Monday, November 26, 2012

"Beneath the Pier" to Appear in Lovecraft eZine

My short story, "Beneath the Pier," has been accepted by editor Mike Davis for Lovecraft eZine, to appear in a near-future issue. Doubter you may be, but yes it is, in fact, a Lovecraftian horror tale. I know — who'da guessed? The idea for this one happened a couple of years back on a trip to Surfside Beach, SC, with Kimberly B, Jenny Chapman, and Doug Cox. Late one night, Brugger and I went out walking and decided to hang out for a bit underneath an old pier. Turned out to be a right scary place. William Faulkner's "Delta Autumn" also provided a little inspiration, though my story is scarier. Hopefully, anyway.

Naturally, I'll shout about the publication date for "Beneath the Pier" when I know what it is. Visit Lovecraft eZine here.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Next Big Thing: The Monarchs

If you're currently following any writers' blogs, you likely have noticed a game of tag in which a writer receives and answers a set of questions about his or her upcoming work and then tags five other writers to answer the same questions. Each of those writers tags five others, and so forth and so on, until the entire virtual world has been overwhelmed by hordes of rampant rabid writers revealing all anyone could ever hope to know in advance of their Next Big Thing. I was actually tagged several times — by David Niall Wilson, Scott Falkner, Elizabeth Massie, and John Peters — and how could I resist the doe-eyed pleading of such fine purveyors of letters to get involved in this plot to conquer all? So I said yeah, sure, why not? And thus... let us be off.

1. What is the working title of your next book?
The Monarchs.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

Several years ago, following a visit with friend, writer, Crossroad Press founder, and chap who tagged me, David Niall Wilson, in Hertford, NC, I kind of got lost in the vicinity of the Great Dismal Swamp. It happened like this. Rather than leave Hertford and head home to Greensboro, I had intended to go to Martinsville, VA, to visit my mom. At the time, having no GPS, I studied Google Maps prior to leaving and wrote out some directions to get to U.S. Highway 58, just over the state line. Unfortunately, I had not zoomed in close enough on the maps to realize that not all the little back roads on my route were continuous — a couple of them had jogs in one direction or another before continuing northward. Needless to say, I missed a turn or two. This put me in some of the most desolate country I've ever encountered — mostly marshland, with only the occasional farmhouse or mobile home to suggest any human presence. I finally happened upon a little gas station and asked the attendants if they could tell me how to reach Highway 58, to which they answered, "Huh, what, where?" I purchased an honest-to-god map, finally figured out where I was, and proceeded to make only one more wrong turn before I finally reached my destination.

At the end of it all, I had just about all of The Monarchs plotted in my head. It was a maddening and frustrating experience, yet I'd certainly never take it back, for in many ways, I enjoyed visiting the desolate yet picturesque countryside, and, hey, I got a novel out of it.

3. What genre does your book fall under?
I'd have to call it horror, but the story is something of a hybrid — a southern gothic murder mystery with a touch of the Lovecraftian.

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Heh... I love coming up with stunning casts for my various novels and stories. In my mind, the ideal cast for The Monarchs comprises both current, age-appropriate actors and some who would have been perfect for the roles in their younger days. For Courtney Edmiston, the protagonist, I'd go with Katie Parker, who starred in Absentia, a pretty nifty low-budget horror movie. For her friend, the somewhat anti-heroic Jan Blackburn, I actually used a 30-year-old Nancy Barrett, who played Carolyn Stoddard and others in Dark Shadows, as the character model. Similarly, a 25-year-old David Selby, who played Quentin Collins on Dark Shadows, would be ideal for Jan's sardonic and secretive brother, David Blackburn. For the mysterious and sinister Aunt Martha Blackburn, I'd have to go with Piper Laurie, who played Mrs. White in Carrie and Catherine Martell in Twin Peaks. The primary human antagonist, Ray Surber, has got to be Woody Harrelson; his more sympathetic but still potentially dangerous brother, Dwayne Surber, well, that's Michael Rooker, perhaps best known for his roles in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and, more recently, Merle Dixon in The Walking Dead.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Courtney Edmiston, whose life has been turned upside-down by the deaths of her husband and daughter, goes to live with her old college friend, Jan Blackburn, on the outskirts of the Great Dismal Swamp, only to find herself drawn into a deadly feud between two families as well as menaced by an ancient, unearthly horror from the depths of the swamp.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

That's not really an either/or question. Crossroad Press is essentially a traditional publisher, and will release The Monarchs as an e-book, a paperback, a hardcover, and on audio. I worked directly with them, rather than via agent.

