By Jason Harris
Joe Hill’s third novel, NOS4A2, is a witty, terrifying ride into the creepy world of Charlie Manx, who creates a Christmasland of horrors and carts off young children in his Rolls Royce Wraith to join in the fun. If your idea of fun is akin to hunting humans, that is.
Vic McQueen is our heroine. We meet her as a young girl, when she discovers that while riding her bike, she can escape from her unhappy home into other places and worlds. She is, in fact, the only child to escape Christmasland, a fact that does not sit well with Manx and his assistant, Bing.
Vic escapes Manx’s clutches with the assistance of Lou Carmody, an overweight, socially awkward comic book aficionado, and the two soon find themselves together and raising their son, Bruce Wayne. Nope. Not kidding. They named the kid after Batman. It is this kid that Manx and Bing target, and this kid that Vic and Lou must work together to save.
Names seem to be pretty important to Joe Hill, and also serve to showcase his fabulous sense of humor. Charlie Manx is reminiscent of another Charlie M, one with a big, murderous family from the late 60s. Bing is the name of both a search engine (fitting, since he searches out kids that, in his mind, are better off in Christmasland than with their horrible parents) and of a famous holiday crooner. I like to think of the NOS4A2 Bing like the latter: as Crosby’s son would spill in a nasty tell-all book, Bing was not the nice guy he appeared to be; nor is this one. Vic McQueen is a tough, sexy, rebellious motorcycle enthusiast, and her childhood parallels that of late actor Steve McQueen. He too had fond memories of a childhood bike, ran away from home, and had daddy issues.
The understated hero of this novel is Lou Carmody, who was by far my favorite character. His love for Vic and his son are unquestioning, and quite frankly, you’ll like Vic a little less because of the way she treats him. Though it is Vic who must return to Christmasland to face her demons, she wouldn’t get there, get it done, and get out without Lou’s unwavering support and assistance.
The problem I’ve had in the past with Joe Hill’s work is his endings. I wasn’t crazy about how Horns wrapped up, and I positively hated the ending of Heart-Shaped Box. (I have heard the same complaint from others about Hill’s father. Personally, I feel you do not have the right to complain about Stephen King until after you have written a bazillion bestsellers yourself. Until then, shut up.) And here’s where NOS4A2 differs: I loved, yes loved, this ending. Yet again Hill lets his delightful funny bone shine through, and he did it in a wonderful way. Here’s a hint: if you didn’t read the Acknowledgements and A Note on the Type following the last chapter of this book, then you did not read NOS4A2 all the way through.
Overall, I found this to be well done, a little wordy at times, but worth the ride.
It’s that time of year again when people start thinking about what their resolutions will be for 2014. According to Wikipedia, resolutions are a secular tradition more common in the West. The U.S. government even has a page on its website mentioning some of the most popular resolutions. Some of the more popular ones are quitting smoking, volunteering to help others, getting a better job, managing debt, and saving money. You can see the entire list here.
The biggest one that people choose for their resolution is to lose weight. If this is yours, I would suggest finding a 24-hour gym to add to your routine. I belonged to Anytime Fitness a number of years ago and the flexible hours were perfect for my schedule. Like the name implies, it’s open 24/7 for its members. I went at 4 a.m. a couple of times and there were a few people there even then. It was convenient and I didn’t have to wait to use the machines I wanted to use.
This year my resolution isn’t to lose weight, but to read more, a resolution I’ve made in the past. 2013 was not a big reading year for me; in fact, I read more in 2012. Here are just a few of the authors I want to read in 2014: Stephen King, Dale T. Phillips, Vlad Vasyln, Stacey Longo, Joe Hill, Jeff Strand, Clive Barker, Bracken MacLeod, Daniel G. Keohane, Rob Watts, David Price, Monica J O’Rourke, and Melissa Crandall. It won’t be the first time reading some of these authors, but all have been on my author-to-read list because I either know them or someone has recommended their work to me.
My other resolution is to get a full-time job to get cracking on managing my debt. Do I want to make that resolution and face that challenge? Just thinking about it gives me a headache; so I would rather just think about the magical places the authors on my list will take me when I crack open their books and start reading.
Happy New Year!
The Seventh Annual Boston Comic Con happened this weekend at the Seaport World Trade Center. It was originally scheduled for the weekend April 20 through 21 at the Hynes Convention Center, but was postponed because of the lockdown following the Boston Marathon bombing.
The convention organizer’s expected this year’s attendance to be 15,000. There were artist and event panels. There was also an Independent Film Festival on Saturday and a Zombie Film Festival on Sunday.
