Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year! (2017)

Happy New Year, readers! I hope this post finds you well despite what some consider a horrible year. And I must admit, many bad things did happen in 2016. But enough about that; you already know the story there. Onward...

Below I have posted a couple lists of favorite books and albums that I enjoyed from last year. The albums were released in 2016 but the books vary in publication date, because that's how I roll.  So I hoped you saved some of your holiday money, because this is some great stuff!

Five favorite albums of 2016:
Metal Church - XI (heavy metal)
High Priest of Saturn - Son of Earth and Sky (space/stoner rock)
Eternal Champion - The Armor of Ire (heavy metal)
Dunbarrow - s/t (stoner/doom rock)
Svartanatt - s/t (hard/doom rock)

Favorite books read in 2016:
Tarzan Omnibus, Vol 1 (fantasy comics collection)
The Elementals - Michael McDowell (horror novel)
Rue Morgue's Magazine's Blood in Four Colors - Pedro Cabezeulo (non-fiction)
Criminal Vol. 1: Coward - Ed Brubaker/Sean Phillips (graphic novel)
'Taint the Meat...It's the Humanity! and Other Stories Illustrated by Jack Davis (horror comics collection)
Lemons Never Lie - Richard Stark (crime novel)
Night Passage - Robert B. Parker (crime novel)
Azrael Vol. 1: Fallen Angel - Dennis O'Neil, others (superhero comics collection)
Batman: Shadow of the Bat Vol. 1 - Alan Grant, Norm Breyfogle, Tim Sale (superhero comics collection)
Last Guardian - David Gemmell (fantasy novel)
Bloodstone - David Gemmell (fantasy novel)
Quest for Lost Heroes - David Gemmell (fantasy novel)

Happy reading and listening and I hope to post in here soon as I have some publication news to pass on.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

New Groups on Facebook

I've started a couple groups on Facebook you might want to check out, and perhaps join, depending on your interests. I've listed them below with a short description for each. Hope to see you there.

THE HARD & HEAVY GANG: Discussion of hard rock and heavy metal. Mainly old school but we rule nothing out.

SWORDS AND CAPES: Adventure in fiction and movies. Sword & sorcery, superheroes and all other things heroic.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Marvelous Mark Justice Has Passed Away

My co-writer of the Dead Earth books, Mark Justice, died quite suddenly while staying in the hospital last night. One moment he was posting statuses to his fans and friends on Facebook, and then we all woke up this morning to the heartbreaking news, posted everywhere. It was quite a blow.

Mark and I go a ways back--back to the days before Twitter and Facebook when we both hung out on the horror genre forums like Shocklines and Horror World--just like the rest of the horror community. He told me back then how much he had enjoyed a story of mine published on the Horrorfind site, which was a very nice thing to say because it came out of the blue, totally unsolicited--but that was just Mark's way. 

Some time later, I was co-editing the Damned Nation anthology along with Robert N. Lee, and Mark's was one of the stories that we eagerly accepted for publication. I liked the guy's writing and I thought us compatible both personality-wise and in our way with a story. So one day I asked him if he'd like to hook up and write some fiction together, a "horror Star Wars" is how I put it to him. He was generous enough to agree immediately, and to make a long story short, that's why you now have three Dead Earth books available to you. Near the beginning of our collaboration, probably sometime after The Green Dawn was finished, or during maybe, Mark came up with the idea for a podcast where we'd both talk about the horror genre, tell some jokes and plug our books. That was Pod of Horror, which has lasted to this day (although I dropped out earlier on). It must have been one of the first horror podcasts ever, and who better to host than Mark, not only a great writer but also a professional DJ? It was some of the most fun I'd ever had. 

What else did my good friend and I do together? Lots of things. He wrote reviews for my website Page Horrific. He helped me with my online genre forums. We had many a good laugh over the years while writing books and recording podcasts together...

Cut to two weeks ago: Mark emailed me to see if I wanted to write another novel with him, just like in the old days. Two weeks ago. And now he's gone.

