Posts Tagged ‘horror’
published Oct 2015
where I got it: received review copy from the author (thanks!)
You can thank the Glymjacks for the fact that you’re not surrounded by haunted houses and angry, vengeful ghosts.
Tonight is the night of Mollie’s final test to enter the ranks of the Glymjacks. If she passes the test, she can say goodbye to everything she’s ever known and loved. If she doesn’t pass, she can only hope for a fast death. Her test involves clearing the Blue Alice, a famous haunted house, of its resident ghosts. Mollie isn’t interested in why these people died, and she doesn’t care that they died. Her mission to learn what they were going through when they died, and ensure that they die in a more peaceful manner. She’s auditioning to be their psychopomp, someone who will help them to the other side, help them go somewhere away from the Blue Alice.
There is a whole ton of gorgeous poetic prose in this short novel, almost functioning as textural and musical bridges between scenes and towards set pieces. Here’s an example that comes right at the beginning, and was one of my favorites:
“You would expect it to be a blue house, but it is not. It’s an exhausted color that warps with the changing of the light, beige at dawn, bone at noon, grey at night. But at dusk, just as the sun falls far enough below the horizon to withdraw all its gold from the landscape, the Alice turns blue.”
A sprawling manse that became a boarding house in the 1920s and then apartments by the 1960s, the Blue Alice has seen it’s share of happiness and misery. Urban legends tell of a woman dressed in white who haunts the building, music playing where there shouldn’t be any, and judgemental demons. Barely a year has gone by in the history of this famous house where a tenant hasn’t fled in terror of something or someone haunting the rooms and halls. It’s time to clean house.
published in 2013
Where i got it: from a friend
Necessary Evil is the final book in Tregillis’s Milkweed series, and this book takes place immediately after the gut punch cliffhanger ending of the second book in the series, The Coldest War. So, I really can’t talk in any detail about Necessary Evil without giving epic spoilers for the entire series. #sorrynotsorry
Before I get to the spoilers, let’s go back in a time a little bit. Back in 2013, I read the first book in the series, Bitter Seeds. It was one of the darkest books I’d ever read. When I finished it, I thought to myself that this Tregillis guy is a damn awesome writer, but I don’t know if I can read anymore of his stuff. A year went by. And suddenly, all I could think about was this series – what happened to the characters? So I finally read the second book. And it was even darker and more soul wrenching than the first one. And when I finished it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I couldn’t stop thinking about how lonely Gretel is, that maybe she was a victim, that she’s a horrible human being and I hate her, but she is lonely and a victim. I couldn’t stop thinking about how how Raybould Marsh got to this point in his life, where his wife barely talks to him and their son is, well . . . not even going to go there because then I have to thinking about why his son is the way he is. Like the earlier books in the series, Necessary Evil was an utterly engrossing page turner.
I just now described Necessary Evil to my husband with “it’s about the psychology of redemption and every page is like a punch to the nuts and you just want to die on every page”. He laughed, a little.
While I was reading Necessary Evil, a line from my review of Bitter Seeds kept popping back into my head:
“When the cost gets too high you are supposed to know it’s time to stop.”
Over the course of the series, Will and Marsh realized the cost was far too high for what they were getting from the Eidolons. But when you work for people to whom money is no object, how do you get them to stop spending? By becoming the enemy.
And with that, it’s epic spoiler time.
Geoffrey Girard published Tales of The Jersey Devil in 2005, and he’s never looked back. After two more folklore based short story collections, he wrote Cain’s Blood and its companion novel Project Cain, which was nominated for a Bram Stoker award. His over 60 sort stories have appeared in multiple anthologies and magazines, including Writers of the Future, Apex Horror and Science Fiction Digest, the Stoker nominated Dark Faith anthology, Dark Futures, Murky Depths, Mountain Dead, and many others.
His new short fiction collection, first communions, hits bookstore shelves later this week, and if you like spine tingling thrillers, this is a collection for you! Sixteen stories to shock, entertain, and horrify you, from the curse of ancient evils to futuristic retirement homes where the dead still rule, haunted graveyards, planets of torture where all are equal, hockey-playing demon hunters, and dark sorcerers battling in Algeria.
You can learn more about Geoffrey and his work at his website, GeoffreyGirard.com.
Geoffrey was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about the anthology, his forthcoming novel Truthers, and his writing career. Let’s get to the interview!
Little Red Reviewer: Congratulations on your upcoming collection, first communions! Which stories in this collection mean the most to you?
