Tag Archives: New England Horror Writers

Wicked Seasons: The Journal of New England Horror Writers, Volume II

Typically I shy away from short fiction collections unless I see the name King or Gaiman or some other major league writer on the cover in large letters. So to say that I approached Wicked Seasons: The Journal of the New England Horror Writers, Volume II, with trepidation is an understatement. However, what a treat it turned out to be, especially for this horror-loving writer and reader.

I was immediately engrossed (and a bit grossed out) by the stories presented in this annual collection. There’s not a lot here that one might label traditional horror, though the stories are definitely spooky, humorous, eerie and twisted. More akin to old episodes of Outer Limits, Alfred Hitchcock Presents or Tales from the Darkside. The thread of suspense and bizarre is definitely on display. However, every wicked story is right at home in this collection, and fit nicely into the breeding ground of dark fiction that is New England.

Wicked Seasons is edited by Stacey Longo and contains stories from Rob Smales, Scott Goudsward, Kristy Peterson Schoonover, Catherine Grant, Christopher Golden, and James A. Moore, to name a few. The collection does not stumble in presenting the strange, macabre, or downright grisly. You’ll not find the monsters and aliens of stories that might have appeared in the fifties or sixties in this anthology, but monsters of the more or less human kind.

Catherine Grant’s “Three Fat Guys Soap” is just such a story, in which a strange and horrific method of making soap becomes a stunning act of revenge, and is immensely satisfying for anyone who has ever been bullied by their boss.

“Blood Prophet,” by Scott T. Goudsward, is another example of the horror of humanity in which child abuse and religious dementia play a center stage role, and makes the ending all the more satisfying.

Christopher Golden brings us “The Secret Backs of Things,” which brings to mind Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. It’s a puzzle in which events are merely hinted at, leaving the reader to figure the rest out.

“The Basement Legs,” by Robert J. Duperre, tells about a man who comes to the defense of a young, pregnant Filipino woman who lives in his apartment building. Duperre earns kudos here for bringing a whole new meaning to your local UPS service.

Kristi Petersen Schoonover writes “To Chance Tomorrow,” a cautionary story about science’s role in our lives, and the dubious changes it provides for our future, but at what cost?

If it’s hauntings that scare you, Addison Clift’s “Furious Demon” is a deliciously creepy tale of a woman’s dead father coming back to haunt her and who very well may have molested her when she was a child.

Rob Smales’s “A Night at the Show” and Errick A. Nunnally’s “Lycanthrobastards” are dark werewolf tales that provide surprising departures from standard fare, with fantastic results.

The Wicked Seasons table of contents also includes Trisha J. Wooldridge, Lucien E.G. Spelman, Michael J. Evans, Paul McMahon, and Gregory L. Norris—all very entertaining and chilling reads. For someone who doesn’t often read anthologies, Wicked Seasons exceeded all expectations and converted this reader to seeking out other, similar collections. Also, don’t miss the introduction from Jeff Strand. It’s as entertaining as the central stories.

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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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