Mark Justice was a kind, caring man who has many fans across Kentucky, where he worked, and the greater world. He and his sense of humor will be sorely missed by many. But at least he left us his podcasts, books and other writings, to enjoy for years to come.

Jesus on ice.

Friday, December 11, 2015

My List of Favorite Heavy Metal Albums of 2015

Oh, hello. Here is my list of great heavy metal albums of 2015, just in time for Xmas or whatever the heck else you celebrate this time of year. Raise the horns high, and thanks for checking it out.

1. Visigoth - The Revenant King
2. Ghost - Meliora
3. Armored Saint - Win Hands Down
4. RAM - Svbversvm
5. Lords of the Trident - Frostburn
6. Denner/Shermann - Satan's Tomb (ep)
7. Stereo Nasty - Nasty by Nature
8. Satan - Atom by Atom
9. Iron Maiden - The Book of Souls
10. Enforcer - From Beyond
11. Girlschool - Guilty As Sin
12. Night Viper - Night Viper
13. Venom - From the Very Depths
14. Raven - ExtermiNation
15. Powerwolf - Blessed & Possessed

Friday, August 14, 2015

2009 Page Horrific Interview with Graham Masterton

Graham Masterton has published more than 100 novels – thrillers,  disaster novels,  historical sagas and horror novels, for which he is principally known. Born in Edinburgh in 1946, he started writing horror stories when he was still at primary school. He was trained as a newspaper reporter before being appointed deputy editor of Mayfair magazine at the age of 21, and three years later executive editor of the UK edition of Penthouse. He went on to write a series of million-selling books on sexual instruction before turning his hand to novels. His first horror novel The Manitou was filmed in 1975 with Tony Curtis and Susan Strasberg in the lead roles. After living in Cork, Ireland, for five years, he and his wife Wiescka now live in Surrey,  England.  He is currently working on several new horror novels.

1. You are one of those great horror authors who came out of the ‘70s. How does it feel to be writing in the genre after all these years?

GM: The 1970s may seem like a long time ago to you but it certainly doesn’t to me!  In any case I started writing horror stories when I was ten or eleven years old at school,  so technically I have been writing in the genre for much longer than that.  I won a school magazine prize for a short story called Sophonisba about a deranged man who decorated the exterior of his Gothic house with the dismembered remains of his unfaithful wife,  and for another story about a man who woke up to find that he was living his life backward […]. When I was fourteen I wrote a 400-page vampire novel that regrettably has been lost (or perhaps not regrettably:  I seem to remember it was very verbose and pompous.)  I got back into horror writing in the 1970s more by accident than design.  I was editor of Penthouse magazine in those days and having great success with “how-to” sex books such as How To Drive Your Man Wild In Bed.  But the market quickly became flooded and my publishers decided not to publish my next book even though they had contracted to bring it out.  As a substitute I gave them The Manitou which I had written in a spare five days that I had between sex books.  The idea was inspired by a feature about manitous in the Buffalo Bill Annual, 1955,  and my wife Wiescka’s pregnancy with our first son.  After the first four or five horror novels I turned to historical sagas for a while,  and it was only when I wrote Tengu,  my Japanese-demon-Hiroshima-revenge story,   that my publishers persuaded me to return to horror.  Writing for a writer is as natural as breathing,  so for you to ask me how it still feels after all these years,  all I can say is that it is part of an organic,  continuing and   developing process.  I have so many ideas that I will never be able to write all of them in my lifetime.  Bummer,  n’est-ce pas?

