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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.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sad But Painfully True in So Many Ways - but also funny

Had to share this: Just read the link below, as mentioned in writer Nick Kaufmann's blog. Too funny, but rings so true.... :-)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Interview in the Bentley Observer

I keep forgetting to mention this - with the holidays, not to mention the half dozen outlets I've been posting news in.... In the current Winter issue (pictured) of my alumni magazine, The Bentley Observer, there is an interview with me by Gordon Hardy. We talk about how I started writing, and a little about Solomon's Grave. It was a nice article. Thanks to Gordon for the nod, and to fraternity brother Neal Zwicker for hooking us up!

the basement evolution

Early in 2005 I began a project which would take almost five years to complete, and would be both a refuge and bane... no, not true. Working on finishing the basement was never a bane, never a curse or a chore. It was fun, it was completely absorbing, taught me a helluva lot about working with my hands (as opposed to hiring someone else to do it, lol), seeing the big picture in a project, the value of Google video, and of nail guns and levels.

First step was finding the right tools, borrowing my brother-in-law's saw, and learning how to do the wall studs. The picture on the left and lower on the right is how it started, the latter of me and Andrew as he helps with probably one of the most important pieces of inventory: common sense. You sure you want to do it that way? he'd ask in his calm, certain way. I'd nod, then shake my head and ask him what way would be better, and try not to feel stupid because, though it's taken a number of decades, I admit that sometimes basic, common sense isn't my forte. I can learn a task, and excel at it, see the big picture and the details simultaneously, but would spend two hours trying to straighten a nail and continue banging it in instead of just pulling it out and getting a new one. Too much doing without thinking. But I got better.

And slowly, the cellar progressed, stalling when the weather got warmer and I was sent outside to work on the yard. But when I worked down there, with Andrew sometimes, the girls other times, most of the time alone since each distinct task wasn't overly difficult, just time-consuming, hours would roll past (2 hours here, 2 weeks of not doing anything, 3 hours some other day, just didn't want you to think this was some obsessive thing) and I thought of the work only as I did it, had to think of nothing else, needed to focus and measure and measure again, cut, nail. Nothing else mattered, nothing else got in. For a few hours, now and then, the basement project was a refuge. Kind of makes you understand why some guys get a little addicted to these projects at the expense of everything else: kids, family. Didn't happen in this case (if it had, it sure wouldn't have taken 5 years to finish). But as the big room took shape, I felt good about myself, sometimes, at least that this was something I semi-decent at and wouldn't have known if I hadn't tried.

By 2007, the stud framing was done and it was time to put the walls on. So much happened in the meantime, higher up on the main floors and outside in the yard. Down here, though, the basement moved along like a slow river, sometimes nothing changed for months before a wave of progress came through. The house upstairs, our house, rose and fell with its own tide, while the basement came into its own existence as if untouched by the events above it.

As I begin to type this, it's Christmas night 2009. Another week and it'll be 2010. The end of the decade. The kids seemed to enjoy the day, which was our traditional opening of gifts, playing with them for a time then heading east to visit with my side of the family for the day. In another fifty-five minutes as I type, the day will end, and it'll be just another Saturday, more time to play, go look for a new guinea pig (which we got, a cute mellow girl named Santana), help Auntie Ellie paint her condo, and go downstairs and work on the basement.

As the Fall of '07 rolled in, I got blueboard, a book from Home Depot and laid out the upper walls. Then we decided to give the project a boost and brought in Jim Andrews and his gang to finished the lower half and do a good job seeming the walls. Jim's guys Leo and son also fixed up my framing for the entertainment center, so it wouldn't be all lopsided (more pictures, by the way at, but otherwise worked well with what I did. The walls were up, we painted, and as this Christmas comes to an end, the room which had silently stayed out of it all has almost come to life. Amanda had a sleepover down there last weekend. Audrey enjoys watching television in the funky pink chair, and as I finish the trim and wait for the electrician's final visit I'm slowly planning on the overall decorating plan (movie theme, I think).

Speaking of movies, I got Donnie Darko for Christmas, finally get to see this one (and I really know nothing about the movie - no preconceived notions except that everyone in the Business who's seen it and knows me has said, I can't believe you haven't seen this movie, Dan - it's so you...). The new Marc Cohn CD (one of my favorite artists and it didn't disappoint), a couple of movie-related games. It was a movie theme, though I suppose I might have not-so-unconsciously directed things that way. Like the basement will be, I think. We'll see. It's been such a solo project for so long, but now it's almost done and the kids are excited, I need to get them involved. Find out what form it'll take with them down there using it. Seeing for themselves that even after it's done, it can be a refuge, a place to go as an alternative the the floors above.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Time is Here

The kids have asked from time to time, is Christmas really Jesus' birthday, the actual, historical day that He was born? I always answer the same way, which sometimes catches them off guard but, hopefully, will keep them from being sheep, help them understand their faith a little better than, well, sheep who feel anything which deviates from their own self-imposed norm is far too upsetting and threatening to their own faith, tentuous as it probably is if a simple thing like History freaks them out.