7. How long did it take you to write a first draft of the manuscript?
The first draft took about eight months; then I let it sit for quite some time while my agent submitted proposals for it. Then, about a year later, I went back in and did a pretty fair overhaul of the entire book. That is the draft that will actually see print.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

If one must compare, I expect readers who enjoyed T.E.D. Klein's The Ceremonies would find The Monarchs satisfying. And fans of the movie Pumpkinhead would probably be all about this book.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

See question 1.

10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

I think the characters and setting, in particular, really come together to create a distinct atmosphere of dread, which is the effect I was shooting for. The setting is largely fictionalized but based very closely on the real-life community of Hertford, NC, and its environs. I've been out to that part of the state many times, but that one trip that took me much deeper into the countryside than I anticipated gave me an opportunity for my creative nerves to get a thorough and very welcome workout — despite the frustration that came with getting so turned around in unfamiliar and what my mind perceived to be unwelcoming territory.

You can keep up with news about The Monarchs here on this blog and at my website: The Realm of Stephen Mark Rainey

There you have it. Now, for my part, I shall tag these unsuspecting and likely hostile souls, who may or may not play along....

Kealan Patrick Burke
Bob Freeman
James Newman
Alexandra Sokoloff
Jeff VanderMeer

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Marks Brothers

Out for a day on the caching trail in Chapel Hill with Robbin "rtmlee" Lee. Claimed 25 total today, including a fun little thing called "The Moustache Cache" (GC338VM). You can see the problems it led to.

Friday, November 16, 2012

THE MONARCHS Scheduled for February 2013 Release

Here's The Monarchs' full cover 1–4 spread with promo text. Cover art by Austin Bentley. Crossroad Press is currently sending out review copies, which I hope will be met with much fear and loathing. Well, fear, anyway. Loathing might be a bit much. Perhaps a great gnashing of teeth instead. Yeah, that'll do nicely. The book will be released as an e-book, paperback, hardcover, and, a bit farther on, as an audio book.

I've been tagged to post a blog called "The Next Big Thing," in which I am supposed to carry on about my newest masterwork until I start frothing at the mouth and falling over backward... and then tag five other writers to do the same thing. It's fair promo, I reckon, so I'll be writing that up in the next few days. Look for it here. Or don't. But it's going to be here, never you fear.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Getting Our Kicks in Times of Trouble

Steely Dan

Had to transport Ms. B. to Raleigh-Durham airport yesterday — a not altogether happy thing — but to make the best of it, I enlisted Ms. Bridget "Suntigres" Langley to accompany me for geocaching aplenty on the return trip to Greensboro. Sure enough, we arrived at RDU a little after 10:00 AM and, after a somewhat sad but hopeful parting of the ways with Ms. B., we commenced some serious cache hunting. Within a two-mile radius of the airport, there are about 500 caches, ranging in difficulty from the easiest to the most challenging. We ended up finding a fair mix of types — a total of 27 or so at the end of the day.

How often do you run into metal stick men out in the woods? How many hidden little graveyards can you discover in the middle of nowhere? Do you enjoy risking life and limb to make your way into precariously leaning trees so you can sign your moniker to a little piece of paper? How about reaching into dark openings where you're as likely to pull out some squirming, slimy, venomous life form as a goody-filled ammo box? Ever wanted to boot yourself square in the ass just for good fun? You should find out. Go caching. Go caching right now.

