The Fallen Boys by Aaron Dries

Like most new authors, Aaron Dries has held many jobs. My own list is almost as interesting as his; pizza boy, retail clerk, kitchen hand, aged care worker… stuff like that. He is also a video director and illustrator which sold me on his talents before, during, and after reading his second novel, The Fallen Boys.

Unlike most new authors, he was picked up by genre-fan-favorite Samhain Horror with no more than one published short story under his belt. After entering what would become his first novel in the Leisure Books / Rue Morgue/ Chizine Publications “Fresh Blood” contest, and winning the competition, House of Sighs was released by Samhain Horror in 2011.

Those in the know, know why the swap from Leisure to Samhain went down, so we don’t need to have a recent-history lesson here. Suffice it to say, this new Australian author was basically shot out of a cannon and survived to write another book. Continue reading

Merry Axemas from Meli!

christmas tales wallpaper

Merry Axemas! Well, perhaps I’m jumping the gun a bit, but I’m definitely in the Christmas spirit. Christmas is one of my favorite holidays. In fact, I think I like it even more than (gasp) Halloween. It’s not just the shiny objects, sparkles, lights, cute little animals in Santa hats, and all the sweets people bring to work that I love; it’s the chance to reconnect with friends and family I haven’t seen all year. Of course, along with all the warm hot chocolate (or more likely eggnog) and cookies comes stress. For those who will be traveling like me, you have the headache of navigating through potentially dangerous weather conditions. Then there is the most nerve-racking part of the whole damn holiday, shopping! What the hell do you get for the mom, dad, grandma, and grandpa that have everything? What about your football loving brother-in-law? Do you get him gear marked by the logo of his favorite team, again? Or some cologne since he kinda smells funny? Well, I’m sorry, but I can’t help you with that. What I can do is tip you off to some lil’ goodies you can treat yourself to that will help eliminate some of that shopping stress. Isn’t rewarding yourself for navigating through crowds of evil shoppers to make your family and friends happy part of the fun of Christmas shopping anyway?

I’m going to break this out into a few different categories. While a horror fan is a horror fan, we are complicated people so I tried to include something nice (and maybe even something naughty) for everyone. Enjoy! Continue reading

DT Invades FanExpo

Holy shit, Fan Expo/Festival of Fear 2012 is in the books, and in a year centered around disappointment, the DT crew had a damn good time. I did, at least. I should explain my statement about disappointment: many things went wrong and many guests did not show up. If you’re an autograph hound, you still had your chances, but you definitely didn’t get the full meal.

I’m not into celebrities, so I can only describe through observation what occurred on “Celebrity Row”. John Carpenter appeared to be in great spirits throughout, and his fans always seemed to walk away satisfied. The same can be said of Jon Berenthal, Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flannery. Stan Lee‘s lineup was brutal and snaked through the horror section at times. I have no idea how other celebrities faired, except for Tony Todd, who had the biggest smile as he met up with the actors from Night Of The Living Dead.

If you’re still here, we’ll get to the horror literary festivities. The layout was improved over years passed, though vampire fic fans had to stand under an escalator in order to chat with either Karen Dales or Nancy Kilpatrick. Karen told me that she had fun and had sold very well. Nancy was less optimistic, because they put her at the farthest booth possible.

Speaking of Karen Dales, she was on a panel Thursday evening geared toward novice and inexperienced authors called Indie Genre Fiction. Moderated by Rue Morgue Managing Editor/Burning Effigy Press Founder Monica S. Kuebler, the dais included Sass Cadeaux, Stephen B. Pearl and Alan Draven, this discussion focused on topics near and dear to me. Full coverage with video shall be forthcoming.

