2012 Stoker Awards DT Podcast

Meli did an absolutely kickass wrap up of the Stoker Awards, which you totally should read. Go ahead, I’ll wait. The staff decided to go into literary overdrive and tackle our first ever podcast/Skype chat immediately following the festivities. Be warned, there is cursing, drunkenness, opinionated conversation, and much to my chagrin, a few instances of technical difficulty. Podcasting is something that we plan to continue, and thus plan to get better at.

That said, join Meli, Colum, Pat and myself as we opine on the event that was the 2012 Bram Stoker Award Ceremony.

EDIT: We apologize for any inconvenience, but the file has been deleted to make room for other media. Rest assured, it was epic.

For more on the Bram Stoker Awards, please visit the HWA webpage. If you’d like to keep up with each of us, follow us on Twitter: Meli, Pat, Colum, and Jason. Don’t forget to bookmark Dreadful Tales, follow our Twitter, and “like” us on Facebook.

Durham DarkLit Fest ’11 – Report from Oshawa

Where: Oshawa Public Libraries McLaughlin Branch
When: December 3, 2011

Colum and I were fortunate enough to be in attendance at the 2nd (hopefully annual) DarkLit Fest, which featured authors from Mystery/Crime, YA (mostly Paranormal) and of course, our beloved Horror genre. Hosted by the unflappable and endlessly smiling Joel A. Sutherland, this event brought together publishers, authors, aspiring authors and one agent. Before I continue, you all know that we here at DT pride ourselves on horror for all ages, thus we’ll only be discussing the Horror and YA events. No disrespect intended to anyone involved in the Mystery/Crime events, just not our thing.

We began the day with the first panel: Terrifying Tropes: The State of Today’s Horror-ific Literary Landscape. Moderated by Enter, Night author and former contributor to Fangoria, Michael Rowe, the dais was rounded out by Dreadfully Approved author and honorary Canadian Gregory Lamberson, Beneath The Surface scribe Simon Strantzas, DarkLit co-organizer and Undertow Publications head Michael Kelly, and author of Things Go Flying, Shari Lapena. Topics discussed included the proliferation of “prime time” monsters, where it was agreed that TV has sterilized zombies and vampires, and even went as far as to say that what’s out there (True Blood, Walking Dead, Twilight) aren’t horror but rather corporate machines that are using monsters as a brand. Other topics included the rise of the small press “renaissance”, indie/self publishing, Christian horror and my personal favourites: zombie and werewolf sex. The audience questions led us through topics like desensitizing, 9/11, the somewhat puritanical attitude of TV, sub genres and a healthy bashing of Stephanie Meyer. Quote of the panel goes to Greg Lamberson: “Team Edward doesn’t care if Twilight is horror.” Other than a bit too much focus on television and Twilight, the debate and insights were an impassioned start to our day. Wanna see for yourself, you know DT has you covered. Look below for the exclusive videos.

We were then treated to brief readings from Greg Lamberson, Shari Lapena, Simon Strantzas (not shown) and ChiZine Publications co-owner Sandra Kasturi. Greg and Simon read from new/upcoming works, while Shari and Sandra read from their existing bibliography. I have to admit that I listened more than I wrote, please watch the videos for the titles and descriptions.

The day rolled into the next panel, one that offered help and insight regardless of genre. Deal Or No Deal: How To Sell Your Writing to Publishers, Editors and Agents was moderated by Sandra Kasturi. Panelists included Burning Effigy Press founder/editor Monica S. Kuebler, Scholastic Canada’s Jennifer MacKinnon, Carolyn Forde from Westwood Creative Artists Literary Agency, and the other half of ChiZine Publications, Brett Alexander Savory. The discussions centralized on best practices of landing an agent or publisher, traditional vs self publishing, the real vs perceived downturn of traditional publishing, roles of agents, the importance of self-marketing, and the absolute worst things authors have done while trying to sell themselves. The audience questions ranged from ebook quality, even more advice about pitching a story and the supreme “don’ts” of pitch letters/sessions. It’s a three-way tie for quote of the panel: from Sandra, “You could get a great indie film, or you could get badger, badger, badger.” From Carolyn (regarding a visitor to her agency) “Turns out he was a mafia informant looking to shake us down.” From Brett (regarding an author he’d met at an event) “He fell in the trash. Not over the trash, in the trash.” I was glued to this one as these folks didn’t hold back, and each one was genuinely happy to help any newbie authors out (of which there were quite a few in the audience). You have to watch this panel if you’re at all interested in publishing. You can do that below.

