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Anyone who knows me at all knows that one of my favorite movies of all time is John Carpenter’s 1982 classic The Thing. And I’m far from the only one. Someone I met years ago and have worked closely with ever since is probably an even bigger fan of The Thing than I am.

Steve Scearce has a copy of the hat MacReady wore in The Thing. He’s practically got the movie memorized, beat for beat. One of my great pleasures was taking him out to see it in 35mm when it was making the rounds a few years back. Our shared love of the Antarctic-set creature feature is one of the things we bonded over early on, and I’ve worked with him, as I mentioned, for years now on countless freelance projects.

One project that I did not work on is his podcast, Station 151. On that, he collaborated with his brother, Andy, and with Bear Weiter, another friend I’ve known and worked with for years. To suggest that Station 151 is anything but a labor of love, inspired heavily by Steve’s affection for The Thing, would be to engage in dishonesty. But at the same time, to imply that it was nothing more than a pastiche of that excellent film would also be to do the project a disservice.

At this time, I’ve only heard parts of the podcast’s first season, which is currently on Kickstarter until December 9. But I’ve been privy to some of the behind-the-scenes work that has gone into it, and I know that this is a project that everyone involved has poured their hearts and souls into. So, if you like weird, sci-fi tinged audio drama set in the frigid and unforgiving expanse of Antarctica (and really, who doesn’t) consider throwing a few coins into their hat to help keep the lights on at Station 151.

At least check out the Kickstarter, while you’re here. You won’t be sorry you did.

Over the month of October I bought a house. It wasn’t something that was on my to-do list, at least not for another year or so, and I definitely wasn’t planning on doing it during what is historically one of my busiest months. But we accidentally found a house and fell in love and now we live here, for the last five days or so.

Buying a house, selling our old house, and moving all within a few weeks has been hectic, to say the least. This has been complicated by the fact that the house we bought is more than a hundred years old, although the interior has been entirely refurbished, and it brings with it some… idiosyncrasies, we’ll say. Which have been expensive, exhausting, time-consuming, and stressful – none of which makes the house itself any less delightful, which it absolutely is.

There’s still so much to do, both fun and not-so-fun. There are boxes everywhere, of course, and endless amounts of work to be done. There are expenses and problems that can feel frankly overwhelming at times. And there’s the future to look toward – our lot is huge and it’s going to be a dream to decorate for Halloween next year! In some ways, I am happy that we didn’t get it in time to have Halloween here this year. It would have been too much but also so tempting.

The house itself is special to me. My dentist’s office is right down the street, and every time I have driven by I have admired the property, with its long stone wall out front. The idea that I live here now is a dream come true, and it’ll be worth an awful lot of hardship and sacrifice – which is good, because a lot is coming, and much is already here.

For the most part, though, this has been a happy, exhausting flurry. It’s what I’ve been alluding to for most of the past month, and it has impacted almost everything I’ve done (or not done) for some time, and will continue to do so for the future. Not much of that will likely affect you, dear reader, but it’s a momentous occasion for me and deserves to be properly recorded for posterity. Also, if you’re someone who already has my address, I have a new one now, so if I don’t think to update it, ask before you send me anything.

In some ways, this Halloween marks the end of an era. As I already mentioned, some things are going on that I can’t talk about just yet, but they’re leading to changes that won’t impact you, dear reader, too much, but will have a big impact on me. So, this Halloween has been unusual, in that I haven’t celebrated in some of the ways that I have in the past, even while other traditions have held firm.

It’s a stretch to say that it wouldn’t be Halloween without a new book with my name on it coming out, but that’s closer to true than not, over the last decade. This time around, as it happens, there is a new Orrin Grey book out. How to See Ghosts & Other Figments officially launches today. Electronic copies are available now, and print copies should be shipping directly. But that isn’t all. Elijah LaFollette of Magnetic Magic Rentals and I teamed up to bring you a special Halloween treat – a new story by yours truly, illustrated and designed by him.

“Familiar” is a very short, never-before-seen tale that should be suitable for the spooky season, laid out and presented immaculately by Eli only at Nightclub Zine. Hopefully that will help tide folks over until How to See Ghosts shows up on your doorstep in the middle of the night. Or at least give you something to read this evening between trick-or-treaters.

