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By lydia in events, horror, writing

Helper Bat will be helping, along with Weak and Weary while I hang out at the Span-O Ottawa Small Press Book Fair. It’s this Saturday, June 13th, so short notice but hey “the best plan is no plan,” my father always said.

This will mark something like my sixth session at the Jack Purcell Community Centre drinking coffee and talking horror with all the daywalkers.

Always great to see other dark fiction authors, and this time I get to share space with Kelly A. Taylor. A fine writer of dark and somewhat apocalyptic fiction from what I have read so far, I’ve known Kelly for a few years and can’t wait to see what she brings to the table – literally!

There will be copies of Pray Lied Eve, a few copies of a Single Tale entitled ‘Turnstile’ (not available anywhere since it’s really that terrible) and maybe some Crocodile Rot. I have a few copies of Postscripts to Darkness as well.

More on the author stuff, I have been wrangled into the holding pen over at The Wicked Library. I’m in good company, and though the floor is cold it is kept dry and the food is good – so long as I beat the others to the trough. Have a look and a listen ~ thanks!

By lydia in Dead Air, horror, podcast

In a fit of awesome, we decided to cover my guilty pleasure Wrong Turn 2. Why 2? Well, Wes asked that for you already, so listen in for the answer. Honestly, I have watched this at least six times, and after recording, I realized how I’ve neglected the first film so much. It reminded me of home far more than this, because this… well, it’s batshit insane. Home, not so much.

Follow us from the source at Splatter Pictures or the mothership at soundcloud. iTunes fans can listen in on our Dead Air Podcast there or on Stitcher if you please.

 

By lydia in Uncategorized

At first, this was a post to accompany my original ‘yay! I’m going to the Mayfair!” post on Facebook, but after writing so much words, here we are with a bona fide blog post. Also, this is barely a review. Listen to the linked review for that, or go see it yourself. Both are worth it.

To expand: at first, because this was based around sex, I’d thought I wouldn’t want to see it. After ‘Teeth’ and, like, every other sex based horror film I disliked, I wasn’t about to willingly subject myself to another. Thankfully, that’s not it at all. The characters themselves (let alone their intercourse) are decidedly pedestrian (no pun intended) and utterly believable. And likeable. Though very plain, we all know kids/people just like this. I hesitate to say ‘kids’ because they all conduct themselves in a very mature and ageless manner. They drive cars without them being status symbols. They are in out of hospitals without defiance or supervision. They accept in a mostly non-judgmental manner that their absent parents are just that; absent.

They take on this force, ‘it’, alone and without bravado. Very mature.

Their settings are largely bland and lower-middle class which I can relate too. So many of the houses look plucked straight from my hometown. The only thing that left me wondering about their incomes and lifestyle is their cars always had gas. Maybe that’s a Motor City thing? Like Albertans always have gas and beef? It certainly would have broken the spell to see any of them spend money gassing up.

The spell, as it were, is they really have nothing to do. They are likely some of the first to really attempt to fight back at this thing as opposed to hide, spread it further, or simply give in.

Listening in to the Bind Torture Kast review, as I tend to revisit these when I do see a film they cover, reinforced something I thought while watching. Two things actually.

One, they are of a social class some people may typically attribute (in a short sighted and misinformed if not cruel way) to impulsive and reckless sexual behavior. They have nothing better to do. They are all incredibly close and talk openly about encounters, sex, and relationships, and they are young. They drink and have no parental guidance. They watch old sci fi and horror into the wee hours. Sex? Seems to be the last thing on their minds. ‘It’ has barked up the wrong tree, if it’s goal is to spread and kill. No one knows that though.

While watching, I thought of how I would avoid death if afflicted with this force. The only way is to have random sex? Well, I guess it’s best to find someone who is going to pass it on faster than it can walk, right? Dirty idea, but the only way out. Chris (host of BTK) pointed out how the first girl in the opening is of a higher income bracket. True. The boy who passes it to Jay is of a slightly lower income – evident in that he would have been embarrassed by the house he pretended he lived in, and that residing in the house he Actually lives in is his caring and very present mother. The girl he chose to pass this to, Jay, is slightly lower-income than himself.

In a later scene, Paul seems to be moved to spread this among sex-workers, but decides no to. It would have been the inevitable escape. To find an even lower ‘class’ group of people who may be lucky enough to spread this faster than it can walk. I can see why some liken this to STDs or AIDS but I just can’t. If I want to liken it to an epidemic, it’s the spread of apathy toward sex. Sex as recreation or a commodity becoming commonplace. Not that I have an opinion on that, and I don’t mean epidemic in a negative fashion. It is what it is.

