News, Views & Interview for CD #65

The following will appear as the “News and Views” and “Interview” sections of my Spotlight on Publishing column in Cemetery Dance #65.  The “Reviews” portion of the column will be comprised of reviews that have appeared previously on this website, so followers of this site are in essence getting the entirety of my column ahead of time, albeit in a different sequence.

NEWS & VIEWS

It seems there’s seldom a dull moment in the horror small press field, and the last few months have been no exception.

Let’s start by acknowledging the newcomers to our ranks. In recent months, we’ve seen new publishers Chômu Press, Noose & Gibbet Publishing, and Uninvited Books join the fray. Each of the three seems intriguing in their own way.  Chômu Press’s inaugural title, Remember You’re a One-Ball, by Quentin S. Crisp, lives up to the press’s slogan of “new vistas of irreality,” while their other announced titles display an affinity for the styles and settings of yesteryear. Witness Reggie Oliver’s The Dracula Papers, which opens in 1576; Daniel Mills’s Revenants, which is set in 1689; and Justin Isis’s I Wonder What Human Flesh Tastes Like, which is written in a style that’s compared to Oscar Wilde and Villiers de L’isle-Adam.

Noose & Gibbet also features a nostalgic bent, but of a slightly more contemporary fashion. Their sold-out debut title Back From the Dead is a tribute anthology of mostly new stories, dedicated to the Pan Books of Horror series that ran from 1959 to 1989, and their announced second title is the collection Party Pieces by Mary Danby, longtime editor of, and contributor to, the Fontana Book of Great Horror Stories series during the 1970s and early ‘80s. Uninvited Books, meanwhile, has so far been a bit all over the map, with the anthology Shadows, which contains classic reprints, and new novels from Greg F. Gifune (already sold out) and Robert Dunbar.

These new publishers have been added to the list of active horror small presses that I maintain online at www.twilightridge.net/blog/?page_id=19.

On the negative side of the ledger, we’ve recently seen a few presses apparently fall by the wayside, with the two confirmed cases being longtime publisher Necro Publications and promising upstart Full Moon Press. Necro, as many readers of this column will know, had specialized in edgy and explicit horror (with occasional forays into bizarro fiction via their Bedlam Press imprint), publishing the likes of Edward Lee, Jeffrey Thomas, and John Everson. In a statement on the Necro Publications website, founder David Barnett announced he was putting the press on hold indefinitely as he deals with some significant health issues.

As unfortunate as Barnett’s situation is, it’s trumped by the tribulations faced by Full Moon Press founder Paul Little, who announced via an email that, due to Lyme Disease contracted almost 20 years ago, he was unlikely to live to see 2011 and was thus shutting down the press. Full Moon managed to publish only two titles – Rick Hautala’s The Wildman and a reprint of Joseph Sheridan LeFanu’s Carmilla – but had an intriguing lineup planned, including titles by the likes of Scott Nicholson and David Niall Wilson.

In other interesting news, Delirium Press founder Shane Ryan Staley essentially introduced the concept of Personal Seat Licenses to small press publishing.  For the uninformed, Personal Seat Licenses, or PSLs, give the holder the right to buy season tickets for a certain seat in a stadium. The PSL holder can sell the seat license to someone else if they no longer wish to purchase season tickets. PSLs are generally regarded as a creative way for sports teams to make more money – or a borderline scam, depending on your point of view. Building on the concept of collectors who prefer to own the same numbered copy of each limited edition issued by a particular press, Staley auctioned off “first refusal” rights to numbered titles from his new press, Altar 13, which will produce 100-copy micro-editions. Staley clarifies the rights thusly: “These auctions are NOT lifetime memberships.  Winning bidders will not be getting any books; they will be purchasing ownership of the number upon the terms of first rights of refusal for every title published by Altar 13.” Buyers of Altar 13 numbers had better hope that the books hold their value better than season tickets have for some of those pro sports teams.

Finally…up until now, I’ve avoided covering digital-only publishers, either in this column or on twilightridge.net, but the changing face of publishing dictates that my approach should also change. I’ll start my coverage of digital publishers by briefly covering one promising newcomer and one example of caveat emptor.

Crossroad Press, the brainchild of author David Niall Wilson, produces both digital and downloadable audio books, and also acts as a reseller for ebooks from other publishers. Wilson describes Crossroad Press as being: “…dedicated to returning out of print titles in new, modern formats, and to creating original high-quality audio books by authors that have otherwise been ignored in that format.” Although the press offers titles across genres, their early titles show a healthy inclination towards horror, featuring authors such as Tom Piccirilli and Chet Williamson.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have Lovecraft Press, a firm that managed to both debut and (apparently) flame out in less than a year. As of this writing, there are numerous accusations from writers of contracts not being fulfilled, while the Lovecraft Press website consists of only a single page, unfettered by useful information. Perhaps H.P. Lovecraft can quit spinning in his grave in shame over the usage of his name, as Lovecraft Press seems to be trying to revive itself under the new name Afterlife Publications. At this point, Afterlife/Lovecraft appears to be another textbook example of how not to launch a small press.

INTERVIEW

Bad Moon Books is owned and operated by Roy Robbins in Garden Grove, CA. Robbins began operating as a bookseller in 1993 and then in 2007 made the move into publishing, and has already published more than 30 titles. Bad Moon Books’ publications include limited edition paperbacks and hardcovers (and the occasional trade edition).  Several Bad Moon titles have been nominated for Bram Stoker Awards, and John R. Little’s Miranda win the 2008 Bram Stoker Award for “Superior Achievement in Long Fiction.”

CD: You were a specialty bookseller before getting into publishing. When did you start the bookselling business, and what was the impetus for that?

BMB: First off, I just want to thank you for doing this interview. I have known Rich for over 20 years, and it is in honor to be in CD. I started selling books way back in 1982. I had given my wife a copy of The Dead Zone by Stephen King and she never read it. I picked it up, and was instantly hooked. I read everything by King that I could get my hands on. I bought a copy of the limited edition of Cycle of the Werewolf and was soon a rabid collector. It was the heyday of small presses like Dark Harvest and I started buying multiple copies and selling them to get my copy for free, and eventually even make a little money. I left my job at Hughes Aircraft Company in 1993 and started selling books full time. My first method of selling was printed and mailed catalogs, but soon the Internet took over. I have owned two brick and mortar bookstores but now am internet only.

CD: What prompted you to make the move into publishing in 2007?

BMB: Being in the business for as long as I have, I have gotten to know many people in the industry including a large number of authors. My right hand woman, Liz Scott, had been prompting me for many years to get into publishing and finally I just got tired of her bugging me. We sent out requests for manuscripts in mid 2006 and Wes Ochse’s Vampire Outlaw of the Milky Way was our first book.

