Lisa Morton

Did you happen to catch my interview with Weston Ochse?  In that interview I talk about sitting with Wes at the HWA’s table at the Book Expo America convention, which remains one of my favorite events I’ve ever attended…for several reasons.

I’ll explain.

First off, I got to meet a lot of people I now hold as dear friends.  (I remember sitting in the little backseat of Lisa Morton’s short crew pickup, my knees crammed into my chin and a pile of boxes leaning against my head, talking with Gene O’Neill about his history as a boxer, for example.) It was my first introduction to major conventions and all that they can do for an author’s career; which is, believe me, an article all unto itself.

Secondly, it introduced me to life as a professional writer, which at the time, I’ll honestly say, I didn’t put in the same sentence with my own literary efforts.  But Lisa Morton helped to change that.  This was the woman who pulled me aside and said she thought I had a promising career ahead of me.  She was, in so many ways, the gatekeeper for my transition from interested hobbyist to pro.  I can’t thank her enough for giving me that early confidence.  I’ve often wondered how you can repay that sort of early helping hand up, and the only thing that comes to mind is mentorship.  Lisa was there for me when there was no formalized such thing as a mentorship, and I have tried to emulate that same voice of confidence and experience when I myself became a mentor.  I can think of no higher words of praise to say to a senior fellow than thank you; and to you, Lisa, I say a sincere and honest “Thank you!  You rock!”

She has won her share of Stoker awards.  She has turned out stories that challenge our view of how things should be (Don’t believe me, check out her story “Sparks Fly Upwards” – it’s one of my favorites.), written novels that reimagine our idea of the monster, and highlighted the fact that women deserve a bigger presence in the horror genre.  (To this day I would love to see Lisa Morton write the feminist take on the Last Girl trope.  I would stand in line for that short story.)  And in the course of becoming a leading voice in the horror community, she has also managed to become the leading authority on Halloween.  That’s not hyperbole, either.  She really is the world’s leading authority on Halloween.  (Check this out to see what I mean.)

But enough of that.  I can go on all day about Lisa Morton, because I love her so.  All you really need is to read her, and I’m presenting that opportunity now.  Please enjoy!

 

Joe McKinney:  Thanks for joining me here on Old Major’s Dream.  I’m glad you could swing by.  You’re no stranger to zombie fiction.  Would you mind telling the folks out there a little about your zombie-related writing?  How do you approach the genre?

Lisa Morton:  I’m occasionally shocked to realize that I’ve written enough zombie short fiction to fill a book! Most recently I’ve been part of the two shared-world Zombie Apocalypse anthologies edited by Stephen Jones, and I’m currently working on a tie-in novel called Zombie Apocalypse: Washington Deceased.

Zombies are us, with our personalities scrubbed out and replaced by the most basic, most primitive of needs (to feed). They’re not sensual and intelligent like vampires, savage like werewolves, or mysterious like ghosts; they’re just blank. Because of the blankness, they’re like the horror equivalent of an erased blackboard that you can write anything on. Religious allegory, political commentary, social satire…the zombie story can easily become any of those.

JM:  The zombie apocalypse is happening right now.  Are you prepared?  Would humanity win?

LM:  Sorry, but I don’t see us taking great care of the joint without zombies; they’ll just make the final fade-out happen a little faster. I might last a little longer than everyone else, but I have an unfair advantage (as do you!): We’ve spent more time thinking about this stuff than everyone else.

JM:  What’s your favorite zombie book, movie, short story, whatever?  (Please feel free to ramble as much or as little as you like here.  I’d love to know why that story or movie or whatever grabs you.)

LM:  I’ve got to go with Romero’s original Dawn of the Dead. I saw it in on opening night, when I was in my second year of film school. A teacher’s assistant who knew I liked horror insisted that we go; I’d somehow never seen Night of the Living Dead, and had absolutely no idea what I was in for. And yeah, it pretty much destroyed me. I didn’t sleep that night. I couldn’t get it out of my head. It took me a while to realize that what bothered me wasn’t even so much the idea of the hungry dead as it was the living survivors, sealing themselves away in a shopping mall. One of the great scenes in movie history for me is when Fran, the female lead, kind of wakes up and says, “What are we doing here?” Horror movie as rejection of consumer society…I’d certainly never imagined anything that subversive.

