Tag Archives: Samhain Publishing

Paper Tigers

I have been excited to read this novel since before it was written. No, I’m not psychic…well, maybe a little. But I recall a conversation on our forum, probably more than two years ago, where Damien told me she was going to soon be working on a story about a haunted photo album. I was in from that moment and waited patiently for it to materialize. This year that finally happened.

Paper Tigers is the haunting and sad story of Alison, a young woman scarred by disaster and flame. She has retreated so far within herself there seemed no hope of coaxing her back. Her mother smothers her and the public looks at her (in her mind) as a monstrosity. She drags herself through the days and nights—until the night she goes out walking and visits an odd little thrift shop and finds the antique photo album that reeks of smoke and years. Upon taking the album home, Alison begins to see things, hear things, feel things. She is lured to the promises within the book and finds that the prices are high and contracts have a long and strong reach.

Damien writes with strong and elegant prose. Her words flow with an ease and beauty that adds to the already intriguing premise. The emotional depth here is staggering, and while it is very easy to dismiss this novel as another haunted thing tale, it is so much more. The characters are so realistic and hurting that you ache with them and for them. I’ve been reading this author since she first started entering stories in the flash fiction contests we used to host on our forum. And it has been a pleasure to watch her grow, releasing her first novel, Ink, and her collection, Sing Me Your Scars. I’ll gladly read whatever she puts out.

Paper Tigers is available from Dark House Press.

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A Place for Sinners

While attending the World Horror Convention in Atlanta, I encountered a charming young man by the name of Aaron Dries. Sure, we’d crossed cyber paths before and I was familiar with some of his short-story work…but that was all.

I bought a copy of this book, A Place for Sinners, mainly because House of Sighs was sold out and I wanted to read some of his longer work. Having attended his reading at the same convention, I was blown away by his use of language and the use of word as brick and foundation for the many horrors he unleashed. I decided then and there, based on that reading alone, this kid was going places.

About two weeks after the con, I cracked into A Place for Sinners. I had no real clue what it was about aside from the vague promises whispered by the back cover copy. I thought it was about wild dogs. And it is, a little, I mean they’re in there and crucial to the plot but…my oh my, are they just the tip of the iceberg.

The novel opens with young Amity Collins, lost and alone and being chased by…wild dogs. Through this unfortunate series of events, she is left both fatherless and deaf. She finds herself forever on the run from wild dogs, literal and symbolic.

After the setup, we embark on a journey with Amity and her brother, Caleb. They’ve decided to take a trip to Thailand and just live a little. Amity decides to book passage to the island of Koh Mai Phaaw, a tourist trap with a gimmick that allows tourists to ply the simian population with bananas and soda. It was only a matter of time before the shit hit the fan.

This is where things get nuts. Not a little bit screwy, 80’s pulp horror nuts, but way out-of-left-field kind of Clive Barker nuts. People turn out not to be as they seem. In fact one of them turns out to be one of the most ghastly representations of guttural evil I have ever laid eyes upon. I literally had to pause just now and play over things from this book in my head…the wounds are still fresh. Still stinging.

The pacing is brutal, the characters strong and surprising. When there are twists, they are fucking twists. I mean, not a little M. Night Shyamalan kind of oooh. More of a throw-the-book-down, stand-up-and-yell “WHAT?” and then dig back in. Bottom line of this book is strength. It’s all about bravery and strength, and if you keep wiping the grue from your eyes, you’ll clearly see that.

It’s a vicious story and one that will keep you nailed to it. Just when you think you might see what’s coming, the dirty pillowcase is pulled over your head and you feel knuckles on your ribs and no matter how much you plead…the story doesn’t let up. And the language, the words—Aaron uses broad colorful strokes and meticulous sketches to render this large mural of pain and suffering and strength and savagery. He paints with brushes dripping with love and hate, awe and revulsion. But like a true master, he keeps painting.

I hope we see much more from this young man.

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Captured Souls

Everybody wants the perfect mate. But how far would you go to make sure that happens?

Miriam Frederick is a university professor who has figured out a way to find that special someone with science. She uses her sexuality to lure three different men to her home, trapping them in rooms specially designed for them. The first man is a writer, and Miriam sets him up with all the trappings a writer would need. The second, an athlete, and the third, an Adonis. All have been given everything they could ever want or need—except their freedom. They also don’t realize they have been “wired” and everything they do is recorded by Miriam.

As Miriam plays with her lovers, trying to make them into the perfect man, she decides to add a woman to the mix. But can she compete?

Captured Souls, by Sephera Giron, reminded me a lot of John Fowles’s The Collector, updated for the Information Age. However, whereas Frederick in The Collector is more obsessed with his subject, he only wants Miranda to love him. Miriam, on the other hand, is not looking for love so much as she wants control over her subjects, and needs them at her beck and call.

I have read Sephera Giron’s books before, and enjoyed them. This is no exception. Erotic, yet creepy, Captured Souls is fascinating. Can someone be happy with everything they could possibly want if denied their freedom? Would a writer be able to thrive in that kind of environment better than an athlete or someone obsessed with their own beauty? How long could you conduct such an experiment before it crumbles around you?

I was hooked on this book after the first few chapters. I enjoyed the diary form of the story, and the characters were interesting to watch in how they dealt with their new lives. The professor’s growing stress and anger at her captives is palpable in the writing.

This is a book you don’t want to miss! Captured Souls is available through Samhain Publishing.