Boston Comic Con’s biggest celebrity guests were Laurie Holden of The Walking Dead and Kristen Bauer of True Blood. The other guests included Aidan Turner and Dean O’Gorman, who play the dwarves Kili and Fili respectively in The Hobbit movies.
The convention had many comic book artists such as Mark Bagley and James O’Barr. It had celebrities for the reading crowd too such as authors Joe Hill, Christopher Golden, and Steve Niles, who have all written comic books.
There were authors there that are not involved with comic books.
Author Estevan Vega isn’t new to big conventions. He was meeting fans and signing books at last year’s Rhode Island Comic Con.
If you went to the convention to see what attendees were dressing up as then you weren’t disappointed.
Pictures of the crowds, vendors, game players and groups at this year’s Boston Comic Con.
Boston Comic Con is over, but I’m looking forward to the 2014 one.
Next up will be another full-length novel. That one will be from Samhain (they put out Video Night, as well) and it’s my take on the satanic cult subgenre. All the longer pieces I’ve written have all been set in specific periods (the 1980s, 1960s, etc.) I didn’t want to become known as the “throwback” horror guy, so The Summer Job is set in our time. The characters have iPhones. I’m all done with that one and right now I’m working on a novella for a to-be-named publisher. I’m super excited about both of these.
2. On Amazon, it has you credited with Bound by Jade (the Fourth Sam Truman Mystery). Is this true and were you involved with any of the other mysteries in the series? I only ask since you don’t have this book listed on your website.
There are a couple of posts about it on the site, but I think they’ve been pushed off the front page over the last few months. It should be on the website; I’m just the world’s worst webmaster, so it’s not up there. I’ll fix that.
The series was created by writer/publisher Ed Kurtz. Sam’s a disgraced P.I. who just happens to get the city’s strangest cases (the books are supernatural noirs). I didn’t write the first three, but they all share the same character. The series is something special and I’m very proud of my entry. They’re dirt cheap, so everyone should give the Sam Truman books a try.
3. You have written about movies in Tribesmen and Video Night. Would you say, you have been influenced by movies? What movies have influenced you?
Yeah. Even from a young age, movies were my everything. Not to get lame with the “write what you know” adage, but I use the world of film as a jumping off point in those books. Video Night is based on the phenomenon of watching movies, especially the social aspect of that, while Tribesmen is more about making movies and what goes in (and shouldn’t go in) to getting what you need on camera.
The Summer Job doesn’t explicitly connect to the world of film, but it is my attempt to write in the genre of folk horror. To the best of my understanding, folk horror is predominately a film term and it describes the subgenre that films like The Wicker Man, Blood on Satan’s Claw and Kill List belong in. Those are all British films, and I am nowhere near British enough to try and write about the location, so mine’s a New England folk horror story.
4. You were a film studies major in college. What made you decide on that degree?
I studied both English and Film. When you’re a film studies major (as opposed to a film production major) the two fields of study are actually very similar. They’re both a lot of reading, writing, and analytical thinking. That kind of stuff interests me and I think that being a critical consumer of media (no matter if it’s Re-animator or The Canterbury Tales) makes you a better writer.
5. What did you envision doing with your life with a Film Studies degree?
I went to grad school for a year and picked up a Masters in Education. So I’m qualified to teach, which is also something I find worthwhile/enriching.
6. Who are some of your favorite writers?
Oh boy. This is one of those questions I could spend all night on. For horror, let’s go with Aaron Dries, Sarah Langan, Laird Barron, Stephen Graham Jones, Shane McKenzie, and Jeff Strand.
7. Who are you reading at the moment?
I’ve got Joe Hill’s latest, NOS4A2 almost finished. I’m right now in the process of choosing what goes next. I try to put my genre consumption on rotation, so since I’m just finishing reading something that’s horror I’ve got three different genres all vying for the title: N.K. Jemisin’s The Killing Moon (fantasy, I think), James S.A. Corey’s Abaddon’s Gate (science fiction) and Duane Swiercynski’s third Charlie Hardie book, Point & Shoot (crime).
Jeff and I had only met once very briefly before I asked him to take a look at the book, so I was really surprised how nice he was about the whole thing. His blurb is amazing and now that I’ve seen him a couple more times at conventions, he and his wife (author Lynne Hansen) are two of my favorite people.
9. Would you like to see Tribesmen or Video Night made into a movie?
10. If they were made into a movie, who would you like to see direct it and why?
Some aspects of the books would probably have to change either way, but I like to think that they’re both pretty adaptation-friendly.
Lexi Alexander would be a good choice for Video Night, in my opinion. She knows how to work with actors and gore in equal measure as evidenced by the criminally underrated Punisher: War Zone.
