APEX magazine Revive the Drive!


I hear you love science fiction. Well, me, too. Have you read Apex? I know, right? The covers are absolutely stunning. Agreed. The stories are always top notch. Have you heard about the promotion? It’s super cheap to subscribe and there’s some great stuff to be had now and in the future . . . so check out their Revive the Drive campaign.

I had an opportunity to speak with Managing Editor Lesley Conner about some interesting stories from the past, what they’re up to in the present and some exciting news about the near future.

 

What is the most memorable submission you’ve received, good or bad?

I don’t actually remember the story, but one time an author was incredibly insulting in their cover letter. The gist of it was that if we didn’t accept their story it was because we were discriminating against them and were too stupid to understand the genius of the story. According to them they had experienced everything in the story and had written it based off those experiences so clearly it was the best story ever. Somehow I feel this logic is flawed. We did not accept the story—1. Because it in fact was NOT the best story ever, and 2. Insulting the editors before they even have the chance to read your story doesn’t exactly make them clamor to work with you.

I’ve received lots of insulting letters after rejecting stories (even had someone threaten to sue me once), but this was the first time it happened prior to rejection.

What kinds of stories are you looking for that you don’t see enough of?

I’d love to see more dark SF. We get a lot of fantasy, magical realism, and straight up horror submissions, but the slush pile can be a little light on dark science fiction.

Do you think reader taste changes? Or are there certain stories they never seem to tire of?

I think it goes in cycles. For a while one type or style of story will be really, really popular and then at some point you hit a market saturation—readers can’t absorb one more zombie story or fairy tale retelling or whatever—so those types of stories fall away and something else moves up to take its place. Eventually those stories will come back around and readers will be ready for them again.

What was the day like when you first knew APEX was going to be your full time gig?

There wasn’t one day in particular where suddenly Apex was my full time gig. It was a gradual thing. I started by volunteering 5-10 hours a week, working on marketing and social media. As I learned more about editing and publishing, and as Jason Sizemore and I built a working relationship, I began taking on more and more responsibilities. Then in October of 2014 the opportunity came up for me to step into the managing editor role. Jason Sizemore had moved back into the editor-in-chief position and we already knew that we worked really well together, so it seemed like the next natural step. Best decision I’ve ever made.

What’s upcoming with APEX that you can’t wait to share with readers? Any teasers?

The slush pile has been especially amazing lately and we’ve snatched up some gems for futures issues. Stories by E. Catherine Tobler, Lavie Tidhar, and Rich Larson to name a few.

In addition to the fiction Jason Sizemore and I are lining up, Dr. Amy H. Sturgis is guest editing the August issue, focusing on Native American and First Nation authors. I’m really excited to see what she brings to Apex Magazine.

With the Revive the Drive campaign we are running right now, we’ve lined up amazing things for the January 2018 issue—original fiction by Tade Thompson, Delilah S. Dawson, Cherie Priest, and Jacqueline Carey, more nonfiction,  and poetry! Pretty exciting stuff! Hopefully we reach all of our goals and unlock everything. If we do, the January 2018 issue will be epic!


Apex Magazine is a monthly science fiction, fantasy, and horror magazine featuring original, mind-bending short fiction from many of the top pros of the field. New issues are released the first Tuesday of every month.

http://www.apex-magazine.com

Details about the Apex magazine Revive the Drive campaign

http://www.apex-magazine.com/revive-the-drive-2017/

Apex Magazine is an online prose and poetry magazine of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mash-ups of all three. Works full of marrow and passion, stories that are twisted, strange, and beautiful. Creations where secret places and dreams are put on display.

Each month we bring you a mix of originals and reprints, interspersed with interviews and nonfiction. We have published many of the top short form writers working today: Mary Robinette Kowal, Saladin Ahmed, Genevieve Valentine, Amal El-Mohtar, Forrest Aguirre, Nick Mamatas, Theodora Goss, Nalo Hopkinson, Lucy A. Snyder, Cat Rambo, Jeff VanderMeer, Seanan McGuire, and Jennifer Pelland. And we’ve also presented the first professional work of amazing new writers such as Indrapramit Das, T.J. Weyler, Alex Livingston, Ursula Vernon, Kathryn Weaver, Kelly Barnhill, Douglas F. Warrick, and Jeremy R. Butler.

Apex Magazine received a Best Semiprozine Hugo nomination in 2012,2013, and 2014. We placed two stories in the 2010 Nebula Award category of Best Short Story, and our stories won the category in 2014 (“If You Were a Dinosaur My Love” by Rachel Swirsky) and again in 2015 (“Jackalope Wives” by Ursula Vernon).

Each new issue is posted piecemeal throughout the month and placed on sale the first Tuesday of every month. Content can be read for free via the website. Alternatively, annual subscriptions are available and all our issues can be purchased in single issue formats (ePub/mobi/PDF or from the Kindle and Nook stores–these versions contain exclusive content such as classic reprints and novel excerpts).


