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never bet the devil

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It’s here! The Kickstarter for the deluxe edition of Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings is now live from Strix Publishing! Including all ten stories from the original printing, my hard-to-find story “A Night for Mothing” which originally appeared in The Mothman Files back in 2011 and has never before been reprinted, and a brand new story about kids, graveyards, undertakers, and Halloween night called “Goblins,” along with author’s notes by yours truly and a brand-new introduction by Nathan Ballingrud.

When Never Bet the Devil unexpectedly went out of print last year, I wanted to get it back into print without just dumping it unceremoniously onto ebook or something, but I also knew that if I was going to release another edition, I wanted to make sure it was something special enough that people who had already bought the previous printing from Evileye Books wouldn’t feel like they were being cheated when they put down their hard-earned money for this one, too. That’s why Strix and I put together this Kickstarter, to bring Never Bet the Devil back into print in a deluxe edition that’s worthy of the name.

For me, that started with artist M.S. Corley. I first encountered Mike’s work in some fan-art covers he did for book series like Harry Potter, and we quickly became fast friends. I think he’s one of the best artists and best cover designers in the business, and I’m proud to have introduced him to the guys at Valancourt Books, where he’s done a whole pile of breathtaking covers. Fans of Gardinel’s Real Estate, the chapbook that Mike and I did together, already have an idea of what he’s capable of.

When I started talking with Strix about re-releasing Never Bet the Devil, I already knew that Mike was my first and only choice to do the new cover and interior illustrations. If you’re already familiar with Mike’s work, then you already know why. If not, head over to the Kickstarter page to get just a taste of what he’s done with the interior illustrations and cover design for this new edition of Never Bet the Devil.

Aside from that, Strix Publishing puts out beautiful books. This edition of Never Bet the Devil will be hardcover, cloth-bound, and gold foil stamped. Plus, if by some chance the Kickstarter funds with some to spare, we’ve got some exciting stretch goals waiting in the wings including more stories and other goodies! So if you’ve been waiting for Never Bet the Devil to come back into print, or if you recently picked up my second collection Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts from Word Horde or my essay collection Monsters from the Vault from Innsmouth Free Press and want to see where I got started, this is the definitive edition of my debut collection, and now’s you chance to get it at the cheapest price it’s ever going to be.

New to Never Bet the Devil or my writing? You can read fan-favorite story “Black Hill,” which was previously published in Historical Lovecraft and reprinted in Ross Lockhart’s Book of Cthulhu 2 online right now! Or listen to it in audio form at Pseudopod!

[Edited to add: And just as I posted this, I got the email from my publisher letting me know that Kickstarter had officially selected Never Bet the Devil as one of its “Projects We Love,” which is pretty exciting for me!]

 

So, as you may already know, Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings, my first collection of short horror stories, went out of print around the end of last year. Originally published in 2012, Never Bet the Devil prompted no less a luminary than Laird Barron to call it “a creepy foray into the realm of the weird and the sinister.” It’s been out of print since December of 2015, and copies on Amazon marketplace are currently listed at upwards of $200. (Please don’t pay that.)

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That’s the bad news. Here’s the good: Thanks to the fine folks at Strix Publishing, there’s a new deluxe hardcover edition of Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings on the way. One so amazing that I don’t think any of you who bought the original version will mind double-dipping. (At least, I hope you won’t.) Besides a couple of new stories, including the heretofore hard-to-find “A Night for Mothing,” which originally appeared in The Mothman Files back in 2011 and a brand new, never-before-published tall called “Goblins,” this new edition of Never Bet the Devil is the collection as it was always meant to be.

It’ll be illustrated throughout by the amazing Mike Corley, who many of you will remember from our collaboration on Gardinel’s Real Estate and his many fine covers for Valancourt Books. Besides a host of interior illustrations, Mike also produced the amazing (preliminary) cover that you can see above, which will be cloth bound and gold foil stamped. All that, plus a new introduction by Nathan Ballingrud!

The whole shebang is coming to a Kickstarter near you on August 15, and there’ll be a lot more details coming between now and then, plus cool rewards and stretch goals once the Kickstarter actually gets off the ground, including the chance to add more original stories to the whole package. So for those of you who have been asking how to get copies of Never Bet the Devil, this is the news you’ve been waiting for. And for everyone else, I think we’re putting together something exciting enough that it will whet your appetites as well…

Some of you may already have noticed, but Never Bet the Devil, my first collection which was published in 2012 by Evileye Books, has gone out of print as of December 31, 2015. It’s still available from some online sellers, but its sudden scarcity has triggered bizarre online algorithms which have driven the price up ridiculously. In short, please, nobody pay close to $100 for my book? If you really want a copy that badly, contact me privately and we’ll work something out, though I don’t even have any author copies left to speak of.

