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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.

[UPDATE: On sale now, here's the link!]

 

Recently, I was invited by the extraordinarily talented and awesome Mike Bukowski to be one of a handful of authors participating in a special Nyarlathotep project at his website, Yog-Blogsoth. If you’ve never checked out Mike’s work before, you’re in for a treat, though I must warn you, much of it is not exactly safe for work. For some time now, he’s been drawing pretty much every creature that Lovecraft ever mentioned (over 400 of them now, I believe) and recently he went on a kick drawing various avatars of Nyarlathotep. To crown the project, he came up with the idea of inviting several contemporary authors to contribute their own original Nyarlathotep avatars, yours truly included. You can read a little more about the project here.

As you can see from that lineup, I’m in the company of some absolutely incredible authors here, and I’m honored to be included. I’m especially proud of my involvement in this project because I was able to help facilitate the inclusion of a few of the other authors, and getting cool people together to work on fantastic projects is maybe the best part about doing what I do.

For my contribution, which Mike dubbed the “most ridiculous,” a badge I will wear with great pride, I tried to design something that I thought Mike would enjoy drawing, and something that I’d love to see done in his inimitable style, and also something different than any of the other monsters I’d described in any of my stories. The result is probably the closest I’ve ever come to designing a Castlevania boss fight, so I’m pretty happy.

The excerpt describing the creature is from a story that hasn’t been written yet. Before Mike asked me to contribute to this, it wasn’t even an idea in my notebook, though now it certainly is. Inspired in part by The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake, which I wrote about in my Vault of Secrets column recently, “The Cult of Headless Men” is definitely a story that you’ll see from me one of these days, it’s just a matter of getting the time to actually write it. (And yes, for readers familiar with “The Barghest” from Never Bet the Devil, I do just steal all my ideas from questionable old B movies.)

The first week of the Nyarlathotep project wrapped up today with a contribution from Molly Tanzer, and also featured Nyarlathoteps by Laird Barron, John Langan, and Victoria Dalpe. Keep an eye on the ‘blog, though, because next week will feature another batch, with Nyarlathoteps by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Phil Gelatt, Livia Llewellyn, Wilum Pugmire, and Gemma Files!

While the big talk around these parts lately has been me quitting my day job for the life of the full-time writer, there’s also been some other major news that I’ve had to keep under wraps until just now:

I’ve been approached to write some fiction for Skull Island eXpeditions, the fiction arm of Privateer Press. Those who know me know that this is a big deal for me, because I’ve been a fan of Privateer Press, their games and settings, since about forever. So writing licensed fiction in that world is a dream come true. Aside from Mike Mignola’s Hellboy universe, I can’t really imagine a setting that I’d rather be writing licensed stories in, frankly.

The first piece I’ve written for them is going to be out soon in Called to Battle: Volume OneIt’s a 10k story about General Gerlak Slaughterborn, and I had a hell of a good time writing it. But it’s also just the beginning. There’s already been wheels set into motion for bigger and even more exciting things to come from me and the folks at Skull Island, so keep a weather eye on the horizon and I’ll let you know more as soon as I know it!

Also, over the weekend we had a little get-together in part to celebrate the beginning of my new life as a freelancer, and as part of the festivities my wife presented me with a present she’d gotten me. As part of the recent Kickstarter for the Fantastic Fiction reading series at KGB Bar, one of the rewards was the incomparable John Langan doing a story about a monster of your choice. Of course I wanted that, but I didn’t get it snapped up in time. It turns out that the reason I didn’t is because my lovely and amazing wife had beaten me to it, and at the party this weekend she presented me the award in the form of this video, which John was kind enough to put together for the occasion:

Thanks to Grace and John and everyone who’s supported me already. Only two days in to this freelancing thing, and already I feel like, whatever else happens, at least I’ll have my friends along for the ride.

How to sum up Crypticon KC? I split a table with the inestimable Sean Demory, who is a gentleman and a scholar. I sold a few books. I got to participate in a guerilla reading, thanks to the generosity of author guests Brett Williams and Alan Ryker. I saw a guy on stilts dressed as Pyramid Head, a giant decaying clown, Tiny Freddy Krueger, and Stargate Wolverine. My compatriot Lydia got to make out with the Predator. I got interviewed by a zombie ballerina. Our table was right across from Richard Kiel, and Bai Ling asked me to break a twenty. I gave Doug Jones a copy of Never Bet the Devil, signed “Thanks for all the monsters,” and this is what I got in return:

doug jonesAs this was my first Crypticon, I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but I ended up having a really good time, in spite of it falling right in the middle of the most stressful of a string of really stressful recent months. The con was varied, dynamic, and a lot of fun, and I’ll definitely be back next year in some capacity. Thanks to everyone who put the con together, to all the vendors and guests, to everyone who came by our booth and said hello, and special thanks to everyone who bought a book or two! If you didn’t make it by, I recommend checking out something by my table-mate Sean Demory. His Ballad of the Wayfaring Stranger and the Dead Man’s Whore recently snagged an honorable mention in Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year, and Zobop Bebop is a Voodoo gangster novel. What more do you need?