Geoffrey Girard: Thanks very much. And thanks for inviting me to chat. And, yikes, if I have to pick one: “Dark Harvest” will have to get that nod. It’s about a Ringwraith (basically) who crash lands in some Podunk village and the trouble that ensues. It’s the one I wrote first, the one that got me started back into creative writing after a fifteen-year break, the first story I ever got paid for, the one that led to my most-formative week as a writer (while out in Hollywood as part of Writers of the Future) and the one directly related to a childhood spent in Middle Earth, Pern, and Shannara.
Today I’m thrilled to have my friend Lesley Conner visit Little Red Reviewer. Lesley is an author, the Managing Editor of Apex Magazine, and all around amazing person. A wrangler of slush readers and girl scouts, Lesley somehow manages to find time to write her own fiction. Her debut novel, The Weight of Chains, comes out today from Sinister Grin Press. A historical thriller of power, torture, and escape, The Weight of Chains is the story of Gilles de Rais and the woman who defied him.
Lesley was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about her new novel. Let’s get to the interview!
Little Red Reviewer: Congratulations on your forthcoming novel, The Weight of Chains! What can you tell us about the novel?
Lesley Conner: Thank you! I’m extremely excited!
So what can I tell you about The Weight of Chains … I could go the old boring route and tell you it’s an alternative history horror novel inspired by the crimes of Gilles de Rais.
That’s true, but it doesn’t really get to the heart of it.
The Weight of Chains is about power and control. Gilles de Rais is nobleman who has absolute control over every aspect of his life. He’s also a killer with very dark desires, and he uses his status and power to make sure that he can play out his every fantasy. It is a novel full of torture and death. It’s also one that examines what happens to the people who get swept up in that world, who have no control and no choice, but have to fulfill their master’s wishes for safety and security, or just to make it through one more day. But what happens if Gilles’s control begins to slip? What if another power comes into play and the carefully constructed life that Gilles has built begins to crumble?
The Weight of Chains is full of murder, deceit, magic, desperation, a demon, and a little girl who wants to figure out how to do more than just survive. She wants to be happy.
LRR: The novel takes place in medieval France. Tell us about some of the research you did to get the historical details just right.
LC: Gah! Research! By the time I was finished with the novel, I was to the point of telling any who would listen that if I EVER said I wanted to write another historical novel to smack me. And then I immediately got an idea for a novel heavily influenced by the 1920s New York speakeasy scene and fell right back down the research rabbit hole.
Researching a novel set in 1436, France was difficult to put it mildly. First, Gilles de Rais was a real person. I spent a lot of time reading about him, the crimes he committed, and the people who were involved. The facts of his life have been twisted – he really did hire a wizard named Prelati, but the real Prelati was very much a conman, whereas the one in my novel is a victim of Gilles cruelty – but anyone who knows about the historical figure will see little details that point to the real man.
Second, a major character in my novel is an eleven year old peasant girl. There is little detailed information about the peasantry at this time. So much what is out there seems to focus on nobility. Finding information about peasant children – girls in particular – was even harder. I wanted details like footwear and what they would eat to be as accurate as possible, so I ended up contacting some historical re-enactors. When all else fails, ask an expert! They were fantastic about answering my questions. Plus, they were always in character and would begin emails with “Dear fair lady,” which is kind of fun.
LRR: Without giving us any spoilers (if possible), what is your favorite scene in the novel?
LC: There is a scene where Jeanetta is serving Christophe a bowl of soup. It doesn’t seem like much, but something happens that makes her realize that life could be good, it could be more than the drudgery of moving through each day doing what needed to be done so she and her family could survive, she could be happy. It’s a very small moment and isn’t incredibly flashy, but it is integral to Jeanetta having the will and the strength she needs at the end of the novel. I don’t know that it’s my favorite scene (can a writer really pick a favorite?) but it always makes me smile because it’s a sweet moment, and I’ll be honest, there aren’t a whole lot of sweet moments in The Weight of Chains.
What do you get when you mix nightmares with prose poetry and then set it all to the sound of unique and unexpected typography? You get something like The Quick Shivers anthologies from The Daily Nightmare. and when they say “quick” shivers, they aren’t kidding. Every entry in the anthology is only and exactly 100 words long and based on a Nightmare that was submitted to their website. And the typography? Certainly I remember typography from my college graphic design classes, but I never knew it could be used like this. This is quite literally, graphic literature. Jim and Janice Leach of The Daily Nightmare were kind enough to answer a few of my questions about the anthology series, the genius and challenge of unique typesetting, snob horror, and more!
LRR: I absolutely adore your Quick Shivers anthologies. the writing is smart, snarky, fun and punchy, and the graphic design is just beautiful. It’s one thing to do an anthology of 100 word prose-poems, and a completely different thing to type set each entry differently and creatively. Can you tell us a little about the artistic process of putting these anthologies together?
