Tag Archives: Gary A. Braunbeck

Chiral Mad

“Chirality” is, by definition, an object or system that does not match up to its mirror image. Hands are a common example of this. And we all know “mad” to mean insane or mentally ill. The two words that title this brilliant anthology basically tell you that these tales of varying madness and insanities will not be like anything you’ve read before. More than a title, it is a promise and one that is delivered upon.

The twenty-eight stories that make up Chiral Mad are all quite good. I will not go into all of them but will touch on my favorites.

I was not blown away by the lead story, Ian Shoebridge’s somewhat hallucinogenic “White Pills,” and worried I’d be wading through a volume full of that sort of thing; but the second tale, by Gord Rollo, laid my fears to rest. His “Lost in a Field of Paper Flowers” is a tragic tale of transcendental revenge that made me smile. A dark little smile.

Gary McMahon delivers another sliver of shimmering disturbia and repressed memory with “Seven Pictures in an Album.” While Monica O’Rourke’s “Five Adjectives” is a brutal diorama of denial and avoidance. Chris Hertz gives us firebug lovers in “There Are Embers.”

Eric J. Guingnard turns in “Experiments in An Isolation Tank,” a tale of inheritance, madness and perception, all darkly shaded in Lovecraftian hues.

In Julie Stipes’s “Not the Child,” a young mother sees the harbingers of death in her neighborhood and discovers it was not by accident. Jeff Strand’s “A Flawed Fantasy” takes the picking-up-a-strange-woman-at-a-bar trope and changes the game with a clever ending.

Jack Ketchum turns in a squirmy tale of marital discourse, nosebleeds, and strange visitations with “Amid the Walking Wounded.”

And then there is “Need,” by Gary A. Braunbeck. (Deep breath.) This might be the best short story I have read years. Its premise is simple: We are all saviors and we are all monsters. Told out of chronological order, it chronicles a tragedy in a town and the mark the heartbreaking event made on those who live there. It’s a haunting tale, one I found, and still find, playing on my mind. It hurts.

None of these stories are bad. Not a single one. Some resonated with me more than others, but that is to be expected. The writing is topnotch, and the subject matter is widely varied and innovative. These folks dug their toes in and went for big game. They have the trophies to show for it.

And if a collection of outstanding horror is not motivation enough for you to plunk down your hard earned money on Chiral Mad, I offer this enticement: All proceeds go to Down’s Syndrome charities. So buy a copy. And another for a friend or relative. Maybe a few more to sock away for Christmas gifts. Support the cause and read these stories.

I applaud Michael Bailey for publishing this…

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The Post-Anthocon Blues

The second annual Anthology conference (AnthoCon) has come and gone…

One of the best parts of all conventions is seeing old friends, making new ones, and interacting with fans (like to the two women from Maine who can never remember which issues of Shock Totem they own, but always buy something—thank you!).

This time we shared space with Robert J. Duperre and Jesse David Young of T.R.O. Publishing, and we had an absolute blast. We’ve known them both online for a long time now, but it was great to finally meet in person. Lots of laughs were had.


Robert, Ken, Sarah, and Jesse.

Robert sold copies of The Gate: 13 Dark and Odd Tales, The Gate 2: 13 Tales of Isolation and Despair—which contains my story “The Candle Eaters”—plus his standalone novel Silas and his four Rift-series novels: The Fall, Dead of Winter, Death Springs Eternal, and The Summer Son. All of which come highly recommended. Jesse, artist of The Wicked and all T.R.O. Publishing releases, sold prints and ate obscene amounts of barely-cooked animals.

Sarah and I sold copies of Beautiful Sorrows, The Wicked, and Shock Totem, 33 in all, which we consider to be quite a success. Sarah also sold a few of her horror-themed tag blankets. We’ll be selling the blankets soon through our store.

As previously mentioned, Shroud Publishing/The Four Horsemen, LLC., released their debut anthology, appropriately titled Anthology: Year One. My story “She Cries” is featured.


A is for Awesome.

The anthology is now available in print through Amazon for $14.95. It looks to be a great one.

Special thanks and mucho respect goes out to the Four Horsemen—Tim Deal, Mark Wholley, jOhnny Morse, and Danny Evarts—for all their hard work in putting on such a great convention. For only its second year, I was impressed. Many of the (minor) complaints I had with last year’s convention were non-issues this year. So I applaud them.

