Christopher Golden's Blog

February 6, 2014

Guest Blog by Matt Bechtel of Necon E-Books Our host today, Christopher Golden, has been amazing in his support of our Blog Tour and has gone out of his way to help promote the entire endeavor. Accordingly, he shared a link via his Facebook account to one of our previous articles about The Don Sebastian Chronicles; the following exchange comes directly from the comments he received — (Name Withheld): The Les Daniels who wrote Comix? Chris: Yes sir. He was an excellent novelist. (Name Withheld): I did not know that. I’ll check out his novels. With that lead in, The Les Daniels Blog Tour officially pivots today and takes a look at one of Les’ other passions that came to define his legacy — comic books. The masthead of Les Daniels’ Official Web Site (www.lesdaniels.com) describes him as a “Horror Author and Comic Book Historian,” and while writers such as Poe, Lovecraft and Stoker obviously beat him to the former distinction, Les Daniels was the first person who ever deserved to be called the latter. With the publication of Comix: A History of Comic Books in America in 1971, Les was the first writer to ever truly study comic books — their history, their art, and their impact — in a critical, literary manner. As its dust jacket declares, Comix tells “the story of how comic books captured the imagination of millions and became an American institution, and whether or not they deserved to.” Moreover, Comix also features a staggering array of full comic stories. “No snippets,” its dust jacket brags. “Where else can one find in the same volume such divergent personalities as the Old Witch and Donald Duck, or Captain America and Those Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers?” Covering everything from the largest publishers to underground comics, this tome is more than just a treasure trove; it’s arguably the work most responsible for influencing the perception of comics as art. I would be remiss if I did not give proper due to Les’ collaborator on Comix, the venerable John Peck of Mad Peck Studios. In short, Les did the words and John handled the graphics, and the artistic presentation of Comix is a large part of what makes it such a wonder. Of course, that’s befitting of its subject matter, as comics are created by seamlessly weaving words and pictures. Along those lines, I’m afraid I must make a confession — after Les’ passing, Necon E-Books contacted both his estate and Mad Peck Studios about publishing a digital edition of Comix. Despite everyone’s enthusiasm regarding the project, well … let’s just say, we’re still working on it, because those very full comic stories which make Comix so special also make it a bear to reproduce. Sure, we could omit those materials and just republish Les’ text, saving ourselves countless hours and the hassle of securing rights from their copyright holders, but that honestly seems like sacrilege to me. Comix is, in and of itself, a work of art; as such, I would never feel comfortable in compromising Les’ and John’s amazing presentation of their work. Twenty years (and The Don Sebastian Chronicles) later, Les returned his learned eye to the world of comics when he penned Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World’s Greatest Comics. More astoundingly, in my opinion, was the comic book history he would write four years later — DC Comics: Sixty Years of the World’s Favorite Comic Book Heroes. Please take a moment and let that sink in; almost immediately after writing the definitive history of Marvel comics, DC Comics hired Les Daniels to do the same for them. This would be akin to Burger King hiring the same hamburger expert to write their “History of the Whopper” who had just written ‘The History of the Big Mac” for McDonald’s. It’s simply unheard of … unless you’re Les Daniels, and your knowledge, insight, and talent in writing on the subject is so great that the two largest competitors in the field each require (and respect) your credibility so much that your expertise trumps their competition. DC wasn’t done with Les, however, as they subsequently hired him to write the definitive histories of their three biggest heroes in succession — Superman (1998), Batman (1999) and Wonder Woman (2000). Les’ works regarding comic books led to one of my favorite, yet bittersweet, stories. After he passed, a local policewoman was pointed to his Rolodex in search of contact information for his next of kin. The young lady’s face dropped as she scanned through the names it contained, which included Lynda Carter (star of the late-70’s TV show Wonder Woman), Michael Keaton (the title character of Tim Burton’s 1989 film Batman), and Stan Lee (and if I have to tell you who Stan Lee is, you really shouldn’t even be reading this article!). Dumbstruck, she turned to Les’ friends who were present and simply asked, “Who WAS this guy?” He was Les Daniels — probably the finest critical mind and greatest friend the comic book and graphic novel art form will ever know. 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!
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Published on February 06, 2014 10:30 • 295 views