I also have to give a shout-out to the follow-up, Day of the Dead, which I think is an extraordinary and underrated film. The way Day suggests that the ultimate breakdown comes as the result of a battle between right (the military) and left (science) seems more and more prescient.

JM:  What’s your favorite zombie kill scene of all time?

LM:  Does it have to be a zombie being killed, or can it be zombies doing the killing? If it’s the latter, I’m going with the end of Day, when the zombies rip apart the military leader Rhodes who screams “Choke on it!” while he watches parts of himself being eaten. I even love the way Romero cuts back a couple of times to parts of Rhodes being dragged around the abandoned facility by listless zombies.

JM:  I’ve always felt the best and most effective horror is trying to investigate what we think of ourselves and what it means to be us.  Washington Irving’s tales, for instance, generally grapple with the question of what it means to be an American in the post-Revolutionary War period.  Nathaniel Hawthorne battled with the intellectual promise of a nation rising to international credibility while simultaneously choking under the yolk of a Puritan past.  Stephen King made a name for himself chronicling the slow collapse of the American small town way of life.  What do you think the zombie and its current popularity is telling us about ourselves?

LM:  That we fear we are being erased by the very culture that tells us to be unique, that sells us products by subtly preying on our fear that we’re really not different at all. That dread of conformity works two ways in the zombie mythos: By turning the dead into one big, indistinguishable hungry mass, and by suggesting that the living are nothing but walking meat lockers. It strips intellect, emotion, and self from all of us, and replaces it with nothing but consumption and gore.  Yeah, that’s pretty terrifying. 

Go here to buy Lisa’s books and go here to check out her website

Weston Ochse

In my line of work – actually, in both lines of my work – I’ve been forced to develop a thick protective layer of skepticism, especially when it comes to people telling me their biographies.  Rampant padding and overestimation might be another way of putting it.  I’ve seen people take credit for things others have done, and I’ve seen people try to convince me they are all that and a bag of chips when in fact they are nothing but paper tigers.  Keep that in mind when I tell you that within a few minutes of meeting Weston Ochse (we were manning the HWA booth at the Book Expo America in Los Angeles at the time) I learned he was an intelligence agent for the military, an enthusiast of not only pulp fiction, but contemporary crime fiction and Eastern philosophy as well.  And, he had even won a Bram Stoker Award for his first novel, Scarecrow Gods.  And…AND he’d been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  I was thinking sure, whatever.  Nobody could be that good.  But we hit it off great.  Wes is totally captivating to talk to, and has such an easy way of talking with people he’s only just met that I could have mistaken him for a veteran street cop.  In other words, I liked him.  Enough that I could forgive him a little padding of his bio.

And then, we went to lunch.  Keep in mind this is at the café in the Staples Center in Los Angeles.  There are tourists everywhere.  On the way to our table I heard at least half a dozen languages spoken.  We sat down, and seated next to us was this older Asian couple.  I had no idea what they were talking about, because of course they were speaking in Mandarin, but I’ve been a cop long enough to recognize tourists in distress.  The husband was looking at a map and shrugging every time his wife asked a question.  I thought, Ah, you poor people, I wish I could help you.

But then Wes turns to the couple and begins speaking fluent Mandarin.  I don’t know who was more surprised, the couple or me.  But Wes patiently found out where they wanted to go and then gave them the directions they needed.  In Mandarin!  Shocked as they were, they gushed with thanks.  And Wes?  He simply returned to his hamburger.  Like it was nothing.

I knew then that I was in the company of the real McCoy.  Here there was no padding, no bullshit.  Weston Ochse, I’m happy to report, is all that and a bag of chips.

Wes is an amazing writer with plenty of zombie credit to his name, but he’s also incredibly versatile.  He writes in several genres, sometimes focusing on the military, sometimes on everybody else, but always with a passion for life and a depth of human emotion normally reserved for the best of contemporary literature.

And did I mention that he’s currently stationed in Afghanistan, protecting our collective asses?  Because he is.

I hope you enjoy this extra special interview, because it was written in a soldier’s downtime from the hot box that is Afghanistan.  Here is Weston Ochse!