Second, being able to see a damn fine horror film in a theatre.

image

We are blessed, those that have small repertory theatres at our disposal. Spoiled even. Had I been forced to attend a multiplex to see this, I’d have skipped it. No way would I want it marred with trailers and bullshit, let alone dude-bros praying for tits or hoping the sex would get their dates squirmy. Luckily, I got to see this at my favourite haunt (however I neglect the place too often) with a decent crowd who applauded at the end with actual appreciation. It’s something the review hinged on from start to finish, and I agree. Seeing anything in a multiplex these days is torture. It doesn’t have to be that way. Seeing wide-release horror is normally torture enough (formulaic plot, pretty rich annoying characters, stupid fucking nu-metal and folk rock soundtrack) but add in the plebs and mouthbreathers – a terrible evening for the handful who actually want to enjoy a film.

Apparently there is a sequel coming. Yes, it follows It Follows to it’s origin from what I’ve read. If only in a perfect world they could create the same lightening strike and have a creeping terror of a film, perfect sound, well written and spoken script and direction, with the same kind of organic release based on interest. A girl can hope.

By lydia in Dead Air, horror, podcast

A day early and a dollar spent, Wes is off the Anime North to do whatever it is he does at Anime North. In the meantime, we/you get a dose of Dead Air early. ‘Nightmare City’ is being remade! Exciting, I know. If like so many others you have waited for this day forever, you can check the funded+ indiegogo thinger ~ or, if like me you hadn’t a clue about this oddball film, listen in as we review the original.

You can subscribe on iTunes at Dead Air Podcast, stitcher and soundcloud or facebook and harass Wes on twitter.

“In this episode Wes and Lydia head to the Nightmare City. Secrets revealed about how much of a scaredy-cat Wes is and that Lydia is the woman without fear! Also, Wes gets on his high-horse about film-making!”

By lydia in horror, podcast, writing

The end is nigh! More accurately, it was nigh a few weeks ago with the season finale of The Wicked Library.

Nelson W. Pyles has gone on to greater things though he will keep a finger on the thrumming pulse that is this amazing horror resource.

I had the pleasure of listening in to a podcast where Dan had collected snippets of thanks and memories of those who had been on the show. When my first (of four!) stories was aired, my parents called after to tell me how much they loved it. When I sent them the link, they waited until evening, then queued up the episode, and sat together by candlelight listening to the chilling story told by the best voice in the business. They remarked how much it was like listening to old radio plays like they used to when they were kids. Many fiction shows try to hit that mark, and TWL does it with ease – and that was in the early years of the show! It has only become more immersive as their skill and gear improved.

Here is the Ninth Story podcast episode where Nelson and Dan wax poetic. For all the authors, listeners and future collaborators, it is a must hear.

I’ll be repeating myself a little here and there but, wow. Thank you. A thousand thanks. Even more, one thank you to the team that is TWL for every soul they collected by airing our stories.

Congratulations, welcome, and high fives to Dan Foytik ~ the new voice of discord and terror. I think this is a wonderful move!

Well Nelson, like all the other hacks you’ve let on your shelves, I owe you. What, I’m not sure. More words, probably. With luck we will meet up and swap a few.

Friends and readers, give a listen and get acquainted with The Librarian and the authors that have been lucky enough to know him.

Also… scariest story!? You still get email about Bad Shepherd?! That’s made my day/week/month/year!

Thank you, Nelson.

You Rock.

And why? BFY, that’s why.

By lydia in anime, Dead Cells, horror, ReAnimeTion

Horror News is the “Motion Comic Series” offered from Tomotoon, part of Next Media Animation. It began streaming in April 2014. It is a motion comic/manga style story covering a handful of creepy tales, with the wraparound story being that of the mysterious publication the Horror News itself.

But first, some horror news because it has been a while. The winter here is harsh and cold, what can I say. Attack on Titan has people excited in advance since it won’t be out until 2016. Tokyo Ghoul 2 has come and gone. Psycho Pass and Diabolik Lovers have had an OVA each and there are three vampire series on right now that I’ll get into another time. Speaking of vampires I picked up the series Shiki, which may be up next if I don’t get around to new Tokyo Ghoul first. I’m half through Shiki right now, and it is pretty good.