September 16, 2013

Just wanted to let you know that the first book in the Sleepy Hollow High series will be free all day today and tomorrow (Sept 16 - 17) and to share some of my newly re-released books that you may have missed. FREE FOR EVERYONE Monday, September 16th through Tuesday, September 17th: (Spread the word!) HORSEMAN (SLEEPY HOLLOW HIGH #1) - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008THOTK8 New to Sleepy Hollow, teens Aimee and Shane Lancaster find that upon their arrival an ancient curse has been unleashed upon the town, tracing back to a legend that might just be more truth than myth. Now an array of evil demons is after them, with the infamous headless horseman leading the pack. FREE TO BORROW for Amazon Prime members: DROWNED (SLEEPY HOLLOW HIGH #2) - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008YMBYIS Having stopped the horseman in his tracks - at least for now - Aimee and Shane must face the other evils tormenting Sleepy Hollow. An enchanting oak tree, cackling cornfield imps, and the greatest threat: naiads - the beautiful and deadly sirens that have infested the Hudson River, drowning their victims on dry land. MISCHIEF (SLEEPY HOLLOW HIGH #3) - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008YMIGJ8 Life in The Hollow isn't getting any easier for Aimee and Shane Lancaster, or for their friends. Still facing the fallout of the curse the siblings unknowingly triggered by moving to town, the group of teens continue to confront new demons and creatures at every turn. But keeping the danger at bay becomes even more challenging when tensions erupt between friends and a secret love is finally confessed. Will the group be able to work together when it matters most? ENEMIES (SLEEPY HOLLOW HIGH #4) - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008YOTG9A Shane and Aimee Lancaster are faced with the darkest horror yet in the fourth installment of The Sleepy Hollow High series. An enemy they once fought could be their only hope, but how can they trust someone so dangerous? Meanwhile, Aimee reels from the discovery of a deep betrayal by the two people she loves the most, but she must rally with the very people who hurt her to save their lives—along with the lives of everyone else in Sleepy Hollow. SLEEPY HOLLOW HIGH FOUR-BOOK BUNDLE - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009W3ENXQ Get all four Sleepy Hollow High books for only $7.99! And since the last Wicked Street Team newsletter, these books have been re-released. If you've always wanted to read one of these, now's your chance. If you've already read one of the books in this list, please take a minute to pop over to Amazon and leave a review to tell other readers what you thought of it. AUGUST - Shane Monroe is on the run from the only force more unpredictable than Mother Nature -- the U.S. government... Storm Warning - http://www.amazon.com/Storm-Warning-A... JULY - Zombies and werewolves, oh, my! Soulless - http://www.amazon.com/Soulless-ebook/... "A terrifying, nerve-wracking page-turner. Soulless isn't your father's zombie novel. Golden has given the undead their next major upgrade!" — Brian Keene, author of The Last Zombie Prowlers - http://www.amazon.com/Prowlers-ebook/... Werewolves are the myth. Prowlers are the savage reality. JUNE - $1.99 novella Pyre - http://www.amazon.com/Pyre-ebook/dp/B... “Christopher Golden’s storytelling is spellbinding. His novels capture the charming mystique that permeates New England, to which he adds a shuddering dose of the occult.”--BOSTON Magazine MAY Straight on 'til Morning - http://www.amazon.com/Straight-on-til... "He brings into being a world of haunted and perilous fantasy," hails Peter Straub of Christopher Golden, and it's never been truer than in this unique novel of dark fiction about the strange summer of a young boy coming of age. MARCH - The last three Jenna Blake Body of Evidence thrillers and the sixth book in the Shadow Saga: The Graves of Saints - http://www.amazon.com/Graves-Saints-S... Throat Culture - http://www.amazon.com/Throat-Culture-... Last Breath - http://www.amazon.com/Last-Breath-Evi... Brain Trust - http://www.amazon.com/Brain-Trust-Evi... FEBRUARY - Three Jenna Blake Body of Evidence thrillers: Burning Bones - http://www.amazon.com/Burning-Bones-E... Skin Deep - http://www.amazon.com/Skin-Deep-Evide... Head Games - http://www.amazon.com/Head-Games-Evid... JANUARY - The last two books in The Menagerie Series: Crashing Paradise - http://www.amazon.com/Crashing-Paradi... Stones Unturned - http://www.amazon.com/Stones-Unturned... MEET THE MENAGERIE They're as hodge-podge a mix of other-worldly beings as anyone can imagine. But a sorcerer, a scientist, a sixteen-year-old demon, and the others all have one thing in common: a hunger for justice -- no matter what the cost. They are beings of myth and legend. They possess powers beyond imagining. They are our only hope. COMING SOON: Three more Prowlers novels, the third Secret Journeys of Jack London novel, another Peter Octavian Shadow Saga novel, and much, much more! APPEARANCES: October 31 - November 3 - World Fantasy Convention, Brighton, England http://www.wfc2013.org/ CONNECT WITH CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN ONLINE: Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/christopherg... Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChristophGolden Website: http://www.christophergolden.com/ Until next time, keep reading!
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Published on September 16, 2013 07:55 • 965 views