We are reviving the subscription drive that was cut short in November. The new revived drive will run from March 27 to April 17th with a goal to raise $10,000!

Tier levels we will have to unlock during the drive will be:

  • $500 – Polls will open for readers to vote for the cutest/best Apex animal mascot: Pumpkin versus Oz! (Expect loads of adorable pics on social media as our editors try to sway you to vote for their pet!) Also, Jason and Lesley will make personal donations to the Humane Society
  • $1,000 – Apex will donate two short story critiques (one each from Jason and Lesley) to the ConOrBust auction, as well a membership to Imaginarium this October
  • $1,500 – Jason and Lesley’s It Follows debate goes live! Join our editors as they watch It Follows and live tweet the entire experience. If you’ve been following their conversations about the movie on Twitter, then you do not want to miss this!
  • $2,000 – an original short story by Tade Thompson in the January 2018 issue
  • $2,500 – add a poem to the January 2018 issue
  • $3,000 – add a reprint to the January 2018 issue
  • $3,500 – Andrea Johnson will conduct a video interview with Jason Sizemore, asking him questions submitted by our readers
  • $4,000 – add a a nonfiction essay to the January 2018 issue
  • $4,500 – add a second poem to the January 2018 issue
  • $5,000 – an original short story by Delilah S. Dawson in the January 2018 issue
  • $5,500 – podcast a second original story in the January 2018 issue
  • $6,000 – Apex donates a membership to ConFusion to ConOrBust
  • $6,500 – raise cover artist rates to $75
  • $7,000 – original artwork for all original fiction unlocked during the drive for the January 2018 issue
  • $7,500 – an original short story by Cherie Priest in the January 2018 issue
  • $8,000 – behind the scenes video with Jason
  • $8,500 – original artwork for all six stories in the January 2018 issue
  • $9,000 – a new print issue of Apex Magazine: SFFH #1
  • $9,500 – raise author rates to 7 cents per word
  • $10,000 – an original short story by Jacqueline Carey in the January 2018 issue
  • STRETCH GOAL!!! $15,000 – raise author rates to 8 cents per word and artist rates to $100!

Amazing, right!?! If we unlock everything for the double issue in January 2018, it is going to be phenomenal!!!

We are also collecting donated items from awesome people that you’ll be able to purchase during the drive to help us reach our goal.

Some of these donated items include:

  • story critiques from Jason Sizemore and Lesley Conner
  • flash fiction critiques from Anna Yeatts, editor at Flash Fiction Online
  • a query letter critique by literary agents Laura Zats and Eric Hane of Print Run podcast
  • signed prints of cover art from issues 80, 83, and 86
  • signed books by John Scalzi
  • signed books by Brian Keene
  • signed copy of The Crow God’s Girl by Patrice Sarath
  • signed copy of The Buried Life by Carrie Patel
  • signed copy of Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger
  • a handwritten poem by Brandy Schwan
  • cool collectors pieces by Justin Stewart
  • hats crocheted by Janet Harriett
  • coffee from Nate’s Coffee
  • Gamut/Apex Magazine subscription bundles
  • Shimmer/Apex Magazine subscription bundles
  • Flash Fiction Online/Apex Magazine subscription bundles
  • Personalized postcards from Lesley Conner for everyone who donates at least $5

New Releases!

It’s been an awfully long time since I’ve updated my Bibliography, and with several new releases just out or coming soon, I thought it high time to do so.

 

Scales & Tales front cover

Scales and Tales: Finding Forever Homes
I was very honored to have spent the last year editing the charity anthology Scales & Tales: Finding Forever Homes. This book benefits three local animal adoption programs, and was released as a limited edition of 500 print copies at Comic Con in San Diego. There will be a signing at Dark Delicacies in Burbank on August 28th, so please stop by and purchase a copy (or two!) and meet some of the terrific authors.

Los Angeles, CA William Wu Books 2016. First edition, limited to 500 numbered copies. Contains new stories by Tim Powers, Marv Wolfman, Lisa Morton, Jason V Brock, Sunni K Brock, William F. Nolan and more, including Clive Barker and Ray Bradbury. All proceeds benefit 3 adoption programs in Los Angeles: Southwestern Herpetologist Society, Kitt Crusaders, and Star Paws Rescue.

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“Eternal Valley”
In Cemetery Riots

In my short story, “Eternal Valley” a family relocates away from the city in order to help their sick son have a fighting chance. When he falls ill again, his father must make a journey to summon a doctor. On his way, he meets a mysterious woman who tells him of an entity in a lake that just might be able to help. Here’s the rest of the table of contents.