Never did get around to covering my top hentai for Chris Excess. He had been on the Dead As Hell Horror podcast from time to time as well, and for that I do apologize. I just haven’t been in a hentai mood I guess, but I will leave you with this. Frantic, Frustrated and Female. FFF or F3, was one I had very shyly lent to me just after it came out in 1994 and was likely the most funny and cute hentai I had ever watched. It is basically about a girl who cannot achieve orgasm and resorts to all sorts of crazy antics to rectify this. She eventually becomes possessed by an incubus with ridiculous results. The best part is that ‘F’ is the sixth letter of the alphabet, making this one a little extra satanic.

I also had a request from a more different Chris, the host of Bind Torture Kast which just happens to be my most favourite horror podcast of all time. Devilman was one of his suggestions and now I have to decide if I want to watch the series from 70s or the OVA from 1987 or 2004 – it will likely be the first OVA since I’m sure that was the one that is on his mind and the first one I saw too – and I have to decide that before the remake gets released this Fall. Yes another remake, because that’s what the world needs is more Devilman.

So, Horror News. It was a fun watch and only crossed my desk because it had Horror in the title. I dont even remember how i came across it, but being a journalist, the news part caught my eye too.

The description on Crunchyroll reads…  “Rei Kigata is a boy, a first year middle schooler at Ishido Middle School. He is not a believer of any paranormal phenomena such as existence of ghosts or spirits of any kind, but one day at midnight, while he is asleep, a mysterious newspaper called ‘Horror News’ is delivered to his room. The newspaper tells a story in which one of his teachers at the school will get killed in a car accident the following morning and Kigata will be a witness of the accident. The story turns into a fact the following day and since then, the mysterious newspaper is delivered every night”

Sixteen short chapters run about 10 minutes each and makes a great story to watch on your mobile device – not something anyone would usually recommend for an anime, but that is what these shorts are perfectly designed for. You can watch them all in one run just as easlity as you can watch them one at a time.

The first two chapters introduce you to the mysterious Horror News publication that Rei receives at midnight.

Chapters are otherwise grouped together by color coded titles. And it is more confusing to explain than be subject to. Episode 16 and 12 are called Pages In Black, which are folk tales. Episode 4 and 13-15 are Pages In Red, which are bizarre tales. episode 1 to 3 and 11 to 12 are Pages In White, or ghost stories and some of my favourite. Episode 6 to 9, Pages in Blue are science fiction and in my opinion the most boring. Just not for me.

I’ve been told it is a chinese motion comic style, and a little like Speed Racer in tone, the characters are very one dimensional in more ways than one. if you liked Yamishibai, or Japanese Ghost Stories,  you may like this. Another fun one is ‘I Luv Halloween; from Tokyo Pop – I love Tokyo Pop and Halloween, so go figure.

The deaths are really pretty bloody just cartoony of course and there sure aren’t many. We get to see a lot of Rei’s best derp faces and him exclaim in shock, disbelief, fear, then mental anguish; usually in that order. And usually every episode because he is a jumpy kinda guy.

It has a dim, colorful and slightly dark color palate that uses a lot of blues and reds. something like an aged comic book look to it. For an interesting read, check their wikipedia entry under Next Media Animation and how they develop motion comic for newscasts, let alone their more colourful social media antics.

If there are negatives to this series – not including whether you like the style or not, they would be that the collection of tales go from creepy and personal, to traditional and terrifying to aliens and yeti then just kind of peters out on the curse of the pharaohs. There is no real related thread and the last episode doesn’t even follow the main character on any sort of adventure but is the audio equivalent of him reading to us a grade school essay on King Tut. The device of the actual Horror News newspaper is largely abandoned by the end. This is unfortunate since I really liked the Horror News newspaper as a character, which it had become.

On the plus side, they hit on ghosts, possession, vampires, doppelgangers, the yeti and just lots of random death and screaming. Quite a mix. In a lot of other applications, this tactic would be aggravating because they are really all over the map yet due to the short duration, they get away with it.

The entire series is available on crunchyroll and like I said best watched on a tablet or mobile. I tried finding it in the Tomotoon site but it wasn’t featured and I sadly only speak English. So I don’t know if there are more episodes coming, it doesn’t look like it, but who knows.

So this is Dead Cells, a horror anime podcast and symbiot to Dead Air. If you want more horror, Wes ‘Dead Air’ Knipe and I podcast bi-weekly and you can find us at Dead Air on soundcloud, stitcher, itunes, facebook, twitter and likely wherever you are listening to this right now. If there is anything you think I should watch, let me know in the comments, at typicallydia on twitter or facebook and wherever you hang out online.