September 10, 2013

I hate canceling on conventions. It makes me feel like a schmuck and I'm damn sure it doesn't win me any friends amongst readers who might have been looking forward to meeting me or seeing me again or having a book signed. Once upon a time I never would've thought twice about it because it wouldn't have occurred to me that anyone would care or even notice my absence. Maybe that's a bit of my friendship with Rick Hautala coming through, the Eeyore in all writers. At some point I began to realize that there might be one or two folks that would be disappointed by my absence--maybe even one or two who had planned to attend partly because I'd be there. I promised myself then that I would do anything possible not to let folks down again. I'd canceled on a comic con in Toronto once because it was in the midst of the SARS outbreak and my wife asked me not to go...and then my friend at the CDC told me I should *really* not go. I usually listen to my wife, but when your friend at the CDC tells you not to go...you stay home. For the most part, though, the couple of times I've canceled have been due to uncontrollable circumstances, and such it is today. I don't talk much about my health for two reasons. One, for me, it's a private thing. Two, so many people are in so much more pain or having so much greater difficulty that it seems whiny and selfish to me. A couple of years ago, I had to cancel on participating in the Odyssey Writer's Workshop due to some significant internal problems including, but not limited, to diverticulitis. Yeah, diverticulitis *sucks*, but I didn't have it too bad compared to others. Still, there would have been no way for me to focus on trying to lecture the workshop students in the condition I was in. I know it's foolish to let things you can't control weigh on you, but the good old Catholic guilt kicked in. All of which makes it that much harder for me to do this now. I'm sorry to say I won't be attending Creatures, Crimes and Creativity in Baltimore this weekend. I've enlisted a wonderful friend and writer to deliver Friday's keynote address in my place, the inimitable Brian Keene, who will undoubtedly do a better job of it than I would have. I've also offered some other things to the organizers, which I'll explain in a moment. First, though...here's why I won't be there. My own health is a part of it. I've had gout for seventeen years. Yes, yes...older folks will say "the rich man's disease," unless they've had any experience with it and have learned better. Most people are ignorant about gout and I'm not going to bore you by trying to educate you about it here. Suffice to say I used to not talk about it because so many people dismissed it as a disease of indulgence. It's not that at all. In fact, now that I'm talking about it frequently (you'll see why in a moment), I find that it's far, far more common than I ever knew. Everyone I tell--or nearly everyone--knows someone who has it, or they have it themselves. During a flare-up of gout, the affected joints feel as if they are full of ground glass. Sometimes even the merest pressure can cause excruciating pain. You can wake up in the middle of the night in agony that will keep you up for hours until exhaustion takes you or it subsides enough--as the oncoming morning allows--for you to drift off. In the past I've only had occasional bad flare-ups. The worst ones have lasted at most a week. The flare-up I'm currently enduring began on JULY 21st. I'm writing this on September 10th, so you can do the math. It has migrated from my right knee to a variety of joints in my left foot. I've been on multiple medications, all of which are management meds, because there is no cure for gout. You just have to wait it out and then, when it goes away, pray it will be a long time before it recurs. Over the past seven weeks or so I have become a friggin' expert on gout. I've had fluid drawn out of me and drugs injected in. I've spent hours researching on the internet and worn a path in my doctor's carpet. I've tried half a dozen homeopathic remedies, stopped eating a wide variety of foods, and I've lost almost fifteen pounds. (the upside.) The good news is that this particular battle seems to be coming toward an end. (I think. I hope.) I'm going to see a specialist at the end of the month and will start on preventative medication (which can--guess what--cause gout to flare up) and continue to tweak my diet. For now, I'm getting better, but the key thing when gout starts to recede is *not* to aggravate the joints. The last few times it started to recede, I decided I felt good enough to go out and do something as simple as go to dinner, which required walking a couple of blocks, or go to my daughter's soccer game...and each time the gout came back full force. So although I'm still three days away from my flight to Baltimore, I just can't take any chances. For my mental health if nothing else, I need this flare-up to end. Gout distracts me from my work and interferes with my daily life in ways that are detrimental to me and to my relationships with my wife and children. So...I'm staying home this weekend. Except I'm not really staying home. I'm not going to Baltimore, but there are two events I need to attend: the wake and funeral of my friend and mentor, Bob Booth. Bob was a writer, editor, and convention organizer, one of the founders of World Fantasy Convention and the founder of NECON, upon whose committee I have served for something like twenty years. Bob was a friend and mentor. Like many others, I consider his family my family, and so even if the gout weren't an issue, it's quite probable I would have stayed home this weekend after all, to pay my respects to these people I love and this man, gone too soon. If you are attending Creatures, Crimes and Creativity in Baltimore this weekend, I apologize to you, as I have already apologized to the organizers. If you are attending and there were questions you'd hoped to ask me, please ask them on Facebook or Twitter or email me at crdg@comcast.net and I will do my best to answer them. If you had hoped to have a book signed, contact me at the same email and we will work that out. I thank you for your understanding. All my best, Chris
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Published on September 10, 2013 09:00 • 97 views

June 17, 2013

DARK DUETS: New Tales of Horror and Dark Fantasy will be published in January, 2014 by Harper Voyager. Edited by Christopher Golden, it features an extraordinary lineup of collaborative stories, with the authors of each story collaborating for the very first time. And here they are! (Cover coming soon.) TRIP TRAP -- by Sherrilyn Kenyon & Kevin J. Anderson WELDED -- by Tom Piccirilli & T.M. Wright DARK WITNESS -- by Charlaine Harris & Rachel Caine REPLACING MAX -- by Stuart MacBride & Allan Guthrie T. RHYMER -- by Gregory Frost & Jonathan Maberry SHE, DOOMED GIRL -- by Sarah MacLean & Carrie Ryan HAND JOB -- by Chelsea Cain & Lidia Yuknavitch HOLLOW CHOICES -- by Robert Jackson Bennett & David Liss AMUSE-BOUCHE -- by Amber Benson & Jeffrey J. Mariotte BRANCHES, CURVING -- by Tim Lebbon & Michael Marshall Smith RENASCENCE – by Rhodi Hawk and F. Paul Wilson BLIND LOVE -- by Kasey Lansdale & Joe R. Lansdale TRAPPER BOY -- by Holly Newstein & Rick Hautala STEWARD OF THE BLOOD -- by Nate Kenyon & James A. Moore CALCULATING ROUTE -- by Michael Koryta & Jeffrey David Greene SISTERS BEFORE MISTERS -- by Sarah Rees Brennan, Cassandra Clare, and Holly Black SINS LIKE SCARLET -- by Mark Morris & Rio Youers
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Published on June 17, 2013 10:57 • 169 views