The rights have reverted back to me, and I’m hoping to have it back into print–or at least into ebook–in some new edition as soon as possible. I’ll keep you apprised as things go along. For those of you who do already have a copy, congrats! I don’t know what its print run ended up being, but I doubt there are too terribly many out there in the world, and that’s all there will ever be, at least of this edition.

In the meantime, you can still snag a copy of my second collection, Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts, and I’ll have some more publishing announcements coming in the next week or so.

Ellen Datlow has unveiled her long list of honorable mentions from the most recent volume of her annual Best Horror of the Year series. Three of my stories (“Almost Human,” “The Barghest,” and “Count Brass”) made the list. All of those stories are available in Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings. In fact, of the ten stories in Never Bet the Devil, six made the honorable mention long list for the respective year in which they were first published. Can’t get much better than that, right?

At the same time, stories from Fungi received a whopping ten mentions on the long list, with nods going to John Langan’s “Hyphae,” Nick Mamatas’ “The Shaft Through the Middle of It All,” Ian Rogers’ “Out of the Blue,” Ann Schwader’s poem “Cordyceps Zombiii,” E.Catherine Tobler’s “New Feet Within My Garden Go,” Paul Tremblay’s “Our Stories Will Live Forever,” A.C. Wise’s “Where Dead Men Go to Dream,” Laird Barron’s “Gamma,” Richard Gavin’s “Goatsbride,” and Chadwick Ginther’s “First They Came for the Pigs.”

You can check out the full list here and here.

Yesterday, I finally finished the last of my writing obligations for the month of July. It has been a hell of a month, and though a lot of excitement happened in it, I’m happy to see the back side. Soon I’ll have new writing obligations coming down the pipe, but for the moment I’ve got other things on my mind. Hopefully, the next few weeks won’t be quite as busy as the last few have been, and you’ll hear from me more often. In the mean time, I’ve got a little ground to cover.

A while back, I saw James Wan’s latest The Conjuring and wrote up my thoughts for dictated.com. For those who don’t want to click over; I loved it. I discovered quite by accident a couple of years ago that I’m actually a fan of James Wan’s work, though I recall not liking Saw and still haven’t gone back to it to see if that still holds true. The Conjuring cemented that. While I didn’t like it as much as I liked Insidious, it was, if anything, even scarier, and crafted so expertly that I’m now even more excited for Insidious 2 later this year. I hope they go even farther out into weird comic book territory than the first one did, even though that would probably alienate all of their audience that isn’t me.

So July has been a good month for theatrical movies, between that and Pacific Rim. And speaking of Pacific Rim, here’s an amazing fan-cut trailer for it done in the style of the old Toho Godzilla pictures of my misspent youth:

How great is that? I want the Blu-ray release to have a cut on it that’s just got that filter over it the entire time. I’d watch that all day long.

In other, non-movie-related news, this month also saw me living out a lifelong dream by seeing my name in the table of contents of an issue of Weird Tales magazine, albeit not in the way that I would have expected. I was one of a handful of authors (along with the likes of Ramsey Campbell!) interviewed by Lynne Jamnek for a “Talking Fairy Tales Interviews” feature in the latest issue. Full table of contents, including my name, is here.

Ross Lockhart’s new Tales of Jack the Ripper anthology also made its way to the grimy backalleys a little bit early this month, and you can pick it up now from Amazon and all the other usual suspects. There’s also a Saucy Jack Deluxe Pack available direct from the publisher that comes with a variety of additional Ripper-themed swag. Tales of Jack the Ripper features my story “Ripperology,” alongside a star-studded cast of fellow authors.

Finally, both Never Bet the Devil and Fungi got nice write-ups in Ellen Datlow’s annual Best Horror of the Year volume. Here’s what she had to say about Never Bet the Devil: “This is Grey’s debut collection and showcases ten very good and varied supernatural stories, two published for the first time.” I’ll take it!

So that’s the end of July, more or less. August is shaping up to be its own unique creature, with me essaying my first table (along with Sean Demory) at Crypticon KC August 16-18. More on that as it draws nearer!

