Monday Night Monsters – Movie Inspirations, Part I

Hey folks.  I thought I’d write about a few horror movies I have found inspirational or influential in my own writing.  I’m guessing those of you who’ve read my books probably won’t find this list much of a surprise, but this should be fun all the same. Note: I believe these are all spoiler-free, but in examining these at some length, there may be inadvertent clues at least as to themes.  My apologies if I gave something away unintentionally.

1) In the Mouth of Madness – this movie was discussed last week, so I won’t go too much into it again, except to say that as it is, IMO, a brilliant homage to the godfather of monster fiction, it is in itself as much an influence as its own source material.  What I admire about this movie (besides Lovecraftian tentacled otherworldly monsters, of course) is the surreal approach to bending, blending, and transposing the boundaries that define fantasy and reality, sanity and insanity.  It, like Lovecraft’s best work, focuses more on the effects of the horror, the mental deterioration and loss of security and control that knowledge brings, than on the cause of the horror.

2) Session 9 – This movie, directed by Brad Anderson, is another absolutely brilliant study of the line between sanity and insanity, between what you know — what you’re sure you know about you and your friends and family — and what you think you’re sure about.  A lot of Anderson’s work in this genre (The Machinist, Sounds Like) approach the same kind of theme but in unique and unexpected ways.  Like those two aforementioned movies, the protagonists are incredibly sympathetic in spite of their (sometimes sizable) flaws, and it’s their supreme will of compensating for those flaws with their fundamental good-heartedness that draws you in and makes you a part of their reality (and unreality) as the story progresses.  Unlike those two aforementioned movies, Session 9 also tackles the supernatural in the subtlest of ways, and fully explores the heart of the reason ghosts, spirits, and other entities still frighten us: we are all haunted (excuse the pun) by things in our past, our present, even our future — things that pass peripherally like shadows in the rooms of our minds.  Ghosts are the representation of hurts and fears we can’t let go — or that can’t let go of us.  This movie explores the complexity of our minds with an effectiveness rarely seen in most movies.

3) A Nightmare on Elm Street – Swinging to perhaps the other end of the horror movie spectrum to the king of slasher movies, this essential boogeyman movie had a profound effect on me from childhood that never quite dissipated.  The concept of the boogeyman is perhaps one of the oldest of…folklore or myth, I guess you could say and most difficult to rationalize away.  Like Stephen King’s It, another near-perfect story of a boogeyman monster, this movie touches a nerve in the most primal of our fear centers.  Nearly all cultures for centuries have had a concept of an entity of malicious intent and supreme cunning.  This entity withstands time and circumstance, and, regardless of its being bound to certain rituals, still manages to exist in the hearts of people as an apex predator to our most precious thing in the world — our children.  What Craven’s film does differently than many ghost-story framework boogeyman stories is to marry the idea with another that was gaining notoriety at the time and causing increasing alarm to parents everywhere — the seeming increase in appearance of another, more substantial, and most terrifying monster, that of a child-predator.  Incidents of child abduction/molestation/murder were somehow more prominent in the news, or seemed to be happening more often than ever in the past.  Freddy Kreuger, child molester and murderer, himself burned to death by angry parents concerned for the surviving children of their neighborhood, is the embodiment of everything parents and children are terrified of. That he finds and kills people in dreams — well, to me, as a parent, sleeping children look like angels, like innocence, and their being asleep is one of the only times parents can usually be sure they’re home and safe and okay.  Except in this movie….