March 25, 2013

WRITERS AND PUNKS In Memory of Rick Hautala I have written about Rick Hautala many times over the years—his bio when he was Guest of Honor at our beloved Necon, the introduction to the reissue of his wonderful first novel, Moondeath, and the announcement of his HWA Lifetime Achievement Award, among others—but I never thought that I would be writing this. I hope I might be forgiven, then, for plagiarizing myself in these dark days, when words don’t come easily. The things I’ve written about him before are all still true—it’s just that they mean more to me, now. I’ve talked elsewhere about Rick as a friend and as a man—about his humor and his struggles and his love for his wife and sons. But in truth, if you’d asked him what he was, he wouldn’t have said a friend or a man or a father or a husband…he’d have said he was a writer. He believed more firmly than anyone I’d ever met that writers were born, not made, that he had no choice in the matter. His career had some breathtaking highs, but even at the lowest points, when others might have urged him to cut his losses and find some other vocation, Rick felt helpless in the face of his nature. He didn’t even truly understand the suggestion that there might be some alternative. He was a writer. How could he conceive of being anything else? I loved him for that. Rick liked unique and funny t-shirts and would always have a new one to show off at Necon every July. The best—the one that author Jack Ketchum and I recently agreed best represented the true Rick—was emblazoned with the following: What are you, a writer or a punk? That was Rick. ~ No one wrote horror with as heavy a heart, or with as deep a sense of foreboding and sorrow, as Rick Hautala. His characters are ordinary people, so full of worry about mundane, human things that when the extraordinary begins first to invade and then to tear apart their simple lives, we feel the tragedy on a visceral level that so many who came after Hautala never achieved. Right from the beginning of his career, Rick achieved something that marked him out as a force to be reckoned with—he didn’t write like anyone else. When you crack the pages of a Hautala novel (whether under his own name, or his AJ Matthews pseudonym), there’s no mistaking that voice for anyone else. There’s an anguish in his characters and a terrible claustrophobia to even the most open of settings that marks his novels indelibly. With Rick Hautala and the modern ghost story, author and subject formed a perfect bond. The horror in Rick’s work is the sorrow of isolation and the fear of the unknown future that lies ahead, often laced with echoes of past mistakes. He didn’t go for the cheap scare, ever. Instead, he created a supernatural catalyst with which he deconstructed human frailties and the fragile ties that bind us. These themes are found everywhere in Rick’s work. Some of the best examples include the million-copy, international bestseller Night Stone, the milestone short story collection Bed Bugs, and the extraordinary novella Miss Henry’s Bottles, which may be Rick’s finest work. Fan favorites include the novels Little Brothers and The Mountain King. Hautala’s in top form in Winter Wake and Cold Whisper, as well as the novels he wrote as AJ Matthews, in particular Looking Glass and Follow. With The Demon’s Wife—the last novel he completed—he had begun a new phase in his writing career, written something truly unique. We can only wonder where his ruminations would have taken him next. The tragedy of Rick’s life was that he never knew how many people loved him, how many held him in high regard—or if he knew, he never quite believed it. He never knew how good a writer he was. Oh, he wanted you to read his novels, and he wanted you to like them, but even the books of which he was most proud he dismissed with comments like, “I think that one worked out pretty well.” That was the highest compliment he could give himself. Rick Hautala was the horror writer's horror writer. He never looked down his nose at the genre, but embraced it instead. Legendary for his kindness and his generous spirit, he influenced a great many young writers and exuded a sense of camaraderie that became infectious. In Rick’s view, we were all in the trenches together. Self-effacing and approachable, he combined a blue collar work ethic with literary sensibilities shaped by his love of Shakespeare and Hawthorne. His passion for the horror genre was second only to his love for writing, and all of those elements conspired over decades to transform him into a determined mentor, offering critical feedback and quiet encouragement to many new authors as they began their own careers. Despite the mark he has made on the genre and his quiet mentorship of other writers, Rick was rarely recognized for his work until 2012, when he received the HWA's Lifetime Achievement Award. That honor meant the world to him. I worry that Rick Hautala and other masters are in danger of having their legacy forgotten. That can’t be allowed to happen. Go and pick up a copy of Winter Wake or Little Brothers or one of Rick’s fantastic short story collections. Connecting with readers, making them feel…that was the only reward that ever really mattered to him. So go and read some Hautala, and spread the word. Don’t forget. --Christopher Golden Bradford, Massachusetts March 25th, 2013
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Published on March 25, 2013 13:23 • 144 views

