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(pronounced Ko-Hane)
Dan is the Bram Stoker-nominated author of Plague of Darkness, Solomon’s Grave, and the critically-acclaimed Margaret's Ark. Writing as G. Daniel Gunn, he released Destroyer of Worlds and the novella (written with L.L.Soares) Nightmare in Greasepaint (Samhain Publishing),. His short stories have appeared in Cemetery Dance, Shroud Magazine, Apex Digest and many more. He and his family live in New England.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

My Top Movies of 2018

Ok, so it's time for my Top 10 Movies of 2018! Click here to see what I liked. Also, in honor of the late Cinema Knife Fight, check out L. L. Soares' and Michael Arruda's lists!


Monday, January 07, 2019

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) - My Long-Awaited, 50th Anniversary, Three-Part Review is Now Showing!

Well, I mention the film enough times in other reviews, and knew that someday I would need to write a review for this 50-year old, polarizing science fiction epic. What I call epic, most in my family refer to as "the slow movie." Still, it unarguably changed the game for the sci-fi genre in cinema with its scope and special effects. At last, come on in and join the discussion of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968), which is still one the best of its genre ever released. Completely brain-wonky ending aside, of course. Read the three-part conversation on my reviews website here.

Friday, January 04, 2019

Books Read in 2018


It’s time again to clear out my Books Read section of the website for the new year, but before I do, let’s save it for posterity in a post, shall we?

I didn’t read as many books in 2018 as usual, though I still covered decent ground. One reason is I’d started , then put down more than my usual share of books. If a book doesn’t grab me by the quarter-read mark, I generally put it down and start a new one. There are too many waiting to be read next. For example, I’d been wanting to pick up a new Terri Blackstock for years, and Last Light was one that started out intriguing enough, about an EMP (I assume) that knocks out power everywhere. Though the writing was good, as always, the main characters were so unlikable it was too wearisome to live in their world any longer. I was enjoying The Hideaway by Lauren Denton, but about halfway realized it was a romance novel and I simply wasn’t engaged in the story and its pace (romance novels aren’t my thing), though I do understand why this book was a big seller. Some classics, like the original Casino Royale (James Bond #1) by Ian Fleming or the next Perry Rhodan (volume 4) honestly weren’t that good, or simply so dated it interfered with my enjoyment of them, so I stopped.

Then what did I like? On the fiction front, a couple of my favorites were happily by a friends in the business, which is always nice (they did not make this list because I knew them, though, trust me). Christopher Golden’s contribution to the Alien franchise: Alien: River of Pain which shows us what happened at the Hadley’s Hope research station on LV-426, before Ripley and the marines arrived in ALIENS (1986), was heartbreakingly awesome. I also finished the Seven Forges fantasy series with The Silent Army: Seven Forges Book 4 by James A. Moore. As chaotic as it was with so many characters coming together, the overall series was incredibly original and entertaining (and dark, and bloody....).  A surprise by an author I had never heard of: Space Team: A Comedic Sci-Fi Adventure, Barry J. Hutchinson’s first in a series of comedy science fiction novels, and this one was very funny. It shouldn’t have been, with much of the humor being snarky wise cracks by the main character, but it was. Hutchinson has a deft, and very funny touch with scene building and dialogue. Looking forward to volume 2.

I returned to my reading roots with more science fiction (I’ve also been writing more sci-fi), and wanted to find a decent example of an SF book with a Christian bent – not easy to find any sci-fi in this market, let alone good ones. I was pleasantly surprised at my first try with Edge of Oblivion (The Chronicles of Sarco Book 1) by Joshua A. Johnston. Published by a small CBA publisher, it was fast paced and interesting with a pretty veiled (until the end) Christian theme.  Another product of a Christian author (but not religious-themed at all) was  The Dark Tower and Other Stories by C. S. Lewis. The Dark Tower (no association with the King series, obviously) was an interesting, but unfinished science fiction novel by Lewis dealing with alternative universes. It was amazingly written, especially for such an early draft, but also very odd at times in an original, fascinating way. It might have changed not only the genre with such a sharp turn of originality and dark tone, but how people might have viewed the author. I picture him working on this much as I myself do with some projects, trying to incorporate faith into writing but at times veering away completely into uncharted waters.