Imagine yourself in a cemetery. Void of all light at the base of a tree. But it’s no ordinary tree. This tree abounds with the dead. Now envision that each tree limb is a short story with its own vision, its own length of words, and its own insanity.With that said, beware of the widow makers and the strange foreboding dwelling beneath. Remember, nothing’s heavenly in Cemetery Riots. Cemetery Riots is a new collection of dark cautionary tales edited by T. C. Bennett and Tracy L. Carbone. With great pride, we introduce you to our stories and their authors… THE WAITING DEAD by Ray Garton, ABUSED by Richard Christian Matheson, CHILDREN’S HOUR by Hal Bodner, CARMICHAEL MOTEL by Kathryn E. McGee, THAT STILL, BLEEDING OBJECT OF DESIRE by Chet Williamson, LUNCH AT MOM’S by Tracy L. Carbone, FATHER AND SON by Jack Ketchum, THE DEMON OF SPITALFIELDS by Karen and Roxanne E. Dent, ERASURE by Lisa Morton, THE WINDOWS by T. C. Bennett, CERTAIN SIGHTS OF AN AFFLICATED WOMAN by Eric J. Guignard, THE MAN WHO KNEW WHAT TIME IT WAS by Dennis Etchison, THE RE-POSSESSED by James Dorr, CLOWN ON BLACK VELVET by Michael Sebastian, THE CELLAR by Kelly Kurtzhals, ETERNAL VALLEY by John Palisano, BLOOD by Taylor Grant, AMONG THE TIGERS by William F. Nolan, ALL OUR HEARTS ARE GHOSTS by Peter Atkins, THE ITCH by Michael D. Nye, and DRIVING HER HOME by John Everson.

Beauty of Death cover
“Mulholland Moonshine”
In The Beauty of Death

It’s the turn of the century in old Hollywood. It’s a time when being gay was even more dangerous than it is today. Falling in love has always been dangerous, and transformative, so when the object of your affection invites you up into the hills for a camping trip, and leads you to a mysterious body of water, you drink, and to hell with the consequences!

The Beauty of Death Anthology, edited by Bram Stoker Award® Winning Author Alessandro Manzetti.

Over 40 stories and novellas by both contemporary masters of horror and exciting newcomers. Stories by: Peter Straub, Ramsey Campbell, Edward Lee, John Skipp, Poppy Z. Brite, Nick Mamatas, Shane McKenzie,Tim Waggoner, Lisa Morton, Gene O’Neill, Linda Addison, Maria Alexander, Monica O’Rourke, John Palisano, Bruce Boston, Alessandro Manzetti, Rena Mason, Kevin Lucia, Daniel Braum, Colleen Anderson,Thersa Matsuura, John F.D. Taff, James Dorr, Marge Simon, Stefano Fantelli, John Claude Smith, K. Trap Jones, Del Howison, Paolo Di Orazio, Ron Breznay, Mike Lester, Annie Neugebauer, Nicola Lombardi, JG Faherty, Kevin David Anderson, Erinn Kemper, Adrian Ludens, Luigi Musolino, Alexander Zelenyj, Daniele Bonfanti, Kathryn Ptacek, Simonetta Santamaria.
Cover Art by George Cotronis


COMING SOON! 
13346551_10201892623753141_8788014962900180884_n“Paso Robles”
In The Junk Merchants: A Literary Tribute to William S. Burroughs
(Coming Soon)

“The Space Between”
In My Peculiar Family
(Coming Soon)

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A guest post from Catherine Cavendish

Over the past year I’ve gotten to know some excellent new authors. One whose book I truly enjoyed was Catherine Cavendish. I’m thrilled that she is a guest here as she sheds some insight into her newest novella, ‘Dark Avenging Angel’. Please consider trying one of her books if you haven’t already. Also: Amazon reviews are more helpful than people realize. Please-please-please review the works you’ve read. It truly does make a difference to the authors. Thank you. –john–

Revenge of the Churel

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My latest novella – Dark Avenging Angel – is, as its title suggests, concerned with revenge. In this case, revenge of the most demonic kind. We’ve all heard the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for…” Jane learns the truth of this in graphic ways.

Avenging angels and demons abound in the traditions and folklore of people all over the world. One such character is a churel – a female ghost of South Asian folkore, well known in the Indian sub-continent.

There are variations on her origins. She may have died in childbirth, during menstruation, or as a result of poor care while pregnant. It is said that if a woman (especially one from the lower social classes) dies in pregnancy during the five-day Hindu Festival of Light (Diwali), she is even more likely to turn into a churel. Whichever is the cause, the churel is an angry and vengeful spirit who returns from the dead to suck the blood (and other bodily fluids) of her male relatives.

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Churels are most often found in and around graveyards, abandoned battlefields, crossroads, thresholds of houses, toilets and a host of squalid locations.

They can take the form of a hideous woman with sagging breasts, backwards facing feet (toes at the back, heel at the front), long sharp teeth, a black tongue and unkempt hair. The churel frequently roams naked, and has a pot belly and claw-like hands. Some churels have unusually thick lips, or even no mouth at all. Some have pig-like features with long fangs or tusks.

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A churel can also be a shapeshifter – able to transform into a beautiful young woman, in order to lure any young male relation she wants. When she has got him where she wants him, she then drains him of his virility, turning him into a prematurely aged, grey-haired old man. Once she has finished with him, she moves onto the next male relative until her vengeance is satisfied. This thirst for revenge may be so great that it involves more than her own family. She may go in search of other young men on highways, or at crossroads, where she lures them in her enchantress guise. In some stories, she will imprison her victim in a graveyard and use him – little by little – sexually and by draining his blood until he withers and dies. There is even a story of a young man who was seduced by a churel, ate the food she gave him and returned to his village the next day as an old man.

