Some time back, my friend Mike Corley approached me with an idea: He was drawing spooky houses, and he suggested that I should write descriptions of them and we’d put them together into a fake real estate pamphlet. I’d been a fan of Mike’s work since way before I ever got to know him online, and had been wanting to do a project with him forever, and as anyone who knows me knows there’s very few things I love more than writing about spooky houses, so I jumped at the chance. Thus, about a year later, Gardinel’s Real Estate was born!

Mike drew the houses and sent them to me, and I came up with a suitably haunted history for each ominous domicile, all narrated by our estate agent, Cedric Gardinel. We printed it up ourselves (with Mike handling the lion’s share of that end) and the result is a sharp-looking 32 page ‘zine that we’ll be offering in a limited print run of 100 signed, hand-numbered copies, 50 of which just showed up on my doorstep today. Thirteen houses, beautifully illustrated by Mike, with words by me, including stories of witchcraft, hidden fortunes, accusations of vampirism, demonic portraits, a haunted chair, and several experiments of a “most unusual nature.”

Gardinel’s Real Estate will go on sale from both Mike and myself on October 1, just in time for Halloween. More details will be forthcoming then.

 

Immediately following Crypticon KC I came down with a bad case of the ol’ con crud which put me out of commission for the better part of two weeks. Shortly after that, I raised up my head and it was suddenly a week into September. The best part about September, besides its close proximity to October, is that it means I can finally put up my Pusheen calendar, which automatically improves, well, everything.

Has lots happened since Crypticon? Absolutely. Can I talk about most of it? Sadly, no. But here’s a few things, in bullet-point form, because I haven’t done that in a while:

  • Fractured: Tales of the Canadian Post-Apocalypse hit shelves, though I haven’t actually held a copy in my hands yet. It’s the latest anthology from my Fungi co-editor and frequent co-conspirator Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and I get to be an honorary Canadian for it, with my story of the ghost apocalypse, “Persistence of Vision.” It references Pulse AND Ghostbusters 2, among others, so what’s not to like?
  • Meanwhile, the roster of contributors was finally announced for Letters to Lovecraft, the first anthology edited by my good friend Jesse Bullington, which will include my story “Lovecrafting,” which, appropriately enough, is maybe the weirdest thing I’ve ever written, at least structurally.
  • Blood Glacier showed up on Netflix instant, and I made the mistake of watching it. Let me spare you the same fate.
  • On the other hand, I also watched (on YouTube, of all places) a surprisingly great movie called One Dark Night, the first film from Tom McLoughlin, who would later make the sixth Friday the 13th movie and the adaptation of Stephen King’s Sometimes They Come Back, as well as something called The Staircase Murders. In addition to being pretty fantastic (the first and last reel are, I think, truly great, while the middle is solid 80s horror cheese, he said as if that was a bad thing), and featuring psychic vampirism, floating corpses, and excellent use of hot pink, One Dark Night prompted me to observe that horror flicks in the 80s and early 90s were set in graveyards a lot, an observation which may yet bear an intriguing harvest. More on that later.
  • I finally read Stephen Graham Jones’ great The Last Final Girlwhich, as I said elsewhere, feels like the book he was born to write.
  • Assuming it updates, I will once again be participating in the Countdown to Halloween. I got an email from the organizers, so in spite of the ossified status of the website, hopefully it’s alive and well, or at least clawing its way free of the loamy earth like a suitable revenant. Even if it’s not, though, I’ll be doing something to mark the occasion, though I haven’t settled on a theme or anything yet.

Loads of other stuff is in the works, some of which I should be able to talk about very, very soon. In the mean time, I’ll try to avoid illnesses, so as to also avoid month-long gaps in posting, but we all know the actual likelihood of that second thing happening, don’t we, dear reader?

Well, that’s another Crypticon in the rear view, and like last year, I had more fun than I would have expected, and managed to sell a few books to boot, so I’m calling it a win. I split a table with Sean Demory, Marshall Edwards, and the fine folks from the KC Conjure Shop, who brought along a bowl of chicken feet that got a surprisingly strong reaction from a lot of the people wandering the vendor room. We were part of a “writers alley” taking up the back corner of the room, where we had a nice amount of space, even if it got pretty darn hot before the weekend was out.