In spite of distractions, I’ve had a good and festive Halloween month. I watched something like 40 movies this month, if you count each installment of GDT’s Cabinet of Curiosities as a movie. Of those, the vast majority were first-time-watches for me, and many took place on or around Halloween. Some highlights include hosting Ghostwatch at the Stray Cat Film Center as part of the Horror Pod Class, They See You (2022), Werewolf by Night (2022), hosting House on Haunted Hill (1999), Nerdoween (of course), an Analog Sunday double-feature, and seeing Flying Phantom Ship for the first time thanks to the Blu-ray from Discotek. For those who aren’t familiar, Flying Phantom Ship is a 1969 anime that Hayao Miyazaki worked on, and it has to be seen to be believed.

As I type this, the afternoon of Halloween is wearing on toward evening, that lazy, golden time so well captured in John Carpenter’s classic film. I don’t have a lot planned to close out the day, but it’s been a good month. I hope you have a spooky Halloween night and lots of spooky days and nights to come…

How to See Ghosts & Other Figments by Orrin Grey conjures forth more monsters, ghouls and ghosts than any midnight horror show in memory, but with real emotional depths to back them up. It’s like peering through the eyeholes of a cheap Halloween monster mask to see the tangible and very human sadness lurking just beneath.”

That’s the blurb, very kindly provided by the great Trevor Henderson, that decorates the back cover of my latest collection, which is now available to pre-order direct from the publisher, just in time for Halloween. Those who have been following along for a while now will note that this is the time of year when my collections generally come out, for reasons that I hope are obvious.

Along with the pre-order link, the cover art by Nick Gucker was just revealed. Again, those who have been paying attention already know that Nick did the covers for my last two books from Word Horde. He always makes my books look amazing, and this is no exception. I’ve joked before that Nick’s covers sell more copies of my books than I do, but it isn’t actually a joke.

This time around, we took inspiration from my favorite cover of Jean Ray’s classic weird novel Malpertuis. Which is great, by the way, and was recently re-issued, with new annotations and afterword by Scott Nicolay, from Wakefield Press, part of their ongoing mission of releasing translations of Jean Ray’s weird tales, which are all instant must-buys for me.

As for my own book, How to See Ghosts & Other Figments is perhaps my most eclectic collection to date, with all he usual author’s notes and afterwords and a new introduction by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, who was one of the earliest editors to publish one of my stories.

The eighteen tales contained within span from some of my shortest to some of my longest, including the novelette “The Drunkard’s Dream.” They also include stories dating back to when I was in college, all the way up to stories that were first published earlier this year. Included among those are several pieces that border on juvenilia, repurposed and (I hope) revitalized in a way that makes them feel right at home alongside my more recent work.

The reasons I chose these stories are often ones that I get into in the author’s notes, but they all seemed to fit to me in ways that I hoped strengthened the entire book. There are themes that bind them all together, ones that I noticed (as is my usual wont) only as I was collecting the stories and writing the author’s notes, and I hope that the result is a whole as cohesive as any of my tighter previous collections. So far, the reactions seem to indicate that I managed it.

“When I think of the world of horror, I think of Grey’s world.”

That quote is from the first (as far as I know) official review of the book, which came from Shane Burley writing for Full Stop. The review also calls How to See Ghosts my “biggest step forward to date,” which is sort of what you’re always hoping each new book will be, while simultaneously dreading that you’ve maybe already plateaued. It is a really kind and extensive review, and I’m very glad to see folks already enjoying the book.

For those of you reading this but not yet enjoying the book, it should be in your hands very soon, assuming you’ve already pre-ordered. And if you haven’t, there’s still time! Pre-orders will get a signature sheet sticker that I recently signed while watching Halloween 5, but please don’t let that dissuade you. And if you prefer ebooks or the like, all those options will be available soon.

As I mentioned earlier, this October has been a bit hectic and unusual, for mostly good reasons, but of course a new book coming out is always big news, and it bears repeating. I don’t actually have copies of this one in my hands yet, either, but everything has been done on our end, and it should be shipping out forthwith. When copies arrive at my doorstep, be sure that you’ll be hearing more about it, and until then, stay spooky and, if you don’t hear from me before then (you probably will), happy Halloween!

