R.I.P. Sam Gafford

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I only met Ulthar Press founder Sam Gafford once in person, at NecronomiCon 2017. It was my first time there, my first time at any literary con, and my first time trying to put myself out there as a “real” writer. I met Sam in the vendors’ room and I bought a few copies of the magazine he published, Occult Detective Quarterly.

For many booksellers that would have been enough. Exchange complete. Polite goodbye. Next customer. But Sam remembered my name from Facebook and initiated a conversation that I myself would’ve been too nervous to start. He asked me how I was enjoying my first NecronomiCon. He asked me about my writing. We talked about his magazine and about William Hope Hodgson (of whose work he was a leading scholar). Throughout, Sam was warm and genial. Here was a lifelong veteran of the weird fiction community reaching out to an awkward introvert for no other reason than to make me feel, well, a little bit less like awkward introvert. I don’t think I ever thanked him for that.

After the convention, Sam and I talked on Facebook from time to time, mostly about comic books. He was still just an overgrown kid at the end of the day, still an enthusiastic fan of superheroes, monsters, cartoons, and The Monkees. We should all be so lucky to remain in love with our passions for as long as he did.

I’m heartbroken that I won’t get to see Sam Gafford again at NecronomiCon 2019. Many others knew him far better than I ever did. I’m even more heartbroken for them.

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Cover/TOC Reveal: Behold the Undead of Dracula

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Few things thrill me more than getting to announce the publication of one of my stories in an upcoming anthology, except for maybe getting to announce the publication of one of my stories in an upcoming anthology… that has cover art by Trevor Henderson!

As if that wasn’t thrilling enough, the anthology in question just so happens to be a tribute to the colorful carnage of Roger Corman’s Poe pictures, the psychedelic psychosis of Mario Bava, and the grisly, gloomy gothicism of Hammer Film Productions.

Published by Muzzleland Press, Behold the Undead of Dracula: Lurid Tales of Cinematic Gothic Horror will debut at NecromiCon Providence 2019 in August. Paperback and ebook copies will be available online shortly thereafter. In the meantime, sink your fangs into the table of contents below:

“Go to the Devil” by Matthew M. Bartlett

“Over the Violets There That Lie” by Gwendolyn Kiste

“George Strait and the Black Orchard Grimoire” by Mer Whinery

“Vengeance of the Blood Princess” by Dominique Lamssies

“Diabolus in Musica” by William Tea

“Taste of Fear in the Night (European Release Title: Curse of the Mountain Witches)” by Tom Breen

“You Should Smile More: The Blood Coven of Arkana” by Heather L. Levy

“Mina’s Castle” by Sean M. Thompson

“Cleaver Castle of Carnage Presents: The Coven Strikes Back” by Christa Carmen

“The Bloody Cask of Rasputin” by Thomas C. Mavroudis

“The Filthy Creation of Frankenstein” by Gemma Files

Cover art by Trevor Henderson

Interior illustration by Mat Fitzsimmons

Editing and layout by Jonathan Raab

R.I.P. Charlee Jacob

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I just heard. Bram Stoker Award-winning horror author Charlee Jacob has passed away. I haven’t been able to find out much information, but those closest to her have confirmed it’s true. The ews seems to be making its way around the genre fiction community very slowly for some reason, which distresses me. People should know. We’ve lost a true great

As Brian Keene noted in a memorial post on Facebook, Jacob was a pioneer of what we now know as extreme horror and bizarro fiction. Some people look down their noses at such genres, viewing them as nothing but mindless gore or just “weird for the sake of being weird,” but those charges could never be leveled at Jacob. She was a poet as much as anything else, and she brought that sensibility into her prose. There was a lyricism and emotion to her fiction even when it was at its most grotesque. And, no doubt, it often got very grotesque.

It wasn’t just her writing talents that made Jacob special, though, but also her determination to use them despite the not-inconsiderable obstacles in her path. Jacob suffered from Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia, and osteoarthritis (which I suspect might have played a role in reducing her prominence in the public eye in recent years). Despite her illnesses, she released somewhere around two dozen books over the course of her career, from novels to short story collections to books of poetry to collaborations with other authors. That’s more than many of us will ever accomplish. What’s more, she was by all accounts a woman of razor wit and unflagging good humor. The stories I’ve heard from those who knew her personally inspire as much laughter as they do tears.

In the coming days, as news gets around, I hope to see many more tributes penned to her, and ones far better than this. She deserves as much.