The day flowed into more readings, this time from Monica S. Kuebler, R.J. Anderson, Erin Bow, Megan Crewe and Alyxandra Harvey. Once again, I listened intently as YA is something I haven’t been familiar with since I was a YA, please allow the videos below to bring you into the experience.

While the next panelists took the stage, Michael Kelly took the opportunity to announce World Fantasy Con would be coming to Richmond Hill (suburb of Toronto) next November. Go here for all the details.

Our panel coverage wrapped up with a discussion geared toward our Kinderscares and slightly “older-scares” crowd. Why YA, Eh? How to Write Books for Children and Teens with Cross-Over Appeal featured moderator and author of Plain Kate, Erin Bow, Ultraviolet scribe R.J. Anderson, Give Up The Ghost author Megan Crewe, The Drake Chronicles‘ writer Alyxandra Harvey and multi-award winning author Richard Scrimger. Topics included reasons for writing YA, issues that arise when characters are put into adult situations, how parents should broach reading with their kids, morals, and the elusive “how does a book cross-over?” The audience asked about books being challenged due to content, sub genres, the cyclical nature of genre popularity, and a hearty dose of gratuity to Harry Potter. Richard Scrimger easily wins quote of the panel with his quip: “Apparently, teaching kids about cougars is too difficult.” He wasn’t referring to the animal. Now you know that you need to watch this.

Wanna know why Richard has won multiple awards? Check out the video of his reading.

That concludes Dreadful Tales’ coverage of DarkLit Fest. A Dreadfully huge “thank you” to Joel A. Sutherland, Michael Kelly, and Ian Rogers for bringing the event to life, and for allowing us the exclusive video privileges. Thank you to all of the authors, publishers, editors, and agent for dedicating yourselves to this, we Dreadfully Salute you. Another huge thank you to Joseph Sansalone and the Oshawa Public Library for letting the creatures of the night invade during the day.

For more information about any of the authors, click their names to be taken to their website.

To keep up with Dreadful Tales, make us your homepage, follow the site through WordPress, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter. You can also check out our YouTube page for move videos. To interact with us personally, find us on Twitter: Colum, Shelagh, Meli, Jason.

INVOKING COSMIC FORCES: A Conversation With Greg Lamberson

I’ve never made any apologies for the rave reviews I’ve written regarding Greg Lamberson and his novels, and never will. His work is something that sits with me well. Be it the dialogue, the settings, the character descriptions, or the monsters; they all live freely and wonderfully in my head without a single qualm from my picky little brain. The Jake Helman Files is one of my favorite series of books, blending crime fiction with a surreal supernatural element that defies genre trappings, and delivers vibrant, oft times violent stories that satisfy my greedy literature needs. So it was a no brainer that I should sit down with the author and pick his brains on all things Helman.

It also just so happens that the third book in the series, Cosmic Forces, was recently released. A book that I strongly urge you to check out. Not only does it break genre conventions and turn horror literature on its head, but it also tackles everything from giant freaking monsters to religious subtext. Cosmic Forces is, in my opinion, Lamberson’s most ambitious book, but does he think the same of it? Well, you’re going to have to listen to find out.

A little bit more about the man and his work can be found within this chat. We literally talked about everything and anything. I’m honored to be bringing this to you guys. It was a pleasure to speak with the man, and I look forward to doing it again very soon.

INVOKING COSMIC FORCES_ A Conversation with Greg Lamberson






All Hallow’s Read (Day 19) A scary book for…

…someone who likes a series.

Jake Helman is one badass character, packing more attitude and swagger than you could possibly imagine. The Jake Helman Files, a supernatural/noir series by Gregory Lamberson, is 100% Dreadfully Approved, and worth every second. Start with Personal Demons, move on to Desperate Souls, and then throw down with Cosmic Forces. You won’t be disappointed. Tortured Spirits, the 4th book in the series will be available in October 2012.

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!

Cosmic Forces by Greg Lamberson

I love Jake Helman. I love him, I love Greg Lamberson for bringing him to me, I love Medallion for bringing it to print, and I love… well, everything about this series. And I’m so happy to report to you that this is the best book in the Jake Helman Files to date. Cosmic Forces is full of action, suspense, gore, hilarious one-liners, and a hero that puts all others to shame.