So, it’s now been 2013 for a little over twelve hours here. I slept most of those, and spent the others watching Castle, though we did ring in the new year last night with a handful of friends from college, all of whom are now paired up, even though at least one pair didn’t get together until years after we’d all graduated. That was very pleasant, and seems thematically appropriate for auld lang syne in a way that didn’t occur to me until I sat down to type this. So thanks everyone for coming over, and making a very nice new year for us. I’m glad that we’re all still friends, after all these years and, in at least one case, all these miles of separation.

Now is the time of year when a young man’s fancies turn to year-end recaps and best-of lists, so that’s what this post is going to be all about. 2012 was a big year for me, as anyone reading this probably already knows. My first two books both came out this year, one as author and one as editor.  Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings is my first collection of weird, spooky, and supernatural tales, and Fungi is the anthology of fungal stories that I co-edited with Silvia Moreno-Garcia. I’m extremely proud of both of them, and I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out. You’ve already heard a lot about them, and you’ll hear more in the coming year.

In addition, I had a few short story sales this year, the biggest one of which was my reprint appearance of “Black Hill” (originally from Historical Lovecraft) in Ross Lockhart’s The Book of Cthulhu 2. I also got asked to write an introduction to a forthcoming Valancourt Books reissue of J.B. Priestley’s Benighted, which I’m extremely excited about both because it’ll be my first time writing an introduction and because I’m very excited about the release itself.

This year saw some major changes in my daily life, as I changed positions at my day job (a couple of times, actually) and we did some work on the downstairs floor of our house, which resulted in me having a fairly nice office, from which I’m typing this right now. There’s still a little work left to go on the office, but expect pictures when everything is done.

But that’s enough news about me, now it’s time for the obligatory year-end lists. I’m not going to do top tens or fives or whatever, in no small part because there’s too much stuff that I wanted to get to that didn’t happen, but I’ll mention a few high points, and apologies in advance for anything and everything that I leave out. Starting with movies, 2012 was a good year for me and the cinema. I saw a pile of good stuff in theatres, with a few of my favorites (in no particular order) being AvengersCabin in the WoodsLooper, and Skyfall. I was also surprised to really enjoy Men in Black 3, which I saw on DVD, and which was actually better than either of its predecessors. (Also, that makes two movies featuring time travel in the main plot that I saw this year and really liked. Mark it down, because it is unlikely to happen again.) I also saw The Innkeepers in theatres back at the beginning of the year. Though it technically came out in 2011, it might just be my favorite of the whole bunch, so I’m making it a point to mention it here.

As good as 2012 was for movies, it was even better for books. I read a pile of great books in 2012, an unprecedented number of which actually came out during the year. My top reads (from books released in 2012) were Molly Tanzer’s bizarre debut A Pretty Mouth and Ian Rogers’ superlative collection Every House is Haunted, along with the aforementioned Book of Cthulhu 2 and the latest book in Holly Black’s Curse Worker series. 2012 was also the year that I was introduced to the crime writings of Dashiell Hammett for the first time, and I’ve devoured pretty much all of them in the course of the year, and loved them all.

As many great books as I read in 2012, though, there were more that I didn’t get the chance to crack open yet. Chief amongst them Richard Gavin’s latest collection At Fear’s Altar, Jesse Bullington’s The Folly of the World, Ross Lockhart’s Chick Bassist, and Stephen Graham Jones’ Last Final Girl. 2013 is looking just as impressive (and damaging to my bank account), with a plethora of exciting releases on the horizon, including a new collection by Laird Barron, a long-overdue debut collection from Nathan Ballingrud, a YA novel from John Hornor Jacobs, and a brand new book by Holly Black. There’s also a new collection by John Langan on the way, entitled The Wide Carnivorous Sky & Other Monstrous Geographies, which I don’t have a way to link to yet, but am very eagerly awaiting. And that’s all just off the top of my head.

I have high hopes for 2013, and while I’m not really a resolutions kind of person, I think that as close as I have to one this year is to remember that what I’m getting to do is pretty awesome, and to behave accordingly. Thanks to everyone reading this, to everyone who picked up a copy of either of my books, to everyone who left a review somewhere or sent me some kind words, to all my friends and everyone who helped make 2012 a pretty great year. Here’s to hoping that 2013 is even better, for all of us. Soupy twist!