 

Joe McKinney:  Thanks for joining me here on Old Major’s Dream. I’m glad you could swing by. You’re no stranger to zombie fiction. Would you mind telling the folks out there a little about your zombie-related writing? How do you approach the genre?

Weston Ochse:  My novel Empire of Salt was published by Abaddon Book as part of their Tomes of the Dead series. It takes place in the Salton Sea and features PTSD soldiers turned into zombies. It sold out in paperback worldwide and did incredibly well. My most famous zombie short story is probably “The Crossing of Aldo Ray,” which appeared in The Dead That Walk (edited by Stephen Jones). This was a very Cormac McCarthyesque piece about the dead and illegal aliens. It was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award.

JM:  The zombie apocalypse is happening right now. Are you prepared? Would humanity win?

WO:  I’m prepared. Are you? One thing The Walking Dead gets absolutely right is what someone has to do to save themselves and their family. Sometimes it’s terrible what you’d have to do. Let me ask you this? How much of your humanity are you willing to trade to stay alive?

JM:  What’s your favorite zombie book, movie, short story, whatever? (Please feel free to ramble as much or as little as you like here. I’d love to know why that story or movie or whatever grabs you.)

WO:  I really enjoyed Feed. I thought it was very timely and gave us a perspective we’d never seen before.

JM:  What’s your favorite zombie kill scene of all time?

WO:  From Dead Snow, when the two men face off with the Nazi zombies with only a chainsaw and a sledgehammer a hammer and nail and all sorts of gear. It’s such a great scene with such great music that goes with it. It’s funny, but unintentionally so.

JM:  I’ve always felt the best and most effective horror is trying to investigate what we think of ourselves and what it means to be us. Washington Irving’s tales, for instance, generally grapple with the question of what it means to be an American in the post-Revolutionary War period. Nathaniel Hawthorne battled with the intellectual promise of a nation rising to international credibility while simultaneously choking under the yolk of a Puritan past. Stephen King made a name for himself chronicling the slow collapse of the American small town way of life. What do you think the zombie and its current popularity is telling us about ourselves?

WO:  And you call yourself a writer. Shame on you.

Seriously. Of course these things are a reflection of a deeper psychosis. In the case of zombies, their popularity I firmly believe is linked with our ever-increasing concern with the the dissolution of social bonds, loss of civilized structure, and the fracturing of neighborhoods as an identifiable block. And of course because it’s just cool and fun to kill dead things all over again.

 

Weston Ochse also maintains one of the best author blogs out there.  Please go by and check out some of the most original content on the web here, and when you’ve had your curiosity piqued, go here to read his books.

But I’m not going to let you go just yet.  Weston Ochse, as I’ve said, knows his shit.  And he proves it in his most recent release, Babylon Smiles.  If you liked Three Kings, if you liked Kelly’s Heroes, you owe it to yourself to check this out.  Here’s where you can get your copy.

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The Next Big Thing

Last week Weston Ochse tagged me in the latest installment of The Next Big Thing, a chance for authors to promote their next big release.  Weston sent me these questions and I, in turn, will send them along to the next author of The Next Big Thing, who I will announce very soon.

Enjoy! 

1)    What is the working title of your next book?

 

CANNIBAL CRUISE

 

2)    Where did the idea come from for the book?

 

I was out to dinner with my editor at Kensington and we started talking about the cruise I’d just taken.  I told him how gluttonous people could be on cruises, and the next thing you know we were talking about my next novel…a zombie story set on a cruise ship.

 

3)    What genre does your book fall under?

 

Horror, definitely.

 

4)    What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

 

The two main leads are women, one a badass U.S. Secret Service agent and the other a female version of James Bond working for one of the Mexican cartels.  For the agent I’m imagining Dianna Agron or Amy Smart.  For the cartel assassin Naya Rivera.

 

5)    What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

 

A Mexican drug cartel releases a flesh eating virus into a cruise ship’s food supply, turning the passengers into zombies.

 

6)    Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

 

It was written on spec for Kensington.  My agent, Jim Donovan, is my representation.

 

7)    How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

 

About seven months.

 

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

 

            My own Dead World series books or possibly Deck Z.

8)    Who or what inspired you to write this book?