Let’s start with the bad news: I won’t be at NecronomiCon Providence this year. Which is a bummer for any number of reasons, not least because I’ve been helping out (in very small ways) with the film programming, and I’m excited to see that come together. But alas, this year it just isn’t in the cards.

(Also, my contributions to the film programming are borderline nonexistent, so all the good bits are going to be Phil Gelatt’s fault. You can blame me whenever something goes wrong. I won’t be there anyway.)

There are a lot of you that I’m going to miss seeing, which makes me sad. But with any luck we will mostly survive until the next convention (though that seems more touch-and-go than we’d all like these days) and I’ll see you all again soon.

With that out of the way, here’s some better news: It has recently come to my attention that I have not been sufficiently vocal about the fact that I have a new collection coming from Word Horde later this year.

You can expect to hear a whole lot more about How to See Ghosts & Other Figments, my fourth collection of short, spooky stories and, somehow, my seventh full-length solo book in the weeks and months to come, including cover reveals, a table of contents, and other goodies. For now, though, I can let you know that it’s going to be my longest collection to date, with 18 stories from across my writing career.

Also, if you happen to be a reviewer and you’re interested in getting your hands on How to See Ghosts a little early, you can reach out to the folks at Word Horde by emailing publicity[at]wordhorde[.]com, and they’ll hook you up.

That’s about it for now but, if you haven’t already, head over and check out the Kickstarter for the latest thing I worked on at Privateer Press. It’s in its final days and it’s pretty cool, if I do say so myself. You can also read a little more about my involvement in it here.

All the way back in 2013 – nearly ten years ago now – I wrote my first story for Privateer Press. It was a novelette called “Under the Shadow,” a retelling of the Demeter portion of Dracula, centered on the Cryxian general Gerlak Slaughterborn.

By then, I had already been a fan of the setting for… many years, and getting to play in that sandbox was a dream come true. A dream that I got to relive many times in the years that followed, writing additional short stories, novellas, and even a novel set in the Iron Kingdoms world, not to mention contributing plenty of content to the previous iteration of the Iron Kingdoms tabletop roleplaying game.

Then, back in November of 2020, I was asked to work on something new. Iron Kingdoms: Requiem would be the newest attempt to bring my favorite fantasy setting to the TTRPG sphere, this time powered by the popular 5th edition of the world’s oldest roleplaying game.

For that first installment, I wrote more than 50,000 words of mostly setting text, detailing the world and the ways in which it had changed since the last time such a book had been put out. I got a surprising amount of control over some of those changes, and the relationship I had with the material went from adapting it to, in many cases, inventing many aspects whole cloth.

About a year later, and the first expansion for Requiem hit Kickstarter, in the form of Borderlands & Beyond. This time I had written just as much, maybe more, but I also got even more freedom to add to the setting that I loved so much. Perhaps most notably, given that this is me, I got to design a bunch of weird fucking monsters from scratch. If you got the book, see if you can guess which ones I did.

We haven’t been sitting idle in the months since, either. Almost as soon as we had finished Borderlands & Beyond, the same team that had been working on Requiem all this time had already started work on the next installment, which just hit Kickstarter today.

In many ways, this is the most exciting one that I’ve worked on so far. For those who don’t know the Iron Kingdoms setting very well, it has primarily existed in the form of the tabletop wargames Warmachine and Hordes. And one of the four core factions of the former, since the game first launched back in 2003, has been the Nightmare Empire of Cryx.

Ruled by a dragon, Cryx is primarily occupied by the undead, which their necrotechs experiment on to create cyborg undead war machines. Despite its prominent position in the narrative of the game, however, there has never been a sourcebook released to bring Cryx to the table in roleplaying game form. Not in all the years that Privateer Press has been releasing books and games set in the Iron Kingdoms.

Certainly, Cryxians were available as antagonists in previous editions of the game, but there were precious few resources available to play as them, or to explore, in detail, their haunted and haunting empire. With the new Nightmare Empire expansion for Requiem, though, all that changes.

With each new iteration, I have gotten to leave more and more of my stamp on the Requiem roleplaying game and the world of the Iron Kingdoms – along with a talented and dedicated team of writers, artists, designers, and more, all headed up by Matt Goetz, who is as much the captain of this vessel as anyone.