We did discover a pub that makes superb fish & chips and a mighty fine dirty martini — Trali Irish Pub in Brier Creek — because sometimes you just have to visit the cache bar. Also, as we sometimes do on the trail, we encountered some other geocachers who were relatively new to the game. As generally happens, we ended up shooting the shit and trading caching stories for a good half an hour. And then ran into them again at a subsequent cache a little farther on. Salute to "lotsofeathers," "do10hedron," and "naillik" from the Raleigh-Durham area.

A good day on the hunt, for sure. But in closing and in all seriousness, my best wishes are reserved for Kimberly and her parents as they face a severe and trying period of life. I have every hope that things will work out for the best.

Bridget gets the boot. It's particularly entertaining if you go to the enlarged view
and rapidly click back and forth between photos.

Why, yes it is up there. So guess who's going up there after it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Old Dude Speaks to YES! Weekly

A couple of weeks back, local journalist Karen Phillips interviewed me for the "Local Talent" section in YES! Weekly, one of Greensboro's leading free weekly tabloids. The published article is essentially a capsule review of the interview she conducted with me, and since the original was a pretty lengthy piece, to which I had devoted considerable time responding, I decided to seek permission to reproduce it in its entirety here. Karen and the editor of YES! Weekly graciously agreed, so here it is — a conversation with Mr. Stephen Mark "Damned Rodan" Rainey. Be afeared. Very slightly afeared.

1. When did you move to Greensboro? Why?
I moved here from Chicago in 1987 to work for the late, lamented Precision Typographers. I grew up in Martinsville, VA, but I had lived in Chicago for several years and quite enjoyed it. Unfortunately, the company I worked for had hit the skids, so it seemed a fair time for my wife (now ex) and I to move nearer to my old stomping grounds. It was a good move, though looking back, I wish I’d had a few more years in Chicago. It’s a great city.

2. What did you always want to be when you grew up?
An astronaut. When I was a kid, the space program was going great guns. In kindergarten, I could name every spacecraft and every astronaut that had been or would be going into space. Somewhere along the way, I learned that astronauts had to be good at math. Coal mining suddenly looked to be a more realistic option.

3. Where did you go to college?
I went to Ferrum College, Virginia, for two years and earned my Associate Degree; then I went to the University of Georgia in Athens for my Bachelor of Arts degree.

4. What made you decide on English and writing?
In college, I had the idea that I might become a commercial artist (you know, for all those jobs where you get to illustrate Godzilla and such), so I majored in drawing and painting. Once unleashed upon the real world, I went to work in the graphics field all right, but I had to unlearn everything I had learned in school several times over. I had always been keen on reading horror and science fiction, and, during my school days, I tried my hand at writing a few scary stories. Yes, they pretty well sucked. But as my profession required me to move steadily away from the kind of art for which I was trained, on my own time I gravitated more and more toward writing. I began to submit my short stories to various publications, both big and small, and eventually some of the smaller presses began picking up my work. Finally, I broke into some of the bigger, better-paying publications, and then there was no going back. In 1987, I created Deathrealm magazine, a quarterly that specialized in horror fiction, and it had a nice, decade-long run, under a couple of different publishers. During that period, I essentially left the art field behind, and since then my creative focus has been almost exclusively on writing.

5. What made you decide to hone in on horror fiction?
I was the world’s most terrified kid. My earliest memories are of vivid, horrifying nightmares. (Mind you, I’m sure that watching The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone, and umpteen monster movies a week had nothing to do with this.) As I got older and became an avid, even compulsive reader, I found myself drawn to horror and science fiction tales. I loved Poe, H. G. Wells, Jules Verne... you know, the classic stuff. In college, I discovered H. P. Lovecraft, and that sewed it up. Like so many contemporary writers of the scary persuasion, my earliest work consisted largely of Lovecraft pastiches. I grew out of that phase, of course, but to this day, I still frequently write Lovecraft-inspired tales and have been fortunate enough to be considered, at least by some, as one of “the New Lovecraft Circle.” I’ve done a lot of work for Chaosium’s Cthulhu Mythos anthologies and edited a volume of Poe-inspired tales for Arkham House, which was the first publisher to anthologize Lovecraft back in the day. That’s all satisfying stuff.

