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I first came across Bradley Convissar's works when he was offering them as separate short stories on a free promotion. He lists Stephen King as one ofI first came across Bradley Convissar's works when he was offering them as separate short stories on a free promotion. He lists Stephen King as one of his influences and you can definitely see that but only in the general tone of them. The stories are not derivative at all. They have their own tone and style. With the laundry list of triggers above it seem like he'd be in the more extreme section of horror but they are handled very well. They are horrific but they aren't gone into with gruesome, in-depth detail that would edge it into torture porn territory.
Like any anthology or collection there are some hit or miss stories in Pandora's Children. When Bradley Convissar hits those emotional depths though he can really hit them. Hard.
My favorites from Pandora's Children are:
To Don: This story was amazing. War buddies gather to honour their friend but the end half of the story was such a surprise and really caught my attention. An excellent story.
The Madame Penitent: The idea of paying for your past sins by taking on others' pain isn't exactly a new idea but it's done very well here with a great finish.
Just Meat: What happens when a rather callous anatomy student is confronted with the souls of the cadavers she is treating carelessly? A very good story with great emotion to it but not played for cheap heart-string tugging.
Wood Chipper Blues: A dentist is faced with a dilemma. He has evidence of a crime but what if the crime is justified? I love the way the end leaves you hanging a bit, in a good way. It feels very close to what a person would realistically feel in that position.
Pandora's Children: Matthew Jenkins does terrible things. Things he feels compelled to do and, while he takes pleasure in them at the time, hates himself afterwards. He is offered one chance at redemption. Can he do it? An excellent story where Pandora (yes, that Pandora) tries to make her own atonement for the horrors her curiosity has unleashed on the world.
Higher: A desperate father does the only thing he can think of to cure his son's addiction. This story hit me hard. It was sweet, sad and very moving. It could be partly the things that were going on around me when I read it that made it hit so hard but I actually cried while reading it. And that is very hard to do.
The other stories in Pandora's Collection are good but these were the real stand-outs for me. In fact, the only two that I didn't really care for were The Transfer and On the Curb. On the Curb wasn't too bad but it just didn't click with me and The Transfer was...ick. But, again, others might like it more than I did.
Pandora's Children is a pretty solid collection that I can almost guarantee will have at least one or two stories that people will love. If you like Bradley Convissar's short fiction most of it can be found in the two Pandora's Children collections....more
A lot of writing "how-to" books can be very dry to read so a lot of beginning writers tend to shy away from them. This isn't a "how-to" collection. ExA lot of writing "how-to" books can be very dry to read so a lot of beginning writers tend to shy away from them. This isn't a "how-to" collection. Exactly. It's a how-to, how-not-to, and just general solid advice from a lot of leading names in the field. It also does not confine itself to simply the mechanics of writing. There is a lot of great advice about the different medias available in the horror genre right now. Really, for all of the difficulties beginning writers think they have right now, there is not a better time to try to break into the market.
It may seem hard but self-published books get more attention than they used to. It's no longer an automatic stamp of "Oh, this is going to be bad". And it has grown fast. You can publish a book, short story, short videos, movies, almost anything. So what does this have to do with Where Nightmares Come From? Everything.
There are essays on short story writing, ideas, writing movie tie-ins, creepypastas, interviews with authors and so much more. There is some really solid advice that beginning writers (and, yes, some established ones as well) would ignore at their own peril. As I'm sure you guys know, at Sci-Fi and Scary we review a lot of independently published books, stories and a lot of other media. I can't tell you how many times while reading this I kept thinking "Yes! That's so right! Why don't people do that more?"
Such as "The Story of a Story (with a number of digressions)" by Mort Castle. He points out that short stories need a main character. I can't even begin to say how true that is, whether the main character is a piece of scenery or a monster, a short story needs a focus. I read a lot of short stories and the ones that usually get a low rating from me are ones that just feel...there. Like there's no point to the story and I'm probably not going to remember it later.
Mark Alan Miller tries to answer that question that lovers of horror get asked so frequently but are very often unable to answer: "Why Horror"? Whether you read, write, watch or review horror eventually you're going to get asked that. And Mark Alan Miller does a damn fine job of answering it. The whole time I was reading it all I could think was, "Yes, that's it exactly!"
There are some contradictory opinions on ideas and the method of writing. Which makes sense because one writer's process is not going to be another's. The same with ideas. In "The Process of a Tale" it was very interesting to go through Ramsey Campbell's writing process for a particular story. It was interesting to see it evolve and change with his changing ideas.
In "A Horrifically Happy Medium" Taylor Grant gives some very good advice on choosing which medium works the best for your particular creative bent. Maybe you want to be a novelist but your stories come out sounding like screenplays. Or, perhaps you want to break into movies but are daunted by the difficult looking process. Why not try short films? I can't tell you how many great horror shorts that I see on YouTube and some of them have been made into feature length films. You never know. I was hoping for more on writing for video games, though. He says he wrote for some but doesn't mention which ones. Video games are becoming increasingly more than just a basic shoot-em-up. The best games have great stories to go with them. The perfect ones blend awesome stories with fun (or nerve-wracking) gameplay. Also the place to look for great horror games is not on the big consoles or put out by AAA publishers. It's in the indies. So some writing tips for that would be very valuable to those starting out in that direction.
It is also far from dry. And, with no disrespect to the other genres, I do find essays, bios etc. by horror authors more fun to read. They generally have a sense of humour that genres like drama and literary writers tend to lack. The item by Stephanie M. Wytovich was very entertaining (not least because I have a feeling our families would get along great) even though her subject was one that I generally take little interest in, poetry.
This is a great book for writers, editors, and reviewers to read. Yes, reviewers as well because it gave me some different points of view on some things. In fact, if I were to make a humble suggestion it would be to get a few bloggers and reviewers in on it as well. I'm not suggesting us, exactly (ok, I am, I know, I know, ego much?) but in all honesty they are the ones who read the smaller guys. Stephen King doesn't need another 5 (or 1) star rating to sell his books but that guy just starting out does. Trust me, we have advice to give that isn't always possible to give within a review.
Definitely a 5-star recommendation to writers, viewers and readers.
Received from Crystal Lake Publishing in exchange for an honest review...more