Along the lines of classic novels, I’ve always enjoyed the 70’s movie SOYLENT GREEN (1973) so grabbed the original novel by Harry Harrison titled Make Room! Make Room! Interestingly, the food product Soylent Green gets only a minor mention in the book, which focuses instead on the cop investigating the murder of a rich mobster, while showing what the world will be like straining under the weight of overpopulation. It’s a well-written, interesting novel, with a diverse (for the time) cast of characters, ethnically-speaking. In the film they were mostly all white-washed, but re-watching SOYLENT it is obvious they took the source material in many other ways quite seriously.

Other fiction books I finished and enjoyed were The Walk by Lee Goldberg, Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman which was not quite as universally approachable a story as Bird Box but still a weird, fun read, along the lines of another book I devoured (after having loved the film version): Annihilation: A Novel by Jeff VanderMeer. My daughter gave me Stephen King’s new one, The Outsider for my birthday last year and enjoyed it. Paul Tremblay’s sophomore release Disappearance at Devil's Rock which again plays with the reader as to whether it is horror or not, but even more subtly in this one. Have Paul’s next on the list for this year, looking forward to it. The Lion's Game (John Corey Book #2) by Nelson DeMille was at times a rough read (I dislike reading from mass murderer’s/serial killer’s perspective, and half this book was from a sociopathic terrorist) but nonetheless gripping. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou is another classic read last year – I’m noting a reading trend with classic novels. Since I’ve been writing science fiction more lately, I decided to give Greg Bear another chance (Moving Mars was too political and slow-paced for me, but I might return to it someday) with his classic The Forge of God. Again it was a political science fiction, but a good read. He’s an amazing writer. On the other end of the scale, The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom told the tale of slaves near the end of that era and the young Irish child the plantation owner brings home for them to care for. I have to admit, I couldn’t finish it, not because the writing was weak, but because it was too good. I didn’t want to see characters I’d quickly come to love go through as much shit as I knew they were going to in the second half. So I chickened out, and stopped reading. Sorry, Kathleen, but you did too good a job.

One last book I finished, mostly, and was interested in initially but eventually got tired of was The City on the Edge of Forever: The Original Teleplay by Harlan Ellison. Ellison was known as being an abrasive and opinionated man, but a brilliant writer. This book was his way of showing how much better the classic STAR TREK TV episode would have been if they hadn’t made so many changes to it before final shooting. There were some interesting aspects of his original story which would have been cool but after reading early treatments, then various edited versions of the teleplays... basically every draft of his original screenplay... I honestly feel the version eventually filmed is better than Ellison’s original. I stopped reading the book halfway because between drafts of his script are essays where he pontificates endlessly on how he was wronged, and how this person or that was a lousy human, or how his version is so much better. It got tiresome.

I also went back and read the Oct-Nov 2018 issue of Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, now edited by Charles Coleman (CC) Finlay. I used to read this magazine religiously years back, but found it harder to keep up with it over time. I still pick up an issue now and then. As usual, stellar fiction all the way through.

Lastly, I read a number of non-fiction books, my favorites of which are: Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott (it’s always good for writers to read a writing book now and then to remind ourselves why we do it), The Great Movies, Roger Ebert’s first volume of revisits to his favorites films, Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans, beautiful writings of how the author became disillusioned with organized religion and slowly, through searching and experimenting and connecting with God on her terms, found a community again. It’s a poetic, at times searing rebuke to churches who have completely lost the point. As well, Good News for a Change: How to Talk to Anyone about Jesus by Matt Mikalatos was a funny, common sense (something we tend to forget to use in church circles) discussion on how to speak to people, hostile or otherwise, about our faith. If the idea of taking to anyone about God outside of the pews gives you the willies, read Matt’s book.

Other completed non-fiction, of which quite a few dealt with matters of faith and were quite good in their own right, were The Ultimate Treasure Hunt: A Guide to Supernatural Evangelism Through Supernatural Encounters by Kevin Dedmon, Waking Up: To The Way of Love by Ted Dekker, which was more a prologue to a new inspirational series he has just released, The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It by Peter Enns, a book I do not recommend for new Christians because it challenges the entire basis of how the Bible was written and intended– as important as this is to a degree. How much of what he says is accurate, I can’t say, but for well-anchored people of faith it’s a good wake-up call that we need to understand the context of where and when something was written to truly understand it. Finally, on the other end of the scale, Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction by Grady Hendrix is a massive coffee table book chronicling, through hundreds of beautiful or (mostly) gaudy book covers, the history of modern horror.

Well, that’s it for 2018’s reading list. Below on the right I’ve begun the 2019 list. Looking forward to the worlds I’ll be visiting this year.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

So, what's been going on?

