Saturday, May 28, 2011

Last Call at Vampire Lake

Just saw that the trade edition of Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy 2 is now sold out over at the Subterranean Press website. Looks like copies can still be had over at Amazon... but my Spidey senses are tingling on this one (i.e. if you snooze, you lose, amigos).

My novella "Vampire Lake" is in this anthology, and thanks to all of you who've written to tell me how much you enjoyed it. The San Francisco Book Review just chimed in, calling my tale "a new classic." "Vampire Lake" also earned great reviews from Fantasy Book Critic and Locus, so I'm pleased with the reaction to this one.

And if you'd like to pull up a bucket of water from subterranean depths and have yourself a free taste, just click here.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Johnny Halloween OOP

Just had word from Brian Freeman at Cemetery Dance that Johnny Halloween: Tales of the Dark Season has gone out of print. You can still grab copies at Amazon and Camelot Books, and probably a few other places out there, but you probably don't want to wait too long to pull the trigger.

And: Thanks to all of you who already dug into your wallets and picked up a copy. I appreciate it!

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Dark Harvest at Seton Catholic Central High (Part 4)

Here's the last part of my Dark Harvest interview with Kevin Lucia's Creative Writing students. Enjoy!

Dave: Why didn't anyone question the ritual before Pete?

There were people who did -- Kelly Haines' dad for one. But people like that ran up against the Harvester's Guild. And you can figure out what the Guild did to them. They ended up like Kelly's dad, just another example to everyone in town of the cost of stepping out of line.

Marieke: Why didn't the parents stand up and do anything?

Part of the answer to that one is in the answer above. Another part is human nature, which is something most horror writer's explore. I believe most people cling to a sense of stability, sometimes at a great cost. And the cost of the Run in Dark Harvest may seem extreme at first, but not when you place it within the parameters of human history. Take Nazi Germany, for example. People lived in that society, lived their lives day-to-day, got up and went to jobs and came home and made dinner. Laughed and cried on the weekends. I'm sure some of them didn't know what was going on, and some of them chose to ignore it, and some of them were knee-deep in it but still managed to close their doors at night and sleep like babies. I'm sure others battled nightmares, and some couldn't sleep at all. None of that's pretty, or pleasant, but for me it reflects one of the darker and more frightening truths about the human condition.

John: You don't give much history or background to the rituals. Why?

Good question... and one I get a lot. Again, part of this answer is in the one above. For most people, I think why isn't necessarily the most important question when it comes to day-to-day existence. The important question is how. As in: I don't care why this is happening; I care how I'm going to get through it day-to-day.

That's something I've explored in a lot of my stories, and for me it's a much more interesting question than why. Really, why's are a dime-a-dozen. If I wanted to toss one into Dark Harvest, it could have been as simple as one line or a paragraph: Well, the town was built on an old Indian burial ground, and there was this curse, and the October Boy was part of a ritual to make a deal with the Devil, and... You get the idea.

To tell the truth, I didn't care about any of that. I wasn't concerned with why's. I cared about how people would live within the very dark parameters they faced in that town. I cared about the how's. For me, those were the questions that made things interesting, and those were the questions that shaped the story. Seeing how each character dealt with the situation. The environment. The horror. Seeing how reactions and actions shaped them. For me, that's the real meat of most stories, and that was my focus in Dark Harvest.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

New Cemetery Dance Website

I'm bumping Part 4 of my interview with the students at Seton CC High to Friday to make way for some news that rattles one of the Horror genre's favorite boneyards: Rich Chizmar and Brian Freeman have unveiled a reboot of the Cemetery Dance Website. Poke around the grounds and you'll find a Forum (I just registered), a Norman Partridge page, The Writer's Corner (where you can get some great advice from CD authors, including yours truly), Breaking News, and Interviews with some of your favorite writers.

And hey. What's that? There's even a tab for forthcoming eBooks?

Cue afterburners. These guys are ready to roll.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Big, Bad, and Red

You can file this one in the Department of You Say It and He Plays It: My artist buddy Kevin Nordstrom couldn't figure out why he had a bunch of emails on Sunday morning asking him to draw the Red Skull. Then he clicked over to American Frankenstein and saw the last installment of the ever-popular Sunday Supplement. And then (lucky for you) he sat down and whipped up the cool piece you see above.

And wow. This just gets me more excited about Captain America: The First Avenger. I loved the trailer for that one, and it's probably my most-anticipated summer movie. First off, it looks like a great thrill ride. Second, I can't believe they actually did it straight-up as a period piece set in World War II. This makes me happy, because (if you ask me) you can't drop Cap into the filmic version of the Marvel Universe without his backstory. Anyway, as a child of the late fifties and a definite First Generation Marvel Maniac, I can't wait to see how it plays.

Now, it's probably no surprise when I tell you that my favorite Marvel characters are the Outsiders. Misfits like The Hulk; semi-misfits like The Thing. But Captain America? Hey, he's Mythic. He's Tortured (w/ a capital "T"). And when you get right down to it, there's just something about a guy who's (literally) spent a chunk of his life frozen in ice.

Man, I can identify with that.

Think about it.

I bet a lot of you can, too.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Dark Harvest at Seton Catholic Central High (Part 3)

Here's Part 3 of my Dark Harvest interview with Kevin Lucia's Creative Writing students:

Victoria: Who exactly is the omniscient narrator meant to represent?

That's a question with a few twists and turns I'll have to leave alone for those who haven't read the book... but basically the narrator is the town's Everyman. He's lived there, and died there, and seen it all.

Dave: How did you develop the concept of the October Boy himself?

I've always loved horror stories about scarecrows that come to life. I've been trying to write one for years. In fact, I wrote one novella called "Red Right Hand" several years ago that involved a gang of Depression-era bank robbers who come nose-to-nose with a scarecrow and some bad mojo in a cornfield -- but something else happened when I got to the part of the story where I expected the scarecrow to come down off the pole. And since that something was better for the story, I went in a different direction than I'd originally intended and figured I'd save my scarecrow story for another day.

When I got the idea for Dark Harvest, I knew it would be my scarecrow story. Kind of. Because the other thing every horror writer wants to do is create their very own monster, one that hasn't been seen before. That's what I did with the October Boy, and it's one of the things I liked best about crafting Dark Harvest. Sawtooth Jack is my guy, from his flaming pumpkin head right down to his twisted root feet. Making him up was a lot of fun.

Emily: Why are the boys starved before the Run?

I wanted the night of the Run to be a wild, anything-goes kind of thrill ride. Starving the boys was just a way of amping up their internal hunger -- both in their bellies and their souls. They're desperate. They want the October Boy so bad they can taste him, and since he's packed with candy that's a literal possibility.

* * *

Check back for Part 4 on Thursday, when we'll talk about questions and answers, and a writer's obligation to the reader when it comes to both. On Wednesday we'll have a little intermission and a surprise you may have anticipated if you've been paying attention. Tune on in!