The dynamic directing-duo of John Skipp and Andrew Kasch would be my choice for Tribesmen. They’ve done some incredible short work that’s both hilarious and disgusting. They would get the tone EXACTLY.
I mean. There are no films in the works or anything, so why don’t we throw P.T. Anderson and Kathryn Bigelow and [Martin] Scorsese in the running?
11. What made you stay in Boston after college?
I love it. It’s been my home for seven years. It’s a movie-loving town, for one thing. The Coolidge and the Brattle are two of the best theaters in the country and they’re both walking distance from me.
12. Are there any plans to put Bone Meal Broth out in paperback? What inspired that collection of work?
I had the rights back to a bunch of stories that had been previously published, so I picked out the best of them and put out a short (20,000 word) collection. I’m quite proud of it, but I’m not sure it’ll ever be in paperback. It’s the only time I’ve self-published something and I really enjoyed the experience. Maybe in a few years I’ll bump up the word count by adding some stories to the roster and then find a publisher that would tangle with it.
13. What has your nonfiction work been about?
It’s all film essays. I’ve written guest posts for a few blogs and my articles have seen print in Paracinema Magazine. They’re amazing, by the way, if you haven’t read that magazine I highly recommend it.
14. Your work has been featured in Shroud and Fangoria. How did it feel being in Fangoria, a horror magazine that I think every person who is or has been into reading/watching horror has read?
That was just a quick book review I wrote freelance for them, but it got my name on the contributor page and I thought I would faint. For the whole month I was going to newsstands, thumbing to my page and giggling like a madman.
15. You had a blog, Brain Tremors. I love that name by the way. Why choose that name? Did the name come to you right away? Is there history behind the name?
Yeah, Brain Tremors. That was my old page, but I still use the banner over at www.adamcesare.com. I kind of knew what I wanted the insignia to look like, and what’s creepier than an involuntary shaking of the brain?
16. What would be your advice for wannabe writers?
Ha. I’m too low-level to be handing out advice. My advice would be to take writing advice from Joe Lansdale, as he hands it out occasionally on his Twitter/Facebook feed.
One thing that does bug me is the idea of an “aspiring” writer. There are a lot of people on twitter that label themselves that way. Fake it till you make it, guys and gals. There’s no room on the internet for low self-esteem, it’s too full of cat pictures and lackluster writing advice.
Last Saturday, on May 25, my daughter and I made the trip up to the Barnes and Noble in Nashua, New Hampshire for the special event where horror/speculative fiction writer Joe Hill was appearing. He is presently doing appearances in various areas to promote his newest novel, NOS4A2. He was to do a brief reading from his new book, a Q and A session with the audience, and then start the signing of his books.
My nickname should really start to become “Tardy Tim” because I am late for everything recently. We got to the event around 2:30 (half an hour late) and missed the reading part of the event. There was a huge crowd all encompassing the magazine section of the store. My daughter and I snuck in the back, right beside fellow Necon camper Gardner Goldsmith (SHOUTOUT).
Joe has a terrific personality answering the questions before him making the audience cackle with laughs at all the right moments. When the subject of his famous father came up, Joe retorted with the statement, “You all may have heard my Dad writes here and there. He may have a future in this business, but who knows.” Joe made a point to refresh the audience that ALL of his family members are fantastic writers. This included his mom, Tabitha, his brother, Owen with a new novel out at present, and Owen’s wife is also a novelist. The King household at get-togethers and around the dinner table has always been the place for literary conversation.
Gardner’s question was a very good one. He asked Mr. Hill about his productive output, as in a daily word count and also any certain moments in his career that were pivotal in his direction. Joe answered with a daily 1200 words before anything: emails, phone calls, etc. The pivotal moment was his choice to pursue the horror/speculative fiction genre after some literary attempts – simply because he loved the genre was the answer, and the choice of the pseudonym, which was to not rely on name alone for his writing merits. Joe Hill made it as a successful writer on his own terms before it leaked who his identity was. The speed round Q and A was hilarious with short “yes” or “no” answers to multiple questions.
The signing line was quite long, but well worth the wait. Joe was great by answering questions, signing multiple books, and even posing for a few pictures. One could easily say it was a successful event and a great time was had by everyone who attended. This was the second time I met Joe Hill, but it was my 10-year-old daughter’s first time. She braved through some of the boring parts for a child with her dad trying to best to keep a smile on her face. Her name is now even personalized in two of Mr. Hill’s books and resides now in our home on my bookcase.
The New England Independent Booksellers Association Fall Conference happens at the Rhode Island Convention Center at 1 Sabin Street in Providence, Rhode Island from Wednesday through Friday.