Hi, everyone. Sorry for so much silence, but I promise I haven't been silent on the page. Been trying to write every day. 

At the moment, I'm one or two drafts from completing a new science fiction novelette titled "Doley Nant Flower Sky" which has been very enjoyable to write, seeing how four distinct characters come to life as I let them interact. This felt like one of those "writes itself" kind of pieces. It takes place in the same universe as my recently completed novel Plague of Locusts though is completely unrelated story-wise.

Earlier this year my friend Dave Hilman and I finished a pretty cool YA mystery novel, which I now have submitted out the the evil black hole of publishing houses.

I've got a couple recent movie reviews out at www.dankeohane.com/reviews and am working on some more soon. In fact, if I do anything for NaNoWriMo this month it'll be to try and crank out a few more this month.

As well, though there seems to be some technical difficulties at the NLC website, and I'm not sure of the future of devotionals in their realm, however I'm continuing to write devotionals anyway and posting to www.dankeohane.com/devotionals .

That's about it. Been a busy fall for sure and winter is coming. :)

Monday, September 24, 2018

MS Walk Reflections and Thanks From Paul Keohane

Hi, everyone –

Another 50 miles are in the books and, apart from a small blister on the heel, my body is none the worse for wear.  The weather could not have been any better – cloudy, no rain and temps right around seventy degrees all three days.

Although the walk, itself, was challenging, fun and as emotionally charged as ever, it definitely wasn’t the same without my sister with me.  But given how many people stopped me throughout the weekend to ask about her, sending their love and well wishes her way, Anne was certainly with me in spirit. 

When I sent out my initial Email a month or so back, I spoke of perseverance.  I talked of fighting the war that must be fought and not giving up although the battle is long.  I continue to be in awe of my sister as she pushes back against MS every day.  As I visited Anne at the hospital before the walk and at rehab afterwards, I know she must be feeling frustrated.  But she refuses to let MS break her spirit.  As we talked about everything and anything, she filled the room with that wonderful smile of hers and that joyful laugh.  My sister Anne continues to be my hero.

And what can I say about all of you?  Time and time again, I have reached out to you and asked for your support.  And, time and time again, you have answered the call.  I set another lofty fundraising goal this year -- $6000 – which is double the minimum Anne and I were required to raise.   Thanks to your amazing generosity, you not only helped us reach that goal, you helped us shatter it.  With several checks left to clear, we are closing in on $8000!!!   I cannot thank you all enough.

Please know that these funds you give to the National MS Society are invaluable to those fighting this disease.  In fact, I have started talks with their leadership group to fully cover the cost of a brand new chair for Anne to use at next year’s event.  I saw this bike being demoed during the walk weekend and thought it would be a much better fit, especially given her recent injury.

You make things like this possible.  The funds you provide not only go toward MS research and the ultimate quest for a cure.  They also provide that lift – emotionally and physically – to everyone who is fighting their fight against MS.  This help can involve paid-for alterations to someone’s home to make their life more manageable.  Or this lift can be a new bike that allows someone to bring their fight to the Cape and show MS that, although it may occasionally win a battle, it will never win the war!

Again, thank you all SO very much for all of your support.
-     
          Paul

Friday, September 21, 2018

Why Gavin Patchett, and Why Clifton Heights? A Guest Post from Author Kevin Lucia


Author Kevin Lucia has been touring the blogosphere discussing his upcoming book Things You Need from Crystal Lake Publishing. The entries thus far have been centered around fictional author Gavin Patchett. Today, we "hear from" Kevin himself:

So Gavin Patchett's going to take a backseat today as I talk a bit about where the idea of a fictional altar ego came from, and why I seem to keep writing stories taking place in my fictional town of Clifton Heights, New York. First of all, Gavin Patchett.

Where'd he come from?

Well, I've always been intrigued by fictional authors meant to stand in as altar egos of their creators. Probably the first I ever encountered was Timothy Underhill, the “author” of Peter Straub's Koko, Mystery, The Throat, In the Night Room, and lost boy lost girl. To me, it seemed like an amazing concept. As writers, we spend so much time crafting our fictional worlds, and depending on the subject matter, even though the plot details are fictional, we lovingly craft tales which seek to convey “truth.” The idea that we could craft characters which stand in for us, in some ways speak for us, conveying those “truths” we hold so dear?

I loved it.