By lydia in anime, Dead Cells, horror, podcast, ReAnimeTion

Hi there, this is typicallydia and I am here on Dead Cells, part of splatterpictures.net to talk about “Hell Girl”. This is a good, though pretty sleepy anime. You know how when watching “X Files”, you kinda get quiet, you kinda get melancholy. you kinda turn inward and dissect humanity under the microscope – or telescope – that the show provides. It never hurts when Scully poses her emo diary entry in soliloquy at the end. The feels. The actual thought provoking is maybe what you didn’t expect from a sunday night television – and it is not what i expected from this anime.

From the friendly neighbourhood wikipedia entry Hell Girl is “also known as Jigoku Shōjo: Girl from Hell, and is an anime series produced by Aniplex and Studio Deen. It focuses on the existence of a supernatural system that allows people to take revenge by having other people sent to Hell via the services of the mysterious titular character and her assistants who implement this system. Revenge, injustice, hatred, and the nature of human emotions are common themes throughout the series.”

That’s a really wordy explanation. Hell Girl is available through a website called the Hell Link, where you initiate a ‘hell correspondence’. You type int the name of someone you want sent to hell. Hell Girl will appear, explain to you the terms of the agreement. Meaning, they will go to hell but your soul will also go to hell once you die a natural death. She’ll hand you a straw doll and you can contemplate this while… hanging out with your straw doll? It has a red string around its neck. So once you are really sure, you pull that red string. Hell Girl will appear again, and sell that person’s soul to hell immediately.

This is one of the first anime I watched when I first discovered Crunchyroll streaming over WiFi the last time I was in college. It comes from Studio Deen who have brought us Pupa, Is This A Zombie?, and other harem, crime, romance and slice-of-life animes. All in all a rounded if not slightly cheesy company.

Themes in the first season seem to really focus on bullies. You know, it gets better, right. Well, no. You make it better. If you can’t make it better – and some people really try to – you just send you enemies to hell.

This is where you meet Ai Enma, her grandmother, and three helpers. Wanyudo is an elderly traditional Japanese man who transforms into the black straw doll. He also changes into her chariot sometimes that she takes to the mortal plane. He seems to be her moral compass.

Ren is her blue straw doll. A good looking younger man, he is also represented as an eye that looks down on humans under scrutiny. He observes their actions and tries to see what condemned them to hell or spurred them to use the hell correspondence. He was a sword in a former life! So he is against bloodshed and is maybe an aspect of Hell Girl’s humanity.

Hone is a beautiful woman who is represented with a red straw doll. In her former life she was forced into a brothel and remains very romantic yet jaded. Hone Onna is a form of a revenge spirit or yokai that allows her to show her form as a bone woman or decaying corpse, much to the dismay of those unfortunate to accompany her and Hell Girl on the ferry ride to hell.

Kikuri is an annoying and adorable little ragamuffin brat that kicks around both the human realm and the shores of hell. She mostly gets in the way and ruins things. A real imp. I like her.

Yamarawo is the yellow straw doll, but i haven’t watched season three yet, so i’ll do another segment when i have.

Now, the hell correspondence. The Hell Link. The web site plays a huge role as almost a character in and of itself. With all of the time we spend online it is a wonder that all we’ve come up with is how to send your enemy sparkles. We all know how that went. If you could send someone to hell would you? Who would you send? Would you be fine with your soul consigned to hell after the deed is done? its easy to sit and watch others do it. they are getting their comeuppance and the people being ferried to hell really deserve it. But, would you?

There are some really great aspects of society covered that usually get poked fun at in other anime but here can be boiled down to their basest elements. The loss of a child. A lover scorned. Sibling rivalry. these are the near everyday themes that are torn away at, layer by layer until you agree the wrongdoer should be held accountable. The victim is right. Someone needs to go to hell.

The last episodes of either season are certainly worth watching if you are looking for a story arch. Otherwise, the stories are an anthology series and somewhat repetitive. The beginnings have similar elements as you are introduced to the players for the episode. The endings are all similar as the person who was cursed by someone they knew is ferried to hell. But then, any fan of horror is used to repetition in some form. Slashers, revenge and possession films tend to veer into an ad lib script. And there is a beginning-middle-and-end formula to follow in most horror so we cant complain too much can we.

 

There isn’t much gore, though there are some pretty intense reveals and some twisted scenes when they head to hell – the series also deals with some pretty twisted thoughts. Just the way some of these revenge plots come about. Most of them are pretty sad. So yeah. If you wanna watch sad stories that are thought-provoking if not morose that always end with someone going to Hell, then Hell Girl is your thing.