In spite of what the quote in the subject line there would imply, the present is actually pretty pleasant indeed, but the “lot of things to do” part is true enough. The two books that have been on their way out are both out now. The official release date for Fungi was yesterday, though copies started finding their way into the wild a little early, as they are wont to do. I haven’t actually received mine yet, but some of the contributors have, and they’ve been posting pictures, of which I am deeply envious.

do have my copies of Never Bet the Devil, though. There’s a pile of them sitting next to me as I type this. If I owe you a copy for any reason, or if you’d just like to buy one direct from me and get it signed, drop me a line, either in the comments here or by email, or any other way that you know to contact me, and I’ll get you hooked up.

Both books are on Goodreads now, if you’re into that sort of thing. (I recommend it.) Never Bet the Devil is here, and Fungi is here. If you’ve read either, or both, please consider putting up a review on Goodreads or Amazon or your ‘blog, and feel free to direct my attention to it, because getting reviews is still a novel thing for me, and I’m ravenous for more!

There have been a few Amazon reviews showing up for Never Bet the Devil already, including a gem from Jesse Bullington, author of The Brothers Grossbart and The Enterprise of Death and the forthcoming The Folly of the World (which you can win right here by inventing a cocktail recipe). He calls me “the best kept secret in the cemetery” and compares my book favorably with “Telly Savalas’ moves,” which is about all I could ever ask for from a review.

Book-related stuff is more than enough to keep me hopping lately, especially combined with an unusually busy period at the day job, and various other writing obligations, both pleasant and less-so. If that all weren’t enough, though, along with holiday stuff and Alfred Hitchcock marathons, we’ve also been doing some pseudo-remodeling, trying to convert our living space into a space that’s better for living and working in. So far the results are encouraging, though there are still piles of books, well, kind of everywhere.

I’ll try to post some photos of my office, once it looks more like an office and less like a place where I piled all the things that might one day make up and office.

My friends Richard Gavin and Ian Rogers both tagged me simultaneously as part of their Next Big Thing posts (which you can learn more about by following those links). The gist of the idea is that you answer ten standard questions about your next/newest book, and then tag five other authors who do the same a week later. Like both of them, I’ll be talking mostly about a book that just came out, rather than one that is on its way…

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

My debut collection Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings was just released by Evileye Books. It’s a collection of ten of my supernatural stories, including my previously out-of-print novella The Mysterious Flame. The title comes from the shortest story I ever wrote, a 150-word flash piece that opens the collection that was done as an entry into a contest  that Jeff VanderMeer held as part of his work on the Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities. (It didn’t win.)

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

Short story collections are my very favorite types of books, and short stories are pretty much all I write, so putting together my first collection has always been the plan. The ideas for the individual stories that make up Never Bet the Devil came from all over the place; old horror movies, comic books, other supernatural tales, etc. The specific influences of each story are discussed in the author’s notes that are included in the book, because I love that kind of stuff.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

I always have a lot of trouble answering this question. In a bookstore, you’d find it on the “horror” shelf. “Supernatural horror” is what Richard Gavin said in his answer to this question, and I think that’s a true answer for mine as well. At other times I’ve used phrases like “weird fiction, “strange fiction,” and “dark fiction.” When people outside the field ask me what I write, I have taken to saying “ghost stories,” and while many of the stories I write don’t actually contain what are usually thought of as ghosts, it does seem to get the idea across pretty well.

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I love movies, and I love fan-casting, but since this is a collection of different stories, all with different characters, it’s hard to answer this question. That said, I would try my mightiest to work Jeffrey Combs in there somehow.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

I’m not good at this sort of thing, but here’s the (cheating!) two-sentence synopsis from the official ad sheet:

Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings is the first collection of supernatural tales from acclaimed author Orrin Grey. These ten stories haunted by ghosts, ghouls, and other anomalies are a unique tincture of the classic sensibilities of writers like M.R. James, Lovecraft, and Poe, mixed with contemporary comic book and cinematic influences to create an elixir that is equal parts wonder and unease.

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

Never Bet the Devil was published by Evileye Books.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

The stories in Never Bet the Devil were written variously over the course of the last ten years or so, though most of them were written in the last three or four years. The first draft of The Mysterious Flame, the novella that makes up a little over a third of the book and is the longest single thing I’ve ever written, took me about six months.

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

The comics of Mike Mignola, of course. (See the answer to question #9, below.) Lovecraft, Leiber, M.R. James, E.F. Benson, William Hope Hodgson, Jean Ray, etc. Comparing oneself to modern writers is always awkward, but since Ian Rogers and Richard Gavin both tagged me in this thing, I think it’s safe enough to say that I sometimes flatter myself that if you like their work, you might also like mine.