4) The Thing – Ohhhh, yes.  This movie centers on an idea I have always found terrifying, ever since I was little – the idea that the people you trust are not who you think they are.  That this is a monster movie, and a kick-ass, shapeshifting alien monster at that, is just bonus squee.  What makes this movie terrifying is the characters’ paranoia that evolves from discovery of what the thing can do, what it is doing among them.  There are a number of stressors in their environment to begin with: miles of snow and icewhere one can get lost and/or freeze to death in minutes, isolation for months on end from the rest of the world, lack of variation and to some degree, sunlight, and dangerous land work.  If you add slightly unstable personalities, people who are tired and perhaps eager for a break from their work, you get a team of unique personalities on edge.  Now, if you tell them that at least one of them, or maybe more, is a murdering, absorbing non-human looking to pass through their number and leave nothing of earth life uninfected, and you give these men guns…well, you’ve got a tense, dark, moody movie about survival. Where does the line fall between trust and paranoia when human interaction and connection in that environment is as crucial to staying sane as warmth is to staying alive?

That’s it for Part I of movies that have influenced my writing — stay tuned next week for Part II, in which we discuss four more movies!  And as always, thanks for reading, and please, feel free to share your thoughts on these movies or any others you find inspiring or influential.

 

Posted in Movies | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Monday Night Monsters – Lovecraftian Horror

Results of yesterday’s poll so far:

Favorite Lovecraftian Horror Movie?
In the Mouth of Madness (1994)     50%
Re-Animator (1985)     33.33%
From Beyond (1986)     16.67%
Dagon (2001)     0%
Dreams in the Witch House (Masters of Horror) (2005)     0%

Well, my first Monday Night Monster post is going up later than usual, but here it is.  I figured I’d start it off with some thoughts on Lovecraftian horror movies.  The poll only covers five — a very small representation of Lovecraft’s influence on monsters in horror cinema — but here’s my reasoning.

To me, a movie like Cloverfield, the monster of which is arguably influenced by the Cthulhu Mythos, is more of a Kaiju movie in the tradition of Godzilla, you know?  The Lovecraftian movies I was thinking of are ones where the monster, generally stronger/larger/more tentacled than us as humans, indicates the presence of some otherworldly, other-dimensional realm of power, literally and figuratively, that the characters of the movie previously could hardly even have imagined.  The essence of Lovecraft’s theme, I mean, is captured in movies where the horror, once known, can never be unknown, and once unleashed (if fully unleashed), can never really be stopped.

I’ll attempt not to give any spoilers, but here’s how I think the movies in the poll fit into this thematic framework.

 Dreams in the Witch House is pretty much a direct (though modernized) adaptation of Lovecraft’s  story of the same name.  It’s one of those movies, I think, that pits your basic innocent intellectual against the kind of forbidden knowledge (introduced in small spurts through dreams) that is ultimately consumptive.  Now, while DitWH has never really been one of my favorite Lovecraft stories, I can appreciate the film’s ability to look at the inexorable and horrific inter-dimensional power of Nyarlahotep’s minion, the witch, without having things get so esoteric that those unfamiliar with the source story would be lost.

Huh…it didn’t occur to me then, but two more Stuart Gordon films, Re-Animator and From Beyond, also appear on the poll, and both work pretty directly from the source material. (Incidentally, Jeffrey Combs is, I feel, to Lovecraft movies what Vincent Price was to Edgar Allan Poe’s movie adaptations.)  From Beyond most definitely keys into the theme of otherworldly horror — in fact, the basic premise is the discovery of a world of other entities and powers overlapping our own.  Re-Animator, on the other hand… well, it does explore the idea of the first and foremost other world significant to mankind — the realm of death.  And I guess in that light, you could say once Dr. Herbert West discovers the secret of re-animation, he is consumed by exploring and perfecting it, in spite of the obvious…uh, drawbacks.

Dagon is a little bit “Shadow Over Innsmouth” and a little bit “Dagon,” with lots of monstery goodness bridging the gaps between the two.  Ezra Godden (of Dreams in the Witch House!) does a good job as Paul Marsh, a reluctant hero stranded in Imbocca (Innsmouth in Spanish) who is forced to dig deeper into the secrets kept by the residents in order to rescue his girlfriend.  I like that this movie is willing to acknowledge the underlying sexual perversion that contributes to this particular story’s horror.  It also looks at the nature of humanity — what you lose and what you retain as you make the change between being human and being something else.