CD: How did you settle on the Bad Moon name?

BMB: Back when I was doing stapled and mailed catalogs I figured that I needed a catchy name that would roll off the tongue, but still had a sinister aspect to it. I have always been a big fan of Creedence Clearwater Revival, and the rest is history.

CD: Who else, besides yourself, is involved in Bad Moon Books?

BMB: Liz Scott is my associate editor, office manager, shipper, and muse; Cesar Puch (who, by the way lives in Peru) is my designer and typesetter; Jamie LaChance and Leigh Haig are my copy editors; Matthew JLD Rice did my logo designs; and of course my wife Jeanine puts up with the countless hours of publishing-related work.

CD: In the first three years of your press’s existence, you produced six, six, and fifteen titles. Do you hope to keep expanding your production, or have you reached a level that you’re content with?

BMB: In all honesty, I would like to stay at about 10-12 titles per year. Just recently we have begun to do some print-on-demand publishing and I am very excited about that venture as it allows us to put out quality titles without a huge cash outlay up front. With the current economic situation, people are being much more frugal with their expendable income and we have to be sensitive to that. POD allows us to print the number of copies needed to fulfill orders and not carry large amounts of inventory.

CD: Publishing Clive Barker’s The Adventures of Mr. Maximillian Bacchus and His Travelling Circus in 2009 was obviously a major coup for you. How did you come to publish that book?

BMB: I have been friends with Clive for quite some time. I also be came friends with Hans Rueffert of Luna 7 and had been selling quite a few of Clive’s giclees (original looking prints), which are produced by Luna 7. I felt that Bad Moon really needed a heavy hitter author to give us a shot in the arm, so I asked Clive if he had anything we could publish and he turned over Bacchus. He had written Bacchus as a teenager but it had never been printed. At the time of this writing we are still planning on doing another Barker titled Candle in the Cloud that Clive wrote many years ago.

CD: Simon Clark is another relatively “big name” that you’ve published…how did you acquire his This Ghosting Tide?

BMB: Simon and I met at the World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City back in 2008. I asked him at that time if he had anything he would like to submit to us in novella length. About 6 months later he submitted This Ghosting Tide. I hope to work with Simon again in the future as it has been a pleasure.

CD: Up until recently, your largest print run had been 326 copies. But then you produced 1800+ copies of the Barker title, and three “unlimited” edition titles. Does this signal a change in your publishing philosophy, or will you continue to produce smaller, limited editions as well?

BMB: I feel at this time in the life of Bad Moon Books that it is a good idea to be realistic when it comes to print run sizes. Keep in mind that an “unlimited” print run does not always mean that it is going to be a huge one. In the past, we have printed 300 copy runs and had them around for awhile. Unlimited means that we can have the luxury of only printing what we need. I do not ever see us increasing our print runs much, unless it is for a Barker, or one of the other “heavy hitters.”

CD: Out of the 30 titles you’ve published to date, only six have been novels. Do you plan to publish more novels in the future, or will you continue to focus more on novellas and chapbooks?

BMB:  By the time this interview is published, it will be nine novels as Vintage Soul by David Niall Wilson, Sparrow Rock by Nate Kenyon, and The Dead Parade by James Roy Daley will have been published. Both Liz and I really love the novella format, so I would say that the majority of our titles will be novellas. In fact, we started out intending to only publish novellas, but had some novels offered that were too good to pass up. I like the novella format as it can introduce new authors and you can get your feet wet without having to take a whole bath.

CD: Besides the Barker book, which titles have been your fastest sellers?

BMB:  Gene O’Neill’s The Confessions of St. Zach sold quickly, as did Miranda by John R. Little (which, by the way, we have recently reprinted). Our latest publication Blood Spring by Erik Williams has had brisk sales (it has been favorably compared to Laymon’s The Wilds), and Gene O’Neill’s novels Lost Tribe and Shadow of the Dark Angel, and Cletus by David Niall Wilson also sold very quickly.

CD: You’ve published four titles by Gene O’Neill and three by John Urbancik – is it safe to say that those two authors are personal favorites of yours?

BMB: Even though I have not known Gene all that long (we first met in San Francisco at WHC in 2007), he is someone I consider to be a very special author, and more importantly friend. Our lives have some interesting parallels (even though he is MUCH OLDER…lol) and I feel as if I have known him for many years. Gene is a fine man, father, grandfather, husband, author and friend. I am proud to publish his work and call him friend. I don’t even like Urbancik, but he is always bugging me. Just kidding! I have never met John in person but I enjoy publishing his work because it is, to borrow a famous quote, “like a box of chocolates.” I honestly feel if we had been a better-known publisher when we did his novella Wings of the Butterfly, it would have won a Stoker for long fiction.

CD:  You’ve published six titles in your Eclipse series.  What are the criteria for books in that series? Do you plan to continue with the series for the foreseeable future?

BMB: From now on, any novel-length books we publish will be in our Eclipse line. Really, from now on, that is the only criteria.

CD: Who are some authors that you have not yet published who you’d like to add to the Bad Moon Books stable?

BMB: Well, one that instantly comes to mind is that unknown named Stephen King. I would also love to work with Joe Hill, Brian Keene, F. Paul Wilson, Ray Garton, Joe R. Lansdale, and a bunch more.

CD: Five years from now, where would you like Bad Moon Books to be?

BMB: I would like us to be pretty much the same thing we are doing today. I would love to see the economy turn around so we can begin to raise print runs again. I want to always be known for publishing quality dark fiction that is not considered to be “over the top.” Liz and I and our spouses are all devoted Christians so we will never ransom our faith to publish something that is too extreme. It would be nice to continue to have our authors win awards from their peers as this indicates we are picking some cool stuff to publish.

Bad Moon Books Publications List

Novels

  • Johnny Gruesome by Greg Lamberson (2007): 26- and 250-copy editions.
  • As Fate Would Have It by Michael Louis Calvillo (2009): 26- and l50-copy editions.
  • The Adventures of Mr. Maximillian Bacchus and His Travelling Circus by Clive Barker (2009): 1500-, 300-, 26-, and 10-copy editions

Eclipse Series

  • The Not Quite Right Reverend Cletus J. Diggs & the Currently Accepted Habits of Nature by David Niall Wilson (2008):  26- and 100-copy editions.
  • Little Graveyard on the Prairie by Steven E. Wedel (2009):  26- and 100-copy editions.
  • Lost Tribe by Gene O’Neill (2009):  26- and 100-copy editions.
  • Shadow of the Dark Angel by Gene O’Neill (2009):  26- and 100-copy editions.
  • Crimson by Gord Rollo (2010):  26- and 100-copy editions.
  • Monster Town / The Butcher of Box Hill by Logan Savile aka Brian M. Logan and Steve Savile (2010): 26- and 100-copy editions.
  • Vintage Soul by David Niall Wilson (2010): 26- and 100-copy editions.
  • Sparrow Rock by Nate Kenyon (2010): 26- and 100-copy editions.
  • The Dead Parade by James Roy Daley: 26- and 100-copy editions.