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

I’ve got a lot of inspirations, and I tend to like to talk about all of them at great length. But the biggest one is Mike Mignola. This book is dedicated to him, and he’s the person who had the single biggest impact on my approach to supernatural storytelling. He tells a story in a lot of his interviews about how, when he read Dracula for the first time, he suddenly knew what he wanted to do with his life. I had a similar moment, but for me it wasn’t Dracula, but Mignola’s own work on Hellboy that provided that jolt.

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

In addition to my stories and author’s notes and assorted rambling, the book is fully illustrated by the great Bernie Gonzalez, who also provided illustrations for the hardcover edition of Fungi, which I just co-edited with Silvia Moreno-Garcia for Innsmouth Free Press. (And which is presently available for pre-order for a couple more days!)

There you go. Sadly, I haven’t managed to tag five authors, since a couple of the people I tried to tag turned out to have already been gotten to by others first. So here’s a couple of authors, and my apologies for bodging: Molly Tanzer & John Hornor Jacobs.

Missing Halloween by a single day, my debut collection Never Bet the Devil and Other Warnings just showed up on Amazon yesterday! We were expecting it in the next few days, but it jumped the gun a bit.

Never Bet the Devil features ten of my stories, accumulated from the last four years or so of publishing, running from “The Reading Room” in Bound for Evil to “Count Brass,” which just came out in The Burning Maiden. Two of the stories (“Nearly Human” and “The Barghest”) are original to this collection. It also features my out-of-print novella The Mysterious Flame, which was previously only available as a chapbook through Dead Letter Press. Here’s the full table of contents:

  • “Never Bet the Devil”
  • “Count Brass”
  • “Black Hill”
  • “The Devil in the Box”
  • “Nature vs. Nurture”
  • “The Barghest”
  • “The Seventh Picture”
  • “The Reading Room”
  • “Nearly Human”
  • The Mysterious Flame

The book also features author’s notes and is fully illustrated by Bernie Gonzalez, who also did the illustrations for the hardcover edition of Fungi, and produced that sharp cover that you can see to your right. Currently the only available edition is the paperback, but there are Kindle and other ebook versions on the horizon. I am, as you can imagine, extremely excited about this, though it won’t feel 100% real until I’m actually holding a copy in my hands. You’ll be hearing much more about this in the coming months, but for now, my book is finally a real thing!

I’ve got two books coming out this year. One of them I wrote, the other I co-edited. I’d be hard pressed to tell you which one I’m more proud of.

The first is my debut short story collection Never Bet the Devil and Other Warnings, due out pretty much any day now from Evileye Books. What you see up above there is the full cover spread for the collection, and over the weekend I got the uncorrected proofs in PDF. As soon as I get through those and get any notes sent back to the publisher, it should be on its way to the printers. It features ten stories (including my out-of-print novella The Mysterious Flame) and every story has an illustration by the great Bernie Gonzalez, whose work you can also see there on the front cover. It’ll be available in paperback and ebook formats, and I’ll be posting more about it just as soon as it’s ready to order.

The second is Fungi, the anthology of fungus-themed stories that I co-edited with Silvia Moreno-Garcia for Innsmouth Free Press. I’ve talked about it at some length before, and you can learn more and see the full table of contents at its website. It’s going to be coming out in ebook, paperback, and hardcover (what you see above is the cover spread for the hardcover edition), and it’s available for pre-order at 20% off the cover price from now until November 16. I know that I’m a bit biased, but personally I’d recommend picking up the hardcover. It’s got three extra stories, and ten illustrations, these also by Bernie!

As you can imagine, October is a busy season around our household, and this year that’s been especially true. Last weekend, Grace and I got dolled up and went out to see a ballet interpretation of the Carmina Burana at the new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. It was the first professional ballet for either of us, and we were duly impressed. (The Kauffman Center was pretty nice, too.) Tonight, we’re heading to the Plaza to see The Oatmeal talk about his new book. And this coming Saturday we’re having some people over to watch Monster Squad, since the Alamo Drafthouse is being renovated for the month of October.

In spite of all that, I still managed to watch The Tall Man, Pascal Laugier’s follow-up to Martyrs. While it was pretty enjoyable, it wasn’t really as suitable for Halloween viewing as I had hoped. (For those of you thinking maybe it has something to do with Phantasm, sorry to disillusion you.) It’s really only a horror movie for about the first third, before it switches pretty sharply into something else entirely. It didn’t keep me as on my toes as Martyrs did, but I certainly wouldn’t have guessed where it was headed from the first reel, and that’s something.