During the three-day conference, there will be exhibitors, lunch with booksellers, wholesalers and reps, panels, and plenty of other activities. You can check out the entire schedule by clicking here.
Some of the panels taking place during the conference include Best of Both Worlds: Understanding the Young Adult and Adult Crossover Market, Social Media 2.0: Beyond the Basics: Using Social Media to Drive Sales and Customer Engagement, Meeting the Literacy Needs in Your Community and ABA – E-book Solution.
There will also be autograph sessions with a number of authors inlcuding Joe Hill (Heart-Shaped Box), Nancy DiFabbio (Midnight Magic: Be Careful What You Wish For) and Kristy McKay (Undead) throughout the three-day event.
The 2012 Independent Spirit Awards will also be given out on Friday.
If you want to support NEIBA member stores in any of the New England states, click here.
This entry appeared on author and NEHW member Kate Laity’s website.
My pal and fellow Horror in Film and Literature lister, Jan Kozlowski, first fell in love with the horror genre in 1975 when the single drop of ruby blood on the engraved black cover of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot hypnotized her into buying it. She sold her first story, Psychological Bacchanal to the EWG E-zine in 1997. Her short story, Parts is Parts, won awards in both the International Writing Competition sponsored by DarkEcho’s E-zine and Quoth the Raven’s Bad Stephen King contest. Another short story, Stuff It, was sold to an independent film producer and went into production as a movie short called Sweet Goodbyes. Her short stories have appeared in: Remittance Girl’s A Slip of the Lip anthology, Lori Perkins’ Hungry for Your Love: An Anthology of Zombie Romance and Fangbangers: An Erotic Anthology of Fangs, Claws, Sex and Love.
She is extremely proud and excited to announce that her first novel, Die, You Bastard! Die! debuted February 7, as part of Lori Perkins’ new horror line, Ravenous Shadows, edited by the legendary John Skipp.
Q: What do you write on? Computer, pad o’ paper, battered Underwood? Give us a vivid picture.
I do the majority of my writing on my cherished MacBook Pro laptop. I tend to turn my MacBook on at 6:30 a.m. and don’t shut down until 9 p.m. or later most days [Ed: Hmmm, you can shut them down?]. If I either get stuck or get a jones to feel pen against paper, I’ll pull out my old white L&M Ambulance Company clipboard loaded with scrap paper and start scribbling. The board is a souvenir of my days as an urban EMT in Hartford, CT and I keep it around as a reminder of what I COULD be doing for a living.
Q: Do you listen to music while you write? Does it influence what you write?
I almost always listen to my local Dinosaur (Classic) Rock radio station when I’m working. Since Die, You Bastard! Die! is such an ultra violent story, I tried putting together a play list of heavier metal like Avenged Sevenfold (my granddaughter’s favorite band), Testament, Broken Hope, Disturbed, but I ended up distracted by the unfamiliar songs. Listening to the rock I grew up with in the 70’s like Bob Seger, The Eagles, Bruce Springsteen and Aerosmith, with a little Tom Waits, Frank Zappa, Nathan & the Zydeco Cha-Chas, Bon Jovi and Bacon Brothers thrown in via iTunes works best for me.
Q: Do you write in short bursts or carve out long periods of time to work? Is it a habit or a vice?
For me, writing is a business. I’ve been freelancing since I was about 12 and sold articles about raising tropical fish to my hometown newspaper. For the past 15 years or so I’ve run my own freelance writing shop doing all sorts of business and web related writing, editing and research work. Over the past two years, I’ve slowly been moving away from the business projects in order to focus on my horror fiction, but whether I’m writing fiction or non-fiction my work style is the same….commit to the project and write until the client, the editor or I’m happy with the finished product.
Q: What writer would you most want to read your work? What would you want to hear them say?
That’s already happened…on one of the drafts of Die, You Bastard! Die! I think I managed to gross out my editor, legendary Splatterpunk King, John Skipp! Now if I can, one day, pay Dean Koontz back for the creeps he gave me with his novel Whispers, I’ll die a happy writer.
Q: On the days where the writing doesn’t go so well, what other art or career do you fantasize about pursuing instead?
When I was a little girl my grandfather used to tell me stories about his adventures working for a funeral home during the pre-embalming fluid days. I always thought I would have loved working in mortuary sciences, but when I was going to school women weren’t exactly welcomed into the funeral services industry. Now that times have changed and we have a first class Mortuary Sciences degree program at our local college, I’ve always thought that would make a fabulous Plan B, even now at age 50+.
Q: What do you read? What do you re-read?
