Monday, August 29, 2022

The Tale of the Not-So-Stable Door Bash Victim

Notice the extensive damage to the driver's side door. Holy cowz, my daughter packs a powerful wallop!

I suppose I am fortunate that I've rarely had to deal closely with the mentally unstable face to face. My temper isn't as quick to rise as it used to be, but that doesn't mean I'm thoroughly mellow in certain situations.

This morning, I took my daughter to the grocery store (the Druid Hills Food Lion in Martinsville), and when she got out, her car door bumped the driver's side door of the car next to us. Gently enough that Allison didn't even realize she had bumped it. Well, she didn't until the woman in the car came out screaming — and "screaming" is an understatement — that Allison had bashed her door on purpose and fucked up her car. Now, I looked at the woman's car door and my car door; there was not even a nick on either. I asked the woman to please lighten up, it was an accident, and there was absolutely no damage — not even a stray fleck of paint — on either car.


"Ma'am, it was an accident, my daughter apologized, and your car is fine."


At this point, I confess I called her a twit.

Allison went into the store, and I moved my car to another spot for fear yonder loon might start bashing mine. After a few minutes, she came over to get my license plate number, so I went over to her car, took a photo of the massively extensive damage to her door (see above), recorded her license plate number (VA #UHD 9382, for the record), and offered to call the police if she had a problem.

More screaming and hysterics. I was sufficiently rattled that I failed to make a video of this. I did, however, have Brugger on the line, so she was treated to the entire exchange. I finally told our excitable victim of car door bashing that she was unstable and got back in my car.

Once Allison came out of the store, I took her home. However, since I hadn't been comfortable leaving my car unattended, I never did get what I needed at the store, so I went back up the road. Our favorite lady was still in the parking lot, now gesticulating wildly to two fellows (I'm guessing husband and son) at the extensive damage following our spectacular collision. By their expressions, they were stunned — STUNNED — that someone could have fucked up her car so severely. At least one of them went back into the store. Now, since unstable people make me nervous and ornery, and I really didn't want to get into the position of doing something I might regret,** I just left and picked up lunch elsewhere.

I trust that will be the end of it. Well, other than writing it up here and hopefully making you glad that someone other than you had to deal with this particular unhinged human specimen.

*Well, there were lots of dings on her car (none, zero, nada from mine), which together appeared to paint a detailed portrait of a long history of dinging.

**Knowing me, I might have.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

KOLCHAK: 50th Anniversary Graphic and Prose Anthologies

I’m pleased and then some to have a story included in the upcoming Kolchak: The Night Stalker prose anthology from Moonstone Books, edited by James Aquilone. The deluxe Kolchak 50th anniversary package includes both graphic and prose anthologies as well as numerous extras. My tale is titled “Up From the Depths,” and pits Kolchak against a lethal, unknown critter that lurks in the dark, subterranean labyrinths beneath the city of Chicago.

The graphic anthology includes all-new stories by Steve Niles, Gabriel Hardman, Rodney Barnes, Kim Newman, Nancy Collins, David Avallone, Peter DavidJonathan Maberry, and more. The prose anthology features short fiction by Nancy Holder & Alan Philipson, Lisa Morton, Owl Goingback, John Jennings, Lev Butts, Bobby Nash, Will McDermott, David Avallone, David Boop... and me! Artists Tom Rogers, Colton Worley, and Marco Finnegan will provide sketches for each story.

You can visit the Kolchak: 50th Anniversary Kickstarter page here. I’ll post any additional information as soon as it becomes available.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

A Graveside Chat with Kristin Dearborn

Kristin Dearborn is a life-long New Englander, author of numerous novels and novellas such as Trinity, Sacrifice Island, Woman in White, Whispers, and others, as well as a host of short stories in various publications. She was kind enough to take some time to answer a few questions for A Graveside Chat, so, Kristin, a scary welcome!

AGC: Tell us a bit about you — when you first became inspired to write, especially in the dark vein; who some of your influences were (and are); and — as I understand you enjoy cheesy movies — what you consider some of… if not the best… then your personal favorites.

