Tag Archives: Weston Ochse

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.”


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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.


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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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A Weston Ochse Reading: Playlist at the End

Las Vegas, September 21, 2011, KillerCon. Weston Ochse reads—and rocks—”Playlist at the End,” his short story from the fourth issue of Shock Totem.

(Unfortunately the audio and video go out of sync a bit at the end.)

If you dig it, consider picking up an issue of Shock Totem or other works from Weston. Your support is always appreciated.

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The Dangerous Red Thief of Broken Redemption

I first heard the name Mehitobel Wilson during the historic Shock Totem John Skipp interview of 2009, which first appeared in Shock Totem #1. Skipp is a walking Rolodex of information, and hers was a name that was mentioned a few times during the phone call. I added her work to my list of things to seek out.

I finally procured a copy of her collection, Dangerous Red, and now see why Skipp touted it so heavily. Wilson doesn’t just kick ass, she straps on gigantic Herman Munster-style boots with razored cleats and stomps your ass. It is a brilliant collection of fresh dark fiction and then some.

While I liked most of the stories, I will only name check a few. “Cut Glass” is a wondrous ghost story. “Madeline in Effigy” gives us new reasons to second-guess the vain. “Blind in the House of the Headsman” is a gory, sexually-depraved surreal sketch…maybe. “The Mannerly Man” has done its best to make politeness a thing to be fearful of. Then there is my absolute favorite of the collection, “Strays,” which takes on the issue of homelessness and sprinkles it with enough dread and disturbing imagery to give you nightmares for weeks.

Wilson’s prose is quick and artful, the images and ideas strong and haunting. I look forward to reading more from her.

Weston Ochse is another writer I have not read enough of. My first Ochse story was the brilliant “Playlist at the end,” which we published in Shock Totem #4.

When I came across a copy of his chapbook Redemption Roadshow, I picked it up. Ochse writes in a clean style, and his characters are aching and have a depth you can immediately connect with. This story concerns Dolan Gibb, an Arizona highway patrolman who discovers you can’t outrun guilt and that the past will always catch up. Dolan discovers a group—almost a sideshow troupe—that seem ever present at roadside memorial shrines. Among them is the “Long Cool Woman,” a medium who bridges the space between the living and the dead, with unexpected consequences.

This short tale is so packed with grippingly heavy images, I found myself thinking about it for days after I had finished it.

I also recently rectified the fact that I am sadly under-read in the Tim Lebbon category.

I had read The Nature of Balance, and loved its dark dreamy images and language. When my friend, Simon, recommended The Thief of Broken Toys to me, I listened. I’m glad I did.

In this novella, Lebbon explores the deepening shades of grief and how loss is a thing of many facets. Ray is a broken man, slowly drowning in a self-made sea of loss and alienation. His only son has died and his wife has left him. Every day is a weighted exercise in existence. He comes to believe through honoring promises made to the dead, he can win back the slivers of time and love lost. He begins with the promises to fix his son’s damaged playthings. He then meets the Thief of Broken Toys, who helps in ways unimaginable and teaches him things that can’t be unlearned.

And then things start to change.

Lebbon has created a heartbreaking story with The Thief of Broken Toys. The loss and longing of Ray are painted so adeptly that I felt that heaviness in my chest, tears threatening to show themselves. Very subtle in its horror, but it is indeed there. One of the best, I’ve read this year. Available from Chizine Publications.

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Issue #4 Table of Contents

So our fourth issue is scheduled to come out next month, so how about an update?

We’re still working on the artwork. We have a great piece that we might use, but it’s got similar colors to the last issue, so we’re seeing if we can come up with something else in time. We’ll see. Either way, expect it to be another fantastic piece of art.

While we wait on that, how about the official Table of Contents?

Miracles Out of Nowhere: An Editorial, by Nick Contor
Beneath the Weeping Willow, by Lee Thompson
Full Dental, by Tom Bordonaro
Tragic and Gorgeous: A Conversation with Rennie Sparks, by Mercedes M. Yardley
Web of Gold, by Rennie Sparks
Weird Tales, by David Busboom
Playlist at the End, by Weston Ochse
Lobo, by Justin Paul Walters
Strange Goods and Other Oddities (Reviews)
Living Dead: A Personal Apocalypse: An Essay, by K. Allen Wood
Dead Baby Day, by Michael Penkas
Long Live the Word: A Conversation with Kathe Koja, by Nick Contor
Fade to Black, by Jaelithe Ingold (2010 Café Doom Competition Winner)
Bloodstains & Blue Suede Shoes, Part 2, by John Boden and Simon Marshall-Jones
The Many Ghosts of Annie Orens, by A.C. Wise
Howling Through the Keyhole (Authors’ Notes)

And that’s about all for now. I think it’s another great issue and hopefully you agree. I will update more as the release nears, and if all goes as planned, it should be available in a few weeks.

Thanks for sticking with us!

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And a One, and a Two, and a Three, and a…

While issue #3 is still sexily working the streets, I thought it would be cool to post a few progress updates as issue #4 comes together. So here goes the first…

Currently we have seven stories accepted for the issue, totaling about 16,000 words. These stories come from Lee Thompson, Justin Walters, David Busboom, Weston Ochse, Tom Bordonaro, Michael Penkas, and Jaelithe Ingold, the winner of the 2010 Café Doom contest, which we sponsored.

We have an interview with Kathe Koja already done, and we’re working on at least one more.

In addition, there will be nonfiction, reviews, a new installment of Bloodstains & Blue Suede Shoes, all the standards we’ve had in previous issues. And the artwork is currently being worked on. I’ll consider posting an early draft at some point.

We still need about 14,000 words of fiction before we’re finished, but we’re confident we’ll get there. Expect it in July!

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