March 23, 2013

Dear friends, I don’t have the words to put Rick Hautala’s death in any form of context. His wife, Holly, told me this morning that it’s blown a crater in her life, and that’s as good an image as any I could imagine. So many people have written so sincerely and so eloquently about their love for him personally or their admiration for him as a man and as a writer. Holly and those of us who were closest to Rick always tried to tell him how much he was loved, but he never believed it. I only wish he could have seen the outpouring of love and support that has come in the wake of his passing. Holly would like me to pass along her love and gratitude. She has been deeply touched and hopes, in time, to personally thank everyone who has reached out to her. Unfortunately, Rick’s sudden death could not have been more untimely. The life of a freelance writer is often one lived on the fringes of financial ruin, and Rick struggled mightily to stay afloat in recent years. Just within the last couple of months, that struggle became difficult enough that he could not afford to continue paying his life insurance bill, and allowed it to lapse. Though he could never have foreseen it, the timing, of course, could not have been worse. Then, just this morning, Holly discovered that the social security benefits she might hope to receive as Rick’s widow are not available to her until she turns sixty, three years from now. Efforts are under way on projects that we hope will earn some money for Rick’s estate, but meanwhile there are costs involved with his death to consider, and then, for Holly, the struggle will continue. If you’d like to help, any donation would be appreciated. You can PayPal directly to Holly at holly_newstein@hotmail.com. Thank you so much for your time. Christopher Golden
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Published on March 23, 2013 09:28 • 130 views

March 22, 2013

I couldn't even begin to type this yesterday. This morning it's not much easier, but I want to write it...need to write it. So here goes. I knew Rick Hautala long before I met him--knew him in the way readers always think they know their favorite authors. I grew up, you see, in the heyday of horror as a genre, when fine, incredibly talented writers like Robert R. McCammon, Charles L. Grant, Matthew Costello, Whitley Strieber and others were putting out regular doses of wonderful horror fiction. I read and absorbed it all. Sometimes, back in the early 1980s, my brother Jamie and I would latch on to a book we both wanted to read. Graham Masterton's Wells of Hell was one of them. I also recall a werewolf novel called Quarrel With the Moon. But of all of them, the one we shared the most enthusiasm for was MOONDEATH, the first novel by Rick Hautala. Witches and werewolves and spooky New England, combined with that intimate sense of growing dread that Rick did so well, right from the beginning of his writing career...how could we go wrong? I read all of his novels. Before and after I first met him, I read them all, even the Lois & Clark tie-in novel that nobody was supposed to know he wrote. But I'm getting ahead of myself. In the spring of my senior year of college, 1989, I ran into Craig Shaw Gardner at the Million Year Picnic in Harvard Square, Cambridge. I had interviewed Craig for Starlog Magazine (my first paid writing assignment) and he told me about a little convention in Rhode Island called NECON. It was fairly exclusive, he said. Never more than 200 people, and mostly horror folks. I should go. Well, I couldn't afford it then, preparing to graduate college, but my then-girlfriend (and now my wife, Connie, without whom I wouldn't have gotten through the day yesterday, never mind the past 25 years) paid for me to go. She thought it was important. My God, we had no idea how important it would be. My history with Necon is a subject for another time. What's important is this. That weekend was filled with so many of my heroes in the genre, writers I looked up to like Craig, Charlie Grant, Doug Winter, John Skipp and Craig Spector, and, of course, Rick Hautala. I was so nervous to talk to Rick. I picked up a copy of his latest novel, WINTER WAKE, at the Friday night signing event, went up to him and babbled something about what MOONDEATH had meant to my brother and me. Now, you have to understand that Rick didn't think much of MOONDEATH. He liked it all right, I suppose, but like most of us when we consider our first novels he looked at it as something he'd done with his training wheels on. Still, he appreciated the enthusiasm. I still have that copy of