Novellas

  • House of Shadow and Ash by John Urbancik (2007):  150-copy edition.
  • Wings of the Butterfly by John Urbancik (2007):  26- and 300-copy editions.
  • Vampire Outlaw of the Milky Way by Wes Ochse (2007): 26- and 300-copy editions.
  • You In? by Kealan Patrick Burke (2007):  26- and 300-copy editions.
  • Restore From Backup by J. F. Gonzalez & Mike Oliveri (2007): 26- and 300-copy editions.
  • Plague Monkey Spam by Steve Vernon (2008): 26- and 200-copy editions.
  • The Scrubs by Simon Janus (AKA Simon Wood) (2008): 26- and 200-copy editions.
  • The Bitchfight by Michael Arnzen (2008):  26- and 200-copy editions.
  • The Confessions of St. Zach by Gene O’Neill (2008):  26- and 200-copy editions.
  • Miranda (AKA adnariM) by John R. Little (October 2008):  26-copy, 250-copy and unlimited trade editions.
  • The Gray Zone by John R. Little (2009):  26- and 100-copy editions.
  • The Hunger of Empty Vessels by Scott Edelman (2009):  26- and 150-copy editions.
  • The Better Year by Bridget Morrow (2009):  26- and 100-copy editions.
  • Necropolis by John Urbancik (2009):  26- and 100-copy editions.
  • The Lucid Dreaming by Lisa Morton (2009):  26- and 150-copy editions.
  • This Ghosting Tide by Simon Clark (2009):  26- and 300-copy editions.
  • Doc Good’s Traveling Show by Gene O’Neill (2009):  26- and 200-copy editions.
  • The Watching by Paul Melniczek (2009):  26- and 150-copy editions. Bonus chapbook Bad Candy was offered to buyers who pre-ordered copies.
  • Lord of the Lash and Our Lady of the Boogaloo by Weston Ochse (2009):  26- and 200-copy editions.
  • The Day Before by John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow (2009): unlimited trade edition.
  • 51 Fiendish Ways to Leave Your Lover by Lisa Mannetti (2010): unlimited trade edition.
  • Blood & Gristle by Michael Louis Calvillo (2010): unlimited trade edition.

Steve & Stephen – Steve Duffy’s “Tragic Life Stories” & the Stephen King art collection “Knowing Darkness”

Two new reviews this time….

In her insightful Introduction to Steve Duffy’s new collection Tragic Life Stories, Ash-Tree Press co-publisher Barbara Roden notes that Duffy has come a long way from the quasi-Jamesian ghost stories in which he specialized early in his career, calling the stories gathered here “light years away from those in Steve’s previous two collections.”

It’s an accurate assessment, as the nine stories collected (six original) employ contemporary settings and consistently feature a dark, gritty feeling, sometimes slipping over the line into outright hopelessness. Take “Tantara,” in which a couple on their first vacation together stumbles upon an isolated rural community that engages in some particularly nasty traditions, leading to a decidedly downbeat ending. A similar finale can be found in “The Fabric of Things,” wherein office-worker Donna is dismayed by the constant construction and maintenance work at her new job, not realizing just how vital the shoring-up tasks really are. In “Certain Death for a Known Person,” a college student spending the weekend with a friend’s family experiences a bizarre midnight encounter and, in order to save his friend’s sister, makes a bargain that he ultimately will regret.

The subject of “The First Time” is exactly the sexual encounter that its title implies, but it’s the surrounding details, involving a stolen grimoire and a deadly demonic presence, that make the story memorable. Likewise, the basic concept in “Someone Across the Way” is not remarkably original – a man spies from his window on an apartment a couple blocks distant, seeing some disturbingly familiar items and vaguely unsettling activities, leading him to investigate – but the execution is top-notch, ratcheting up the mystery and tension. In a couple of the stories here, the execution isn’t quite strong to overcome unoriginal concepts, but for the most part, this is a remarkably consistent collection – easily one of the strongest I’ve encountered so far this year.

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I recall that when I first read about Knowing Darkness: Artists Inspired by Stephen King, I viewed the $395 price tag and wondered why publisher Centipede Press couldn’t also produce a (relatively) inexpensive trade paperback version. Well, once I laid eyes on the book – and, more importantly, laid hands on it – it became apparent that a cheaper edition might literally have been impossible. Given the book’s sheer size (more than 500 illustrations, appearing on 450 11 x 15 pages) and weight (a wrist-bending 15+ pounds), it seems questionable whether a paperback binding could stand up to the task, even if a lighter paper stock were used.

Dimensions aside, Knowing Darkness is a remarkable piece of work, employing four-color printing on heavy varnished paper between quality boards, housed in a custom-fitted, illustrated slipcase. The book includes artwork by the likes of Berni Wrightson, Michael Whelan, Bob Eggleton, Jill Bauman, Les Edwards, John Picacio, Rick Berry, Glenn Chadbourne, Alan Clark, Stephen Gervais, and Phil Hale, to name but a very few (and it’s nice to see illustrations from Allen Koszowski, whose work often appears in small press magazines, appearing here on such high-quality paper, and benefitting richly from it). In addition to all the reprinted work, there are many newly-commissioned pieces as well, including an explicit fold-out illustration for Gerald’s Game by Ned Dameron, and new illustrations for It, The Shining, ‘Salem’s Lot, and many other tales.

The reprinted work is drawn from all manner of sources, including out-of-print limited editions, US and foreign trade editions, magazine appearances, and film posters. Several book jacket illustrations that didn’t seem particularly striking when they originally appeared are much more impressive when reproduced here without title text or other elements to distract. It’s also interesting to see illustrations from foreign editions, which are sometimes vastly superior to the art used by US publishers. The accompanying text—primarily in the form of essays and artist biographies and interviews—is authored by well-known King scholar George Beahm and frequently serves to provide worthwhile insights and fascinating background information.

As for flaws, or at least desired enhancements? Well, I really wish Beahm’s descriptions of the art were cross-referenced with the actual page numbers on which the illustrations appear. Frequently, a compelling description of a particular illustration is several pages away from the actual appearance of said illustration, leaving the reader constantly flipping pages to try and view the art while Beahm’s comments are still freshly in mind. Similarly, “findability” would have been greatly enhanced by an Index.