No, Christmas is not the historical date upon which God came into the world in human form (to be all formal for a second). Well, it could be: there's a 1 in 365.25 chance of it. Less of a chance, actually. Most historians believe Jesus was born sometime in March - keeps in line with the other historically-proven events surrounding the nativity story: the mass murder of children by Herod (I think it was Herod), the census taken by Rome, etc, which was why Mary & Joseph had to travel to Bethlemen in the first place. So, likely, it was March. Why then, you ask (as have the kids), is Christmas on December 25th? The answer makes perfect sense, even though I can already sense a large number of evangelicals covering their eyes (for NO good reason - have some faith in your faith for once, will you?). The early church was constantly battling for attention with other religions as they spread through the world. December 25th is the festival of Saturnalia, some kind of pagan holiday which I think has gone out of fashion over the past hundred or thousand years. But it's a time, for most if not all religions, to celebrating the fact that - AT LAST - the days are starting to get longer.

December 21st is the shortest day of the year (the Winter Solstice, if you're taking notes). So, the Church decided hey, this would be a good time to formally celebrate the birth of the Messiah, on a day when the world is at its darkest, but the light is beginning to win out again, as it always does. Though the winter is going to get worse, the light is going to grow, and the Light of the World is here. I'm sure the Church used a lot more Latin words in its decision, otherwise people might understand it better. But that's the gist of it, according to Father Jim, who's cool like that. He tells the truth, and doesn't worry if the Truth is dangerous. Truth never is. It can hurt, if you aren't equipped to handle it, but it's never dangerous in the long run.

So, that's the history of Christmas. The concept of Santa Claus came about in 1857 when a spaceship landed in Brussels with one pilot, wearing the now-famous red suit and sporting a beard (which, in truth, was an elaborate set of gills for breathing our atmosphere). Naturally, the villagers who encountered this rare visitor killed him and burned his body, but then felt a twinge remorse and told their children the fable of Santa Claus, and that he wasn't really dead, but instead fire gives him strength to be able to bring shoes to all good girls and boys. In fact, this is how the tradition of lighting fires in the fireplace on Christmas Eve began.

1986. Our first Christmas together. I still remember, 23 years later, sitting silently on the couch, listening to George Winston's beautiful CD December - an album which is a must if you truly want to be in the winter/Christmas spirit. Silence, save the music, and I had a vision, clear as a bell, so clear I've always remembered it. I was suddenly sitting in a living room I didn't recognize (until years later when we bought the house), the front door was open but the outer was closed, an all-glass storm door which allowed full view to outside. We had children, and they were standing so rapt and small in front of the glass, looking out at a foot of freshly-fallen snow in the yard and the porch, and George Winston kept playing, and this warm house was lit up with Christmas lights, there was a tree, and all was well in the world.

Then the vision ended. I sat there and knew I saw something that could be. And it was. Years later in our house in Worcester, I wasn't surprised when I looked up from where I was sitting and little Andrew and Amanda were looking out through the glass door on an almost-Christmas eve watching the snow fall. The scene wasn't exact, perspective changed, the living room was on the left not the right, but it was the same.

It was a good moment, both in reality and the original vision played out to Mr. Winston's timely, repetive piano chords in her tiny apartment. We have these moments, these visions of what could be, and when we follow the path they lay out for us we find them. For life to work, for it to have "meaning" as the philosophers so often say, we need these visions, these views into a future which is good and perfect and know that the specific moment we can see so clearly in the future may be surrounded by painful ones, because life is like that. Up and down, pain and pleasure. But those moments, these gems of sight, looking at your children looking out the door at the freshly-fallen snow, tells us that it's OK, that it will be, that it could be, if we accept them as possible. It'll be a time when we can breathe again, recharge. That wonderful, incredible time and life envisioned, then lived, in 1986 were relished and embraced for as long as possible, and the world itself is not going to simply vanish afterwards, there'll be more to look forward to. There always is.

A year from now it'll be Christmas Eve again, the oldies stations will play nothing but Christmas tunes after Halloween whether anyone wants them to or not, it'll snow again, filling the yard with a soft white comfort set ablaze in red and yellow Christmas lights. In a moment in another future, it'll be a harbinger of contentment again, bring the excited wonder my kids still feel even now every time December 24th rolls around and the anticipation is too much for their open hearts too bear. I envy them their wonder, and we both feed it as much as possible. And, in turn, they never fail to feed mine. Spend time with yours this weekend, soak in the lights and the warmth and ignore everything else. Don't look back, or forward. Just for today and tomorrow spend it looking at the tree and the snow and the fire in the hearth, watch your children or family or friends opening their gifts and know that there are more visions waiting to show themselves, in whatever form the future will be.