I try to read a little bit of everything. I get some great ideas from newspapers and magazines. I just discovered and am now devouring Mad Money Wall Street guru, Jim Cramer’s books. I try and read as much classic horror like Robert Bloch, M.R. James, Fritz Leiber, H.P. Lovecraft, Richard Matheson, Edgar Allan Poe and J.N. Williamson as possible. I also try to keep up with who’s publishing today beyond Bestsellersaurus Rexes Stephen King and Dean Koontz. I’m a huge fan of Edward Lee, Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Joe R. Landsdale, Jonathan Maberry, Elizabeth Massie, Yvonne Navarro, Weston Ochse, Monica O’Rourke, John Skipp and Andrew Vachss.
I rarely find time to re-read anything unless I’m researching a specific writing technique, like how Jonathan Maberry handled the fight scenes in his Pine Deep trilogy or how Dean Koontz ramped up to the reveal of the cockroaches in Whispers.
Q: Where did the idea for Die,You Bastard! Die! come from? Do you have a surefire way of sparking inspiration? And is that an awesome title or what?!
The idea for Die, You Bastard! Die! came out of a lovely dinner Ravenous Shadows publisher Lori Perkins and I had during the 2011 Northeast Writer’s Conference, known as NECON. Lori mentioned she was looking for a story about an adult child coming home to take care of her abusive parent and it matched up with a story I had been kicking around for years about a survivor of childhood sexual abuse coming home to deal with her past. After the conference I got home, wrote up the proposal, Skipp green-lighted it and we took off from there. I realize that’s not the way most writers get a book deal but it goes to prove that if you consistently put the hard work in, you WILL find yourself at the right place, at the right time with the right story.
Writing inspiration and story/character/plot ideas are everywhere if you’re open to them…and my motivation for being open to them usually is based on my memories of being paid $5 an hour to be projectile vomited on as an EMT or waitressing at Friendly’s for .60 below minimum wage.
John Skipp raves about this book:
Die, You Bastard! Die! is one hard-as-nails crime story indeed, with a crime at its core so heinous it boggles both mind and soul. That said, it is also a horror story, a mystery, and an insanely taut suspense thriller. Categories are funny like that.
But human monsters don’t get more humanly monstrous than Big Daddy. And it don’t get much rougher and tougher than Jan Kozlowski’s violently matter-of-fact, emotionally ass-kicking, downright incendiary son of a bitch.
I love this book, and stand behind it 100%. Hope it blows you away, as it did me. And has you coming back for more.
The collection is edited by Sam Weller & Mort Castle and will be released this summer.
Signed and numbered edition limited to 500: $75.
Signed (including Ray Bradbury) and lettered edition limited to 26: $500.
To order, click this link and go to More Information: http://www.borderlandspress.com/. (The collection’s cover hasn’t been announced yet)
Under a joint imprint, Gauntlet Press and Borderlands Press will publish a limited, signed, and numbered edition of Shadow Show, a tribute anthology to celebrate the career of Ray Bradbury. In the collection, editors Sam Weller and Mort Castle have assembled short stories from 26 of the most celebrated authors today to honor Ray and his contribution to the literary canon. Also included is an introduction in the form of a personal essay “Second Homecoming,” written by Ray Bradbury, specifically for the book.
Limited to only 500 copies, this book is signed by all contributors (except Ray Bradbury) including Margaret Atwood, David Eggers, Neil Gaiman, Alice Hoffman, Joe Hill, and many other award-winning writers.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Sam Weller and Mort Castle – Introduction
Ray Bradbury – Second Homecoming
Neil Gaiman – The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury
Margaret Atwood – Headlife
Jay Bonansinga – Heavy
Sam Weller – The Girl In The Funeral Parlor
David Morrell – The Companions
Thomas F. Monteleone – The Exchange
Lee Martin – Cat on a Bad Couch
Joe Hill – By The Silver Water Of Lake Champlain
Dan Chaon – Little America
John McNally – The Phone Call
Joe Meno – Young Pilgrims
Robert McCammon – Children Of The Bedtime Machine
Ramsey Campbell – The Page
Mort Castle – Light
Alice Hoffman – Conjure
John Maclay – Max
Jacqueline Mitchard – Two Of A Kind
Gary Braunbeck – Fat Man And Little Boy
Bonnie Jo Campbell – The Tattoo
Audrey Niffenegger – Backwards In Seville
Charles Yu – Earth: (A Gift Shop)
Julia Keller – Hayleigh’s Dad
Dave Eggers – Who Knocks?
Bayo Ojikutu – Reservation 2020
Kelly Link – Two Houses
Harlan Ellison – Weariness