 

A recent cruise I took with my family.

 

9)    What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

 

This is my first book to feature a sex scene!

Rage Against the Night – An Anthology to Benefit Rocky Wood

Rage Against the Night – An Anthology to Benefit Rocky Wood

 

Under the onslaught of supernatural evil, the acts of good people can seem insignificant, but a courageous few stand apart. These brave men and women stand up to the darkness, stare it right in the eye, and give it the finger. These are the stories of those who rage against the night, stories of triumph, sacrifice, and bravery in the face of overwhelming evil.

 

Rocky Wood – Bram Stoker Award™-winning author, Stephen King scholar, and president of the Horror Writers Association – is one of the bravest men I know.  Diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Rocky has nonetheless set out to redefine the Horror Writers Association as the inclusive voice of the horror community.  From his home inAustralia, Rocky travels the world, attending many conventions each year, in order to foster that sense of community among writers, publishers, agents and other industry professionals.

 

I call him the bravest man I know because he towers above the obstacles in his way, not only the ALS, which is a mountain of an obstacle in and of itself, but also the headstrong egos and maddening politics that always seem to plague groups of creative people.  He is a model of teamwork, relentless energy, and above all, vision.  In just a few short years he has created a legacy in the HWA that will define the organization for decades to come.  Positive change and a spirit of renewed enthusiasm follow him everywhere.  For all those reasons, I am in awe of him, and for all those reasons, I am honored to call him my friend.

 

So, imagine my surprise – and pleasure! – when Shane Jiraiya Cummings contacted me about donating a story for an anthology to help Rocky Wood with some of his medical expenses.  I couldn’t say yes fast enough!  “What’s the theme?” I asked.  “How soon do you need it?”

 

Shane’s idea was a collection of stories showcasing good triumphing over evil.  He said it was the perfect testament to Rocky, and I agreed on the spot.

 

The story I sent Shane was “The Gunner’s Love Song,” one of my earliest.  In it, a young man comes home toEast Texasshortly after World War II to find his cousin, who has a heavy speech impediment and a reputation for being a little slow, suddenly villainized by their town because of his romance with a woman rumored to be a werewolf.

 

Fans of Manly Wade Wellman will undoubtedly see my influences shining through in this story; and believe me, I had a hard time resisting the urge to go back through the tale and “clean it up a bit,” to sort of buff out the obvious Wellman touches.  But I resisted because “The Gunner’s Love Song” has something special to it.  It has a lot of Wellman, to be sure, but it has a lot of me, too.  In fact, it was the first time I remember feeling my own voice surging through in the fiction.  The story is genuine.  It’s a little raw, perhaps, but it’s me, and I see in this story the elements that would take hold and grow in my later fiction: themes like a sense of optimism that’s been tested and tempered by trial and the importance of good guardianship.

 

In short, the story worked for me, and when I sent it to Shane, he agreed.

 

Apparently he really agreed, for he chose it as the lead-off story in a collection that features an amazing roster of creative talent.  Check out this table of contents:

 

The Gunner’s Love Song—Joe McKinney

Keeping Watch—Nate Kenyon

Like Part of the Family—Jonathan Maberry

The Edge of Seventeen—Alexandra Sokoloff

The View from the Top—Bev Vincent

Afterward, There Will Be a Hallway—Gary A. Braunbeck

Following Marla—John R. Little

Magic Numbers—Gene O’Neill

Tail the Barney—Stephen M. Irwin

The Nightmare Dimension—David Conyers

Roadside Memorials—Joseph Nassise

Dat Tay Vao—F. Paul Wilson

Constitution—Scott Nicholson

Mr. Aickman’s Air Rifle—Peter Straub

Agatha’s Ghost—Ramsey Campbell

Blue Heeler—Weston Ochse

Sarah’s Visions—Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

More Than Words—David Niall Wilson

Chillers—Lisa Morton

Changed—Nancy Holder

Dead Air—Gary Kemble

Two Fish to Feed the Masses—Daniel G. Keohane

Fenstad’s End—Sarah Langan

Fair Extension—Stephen King

Rocky Wood, Skeleton Killer—Jeff Strand

 

You can pick up the print edition here (Amazon) and here (Barnes & Noble), the Kindle edition here, the Nook edition here, and the Smashwords edition here.

