Category Archives: Recommendations

NecronomiCon 2017 Schedule

This August 17th through 20th I’ll be making my biennial pilgrimage down to Providence, Rhode Island, to participate in the programming for NecronomiCon, the International Festival of Weird Fiction, Art and Academia, as I’ve done every year since its founding.

This year marks an exciting change at the conference. Whereas in previous years the panels and talks have been focused primarily on the works of H.P. Lovecraft and his influences and influencers, this year the committee has chosen to open the topics to those more encompassing of the Weird, the Fantastic, the Fabulist. In short, what was once a convention for one subculture now encompasses many, and much like the fiction it celebrates, the conference finds itself filled with artists and topics that fit neither wholly within the World Horror Convention, or the World Fantasy Convention. It sits between them (even temporally, considering the time of year).

All this is to say it promises to be an exciting adventure for all those who attend.

As I mentioned, I’ll be there as part of the programming. The below outlines those events I’m committed to, but I’ll also be lurking the hallways of the various locales and ducking into the multitude of interesting panels throughout the weekend.

Without further ado, my schedule for the upcoming event:

  • Friday August 18th – 3:00-4:15pm: Shadows and Tall Trees Launch Party
    L’Apogee, Biltmore 17th Floor, with Robert Levy, Steve Rasnic Tem, and Michael Kelly, where I’ll be reading a short excerpt from my story “In the Tall Grass”.
  • Saturday, August 19th – 6:00-7:15pm: Looming Low Launch Party
    L’Apogee, Biltmore 17th Floor, with Michael Griffen, Livia Llewellyn, Anya Martin, Michael Wehunt, Justin Steele, and Sam Cowan, where I won’t be reading but instead hovering and showing my support as a contributor to the book.
  • Sunday, August 20th – 9-10:15am FABULISM IN CONTEMPORARY WEIRD FICTION
    Garden Room, Biltmore 2nd Floor, with Craig Gidney, J.T. Glover, Kij Johnson, Nnedi Okorafor, and Peter Straub, where I’ll be moderating a panel discussion on what Fabulism is and how it affects modern weird and strange horror fiction.
  • Sunday, August 20th – 3:00-4:15pm THE BLEAK OBLIQUE: Aickman’s Influence on Contemporary Horror
    Grand Ballroom, Biltmore 17th Floor, with Michael Cisco, Paul Di Filippo, Jack Haringa, and Steve Rasnic Tem, where I’ll be moderating a panel discussion on the work and life of Robert Aickman, one of the major influences on contemporary strange fiction.

I hope everyone who attends finds these discussions and events illuminating, and enjoys the full range of fantastic programming. I look forward to seeing you all there.

Some favourite reads of 2016

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This year, despite being one of the most horrible in recent memory in many ways, saw the release of some great fiction. I read a few memorable novels, including Paul Tremblay ’s terrific DISAPPEARANCE AT DEVIL’S ROCK, Robert Marasco’s unsettling BURNT OFFERINGS, and William Sloane’s chilling TO WALK THE NIGHT; but I also found some great collections in Richard Gavin’s powerful SYLVAN DREAD, Lynda E. Rucker’s haunting YOU’LL KNOW WHEN YOU GET THERE, Livia Llewellyn’s disturbing FURNACE, Jeffrey Ford’s wonderful A NATURAL HISTORY OF HELL, D.P. Watt’s strange ALMOST INSENTIENT, ALMOST DIVINE, Joyce Carol Oates’s discomforting HAUNTED, and Jon Padgett’s nightmarish THE SECRET OF VENTRILOQUISM. Included in one of those two categories above (though I’m not sure which) was Peter Straub’s fantastic fragment PERDIDO, which is so purely Straubian that I’m torn as to whether I wish it were finished or whether it should remain untouched and as perfect as it already is. Additionally, and no less importantly, through accident or design I also managed to read/reread most of Matthew M. Bartlett’s released books this year, from the field-stunning debut GATEWAYS TO ABOMINATION, though the short THE WITCH-CULT IN WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS, VOLUME ONE, to the tour-de-force CREEPING WAVES.

All of the above doesn’t even cover the books I read but am not yet allowed to discuss, or the wonderful short stories I considered at the beginning of the year for inclusion in 2016’s YEAR’S BEST WEIRD FICTION, VOL 3 (available now in trade, hardback, and ebook).

And I still have a stack of books I haven’t touched yet that I’m hoping to in the coming months (including John Langan’s THE FISHERMAN, Michael Griffin’s THE LURE OF DEVOURING LIGHT, and Peter Straub’s A DARK MATTER). The fields of dark speculative fiction are stronger now than ever before, and the wealth of great material feels nearly endless. It may be a horrible time to be living on the planet, but I have to tell you it’s a great time to be a horror reader.