In some traditions, the churel may transform and become a servant of the goddess Kali, joining with her to feast on human flesh and blood.

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So how do you prevent yourself becoming a victim of a churel? The solution is quite simple, men should treat their wives well. Look after them in pregnancy and childbirth. If that fails though – and the wife falls sick and dies, the best methods are to bury rather than cremate her body and perform certain rituals. The body may be bound. Nails and other bindings may be used to imprison the would-be churel in her grave, and the woman should be remembered – with love and honour – in songs and prayers, so that her spirit doesn’t feel forgotten or neglected.

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Now, to give you a taste of Dark Avenging Angel, here’s the blurb:

Don’t hurt Jane. You may live to regret it.

Bullied by her abusive father, Jane always felt different. Then the lonely child found a friend in a mysterious dark lady who offers her protection—a lady she calls her “angel”. But that protection carries a terrible price, one to be paid with the souls of those Jane chooses to suffer a hideous and eternal fate.

When Jane refuses to name another victim, the angel reveals her most terrifying side. Payment must be made in full—one way or the other.

And here’s a brief extract:

Something had woken me from a deep sleep troubled by my recurring nightmare in which I was in a wood, being chased by some unimaginable horror. I never saw its face, assuming it even had one. But I knew if I didn’t find sanctuary, it would kill me. I had just made it into the strange little house that always appeared in the clearing, when my eyes opened and I gasped at the white, smiling face looking down at me.

That night, my angel seemed different somehow.

Oh, she looked the same. Same black cloak, but this time it shimmered and I wanted to touch it. I was sure it would feel soft as velvet under my fingers.

She put her finger to her lips and stroked my hair. Her touch was like a gentle breeze in summertime. My eyes wanted to close, but I forced them to stay open.

I knew I mustn’t speak out loud, but I could still whisper. “I wish I knew your name. Who are you? Please will you tell me?”

She continued to smile. Her lips moved, but the answering voice I heard was again in my head.

Do not be afraid, child. It is not yet time, but soon you will have the power to avenge yourself on those who have done you harm. Look for me in the shadows and I will be there, taking account.

I understood nothing of what she said. But, from somewhere, a calm I had never felt before emerged and wrapped itself around me.

I blinked in the darkness as she faded from sight.

Then I closed my eyes and slept. I never had that nightmare again after that night. But what if I’d known what was ahead for me?

Some things are better off left in the dark.

You can find Dark Avenging Angel here:

Samhain Publishing

Amazon
Barnes and Noble 

Kobo

Omnilit

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About the author:

Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Cat is now the full time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. She was the 2013 joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor, which features in the anthology What Waits in the Shadows.  Her novels, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine are also published by Samhain. Her latest novella – Dark Avenging Angel – will be followed by her next novel – The Devil’s Serenade – in April 2016

You can connect with Cat here:

Catherine Cavendish

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Tsu

 

“Splinterette” Nominated from Bram Stoker Award® in Short Fiction

Splinterette graphic
“Splinterette”
has made it to the Final Ballot of the Bram Stoker Awards® in Short Fiction. I’m very surprised, and I’ve got some amazing company, which is great, because now I’ll be able to enjoy to Stoker Awards without being afraid I’ll have to go up to the podium and say words like, “Honored,” and “Humbled”, and I can just do that here.

I share the category with Hal Bodner, Sydney Leigh, Usman T. Malik, whose “The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family” is also up for a Nebula (WOW!), Rena Mason, and Damien Angelica Walters. They’ve all produced stellar work.

“Splinterette” is about a man who is lost in a whiteout only a short distance from his home, and is seemingly rescued by a creature made of branch and sharpened bark. To me, it’s very Lovecraftian. Your mileage may vary on that one. Others have mentioned it may be metaphoric about my last few years. The jokers!

The story will be available to read here for voting members until the ballots close in a few weeks. Thanks a mill for this, everyone. It means so much to be acknowledged by my peers in horror fiction in this way.

Also, “Splinterette” appeared in the WIDOWMAKERS anthology, benefitting James Newman, who was severely injured by an immense falling branch. All proceeds help James and his family during his recovery.

http://horror.org/final-ballot-bram-stoker-awards/

Splinterette PDF download

Horror Selfies!

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Today launches the Horror Writers Association’s new site, HORROR SELFIES! And look who’s there getting into trouble!