Friday night we did a reading followed by a demonstration from the KC Conjure folks. It didn’t have a huge turn out, but seemed to go over well, and afterward someone came by and bought one of everything at our table, which was pretty cool. I finally snagged a Critters t-shirt from the folks at Atomic Cotton, and I saw someone wandering around wearing the Creepshow shirt that Trevor Henderson designed for them!

The costumes this year were less things-that-could-only-be-described-with-elevator-pitches (e.g. Stargate Wolverine, tiny Freddy Krueger) and more clearly characters from things that I just didn’t recognize (probably a lot of Walking Dead, a few videogames). I saw a girl dressed as–apparently–a “Clicker” from The Last of Us, which I’d never played but which is, apparently, a fungus zombie. So that was awesome. I think Sean captured the photo that defined the con when he snapped a picture of an ax-murdering panda hanging out with two demons, one with no skin. 

I think Sean really captured Crypticon. Captured its essence.

I think Sean really captured Crypticon. Captured its essence.

There was one distinctive elevator pitch costume, though. Almost certainly just a character from something–probably an anime–that I didn’t recognize, I could only describe him as “Matador Cop,” which led us all to the conclusion that Matador Cop is a show that desperately needs to exist.

I did get to meet all the Monster Squad folks who were there, including almost literally running into Stephen Macht. But probably the coolest thing I did was meeting and giving a copy of my book to Charles Band. He was incredibly friendly and seemed genuinely touched to receive the book, and because they were running a special on it anyway, I ended up walking away from their table signed up for the Full Moon Streaming service and with an armload of free merch. It was a blast, even if some technical difficulties meant that the signup took a lot longer than expected. I think me and the girl doing the signups bonded over our shared trauma.

I ended up selling through enough of my stock that I decided not to go back on Sunday, which is probably good because I got hit with a bad case of post-con crash and pretty much spent the entire day resting. I’m feeling a bit on the mend today, though I’m trying hard to avoid catching any con crud. 

All in all, it was a great con and I had a lot of fun. I don’t know if I’ll have a table next year or not, but I’ll probably be around, and if you’re in the neighborhood and think you might dig a cool horror convention, you should definitely stop on by!

This weekend, I’ll be at Crypticon KC. Like last year, I’ll be splitting a table with friend and fellow local writer Sean Demory, although this year we’re actually part of a bigger group with a bunch of local horror authors who’ll have a sort of “author’s alley” going on, so come visit our long table full of books, say hi, and pick up some good reading material. I’ll have copies of Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings as well as a few copies of The Children of Old Leech with signature plates from editors Justin Steele and Ross Lockhart.

Friday night from 8-10 there’s a multi-author reading/panel thing happening. I’ll be involved, along with Sean and some other folks, and I hear there may be a magic show? So, y’know, come on down for that.

Aside from that, I have nothing on my schedule, so you can probably find me loitering around our table or stalking the cast of Monster Squad. (There’s a Monster Squad reunion happening, did I mention this? Michael Biehn’s gonna be there, too. And Zach Galligan. And Charles freaking Band! If my gigantic Full Moon collection wasn’t signed already, you’d better believe it’d be getting signed.)

I had a surprisingly great time at Crypticon last year, so I’m looking forward to this year’s festivities.

Today marks the official release date of The Children of Old Leech, though copies have been showing up in the wild for a while, and I got mine last week. Still, if you’ve been waiting around to pick up a copy, there’s no better time than right now. The editors reached out to all the authors and suggested that we all lift a glass of our poison of choice to Old Leech today, to commemorate the occasion. Like my friend and ToC-mate J.T. Glover, I opted to go with the “first and truest” drink of the day, though he and I have slightly different thoughts about just what that is.

To Old Leech!

Raise your glass to Old Leech!