The animation style is pretty plain, as is the music. For the opening theme there is a soft pop song that is catchy and upbeat and a brooding, slower closing song. Not grating at all but not particularly memorable. The show is more haunting than anything. That is maybe the best word I can think of to describe why I like it.

I love the look of Ai. at Fan Expo a few years ago there was a cosplayer dressed as sailor outfit Ai, complete with red scelera contacts and had cut her hair into a hime style with blunt cut varied length bangs, instead of using a wig. Ai wears a few outfits through each episode, another formula mirroring the beginning-middle-and-end. A sailor suit that she appears in on earth and while chillin out at home, contemplating her cursed life over blood red spider lilies reflected in the River Styx.  When she is finished bathing in said river she wears a white under kimono, then dons a psychedelic floral swirling technicolour thing that she wears to send souls to hell.

Lovely stuff.

Anyhow, those who like quiet, brooding horror and strange tales will like Hell Girl. Season two and three (Two Mirrors and Three Vessels) stream on cruchyroll, and the first season is widely available. Asking your local comic book shop to order a copy is likely the best idea.

some of the stuff I have my eye on is the upcoming season of Attack on Titan, which will be a while, the second season of Tokyo Ghoul which I’ll be in on soon, remaining Parasyte and its live action counterpart and some new vampire themed anime. Vampire Holmes piques my interest buuuuut I’m looking more forward to Kekkai Sensen, otherwise known as Blood Blockade Battlefront. a nice dark vampire occult story that will help balance my love of Blood Lad. while I do enjoy Blood Lad as much as I enjoyed Is This A Zombie I’m not sure how to approach them on Dead Cells. maybe a comedy episode? We shall see kids, we shall see. In the news is also an anime entitled ‘Horror News’ conveniently enough. It is on crunchyroll right now so once I’m done reading books for the upcoming dark side tour and watching films with Wes ‘Dead Air’ Knipe for Dead Air and splatterpictures.net I’ll be settling into the time vampire that is horror anime.

 

By lydia in Dead Air, Dead Cells, horror, music, podcast

The title may seem melodramatic, but it’s not far off. A few years ago, I went on record as disliking podcasts over 20 minutes in response to a post on the Rue Morgue Podcast’s site. They attempted an attitude adjustment by speeding up a portion of the response to my critique to save my precious fucking time and hilarity ensued. Mostly because Dark Mark hated it so much. A few years later, I switched jobs and dialed back a lot of my extra-curricular activities. Seemingly unrelated, but compare a ten minute commute to an hour on a city bus. Twice a day. And I can’t read books while in motion. Suddenly, the podcasts I had been into only casually became an almost daily routine on my ride. It’s easy to listen to an episode, or most of one, on the way in and the rest or another on the way home. I can listen aloud in the office after hours too, so I sometimes find an episode in between music.

The commute though, would be mind-numbing without them. After rifling through likely hundreds of crime, horror, writing and paranormal podcasts, I have a short list. Not only are these really fun and informative shows, I think they are incredibly important shows every horror fan should check out.

So. The 20 minute thing? I take it back.

I’d be a far more aggravated person on public transit without them, so I thank you. Therefore, the public at large thanks you. My twitter followers who don’t want to hear about Uggs, side-eyes, mouth-sounds, drunk people and creepers thanks you.

I know it is hard work. Thank you.

This is Horror – Hosted by Michael Wilson (Owner and Managing Editor at This Is Horror) and Deputy Editor Dan Howarth, this is the premiere horror fiction podcast. I was into this early. Probably around the suggested episode. The one that really hooked me was a review of the Best in British Fantasy as their opinions were honest and at times damning. They both had a lot of questions about the state of the genre, the intentions of publishers and the future of authors in the hands of both. Since then, the podcast has focused on in-depth interviews, news and recently, short dark fiction read by authors. If you like dark fiction, noir and horror by authors like Joe Hill, Stephen Graham Jones, Jack Ketchum and David Moody, try this.

Suggested episode? Lords of Salem. Even though I had reviewed the book on typicalbooks, I have only watched the film recently, so I should give this one another spin.