Enjoy!

And to you, Rocky – you’re the best, my friend!

HWA Announces the 2011 Bram Stoker Award Nominees!

I just received the following press release from the Horror Writers Association.  I am absolutely over the moon to learn that my novel, Flesh Eaters, was nominated in the Best Novel category!  There are so many great writers and works on this year’s list that I’m a little overwhelmed with the company.  My heartfelt congratulations to all the nominees.

Now, to cross my fingers and wait for the announcement in Salt Lake City…

From the Horror Writers Association:

For immediate release

February 18, 2012

Contact Lisa Morton, HWA Bram Stoker Awards Event Organizer    lisa@lisamorton.com

Horror Writers Association announces 2011 Bram Stoker Award™ Nominees Each year, the Horror Writers Association presents the Bram Stoker Awards™ for Superior Achievement in the field of horror writing, named in honor of Bram Stoker, author of the seminal horror work Dracula. Since 1987, the approximately 700 members of the HWA have recommended, nominated and voted on the greatest works of horror and dark fantasy of the previous calendar year, making the Bram Stoker Awards the most prestigious award in the field of horror literature.

For the first time in 2011, half the nominees were chosen by juries. The awards are presented in eleven categories: Novel, First Novel, Young Adult Novel, Graphic Novel, Long Fiction, Short Fiction, Screenplay, Fiction Collection, Anthology, Non-fiction, and Poetry Collection. The organization’s Active and Lifetime members will select the winners from this list of nominees; and the Awards will be presented at a gala banquet on Saturday evening, March 31, at the World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah.

This year’s nominees in each category are:

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A NOVEL

A Matrix Of Angels by Christopher Conlon (Creative Guy Publishing)

Cosmic Forces by Greg Lamberson (Medallion Press)

Floating Staircase by Ronald Malfi (Medallion Press / Thunderstorm Books)

Flesh Eaters by Joe McKinney (Pinnacle Books)

Not Fade Away by Gene O’Neill (Bad Moon Books)

The German by Lee Thomas (Lethe Press)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A FIRST NOVEL

Isis Unbound by Allyson Bird (Dark Regions Press)

Southern Gods by John Hornor Jacobs (Night Shade Books)

The Lamplighters by Frazer Lee (Samhain Horror)

The Panama Laugh by Thomas Roche (Night Shade Books)

That Which Should Not Be by Brett J. Talley (JournalStone)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A YOUNG ADULT NOVEL

Ghosts of Coronado Bay, A Maya Blair Mystery by J. G. Faherty (JournalStone)

The Screaming Season by Nancy Holder (Razorbill)

Rotters by Daniel Kraus (Delacorte Books for Young Readers)

Dust and Decay by Jonathan Maberry (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (Candlewick / Walker)

This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel (Simon & Schuster / David Fickling Books)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A GRAPHIC NOVEL

Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol (First Second)

Locke & Key Volume 4 by Joe Hill (IDW Publishing)

Green River Killer by Jeff Jensen (Dark Horse)

Marvel Universe vs. Wolverine by Jonathan Maberry (Marvel)

Baltimore Volume I: The Plague Ships by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden (Dark Horse)

Neonomicon by Alan Moore (Avatar Press)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN LONG FICTION

7 Brains by Michael Louis Calvillo (Burning Effigy Press)

“Roots and All” by Brian Hodge (A Book of Horrors)

“The Colliers’ Venus (1893)” by Caitlin R. Kiernan (Naked City: New Tales of Urban Fantasy)

Ursa Major by John R. Little (Bad Moon Books)

Rusting Chickens by Gene O’Neill (Dark Regions Press)

“The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine” by Peter Straub (Conjunctions: 56)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN SHORT FICTION

“Her Husband’s Hands” by Adam-Troy Castro (Lightspeed Magazine, October 2011)

“Herman Wouk Is Still Alive” by Stephen King (The Atlantic Magazine, May 2011)

“Graffiti Sonata” by Gene O’Neill (Dark Discoveries #18)

“X is for Xyx” by John Palisano (M is for Monster)

“Home” by George Saunders (The New Yorker Magazine, June 13, 2011)

