Tag Archives: James Newman

The Crow’s Caw Reviews The Wicked…Plus an Essay and a Contest

The almighty Jassen Bailey has given The Wicked a great review over at The Crow’s Caw.

“This is one of the coolest paperback I’ve ever laid eyes on. This is the total package.”

You can read the review here.

More than that, however, Jassen has allowed James to guest blog about The Wicked, specifically the excellent characterization found within the book. It’s a wonderfully insightful read.

And if that’s not cool enough, they’re giving away two copies of The Wicked and one copy of James’s fantastic collection, People Are Strange. All you have to do is go to the comments section and post your top 10 favorite horror novels and movies from the 80s. Couldn’t be easier!

Again, you can find the review, essay, and contest here. Dig it!

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A Conversation with James Newman

James Newman…a Southern Gentlemen who gave us the novels Midnight Rain and The Wicked, as well as such novellas as the co-authored Night of the Loving Dead, with James Futch, and Holy Rollers. And his latest novel, Animosity, was just released through Necessary Evil Press.

Newman was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to sit and chew the fat with me…

JB: James, we’ve known each other a few years, met up—where was it, the old Horror Channel board? I don’t recall, do you?

JN: I think that’s right. Of course, I can barely remember what I did last week, half the time. I used to think it was because I’d smoked too much weed back in the day. Now I know it’s just ’cause I’m getting old.

Seriously, though, thanks for asking me to do this. It’s always a pleasure talking to you, John.

(more…)

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Evolution of a Book Cover

Most artists live in the shadows of their work—and few see them.

We have sold thousands of copies of Shock Totem, and one thing we’re consistently complimented on is our cover art. This happens all the time. Think about that. We get complimented for something we did not create. All the time. The artist, for the most part, is ignored.

Sure, someone from Taiwan got on his back a tattoo of a slightly altered version of the cover art for issue #1—which is flippin’ brilliant—but that’s an extreme compliment. How many people have just e-mailed our artists to tell them how great their work is? Few, if any. I’d bet a lot of money on that.

But they tell us. Again, all the time.

Much like the fact that most people don’t understand how much time and effort an author puts into creating his work, I don’t think people understand or appreciate how much goes into creating cover art—or album art, a painting, a cartoon, etc.

On our Facebook page, we have a photo collection called Resonance. In it you’ll find a series of photos that includes numerous drafts of ideas for cover art we didn’t use, as well as early/alternate versions of the cover art we eventually did use. We want people to see part of the process, because it’s a long one that takes a lot of time and hard work.

As mentioned recently, we will soon reissue James Newman’s ode to 80s horror, The Wicked. We commissioned new artwork from Jesse David Young, as well as numerous interior illustrations. This process began back on September 16, 2011. Over six months ago. To give you a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes, I’ve put together a little slideshow which begins with the very first sketch idea and ends with the final product.

(All the artwork was done by Jesse David Young, but the layouts for final three covers shown were done Mikio Murakami, Rex Zachary, and Yannick Bouchard, respectively.)


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Scroll down this page a bit, and on the right sidebar you’ll see a section labeled Artists of the Totem. Below it, links to all the artists that have helped make Shock Totem great. Check them out, hire them—or, at least, if you like their work, let them know.

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Dark Treats from the Midnight Asylum

I first heard about Mark Allan Gunnells through James Newman, a mutual friend and a writer I consider family. On the merits of that alone, I knew Gunnells’s work must be special.

So I contacted Mark, and we quickly became friends. He is a sweet and humble guy. More importantly, he has a lot of heart. The one common thread that weaves through all that I have read from him, is the empathy and humanity his characters possess.

That is not always an easy thing to get across in print. In his short story collection, Tales from the Midnight Shift, Vol. I, Gunnells gives us a fine and varied compilation of these types of characters. From the fantastically titled “God Doesn’t Follow You into the Bathroom” to the breathtakingly surreal “Jam.” He goes from serious and somber to silly at the drop of a hat.

I won’t go into details on every story here, but I will touch on a few that left a lasting impression.

The tome opens with “God Doesn’t Follow You into the Bathroom.” While slightly predictable there is enough freshness injected here to keep your attention. Sometimes confession does not gain you the absolution you hoped for. This is followed by my absolute favorite in the collection, “Jam.” A traffic jam is the setting for this bleak exercise in tension and fear and humans being. “The Gift Certificate” teaches a valuable lesson about possession. “The More Things Change” is astounding, a heart-wrenching painting on bullying. This is one of the best things in the collection.

Tales from the Midnight Shift, Vol. I was the first example of Mark’s craft I encountered. I have since delved deeper into his work and have yet to be dissappointed.

Despite its short stature of 67 pages, Asylum has a lot of substance.

At a glance, the premise—a group of misfits, standing tall to fight off the zombie apocalypse—doesn’t seem all that original. Mark peoples this story with an almost entirely gay cast, sets it in a gay club, and spatters it with plenty of gore and sex.

But where Asylum shines is with the deep textures given to the characters.

They are not mincing caricatures or flaming queens—well, maybe one is—but instead they are presented as the flawed human beings that we all are.

Once again, this proves to be Gunnells’s strong suit—painting pictures of people.