6. How many books have you written?
I have a fair body of work beyond just “books,” so here’s a brief summation: six novels (Balak, The Lebo Coven, Dark Shadows: Dreams of the Dark (with Elizabeth Massie), Blue Devil Island, The Nightmare Frontier, The Monarchs); one novella (The Gods of Moab); five short story collections (The Fugue Devil & Other Weird Horrors, The Last Trumpet, Legends of the Night, Other Gods, The Gaki & Other Hungry Spirits); three scripts for Big Finish’s Dark Shadows audio drama series (The Path of Fate, Curse of the Pharaoh, and Blood Dance); and about a hundred published short stories. I’ve also edited several anthologies, and for ten years I edited the award-winning Deathrealm magazine.

7. What was your most recent project?
A novel titled The Monarchs, which is forthcoming from Crossroad Press, probably around New Year’s. It will be released as both paperback and e-book. It’s sort of a hybrid southern gothic/ Lovecraftian horror thriller. The original idea came from a trip out to Elizabeth City a few years back — before I owned a GPS — during which I managed to get lost in the Dismal Swamp. At the time, the experience was pretty disconcerting, but the end result was what I think is a pretty fair novel. Nowadays, I’m very thankful for the GPS, but it does kind of take the fun out of getting lost.

8. Tell me a little about your blog.
I keep it primarily for me — it’s more or less just a journal — but at the same time, I try to make it entertaining for casual visitors. I carry on about geocaching (my favorite recreational activity; see question number 12, below), writing, relationships, travel, dining, current events, and occasionally — when I’m feeling masochistic — politics and religion. You can find The Blog Where Horror Dwells at

9. Tell me a little about the film, “Young Blood: Evil Intentions” and how did you become cast for that film?
Mat Smith and I have been passing acquaintances for several years — his aunt, Sarah, was a classmate and good friend of mine from my Martinsville days (she also went to Ferrum at the same time I did). Mat put me on the mailing list for updates about Young Blood, and when he made a call for extras for several scenes in Martinsville, I figured, what the hell, I could pop up to town for an afternoon or two and hopefully show up in the movie. Mind you, mine is just a tiny little part — mostly just another face in the mob scenes. But while we were filming, Mat asked me if I could ad lib a line or two about the vampire situation in town, so I said sure. At the very end of the film, there I am, in all my grumpy glory. It’s a wonderful little film. I had a feeling from the start it was going to be good fun, but I had no idea how entertaining it would actually prove. Mat and Myron clearly had a great time doing it, and in the film, that attitude is pervasive and contagious.

10. Are you interested in getting more into the acting field?
On some days, I can’t remember my name without looking at my driver’s license, much less memorize lines, so I’m probably best off sticking to writing and geocaching.

11. Where are you currently employed?
I have the best of day jobs. I am the graphic services coordinator at The Education Center, publisher of The Mailbox magazine and book lines. We produce educational materials for elementary school teachers. I love the work and the people there. Plus, it’s my way of contributing to education without actually being in the classroom, for which every child in the United States best be eternally thankful.

12. What’s the next project you have in line?

I’m working on a new novel titled The Night Cache. It’s an honest-to-god book about geocaching. It has a horror slant, of course.  In case you’re not familiar with geocaching, it’s a kind of high-tech scavenger hunt, in which you use a hand-held GPS to search for hidden containers. Each geocache contains a logbook, which you sign when you find the cache, and then you log the find at There are thousands of caches in the Triad. They can be big, small, easy-to-find, or exceptionally challenging. Caching has taken me into all kinds of settings that I never knew existed, and the resulting adventures have inspired quite a few tales. Sometimes you end up in abandoned wells, up in trees, in grain silos, in underground pipelines, in caves, in graveyards, out on trails in the middle of the night... all kinds of places. The novel incorporates elements from many of the actual cache hunts I’ve been on, but... needless to say... I’ve warped them so they fit comfortably into Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. We have a very active geocaching community in the Triad, and I think most cachers will get a kick out of the book. Of course, my hope is that I successfully craft it so it will appeal just as much to readers who don’t know diddly about geocaching as those who do. I’m at about the halfway point in the writing.