KD: I grew up in a house full of books. The Bunnicula series by James Howe was an early influence, teaching me what puns were, the proper pronunciation of hors d’oeuvres, and what happens when an unsuspecting family adopts a vampire rabbit. When I became a serious reader — you know, when I was ten — I read Jurassic Park and devoured everything Crichton had written to that point. When I ran out of Crichton, I moved on to Koontz. Then I found Stephen King and have been a constant reader ever since. I remember digging through boxes of musty paperbacks in our attic, finding books like Harvest Home, The Other, The Omen. I had free rein over our small local library, and I loved mass markets with lurid, cut-out covers. I grew up in Maine, and my Grandparents lived in Orono, home of the University of Maine, and haunt of Stephen King. My Grandmother worked in the school library when he was a student there. He was an omnipresent figure in my life like a folk hero, and when I eventually went to U Maine myself, I was never dissuaded from writing dark fiction as I worked towards my B.A.

As for movies, Lost Boys had a profound effect on me and still does. It’s a perfect blend of scary and camp and heart, I’d never seen anything like it. (I could read whatever I wanted, but was more restricted when it came to movies). From Dusk till Dawn was another movie that swept me away. It’s a crime movie! Oh shit, now it’s a vampire movie! Oh, shit, the main character just got bitten and no one is going to save him! (Sorry for the 26-year-old spoiler there.) In college, I worked at a theater (stage, not movie) but we had a set up for movies, and we would drag couches out onto the stage and watch movies like Predator and The Stuff with a professional sound system, 1600 seats, and a series of catwalks behind us. That was my introduction to Alien, and it was impossible not to think of all that empty space behind me and what could be out there. I’ll never turn down a chance to watch The Thing. I prefer Aliens to Alien (though agree Alien is the superior film).

AGC: Whispers is a wonderful novella that uses H. P. Lovecraft’s work as a jumping-off point — and it works brilliantly, particularly in that you build strong characters; typically, Lovecraft’s characters were hardly so well-drawn. Does HPL’s work in general have any particular allure for you? Are there other “classic” authors and/or works that might move you to reimagine for more contemporary times?

When Hurricane Irene tore Vermont apart in 2011, I immediately thought back to “Whisperer in Darkness,” HPL’s only tale set in Vermont, taking place in the aftermath of the 1927 floods. I got some amount of delight from populating a story inspired by Uncle Howie’s with characters I knew he wouldn’t approve of. Most of the time I’m content to let classics be classics, but HPL is a special case: his ideas are genre-defining, but most of his actual stories aren’t really that great, and to your point, his characters are almost entirely forgettable. It builds a fun playground for contemporary authors to expand on his ideas with characters that show emotional depth.

AGC: From what I gather, you enjoy traveling, rock climbing, motorcycle riding, and other “extracurricular” activities — such as flying! Do these activities excite your creativity or in any manner influence your storytelling?

KD: Travelling absolutely ignites my creativity, and I rarely go anywhere without getting a story seed in my brain. Sacrifice Island came from a boat tour I took in the Philippines where I stumbled across an old church decaying in the middle of paradise. For some crazy reason, Florida has always been my muse. Much of Stolen Away is set in Florida, and the idea was born there. My upcoming releases, The Amazing Alligator Girl (Fall 2022, Bloodshot Books) and Faith of Dawn (February 2024 Cemetery Dance) are both entirely set in Florida.

Hiking with my dog friend and riding my motorcycle give my brain a lot of time to work out story ideas, I’m a big fan of exercise and being outdoors to lubricate plot bunnies!

AGC: What’s next for you? Do you have any projects coming up you’d like to talk about?

KD: Oh no, I spoiled the answers to this question in the previous question! The Amazing Alligator Girl is a fun novella about a swamp tour gone terribly wrong… the gators are going crazy and environmentalist/alligator wrangler Bethany needs to get to the bottom of things to save the swamp…and make sure too many tourists don’t get eaten. Faith of Dawn is my third full-length novel, this one involves a suicide cult, a teenage prostitute, and the Florida bigfoot: the Skunk Ape. I’m also chewing on another novella about MLMs and Lizard People, but that one isn’t quite done baking yet.

AGC: Insert your own question here. Any topic you like, whatever you might want to share, have at it!

KD: I will use this time to haul out my soapbox and talk about feminism in my writing!