Do you read Sutter Cane?

A brilliant take, in my humble opinion, on modern Lovecraftian horror is one of my personal favorite movies of all time, In the Mouth of Madness.  God, I love this movie, as a writer, reader, and a horror fan.  Some of Sutter Cane’s passages are out of the mouth of the monster master himself, as are certain elements, like the Byzantine church, a “seat of evil older than mankind and wider than the known universe.”  In true Lovecraftian fashion, it explores both sides of the boundaries between fact and fiction, reality and fantasy, and sanity and insanity, showing how frighteningly easy it is to slip from one side to the other.  There are some truly memorable and chilling scenes, as well as a final reveal of tentacled ancient monstrosities in all their glory.  So much of this movie’s strength is in its visuals, from colors to camera angles, from mounting tension and building threat in subtle background changes to jarring and overt monstrous metamorphoses.

If you haven’t seen these, particularly the last two, I definitely recommend them.  Thanks for giving this inaugural post of Monday Night Monsters a read — I look forward to hearing your thoughts on these movies, and any other Lovecraftian horror movies you want to recommend.

Until next Monday….

Posted in Movies | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Monday Night Monsters – Movies, Mayhem, and More

So, folks have expressed some interest in a regular weekly feature on horror movies and video games here.  So starting tomorrow, I’ll be kicking off Monday Night Monsters – Movies, Mayhem, and More.  I think it’ll be fun to try out.

To get the horror movie blood flowing, so to speak, here’s a poll to start off.  Tomorrow night’s discussion: Favorite Lovecraftian Horror Movies – what and why.  Looking forward to hearing from you!

 

Posted in Life | 2 Comments

Women in Horror

Well, it’s February — Women in Horror month — and I thought I’d lay down some thoughts about being a woman horror writer .  Now, I am only speaking of my own personal thoughts and experiences, and do not presume to speak for all women writers.  However, I think my experiences are fairly common and I hope this post sheds some light on what I believe women writers ultimately want to accomplish in this field.

I’ve been in this business now for almost fifteen years.  People often ask if I’ve ever been a victim of or seen in action the “boys’ club” mentality.  Well, I can recall hearing terrible stories of misogyny and harassment suffered by women writers in generations who came before me, stories of unacceptably poor treatment in the business from the 70’s on.  I myself have been propositioned for publishing, I have been hit on during business meetings, and I’ve had people accuse me of only getting published because of having traded sex or sex acts with the editor.  I have been put on countless sex and horror panels under some unspoken assumption that because I’m a woman and I write horror, I must be knowledgeable about erotic horror or paranormal romance.  I have heard people say I am not capable of writing anything truly meaningful or scary because I’m a woman.  I’ve heard of a number of women passed over for anthology invites because women’s work isn’t as widely recognized or not as “sellable,” leading to TOCs that are all or mostly male.  And I would venture that a number of women, both new and established, writing in the spec fic genres today, have suffered many similar indignities.   

However, much more often I have been delighted to discover so many supportive fellow writers, editors, publishers, and agents, both male and female, who don’t see the sex of the writer as having anything to do with the writer’s talent or business acumen.  They find sexist and misogynistic behavior intolerable and will speak out against it.  They judge horror literature and other horror media for the quality of the work and not the sex, gender, color, race, or orientation of the creator.  And in my observation, this trend of equality thinking is, at least in the horror publishing field, picking up momentum (I can’t speak to film/comics/video games, as I am not a regular creator in any of those fields.). 