13. What are you going to be for Halloween this year?
A horror writer, I expect. Or a serial killer. Or both.

14. Do you decorate your house?
Most years I do a little something for the house. I rarely go all-out with it, the way I used to — something about so much to do, so little time. Now, I’ve warded off quite a few trick-or-treaters by placing an old coat rack in the front door, hanging a lamp with a black light bulb in it, covering it with a sheet, and running a fan behind it. The result is a pretty creepy dancing ghost. Then I put speakers in the windows and play spooky music or sound effects. I’ve been amused by some of the youngsters who come round, give the place a good look, and say, “I-I-I’m not going down there....”

15. What’s your favorite candy to give out?
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Kit Kat bars. But who said anything about giving them out?

16. Please feel free to add a spooky tale or another other relevant info about yourself that you want to audience to know.
Hell, I’m off to go geocaching. And then a Halloween gathering this evening. This is my favorite season. But then you knew that.

And there you have it. Visit the YES! Weekly site here. Thanks to Karen Phillips and the editorial staff for thinking of me and featuring me in the October 24, 2012 issue.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Amazing Electric Rock & Other Caches

Yes, that there is my "It's a relentless and biting
wind, but I'm having fun on the caching trail" face.

I usually hate waking up before dawn on Saturday mornings, but this is the second weekend in a row I've done just that to hunt geocaches and a decent breakfast (see "Pilgrimage" for the true tale of woe). The alarm — i.e., three cats — went off just before my usual workday getting-up time, and since I was already planning to drive to Martinsville to help my mom with some IT tasks, I decided just to go straight for the highway. Several new caches in Danville had been published this week, and — perhaps only marginally coincidentally — I found myself experiencing one mighty powerful craving for a breakfast at Keith & Laura McCoy's Corner Cafe in Ringgold. So, I set my sights for that particular corner of the world and hit the highway just as the sun crept above the horizon. I must tell you; if you're in the vicinity and you don't give the Corner Cafe a try, there's something seriously wrong with you. Damn. Fine. Breakfast. To top it off, a bunch of geocachers from out east had come for a visit, and my old friend Mr. Norman "Spring1" Dillon was his own self present as well. That's one happy morning we're talking here.

The day started out cold as kraut — witness poor old Damned Rodan bracing himself against the frigid gusts in the photo, above left — but as the sun rose, the wind gave up the ghost and the temperature quickly turned almost too warm for comfort. There were new caches to be found in three Danville parks — Anglers' Park, Dan Daniel Park, and Ballou Park. All proved to be a mess of fun. A couple of favorites: a mailbox out in the middle of the woods, and when you open it up... there's a truck inside containing the logbook (courtesy of Keith & Laura); and a pair of rocks with an electrical plug sticking out of them. Shake the rocks, insert the plug into the handy outlet in an electrical box, and the cache container drops out of the bottom of the box (this one is courtesy of Klaussinator, who has provided a number of unique hides). Quite the awesome.

In Ballou Park, near a section of its extensive disc golf course, I stumbled upon a formation of rocks hideously suggestive of a shrine to the Great Old Ones. Nyarlathotep be praised and hogtied! Nyarlathotep evidently enjoys disc golf.

At the end of it all, I had added an even dozen to my cache count, bringing my total number of finds to 5,202. From there, it was on to Martinsville. I wrangled an excellent lunch at Walsh's Chicken (hot wings and french fries), and then it was on to Mum's to perform some serious computer maintenance. Eventually, I got around to the blogging, and we thank you for visiting.

Click images to enlarge.
The Amazing Electric Rock!
Go here.
Mail truck.
The Great Old Ones were here. Probably playing disc golf.