WINTER WAKE. In the inscription, he wrote, "It ain't no MOONDEATH, but it's a good 'un, too." That was my first meeting with Rick, but I kept going back to Necon, kept writing, and soon we became friends. "Mis-ter Golden" I can hear him saying, even now. We hung out together at Necon and other conventions and we gave each other a ton of shit, teasing pretty mercilessly sometimes. In time, somehow we went from being friends to being the closest of friends. A fraternal bond formed, and over the years we became each other's sounding boards and confidantes. Rick had a few of us--Matt Costello, Glenn Chadbourne, me, and a couple of others--who he called his Texans...the guys he wanted with him if he ever had to stand on the wall at his own personal Alamo. The guys he knew would never let him down. You had to be careful with Rick, though. His self-deprecating humor was only half honest, and the other half was the armor that covered a lifetime of self doubt. He had seen huge successes in his career, and had experienced more than one fall from grace. There were people he had loved who'd turned their backs on him, friends who had turned out not to be worthy of the name. But through all of that, he gave freely of himself. His heart was open to anyone who was willing to meet him just as openly. He joked constantly that he was the "Eeyore of Horror" (Connie and I were at breakfast with him at WHC in Atlanta in 1995 when he gave himself that nickname). "Just another book," he drawled in his Eeyore voice. "Not that it matters." But as constantly as he ruminated about his professional life, worrying about whether his books *did* matter, that never impacted the way he greeted us all. Rick was a guy who didn't just have your back, he wanted to have your back. He was built for loyalty. Nobody ever enjoyed a good time with friends more than he did, drinking a beer and smoking a stogie, singing along to the songs of his youth at Necon, or raving about politics at the various Vicious Circle dinners that he and I often shared with friends in our area. I could write thousands of words about all of the times we shared and the evolution that we went through as I went from fan to brother, our nearly twenty year age difference notwithstanding. When my daughter Lily was little, Rick would always try to say hello to her, but for some reason she would hide her face and cry. God, how we teased him about that. It would always bring out that sheepish, Eeyore grin. Much has been made of Rick's smile, and it's impossible to say how much I'll miss it, but more than that I'll miss his laughter and that particular way he'd roll his eyes at me, just out of sight, when he thought someone was being an idiot. I'll miss talking politics--God, he cared so much about the world and about people. Even after all of the times he'd been let down, he cared so much. I'll miss his hugs ("hug it out bitch"--"cracka please") and his cheerful greetings. I'll miss the phone calls, just to shoot the breeze, and the way he'd enter my house and say hi to Connie and our kids. I'll miss teasing each other. [The first time I ever saw Rick in New York City, he looked like Dorothy in the haunted forest, tiptoeing in his flip-flops, afraid of "lions and tigers and bears." A city boy, he was not.] I'll miss talking to him about writing and Rod Serling and, more than anything, about fatherhood. Rick's three grown sons--Aaron, Jesse, and Mattie--and they were his world, just as much a part of him as his arms and legs. No, more. He could have lived without his limbs. Those boys were his heart, cut into three pieces and living outside his body. He ached when they ached and wept when they wept and worried over them every day, even if there was nothing to worry about. We should all be so lucky as to have a parent who loves us as much as Rick loved his boys. And Holly...when they found each other Rick had reached one of the lowest points in his life. His friend Bill Relling had committed suicide and Rick never quite recovered from that. His self doubt had reached an all-time high. Holly's love helped to restore his faith in himself. It was the greatest gift to him, and a great gift to all of us who loved him to see that reflected in him. I'll stop now. Stop writing this, anyway. I have many people still to call and respond to about this, and deadlines to keep. Rick would understand deadlines. Now, some of the hardest words I've ever had to type. I love you, brother. Goodbye. The rest of my days just won't be the same.
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Published on March 22, 2013 06:45 • 391 views