2. Who were some of the fiction writers who influenced you when you were starting out?

GM: At school I was strongly influenced by Jules Verne and Edgar Allan Poe and Bram Stoker,  as well as Ray Bradbury and several other science fiction writers.  In my mid-teens I was inspired by Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso and Lawrence Ferlinghetti,  the Beat writers,  and then by William Burroughs.  I corresponded with William when he was living in Tangiers,  and when he moved to London in the mid-1960s we became friends.  I was editor of Mayfair magazine by then and I commissioned him to write a series of revolutionary articles which became known as The Burroughs Academy.  I wrote a novel called Rules of Duel at that time,  using the technique which William devised with the writer and artist Brion Gysin,  known as “intersection writing”,  where you repeat and cut up phrases and sentences so that they reveal many different meanings…kind of a literary Cubism.  I have always been fascinated by the nuts and bolts and mechanics of grammar and syntax,  and one of the main influences that William had on me was to try and become invisible to the reader,  so that a novel seems more like a movie (or,  even better,  a real-life experience)  than words that a reader is looking at,  on a page.  I was trained as news reporter by several Fleet Street journalists,  including the late Brian Silk,  and they were ruthless in making me write with economy and precision.

3. Each of your novels seems to take place in a different part of the world. Why is that?

GM: My novels are predominantly set in the United States,  which makes commercial sense since it is the largest English-speaking market on the planet,  and also other nationalities are familiar with American settings through movies and TV series.  But if I visit a place and find it interesting and atmospheric,  I do like to use it as a background for a novel.  Every city has its scary legends.  Apart from that,  it is very important for a novel’s setting to be believable,  especially if you are going to introduce a highly-unbelievable threat,  such as a demon or a monster or a drawing that comes to life.

4. Many of your novels are based on myths and legends. What are some of your favorite mythology books?

GM: I have scores of books on legends and demons,  so it isn’t easy for me to choose a favorite.  But one of the most interesting was given to me by my friend and publisher Lefteris Stavrianos when Wiescka and I were staying in Greece,  Modern Greek Folklore and Ancient Greek Religion,   by Judith Lawson.  It has some really insane creatures in it.

5. What is your process for writing a novel?

GM: The idea usually comes from an interesting news story or a profile of somebody with an interesting career.  Take Basilisk,  for example.  I read a piece about research biologists who were trying to recreate extinct species of animal.  It then occurred that maybe a fictional biologist could try to recreate mythical beasts such as the basilisk,  and the phoenix,  and gargoyles.  The purpose of the research would be to extract stem cells which would help to treat incurable illnesses such as Alzheimer’s.  So – in spite of the fact that the resurrection of a basilisk would be intrinsically ridiculous – the story was already grounded in modern scientific fact.  What I frequently do is take a terrifying legend and visit it on some ordinary,  everyday people,  and try to work out how they would cope with it.  As for actually writing the novel,  I start the day with what the American railroad pioneers used to call a cup of “horseshoe” coffee – so strong that a horseshoe would float in it.  Then I do The Daily Telegraph crossword just to give my brain-cells some PE.  Then I sit down and start writing.  But living the story,  rather than writing it.  Then I stop,  and that’s it for another day.  Writing isn’t very exciting,  especially for anybody watching a writer at work.  As my old chief reporter used to say,  “Writers are laborers.  The only difference is that laborers shovel shit and we shovel words,  and to be frank it’s sometimes it’s hard to tell them apart.”

6. You have provided many a chill for your readers. Who scares you most?

GM: I am not scared of the dark,  or ghosts,  or spiders.  I have had one or two serious car crashes which were scary at the time,  but only for a few seconds.  I think if anything scares me it’s losing control of my own life.  That’s why I am intensely opposed to CCTV surveillance and government intrusion in my private affairs,  such as income tax.  In 1974,  Wiescka and I drove all over England and Scotland for days and days and nobody knew where we were.  These days,  that would be impossible.  Our faces would have been recorded at every gas station where we stopped to refuel,  and in the lobby of every hotel,  and our car registration would have been noted along every motorway that we travelled.  I have a police detective friend who warned me never to scratch my ass while walking down the street “because you’re being watched.”  I find that frightening.

7. Which of your own books are you most proud of, and why?

GM: I always find it satisfying if a book becomes “real” to my readers -- such as Trauma,  and Unspeakable,  and the Jim Rook and Sissy Sawyer novels.  But a lifetime of writing is a continuous experience,  and each book is part of a large construction,  like bricks in a house,  and the eventual pride in what you have achieved or the disappointment in what you have failed to achieve only comes at the end.