I enjoy being a woman.  I enjoy being a “girly” type of woman, wearing makeup and heels and pretty dresses and lacy underthings.  I like to look pretty for my partner.  And I enjoy it when others tell me I’m attractive.  I don’t find this offensive in the least, so long as we’re not doing business.  I think it’s flattering when people think I’m good-looking; it makes me feel good, as I think it makes most people of either sex feel good to hear nice things.   To me, it’s not sexist to compliment someone, so long as you are respecting their personal and professional boundaries.  I also like when people compliment the quality of my writing.  I love when people enjoy my books.  I love hearing that one of my stories made someone want to turn a light on before bed.  But these things are, to me, separate aspects of my being.  I don’t use my sexuality to try and get published, so I don’t see any reason why I would have to play up OR play down my sexuality in my life; sexiness and talent are not mutually exclusive, nor are assertiveness and professionalism.  I don’t, after all, type with my sex organs, nor create stories there.  My work comes from my heart and my mind, attributes I’d be glad to possess, regardless of my body.  To assume that one compromises the other is unfair to the woman (or man) in question.

Now, I would probably agree that generally speaking, women tend to factor emotional components into decision-making more often than men.  We have women’s intuition, a kind of gut instinct part intellectual, part emotional and hell, sometimes part psychic, that we have come to feel confident relying on.  I think our thought processes have more difficulty divorcing obvious emotional factors and their impact from the overall picture.  If anything, I think that makes us particularly suited to write in a genre whose existence is based on that which has been defined as one of the oldest and strongest emotions of mankind.  Also, women do have potentially different life experiences than men, and different training in processing and responding to them.  Women may sometimes have a unique perspective on fear, given centuries of hyperawareness of and particular adaptations to true bodily terror. 

As a horror writer who also happens to be a woman, I don’t think the presence of rape, say, in a story makes it misogynistic.  I’ve used rape or allusions to rape in my work before, because it is a horrific and terrifying act and the story called for that particular reference.  I like to believe I handled those occasions with dignity and decency.  I believe that just because one is a woman shouldn’t automatically make using rape okay; that one tries to handle the subject matter with sensitivity to those who may have experienced it and acknowledgment that it is a brutal act and not a fetish to be giggled over in a prurient and puerile fashion is what should make the difference.  That should hold true whether the writer be a man or a woman.  If we write horror, it is usually inevitable that a bad thing will happen to a good person.  That’s not just horror, and it’s not misogyny; that’s life. However, our intent, our focus in creating, makes all the difference.  We strive to write stories with emotional impact, stories to terrify, horrify, or sometimes even to repulse.  If we treat horrors against women (or children or minority groups or men, for that matter) with the respect and understanding we should give any aspect of our work, it makes for a better story anyway, and one that is justly written.  To just put horrific acts like rape off limits as if they don’t exist is to deny a work its possible profoundness of impact.  I also feel it denies the acknowledgment of the strength and resilience of victims and the stance of intolerance of the horrific acts being performed.  I have always believed that acknowledgment of these two things — human strength and dignity as well as the exemplified abhorrence of hateful violence — are important in quality and lasting horror fiction.

As writers, we create characters we hope will ring true with readers; this means we have a whole host of personalities to choose from when writing men or women, and as long as each character is believably realistic and suitable for the tale to be told, I think we can transcend the use of stereotypes of either sex/gender without sacrificing what those types of characters might bring to a story.  

I think sometimes considering the full spectrum of human beings and their capacity for both good and evil, weakness and strength, is something women, who are often full-spectrum thinkers themselves, bring to horror fiction. 

However, I am not saying women are better (or worse) equipped to write horror.  It may be different, but women’s horror work can be equally as powerful, profound, skillful, and terrifying as men’s.  And that’s what we want.  Equality thinking from colleagues and readers alike.  That we have a month in order to raise awareness of our presence, educate others, and validate our abilities to those who may not understand or believe in them — that’s great.  We appreciate the support.  But it would be nice if every month accomplished these same goals, and the fact that we are women didn’t have to come before the fact that we are writers.