Just in time for this past Halloween, Mark gave us all this little gift—Dark Treats, a five story collection, with all tales revolving around the October holiday.

Opening with “Halloween Returns to Bradbury,” we get a riotous romp about how the devil has grown disgruntled with the commercialism of his holiday and returns to show us how it’s to be done. Some fantastic and ridiculous imagery ensues. “The Neighborhood that Halloween Forgot” is a slightly cliché tale of tolerance.

“My Last Halloween” is a sad little coming-of-age tale. “Treats” finds us in cheesy 80’s horror movie territory—silly monsters, rational logic, great fun! The collection ends on the somber “Family Plots,” which, while good, seems a bit cramped, begging to be worked into a longer work someday.

Mark Allan Gunnells is one to watch. His work is consistently entertaining and full of heart and soul.

Sometimes that’s what you need.

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Best of 2011: Shock Totem Staff Picks

As we enter 2012, let’s take a quick look back at some of our favorite things (that we could actually remember) from 2011.

FAVORITE SMALL PRESS NOVEL/NOVELLA/NOVELETTE:

Ken’s Pick

Skullbelly, by Ronald Malfi

Mercedes’s Picks

Bear in a Muddy Tutu, by Cole Alpaugh


“Map of Seventeen,” by Christopher Barzak

John’s Pick

The Damned Highway, by Brian Keene and Nick Mamatas

Nick’s Pick

Animosity, by James Newman

FAVORITE ANTHOLOGY/COLLECTION:

Ken’s Pick

Full Dark, No Stars, by Stephen King

Sarah’s Pick

The Zombie Feed, Vol. 1, Edited by Jason Sizemore

FAVORITE MAINSTREAM NOVEL/NOVELLA/NOVELETTE:

Mercedes’s Pick

Mrs. Peregrin’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs

John’s Pick

There Is No Year, by Blake Butler

Nick’s Pick

11/22/63, by Stephen King

Sarah’s Picks

Tie between Treachery in Death and New York to Dallas, by J.D. Robb

FAVORITE MOVIE:

Ken’s Pick

Red State

Mercedes’s Pick

Hugo

John’s Pick

The Muppets

Sarah’s Pick

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

FAVORITE DISCOVERY:

Ken’s Pick

The brilliant work of Darrell Schweitzer

Mercedes’s Pick

Gemmy Butterfly Collection™

John’s Pick

The Memphis Morticians

Nick’s Pick

The Parlor Mob

Sarah’s Pick

Lie to Me

FAVORITE ALBUM:

Ken’s Pick

Dystopia, by Iced Earth

John’s Pick

Bad as Me, by Tom Waits

Nick’s Pick

Thirteen, by http://www.megadeth.com

Unfortunately, for various reasons, we couldn’t all give picks for certain categories. I didn’t read a single novel last year that actually came out in 2011, for instance. So no Novel pick from me. Sarah didn’t read any small-press novels/novellas/novelettes that came out in 2011, so no pick from her.

And the old gray matter just failed us on other things. Which of course means right after this goes live the answers will become clear…

Anyway, as you can see, we have varied tastes that extend well beyond horror. Check out some of our picks; you’ll probably discover something great.

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And the 2011 Flash Fiction Contest Winner is…

Little Knife Houses
by Jaelithe Ingold


As many of you know, throughout the year we host a bi-monthly flash fiction contest on our forum (not to be confused with the bi-weekly one-hour flash challenge). From those bi-monthly winners, an overall winner is chosen by a neutral judge, to be published in the next issue of Shock Totem.

This year’s judge was James Newman, and from the five stories he chose “Little Knife Houses,” by Jaelithe Ingold, which was based on the artwork for our third issue.

Ah, but now we have to break Newton’s Law, the rule we set forth in issue #2, which, after publishing Kurt Newton in our first two issues, stated that we would never again publish an author back-to-back.

Jaelithe, however, was featured in issue #4, with her story “Fade to Black”—which, incidentally, was also the contest-winning story for Café Doom’s 2010 short-story contest. So…rule broken.

And for a good reason! You’ll be able to read “Little Knife Houses” in issue #5 (see the cover and more info on that issue here).

Congratulations, Jaelithe!

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Animosity Killed the Cat

James Newman, whom we first interviewed in issue #2, has been giving us the dark side of humanity for years. Through the characters of his novels and stories. He knows how to take everyday folks and everyday scenarios and skew them into something disturbing and dark. Be it the story of a young boy’s fraying tether to his youth in Midnight Rain, or the populace of his collection People Are Strange, with Newman…you never quite get what you think he’s offering: This writer’s hand often extends with a palm full of candy—candy that turns to worms and razors when you take it. I cannot think of any finer praise for his work than that.

His latest novel, Animosity, promises to leave all the others in the dust. It is a harrowing and intense book. I was fortunate enough to get an early copy and read it in days. Amazing and honest. Absorbing. I could keep listing adjectives but I won’t. It’s a great book, and as soon as it becomes available to the public, grab it. It is ready to be pre-ordered, in limited/signed hardcover edition here, Necessary Evil Press.

Here is the book trailer for Newman’s Animosity.

Dig on it!

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