And a really friggin’ big monster.

Oh yeah, this one is huge.

The whole damned book is huge. From concept to characters, action and plot, this whole thing feels like holding a million pounds of creativity packed into a small, book shaped package.

When the wife of New York City mayor Myron Madigan hires private investigator Jake Helman to spy on her husband, the trail leads him to Karlin Reichard. The wealthy industrialist and kingmaker leads to a cabal that has secretly manipulated world affairs for generation. In order to bring these powerful men down, Jake must join them. But at what cost to his own soul?

Battling human assassins and supernatural creatures, Jake pursues a quest to uncover the mystery behind the Order of Avademe and a monster willing to destroy heaven and hell to rule the earth.

In what is definitely the biggest, most ambitious plot in the Jake Helman series, Lamberson dishes out heaping loads of pain, torture, and terrifying situations to (in my opinion) the best damned hero of modern fiction. Not only that, but Lamberson expands upon the world that Helman inhabits, revisiting some of his earlier cases, and setting up more questions about some of the secondary characters that we just knew had something more to them. The year-long wait for this follow-up to Desperate Souls and Personal Demons was well worth every single literary withdrawal symptom I experienced. Unfortunately for me (and you folks, too), we’ll be waiting until 2012 for the aptly named follow-up – Tortured Spirits.

Getting back on track – this time around we find Jake fighting all manner of creepy-crawly nasties in search of information pertaining to his current case. Lamberson has always excelled at creating incredible characters, as Jake Helman’s undeniably strong and larger than life existence will tell, and the folks in Cosmic Forces are no different. From the get-go, Lamberson throws nothing but true, realistic dialogue, and emotive characters into the mix, really fleshing out the story for all it’s worth. From Madigan’s wife to his dwarf-like assistant, Lamberson surrounds Jake and the entire plot with a spectacular cast that showcases his practiced ability to give the reader what they want, and the author’s own incredible understanding of character creation.

Again, Lamberson has given the reader not just a story, but also the literary equivalent of the cinematic experience. It’s not hard to imagine this series as a film franchise, but given the extremely detailed plots, it would hard to believe that Hollywood or any other film maker would be able to do it justice. Not to mention the sheer amount of time it would take to create some of the monsters that Lamberson has dreamed up this time.

Now, earlier I said that this is the most ambitious of all of the Jake Helman books. I said that with good reason. Lamberson has upped the ante in this one considerably. Not only is Jake going head to head with a giant monster, the likes of which I won’t explain for the sake of the spectacularly grand reveal in the novel, but he’s also going up against several very powerful men and the powers of good and evil themselves. The team-ups in this novel are incredible as well, making Cosmic Forces switch from a dark, noir-ish tale to a full on comic book style replete with some of the best action we’ve seen so far. The ending just begs for a huge and triumphant orchestral score to punctuate every Biff!, Bam!, and Boom! that Jake and his fellow renegades deliver to their enemies. I was compelled to read this scene twice, just because it was so damned fun.

There are some incredibly detailed and creative biblical references in this book, as well. All of the mythos draws from some sort of religious background, with under (and over) tones of occult themes thrown in for good measure. Lamberson travels a great distance to create his own mythology in this story, crafting an almost entirely believable back story that could very well serve as a cult belief in and of itself. Like his previous efforts, and his novel The Frenzy Way, Cosmic Forces is incredibly well researched, and will satisfy almost every answer that could pop into your head regarding the information contained herein. The only pieces left untouched hint at a story that would be very welcomed as a follow-up. If I’m right, Tortured Spirits could very well be even better than its predecessor.

This book really has everything I, as a reader, could ever want i a horror/crime crossover story. Apart from Mike Oliveri’s The Pack: Winter Kill, I have yet to find a series that grabs my attention as much as this one does. Lamberson knows exactly what he’s doing, and creates a different, more emotionally charged, and thematically huge story with every subsequent release.

You won’t be disappointed with these books, folks. This series is 100% Dreadfully Approved.

Check out Medallion Books here, and Greg Lamberson’s website here. For a limited time, you can grab a free e-copy of Personal Demons – the 1st book in the Jake Helman Series – at Amazon, and other online retailers.