As always, I’ve got a queue of books to read that is deep and wide, but every now and then there’s a book that comes along and effortlessly jumps to the top of the heap, whether I mean for it to or not. Anything with Mike Mignola’s name on it always manages, and now I can add to that list anything from Ross Lockhart’s Word Horde press. Last year’s Tales of Jack the Ripper was one of my favorite anthologies in ages, and while I’m only six stories in so far, The Children of Old Leech promises to be, if anything, even more special.

Maybe it’s poor form to heap praise too highly upon books in which my own stories appear, but honestly, look at the table of contents that editors Lockhart and Justin Steele have assembled, all paying homage to one of the greatest living writers of the weird tale. My stuff entirely aside, these names aren’t going to steer you wrong. So far I’m five stories in (not counting my own) and there’s not been a dud in the bunch, and I expect that train to keep on a-rolling through the end of the book.

I’ll post more of my thoughts once I’ve actually finished reading, but this one’s going to be a big one, and you’ll kick yourself if you miss it, guaranteed.

 

While I wasn’t looking, June crept up and became the busiest month that I’ve had so far as a full-time writer. I didn’t really even realize it until I was making out invoices at the end of the month. I was planning to wait until a year had passed before I did any kind of “how it’s been going” round-up, and I probably still will, but it seemed like this deserved at least a mention. All in all, this writing for a living thing is treating me pretty well so far, and the days where I feel like I’m probably going to survive now mostly outweigh the days where I feel like I made a terrible mistake and will soon be living in a storm drain like some kind of child-eating clown. I’ll call that a win.

Obviously, with things being so busy, I have a lot going on, some of which I hope to talk about here in the very near future. In the mean time, I’ll be a guest at the first-annual DELTOROCON convention, which is happening entirely online starting July 10. You can see my name on the schedule here, alongside an amazing roster of much more awesome folks, including GdT himself. It was an honor to be asked to contribute, and I’ll definitely be posting a bit more about it as the event draws closer.

The Children of Old Leech, a tribute anthology to the “carnivorous cosmos” of Laird Barron, edited by Ross Lockhart and Justin Steele, was supposed to come out around July 15, but I’ve got it on good authority that copies are already shipping. It features my story “Walpurgisnacht,” alongside a who’s-who of some of the best writers in the weird fiction community right now. This book is going to be something special, so if you haven’t already ordered a copy, now’s the time.

body bags

The best part.

One down, one to go.

Last night, I finally watched Body Bags, the second-to-last movie I need to watch in order to have seen everything John Carpenter ever directed. All that’s left now is Dark Star, which I’m saving to watch with my good pal Reyna Sparby, because it is her favorite movie. So who knows when that’ll happen?

How was Body Bags? Well, it was a TV movie made for Showtime in 1993, if that tells you anything. Apparently it was originally intended as a Tales from the Crypt-style horror anthology TV series, which was later dropped and the three completed segments worked into an anthology film, with a wraparound segment featuring Carpenter himself as a wise-cracking coroner. The first two segments are directed by Carpenter, with the last being helmed by Tobe Hooper.

Body Bags has been called “John Carpenter at his funniest,” and while that may not be true, it is pretty amusing, and Carpenter’s own horror host schtick is the best part of the film, making me kind of wish that there had been a Body Bags TV show, just so I could watch the host segments. The segments are star-studded, for values of “star,” including guest appearances by other horror directors of renown such as Wes Craven and Sam Raimi (playing a corpse). Of the three segments, “The Gas Station” was probably my favorite, though it also may have brought the least to the table that was new. It felt, in some ways, like a natural extension of Carpenter’s work on Somebody’s Watching Me!, with its serial killer juxtaposed against the lechery and weirdness that the segment’s female protagonist has to put up with from just about every guy she encounters.

When all is said and done, Body Bags is more fun than actually good, and is situated firmly somewhere in the middle ground of Carpenter’s roller coaster career. But if there’d been a show, I’d have watched every week, just for Carpenter hamming it up talking to corpses and drinking formaldehyde, so that’s something.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 44 other followers