I’m extremely frustrated with the trope of the Strong Female Character — we’ve all seen her on Urban Fantasy novel covers in her black tank top, brandishing a weapon, she probably has a motorcycle and she’s almost always an incredibly unpleasant human being. I’m pretty sure Michelle Rodriguez has made her entire career being this character. Her armor against the world is meanness and not letting anyone in. Unfortunately, these women are often barely characters at all and don’t make for a satisfying read. I’ve made it my mission to write books about real, three-dimensional women who find themselves thrust into horrible situations and must be strong. To be true to these characters, I’ve made a conscious decision to read more women authors (and more BIPOC authors, but that’s another soapbox to stand on). Alma Katsu, T. Kingfisher, Jennifer McMahon, and Sarah Langan are a few whose books I get the moment they come out. There’s so much good horror out there right now, every year the Stoker ballot is filled with better stories and more diverse than the year before! Striving to build out my characters while fiddling with feminine monsters (in “Woman in White” the monster only eats men; in Stolen Away the demon transforms the protagonist into lamia) is a fun way to explore gender and how the human mind works.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

FUGUE DEVIL: RESURGENCE — Signed, Limited Hardback Edition

If you know about the Fugue Devil, it knows about you.
If you see the Fugue Devil, it will come for you.

After a long and maddening problem with shipping — an entire batch of books gone missing in transit — copies of the signed, limited hardback edition of Fugue Devil: Resurgence are finally available from Black Raven Books. It’s a beautiful book, with a wraparound dust cover featuring art by British Fantasy Award winner Daniele Serra, a ribbon bookmark, and an atmospheric art backdrop on the first page of each of the dozen stories within. (Click on the images above to enlarge.)

Copies are $52 each, which includes priority mailing, tracking, and insurance. Order directly from the publisher here. Or, from, use these links to order the trade paperback and/or Kindle edition.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Caching, Wining, and Barbecuing

Very little blogging in recent days, with too much time being occupied with all manner of obligations and necessities, not the least of which is dealing with less-than-happy medical situations. Without going into detail, I am doing okay, but as certain (mostly) age-related issues rear their ugly heads, I’m having to spend time, energy, and resources (financial and otherwise) staying on top of them. So far, still alive and kicking.

Brugger and I had a nice respite yesterday by heading down to the Lexington area to get in some geocaching (well, for me, anyway), visit a couple of wineries, and have some dynamite Lexington barbecue. Our first stop was Lake Thom-A-Lex, so named because it sits smack between Thomasville and Lexington. I’ve cached there many times, and since this newish one was so close to our chosen wineries, Ms. B. was kind enough to go out on the trail after the cache with me. It was about a two-mile round-trip hike, and the somewhat cooler weather (84°F) made being in the woods generally pleasant.

From there, we booked up to Old Homeplace Vineyards at the northern end of the lake, where we sampled several of the wines and had a picnic lunch. As with most North Carolina wineries, the wine was only fair-to-middlin’, but for us, it’s all about the experience. It’s a scenic location, there are farm animals all around, and the temperature was pleasant, so we quite enjoyed the place. Once done there, we headed over to nearby Childress Vineyards, which is as large as Old Homeplace is small. It’s a pretty big operation, with a busy bistro, wine & gift shop, an outdoor cantina, and more. Relative to other local wineries, the tastings are quite expensive, though the prices for glasses and bottles of wine are pretty much on par. Also, like most North Carolina wineries, their wine is drinkable but mostly unremarkable. Now, they did offer a unique bourbon barrel–aged white wine called Angel’s Wrath, which I quite enjoyed.

So, all in all, the winery experiences for the day rated high.

After Childress, we were closing in on dinnertime, so we went to Lexington Barbecue, which I’ve enjoyed a handful of times while caching in that vicinity. I had their coarse chopped bbq plate, which was huge, smoky, and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. This made a fine closing for our day in Lexington.

Back home, we watched a couple of movies — You Only Live Twice (I had a craving for some classic Connery Bond, and Ms. B. humored me), and the 1999 The Mummy (Ms. B. had a craving for cheese, and I humored her).

This morning, I went out after a single cache in High Point, then did maintenance on one of mine on the way home. And now, it’s back to work writing. Ciao, y’all.
One of Old Homeplace’s farm critters finding some shade and trying to avoid the swarming bugs
A neat charcuterie board at Childress’s gift shop that would be SO spot-on for friend Beth