I’m sure there are scads of things that I’m forgetting to mention, and I know there are some incriminating photos floating around on social media, so chances are you haven’t heard the last of this, though you have for now!

As a result of a conversation on Facebook some three months or so ago, several of my friends recently presented me with my very own, framed, official certificate of monster expertise. So now it’s official! Here’s a look at the certificate:

Monster Certificate

Thanks to Bear Weiter, Steve Scearce, Jeremy Tolbert, Marlyse Comte, Selena Chambers, Molly Tanzer, and anyone else who had any hand in this! I have the best friends!

In other news, some publication-related announcements. First off, Tales of Jack the Ripper, featuring my story “Ripperology,” is now up on Goodreads, so you can add it to your lists. It should be out in August. You can also catch a glimpse of the finished cover there, featuring some of the many fine authors with whom I’ll be sharing company.

A bit farther down the road, “The Lesser Keys,” my Lovecraftian Goetic demonology story set in 1920s Kansas City, will be appearing in Jazz Age Cthulhu in 2014, alongside new novelettes by Jennifer Brozek and Avery Cahill.

Since it’s become a cliche by now, I’ll try to refrain from opening this post with an apology directed at the Internet in general for my long absences of late. Suffice to say that I’ve been incredibly busy of late, and that sadly shows no signs of abating, at least through the beginning of the new year. But I’m on the downward slope of a four-day weekend from the day job, and that’s allowed me to finally get around to getting some pictures taken/uploaded that I’ve been promising for a while now. So, in the spirit of seasonal festivity, here they are.

Books

First off, here’s a pile of my books that were just released. There are a lot more copies of Never Bet the Devil in the pile than there are copies of Fungi only because I currently have a lot more copies of Never Bet the Devil than I do of Fungi, but that copy of Fungi on the bottom of the pile there is one of the incredibly sharp hardcovers, which I’d recommend picking one of up if you haven’t, because they look great. (I’d say something like “if I do say so myself,” but I really had nothing to do with how they look, that was all Silvia.)

That picture was taken in my newly-renovated office, which is finally in some kind of usable state for the first time in I don’t know how long. All the books are on the shelves, all the shelves are in the room, and about all that’s left now is to go through some piles of paperwork, which may take a while. In the meantime, I’m typing this from my desk in my office, under the watchful gaze of my office mascot:

Mascot

He’s a Hellboy Skelanimal, one of a limited batch they made for comic-con. He’s on my top shelf, next to one of my Maltese Owl bookends (not their official name, I just found them in an antique store and they remind me of the Maltese Falcon) and my author copies of all the books I’ve ever been in.

On one of my other shelves is this guy, who I just got from my good friends Reyna and Gavin Sparby. I’ve never read the comic he’s apparently from, but he’s a skeleton in a bow tie, so I immediately approve.

Skullboy

He’s standing in front of my Fritz Leiber and Edgar Rice Burroughs books, which is a pretty good spot to be in.

Finally, even though tomorrow is Christmas, today was the biggest Relevant Seasonal Festivity celebration we’re likely to have around here. My parents came up for dinner, and I got several nice presents over the past few days from lots of awesome folks, most of which aren’t necessarily as photogenic as our skull-headed friend up there, but all of which I appreciate very much, so thank you everyone! To end my post on a seasonally appropriate note, here’s our Relevant Seasonal Festivity Tree this year, decorated mostly by Grace, though the topper was my doing:

Seasonal Festivity Tree

I hope you all have a happy whatever, and I’ll have more updates coming soon!

Happy Halloween, one and all! I’ve been at work all day, and I’m going to a party this evening, so I’ll keep this short, but it wouldn’t be right to let Halloween go by and not say something. So I’ll give you some seasonally appropriate links.

For starters, however you feel about Trick ‘r Treat, there’s really no more seasonally appropriate movie around. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend giving it a look, and if you have, there are a plethora of short films from the same director produced by FearNET that are available on YouTube. There’s also the original animated short film that started the whole shebang off, which you can see right here:

If you’ve already seen Trick ‘r Treat, or are otherwise looking for more stuff to watch this most ghoulish of seasons, the Onion AV Club is doing their annual 24 Hours of Horror movie marathon list, this time with the great Joe Dante. And while you’re at it, you can also check out last year’s list with Edgar Wright. One of these years, I’ll do up my own list, but this year won’t be that year.

(I haven’t actually gotten to read all of Dante’s list yet, but I’m looking forward to finishing it up soon. And I think I own most of those movies, so if I was insane I could actually do the marathon!)

Maybe the most exciting thing to happen so far today, though, for me and anyone else who is unhealthily obsessed with the work of Mike Mignola, is that Dark Horse released a free 119-page digital sampler of a bunch of their horror titles, including a new Baltimore story, B.P.R.D. 1948, and, best of all, a new preview of Hellboy in Hell!

That’s pretty much it for me. Have a safe and happy Halloween, and I’ll see you back here in November for the start of my Hitchcock marathon, and more of the same. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a drawing that artist Chris Sanders (of Lilo & Stitch and How to Train Your Dragon, among others) shared on his Facebook, and that has become my new favorite Halloween drawing of the moment.

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