Which brings me to my thoughts on feminism, and what, as a writer, I look to achieve in my field.  True feminists, in my opinion, aren’t looking to beat down opposing ideas with vicious hate or manically rabid force.  They aren’t looking to tear down others based on every little individual quirk or idiosyncracy that could be construed (or misconstrued) as sexist.  They aren’t looking for special privilege.  Rather, with firm assertion of grace, class, and talent, they strive to produce and keep producing quality work that cannot help but be considered the equal of their male counterparts.  They look to build an atmosphere of mutual respect.  They assertively and respectfully point out unjust, threatening, and unacceptable behavior, to make others aware of insensitivities to another’s situation or condition.  They look to set the example of the climates we’d all like to live and work in, and to be the kind of person they want others to recognize with respect and maybe even admiration.  

I appreciate the support I have received over the years both personally and professionally, and I hope that my experiences may inform my fiction in such a way that it is emotionally and intellectually meaningful, scary, and moving.

I am a woman, and I am a horror writer.  Thank you to all of you who recognize I can be both successfully, without having to be one or the other.

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Guest Blog Post — THE LES DANIELS BLOG TOUR: Witches, Victims and Gods: The Women of The Don Sebastian Chronicles

I am pleased to be able to feature a guest post by the witty and knowledgeable Matt Bechtel of Necon E-Books on A Writer’s Life. Today, he brings us a post about the varied roles of women in author Les Daniels’ seminal work.

I apologize in advance if anyone finds this article sexist; heck, I even apologize if anyone considers it sexist of me to have purposefully chosen Mary SanGiovanni, one of horror’s foremost female authors, as its host. If so, I sincerely hope your sensitivities don’t prevent you from reading the rest of this piece.

I’ve never been one to ignore any proverbial “elephants in the room,” so today’s offering on our Blog Tour looks to tackle a massive (and often justified) criticism against the horror genre — its use and depiction of women. It’s a sad fact, but a fact nonetheless that all genres of literature are predominantly male-centric; that’s simply a reflection upon centuries of a male-dominant culture. However, even when compared to other literature the horror genre frequently gets slapped with labels like “sexist” and “misogynist” because, quite frankly, we sometimes deserve it. By definition, horror writers do horrible things to their characters; combine that with the aforementioned male-dominant societal influence, and you’ve got an easy recipe for atrocities against female characters.

So, how did Les Daniels, one of the most revered authors in the horror genre, handle the female characters throughout his seminal series The Don Sebastian Chronicles? In my humble opinion, as any professional author should — in every way possible. Those expecting this article to launch into a glowing appreciation of Les Daniels as a “feminist” writer who was a decade ahead of the “politically correct” and “women’s empowerment” curves are about to be sorely disappointed; however, those who recognize that a writer’s characters are the tools he uses to construct his story will hopefully gain an even greater appreciation for these works, because when it came to his female characters, Les Daniels used every tool in the box. And while I wish I had the space to examine more, three of Les’ female characters truly leap out to me and illustrate his varied approach throughout The Chronicles.

If a novel’s plot can be considered like a chemical reaction, then Margarita de Mendoza is the enzyme that sparks the action of Book One: The Black Castle. Accused of witchcraft, Margarita opens the book in the practically-clichéd role of damsel in distress, sentenced to burning at the stake by The Inquisition. Then Don Sebastian, drawn to Margarita for a number of reasons, saves her from her fiery execution. Their subsequent sex scene is, both literally and figuratively, Margarita’s transformation; it is erotic, dark, graphic and violent, and she reaches climax precisely when Don Sebastian’s teeth sink into her shoulder. Needless to say, Margarita de Mendoza is a victim no more, as Les Daniels seamlessly folded expectations upon themselves to turn a seemingly-clichéd, shallow plot device into one of the principal characters (and monsters) of his novel.

As I discussed in my last article on Nicholas Kaufmann’s blog (here), Book Three: Citizen Vampire is set during the French Revolution and features Robespierre, Dr. Guillotin (the inventor of his ghastly eponymous device) and the Marquis de Sade. Yet amongst such a cast, one of the novel’s most evil, terrifying, and ruthless villains is the Countess de Corville; in fact, it is the meddling, manipulative Countess who resurrects Don Sebastian to set the story in motion. Take the following excerpt, upon their first meeting —

“I am a monster,” he shouted into her face, “not one of your playthings.” He ran his icy fingers over her face, and caressed her naked shoulders menacingly, yet she sensed something in his touch that was less a threat than a promise. She put her hands over his and held them to her.