And I do unfortunately have one concern to express about the otherwise stellar materials used—because it took me a few weeks to get around to reviewing the book, and then a couple more weeks to slowly savor it and work my way through it, Knowing Darkness sat here long enough for me to see that the art affixed to the slipcase began to peel back on both sides of the case. It’s easy enough to glue back, but when forking over the price that this book commands, one shouldn’t have to deal with such concerns.

Gluing issues aside, it’s perhaps telling to say that Knowing Darkness surpassed my expectations to a sufficient extent that, if I didn’t have a review copy, I would purchase one. Considering the price tag, that’s no faint praise. In fact, I’m highly tempted to spring for Centipede’s similar H.P. Lovecraft volume.

Reviews of books by Herter, Dowling (2), and Morlan…

We’re back, with a handful of new reviews.  The “news and views” I promised last time?  Er, not so much.  But they’ll be here soon.  Really Soon Now.  On to the reviews…

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The latest entry in Earthling Publications’ annual Halloween series. A talented and highly touted author possessing great admiration and respect for Halloween and the horror genre, penning a nostalgic novel that’s a loving tribute to Hollywood stop-motion effects pioneer Willis O’Brien, written solidly in the distinctive, evocative style of Ray Bradbury. What could possibly go wrong? Well, unfortunately, something does go wrong somewhere along the way in David Herter’s October Dark, a promising novel that ultimately frustrates.

Starting with the positives, Herter’s style is truly lush and at times lyrical, and he wields a wonderful premise here, featuring two timelines in the decaying city of Grenton, one set around Halloween 1931 and the other in the weeks leading up to Halloween 1977. In the former storyline, O’Brien is opposed by the evil and seemingly immortal magician Henri Mordaunt.  In the more contemporary storyline, thirteen-year-olds Will and Jim (names that will certainly be familiar to fans of Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes) are devoted aficionados of fantastic cinema, reveling in the recent release of Star Wars, with dreams of making movies themselves.  Common to both timelines is Hollywood model maker Les Deerton, who worked with O’Brien and seeks to protect Will from a deadly presence.

Herter name-checks a variety of movie luminaries, weaving an intricate alternate history and at times creating some truly creepy atmosphere, but this nostalgic novel gets bogged down in sentimentality and torpid pacing and soon starts to feel maudlin and self-indulgent.  It pains me somewhat to pass a negative judgment like this, because I really did want to like this novel, but the tail-dragging pace ultimately left me bone-weary and in search of a finale that was far too long in coming.

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I’m a big fan (I know, where have you heard me say that before?) of Australian author Terry Dowling. Although I was never able to get Dowling to submit anything for CD magazine, I did manage to twist CDP honcho Rich Chizmar’s arm into publishing a collection of Dowling’s work, Basic Black, which I edited and designed. I was thus thrilled to see not one, but two new Dowling titles show up recently in my mailbox: his first novel, Clowns at Midnight, from PS Publishing, and the collection Amberjack, from Subterranean Press.

Let’s start with the novel first. As its title implies, Clowns at Midnight involves clowns. And protagonist David Leeton—like Dowling, an Australian author of dark fiction and an occasional lyricist—is unfortunately in violent agreement with Lon Chaney, who supposedly said that the most frightening thing he could think of was “a clown, at midnight.” Leeton, in fact, has coulrophobia—an abnormal or exaggerated fear of clowns—that also encompasses masks, dummies, marionettes and the like, and which is exacerbated by his counterphobia, a condition which leads him to seek out the very things that frighten him.

On the rebound from a long-term relationship that ended badly, Leeton has just started an extended house-sitting gig in a remote location, where he hopes to put his past behind him and get a lot of writing done. He soon meets his neighbors Carlo and Raina Rissi, an enigmatic couple from Sardinia who by turns seem interested in befriending Leeton and deceiving him. Strange things soon begin to happen to Leeton, and it seems clear that someone is trying very hard to frighten him…but why they’re doing so is not at all obvious. There is a sense of omnipresent mystery and growing dread throughout Dowling’s debut novel, which is hampered only by a tone that seems detached, at times almost bordering on clinical.

As a side note, during a conversation between David and Carlo, Dowling manages to make reference to the sub-titles of his two recent collections (Basic Black: Tales of Appropriate Fear and Amberjack: Tales of Fear and Wonder):

“It’s what fear does,” he said. “Appropriate fear. Puts us back in the world. War and crisis, loss of loved ones, they always make life vivid again. We all need appropriate fear and wonder.”

Speaking of Amberjack, this new collection gathers 12 stories and 13 poems/lyrics, with the Table of Contents weighted more heavily towards science fiction.  At his best, Dowling’s horror stories can be truly chilling, and the majority of the four collected here fit that bill.

“The Fooly” is the slightest of the four, the story of a ghost with a cruel sense of humor and a vicious streak getting his well-deserved comeuppance. More substantial is “Jarkman at the Othergates,” in which the rather pompous young film director Nils Jarkman journeys to Tessian’s Edge, a distinctive dwelling perched on the edge of the majestic Megalong Valley in New South Wales, Australia, where he’ll be filming his new movie. Upon arriving, a couple days before the rest of the crew, Jarkman meets Donald Tessian and his niece, and discovers the strange history of the family and the dwelling, which includes some rather unusual mirrors and an early lobotomy device. It’s just as offbeat as it sounds, and equally eerie.

“The Suits at Auderlene” is a darkly quirky tale concerning some several incongruous suits of armor, but the other real highlight is “Toother,” a chilling tale involving recurring character Dr. Dan Truswell, who helps try to track down an apparently supernatural serial killer with a particularly nasty M.O.

Given the relatively small number of horror stories collected in Amberjack, it’s difficult to recommend this collection to those who are strict fans of the horror genre, but if your tastes are a little more varied, there’s plenty to like here (the SF tales, beginning with the bittersweet “The Lagan Fishers,” are uniformly strong).

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A.R. Morlan has been producing powerful short fiction for more than two decades, as evidenced by her collection Smothered Dolls, which includes stories from as far back as 1987 (the oldest tale is reprinted from the late, lamented The Horror Show, incidentally).  Surprisingly, Smothered Dolls is her first collection and was actually published by Overlook Connection Press back in 2007, but it didn’t receive a whole lot of publicity at that time, and as a long-time admirer of her work, I wanted to do my part to try and bring a little better-late-than-never attention to the book.