“All You Can Do Is Breathe” by Kaaron Warren (Blood and Other Cravings)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A SCREENPLAY

True Blood, episode #44: “Spellbound” by Alan Ball (HBO)

The Walking Dead, episode #13: “Pretty Much Dead Already” by Scott M. Gimple (AMC)

The Walking Dead, episode #9: “Save the Last One” by Scott M. Gimple (AMC)

Priest by Cory Goodman (Screen Gems)

The Adjustment Bureau by George Nolfi (Universal Pictures)

American Horror Story, episode #12: “Afterbirth” by Jessica Sharzer (20th Century Fox Television)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A FICTION COLLECTION

Voices: Tales of Horror by Lawrence C. Connolly (Fantasist Enterprises)

Red Gloves by Christopher Fowler (PS Publishing)

Two Worlds and In Between: The Best of Caitlin R. Kiernan (Volume One) by Caitlin R. Kiernan (Subterranean)

Monsters of L.A. by Lisa Morton (Bad Moon Books)

The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares by Joyce Carol Oates (Mysterious Press)

Multiplex Fandango by Weston Ochse (Dark Regions Press)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN AN ANTHOLOGY (EDITING)

NEHW Presents: Epitaphs edited by Tracy L. Carbone (NEHW)

Ghosts By Gaslight edited by Jack Dann and Nick Gevers (Harper Voyager)

Blood And Other Cravings edited by Ellen Datlow (Tor Books)

Supernatural Noir edited by Ellen Datlow (Dark Horse)

Tattered Souls 2 edited by Frank J. Hutton (Cutting Block Press)

Demons: Encounters with the Devil and his Minions, Fallen Angels and the Possessed edited by John Skipp (Black Dog and Leventhal)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN NON-FICTION

Halloween Nation: Behind the Scenes of America’s Fright Night by Lesley Pratt Bannatyne (Pelican Publishing)

Reflections in a Glass Darkly: Essays on J. Sheridan Le Fanu edited by Gary William Crawford, Jim Rockhill and Brian J. Showers (Hippocampus Press)

Starve Better by Nick Mamatas (Apex Publications)

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Zombies by Matt Mogk (Gallery Books)

The Gothic Imagination by John C. Tibbetts (Palgrave Macmillan)

Stephen King: A Literary Companion by Rocky Wood (McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A POETRY COLLECTION

How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend by Linda Addison (Necon Ebooks)

At Louche Ends: Poetry for the Decadent, the Damned & the Absinthe-Minded by Maria Alexander (Burning Effigy Press)

Surrealities by Bruce Boston (Dark Regions Press)

Shroud of Night by G. O. Clark (Dark Regions Press)

The Mad Hattery by Marge Simon (Elektrik Milk Bath Press)

Unearthly Delights by Marge Simon (Sam’s Dot)

 

More information on the Horror Writers Association is at www.horror.org.

More information on the 25th Anniversary presentation of the Bram Stoker Awards is at http://www.stokers2012.org.

This Year’s Bram Stoker Award Roll Call

The inimitable Lisa Morton, writer and HWA powerhouse, has put together a great webpage for this year’s Bram Stoker Award nominees, including a short biography for each. Check it out here.

And if you happen to be the only person on the planet who has yet to see the list of nominated works, check out the full list here.

2009 Bram Stoker Award Final Ballot

I just received the following announcement from the Horror Writers Association’s webmaster. The final ballot for the HWA’s 2009 Bram Stoker Award is out, and I’m happy to say that my novel Quarantined made the list. Congrats to all the nominees!

Horror Writers Association announces
2009 Bram Stoker Award Nominees

Each year, the Horror Writers Association presents the Bram Stoker Awards for Superior Achievement in the field of horror writing, named in honor of Bram Stoker, author of the seminal horror work Dracula. Since 1987, the approximately 500 members of the HWA have recommended, nominated and voted on the greatest works of horror and dark fantasy of the previous calendar year, making the Stokers the most prestigious award in the field of horror literature.

Currently the awards are presented in eight categories: Novel, First Novel, Long Fiction, Short Fiction, Fiction Collection, Anthology, Non-fiction, and Poetry Collection. The organization’s Active members will select the winners from this ballot; voting will close on March 3rd, and the awards will be presented this year at a gala banquet on Saturday evening, March 27, at the World Horror Convention in Brighton, UK.

