All Hallow’s Read 2013 (Day 22) – You Gonna Die, Fly

You Gonna Die, FlyWe opened this week with a super creepy, atmospheric family friendly spoken word story on vinyl called The Ride of the Headless Horseman (see All Hallow’s Read 2013 (Day 20) here). Today, I have a hilarious not-so-kid-friendly 32-page picture book called You Gonna Die, Fly by sister duo Elizabeth Massie and Barbara Spilman Lawson published by Fucked Up Folktales Publishing. Massie penned the story of Fly, a world-weary fly, after being inspired by all these fucked up folktales she was reading. And Lawson brought Fly to life, born from her dream of flying and admiration of the fly since they can do just that. This is a story for adults who will enjoy illustrated stories and, in particular, will enjoy a tale that takes a humorous look at life & death through the compound eyes of a fly. Although You Gonna Die, Fly looks like a children’s book – with the exception of the word “die” in the title and the cig hanging out of Fly’s mouth – there’s drug use, violence, and sexual content that is definitely not appropriate for kids. “Rated RG for Racy Insect Drawings and Gratuitous Profanity.” You’ve been warned.

This is the first time I’ve seen Lawson’s work, but her loveable lil’ characters compliment Massie’s story, and general asthetic, perfectly. You Gonna Die, Fly is a fine representation of the dichotomy of Massie. On one side, she writes some of the most disturbing scenes in horror fiction, but on the other she’s knitting sweaters and scarves in her spare time. There’s a thread of frightening sexual perversity in her stories, but she also draws these adorable pictures of zombie animals. While reading a Massie short story, my mom yelled out “what the hell is wrong with this bitch!?” (“Bitch” meant to be complimentary in regards to Massie’s ability to freak her out, naturally). Massie’s stories may cause readers to question her mental stability, but just like any normal Jane, she can often be found people watching at Starbucks with her buds, or as she likes to call it, The Bux. Even her nickname for Starbucks is cute! I’m guessing that Lawson too is a similar blend of wholesome sweetness and morbidity.

I wouldn’t typically define Massie’s work as “cutesy,” but You Gonna Die, Fly is simply adorable, but with black humor and cursing. Massie has paired her love of pleasant and cute with dark and disturbing before through her zombie art, but the picture-books-for-adults project is the best forum for her to display both sides of her artistic personality. Of course, it’s not all Massie. Perhaps without Lawson’s dream of flying we’d have no Fly at all. I look forward to seeing more of Lawson’s characters and the progression of this Fucked Up Folktales venture.

you gonna die fly illustration

Fly on drugs. Illustrated by Barbara Spilman Lawson

You can snag a copy of Elizabeth Massie & Barbara Spilman Lawson’s You Gonna Die, Fly from Fucked Up Folktales here. And if you enjoy that, be sure to grab a copy of their follow-up, Damn You, Demon. Or you can take advantage of their special holiday deal and get both for $26 with FREE shipping! And they’ll sign them however you wish. Each title is usually $14.50 + $3.50 for shipping so you can’t beat that deal.

Based on Fucked Up Folktales’ Facebook page there is a third book in the works which will be out in the not-so-distant future, so keep an eye on their page here to see what fucked up thing they’ll come up with next!

For more information about Elizabeth Massie’s work past and present visit her website here. To explore more work by Barbara Spilman Lawson you can visit her website Art With A Twist here.

-Meli

All Hallow’s Read 2013 (Day 20)

Today, instead of a written tale I’d like to introduce you to an oral tale set to vinyl by the Haunted House Music Co. in 1986, The Ride of the Headless Horseman. It has been a family Halloween tradition for as long as I can remember to play this record all Halloween night while passing out candy to cute little ghouls, ghosts, and goblins. Once carried out by my grandma until she finally relinquished possession of her record collection passing the legacy onto me, still after 27 years, despite technological advancements in music, listening to The Ride of the Headless Horseman is a Halloween tradition that will never go out of style.

The best thing about the record is it can be enjoyed by the whole family. Of course, I loved listening to this story as a kid, but even as an adult I play this record to set the mood of the holiday. While it used to be tradition to play this on Halloween night, I’ve expanded on that and now spin this bad boy while putting out my Halloween decorations.

RideOfTheHeadlessHorsemanLPFrontMain-1Side 1, clocking in at 12:14, is the spooky narration of an adaptation of Washington Irving’s short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow set over atmospheric music and sound effects while side 2 offers 14:11 of a variety of isolated sound bites from the story, like the howling wind and screeching owls for example.