Smothered Dolls contains 15 stories, two of which are originals, but it’s no insult to those stories to say that the Afterwords which follow each story are the most absorbing elements, even if they are more than a little sad and disturbing. The Afterwords serve to lend great insight into the forces and experiences that helped forge Morlan into the writer she became…and at times the reader can’t help but marvel that Morlan even managed to persevere and survive.

Take, for example, the title story, which describes the abuse suffered by a young girl at the hands of her own family members. The tale becomes infinitely more disturbing when the reader learns from Morlan’s Afterword that the tale is autobiographical, a memoir of “ugly memories and pitiful truths,” as she puts it. Similarly rooted in real life is “Powder,” the story of a woman recuperating in the hospital who’s terrorized by a visit from the bizarre “Sophie Sunshine,” a woman Morlan reveals in the Afterword to be her grandmother.

The remaining contents of this collection literally fall all over the map, genre-wise. “The German Lady,” for example, is a slightly bittersweet tale about a caregiver who agrees to walk an elderly woman into the woods so that she can gather some of the bark that she uses for her hand-made braided creations — but it’s not truly bark that the old woman seeks. “Civic Duty” also features an elderly woman, this time as the protagonist, whose eponymous task is decidedly beyond the accustomed realm of jury duty. “Yet Another Poisoned Apple For the Fairy Princess” is a darkly comic fantasy about a stereotypical female “ball-buster,” as Moran says, taken to the next level.

If there’s a complaint to be had with Smothered Dolls, it’s perhaps the variety that I was just describing – the stories are so wide-ranging that the reader is kept a little too off-balance. But that’s faint criticism for what is overall a decidedly strong collection.

Hot summer, (mostly) hot books…

As usual, it’s taken me much longer than planned to post an update.  I’ve had five reviews complete for a while, and a couple more drafted, and kept hoping to refine the two drafts before posting, but… it’s time to just give it up and post and what I have.  Coming soon: reviews of titles by David Herter, Terry Dowling, and more… and some News and Views, to go with the Reviews.

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There’s not too much to say about Silver Scream: 40 Classic Horror Movies, Volume Two, 1941-51 (Telos Publishing) that I didn’t already say in my review of Volume One, which appeared in Cemetery Dance #63.

Author Steven Warren Hill’s enthusiasm and unabashed love for his subject matter still shines through on virtually every page. His sections entitled “The Ongoing Story,” “Version,” and “Trivia” are still consistently the most entertaining and interesting, providing a combination of historical perspective and behind-the-scenes info. There are still a few films covered that don’t truly warrant inclusion in a book with the word “Classic” in its title—for example, The Flying Serpent, The Mummy’s Ghost, and Jungle Woman, all of which receive scores of less than 50 on Hill’s 100-point scale. And the book’s lowpoints are still found in the ill-advised “Another Perspective” section, in which friends of Hill offer capsule reviews that are too often utterly vapid.

In an earlier draft of this review, I said “… true horror film aficionados may not find much new here,” but the publisher has since pointed out to me that Hill performed a great deal of original research, scouring libraries rather than relying on Wikipedia and the like, so I’ll gladly retract that minor reservation. Silver Scream, Volume II

All in all, Silver Scream should be a fun and interesting diversion for most. I certainly enjoyed the two volumes.

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Humpty’s Bones, by Simon Clark, is an attractive little 122-page trade paperback from Telos Publishing that includes the eponymous novella and the short story “Danger Signs.”  In his Introduction, Clark nicely summarizes the novella: “I imagined what it would be like to find an ancient burial in a supposedly ordinary garden. Yet it couldn’t just be some inert skeleton, could it? …after so long in the earth an alchemy must have taken place, and (the bones) will possess a power…” Eden Page arrives in the rural village of Dog Lands, planning on an extended stay with her aunt and uncle, but finds that her aunt Heather has just unearthed the aforementioned ancient burial.Humpty's Bones

As Heather becomes obsessed with her discovery and her husband Curtis grows increasingly stressed and angry, the tension rises quickly within the household, and strange things begin happening just outside the walls. Meanwhile, Eden pieces together clues about the true identity of the skeleton and some unsettling local history and customs. It’s unfortunate that none of Clark’s characters, not even Eden, are very likable, because the premise and plotting are compelling. The included short story “Danger Signs” is a slighter effort—a creature feature, from the perspective of a group of children who encounter a beasty on an abandoned military base—but it’s a fun read nonetheless.

*  *  *

I’m a big fan of Darren Speegle, as partially evidenced by the two stories I purchased from him for publication in CD. I thus greatly anticipated his collection, A Rhapsody for the Eternal, from Raw Dog Screaming. Unfortunately, it turned out to be not quite what I was expecting.  A Rhapsody for the Eternal

That’s not to say by any means that the stories contained within are bad. Far from it–they’re carefully constructed pieces, showcasing the author’s deft use of language and flair for the fantastic. But they’re also very, very different from the Speegle catalog that I was accustomed to. There is a healthy sprinkling of science fiction among the 12 stories here, but more importantly there is a strong scent of the surreal–the phantasmagorical, even–pervading nearly all of the stories. Given that my favorite Speegle stories tend to be strongly rooted in the real world, despite their flirtation with the dark and the fantastic, it’s perhaps not surprising that I was less enthralled, and sometimes even frustrated by the tales here.

Among the stories that did engage me, “The Lunatic Miss Teak” was probably my favorite, an unsettling bit about a grotesque doll that the protagonist stumbles upon in a shop window in Germany. “For a thousand cents she can be yours,” the sign says, an offer that the narrator is unable to resist. Once is possession of the doll, he finds it has the apparent ability to grant wishes–a certain number of them, anyway–within certain limitations and for an ultimately high price in return. Caveat emptor, and all that.

I also found something to like in two of the SF stories–“Elephant Speak” and “The Man in Window Three,” the former concerning the first “ghost” born in centuries (with the definition of ghost being the true linchpin) and the second detailing an attempted outer space art heist. I do fear that the fact I most admired the first three stories in the collection reflects the fact that I soon lost patience with the style employed.

As always, this is a matter of personal taste, and while I didn’t find these stories to be among Speegle’s best, you may well react differently.

*  *  *

I reviewed Lisa Morton’s The Lucid Dreaming in CD #64, giving an emphatic thumbs up to her first published work beyond short-story length. Fast on the heels of that novella, she’s back with The Castle of Los Angeles, her first novel (albeit a short one), published by Gray Friar Press.  The Castle of Los Angeles

I have to admit I was a bit slow to warm up to The Castle. The basic premise seemed like a stretch, and the characters started off a tad stiff. Said premise centers around Beth Ortiz, a struggling theatre director who seems to luck into a great situation when her friend Eric has to move back to the midwest to take care of his ailing father. The move forces Eric to give up the artist’s loft that he and his roommate/business partner Terry have converted into a small theatre, The Lofty Repertory Company, and he asks Beth to take his vacancy, both as roommate and partner in the theatre company. It doesn’t take Beth long to accept the offer. The only seeming downside is that the move effectively ends the long-simmering potential romance between Beth and Eric. Beth soon quits her day job and throws herself fully into the theatre venture.