January 22, 2013

This is going to require a little bit of explanation, but let me try to boil it down for you as succinctly as possible. Thomas Randall does not exist. He began life as the fictional protagonist of my novel STRANGEWOOD, a children's author whose imaginative creations come to disturbing life and intrude upon the real world. Years later, I was in the process of making a deal for a trilogy of horror stories set in Japan, but at the time I was under contract with another publisher who had an option on my next "teen or YA" novel. The option specified that it was for work written under my own name, thus the deal for this new trilogy required a pseudonym and I thought it would be amusing to be Thomas Randall for a while. Even the bios inside the books noted that Randall was the author of the bestselling children's fantasy series Adventures in Strangewood...which doesn't exist. So that's where Thomas Randall comes from. Why is A WINTER OF GHOSTS credited to Christopher Golden & Thomas Randall? In other words, to me & me? Bloomsbury published the first two novels in the trilogy (originally called Cherry Blossoms, which was deemed too sexual, and later called Gaijin Girl, before finally settling on The Waking). The first two novels, DREAMS OF THE DEAD and SPIRITS OF THE NOH are still in print from Bloomsbury and available--relatively inexpensively--in both print and ebook. It was important to me that people who've read the first two be able to find it, but also that people who have no idea the books are mine finally make the connection. Do you have to read the first two books of THE WAKING to enjoy A WINTER OF GHOSTS? Not really. It's certainly recommended. I think that you'll get more from the story and the characters if you do read the first two books, but plot-wise, A WINTER OF GHOSTS definitely stands on its own. Everything you need to know about what's come before in order to enjoy this story is recapped during A WINTER OF GHOSTS. So if this is your first exposure to Kara and her friends, you'll be fine. What else do you need to know? How about--are these things any good? Critical Praise for The Waking: Dreams of the Dead Named one of the NYPL Books for the Teen Age "The Waking: Dreams of the Dead starts as the dream of everyone who has ever wanted to travel to an exotic, far-away country to start again, and weaves a nightmare based in rich Japanese culture and myth. I can't wait until it is released and I can recommend it to my readers." - Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, author of In the Forests of the Night and Persistence of Memory "Newly transplanted to Japan, 16-year-old blond-haired, blue-eyed Kara Foster is a gaijin, or outsider. Kara is eager to assimilate into Japanese culture, although when she is bullied by a group of popular girls she quickly learns that her new school has the same clique issues as its American counterparts. When mysterious, supernaturally tinged deaths start to occur, it becomes very clear to Kara how different this school really is. Drawing upon Japanese mythology and Noh plays...[and] including such tropes as sleep-deprived students plagued by horrible nightmares, teetering on the brink of madness...Dreams of the Dead incorporate[s] many elements of contemporary Japanese culture and thus may appeal to those with an interest in it, especially manga fans." - Kirkus Reviews "Kara Harper and her father have moved to Japan, following the tragic death of Kara's mother, and are trying to settle into a new school, and a new culture. While living in Japan has been a dream for both of them, Kara is finding the reality of life as a 'gaijin girl' a little tricky. She discovers that her school holds dark secrets, including a classmate's sister's mysterious and brutal death, and that the dead girl seems to be just one of the supernatural presences on the campus. Will Kara and her new friends (and enemies) survive long enough for this 'bonsai' to prove she can thrive in her new location? A great book for fans of fairy tales and dark fantasy from non-European cultures." - Maryelizabeth Hart, Mysterious Galaxy "Two years after her mother dies in a car wreck, 16-year-old Kara Harper and her father move from America to Japan because of a love of the country and to start a new life. But death is all around them at Kara's new school: a student named Akane was murdered there several months earlier, and as Kara befriends Akane's sister, Sakura, other students begin dying under mysterious circumstances. Sakura is sure that Akane has risen from the grave to avenge herself, while Kara and their friend Miho guess that a demonic entity from Japanese legend is responsible. Randall fills the story, first in the Waking series, with details about Japanese culture and evocative descriptions ("Miyazu Bay reflected back the blue sky with a purity that made her breath catch... leaving an American suburb behind for natural beauty such as this was like waking up in some magical kingdom"), while slowly building tension and winding the plot ever tighter, weaving together current threats and age-old mysteries. Regardless of readers' level of familiarity with Japan, the horror-tinged story should fascinate and thrill. Ages 12 & up." - Publishers Weekly "Randall links an effectively worked horror story with the traditions of Noh theatre; readers get a healthy dose of cross-cultural insight and understanding while being thoroughly spooked by a demon much older and more malevolent than the tame, sparkly vampires of recent fame." - BCCB "The manga craze has hooked many a teen on Japanese culture, and Randall weaves much Japanese language, mythology, mores, and etiquette into this fast-paced opener to the Waking series." - Booklist "Randall describes the scenery, the culture, the characters, even their clothing, with heartfelt details. The story has suspense, mystery, and horror. It will be a great hit with fans of manga, anime, or Japanese culture." - School Library Journal "A well-structured tale of ancient spirits who exact revenge upon humans. A brisk Japanese adventure." - VOYA Reader Reviews "5 out of 5 stars. Evocative and deliciously spooky, Dreams of the Dead is the first in a trilogy about ancient myths, long-sleeping demons, and being a stranger in a strange land... The myth that is used brings to life the stories that one hears and makes you feel as if you can touch them. I felt as though I was on the edge of my seat reading this. I loved all the intrigue with in the story and can’t wait to read the next one in this series." - Lyra Rose "The Waking is a beautifully written piece of young adult literature." - Galleysmith "I really enjoyed this story! The surreal world of dreams merging with reality is haunting. For fans of The Ring, this is sure to be a hit." - Kim Baccellia, YABooksCentral.com "With a mix of murder, myth and an ancient Japanese evil, this book will have you reading with the lights on!" - Library Lounge Lizard
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Published on January 22, 2013 06:55 • 192 views

January 3, 2013

For more than three decades, Bob Booth has been one of the stalwart, silent heroes of horror, fantasy, and dark fantasy. A writer, editor, past chairman of the World Fantasy Convention, and founder of Necon (the best little convention in the world), he is also the patriarch of a wonderful family AND the patriarch for hundreds of us who make the pilgrimage to Necon every July. Father figure, devoted reader, and loyal friend, Bob is one of my favorite people in the world. It breaks my heart to have to share this. I can't begin to tell you what Bob has meant to me. My career essentially started at and because of Necon. Enough said, for now. If you know Bob, I hope you'll share some words of support with him and with his family, either at the Necon ebooks site or in a card, letter, or email, as indicated in this post, which provides an update on his condition.
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Published on January 03, 2013 18:13 • 152 views