Day two began with Greg Lamberson presenting his film Slime City Massacre…which I missed due to transit issues. I took the opportunity to wander the floor in search of something to write about here. I found Don D’Auria, a name who many of you should already be familiar with. Don made the trek northward to meet fans and give away books. That’s right, Samhain Horror did hourly giveaways of book prizes, and DT’s own Kendra won Ronald Malfi’s The Narrows. I managed to nab Don for a quick chat and faux pitch-session (as yet, I’ve nothing to pitch, but he graciously suggested that I send my MS to him when it is complete). I focused on very basic topics which are covered below in:

Don D’Auria’s Do’s/Do Not’s of Writing

  • DO – Write. Novels, novellas and the like don’t get written if pen doesn’t hit paper or fingers don’t hit keys.
  • DO – Be confident in what you wrote. “It’s easier to buy a book if the author believes in what they wrote and believes in themselves.”
  • DO – Clean up that manuscript. You’re submitting it for consideration, make sure it’s the best it can be. BUT…
  • DON’T – Hire a pro editor if submitting to any publisher. Don (and I assume most publishers) want to read YOUR book, not the book someone else helped create.
  • DON’T – Be afraid of rejection. This one is universal, and as an author myself it’s something that I’ve gotten used to. But, Don (and I) suggest that you use each and every rejection as a motivational guide to get better.

After stumbling over my words 3 times with arguably the most prominent editor in the genre, I can safely say that if I ever do submit to Samhain, I’ll be extra careful to dot my t’s and cross my i’s. I actually said that as I was walking away from the booth, I hope nobody heard me.

If I may derail this post right here, I have to commend HobbyStar for actually getting decent food into the building. I went for lunch soon after leaving Samhain and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised: the pizza was fresh and the sushi was real. No, I did not eat them at the same time.

Back to surreality, I was called upon to record audio for the Gore, Girls, And God-Forsaken Cinema panel which had absolutely nothing to do with literature, but more to do with having a damn good time enjoying horror. The panelists were: Tal Zimerman, Last Chance Lance, The Gore-Met, John W. Bowen and Aaron Lupton. Unfortunately, also in the room was a malfunctioning dvd player, however our panelists weren’t deterred. Aaron took charge and asked the audience for their favourite “squeamish scene” from a movie…and hilarity ensued. You’ll have to check back with us to see what exactly I did get audio of, I’m kinda excited to find out myself.

Day three was a vacation day for the DT staff, as we were unable to secure press credentials for the “big” day. As a result, I slept in and missed the What Is Goth? panel that included Voltaire, Liisa Ladouceur, Nancy Kilpatrick and was moderated by Tomb Dragomir. I believe our friends at Ottawa Horror did check out the panel, and you’d do well to check out their report.

Day four finished off the festivities in style, as Monica was back to moderating; this time with panelists Greg Lamberson, Sephera Giron and Kelley Armstrong chatting about Untraditional Beasts. Incredibly informative, but not much about beasts. Check back for the coverage and exclusive audio.

Shocked that I wanted somebody out of costume.

I took the rest of the day to wander around Artist Alley, and I’m kinda happy that I did. Not only did I find some incredibly talented paint slingers, I also ran into a young lady that won the Locke & Key collection that Colum gave out last year. It turns out that she and her associate comprise The Avod, a weekly horror podcast based on the fringe of Toronto. After pleasantries were exchanged, they were kind enough to interview yours truly for an upcoming episode. We chatted about the con, DT and my personal projects. (Ahem). I’m very thankful for the opportunity, and look forward to hearing just how out of touch I sound.

What authors do when we’re not writing.

After the good times and goodbyes, DT has to thank Rue Morgue, Fan Expo, Hobbystar and each and every one who made us feel incredibly welcome. To learn more about anyone mentioned, click their name. We will see everyone in 2013, and look for DT to have a presence at Toronto’s Word On The Street and possibly Darklit Durham.

Dreadful Tales Book Club – August Edition

We’re already 5 days into August and I haven’t told you about this month’s title. But not to worry, the book we have lined up runs at such a break-neck pace I don’t think you’ll need the whole month to finish.

This is a fitting title to welcome home Colum McKnight, one of the creators of Dreadful Tales and a man who was conspicuously absent from the virtual world for the past few months. In case you missed it, he made his resurgence on the site just last week and we couldn’t be happier to have him back.