This year’s nominees in each category are:

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A NOVEL

Audrey’s Door by Sarah Langan (Harper)
Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry (St. Martin’s Griffin)
Quarantined by Joe McKinney (Lachesis Publishing)
Cursed by Jeremy Shipp (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A FIRST NOVEL

Breathers by S. G. Browne (Broadway Books)
Solomon’s Grave by Daniel G. Keohane (Dragon Moon Press)
Damnable by Hank Schwaeble (Jove)
The Little Sleep by Paul Tremblay (Henry Holt)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN LONG FICTION

Dreaming Robot Monster by Mort Castle (Mighty Unclean)
The Hunger of Empty Vessels by Scott Edelman (Bad Moon Books)
The Lucid Dreaming by Lisa Morton (Bad Moon Books)
Doc Good’s Traveling Show by Gene O’Neill (Bad Moon Books)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN SHORT FICTION

“Keeping Watch” by Nate Kenyon (Monstrous: 20 Tales of Giant Creature Terror)
“The Crossing of Aldo Ray” by Weston Ochse (The Dead That Walk)
“In the Porches of My Ears” by Norman Prentiss (Postscripts #18)
“The Night Nurse” by Harry Shannon (Horror Drive-in)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN FICTION COLLECTION

Martyrs and Monsters by Robert Dunbar (Dark Hart Press)
Got to Kill Them All and Other Stories by Dennis Etchison (Cemetery Dance)
A Taste of Tenderloin by Gene O’Neill (Apex Book Company)
In the Closet, Under the Bed by Lee Thomas (Dark Scribe Press)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN ANTHOLOGY (EDITING)

He is Legend: An Anthology Celebrating Richard Matheson edited by Christopher Conlon (Gauntlet Press)
Lovecraft Unbound edited by Ellen Datlow (Dark Horse Books)
Poe edited by Ellen Datlow (Solaris)
Midnight Walk edited by Lisa Morton (Darkhouse Publishing)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN NONFICTION

Writers Workshop of Horror by Michael Knost (Woodland Press)
Cinema Knife Fight by L. L. Soares and Michael Arruda (Fearzone)
The Stephen King Illustrated Companion by Bev Vincent (Fall River Press)
Stephen King: The Non-fiction by Rocky Wood and Justin Brook (Cemetery Dance)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN POETRY COLLECTION

Double Visions by Bruce Boston (Dark Regions)
North Left of Earth by Bruce Boston (Sam’s Dot)
Barfodder by Rain Graves (Cemetery Dance)
Chimeric Machines by Lucy A. Snyder (Creative Guy Publishing)

Book Signing at Dark Delicacies

I just wanted to share some pictures from my book signing at Dark Delicacies back in May.  In addition to meeting two of the best hosts a man could ask for in Del and Sue Howison, I got the rare privilege of visiting with Steve and Melanie Tem and Richard Dean Starr.  Richard, as it turns out, is one of the coolest guys on the planet.  We talked about his Kolchak series and his upcoming Tales of Zorro project, which I can’t wait to read.  And the Tems were wonderful.  I think my first comment to them was something stupid like, “Do the two of you have any idea how many of the books on my shelves at home have the two of you in them?!”  Luckily for me, they are as gracious as they are talented.

And then there were these two guys:  Weston Ochse and Gene O’Neill.  We met over margaritas at a little Mexican food place down the street from Dark Delicacies and had a great time.  Gene is an ex-boxer and the author of a fantastic apocalyptic novella entitled The Confessions of St. Zach.  We talked about boxing and about writing from life experiences, and I can tell you this now, there are very few authors out there who are more passionate about what they do and where they came from than Gene O’Neill.

Meeting Weston Ochse was one the highlights of my trip to Los Angeles.  Weston is the author of the Bram Stoker Award-winning novel Scarecrow Gods and a self-professed Cowboy in the Boat of Ra.  We traveled the floor of the Staple Center for two days during the Book Expo America 2008 show, meeting other authors and talking about life and writing, and I had a great time.  Can’t wait to see all of you again.

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