The aspects of the premise that I struggled with were the sheer logistics of turning the loft space into an “absurdly small” theatre, and the nature of the building housing the loft–namely the eponymous Castle, a brooding sprawling gothic structure built in 1885, formerly home to a diary processing plant, a private gentlemans’ club, a toy factory, and an asylum…and located, seemingly incongruously in downtown Los Angeles. Having lived in LA for a few years, I can certainly attest to its occasional oddities, but the idea of the tiny theatre inside the central-LA castle was difficult for me to accept.

Happily, Morton’s plot and character development were sufficient to sink a hook in me. Along the way, Beth meets some other, strange occupants of the Castle, befriends a prostitute in the course of doing research for an original play, learns first-hand about some of the Castle’s shadows and secrets, and is surprised by the reappearance of someone from her past.

Overall, I can’t say that I quite agree with Introduction-writer Gary Braunbeck–who calls it, “quite simply, a superlative piece of storytelling…”–and I still think that Morton’s novella The Lucid Dreaming is a superior work. But The Castle of Los Angeles is nonetheless a promising debut novel, and is well worth your time.

* * *

UK native Stephen Volk is an acclaimed writer for film and television (Gothic, Ghostwatch, Afterlife, etc.) and an occasional author of fiction. His collection Dark Corners was published in 2006 by Gray Friar Press, who have now published Volk’s novella Vardøger.Vardoger

According to Wikipedia, a vardøger “…is a spirit predecessor, from Norwegian folklore. Stories typically include instances that are nearly déjà vu in substance, but in reverse, where a spirit with the subject’s footsteps, voice, scent, or appearance and overall demeanor precedes them in a location or activity, resulting in witnesses believing they’ve seen or heard the actual person, before the person physically arrives.”

The story begins as Sean Merritt and his wife Alison arrive for a long-overdue get-away weekend at the Shewstone House Hotel. No sooner do they arrive than the desk clerk informs him that his reservation was for the prior weekend…and according to computer records, he did, in fact, arrive and stay the prior weekend. A peeved Sean initially assumes the snafu is some combination of credit card fraud and hotel incompetence, but soon various hotel employees begin recognizing and greeting him. As the plot thickens, it seems that not only did Sean’s “double” commit some rather despicable acts during the prior weekend, he’s currently in the hotel with Sean and Ali, continuing to plague Sean’s very existence.

Although there are some interesting variations, the plot is, at its heart, basically a riff on the “unreliable narrator” theme—is Sean hallucinating, or is there another entity, possibly supernatural, at work? Given the reliance on this rather common foundation, the story is bound to succeed or fail on the strength of Volk’s voice. The author is an accomplished storyteller, and he indeed penned a compelling tale here. While Vardøger perhaps does not qualify as an unmitigated success, the pluses far outweigh the minuses, making for another fine offering from Gray Friar.

eBooks and Obituaries

As promised, I’m back with a small bit of news and a couple reviews.  Even if it did take me a week longer than expected to get them posted here.  Ah, the best-laid plans of mice and monsters.

Anyway… Let’s start with a long-overdue obituary, worth noting even at this late date because it’s likely that many have not heard the news… Legendary small press publisher Donald Grant died August 19, 2009. Grant began publishing in 1945, with a collection of Lovecraft memoirs, entitled Rhode Island on Lovecraft, the sole volume from his initial imprint, Grant-Hadley. From 1949 to 1958, Grant published several titles under the Grandon:Publishers imprint, and then withdrew from publishing for a few years.  In 1964, he returned by launching the Donald M. Grant, Publisher imprint, which of course is still operating to this day.  In addition to publishing the likes of William Hope Hodgson, Fritz Leiber, and H. Warner Munn, Grant earned the most attention (not to mention the most money) by publishing limited editions of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. I featured Donald M. Grant, Publisher in the Spotlight on Publishing column way back in Cemetery Dance #12, in 1992, and even back then Grant had taken on a lesser role in the business, allowing his partner Robert Wiener to participate in the interview. Hopefully he enjoyed his retirement years in Florida. Grant is survived by his wife of 53 years and their two children.

* * *

Things are starting to happen very quickly in the world of e-books. Among bigger names, Barnes & Noble released its nook device, which has some nice features, but is also lamely crippled. (The wireless only works inside B & N stores? Seriously?) Sony released their new $399 Daily Edition Reader, and expanded distribution of their smaller, less-expensive models. And a boatload of new readers were announced or released at CES in January, including the Que pro-Reader, the Skiff Reader, the Alex Reader, and the Entourage eDGe.

And, of course, as everyone in the known universe has heard by now, Apple announced and released the iPad. (More on that in a minute…)

On a personal note, I took the plunge in late 2009 and purchased a Sony Reader, which I’m mostly happy with, although the lack of backlighting (which contributes to the device’s admirable battery life) is definitely a pain when trying to read in low-light situations.  When I purchased the Sony Reader, the aforementioned iPad was still just a rumor.  Having now had the opportunity to spend some time with the iPad (cadged from friends who own one), I have to say that I have a certain amount of iPad lust…but reading is not highest on the list of things I’d use the device for.  And the lust is offset by the loathing I feel towards the “closed system” approach that Apple employs — acting as “App Police”, often ignoring standards and inflicting proprietary formats, and not just refusing to support Flash, but engaging in adolescent-level flame wars with Adobe.   So, for now, I’m going to stay on the sidelines and not buy an iPad.  I’ll wait and see what version 2.0 looks like… and if I decide to take the plunge then, I’ll have gotten at least 18 months of usage out of the Sony Reader, so I don’t feel bad about that purchase.

There are also interesting potential ramifications to the pricing deals that Apple has worked out, with five of the six major publishers, for their iBook store — but I’ll hold off on that topic for now. Especially because recent news around pricing from Google and Amazon make this a large topic.

* * *

And now, on to some reviews…

A collection from David Nickle was long overdue, a situation that Chizine Publications (www.chizinepub.com) has happily rectified with the launch of Monstrous Affections, which gathers fourteen tales, three of which are original to the book. I first discovered Nickle through his excellent contributions to the Northern Frights anthology series, and eventually purchased a couple stories from him for publication in Cemetery Dance. Those two CD stories (“Janie and the Wind” from issue #38 and “The Delilah Party” from #56) are both reprinted here, as are three Northern Frights stories – “The Sloan Me n,” “Night of the Tar Baby,” and “The Pit-Heads” (sadly and strangely absent is the excellent “The Summer Worms,” which also appeared in Northern Frights).