This time around, I got to introduce new places and organizations, flesh out things that had been throwaway mentions in the past, and, most exciting for me, work on developing some of the new subclasses that are presented in the book. I’m very proud of my work there, and I can’t wait for fans of the setting to see it – not to mention newcomers to the world of the Iron Kingdoms, who I hope grow to love it just as much as I always have.

Twenty years ago, I did something that remains the best thing I have ever done: I married the love of my life, my spouse and partner, Grace. We celebrated our anniversary over the last few days, during which time we stayed in an adorable cabin next to a mountain stream, where we were greeted by a rare sight of a heron eating a fish (a good omen, as it turned out). It was a wonderful trip.

The time away from the online world was good for me, but it also means I was away from the computer when a lot of things happened, so let’s tackle a few of those. My new column on folk horror launched at Signal Horizon. I’ll be discussing the subject every month, through the lens (at least for the first year or so) of the All the Haunts Be Ours Blu-ray set from Severin Films.

For this first installment (and the next one; the doc is long) we’ll be going over Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched, the extensive folk horror documentary from Kier-La Janisse that opens the Blu-ray set.

Speaking of columns, my others are still moving along, and the latest installment of my board game column dropped at Unwinnable, where I’m writing about Tiny Epic Dungeons this month, a recent Kickstarter acquisition. Meanwhile, in proper “me writing for Unwinnable” fashion, I also recently covered some… very disparate films over there, writing reviews of a pair of kung fu pictures and a “classic” erotic thriller from the late ’90s.

I’ve also been movies editor for Exploits, an Unwinnable publication, for a couple of months now, and my latest acquisition was actually the cover story this month, as David Busboom wrote an unmissable review of one of my favorite weirdo flicks, The Monster Club.

Finally, this one hasn’t happened quite yet, but later this month, Tyler Unsell and I will be hosting a live screening of The Mask (1961) at the Stray Cat Film Center, followed by a live episode of the Horror Pod Class. Will it be sssssssssmokin’? No, it will not. But it WILL be in 3D, complete with special stereoscopic 3D glasses at the door and giveaways, trivia, and vaguely academic discussion to follow.

If that sounds like a lot, think how I feel? I’m gradually getting back into the swing of things this week and there’s a lot more to come but, for now, why not have a drink at The Monster Club. I’m sure a member of the wait staff will be with you shortly…

I said last time that you might not hear from me until it was 2022 and, well, we’re pretty close. But I just needed to pop in and say a few things about what’s been going on around here since my last post, perhaps most notably to point out the culmination of that last surprise I mentioned back then.

My latest story went live at Pseudopod on Christmas Eve. Unlike most of the others that I’ve had performed there over the years, this one is an original that has never before been published anyplace else. It’s the result of my attempt to write something like a traditional “ghost story for Christmas,” one that takes place – or, at least, culminates – on Christmas Eve.

Except that this is me, and so it isn’t really a ghost story, in the proper sense, and is more of a monster story, about a weird bug that just keeps getting bigger and bigger. As always, Pseudopod has done a dynamite job of producing the audio, and Alasdair, as always, manages to tease out the themes of the story so elegantly in his intro and outro that I don’t really have anything to add. So, if you missed it, check out “The Humbug” at Pseudopod now.

If you don’t do audio fiction, no worries. You can also read it on their site and it’ll be in my next collection, which is due out from Word Horde in 2022. Aside from that, I haven’t gotten up to much since I last posted here, save for holiday stuff and the usual work. However, as the candle of 2021 gutters and burns its last, the days of Best of the Year lists have begun.

Due to the weirdness of the Plague Times, I once again won’t have the usual installments at various places, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t hear about some of my favorite things of the past year at Signal Horizon and Unwinnable. In fact, one has already appeared, as I wrote about Jonathan Raab’s The Secret Goatman Spookshow, which was my favorite read of 2021, among a bunch of other contributors over at Unwinnable.

To see the rest (including my favorite new movie that I saw in 2021 – I’ll give you three guesses), just keep an eye on my social media and until then, I’ll see you in the future!

The last few days of October found me – perhaps unsurprisingly – very busy, but I had a good month and, ultimately, a good birthday and Halloween, despite some setbacks, and the fact that we are now in the Second Year of the Plague. Even though I was frankly incredibly busy, I managed to watch a lot of movies during the month of October, with an average of just slightly more than half of them being first-time watches for me. Highlights from those include Antlers, Last Night in Soho, The Boneyard, Sweet Home, Fatal Frame, Possession, Seance, and the various Fear Street flicks.