So, about the book. What makes this particular title so special and why is it befitting of Colum’s homecoming? I’ve mentioned more than a few times that Colum was the one to stoke my interest in modern horror fiction often guiding me to his favorite authors. He was also the person to encourage me to share that enthusiasm with other readers by reviewing books. The path that lead me here (at least in regards to my reading and reviewing) can be traced back to one specific care package from Colum a few years ago which contained three novels. In it were novels by Jeff Povey, Shaun Hutson, and our Book of the Month author of August….

Drum roll please…..

John Everson!

This month we’re reading his latest novel NightWhere (Samhain Publishing 2012) which I reviewed last month and you can see what I had to say about the book here.Banner courtesy of Mark Brown, a.k.a Dark MarkFrom the Samhain website:

She yearned to go beyond… but some curtains should never be opened.

When Rae broached the idea of visiting an underground sex club, Mark didn’t blink. He should have. Because NightWhere is not your usual swingers club. Where it’s held on a given night…only those who receive the red invitations know. Soon Rae is indulging in her lust for pain. And Mark is warned by a beautiful stranger to take his wife away before it’s too late.

But it’s already too late. Because Rae hasn’t come home. Now Mark is in a race against time—to find NightWhere again and save his wife from the mysterious Watchers who run the club. To stop her from taking that last step through the degradations of The Red into the ultimate BDSM promise of The Black. More than just their marriage and her life are at stake: Rae is in danger of losing her soul…

John Everson is one of those authors that hits all the right notes for me. He has a passion for horror, of course, especially the satanic and erotic type, but he also has a love for music that is evident in his writing as well. Every novel has its own unique soundtrack that pulsates along with the action of the story and that’s just one of the many elements I love about his books.

Without further adieu, please give a warm welcome to John Everson and his latest novel of sexual depravity, NightWhere.

You can get a copy from the Samhain Publishing website or Amazon or anywhere else cool books are sold. Join in the discussion as you read at The Mortuary message boards in the August Book of the Month thread.

Be sure to follow John Everson on Twitter, friend him on Facebook, and check out his website.

Shadows in the Mist by Brian Moreland

During World War II, Jack Chambers survived battle after battle, along with a few members of his unit–the Lucky Seven. Drafted for a secretive mission into the depths of the Hurtgen, a dark, eerie German forest, Jack and his men join up with a team of special forces soldiers to take down a horrifying Nazi occult experiment. The records of the mission are kept sealed, lost forever except to the two survivors–Jack and one other man, a rabbi who seems afflicted with the same dark nightmares and mysterious scars Jack has.

Now, on his deathbed, Jack has one request for his grandson, Sean.

Return to Hurtgen.

Reading this book was like watching an old black and white war film. Even though it only lightly grasps the reader’s interest, you just sort of hang on and plow through. The story is well-crafted and well-written. Each character is fleshed out and written in such a way that you feel like you known these guys. The gore is light, but it’s good. In regards to the violence in the novel, it focuses more on the emotional reactions of the survivors. That’s not a bad thing in any case, but here it was almost like an attempt to weigh down an already-heavy plot. Speaking of which, the plot is a little heavy, and while the subjects–Jewish mysticism, gollums, Nazi occult secrets– are all fascinating on their own, for some reason, they just seemed sort of ho-hum. I couldn’t gather enough real interest in the events to care if the soldiers made it out of the scary medieval German castle alive. By the time something actually started to happen, I was mentally ticking off the members of the unit to see who was still left and who had yet to die.

I think my biggest issue with the book was how slow it progressed. I would sit down and read several chapters and realize absolutely nothing of consequence had happened. For all the perfect editing, amazing world building, and awesome character-development, this book was just plain dull.

Moreland did his history homework–there’s not a single negative thing I can say about the excellent world-building. I admire the character work. As I said, each one was crafted so solidly they felt like real people. The book is very well-written, the story airtight. I loved the gollums as the monsters. It’s a refreshing change from the usual supernatural bad guys. Even the Kabbalah plot line added a level of interest to the story, taking it a little further from the usual Nazi cult plots out there. If you can get past the turtle-slow pacing of the first 5/8ths of the book, the conclusion is satisfying enough to almost make up for the other issues.

Visit Brian Moreland’s website and Samhain Publishing for more info.