Even though this is the third or fourth time that I’ve read some of these tales, they’ve lost none of their power through the passage of time or the rigors of repeated study. In particular, “The Sloan Men,” concerning a family of physically repulsive men and their strange ability to mesmerize women, making them completely overlook the Sloans’ imperfections, and “The Pit-Heads,” involving a small coterie of amateur landscape-painters and their encounter with the denizens of an abandoned silver mine in Ontario, qualify as genre classics, resonating with a disconcerting sense of not-quite-right otherness. If there’s anything at all negative to say about Monstrous Affections, it’s simply that Nickle’s best work makes some of his lesser efforts pale by comparison…but that’s slight criticism indeed. Highly recommended.

Also recently appearing from Chizine is Nicholas Kaufmann’s novella Chasing the Dragon, which aims to tie together several centuries of dragon mythology, update it with a contemporary setting, and make a heroine out of a heroin addict. For the most part, the author succeeds.

Despite her drug habit and a few other rough edges, it’s not difficult to like Georgia Quincey, a determined and resourceful protagonist who also happens to be the latest in a long line of would-be dragon-slayers. Georgia has a complex and not fully understood relationship with the Dragon (there is only one such creature, and it’s a female as well). The heroin plays a role almost like a third character, acting not only as the object of Georgia’s desire, but also ultimately as a key ingredient in her attempts to end the dragon’s reign.

The strongest element here is the pacing, as the 133 pages fly past like a soaring dragon. Georgia spends the entire narrative in pursuit of the Dragon, following her trail of mayhem and battling not just the Dragon but her meat-puppet minions as well (the Dragon has the ability to animate and control the dead). Some of the climax seems a bit overwritten and borderline melodramatic, but overall Chasing the Dragon is an entertaining way to spend a couple hours.

More reviews soon, including titles by Darren Speegle and Lisa Morton…

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Guilty as Charged

Or perhaps Guilty But Insane, to borrow a title from Poppy Z. Brite.  Guilty of what?  Of the worst sin that a blogger can commit – the sin of inattention.  This is my first post in many, many months, as life has gotten in the way, as it has a habit of doing.  (That, and I’m lazy.)

What prompted me to finally weigh in again was the appearance (finally) of Cemetery Dance issue #63 (now that I’m no longer Editor, I get to complain about the mag’s tardiness – ha!), containing the latest installment of the resurrected “Spotlight on Publishing” column — and, more importantly, a couple of pointers to this website. The realization that fresh hordes would soon be descending upon the site forces me to get on the ball and start regularly posting. I’ll begin by including some recent book announcements of interest below, and will follow up shortly with some new reviews, as well as long overdue updates to the Recent/Forthcoming Books List that’s elsewhere on this site.

Without further delay, some recent book announcements of note:

  • Charnel House Announced a 150-copy limited edition of Frankenstein:Lost Souls by Dean R. Koontz. Personally, I find Charnel House’s ultra-limited, extremely pricey editions to be of limited interest (and they publish little beyond Koontz any more), but no doubt this edition will sell out quickly.
  • Bloodletting Press began shipping He Stepped Through by Nate Southard. Volume #3 in their novelette series, this is available in a 300-copy, signed perfectbound paperback edition.  Southard has deservedly been attracting attention of late, and this title may well go quickly.
  • Bad Moon Books announced their 350-copy limited edition of Nate Kenyon’s Sparrow Rock, which is already available as a Leisure paperback.  Publishing hardcover editions after mass-market paperbacks can be a dangerous practice, but Kenyon likely has enough a following to make this a success for BMB.
  • Centipede Press released their edition of E. H. Visiak’s rare novel Medusa, which was originally published in 1945.  The Centipede edition also includes 13 of Visiak’s stories, and an Introduction by Colin Wilson.  I already have a copy of Medusa, the novel, but with the short stories, this is an enticing package.  Centipede also released their mammoth omnibus of Reggie Oliver’s short fiction, entitled Dramas From the Depths. Clocking in at over 900 oversized pages, this one will test your forearm muscles, but Oliver’s work is first-rate, and some of the tales collected here are virtually impossible to find in their original publication form as collections from Haunted River Press.
  • Earthling Publications announced their limited editions of  The Very Best of Best New Horror (the same contents are also available as a trade paperback entitled The Mammoth Book of the Best of Best New Horror, from mass-market publisher Running Press).  The Earthling editions are a 300-copy limited @ $60, signed by Editor Stephen Jones, and a 200-copy deluxe edition @ $250, signed by all 20 contributors.  This brings to mind Underwood-Miller’s reprinting of the Year’s Best Horror series many years back, but Earthling’s attempt is distinguished by the signatures, and significantly smaller print runs, which should together guarantee success for their editions.
  • Subterranean Press announced a forthcoming limited edition (planned for Fall, 2010) of Robert McCammon‘s The Wolf’s Hour, which was originally published as paperback original in 1989. One of the relatively few McCammon titles not previously available in hardcover, The Wolf’s Hour would doubtless be of interest on its own, but what makes it extremely enticing is the inclusion of a brand-new 36,000 word novella, “The Room at the Bottom of the Stair,” which details further WWII adventures of protagonist Michael Gallatin. Despite the price, this will be hard to pass up.
  • Longtime bookseller Camelot Books is dipping their toe in the publishing waters with the announcement of Edward Lee’s Header 2 (I’m pretty sure that this will be Camelot’s first published title, but their website is spectacularly unhelpful in that regard). Header 2 will be published in a 500-copy trade edition ($25); a 500-copy signed hardcover edition ($50) with at least 25 interior illos and a “chapette” entitled A Header Tale, Part II (available only if you order direct from Camelot); and a 26-copy lettered edition, details and price to be determined.  I’m not a big fan of Lee’s over-the-top work, but plenty of other people are, so jump on this one quick if you’re interested.
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Of new books and e-books…

It’s been a busy couple of weeks since my last post. For starters, there have been some interesting new titles announced…