8. What are the five greatest pleasures in life?

GM: You haven’t found out yet?  Not necessarily in this order,  they are sex,  lobster,  reading stories to your children,  laughing and winning the lottery twice in one week.

9. What news of upcoming projects can you share with us?

GM: A seventh Jim Rook novel Demon’s Door is almost finished.  A new Night Warriors novel The Ninth Nightmare has had its keel laid down.  Our monster hunter Nathan Underhill will be chasing gargoyles and Sissy Sawyer will be reading the DeVane cards again.  And of course I am continuously banging away at various Hollywood producers to get movies and TV made.

10. What are your five favorite music albums?

GM: I once did a “Desert Island Discs”-type programme for a BBC radio station,  and I found it almost impossible to make a selection of my favorite albums,  because the music I like depends on so many things…my mood,  the weather,  the place I’m in.  When I lived in Ireland I liked fiddly-diddly music.  When I was in San Francisco I liked flowery-hippy music.  Today I happen to like Days Like These by Van Morrison,  but I’m already starting to find the arrangement a bit too clean and abrupt,  and I won’t play it again tomorrow,  or the day after,  or possibly for months,  if not years.  Musicians are the same as writers.  They’re like laborers,  and we all know what laborers are doing.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

2005 interview I did with Gene Wolfe for Hellnotes

GENE WOLFE interviewed by David Wilbanks (2005)

Gene Wolfe is the author of THE FIFTH HEAD OF CERBERUS, PEACE, THE DEVIL IN A FOREST, The Book of the New Sun, CASTLEVIEW, THERE ARE DOORS, SOLDIER OF THE MIST, SOLDIER OF ARETE, The Book of the Long Sun, The Book of the Short Sun, and others.  His work has won two Nebula Awards and three World Fantasy Awards, the Deathrealm Award, the British Science Fiction Award, the British Fantasy Award, and others.  His short fiction is collected in THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR DEATH AND OTHER STORIES AND OTHER STORIES, CASTLE OF DAYS, ENDANGERED SPECIES, STOREYS FROM THE OLD HOTEL, STRANGE TRAVELERS and INNOCENTS ABOARD.  STARWATER STRAINS will appear soon.  A two-volume fantasy, The Wizard Knight, is complete now with the publication of THE WIZARD.

HELLNOTES: At what point in your life did you consider yourself a writer?  Did you write as a child?

GENE WOLFE: I considered myself a writer when I started trying to earn enough for Rosemary and me to make a down payment on some furniture.  That was in 1957.  I wrote a tiny bit as a child, and wrote three or four little pieces for a college magazine before I went into the army.  I started writing seriously when I saw that I needed to earn more than my salary so we could move out of our furnished apartment.

HN: Who were some of the influences on your writing and your life?  And how were they influential?

GW: My mother; she had never finished high school, but she was an intelligent woman and a voracious mystery reader.  I'd read her mysteries behind her, and we'd talk about them.  My father; he had read a lot of history and biography, and was an H.G. Wells fan.  The first Wells I read was THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU.  Fred Pohl; my second sale was to him, and it was that sale that really began my career.  My wife, Rosemary; she tolerated my writing when I hadn't sold anything and has been my secretary, PR woman, and cheerleader ever since.  Lloyd Biggle, Jr.; he got my into SFWA.  H.L. Gold; he was the first editor who encouraged me to write.  And Damon Knight; he bought my work regularly and taught me a great deal.

HN: Who are some of your favorite horror or dark fantasy writers, and why?

GW: Neil Gaiman, of course.  He's the master of the quirky idea and the great guru of dialog; and he has more talent and energy than a whole page of the HWA Directory.  Brian Hopkins, my friend and a thoughtful writer who knows more about horror than anybody else I've ever met.  M.R. James, the Past Master.  William Seabrook, for the horror of his real life and because he wrote "The Caged White Werewolf of the Sarban."  Jean Ingelow for MOPSA THE FAIRY.  Carolyn See for DREAMING.  I could go on and on.