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The Way of All Flesh

May I once again state that I am sick to death of zombies. Seriously, weary of the walking dead. I don’t much care any more if they lope or shuffle, run or even fly. I’m all out of shits to give for the cavorting cadavers. Its all grown so damn boring.

Then Tim Waggoner decided to craft a zombie novel. I’m a big fan of Tim Waggoner. So when I was asked if I would like to review it, I said certainly. And when it arrived, I kind of thought I was in for it. The cover is a little hokey. Not horrible but not at all as cool as the inner contents.

The Way of All Flesh is a novel that is populated with the usual set pieces and suspects: A rag tag group of survivors holed up somewhere, in this case a fortified school. We have a brave warrior maiden, Kate, and her bookishly smart girlfriend, Marie. We have the macho man among them who is not at all what he seems to be. His name is Nicholas and before the zombie apocalypse he made Jeffrey Dahmer look like Michael Landon! Now that society has crumbled and zombies are the most feared in the land, he kind of lost his title. He ain’t happy about it. In his quest to regain his status as top predator, he really gets in touch with his psycho-side. I mean really.

But our hero is David, he’s a zombie and he’s also Kate’s twin brother. He doesn’t really know he’s a zombie. Zombies view the world a bit differently. They see humans as grotesque creatures out to kill them for sport. They also view one another as though they were normal living folks. David must find his family and save them and try to figure out what the hell is going on. He is dogged along the way by Simon, a skatery youth in a Megadeth shirt. Simon seems to know a great deal about what is happening and could help a lot more than he does. He’s kind of an asshole.

These are the ingredients to one of the most amusing zombie novels I’ve read as of late. There is zombie gore, people eating and all that, but damned if Waggoner doesn’t introduce existentialism and one of the most ingenious devices for the cause of a zombie apocalypse EVER. And when things get gruesome and fucked up, they get really gruesome and fucked up.

Deft characters and a cinematic gait keep The Way of All Flesh a fun sliver of bloody entertainment. Get it now from the fine folks at Samhain Publishing.

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Sign Up for the The Bram Stoker Weekend and WHC Pitch Session

Why? Because you want to pitch your stuff. And you won’t be able to sign up at the convention. You have to do so now.

The Bram Stoker Awards® Weekend and World Horror Convention are combined this year in New Orleans. Pitches to several publishers and one agent will be held on Saturday, June 15. The editors and agent are:

Alec Shane – Agent, Writers House
Blood Bound Books – Geoff Hyatt
Cycatrix Press – Jason V Brock
Dark Regions Press – RJ Cavender
Hydra, Random House – Sarah Peed
JournalStone – Chris C. Payne
Nightscape Press – Mark Scioneaux
Samhain Publishing – Don D’Auria
Tor – Liz Gorinski

To secure your slot, email RJ Cavender at rjc@editorialdepartment.com with your top three pitch choices. In the subject of your email, please write Pitch Sessions – (Author’s Last Name).

All authors will be signed up for two pitch sessions, available on a first come, first serve basis.

Not sure what each publisher and agent are looking for? There’s a website where they straight up tell you. Read it. See if you have anything that fits. Then sign up, and don’t be nervous.

There will be a dark-haired Shock Totem girl in stilettos who will be helping out. Taking you to your pitch session, letting you know when your time is almost up. Straightening your collar and letting you know if there’s lipstick on your teeth. Join me! It will be fun!

But sign up ASAP. Slots are limited and they started filling up immediately.

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Horrorfind Weekend

This coming Friday through Sunday, John, Sarah and I will be down in Gettysburg, PA, for this year’s Horrorfind convention. Shock Totem #3 authors Amanda C. Davis and S. Clayton Rhodes will be in attendance, as well as James Newman, who will also be reading from The Wicked Friday evening.

We had hoped to have a bigger presence this year, possibly seeing some of our authors on panels and the Horror Writers guest list. Unfortunately, despite for three months calling the number on the website, leaving voicemails, and e-mailing the people in charge of organizing the event, we were never able to make it happen.

I got one reply out of at least a dozen e-mails sent, and that came on August 20, seventeen days after I sent the e-mail it was in response to (and months after I first contacted them).

“Unfortunately, our author guest list & reading schedule has already been finalized and we are not taking any additional requests for readings at this year’s event.”

According to the website, there are ten authors on the guest list, eight of which are Samhain Publishing authors. With absolutely no disrespect meant to those authors or the publisher, I find that to be rather unprofessional. Of course, that should come as no surprise to anyone who reads Brian Keene’s blog.

If this sounds like complaining, it’s not. It’s disappointment. Not only were we ignored by the organizers, but our authors were as well, and I know that stings them more than it does me.

That said, I’m glad to see the fantastic Damien Walters Grintalis on the guest list. She’ll be selling pre-release copies of her debut novel, Ink. Yeah! And Ronald Malfi, who is quickly becoming my favorite small-press author, will be on hand, so I’m looking forward to meeting him if possible, and maybe picking up some of his work I don’t own. Nick Cato will be there. Mangos! David G. Blake and his lovely wife, Dawn, will hopefully be there. Plenty of other cool-cool cats will be on hand as well (I just can’t remember who at the moment).

And us! Yes, we will be present and available. And we will have limited copies of Shock Totem, The Wicked—which James will gladly sign—and a few other things our work is featured in. If you’d like to buy anything, let us know. Perhaps we’ll set up shop in the lobby or have a boot sale in the parking lot.

On Sunday we’re planning a pilgrimage up to York to visit the York Emporium, which according to John is the “coolest bookstore” he’s ever been to. Looking forward to it.

See you there?

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