(Honourable mention goes to The Wicked Library. My alma-mater in the realm of having my work read in a fiction podcast, and only fitting I would align these two. )

Faculty of Horror – Hosted by Andrea Subissati and Alexandra West I have been there for roll call since the first class. Since I had followed Rue Morgue and other mutual haunts, I saw links and such around the web early on. This is horror film review from steadfast horror fans who are both seasoned writers and academics. Coming from these backgrounds lends a slightly more serious tone to this well planned and intensely informative podcast. My horror-academia friends must have a listen. This means you, Amy Vosper, Derek Newman-Stille, Sean Moreland and Aalya Ahmad.

Suggested episode? I Thought There’d Be Stars (The Cabin in the Woods). This is their most recent, though they cover classics, cult picks and new releases so there is not one episode without an A+. Another runner-up was the Black Swan and Drag Me To Hell episode. Further, they have been recently named the (not official as I had thought) feature podcast on Rue Morgue~ very fitting, so congratulations!

Bind Torture Kast – Hosted by Chris Ligrest with co-hosts Luke Ramer and Steve Taiclet, this is my hands-down number one super best most favorite podcast of all time, amen. This entire blog is basically an excuse to make you go listen to it*. From NEKRomantik to Martyrs, Aftermath to High Tension, they have hit on so many underground or extreme horror titles it’s a veritable honey bucket of fucked up film fandom. Then, of course, are the steaming handfuls of films I’d have not heard of otherwise (Septic Man, Sleep Tight). Selected news, calendar releases and the best music selection I’ve ever heard on air; what’s not to love. I discovered this while I was working in housekeeping at a hotel and between trying to get the high score in a little game I called P5 (finding piss, puke, pubes, plasma, and poop and all in one room) I’d listen when I could. For atmosphere.

Suggested episode? This is an impossible decision. If you want a gentle introduction (well, as gentle as this gets…) Baxter. It’s also pretty recent, so you can scan back through a very impressive body of work, as it is basically a weekly gig with over 70 episodes to date. If you know my interests well, try their review of Lucifer Valentine’s documentary I need to see entitled Black Metal Veins and scan way back to episode four on NEKRomantik.  Follow Bind Torture Kast on fakebook. and stitcher and itunes too.

Last Podcast on the Left – Hosted by Ben Kissel, Henry Zebrowski, and Marcus Parks don’t let the word comedy here fool you. Yes, it is a comedy podcast. A Very Dark (read: VERY DARK) comedy podcast about serial killers for the most part. And Hitler. And Axe Murder – which is the most straight up comedy one I’ve heard so far – and just about any twisted conspiracy theory or violent crime you can imagine. (Runner up goes to Darkness Radio, True Crime Tuesdays)

Suggested episode? Playing with the Dead. Necromancy, necrophilia and the connections between the two. Because we might as well get the deal-breaker out of the way, right? They are weekly as well, and have over 170 episodes to date. This one is pretty recent, as well as another favourite on Fred and Rosemary West.

BONUS ROUND – Two of these podcasts are very likely not suitable for mixed company or your place of employ. NSFW. Two are fairly benign. Try to guess which ones!

It’s not all about gore, kids. Each one of these is a darling of mine because of consistency, worlds of information, eclectic interests of mine, and of course dark and well-researched subject matter. The presentation, programming and personalities contained herein are honest and entertaining, which is all you can hope for. I suppose it would be weird to not mention my own (half of a) podcast Dead Air with Wes ‘Dead Air’ Knipe, as we strive for the same kind of mandate. You’ve seen links here, fakebook, twitter and anywhere else I can post them, so no need for me to be redundant.

If there is anything out there you feel is on par with these, let me know, I think you may be hard pressed to find shows of this caliber or beyond.

* okay, not really. I had meant to post a follow-up to my “Why I Don’t Listen To Your Horror Podcast” article that was lost in the great server suicide of 2013 along with blog posts dating back to 2004 from my first blog, LiveJournal, MySpace, a defunct Tumblr, two incarnations of wordpress and a horror film review page I had on GeoCities in 1995. Sad, I know.

tl;dr? Thank you to the people who make these shows happen, and if you are looking for something to listen to, follow all the links in this post.

By lydia in events, horror, typicalbooks, writing

To anyone, three men sitting around a restaurant discussing the books in hand may not be so striking. To know they are preparing for readings and selecting passages may pique the interest of a student of horror. What they are choosing are bits that they know are either striking to their readers, or portions that they really feel embody the highlights of that particular work or as a hologram of their craft as a whole.