John Palisano

Crystal Lake author interview for “Perrollo’s Ladder”

Tales from the Lake Vol. 1
Here’s a short interview with me over at the Crystal Lake site. Here I’m talking about the genesis of “Perrollo’s Ladder”, the story that appears in TALES FROM THE LAKE, VOLUME ONE. Hope y’all dig it! This is a great collection of short fiction, and am honored to be included. Volume Two promises to be just as great, and there’s a writing competition, so all you writers, juice up those pens and processors!

http://www.crystallakepub.com/blog/tales-from-the-lake-vol-1-author-interview-john-palisano

 

13 Questions with Joan De La Haye

Tales from the Lake Vol. 1 The Crystal Lake crew are a pretty awesome bunch. My stuff has appeared alongside Joan De La Haye’s in both HORROR 101 and TALES FROM CRYSTAL LAKE, VOLUME ONE. Here, we have a great probing interview about a few things horror, a few more creative, and a bunch about writing. Hope you dig it. I did, and South Africa seems pretty interesting from afar. http://joandelahaye.com/2014/05/24/13-questions-with-john-palisano/ Horror 101 The Way Forward

Here’s a neat interview with the talented Joan De La Haye: http://www.crystallakepub.com/blog/tales-from-the-lake-vol-1-author-interview-joan-de-la-haye.
The Goodreads page for Tales From The Lake Volume One: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21844506-tales-from-the-lake-vol-1?from_search=true
Tales from The Lake can already be purchased directly from Createspace: https://www.createspace.com/4784430

1. What drives you to write?

It’s an exorcism for me to write. I have terrible nightmares that give me insomnia. They’re extremely vivid. I have a very over active imagination. I’m always thinking something terrible is about to happen. Writing gets that out. Writing smooths the edges. Writing takes a lot of my head, and gets rid of them. Sometimes.

2. What attracted you to writing horror?

Every minute were alive, there’s a threat to us. I felt this pull to the Darkside at a very young age. Always been fascinated with what’s beyond. I think it ties into my spirituality,  in a way. There’s a lot of fear living in this world, a lot of uncertainty. Horror helps put that in its place. Or allows you to transcend. That’s what’s always fascinated me. I’m not big on slashers or where people are captured and tortured, but rather, journeys into the unknown. Things in the shadows. Things unseeable

3. Who are your favourite horror writers?

Most of the classic big names, of course, but I’ve been really interested in a lot of contemporary horror. I love the new weird fiction crop, including Laird Barron, Jeff VanderMeer, Thomas Ligotti, and those people. I also love bizarro fiction, like Carlton Mellek and Cody Goodfellow. It’s been an embarrassment of riches for dark fiction over the past few years. There’s so much good stuff, I just wish I had more time.

4. Which horror novels do you think every horror fan should read?

I think they should read the contemporary novels that appeal to them first. Then, if they like something from Laird Barron, for example, then go out and seek Lovecraft and Poe. I think it’s important for people to be engaged, and not feel like they’re doing work. I highly recommend going to library or bookstore and going into sections you’ve never been before and exploring. There’s horror to be found everywhere. Also, there are fantastic stories and writing to be explored all sorts of genres.
5. Ebooks or paperback?

I think they’re both fantastic, actually. The new Kindle that’s backlit is my main reading device. Practically? It’s backlit, so one can read it in the dark without disturbing anybody else in the room, and I can read extremely fast. It’s quite pleasurable. On the flipside, reading on an iPad is okay, but in the middle of the night, even with the brightness turned all the way down, it feels to me like looking into a flashlight. It’s just a little bit much in comparison to a Kindle.

Paper books can be great. If the book is bound well, and put together nicely, I’m apt to read it. I love the John Steinbeck millennium additions because of the ragged edges, great design, and great feel. To be honest, I’ve never liked reading a lot of books because they were heavy and uncomfortable. And in the indie press, so much are so uncomfortable to read, format-wise, that I often stop, so it all depends.

6. What would make you pick up a novel by a new author?

A great cover’ll grab me. I’m not going to lie. I judge book by covers. We all do, even though we wish we didn’t. I have found gems that were horribly put together. I Will Rise by Michael Calvillo was one such book. The first edition I had sported a dreadful cover, and the layout left a lot to be desired. But his writing shone through.

7. Who is your favourite fictional character?

That would probably be the idealized version of myself, although I think that’s shattered when I see myself in the mirror, or see a picture of myself that someone’s posted.

8. Do you plot your stories or does it just unfold before your eyes?

I studied plot and structure so much, and so extensively, at Emerson in Boston, and AFI in Los Angeles, that I usually don’t write things out. I usually have a pretty good idea early on where things are headed, and what I usually do instead is write out a character form, like I do if I were acting and developing the person. That process usually informs me, and tells me most everything I need to know about the story to come. Knowing the characters is everything in my process.

9. Do your characters take on a life of their own and do things you didn’t plan?

They certainly do, and even in something that is plot driven, like a screenplay, it leads to some better surprises.

10. Do you listen to music when you write or do you need silence?

You may notice that I’m quite moody, and this is no exception. There are times when I’m writing a fight scene, and I’ll crank Van Halen. There will be other times when I prefer dead silence. Or sometimes I put on something like Coldplay just to get a kind of flow and rhythm.

