Help Me Pay Tribute to a Modern Master

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One of the biggest and bestest things to happen to me last year was having the chance to contribute my story “Husks” to Silent Motorist Media‘s Mannequin: Tales of Wood Made Flesh, which then went onto be named “Best Multi-Author Anthology” of 2019 by my beloved Rue Morgue Magazine.

So naturally, when the editor and publisher of that book, Justin Burnett, asked me if I’d like to contribute to his latest project, I had to say yes. Good thing, too, because considering that said project is a literary tribute to Matthew M. Bartlett, if I wasn’t invited, you can bet your ass I’d have done my damnedest to weasel my way onto that TOC.

Bartlett is quite simply one of the very best, most twisted, and most surreal practitioners of the arcane and macabre working today. I’m hardly alone in naming him a personal favorite contemporary author. What’s more, Bartlett is also an incredibly friendly, down-to-earth, stand-up guy who I’ve had the good fortune of hanging out with a handful of times at NecronomiCon Providence and StokerCon. No living creator deserves to be celebrated more than Matthew Bartlett. There may be many who deserve it just as much, but none who deserve it more.

Titled Hymns of Abomination: Secret Songs of Leeds, this upcoming anthology features brand new works by myself, Nathan Ballingrud, John Langan, Brian Evenson, Gemma Files, S.P. Miskowski, B.R. Yeager, Jonathan Raab, Tom Breen, Joseph Pastula, Joanna Parypinski, Farah Rose Smith, Scott R Jones, Betty Rocksteady, Christine Morgan, Kristine Ong Muslim, Christopher Slatsky, Donyae Coles, S.L. Edwards, John Linwood Grant, Robert S. Wilson, Jon Padgett, Sean M. Thompson, and Brian O’Connell.

Hymns of Abomination is currently being crowdfunding on Kickstarter, and to give you an idea of just how psyched this project has got people, it smashed its initial funding goal within 24 hours of the campaign going live. Every penny donated from here on out will go towards making the anthology even better through a number of tantalizing stretch goals.

Contribute today to pre-order a copy for yourself. In doing so, you’ll be helping to pay tribute to a truly one-of-a-kind creator.

Surprise! I’ve Got a New Story on the Way

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Who doesn’t love a surprise? Whether it’s a surgically enhanced stripper popping out of a giant cake, a spring-loaded toy snake popping out of a can of mixed nuts, or an acid-blooded extraterrestrial death-beast popping out of your chest, a good surprise is sure to liven up any party, occult ritual, or bris!

And, of course, the best surprises are the ones that involve me get paid fat stacks of cash… er, I mean… me having the honor and privilege of contributing to an exciting new publishing project.

In all seriousness, it really is an honor and a privilege to contribute to an exciting new publishing project. The project in question? A Walk in a Darker Wood, an all-new anthology of original folk-horror stories, poems, and illustrations by…

  • Chelsea Arrington
  • Hayley Arrington
  • Adam Bolivar
  • Phil Breach
  • Scott J. Couturier
  • Ashley Dioses
  •  S. L. Edwards
  • Maxwell I. Gold
  • John Linwood Grant
  • Jill Hand
  • John H. Howard
  • Shayne K. Keen
  • David Myers
  •  K. A. Opperman
  • Duane Pesice
  • Rachel E. Robinson
  •  A. P. Sessler
  • Russell Smeaton
  • Sarah Walker 
  • Gordon B. White
  • Can Wiggins
  • Ivan Zoric
  • Rebecca Allred

But, as Ron Popeil would say, that’s not all! Remember that surprise I mentioned earlier? Well, here it is: as of today, the extraordinary David Barker and the very ordinary William Tea (that’s me!) have been added to A Walk in a Darker Wood‘s line-up as surprise bonus contributors. Gosh, I’ve never been a surprise before (unless you count the tragic morning when my parents realized that getting sloshed on Jim Beam in the back of an Oldsmobile was maybe not such a great idea after all).

Like all the cool kids are doing these days, A Walk in a Darker Wood is currently being crowdfunded via Kickstarter, so if you’d like to get in on the ground floor and help this funky folk-horror dream become a funky folk-horror reality, zoom on over there and reserve your copy now!

In Stefan’s House: A Weird Fiction Tribute to Stefan Grabinski is Here!

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This one has been in the works for a while! Now available from Dunhams Manor Press, In Stefan’s House: A Weird Fiction Tribute to Stefan Grabinski is one of the most personally signficiant anthologies I’ve ever been involved with. Why? Because of the man who inspired it.

Stefan Grabinski has often been called “the Polish Poe” and “the Polish Lovecraft,” and while those comparisons properly evoke the enormity of his talents and the level of renown he should have had, they don’t really do justice to how unique his work really was. Grabinski’s “psychofantasy” or “metafantasy” stories (as he liked to call them) were informed by his lifelong interest in mysticism, demonology, and the occult, as well as by his dueling emotions of awe and anxiety towards industrialization (manifested most notably in the author’s many depictions of thunderous, fuming, untamable steam engines). These are stories that are both folkloric and psychological, obsessive and inquisitive, erotic and surreal.

And yet, within his lifetime Grabinski achieved only modest success in his native Poland, and not much at all outside of it. He was summarily forgotten, for the most part, following his death in 1936. I can’t say I remember how I first heard about him, but I’m thankful that I did. He’s become one of my all-time favorite writers, easily among my top five. In recent years, there’s been a small but noticeable upswing in Grabinski appreciation. Though he remains somewhat obscure, his work has come to mean a lot to me over the years, so it’s energizing for me to see him slowly but surely receiving the acclaim he is long overdue.