“Monsters can be tamed,” she whispered, “or so the stories say. Sometimes they are even transformed into wonderful lovers. A man should be part monster, or he is hardly worth having. Stay with me, Sebastian.” Her pulse was racing, and she felt her flesh grow hot under his hands. “You are what I wanted, and you need me to survive.”

I still find that exchange chilling. Telling Don Sebastian “monsters can be tamed?” Moreover, that any man who is not part monster is not worth “having?” It is not just the Countess’ attitude, but her certitude, that makes her such a memorable character.

In my humble opinion, Les Daniels saved his very best female character for last. Book Five: No Blood Spilled brings Don Sebastian to India and into league with the Thuggees who revolt against the Imperial British. Why? Because the Thuggees worship Kali, the Hindu Goddess of Death, with whom Don Sebastian’s true motives lie. Although she only appears in a single chapter, the meeting between the Goddess and the vampire is so impactful that I feel it literally informs and shapes the narrative of the entire series; looking back across the novels, one could argue that everything Don Sebastian does over the centuries has been leading him to this encounter in a shrine outside Calcutta. And most striking to me, after reading almost five full novels of the powerful Don Sebastian de Villanueva, is his immediate change in countenance when confronted by the Goddess of Death.

There are other female characters throughout The Don Sebastian Chronicles, of course — Teresa and Dolores in The Black Castle, Madeleine in Citizen Vampire, Felicia in Yellow Fog, just to name a few — and they all illustrate how individually Les Daniels treated his characters regardless of their gender. Some were strong, some were weak, some were essential, while others were used for comic relief. But all were used exactly as Les needed to use them, whether that was to initiate the plot, twist it, or even bring his iconic vampire to his knees. Just as any good builder will use every tool at his disposal.

Just a friendly reminder — The Complete Don Sebastian Chronicles are now available as e-books at http://neconebooks.com, so please order your copies today!

Posted in Guest Post, Writing | 3 Comments

Subversive Sexism and the Return of Hail Saten

It is posts like this one from Brian Keene, in his relaunch of the wildly popular Hail Saten blog series, that made me fall in love with him to begin with.  Brian has always been a champion against bullying, sexism, racism, homophobia, and other degradations, and I thank him for acknowledging my place in the horror industry as something worthwhile.

Posted in Life | Leave a comment

Lookee What I Found….

An old HWA newsletter post reporting on what the Stokers were like back in 2004. Ahhh, the good old days….

A View of the Stoker Awards, 2004
By Mary SanGiovanni

Fine food, wine, gowns, tuxes, and a little village’s worth of haunted houses – that’s right, folks. I’m talking about the HWA’s 17th Annual Conference and Bram Stoker Awards Banquet. Attendees were treated to these and more on Saturday, June 5th at the Park Central Hotel in New York City.

The programming for the conference itself began on Friday, June 4th, at 4pm with registration. The panels took practical approaches this year, and attendees were made privy to useful information about the way the publishing industry works, and how writers can function inside of it. After settling in from registration, Douglas E. Winter gave a talk to writers on some pretty important topics – contracts, trademark and copyright, licensing, agents and publishers, and writers’ rights. This was followed by a Q&A session hosted by Stanley Wiater and featured guests Tom Piccirilli, Jack Ketchum, Ellen Datlow, Tom Monteleone, Karen Taylor, Gary Braunbeck, and Lifetime Achievement Award winner Martin Greenberg. Capping the evening off was the Buddy Mixer, a perfect chance for new writers to meet others established in the industry.