Often when I’m writing a book or story, I’ll actually compose music to it. This helps my free-form thinking, and forms the story in ways I never predicted. I wrote an entire album of songs for my first novel because one of the characters had a famous album in the 1960s. I had to know what it sounded like, and had to write the lyrics. It was very important to the story to know all those details. I do all sorts of styles of music to make soundtracks for my books. It’s part of my writing process in a major way.

11. Do you do a lot of research for your stories?

In fact, I often do. Many people believe they’re in my books. Friends I grew up with. People I’m in relationships with. But what they don’t understand is my writing is like a collage. I grew up during the rap generation, where you take one element and then put it on top of something else, and make something completely different out of it. I’ve always loved that concept, but often felt that rap music fell short of really using it to its potential, of massaging found elements and making them new. Public Enemy was one of the only groups I felt that really brought that to an apex. But in writing, I do that with almost every story.
I’ll take elements from my life that I know are real, pieces of the conversation, descriptions, locations slightly altered, and then use that as a springboard to something completely different. So character may have one or two traits I’ll borrow from myself or friend, but I will twist it so far left and right, that by the end, it’s unrecognizable, it goes back to writing what you know. You’ve got to sprinkle enough reality to ground the reader, to make your story living, so that when the horrible things start happening, you’re right there.
12. Facebook or Twitter?

Mostly Facebook, but I’ve been dialing it back. Trying to cut down on the noise. And I’m not so wholly interested in what people had for dinner, or that they drank too much last night, or that they’re mad at going to work. It just feels extremely narcissistic, and I’m growing increasingly uncomfortable. Maybe I’m just growing older, but more likely I just crave simplicity. I have notebooks filled with stories I’d like to tackle, albums I’d like to write, and I don’t want to waste my precious time on nonsense. That being said, sometimes people have laughed at me because I watch five episodes of something stupid like Judge Judy to tune out. There’s that moodiness again.
13. What really pisses you off about writing?

The act of writing itself doesn’t piss me off. Not at all. I love it. The business of writing drives me batty. There’s so much garbage out there that gets in the way of writing time. People love to talk about writing endlessly. Everybody that can string two sentences together has a theory, a plan, or a book, or story in them. That’s all fine, and I’ve gone through that all myself, but there’s nothing as wonderful as sitting at a desk or in a coffee shop with a blank notebook and  pen and finding the rhythm. Those are the precious moments that make me most happy. It’s frustrating when that time isn’t respected by others, or when people don’t think you’re actually working, and especially when everybody thinks they can do exactly what you do. That is obnoxious. It’d be like me going to a hospital, putting on gloves, and operating, because I’ve seen every single episode of ER that’s ever been on the air. We may have a good idea, but there’s intricacies, muscle memories, that come into play that are actually crucial to making an operation a success.

I blame novel in a month for this new plague. When they started that project, it got out that writing 1300 words or so a day was ideal so that you could make a goal of writing a novel in a month. That thought spread like wildfire. I see writers all the time talking about their word counts. To me, it doesn’t tell me if those are good words, bad words, and especially, the right words. Writing is rewriting. Just because you can vomit out 60,000 words in a month doesn’t mean they won’t need tending to. It’s what you do during the rewriting process that really counts. And I know most people are just writing their stories top to bottom, and then pressing upload, and they’re on the Kindle. While I don’t believe in having writing  un-accessible, I think this lack of a vetting process has become a problem. And it’s also stripped a lot of the magic out of having a book out. I can’t tell you how many times I tell people I have a book, and they’re later surprised to find out that it’s actually with a traditional publisher, and I haven’t just put it out myself.

But I think the thing that makes me angriest about writing, is that there never seems to be enough time to do so. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that sentiment.

13 Questions with Joan De La Haye

Tales from the Lake Vol. 1

The Crystal Lake crew are a pretty awesome bunch. My stuff has appeared alongside Joan De La Haye’s in both HORROR 101 and TALES FROM CRYSTAL LAKE, VOLUME ONE. Here, we have a great probing interview about a few things horror, a few more creative, and a bunch about writing. Hope you dig it. I did, and South Africa seems pretty interesting from afar.

13 Questions with John Palisano

Horror 101 The Way Forward

Here’s a neat interview with the talented Joan De La Haye: http://www.crystallakepub.com/blog/tales-from-the-lake-vol-1-author-interview-joan-de-la-haye.

The Goodreads page for Tales From The Lake Volume One: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21844506-tales-from-the-lake-vol-1?from_search=true

 

Tales from The Lake can already be purchased directly from Createspace: https://www.createspace.com/4784430

 

Meet the Nominees

This is pretty neat. A short interview with me about getting nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for short fiction this year. And it’s true: I learned I’d made it to the final ballot when folks congratulated me on Facebook. Neat-O! Now? Back to work!

http://horror.org/?p=6305

Know a Nominee, Part Three: John Palisano

Welcome to our third entry in “Know a Nominee,” the blog series that puts you inside the minds of this year’s Bram Stoker Awards nominees. Today’s interviewee is John Palisano, who’s nominated in the category of Superior Achievement in Short Fiction for his story, “The Geminis” (Chiral Mad 2, Written Backwards).