Other authors have done this, of course. Stephen King not as specifically as Straub, but his Narrative Voice is so often very present, and – though many fans criticized it – I loved it when he wrote himself into the Dark Tower. The idea that King was fated to create and chronicle Roland's story, that all the universes depended on it, and that something sought to prevent King from finishing Roland's story, that King himself was frightened of what he had to write?

Again, I loved it.

From the very beginning, the thought of both a mythos and a fictional chronicler of this mythos as a stand-in for me held great appeal. I remember, one year, when Abby and I were on a short vacation down in Pennsylvania, driving through the Camelback area. I wish I could remember the exact location. In any case, we made a wrong turn and found ourselves driving through what was, for all intents and purposes, a boarded up and closed vacation town of sorts.

Right then I thought: what a great framing device! Abby and I – actually using our real names – make a wrong turn while on vacation in the Adirondacks, and find ourselves in a ghost town. Exploring a few buildings, I come across a manuscript (I never exactly worked out where or how) which detailed the events leading to the town's demise.

Now, that initial version of Clifton Heights never came to be. Does destruction loom in my small town's future? Do I someday need to blow it up, so I can move on to other stories, much like King did to Castle Rock in Needful Things?

Who knows? Let's be honest, for a moment: I still operate, for the most part, in the small press. Even with forthcoming releases from Cemetery Dance Publications – two novellas, entitled Mystery Road and The Night Road (unrelated, despite the similar titles)I'm not exactly at the point where I'm too concerned that I've written myself into a corner. I teach full-time, and that's not going to change any time soon, so my “living” doesn't depend on my art. Though I want to make good business decisions, I also only want to write stories I feel personally drawn to.

I only want to write Truth.

So I can't really say what will happen to Clifton Heights. In some ways, it's sad that Charles L. Grant left us before answering the mysteries behind his haunted small town, Oxrun Station (sadder still that I never got to meet him), but in some ways: maybe it's for the best. Maybe knowing why Oxrun Station is cursed would've proved to be a disappointment. And who knows? Maybe Grant never would've told us.

So maybe that's what I'll do. But then again, I'm Kevin Lucia, not Charles L. Grant, nor could I  ever hope to be him. I have to be me and write what's in me, so I guess we'll just have to wait and see what the ultimate fate of Clifton Heights is.

Why write so many stories in one small town? I know I'm leaving the Gavin Patchett issue dangling, but this feels like a natural segue. Anyhow – why keep writing stories one small town? Don't I see it as...limiting?

Not at all. I mean, I can confess to thinking lately that I'd like to write something else completely unconnected to Clifton Heights, and in different genres. Those ideas are still percolating, however, and are very unformed. For the moment, most of my extant projects are solidly rooted in the Clifton Heights/Webb County mythos.

Why?

On one level, simply this: I write what I love to read. I love King's Castle Rock stories. When I discovered Gary Braunbeck's Cedar Hill, I leaped for joy. I was floored to realize Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury occurred in Green Town, Illinois, as does many of his short stories, and The Halloween Tree. When I discovered Charles L. Grant's Oxrun Station, and the series of anthologies he edited about the fictional, cursed Greystone Bay?

I felt like I'd come home.

At the end of the framing narrative for one of his novella quartets, when Charles signed his name Charles Grant, Oxrun Station, identifying himself as the unnamed author living in Oxrun Station, fated to chronicle the events of his strange town, I knew I wanted to do that, too.

So I've always wanted to do this. Even before I discovered all these other wonderful universes, I realized that one of my initial failed Clifton Heights novels contained many small vignettes which might be turned into short stories. The idea occurred to me of selling those first, before writing a full length work in that town. Quite simply, this is what I've always wanted to do.

Secondly, as I've sought to refine my craft and tell more human stories trafficking  in “Truth,” I've thought more and more about the kind of people who inhabit a town, and what kind of stories they have to tell. I'm not sure I'm always successful, but even as I'm writing “weird, strange” stories with speculative or horror tones, I'm always thinking about the main character's story, and what it has to tell us. Once my mind started down that avenue, I realized that the stories in Clifton Heights were limitless...as well as the shadows which lurked in them.

http://getbook.at/Thingsyouneed
When I'm solicited for a story, or am writing a story for submission, I don't consciously think: “I am now writing another Clifton Heights story.” I focus on that character's story first, and go from there. It just happens to take place in Clifton Heights, is all. If all these strange stories build up the foundation of my strange town? All the better.

So where did Gavin Patchett himself come from?

As I said, the idea of a fictional author standing in for me has always lurked around in my head. The name Gavin Patchett, however, actually comes from a close brush I had with writing under a pen name.