~DSC_6017smNone of them wear ‘scary’ like a uniform. Horror is in books and film and in their imaginations. It’s not sitting down for a meal or spending the day on the lake with the kids, let alone getting to meet and talk with the public. So, seeing them all with their books going over the evenings reading selections and chatting about their work and the tour remains as “business casual” as anyone would suspect. They were fresh off the Dark Side Tour launch the night before in Toronto and this, the second date on the tour in Ottawa, was the gateway to Montreal and Quebec City.

‘Paperback Writer’ by The Beatles drifted over the restaurant sound system and conversation veered in and out of the craft of writing, their current work, beginnings, forensic pathology, the current tour and their tremendous support they receive from the sponsors. Such regular conversation to start, you barely notice the quick dips from mundane to taboo without the bat of an eyelash.

Andrew Pyper “We are externalizing a very internal process. Like, every question is about this thing I do inside of my head, alone, at four o’clock in the morning… it’s like explaining skateboarding. Try explaining skateboarding to somebody.”

Without focusing on beginnings such as school and earliest memories of writing, I asked how their publishing journey was. Had they had a long arc with small presses or short story sales, or hit large publishers right off the bat.

AP: I was very lucky. I had a book that came out of a small press, The Porcupines Quill. Then I went away and wrote a novel. I had an agent based on essentially that she thought I was going to write a novel. So she took it out and it was picked up in Canada first with Harper Collins, then in the US, UK and elsewhere. There was a movement from small press to big but without the process of rejection or multiple novels having to be written before you take that next step.”

Robert Pobi: I had a longer, weirder experience. I sold my first novel when I was 23. I was in Mexico waiting for the galleys to be sent to me, and the publisher was bought out twelve days before the publisher went into production. Presidio Press. Afterward, I went out a few query letters, didn’t have any luck. I mean I had been picked up to the first one I sent the book to and got a contract so I thought this was easy. I tried for six or seven months, sent out seven or eight letters and they all said, ‘thank you, but no thank you’. So I was just writing in a vacuum for the next twenty years. I didn’t show my work to anybody. When I came out of the box, five or six years ago now, Simon & Schuster were the first people to pick me up. I got picked up by Random House in the UK and things just went. I got lucky right off the bat, I guess, but after paying my dues in private for twenty years.”

Nick Cutter: It’s been a roller-coaster for me too. I wrote my first horror book under a different pseudonym. I think I was 25 or 26. And then I started writing literary stuff and tried to sell short stories to journals. If I were masochistic I could have filled a pillowcase with rejection slips. I cobbled some stores together and it feels like when the floodgates opened, they opened suddenly. Like boom. Then boom-boom-boom you got a bunch of acceptances. Maybe I had pre-loaded. Like just had to get better and better so then you just hit this nice slipstream. ‘Rust and Bone’ came out, then ‘The Fighter’, but no one wanted anything to do with me after ‘The Fighter’, my second novel. So I was down again. Didn’t know what i was going to do, then ChiZine, who I’ve been friends with published my book ‘Sarah Court’ and that sort of helped me get back on track toward writing ‘Cataract City’ which is my over book under Craig Davidson, then ‘The Troop’ and ‘The Deep’. So yes, it’s been a roller coaster but I think a lot of writers follow that same course.”

Horror, as a genre, could be seen as paying rent to live in the basement of a building it used to own. A sad state on one hand. On another, the mother ship could be seen as buried under the new civilizations that are thriller, urban fantasy and dark literature. I asked their take on that idea and being fit into the horror genre.

RP: ‘Eye Of The Storm’ I thought was a horror novel. ‘Harvest’ I didn’t, but the next one coming out, ‘Mannheim Rex’, that’s a horror novel. I just write fun stories and see where they go–I guess children having their feet sawed off qualifies as horror–I didn’t approach Harvest as horror. I would have worked on the heat a little more, the atmosphere in the city a little bit more. Probably dealt my main character a couple more blows emotionally. I would have handled it a little bit differently. I had sold ‘Bloodman’ to Random House UK which I had written as a horror book and they said it was a great thriller and said ‘we’ll take it if you sell us a second police novel’. So they saw it as a strict police book. In France I’m on the shelf with literature. French translations of Poe; then me. In the UK it’s in the take-away at Sainsbury’s next to the fried chicken.

AP: I wouldn’t say I’m uncomfortable with the term horror to describe my work, because it is. Within the genre, I think something like psychological horror or supernatural thriller would probably in my case be simply more accurate. I don’t care whether it’s more savory, just that it’s more accurate. It’s at the end of the spectrum where it kind of crosses over into suspense or literary, or even to an extent crime. These nuances are interesting to think about as the more nuanced it gets the more helpful it gets at marketing books. Whether it is the UK or here. To market it as horror? I’m fine with that. That’s just a decision of the rack, but as a matter of aesthetics, I would probably be more comfortable with supernatural thriller.