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DM: Can you please describe the genesis for the idea that eventually became the work for which you’ve been nominated? In the case of a work wherein you’ve written multiple stories (like a collection) please choose your favorite part and discuss.

JP: “The Geminis” is an exorcism. A dream ruined my day. How could it not? In it, my insides were outside. Looking up toward the sky, the huge Hollywood hills around me, a mysterious, organic dark sphere hovered a few feet overhead, its string-like fingers connected and dipped deep inside my opened chest. My essence draining, the sphere’s scent overpowered me. It smelled like every good thing. Freshly cut grass. A fireplace. A baby’s cheek. A fantastic trap, and with a deadly, paralyzing payload. I felt no pain, but I heard music. A beautiful melody, with missing notes. I knew what notes to play, to complete it, but could not. Had I not spoken my true love to the pianist, we’d complete the melody. The spheres would be pacified, as would the worse things slumbering inside the hills, waking as the blood spilled, because there were others. As I looked around, spheres drained people up and down the hilly road. Every person I’d known would soon be dead. That’d only be the beginning. Then the pianist stopped and the hillside became eerily quiet.

When I woke, I decided I’d have to save the world from these hidden things. So I wrote “The Geminis” to get rid of that disturbing fever dream playing over and over in my head.

DM: What was the most challenging part of bringing your idea to fruition? The most rewarding aspect of the process?

JP: It was difficult to get the music of the writing just right. I did a pass where I tried to put a cadence to the words in places that would reflect that they were playing complementary sounds. It’s very subtle, but it’s there. May sound uber pretentious, however, it was just me having fun with it.

It’s rewarding when people read something you’ve written. Some asked me if the characters were based on me and someone I may have unrequitedly been in love with. I use moments from life to color characters, but this is make believe. It’s not a diary or a documentary, it’s a story. A parable. An idea.

As far as being in love, and it being unrequited? Countless times. I’m sure that’s more common than not. Who doesn’t fall in love a dozen times a month? You see some beautiful person, by chance, and you daydream and wonder, what would it be like? Could that be better? Worse? Forgettable? Magical? In a blink, we’re off into our lives again.

Addressing that moment, but sticking two people in that feeling, and making it happen endlessly, and that if they acted upon it, even knowing they’re destined, it’d be catastrophic, was me being a complete terrorist to them!

Fun fact: Lia’s name comes from Legato, shortened to Lea, then Lia because it looked pretty. Legato is a musical term that means notes are played together, smoothly, seamlessly.

DM: What do you think good horror/dark fiction should achieve? How do you feel the work for which you’ve been nominated work fits into that ideal?

JP: Great horror fiction needs to leave scars. It needs to spin the world a few degrees on its axis. It needs to make something inside you hurt, or feel, or get turned on by things you’re not supposed to get all hot and bothered by. When you’re done, it’s got to stay with you. Some of the best horror fiction does its best work long after you read it, when you’re still afraid of the dead coming back to life, or of being stoned after pulling a number, or of that little flash in the video right before the picture starts.

DM: I’m curious about your writing and/or editing process. Is there a certain setting or set of circumstances that help to move things along? Where do you often find yourself getting stuck, and why?

JP: Most my writing begins as longhand. I’d say it’s text, but I do draw primitive pictures. Sometimes I’ll draw a horrific dream image just so I can remember it later when life isn’t getting in the way of my addiction.

I write everywhere these days. Very little though, is at a traditional desk. Someone else’s chaos is not my chaos at home, so I can tune it out. I love airplanes, but have to pretend there’s no internet. Too distracted.

When I hit walls, I move. Go to a coffee shop. Another room. That usually works. The hardest part for me is if I’m writing a scene and it gets mapped out too thoroughly or quickly I lose interest. It’s not organic and feels false to me. So I try to not get bored if I already know the story.

DM: As you probably know, many of our readers are writers themselves. What is the most valuable piece of advice you can share with someone who may be struggling to make their way in this life?

JP: Remember what brought you: your love for story, and for getting that fix through words. It’s easy to get caught up and into the con/party loop, but just remember: the work needs to be the best it can be.

DM: What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Bram Stoker Awards/WHC (if you are attending)? If not attending, what do you think is the significance of recognitions like the Bram Stoker Awards?

JP: Just seeing so many dear friends will be reason enough. Also looking forward to the inevitable whipped cream pie fight at the end of the ceremony, because everyone who’d lost, wins, and those who win lose!

It’s been an honor, privilege, and a few good natured laughs, too.