December 6, 2012

The Next Big Thing: FATHER GAETANO’S PUPPET CATECHISM So…most of you probably know this already…maybe…possibly. There’s a wonderful blog-contagion going on, something called THE NEXT BIG THING. A blog-hop, they call it, and in it authors are mean to answer a handful of questions about their latest work and then tag five or so other authors to do the same the following week. As you might imagine, it’s growing exponentially. I mean, do the math, right? A month or so ago, my good friend Stephen Volk ( http://www.stephenvolk.net/ ) asked me if I wanted to do it, but I was on a craaazy deadline for my upcoming thriller for St. Martin’s, SNOWBLIND, which is now complete. Then, a week or so ago, the great and funny and charming and brilliant Dana Cameron tagged me. I was on a different deadline, no less desperate, but I realized that if I didn’t jump in, I was going to miss the Next Big Thing entirely. The circus would have passed me by. Also, I didn’t want Dana mad at me. Bitch’ll cut a guy. Of course, I was supposed to have this blog up yesterday, so I may yet face her wrath. My answers to the questions—and the poor suckers I’ve tagged for next week—are below, but you should also go and check out Dana’s Next Big Thing blog from last week, and pick up her first urban fantasy, SEVEN KINDS OF HELL. Where did the idea come from for the book? CG: FATHER GAETANO’S PUPPET CATECHISM is the third book I’ve done with Mike Mignola. The prior novels (BALTIMORE and JOE GOLEM AND THE DROWNING CITY) were conceived by Mike. This one—though it has so many elements that are near and dear to Mike’s heart—was my idea. We were on the phone one day, talking about our love of puppets and how unnerving they can be, and the idea hit me pretty much fully-formed, which is rare but nice. It’s short and a St. Martin’s has made a beautiful little book that would make the perfect Christmas gift for anyone who loves fantasy, horror, or just plain weird. What genre does your book fall under? CG: It’s a supernatural story, so you could call it horror, but I think anyone who enjoys dark fantasy would enjoy it as well. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? CG: Funnily enough, it isn’t the actors I think of when I think of a film version of this story—it’s the style. I’d love to see it directed by someone like Henry Selick, done like Coraline or Corpse Bride. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? CG: In the aftermath of a critical World War II battle, Father Gaetano believes that God has called him to teach catechism to a group of young orphans and to restore their faith in God, but he soon finds that it can be dangerous to rely too much on what one perceives as the wishes of one’s creator. Oh, and there are puppets that come to life. [Two sentences. Sue me.] Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? CG: The book was published about six weeks ago, but was sold at the very tail end of a period of many years in which I represented myself, so the answer to that question is neither. Shortly after selling the book to St. Martin’s, I signed on with the great, and dashingly handsome, Howard Morhaim, and I feel fortunate to have him in my corner. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? CG: About a month, I think. Remember, it’s a novella, not a full-length novel. I’m not sure how long it took Mike to do the illustrations. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? CG: I can’t think of any, really. I’m sure there are plenty and that readers can draw comparisons, but the first thing that comes to mind for me is The Twilight Zone, and not because of the various living doll stories that Serling did. There’s just something about the subtle alteration of reality, the eeriness, and the way in which that series always used the supernatural to explore larger themes that I loved, and the influence of that show on a lot of my work is clear. I do think that if you like creepy, then you’ll like this story. What else about your book might pique the reader's interest? CG: It’s got a gorgeous cover and creepy illustrations by my co-author, Mike Mignola, who is not only the creator of Hellboy, but the greatest and truest artist working in comics today. And those are the questions, folks. The lovely and ruthless Dana Cameron tagged me this week, but she also tagged three other great writers. Here’s what Dana had to say about them…. Toni L. P. Kelner ( ): I've been a fan of Toni's award-winning writing since her Laura Fleming books, and wait until you see her new series, starting with The Skeleton in the Armoire (as Leigh Perry)! I'll let her tell you about that next week! Kat Richardson's () latest novel Seawitch, was #3 on the Locus Hardcover Bestseller list for November! Kat and I got acquainted via anthologies Wolfsbane and Mistletoe (which Toni edited with Charlaine Harris) and most recently, Murder and Mayhem in Muskego. Elaine Viets () has TWO series: the Helen Hawthorne "Dead End Job" mysteries, and the Josie Marcus "Mystery Shopper mysteries." Elaine and I are both members of the Femmes Fatales (as is Toni), and she'll be posting her Next Big thing blog there. ******************* And now we get to the folks I’m tagging, the amazingly talented writers to whom I have spread the Next Big Thing contagion. Look for their posts next Tuesday, December 12th! S.G. Browne’s latest novels are Lucky Bastard (which has a neat little blurb from yours truly, every word of which I meant) and I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus…and you know you need that freakin’ book right now. Cherie Priest is the author of the hugely successful Clockwork Century novels, including Boneshaker and the latest, The Inexplicables. She’s also written creepy-as-all-get-out Southern Gothic supernatural tales and urban fantasy, has dynamite fashion sense, and different hair every time I see her. Caitlin Kittredge is the author of the ass-kicking urban fantasy Black London novels and the YA series The Iron Codex, which has the best titles. I mean, book two is The Nightmare Garden, that’s pretty damn cool. She once told me that she’s not ready for the zombie apocalypse but she is prepared for the kitten apocalypse. Make of that what you will. Yes, Amber Benson is the author of the Death's Daughter series of urban fantasy novels, among other things, and yes, she’s an actress-writer-director who has been elevated to the status of cult icon in recent years. She’s also my little sister, gave me the best nickname ever, and commandeers my daughter’s “princess bed” at every opportunity. As far as I know, the only thing that all four of these writers have in common is that they have all written short stories for anthologies I have edited, which means they bear the same psychological scars. Happy Holidays!!! [image error]
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Published on December 06, 2012 08:21 • 155 views