NC: I grew up in the 80s and 90s reading books that were clearly marked horror on the spine. So, if I could fall in with that lineage I’m fine with that. I think things have splintered since that time and it gets broken down into elements of what a book could be slotted as. It’s more of a decision of the publishers and what they see things as, but for me personally, if I have horror stamped on the spine of my books that’s fine.

Huge thanks to Amy Jacobsen and Loretta Eldridge from Simon & Schuster, who did an excellent job of managing the tour. Alongside sponsors from Beaus Brewing, and Elle Canada, they worked with hosts ChiSeries, Maxwell’s and Perfect Books to make for one very cool evening. Seeing everyone from ChiZine, Can-Con, Maple Books, Geek Inked, Postscripts to Darkness and Lackington’s was a veritable who’s who of dark literature here, and that’s just who I had a chance to visit with.
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The readings were intense. Stark. The selections had lines that toyed along the edge of good taste and taboo, as those familiar with these books could guess. Pobi had even those that had read his work squirming and the crowd reactions to all were priceless. You can hear and watch over at Geek Inked!

DarkSideAuthors

The question and answer segment was new to Ottawa ChiSeries but flowed like a mini panel on the mind of a horror writer. Gone were industry questions on how to get an agent and what writing is like. The crowd wanted blood or at least meatier input. How their minds work. How research influences them and how they can lay their morbid thoughts to rest and have headspace to share among the living and loved ones. One of the questions that arose was how do they reign it in. Have editors ever stopped them from including passages that may be too scary, too gory, or too insane?

RP: Going too far. It’s something I worried about when doing this full time and my standard response is ‘Do you know Ed Gein?’ what ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ is based on? When they arrested him, he was wearing under his clothes a belt made out of human nipples and had a vagina that wasn’t his in his pants. What can I do that’s gonna top that? Edmond Kemper is another one… you look at the news what ISIS is doing, there is so much badness in the world…truth is stranger than fiction.

NC: In ‘Danse Macabre’, Stephen King talked about the three levels of fear. He said, first I’ll try to terrify you, and if that won’t work then I’ll try and horrify you and if I can’t do that, try to gross you out. Sometimes I skip terrify and horrify and go straight for the gross out. Andrew works on a different register where he terrifies… but Rob and I have to deal with the question of do you turn it up to the next level or do you not? I have given up on trying to write by trying to assay peoples tastes. It’s a hard thing because what doesn’t even get close to ‘your’ terror register as a horror fan is way over ‘their’ taste level. You can get frozen inertia by staying where your supposed readers tolerance is and then you don’t do anything. You have to have fun with this if it’s what you want to do, so you have to be able to do whatever you want.”

The question of research and how it influences their writing ranged from profiling crime to spirituality. This is one area where I think many authors tend to understate the amount of research that goes into fiction. That or it is largely unnoticed as Pobi pointed out, since it may take a stack of books to influence or validate a line or two in a chapter.

AP: My research tends toward the specific or going places like Detroit in the case of ‘The Damned’. Or more mythological research. There is a typically a classic text that forms the basis for the recent books. There is the ghost of Dante’s ‘Inferno’ in ‘The Damned’ or Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ in ‘The Demonologist’, so there is a kind of fact based research, but for me it’s understanding the pre-existing myth and what I’m going to do with it.”
Hopefully we will see another round of the Dark Side Tour.

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So, what will we see on the shelves next?

Andrew Pyper: Probably the most ambitious project I’ve ever undertaken as it requires quite a lot of research. It has historical aspects to it and conceptually it’s the most ambitious book too. I’ve never been as excited by a book and as scared as I am of blowing it with this book.

Robert Pobi: My next book is called ‘Deselected’. It’s about evolutionary mechanics and the beliefs in place in the religious right in the States and when scientific threats start coming down on humanity beliefs begin crumbling in domino effect. It’s about this narcissistic navel gazing and us being the centre of the universe.

Nick Cutter: My next book with ChiZine is called ‘The Acolyte’. It’s about this society also ruled by a religious right and the acolytes job is to stamp out any faiths that are not in line with the traditional state. It follows a couple of these acolytes and what is going on when they begin to fight against this system that is in place.

Nightface

January 6, 2015
By lydia in extras, horror

You can read an excerpt of Nightface thanks to the Amazon ‘Look Inside’ feature.