Frankenstein.

Disney filmed three one-hour episodes of The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh, but—as fate would have it—the first one premiered the same night some British bar band called The Beatles showed up on Ed Sullivan for the first time. Needless to say, that little coincidence helped make the Scarecrow’s television ride a short one… and more’s the pity.

But I remember him, and I was lucky enough to grab the DVD reissue of the show's three episodes a couple years back. Disney released that, and it went out of print almost immediately. More's the pity x 2. I'm sure these days it goes for big bucks if you can find it.

I also remember the great theme song that opened the show. Play around on youtube, you can probably find it there. As a kid I beat it down to the local department story and bought a 45 with the song on it. Boy, I wore that thing out. I think the flip side was Thurl Ravenscroft doing the "Legend of Sleepy Hollow." I wore that out, too. One day I left the record on the floor, stepped on it, and broke the damn thing. In my book, that qualified as tragedy. Still does.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Vampire Lake

"Vampire Lake" is the piece I blogged about the other week in The Roller Coaster's Heartbeat. It's a weird western, and was originally intended for the Subterranean Press anthology, Tales of Dark Fantasy 2. But things changed along the trail. As sometimes happens, the tale morphed into a full-fledged 14k novella... and one that's pretty hard-edged, too. Or, to put it another way: Yep. This one's several notches past a whisper of dark fantasy -- it's a barroom brawl of a horror story.

I'm pleased to announce that "Vampire Lake" will be part of an anthology of horror novellas coming from SubPress next year. Bill Schafer's lining up some impressive talent for the book. I'll keep quiet about that for now... but stay tuned. There's more news to come.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Thriller a Day...

For years I've been awaiting a reissue of the sixties TV show Boris Karloff's Thriller on DVD. I'd only seen a handful of episodes from this much-lauded horror/dark suspense show -- and most of 'em were courtesy of third-generation VHS dupes that made the show look like it was filmed through an old sock. I had maybe twelve episodes on three tapes, and one of them was eaten by my buddy Joe Lansdale's VHS player when he borrowed it to watch the Pigeons From Hell episode. Don't you hate it when stuff like that happens?

Good news -- both season of Thriller are now available in a spiffed-up DVD boxed set. Better news (for me, anyway) -- my bride preordered that sucker, and last weekend we watched several episodes. So far we've seen one clunker, one medium clunkerish, a couple that were really solid and fun, and two real knockouts. And what fun to catch actors like Richard Kiel, William Shatner, and a whole bunch of folks you wouldn't expect (like Donna Douglas, a.k.a. Ellie Mae Clampett) on this show. Not only is Thriller vintage stuff, a lot of it's stuff I've never seen... with Boris Karloff, the grand old man of horror and an idol from my monsterkidhood.

I'm sure I'll blog about a couple of episodes as I get a chance. But, hey, it turns out someone is already doing that... and they aren't messing around. A couple of old buddies, Peter Enfantino and John Scoleri, have a blog going called A Thriller a Day, with lots of great tidbits, commentary, and debate about the show. If you were around back in the day, you'll remember Peter and John as editors of The Scream Factory, and they bring the same wit, love of horror, and solid writing to the blog as they did to their late, lamented magazine.

Of course, I'm not reading each individual posts until I've seen the episode it's about. I won't be watching one Thriller day, but I bet I'll make it through the set by Halloween... or pretty close to it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

First Review, Last Chance

Kevin Lucia of Shroud Magazine has weighed in with the first review of Johnny Halloween... and it's a great one. In part, Lucia writes: "[Partridge's] ability to invoke the autumn-spiced magic of this season securely places him alongside writers such as Ray Bradbury and Al Sarrantonio; however, his edged, two-fisted noir sensibilities gives this celebrated autumn season an added punch, and because of this Partridge continually offers something new where others have merely tried to imitate."

Also: Brian Freeman tells me that copies of Johnny Halloween will be back from the printer before the official October 15th publication date. Cemetery Dance will begin shipping copies as soon as they arrive in the warehouse. If you haven't taken advantage of CD's offer of free shipping on preorders of the collection, click on over and do that soon.

Lastly, thanks to all who've already preordered Johnny Halloween. I appreciate it!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sunday Morning Comin' Down

Why I still love CDs... and shuffle play.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Care & Feeding of First Novels

Over at normanpartridge.com, ace webslinger Minh Nguyen has updated the Free Nonfiction section with an essay from Mr. Fox and Other Feral Tales. Check out "The Care & Feeding of First Novels," a true-life adventure featuring zombies, advice for aspiring writers, musings on the Betty & Bob horror boom of the nineties, and a guest appearance by Stephen King. Enjoy!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Black Bart on Labor

"I've labored long and hard for bread,
For honor and for riches,
But on my corns too long you've tread,
You fine-haired sons of bitches."

--Black Bart,
The Po8

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Giant Dipper's Done Parked

Wild week. Beginning of the new semester at the joe job, plus I finished up that novella I mentioned in The Roller Coaster's Heartbeat. That happened at about 2:30 a.m. Friday morning. A few hours sleep, then some baby time, and I was back at work by 10 a.m. that morning. You could have stuck a fork in me by Friday night, because I was definitely as done as a charred T-bone steak... but I felt good. The novella ended up at more than 13k, and I'm happy with it. We'll see what the editor says once he has a look.

He did send me an email that read (in part): "And you said this was going to be 5k words. Hah, I say! Hah!" I have to echo the laughter on that score. I've been publishing fiction for more than twenty years, and you'd think by now I'd be better at gauging the length of a piece when I start to work. Nope. The longer I do this, the less I know on that score. This holds true for last few years, especially. Stories just seem to swell. The ideas, the characters, the action... and the pages. And, as with this piece, before long I realize I'm writing a novella instead of a short story.

Part of the deal is simple: When I started out editors would tell me, "Norm, you've got 5,000 words. I can't take anything longer than that." I was forced to tailor my story accordingly. But that was okay. It helped me to learn to write economically. That's a very valuable lesson for a young writer.

These days, editors usually just ask me for a submission. They don't set a word count. I still write economically (I like to think so, anyway), but somehow my stories expand. A side character may shoulder his way into a bigger part, or I'll realize I need another scene, or... Well, you get the idea.

I don't look at this as bad news. It's actually good news. As a young writer, I used to think I needed bigger ideas to create a novel. More characters, more plot, more everything. I don't really believe that anymore. Now I'm thinking all I have to do is cut the cinches and let an idea rip. Most of them will do the growing on their own, and that's just fine with me.

Anyway, we'll see what happens on that score. Right now I've got another short story in mind.

At least, I think it's a short story.

Once I start rattling the keyboard, I may have a surprise in store.