Thinking Horror, Volume One

THNKHRR1

Today, the first volume of THINKING HORROR: A JOURNAL OF HORROR PHILOSOPHY is available. As co-founder and Associate Editor of the journal, I wanted to take a moment to explain its genesis. At least, my side of the story. (I’m sure my co-founder remembers things differently.)

I’ve long been interested in written horror. By which I don’t necessarily mean the Horror genre, or the mode of writing horror, but the underpinnings of what the category itself is and how opinions differ from person to person. I find discussions and analysis of horror interesting, and the history of its undercurrents and/or subgenres (folk, regional, strange, weird, bizarro, and so on) infinitely study-worthy. I enjoy the intellectualization of horror—both as reader and writer.

Because of my interest in how horror works, and how its interpreted and the messages encoded within it, I’ve bemoaned the fact that there aren’t many venues for discussing the philosophy of horror. It’s the sort of thing writers get together to discuss at conferences and conventions, it’s the sort of thing readers discuss on social media, or in the basement of bookstores, or in bars… A lot people like to hash it out, but these discussions are fleeting. They’re certainly rarely recorded, other than as a reference point to something else. At best, we get a monthly column in magazines like BLACK STATIC or NIGHTMARE, but nothing that really tackles the questions head-on and with dedicated focus.

It was a void that weighed on me for some time. I’d often post messages about it to social media, suggesting that were I not spending all my time writing, I would want to edit a journal to answer the question “Why Horror?”. And when I’d post those messages, I would receive comments from a hungry audience, wishing for the same.

I met s.j. bagley online at some point. Quite probably, via the Shocklines message board in the early 2000’s (where the horror community gathered before Facebook). Over the years, it became more and more apparent that sjb and I agreed on a good number of topics when it came to horror fiction, including its themes and modes and construction. Critically speaking, we saw eye-to-eye. Many of my social media discussions on the topics of horror were carried out in public or private with him, and I always came away from them impressed with his knowledge of the field, and the amount of thought he put into it.

I also knew that he hoped, one day, to put together a journal of interviews about horror, where he would discuss these topics with various luminaries. It was something I wanted to read, but suspected, just like my journal of essays from various luminaries about horror, it was likely to remain a pipe dream.

It was while on I was on vacation in Chicago, laying in bed in the middle of the night, that the idea occurred to me. What if he and I were to combine our ideas into a single journal? We saw eye-to-eye on so many aspects that it seemed inevitable our ideas would cover similar ground, so putting everything into one place made a lot of sense. Plus, between the two of us, we could afford to electronically publish something without much risk, and see what might happen. The idea rattled in my head all night. And continued to do so during the following day, so I dropped sjb and note and proposed the idea. I believe he was instantly sold.

The rest speaks for itself: we hashed out details, invited writers, conducted interviews, until the material was collected and published as THINKING HORROR Volume One. You can buy it now from Amazon in the USA and UK. (Other vendors soon to follow.)

One thing I should make clear, since it doesn’t seem I’ve done a very good job of clarifying it so far: the initial spark of combining ideas may have been mine, but from the outset, primarily by design, the product you can buy today is wholly an s.j. bagley production. I played very little part in the actual shaping of this journal, and editing. I was more an adviser than anything else. A springboard and second set of eyes. As much as I’d like to take all the credit for myself, it’s really him who has done it. He is the Editor of the journal, through and through, and I think it’s an amazing achievement.

There’s a tendency with these sorts of things to inflate one’s egos and importance, so I’ll avoid that here. I certainly hope the journal becomes considered an important brick in the too-thin wall of horror criticism, but it’s okay if it doesn’t. Time will tell. But I think the end result of this journey has been a fantastic first volume, and its my sincere hope you enjoy it, and any subsequent volumes the future may bring. There are some exciting plans in place!

Podcast tour, September 2015

Some podcast news to direct your attention to. Over the past few weeks I’ve appeared on two podcasts.

The first is THE OUTER DARK, Scott Nicolay’s weekly examination of what he calls “the weird renaissance”. This episode covers THINKING HORROR, the non-fiction journal edited by s.j. bagley that I co-founded with him. The two of us discuss the journals origins and where it’s going.

The second is a brief reappearance on MISKATONIC MUSINGS, which cover the 2015 NecronomiCon convention. I was in attendance there along with a host of other writers and artists, and Sean and Charles were kind enough to check in with me there.

Lastly, though I’m not on this episode (I will be in the near future) the new podcast series, SOMETHING RED, talks about my collection BURNT BLACK SUNS in the premiere episode. Soon these will be available for Patreon contributors only, but for now you can listen for free.

As always, it’s a thrill to be invited to participate in these things, and to have my work discussed. I hope those of you who listen enjoy it!