Saturday featured a slew of readings by Mark McLaughlin, Scott Edelman, Steve Burt, Michael Arnzen, Karen Taylor, Tom Piccirilli, Thomas Monteleone, Gary Braunbeck, James Moore, Stefan Petrucha, and Jack Ketchum. Meanwhile, attendees put their bids in at the silent auction for Charles L. Grant, and another room featured movie screenings. Tom and Elizabeth Monteleone discussed what it takes to get into the Borderlands Anthology series at the first panel of the day. They were followed by Tim Waggoner, who lectured on teaching creative writing.

At noon, the HWA held their business meeting, where the board gave their annual reports. The board brought up several topics for discussion such as Stoker categories to keep and drop, rolling eligibility for Stoker recommendations, instituting an Affiliate publishing credit requirement of at least $.01/word for a total of 2500 words, and revision of the organization’s focus for the future.

After lunch, the attendees flocked to the Borders Books at Columbus Circle for a mass signing, which yielded quite a number of sales for those involved. Following the signing was an editor Q&A moderated by Matt Schwartz. Those who came to this panel heard first hand how the publishing world works on the editor end from such large and small press editors as Melissa Ann Singer from Tor, Sharyn November of Viking, Richard SanFilippo from Bantam, Sean Wallace of Prime/Wildside Press, Paul Miller of Earthling Publications, and Don D’Auria of Leisure Books.

During the ensuing hour break, everyone donned their gowns, suits, and tuxes for the banquet. When they returned for the cocktail hour, the tables were adorned with beautiful New Orleans-style decorations (beads, leis, dolls, masks, and other assorted goodies). The buffet-style dinner offered a nice variety of tasty foods, while the bar supplied beer, wine, and mixed drinks. As the coffee was being poured, president Joe Nasisse and vice president Tim Lebbon emceed the awards ceremony, while Linda Addison facilitated the presentation of the awards. Toastmaster Don D’Auria gave a moving speech about why we write and what the Stokers celebrate. The winners were announced, and the Stoker houses went home one by one with their respective new owners. While Lifetime Achievement award winner Anne Rice, whose significant contributions to the horror genre span 30 years, could not make the banquet, her co-recipient, editor Martin Greenberg, was there to accept his award for bringing years of service, hundreds of authors, and thousands of stories to the field of horror.

After the winners’ photo op, the post-Stoker party was held at the Old Castle Pub, where shop-talking, laughing, and general merry-making lasted until the wee hours of the morning.

The event was a total success, and we have many people to thank for that, including our own board, trustees, volunteers, and coordinator Monica O’Rourke. The Stokers were a truly classy, well-done, satisfying event.

Posted in Publishing, Writing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Rest in Peace, Papa Necon

Last night, beloved NECon founder Bob Booth passed away. For those of you who don’t know Bob, he was smart, funny, talented, witty, loving, and all-around awesome. And every year, in spite of whatever was going on financially or emotionally or medically, he and his family made sure to provide a weekend where so many of us can see people we love so much, and in return, feel accepted and loved and missed.

Bob and Mary are like family to me, and as I told them in email not too long ago, they have helped me through some incredibly difficult personal times. They have also been there to share in some of my greatest personal joys. I truly believe I leave a little piece of my heart and soul in RI every time NECon. If home is with the people who love you and understand you and accept you for exactly who you are, then NECon is one of those times of the year where I am home.

Bob really was a legend to me. What I saw this past NECon was a man handling the remainder of his life with grace, wit, and dignity. It made me proud to know him. And the love and support of his family and extended family was absolutely beautiful. His wife Mary, his sons and sons-by-love, Dan and Matt and John, his daughter Sara — they are amazing, strong, loving, supportive, wonderful people, and anyone lucky enough to have family like that in his or her life should feel lucky and blessed.

Bob, you will be missed here in this world, in this life. But death is just a doorway to a place of peace and freedom and beauty, and I am glad to know you are in such a place. When we all pass through our own doors, we will see you again. We will have Heaven’s equivalent of saugies, we’ll talk books and movies and jokes, and most of all, we’ll remember every moment that brought us all together heart and soul.