  • Screaming Dreams Press announced they’ll be releasing three titles at FantasyCon (September 18): Different Skins, a double novella from Gary McMahon, “told in completely different styles and contrasting voices”; Against The Darkness by John L. Probert, a collection of eleven stories featuring supernatural detective couple Mr Henderson and Samantha Jephcott; and the re-launch of David A. Sutton’s Clinically Dead, which was originally published in a 250-copy edition by the now-defunct Humdrumming. I’m fortunate to have a copy of the Humdrumming edition of Sutton’s collection, but am hoping to pick up a copy of the McMahon novella collection for review.
  • Bad Moon Books also announced three titles: Gene O’Neill’s Doc Good’s Traveling Show, a coming-of-age story about two boys with very special abilities who join a traveling show; Lisa Morton’s The Lucid Dreaming, about a violent paranoid schizophrenic who escapes confinement and discovers that she’s the sanest person left alive; and a new edition of Gord Rollo’s Crimson, which was originally published by Prime Books in 2002. I’ll definitely be reviewing the Morton title.
  • Cemetery Dance Publications announced two massive new collections: Tim Lebbon’s Last Exit for the Lost, which collects the best of Lebbon’s output from 2000 to the present day, and Tom Piccirilli’s Futile Efforts, which includes an impressive list of guest contributors that reads like a “who’s who in horror,” authoring introductions for every piece in the collection.
  • Golden Gryphon announced the publication of Are You There? by Jack Skillingstead, a collection of twenty-six stories offering “a wealth of fantastical and horrifying settings.”

Beyond these new book announcements, an0ther interesting development came in the form of an announcement from Shane Ryan Staley, founder of Delirium Books. The full posts — the initial one and a follow-up  — can be found here: Delirium Books Changing Focus and Focusing Your Perspective, but I’ve included some excerpts below.

Delirium’s trade paperback and book club will end this month with the final featured title: David Jack Bell’s The Girl In The Woods. My focus has shifted significantly over the past few years and digital editions will replace the trade paperback line in Delirium’s production schedule.

This will no doubt become a hot topic, but I’ve come to the conclusion over the past few years that the digital medium is a necessary step for the survival of not only the genre in literature, but the entire book industry.

The only thing I can say at this point is this: it’s no longer become a matter of whether you like or dislike the digital medium; it’s the point that the business of publishing needs to change in order for it to survive.

In a subsequent post, Staley goes on to say the following:

In 24 hours, rumors and debate have surfaced all over the web about my last post about the focus change.

“All over the web” seems a little aggrandizing, given that only two customers bothered to comment on the post on Delirium’s own site, but here’s the more important bits from the post:

Delirium changed the way small press pubishing was done in this genre. Low print runs gave newer authors a home to grow.  Delirium launched many new careers.

Today, I’d like to officially thank those who supported me and those who doubted me back in 1999.  It was because of both groups that I’ve succeeded today.

And today, we are once again divided, arguing amongst one another on message boards.  Saying that my new focus will never work.

Debate is good, but let’s not lose our perspective.  What I plan to do is good for the genre.  Much like when Delirium started off and everyone doubted I could succeed, it took years of my life committing to the vision and I will now do the same with promoting digital.  This won’t happen overnight, but the writing is on the wall that we NEED digital to thrive.  Authors need digital and publishers do as well.

<snip!>

You may have doubts with the new direction I’m taking Delirium.  But before you close off your mind, please note that you’ll only be standing in the shadows of those who doubted my vision back in 1999.

I’ll ignore the bombast and focus on a more interesting topic — an examination of the soundness of Staley’s basic business decision. Personally, I think he’s too far ahead of the curve. The point that he’s talking about will indeed come (no huge shock there), but I don’t think we’ve reached that milestone yet. That said, I’ll be perfectly willing to admit I was wrong in a couple years if Delirium is doing bang-up e-book business–but it would be useful to define, now, just what “bang-up” constitutes. Delirium’s history has largely been one of producing what I like to call “micro-editions” — very small prints runs, sometimes as few as 150 or 250. Delirium added a trade paperback line a few years ago, but I think you can guess how well that’s done, given that Staley is now discontinuing the line.  If Staley defines success for his digital editions as selling in the same numbers as his micro-editions, that unfortunately won’t match my definition.

The other interesting topic is that of formats. Staley is choosing to publish his digital editions in three format: pdf, mobi (for the Kindle and mobipocket), and epub (which is viewable on a variety of devices,  including the iPhone and the Sony Reader).  That’s a good selection.  There are a number of other hardware devices either announced or rumored, but it’ s obviously best to see what shakes out before investing any time in converting to those formats.  Microsoft’s .lit format, which is viewable on PCs with a free downloadable reader, perhaps should have been considered, but the format is known for having easily-crackable Digital Rights Management (DRM)… and the same is rumored to be true of epub.  Delirium clearly wants to maintain DRM control over its digital editions (i.e., no Creative Commons Licenses here).  I’m not clear on what their policy is on viewing a purchased digital edition on different devices, and/or in  different formats (say, pdf on a PC and mobi on a Kindle), but I’ll be interested to find out.

Some respected industry-watchers believe that e-books won’t really take off until the hardware price for handheld readers sinks below $100 and the digital books cost less than a mass-market paperback.  I’m on board with those beliefs.  We’ll see what happens.

In my next post, I’ll talk about some recent titles I’ve reviewed — on a recent trip to Austin, I managed to fit in Axelle Carolyn’s It Lives Again! and David Dunwoody’s Dark Entities, and made considerable progress on George Zebrowski’s Empties.  More on those next time…


Launching the Online version of Spotlight on Publishing

Welcome to the online version of Spotlight on Publishing. I’ll use this site to maintain the “official”list of small press publishers, to archive my recent columns from Cemetery Dance magazine, and to  offer some extra news, views, and reviews that won’t make it into it print in my column in the magazine.

As I write this, CD #61 is out, #62 is at the printer and, due to the lead times necessary to layout and proof the magazine, I’ve already turned in my column for #63.

In my column for #62, I interview Bloodletting Books, and review two titles from Gray Friar Press: The Catacombs of Fear by John Llewellyn Probert and Passport to Purgatory by Tony Richards. In my column for #63, I interview PS Publishing, and review the following titles:

  • Joel Lane, The Witnesses Are Gone
  • Adam Golaski, Worse Than Myself
  • Brian Evenson, Last Days
  • Steven Warren Hill, Silver Scream: 40 Classic Horror Movies; Volume One: 1920-1941
  • Robert Dunbar, Martyrs & Monsters
  • Black Static magazine, issue #10
  • Scott Edelman, The Hunger of Empty Vessels

Finally, my column for #64, which I’ve only just started to outline, will include an interview with Dark Regions Press, and reviews of the following titles:

  • Axelle Carolyn, It Lives Again!: Horror Movies in the New Millenium
  • George Zebrowski, Empties
  • Darren Speegle, A Rhapsody for the Eternal
  • A.R. Morlan, Smothered Dolls
  • Scott Nicholson, Scattered Ashes
  • David Dunwoody, Dark Entities

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News, views and reviews on the horror small press scene