I searched high and low, but unfortunately have no name for the gentleman narrating this story. His rhythm and tone coupled with the sound effects give the story a haunting feel necessary to get you into the Halloween spirit, so it’s a shame I can’t put a name with the voice. The anonymous narrator’s voice bears a slight resemblance to the beloved and iconic Boris Karloff. Missing Karloff’s notable lisp and with an English accent not quite as thick, our narrator nonetheless has the low tone purposefully paced that is familiar and comforting but evoking suspense in the listener as well.

There is no CD that I have found of this particular recording, but if you have a turntable you can find used copies for just under 10 bones via Discogs or Amazon. If not, there is a full recording of side 1, which features the spoken word tale of the Headless Horseman, over at Adventure Amigos here. And just for the hell of it, here’s the Boris Karloff introduction to Black Sabbath. Let me know if you hear the similarities with our Ride narrator.RideOfTheHeadlessHorsemanLPBack

So, that is just one of the many rituals I engage in to get me in the Halloween spirit. What’s yours?

-Meli

All Hallow’s Read (Day 6) – Goth: A Novel of Horror

Goth: A Novel of Horror, by Otsuichi (Hirotaka Adachi) is an All Hallows Read for goths. Or not. You see, it talks about death, murder, decay and longing… from the perspective of two teens with very dark hearts, but it’s not really about the subculture at all. A good thing too, since according to the Encyclopedia Gothica, a sure sign of being goth is that you claim to be not goth at all. Ergo; Goth is so totally not goth.

I’d buy this book for any of my horror loving friends who also love rainy overcast days and deserted cafes. Have you ever followed the news of a serial murder in the paper? Perhaps in high school you spent more time studying Jack the Ripper and Zodiac than you did, say, Harper Lee. If so, this one is for you.

Those who are not horror fans but enjoy literary slice-of-life works that delve into the psychology of awkward or dysfunctional relationships will enjoy Goth as well. It is about a serial murderer, after all.

Well, it is really more about the two high school students following the murders. One fits the modus operandi far too well, as a girl. Fits like a future victim. The other fits all too well into the lives of each – the girl and the murderer – due to his narrative.

For those who enjoy quiet horror told from a very calm and realistic point of view, any Otsuichi would fit, but Goth was my gateway drug. Told as a kind of serial anthology, each chapter is a story in and of itself. A novel digestible as brown leaves to a worm, you may find it sticking with you after. I did. And that, to me, is what good horror is all about. It crawls under your skin and whispers to you for days or weeks after. Not that it makes the shadows any darker, but this book sheds pale moonlight. Recall that scene in Fight Club where Tyler takes the ID of a young man and threatens his life, then has him run away? “Tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of Raymond K. Hessel’s life. His breakfast will taste better than any meal you and I have ever tasted”? Well, that is how you will feel after reading Goth. You step into the shoes of Raymond K. Hessel without even knowing it. That is something few horror novels can make you feel – to feel like you survived, like you made it out alive. If it takes a lot to scare you, if the hatchet barely makes a dent and no amount of blood could drown you, try this one for Halloween.

I fangirl hard for this book, as seen on youtube. Find more on this book at Goodreads.

Click-Clack The Rattlebag by Neil Gaiman

Happy Hallowe’en!

It’s also All Hallows’ Read, a festival that Neil Gaiman thought up 2 years ago, which proposes that on Hallowe’en, or during the week of Hallowe’en, we give each other scary books.  In the spirit of such a fun literary holiday, and also in an effort to suck up to my beloved Gaiman by doing everything he tells me to, I have listened to my very first audio book.

I know, I know.  Some people LOVE audio books; they save time, and they’re portable, and blah blah blah.  But they’ve just never been my thing.  I like to feel and smell and see the words, even as they paint a picture in my mind.  It took me ages to come around to e-books, and even then it was only to allow more room in my suitcase for shoes when I travel.  But my main problem with audio books is the voices.  If the narrator has a particular way of speaking (i.e. annoying), or a strange accent, or even if they just have too much POW! BANG! SLAM! during the exciting parts, it completely distracts me from the story.