May your feet be light and your journey swift, Bob. We love you.

Posted in Life | 2 Comments

NECon

I have returned from NECon, and it was another incredible weekend. There was a beautiful and moving memorial to Rick Hautala, a roast of Linda Addison, awesome panels with new talent and seasoned talent, and great talk with great friends. There was reminiscing of friends lost, and as mentioned elsewhere, many opportunities to reconnect with friends and remind them how much they are loved and appreciated.

There were deep talks and big laughs, a trip to Lovecraft’s grave which was a wonderful experience, great dinners, and a ceaseless feeling of love and support, of belonging.

Bob and Mary Booth have helped me through some incredibly difficult personal times and have also been there to share in some great personal joys. Their kids, by blood and by love — Dan Booth, Sara and John Calia, and Matt Bechtel — move mountains. The NECon family members love and appreciate them. As I told them, I leave a piece of my heart and soul in RI every time I leave.

I really believe a big reason I’ve persisted in my writing career was because of the support I’ve received from friends I’ve met/see at NECon — friends who are family to me now– uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters (and in one case, an adopted son). Chris Golden, Paul Wilson, Tom Monteleone, Doug Winter, Dallas Mayr, Jim Moore, John MacIlveen, Jack Haringa, Rio Youers, Nick Kaufmann, Bev Vincent, Chet Williamson, the Booths, Gary Frank, Holly Newstein Hautala, Shawn Bagley, Dave Thomas, and of course…Brian Keene. I love you all very much, and am blessed and honored to have you in my life. Your love and support for the last 15 years move me to tears and smiles.

And I met some new folks who were awesome, such as my fellow panelists, Chris Irvin, Bracken MacLeod, Kristin Dearborn, and Meghan Arcuri-Moran. Thanks, folks, for making awesome panel-ness.

There are so many people I see at Necon that just make my weekend — Hal Bodner, John Harvey, Heather Graham, Hank Wagner, Jeff Strand, Lynne Hansen, the superawesome John Goodrich, Charles and Cara Colyott, JP Behrens, Monica “Pudding Shots” O’Rourke, Sephera Giron, Rich Dansky, Linda Addison, Craig Gardner, Dan Foley, Mike Penncavage, Ginjer Buchanan, John Dixon, Mike Morris, Cort Skinner and Beth Massie, Trish Cacek, Gordon Linzner….

God, the list goes on an on. I’d end up listing nearly all of the NECon campers at this rate. When the brain is sooo tired, you run the risk of leaving out someone, but rest assured, if you were there that weekend, then you helped to make it one of the best of my year, and I thank you for that. You are not shout-out lists. You are people that mean something to me, that made the weekend mean something, that have helped me grow as a writer and as a person, and I keep you warmly and fondly in my heart.

Posted in Appearances, Life, Writing | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Greenshift Cover Reveal by Heidi Ruby Miller – Peep It!

Because Heidi is an amazing writer and an amazing person, I’m pleased to share this with you folks.

To celebrate the cover reveal for Greenshift, the e-book will be temporarily 99 cents at Amazon!

A tale set within the world of Ambasadora.

Mari’s rare eye color makes her a pariah within Upper Caste society, which is why she prefers plants to people…except David, the former Armadan captain who shuttles scientists around on a refurbished pleasure cruiser.

But someone else is interested in Mari and her distinctive look–an obsessed psychopath who tortures and murders women for pleasure.

When the killer chooses Mari as his next victim, the soldier inside David comes alive, but it is Mari who must fight for her own life and prove she isn’t as fragile as the flowers she nurtures.

Greenshift by Heidi Ruby Miller

Cover Art by Bradley Sharp

Foreword by Dana Marton

Space Opera/Science Fiction Romance paperback coming from Dog Star Books in August 2013

Posted in Life | Leave a comment