It’s even more energizing to think I might get to play some small part in that process.

In Stefan’s House has been a labor of love a long time in the making. My story, “The Witch Engine,” is an attempt is to look at some of Grabinski’s major recurring themes through the lens of my own experiences as a child of the modern age. To Grabinski, locomotives were the vessels of the future. To me, they are relics of the past. With “The Witch Engine” I wanted to explore the tension that lies between those two perspectives. I hope I managed to do the idea at least a small measure of justice.

My fellow contributors for this anthology include such humblingly talented individuals as Brian Evenson, Steve Ransic Tem, Michael Faun, Christian Wiessner, C.M. Muller, and more. To preview the entire contributor list, and to buy yourself a copy, go to the Dunhams Manor Press webstore. Paperback editions are just $15. If you’re looking for something a bit fancier, though, a very limited edition hardcover version will soon be available for $45, featuring new cover art and original interior illustrations by artist Mutartis Boswell. Down below you’ll see a jaw-droppingly gorgeous piece that accompanies my story. If you want to see the rest, buy the book!

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Behold the Undead of Dracula is Now Available!

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Halloween is fast approaching. What better way to spend the coming weeks than delving deep into a macabre universe of classic movie monsters… with a twist? Lucky you, Behold the Undead of Dracula: Lurid Tales of Cinematic Gothic Horror is now available!

An affectionate tribute to the crumbling castles and lysergic psychedelia of ’60s and ’70s creature features, this new anthology from Muzzleland Press features the kind of bawdy, bloody tales that would make Peter Cushing, Roger Corman, and Mario Bava proud, but filtered through a modern lens. From straightforward homage to postmodern revisionism and self-aware metafiction, the stories in Behold the Undead of Dracula read like descriptions of lost Hammer Pictures productions that never existed, couldn’t have existed, should have existed.

My own contribution, “Diabolus in Musica,” is a riff on Dennis Wheatley’s devil-worship potboilers. It features a b-movie music composer who finds himself the victim of hellish visions and satanic machinations while trying to finish his latest film score. Check out the full table of contents down below for a taste of what the rest of my creepy compatriots have in store for readers.

Behold the Undead of Dracula: Lurid Tales of Cinematic Gothic Horror is now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the Muzzleland Press bookstore. Buy it so I don’t starve!

“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

Con Report: Things I Did at (and After) NecronomiCon 2019

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H.P. Lovecraft’s birthday has come and gone again once again, and with it another trek to NecronomiCon Providence, a biannual convention for writers, readers, artists, and academics working in and around that tentacle-wrapped eldritch realm known as weird fiction.

This year I not only attended the con but also visited with some close friends who live in the area, and I took my mother with me for the purpose of treating her to a post-convention mini family vacation in New England. Altogether I was in Rhode Island for about a week, seeing the sights, eating delicious food, talking horror, blowing money on things I absolutely cannot afford, and just generally having a good time. I thought I’d share some of that with you now.

But first a note: Back when I went to NecronomiCon 2017, I wrote an exhaustive two-page write-up about the entire event. I’m pretty sure no one bothered to read it, and anyone who did was probably bored out of their mind. So for that reason, for NecronomiCon 2019 (and likely any literary cons I blog about in the future) I’m going to use the same format I used for my blissfully short StokerCon 2018 report.

Besides, let’s face it, my life sounds a lot more interesting as a series of out-of-context bullet points.

That said, here’s what I did at (and after) Necronomicon 2019:

I…

…picked up my contributor’s copy of Behold the Undead of Dracula: Lurid Tales of Cinematic Gothic Horror from Muzzleland Press.

…talked Zardoz, ethical cannibalism, and obscure leprechaun movies with Scott R Jones, Sonya Taaffe, and Teri Zin over steaming plates of spicy squid and pork belly at Mokban.

…got to meet (and hug!) Farah Rose Smith, who is not only one of my favorite writers working today but also one of my favorite human beings living today.

…bought a Deep One fetus in a jar from sculptor Joe Broers.

…shared burgers and milkshakes at the Haven Bros. Diner with Christopher Ropes and Barry Lee Dejasu.

…rambled on about my love for the novel F4 to its author, the incredibly talented and kind Larissa Glasser.

…paid my respects to Sam Gafford and Wilum H. Pugmire at a special memorial event.

…met Mississippi Bones frontman Jared Collins, who inflated my already swollen ego by telling me he liked my story “Reset” from Terror in 16-Bits.

…attended a surprise late-night event by Matthew M. Bartlett and Jon Padgett, where the pair took turns reading the entirety of their new collaborative novelette, The Latham-Fielding Liaison (available for preorder now from Nightscape Press).

…geeked out about Japanese mushroom-monster b-movies with kindred monster-kid Orrin Grey.

…took a tour of the Lizzie Borden murder house, which is now a combination museum and bed & breakfast.

…went comic book-hunting at a local indoor flea market (I found some nifty ol’ Atlas/Seaboard issues for hella cheap).

…stopped off in New Haven, Connecticut, to indulge by pizza obsession by eating the famous coal-fired “tomato pie” at the original Pepe’s Pizza location on Wooster Street.

…made a new friend:

deadward