Just in time for Halloween, my story “Screen Haunt” went live at Pseudopod. I’m proud of this one, which was originally published in It Came from the Multiplex by Hex Publishers. And, as always, the folks at Pseudopod did a bang-up job producing the story, with Alisdair Stuart pulling together themes maybe more eloquently than I ever could have in his outro, and Lalana Dara doing a perfect job on the narration.

Over the preceding month, we had a successful Kickstarter for the latest installment of the Iron Kingdoms RPG, for which I wrote… a considerable amount. And we also had a rousing subscription drive for Unwinnable (technically still going through the end of the day), where we unlocked not only a “monsters” themed issue (which I am, to no one’s surprise, thrilled about) but also a Doom issue and more. In fact, we’re only a tiny handful of subscribers shy of the final goal, so if you’ve been on the fence before now, go toss in a few bucks. It’s more than worth it.

On my birthday, in what I can only assume was a gift meant directly for me, my publisher opened an honest-to-Godzilla brick-and-mortar store selling all the best stuff in the world, including big piles of my books. Sadly, it’s all the way out in Petaluma, California, so I haven’t been there yet, but I am sure I will go someday.

For Halloween itself, I had a relatively quiet night with my adopted family, handing out candy, scaring trick-or-treaters, watching House on Haunted Hill, and playing Campy Creatures. On the drive home, I listened to ghost stories read by the mellifluous voice of Vincent Price himself. It was a good night.

Among those who share my predilections, the day after Halloween can be a somewhat dismal prospect. It is, after all, the longest possible time of the year before more Halloween. And yet, we would all do well to remember that Halloween is not the end of the spooky season; it’s the beginning.

We stand now at the gateway of a season in which the days are short, the nights are long, and spirits or branches or spirits that we tell ourselves are branches scratch at the windows. From now until the spring thaw, we are deep in ghost story weather. And we shall all remember Halloween, and keep it in our hearts all year long.

Around a year ago now, give or take, I was working on a project for Privateer Press that, at the time, I couldn’t talk about. A few months later, it was revealed to be the new Iron Kingdoms: Requiem roleplaying game, compatible with 5e, which launched on Kickstarter in January of this year and blew away its funding goals.

Since then, I’ve been working on something else. A follow-up product that takes players beyond the walls of the Iron Kingdoms themselves and into the wilderness that surrounds them. For those who played the previous IK RPG, this can be seen as a companion to the Unleashed volume released for that game – I wrote an adventure for that, too, BTW, which was printed in the Wild Adventures supplement.

This isn’t just about the wilderness, though. It also explores – in depths that have never really been delved into before – the dwarven kingdom of Rhul and the elven nation of Ios, a nation which has undergone a stark transformation, making it just as alien and unfamiliar to long-term players of the game as it will be to those who are new to the setting.

Called Borderlands & Beyond, this new expansion also just hit Kickstarter today, and was funded within just a couple of hours. We’re already well into the realm of stretch goals now, and the campaign is less than a day old. Which is good, because one of the stretch goals is a new adventure written by yours truly, set to take place in the eerie wilderness of the Glimmerwood.

As with Iron Kingdoms: Requiem, I worked with an incredible team to help bring this book to life, all organized by Matt Goetz, who was the captain of our little ship. I can’t say what parts I did and what parts were the work of other hands, but I can say that, to an extent that has never been true on any previous tabletop gaming product I’ve worked on, we really did collaborate as a team throughout the project, with each person’s contributions informing the others in unique and dynamic ways.

In all, I contributed even more words to this project than I did to Requiem, and got to build more stuff from the ground up than ever before. And I’m already looking forward to the next project, which the success of this one will all-but ensure.

And I can say one other thing, I think, that will likely come as a surprise to no one. If you check out the Kickstarter for Borderlands & Beyond, you’ll note that they mention “a horde of never-before-seen monsters to test every last ounce of your players’ resolve.” The other thing I think I can say is that more than a few of those never-before-seen monsters are ones I helped cook up. And I hope you’re going to love them.