HN: Where would you recommend a horror enthusiast begin reading your work?  For instance, The Book of the New Sun has its darker moments; the main character is a torturer and the action takes place beneath a dying sun.  Would this be a good place for a new reader to begin exploring?

GW: …I agree that would be a good start.  Other readers might prefer to begin with a few shorter pieces.  If so, I would suggest STRANGE TRAVELERS, particularly "Bluesberry Jam," "One, Two, Three for Me," "Counting Cats in Zanzibar," "The Death of Koshchei the Deathless," "Queen of the Night," "And When They Appear," "The Haunted Boardinghouse," and "Ain't You 'Most Done?"

HN: If a publisher asked you for a collection of your darker stories, which ones would you include?

GW: I've already named a few.  Some others are "The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories," "The Hero as Werwolf," "Three Fingers," "The Death of Dr. Island," "Hour of Trust," "The Doctor of Death Island," "Seven American Nights," "The Tree Is My Hat," "The Friendship Light," "How the Bishop Sailed to Inniskeen," "Houston, 1943," "A Fish Story," "The Eleventh City," "The Night Chough," "A Traveler in Desert Lands," and "The Walking Sticks."  Recent stories: "The Card," "The Vampire Kiss," "My Name Is Nancy Wood," "Pulp Cover," "Hunter Lake," and "Black Shoes." 

If any editor would like to buy a little ghost story, my agent has "The Gunner's Mate."  Inquire at the Virginia Kidd Agency, Inc.

HN: What's an average work day like for you?  Do you take any time off from writing?

GW: My radio is set for 5:30; but if I wake up any time after 4:00, I generally stay up.  I brush my teeth, make tea, take my eye drops, shave, do some exercises (sometimes...), make coffee, pray, eat breakfast (generally toast or cold cereal), and look at my email.  After that I write, usually until eleven.  Eight thirty to eleven is pretty typical.  After that I take vitamins and play chess against a little computer.  If I lose, I let myself know in no uncertain terms that I am a %$&*@#!  And a caitiff knave to boot.  If there's still time before lunch, I check for email again.  After lunch, things get flexible.  I may write more, write letters, shop, garden, pay bills, read, research, or what have you.  Eventually I take a shower and go to bed.  I don't write much on Sunday -- not at all, some Sundays.  I don't write when we travel or at cons.

HN: What are you currently working on, and what can we look forward to in the future?

GW: I'm working on SOLDIER OF SIDON, a third novel about Latro.  I've almost finished the third draft.  I think I'd call the Soldier books historical fantasy.  A pirate novel is in the works.  Please understand that neither may sell, though I hope they will.

HN: I'm a bit of a music nut, so I always want to know everyone's favorite piece of music.  Yours?

GW: Rosemary's the musical one.  I like songs, and they are
generally songs most other people don't much like.  Read "Bluesberry Jam," "Ain't You Most Done?" and "Flash Company."  Also CASTLEVIEW.  I like Blow Ye Winds in the Morning, Little Black Kiss, Witch of the Westmoorland, Barrette's Privateers, Claire de Lune, Spanish Ladies, Santa Anna, and such like.  Hey, I never said I was perfect.  I like The Washington Post March because I marched to it so often in high-school ROTC, college ROTC, the Texas National Guard, and the Army.  I can hear the sling-swivels jingle again, the rattle of the drums, the tramping boots, and the shouted orders.  I like China Night and Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes.

HN: Could you recommend five books everyone should own and tell us why?

GW: Yes and no.  The books: The Bible; Rawlinson's four-volume translation of Herodotus' HISTORY; Pope's translations of Homer [THE ILIAD and THE ODYSSEY], and a good dictionary.  Explaining
why I picked those five would take a lengthy essay.

…I’ll be happy to furnish other titles.  What about THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ATLAS OF THE WORLD?  Or THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE?

HN: Wonderful.

It's been a pleasure.  I'm excited about your upcoming work, especially the pirate novel.  The world needs more pirate novels.

GW: I feel the same way.  Run out the guns!  Signalman, run up the black ensign!