All that being said, if anyone could have made me listen to (read?) an audio book, it was Neil Gaiman.  He is my absolute favourite author, whether it be novels, graphic novels, short stories or kids books. So, when Neil announced on his blog that he had teamed up with Audible to release a new, unpublished short story, (for free!), I was willing to give it a shot.  Especially considering it’s also narrated by Neil Gaiman, so I can’t be mad about the voice.  As an added incentive, Audible will donate $1 for every download through Halloween to the education charity DonorsChoose.

 “‘What kind of story would you like me to tell you?’ ‘Well,’ he said, thoughtfully, ‘I don’t think it should be too scary, because then when I go up to bed, I will just be thinking about monsters the whole time. But if it isn’t just a little bit scary, then I won’t be interested. And you make up scary stories, don’t you?'” So begins this sweet, witty, deceptive little tale from master storyteller Neil Gaiman. Lock the doors, turn off the lights, and enjoy. (Audible)

As mentioned, this is a short story, which Neil read at the George Mason Award evening, and it will be published in a forthcoming anthology.  The whole thing is only about 12 minutes long, and starts off with a brief introduction about All Hallows’ Read and the charitable donations.  Around the 2 minute mark, we get into the story, which is being told from the point of view of a guy taking care of his girlfriend’s little brother.  The boy requests a bedtime story, one that’s just the right amount of scary, while they walk through the big, old, and very dark house.  The boy specifically asks for a story about Click-Clack the Rattle Bag, because those are the best kinds of stories, and “Click-Clacks are the best monsters ever”.  They’re even scarier than vampires.

As always, Gaiman does an excellent job of setting up the story, and detailing the surroundings in a way that put a vivid picture in your head.  The use of the first person narration, as well as the language and phrasing used by the little boy, manage to inject you into the conversation.  There are a bare minimum of sound effects here, but they are used wisely to mimic a creaky old house.  The story is obviously a more family-friendly kind of scary, but the description of what Click-Clacks “do to people” is icky enough to give kids pause.

All in all, this is a great little story, and a perfect Hallowe’en treat (to go with the mountain of candy I am currently devouring).  I am intrigued by how different it is to hear a story, as opposed to reading it; it was kinda like listening to a spooky story being told around a campfire.

So, in the words of Neil Gaiman: “Go to www.Audible.com/ScareUs to download it if you’re in the US or the rest of the world except the UK and www.Audible.co.uk/ScareUs to download it if you’re in the UK/Commonwealth. And then download the story. As I may have told you already, it’s free — absolutely, utterly, perfectly free.

KinderScares photo contest winners!

First of all, we’d like to thank everybody who participated in our Halloween photo contest!  We got so many awesome pictures and we love them all!

Without further ado, the winners of our fun prize packages!

Kimberly sent us this pic of her baby mermaid, Annie:

Cutest thing ever?!

 

She’ll be receiving copies of Scott Nicholson’s ebooks for kids for her little guys to enjoy.

Caffeinated Joe sent us this pic of his daughter as Mrs. Lovett from Sweeney Todd and his son, Charlie Brown in It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown:

They’ll be receiving Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich by Adam Rex, and A Zombie Ate My Cupcake.

And Tymothy submitted this photo of his son Jubal as the Joker.  Looks awesome!

 

They’ll be getting Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, the Bert of the Dead art, and Little Monsters Cookbook.

Congrats to all our winners! We hope everybody had a fantastic Halloween season!

The aftermath…

So…it’s November.  Halloween madness has come to an end.  All the crazy build-up to one night of horror-themed fun has reached its inevitable conclusion.

BUT!

This year, November 1st isn’t just about sugar crashes and cleaning up the chaos caused by a night full of trick-or-treaters.  This year, you get one more chance to extend Halloween by digging through the photos you took yesterday (or last year, or a decade ago!) and entering our KinderScares Halloween Kids photo contest!

We have some fun prizes for your little monsters and will be announcing the winners on November 6th (so we have enough time to sort through and agonize over the choices…it’s always so hard to pick a winner!).

So get cracking and hang onto the Halloween spirit just a little longer!  We love love love the entries we’ve received so far and can’t wait to see the rest!

All Hallow’s Read (Day 31) A scary book for…

 

 

 

that special ghost lover in your life.

 

Joe Hill’s brilliant debut is one of the best ghost stories ever told.  Heart Shaped Box is an all out rock n’ roll assault that will have readers jumping at shadows for a very long time.

 

All Hallow’s Read is a book-giving tradition thought up by author Neil Gaiman. We’ll be making book suggestions all month long in case you need ideas!