In closing, I’d like to give a nod to Gary Braunbeck who, in his keynote speech, referenced and read his favorite poem, which just so happens to be my favorite poem. It’s by Stephen Crane, whose poetry—indeed the bulk of his fiction—is criminally underrated…

I saw a man pursuing the horizon;
Round and round they sped.
I was disturbed at this;
I accosted the man.
“It is futile,” I said,
“You can never—”

“You lie,” he cried,
And ran on.

So I tip my hat to Mr. Braunbeck. And we’ll see everyone next year!

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AnthoCon Here We Come!

This coming Friday through Sunday, Shock Totem Publications (Sarah and I ) will be heading up to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for the second annual Anthology conference (AnthoCon).

“The Anthology 2012 conference, presented by The Four Horsemen and Shroud Publishing, will showcase the imaginative talent in speculative fiction and art, with an additional focus on the convergence of images and literature. The conference will feature a number of engaging panel discussions and workshops helmed by bestselling authors, award-winning artists, and other creative and industry professionals. Also, Anthology 2012 will host a comprehensive dealer room that will include rare books, comics, art, games, and a number of other valuable creative products.”

We will have a table in the vendor room, which access to is FREE to the public! So stop on by. We’d love to meet you.

Also in the vendor room will be T.R.O. Publishing, the fine ladies of Broad Universe, the New England Horror Writers group (of which I am a proud member), and many more. Honored guests include authors Gary A. Braunbeck, Lucy Snyder, Rick Hautala and Holly Newstein, as well as artist Malcolm McClinton. There will be an art show and film festival, and…

The mighty Voltaire will be on hand performing songs and reading from his new novel, Call of the Jersey Devil. (Seriously, folks, this guy named an album Riding a Black Unicorn Down the Side of an Erupting Volcano While Drinking from a Chalice Filled with the Laughter of Small Children. Easily the greatest album title of all time.)

Typical convention stuff will also ensue—panels, reading, pitch sessions, debauchery, etc. And on a personal note, The Four Horsemen will be unleashing their very first anthology, aptly titled Anthology: Year One.

I am particularly excited about this because I have a story included called “She Cries.” The official release will be on Saturday at 6 PM. Many of the other authors will also be present for signings, maybe readings.

So if you’re in the neighborhood, or looking for something to do this weekend, come to AnthoCon! And if you’re already planning to attend, we’ll see you there.

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Psychos and the Appalachian Undead

Some staff news, ya’ll! Cue banjo!

This coming October, if not sooner, Apex Publications is set to release Appalachian Undead, a new anthology dedicated to the walking dead. I contributed a quirky tale called “Long Days to Come.”


[ click for full image ]

The brilliant artwork was created by Cortney Skinner. Quite a lineup, too: Elizabeth Massie, Jonathan Maberry, Tim Waggoner, S. Clayton Rhodes*, Maurice Broaddus, Bev Vincent, Tim Lebbon, Steve Rasnic Tem, John Skipp* & Dori Miller, and Gary A. Braunbeck, to name a few more than a few.

If you’d like to check out the full table of contents, click here.

You can also pre-order via the above link (and get 5% off if you tweet the link), but before you do, check out this groovy contest they’re running for those who do pre-order.

As always from Apex Publications, you can expect quality.

Not to be outdone, Mercedes and John each have stories—“Murder for Beginners” and “Intruder,” respectively—in Psychos: Serial Killers, Depraved Madmen, and the Criminally Insane, the latest slab—and I do mean slab; these things are massive—in an ongoing series edited by the inimitable John Skipp which has thus far included Zombies: Encounters with the Hungry Dead, Werewolves and Shapeshifters: Encounters with the Beasts Within, and Demons: Encounters with the Devil and His Minions, Fallen Angels, and the Possessed.


[ click for larger image ]

Psychos is due out in September via Black Dog & Leventhal, and features new and classic fiction from the likes of Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, Jack Ketchum, Joe R. Lansdale, Lawerence Block, Neil Gaiman, Leslianne Wilder*, Violet LeVoit, Weston Ochse*, Kathe Koja, and many more.

If you order now, Amazon has it for $10.07. That’s 608 pages for $10! No-brainer.

We hope you’ll buy both!

* Shock Totem alumni.

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