About John Palisano

John Palisano’s short stories have appeared in anthologies from PS Publishing, Terror Tales, Lovecraft eZine, Horror Library, Bizarro Pulp, Written Backwards, Dark Continents, Darkscribe, DarkFuse, Dark House, and, likely, one or two more ‘Dark’ places in there. Hard to say. They’re all so . . . dark. His novel Nerves was put out by Bad Moon Books and promptly placed in the “What the hell category is this?” section of Amazon. John writes all the time, but does his best not to look at the word counter until it’s absolutely necessary, less he have a flashback of glimpsing the abyss, like he did during a mandatory high school Calculus class. Google it. It happens. While you’re hunched over your phone, look up John on Facebook, because no one really goes to author’s websites anymore, do they? He’ll be the one who isn’t posting his daily word count, but you will find out how long it took him to walk the [expletive deleted] dogs.

THE BRING JASPER TO JUSTICE BLOG TOUR




THE BRING JASPER TO JUSTICE

BLOG TOUR

The whistle is blowing. That means I’ve got a new iron train stopping at the wordpress station today. And what do we have here? UK author Jasper Bark is here to talk a little bit about his work.

For more background info on Jasper please check out: http://www.jasperbark.com/bio/

Do you think horror has a purpose, above giving people a comfortable, entertaining scare?

I really do believe it has. In my opinion the best horror stories use the weird and other-worldly as a metaphor for a deeper or more personal truth. I also think that the world is quite a scary place at the moment and because of this the tropes and motifs of horror are some of the best ways of addressing the contemporary world. A lot of the horror writers coming up at the moment seem to be interested in social commentary in the same way that the New Wave and the early Cyberpunk writers previously used science fiction as a vehicle for social comment.

Why should people read your work?

Because I need the money!

Also because they’ll discover imaginative, edgy and unexpected fiction that explores social and spiritual issues while pushing at the boundaries of what genre fiction can and ought to do.

Because I’ll take them to places they’ve never been before and will never get to visit again. That’s a money back guarantee.

STUCK ON YOU:

What were you thinking when you took an urban legend and turned it into a delightfully twisted story called Stuck on You?

Mostly – “Gee, I bet this will make ’em toss their cookies” I wasn’t actually sure it was an urban legend when I stumbled across it on an obscure forum while researching something else. The person posting it seemed to think it was a true story. In fact the tale first appeared on the Darwin Awards site, which is devoted to deaths that are so dumb the victim is given an award for not muddying the human gene pool with their decided lack of smarts. So there’s some debate as to whether it actually happened or not (my guess is definitely NOT).

It was one of those little snippets of information that stuck to the seamy underbelly of my imagination and wouldn’t let go until I wrote a story to get rid of it. Taking the Piss, another story that’s collected in the forthcoming collection: Stuck on You and Other Prime Cuts, was just the same. It was inspired by something hideous I read about that just wouldn’t leave me alone. I sometimes create stories as little traps for the vile and hideous notions that infest my psyche, so I can be done with them and pass them onto my unwary readers. Think of it as a public service.

Stuck on You goes to some pretty extreme places, did you ever worry that you were going too far?

All the time. The fear for a writer working on something like Stuck On You is that you’re going to lose half your readership. That what your describing is going to gross them out so much they’ll throw the story down in disgust. So I would try and slowly ease the reader into each new incident that befalls the main character Ricardo. I would build to a gross climax then scale it back a bit. The thing about the story is that just when you think it’s gotten as low as it can go I’ll find a new depth to plumb, but you have to let up a bit in between. The intense levels of eroticism helps with this as did the black humour. Many readers have said they squirmed while reading it, or felt sick, but most have also said they laughed too, which is good because there is a strong element of slapstick in the story.

There are some really erotic and sexual scenes in Stuck On You. Were they fun to write?

Yes, but they were also very hard (if you’ll pardon the pun). That’s because, in my experience, Sex and Violence are the two hardest things to write well. Not many people have first hand experience of extreme violence so their depictions of it can sometimes seem inauthentic or clumsy. While most people have first hand experience of sex, we make ourselves very vulnerable when we talk or write about it in great detail. Mainly because we’re revealing something of ourselves that’s very intimate when we do. What’s more, its very difficult to find the right language to approach sex without sounding like either a clinical sex ed. description or a euphemism laden dirty joke.

Champions of ‘Quiet Horror’ often claim that ‘anyone can throw in a bunch of sex and violence and get a response’ but I think they’re wrong about this. You’ll get a response, but it won’t always be a good one, because not anyone can write sex or violence well. That’s often why many authors stop at the bedroom door and only hint at the violence. I think they’re making a virtue out of a necessity. However, I do think you can write something of great quality that’s also extremely violent and highly erotic. That’s one of the issues I was hoping to address with Stuck On You. You’ll have to read it to see if I’ve succeeded but I can promise you that if you like either sex or violence you won’t be disappointed.

Why should people read Stuck On You?

Because it’s the sickest, filthiest and most inexcusable thing you’ll read all year. If you think you’ve read everything in horror think again this will take you to an all time low. It’s the ultimate guilty pleasure, the sort of book you have to read with one hand free, partly to hide behind and partly to do other things with.

VIDEO FOOTAGE:

Here’s an episode of Resonance FM’s Atomic Bark show wherein Jasper talks at length with presenter James DC about old time Radio Horror Shows (very fascinating, very frightening):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6Z3goixWwc

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