Jim: Thank you for the kind words. The Quick Shivers anthologies are rather non-traditional, and not everyone appreciates the big concept. For instance, we’ve submitted both anthologies for consideration for the Bram Stoker Awards, but they don’t know what to do with them — they’re not poetry, not fiction, not graphic literature so there’s no category where they fit. And that’s kind of the point. We’re making something that’s intentionally interstitial.
And our other goal is to slow down the reader. I’ve had a long love affair with weird typography partially because it’s “difficult” to read. In our quickly paced society, we all rush through too much of our lives. We present the works in a way that is both expressive and helps a reader work through a piece with a bit more leisure.
Janice: But you’re not answering her question, dear. As far as artistic process, our books are a team sport, perhaps even a relay race. The writers pick the nightmare, give it their own interpretation, then we pass along our selections to the designer who works hard to make every piece unique. It’s fascinating to read the different takes on the same nightmare, to see how individualized and open-ended stories can be.
Today’s guest post is from Lesley Conner. Lesley is one of my go-to people when I have a crazy idea at 4am and need someone to tell me that yes, the idea is crazy, but let’s do it anyway. Everyone should have a Lesley in their life.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers, on Page and Film
a guest post by Lesley Conner
Lesley Conner is a writer, social media editor and marketing leader for Apex Publications, and Managing Editor for Apex Magazine. She spends her days pestering book reviewers, proofreading, wrangling the slush pile, doling out contracts, and chatting about books, writing, and anything else that crosses her mind on the @ApexBookCompany Twitter account. Most of her nights are spent with a good book and a glass of wine. She recently sold her alternative history horror novel, The Weight of Chains, to Sinister Grin Press. It’s slated to be released in early 2015. To find out all her secrets, you can find her on Twitter at @LesleyConner.
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Invasion of the Body Snatchers has become an iconic cultural reference over the years. If things feel off, if people seem to be acting a little strange, whispers of how it must be the pod people from Invasion of the Body Snatchers fly. I smile and bob my head like I know exactly what people mean, and go on with my day. And the thing is, I do know what they mean…. vaguely. In the hazy vision of a giant seed pod popping open and a perfectly formed, adult body emerging to take the place of my friends and neighbors kind of way.
Until recently I hadn’t read Invasion of the Body Snatchers or seen any of three movies that the 1955 novel inspired. I knew the basic premise of the story – we all do – an alien species is taking over Earth by replacing all of the humans with exact replicas grown in giant pods. But beyond that… shrug, I didn’t know.
So when the chance came up to do another vintage sci-fi post for Andrea, I decided it was time to find out more, reading both the novel and watching the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers so that I could compare and contrast the book to the film. (Why did I pick the 1978 film? Besides the fact that Donald Sutherland, Leonard Nimoy, and Jeff Goldblum were in it? It was available through Netflix streaming. I searched and pushed play. Easy peasy.)
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originally published in Orbit Vol 9, 1971
where I got it: purchased used as a Tor Double
Can you believe I’ve never read a Kate Wilhelm? Famous for The Hugo award winning and Nebula nominated Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang, she’s been awarded multiple Hugo and Nebula awards, and was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2003. Along with her husband Damon Knight, Wilhelm was instrumental in the creation and running of the Milford Writers Workship, which would grow into the Clarion workshop.
Nominated for a Nebula award in 1972, The Infinity Box first appeared Orbit 9 and then again in 1975 as the titular story in a collection of Wilhelm stories. I came across the novella in a Tor Double alongside Zelazny’s He Who Shapes. I’d like to track down the Infinity Box collection, or at least issues of Orbit that contain her work while I continue to hunt for a copy of Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang.
The story is told from the point of view of Eddie Laslow, happily married, father of two, owner of an electronics lab and a few patents. When the shy and petite Christine moves in across the street, Eddie immediately feels like they’ve met before, even though she doesn’t look familiar. He’s a little creeped out by her, but can’t avoid her company when Christine and Eddie’s wife Janet become fast friends.
After an evening of drinks, Christine begins to talk about her childhood and failed marriage. In and out of institutions as a child, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia, among other things. Falling in with a psychology professor, he discovered she was able to see objects and scenes in every moment, not just this moment. Almost like a long term time lapse photograph, when she looks at a tree, she sees it as it is right now, and as it was every moment since it sprouted from a seed. They end up getting married, but he died of a heart attack after abandoning his researches. She is going through his papers, hoping to find his final documentations that involve her condition(s).