I've talked before about how I initially considered seeking publication in the Christian Bookseller Association, simply because I felt as a Christian I was  “obligated” to write a “Christian” novel for a “Christian” publisher. Through those early years, I built up some contacts with acquisition editors at CBA houses, and I kept in touch with them, even after I'd started selling my first horror short stories to secular presses, even after my first solo work, Hiram Grange and the Chosen One, was published as part of the The Hiram Grange Chronicles from Shroud publishing.

In the course of that, discussions grew between myself and the acquisitions editor of a CBA publisher that actually wanted to start publishing horror and supernatural thrillers (ironically,  they now only publish Amish Fiction, and have regressed from being a traditional, royalty paying publisher to POD publisher; last I heard, anyway). I was working on a supernatural thriller, and upon hearing the synopsis, this editor was interested.

I did point out Hiram Grange, however, which was PG-13 or at best a very mild R in terms of language, innuendo and violence. She agreed that she probably should read it herself, first. The odd verdict?

She loved it and thought it was exciting, fast-paced and engaging. It could, however, prove problematic if I wrote a supernatural thriller for them, which might in turn lead readers to Hiram, if they liked my work.  She had to admit that for the most part, even considering the fact they were intentionally branching out to horror and supernatural thrillers and suspense, the majority of their readership was “Christian soccer moms.”

So, we decided on a pen name. Gavin Patchett and his unfortunate fall from New York publishing was born. Several things thwarted Gavin's debut as my pen name, however. First, I wasn't able to wrangle that novel to its conclusion (which sadly happened to several other novels afterward). 

Most importantly, however, was the reality of Christian publishing.  This publisher's sales of “Christian” horror and supernatural suspense simply weren't promising, were indeed falling. They decided that new authors would be published through a POD platform first, with no royalties, and no distribution. Distribution and traditional publishing would only occur if said author's sales showed enough “potential.”

Sadly, talks fell through (which, again, proved moot point, as I was never able to finish that novel).  There seemed no advantage to writing for this publisher under a pen name, because even if their reach is somewhat limited, the horror small press at least has a long, respectable history, and holds an important place in the horror community. I don't know if anything has changed, but at the time, there very little place in the Christian fiction community for small press publishers. Ironically, the fate of this publisher proved very ironic, as they eventually reverted from their bold experiment of pushing Christian “horror” to producing the most bankable kind of fiction in the CBA: Amish Romances.

In any case, Gavin Patchett was now at loose ends. I didn't want to get rid of him, because I'd gone to the trouble of crafting his background . I wasn't sure what to do with him, but eventually, he became the main character of the first short story I ever sold, “Way Station.” He then popped up in another short story, “Lament,” which takes place five years after “Way Station.” By the time Joe Mynhardt from Crystal Lake solicited a short story collection from me, I knew what I wanted to do.

Gavin Patchett was born. And then, in Devourer of Souls (though Gavin doesn't make an appearance), I committed to his meta-fictional existence by having  Chris Baker, (Clifton Heights sheriff) and All Saints priest and headmaster, Father Ward, talk about Gavin's return to publishing with the release of his new short story collection, Things Slip Through. Gavin Patchett writing as me was born.

Where will I go with Gavin? Unsure. I just finished edits on the first draft of Gavin and Father Ward's first full-length novel, The Mighty Dead, in which I embrace him completely as the meta-fictional author of most of my stories. I say most, because another Clifton Heights resident, Kevin Ellison – framing device character of Through A Mirror, Darkly and new owner of Arcane Delights, a used bookstore he inherited from his father, Brian Ellison – is really the author of A Night at Old Webb and the forthcoming Mystery Road, both of which are much lighter, more optimistic tales of Clifton Heights. “Kevin Ellison” also recently finished an extensive outline for a sprawling coming of age novel, When We Were Young, a book Gavin Patchett, unfortunately, could never write.

In any case – there it is.  I have no idea where it's all going, but that's okay...because I'm enjoying every minute of it.

THINGS YOU NEED is now available for Pre-Order at http://getbook.at/Thingsyouneed

"Kevin Lucia is this generation's answer to Charles L. Grant." - Brian Keene, Horror Grandmaster Award Winner, author of THE END OF THE ROAD

"This is sophisticated adult fiction. With an edge. At times, the book virtually becomes folklore: clever, witty, elegant folklore, with a sting – many stings – including moments of iconic dread." - Robert Dunbar, Bram Stoker Award Winning Author of THE PINES and WILLY