Know this, then put the cookies out for Santa, as this is the traditional token of repentence offered for that strange visitor from another world who met his end in a strange land and yet would unwittingly make so much money for retail outlets, and so many mall children cry, in the years to come.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

1984, again

So, as I began to say in the last post, I needed to get caught up on some of the classics I'd successfully avoided all my life - unfortunately - or, perhaps fortunately. I mean, who would appreciate such a brilliant novel like 1984 more: a college sophomore who has to read the entire novel in a month and worry about what kind of grade he'll get on the subsequent paper, or an angst-ridden 46 year-old who finds himself reading this oft-touted and oft-praised (kind of interesting that the first two times I've ever used the somewhat-highbrow prefix "oft-" in my life, I use them in the same sentence..... only kind of interesting, though).

Winston Smith is living in a world completely overrun by socialism, or as it's called in Newspeak (a term the book coins, along with the more oft-used * doublespeak) Ingsoc (English Socialism). The book's good, and quite depressing in many ways - though more fascinating than depressing so it's a very good read (as opposed to the brilliant move starring your friend and mine John Hurt, which is just depressing because you can't soften the blow of the events with your mind - that's the thing about movies, it's in your face....)

Which brings me to my point in a roundabout way. I suppose what one would identify most with in this novel would depend on their situation at the time they read it (have you noticed how very formal I've become in writing this, the Classics seem to warrant this tone....). Me, it was the fact that seemingly everyone in the world lived in some kind of illusionary bubble. Oceania is at war with Eurasia. Bombs hit London, and everyone believes the news that they are coming from the enemy. At some point, Oceania changes loyalties and goes to war with Eastasia (I may be getting the order reversed). They change all historical documents and tell everyone we've always been at war with Eastasia. And everyone chooses to believe it's true.

They choose to believe it's true. They don't believe it; they can't, really. The day before they were at war with an entirely different country. Or could they, really, believe it, if that's what they'd been doing for so long? They've scrubbed certain parts of their brain, metaphorically speaking but, hell, maybe in being metaphoric they really did it and I need to end this sentence.

People live with illusions. Some big, some small. They have to. A writer starting out has to believe she is good, or can become good, otherwise her literary career is dead before it starts. A guy has to believe he's worthy of her affection or he'll never ask her out. He might be, but that doesn't matter. He has to believe it. A pilot of a jet has to believe he can control a curved piece of metal with way-odd shaped stubs for wings going faster than SOUND travels - if he doesn't believe it, he's dead, and so is the nice family living in the house his jet crashes into.

On a smaller, but no less important scale, Santa Claus. Brother Paul (see prev entry) was telling me about his issues with jolly old Saint Nicholas now that his kids are getting older. Do they still believe, or not? There is a time when a child stops believing in Santa Claus, the concept is simply too ridiculous to hold any water in their developing minds, but they want to believe, really, really want to - not because if they don't they'll crash into a house at the speed of sound, i.e. get no presents - no, because when they believed as a young 'un it filled them with wonder, joy to see how much bigger and amazing and mysterious the world was where a guy in a red suit could travel the globe and deliver presents in one night. They want to retain that sense of wonder because as they grow and see the world differently - as no less wondrous and exciting, just differently - they still yearn to capture the past, hold the wonder. It's why parents continue to make such a fuss about Christmas and Santa - they want their children to feel the same feeling they did, and in a genetically rountabout way, relive it themselves. (Granted, you need to get over the fact that you are blatantly lying to your children, which you should never do, but just this once you make an exception.... because it's the key to the past).

They want to be as they were before. They want to believe because believing in something is always a good thing. In their case, the illusion goes away eventually, but not because they wandered downstairs and discovered Santa was actually a pervert attacking their cat with things he pulls out of his magic red bag - that would be a destructive loss of belief, a tragic, painful loss of illusion. No, they simply realize the truth, after a year or two of perhaps pretending that it's not truth, in order to hold on to that magic for a little longer. In the end, they realize Christmas is just as fun even without pretending. They can enjoy wrapping presents, going to church and enjoy the religious meaning of the holiday without feeling that baby Jesus is taking all of Santa's press (never a worry there, anyway).

1984 - remember 1984? this blog entry is about 1984 - was interesting in that the whole world make themselves believe, because they felt there was nothing else than what they had. In the end, perhaps there wasn't. Those who showed signs of free-thought disappeared. Terribly. Sometimes, the world a person lives in is so dark, and has been for so long, they don't believe there could be anything else better. Orwell makes it a point to show how some people remember their worlds as better than it was in the present, and these people cling to the hope it'll be better again. And, these people stagnate. Others, like the lowest rung on the food chain the Proles (proletariate), simply don't care, content to live day to day and simply enjoy each other's company, in a way the happiest lot. And then there are those who accept the world as it is, and know they cannot change it so they simply find ways of bucking the system, making no progress, like the Proles, but finding moments of joy. Julia, Winston's secret lover, is like that. She has no illusions, except that there's nothing that can be done to change things. These people seek pleasure, but are also very much defeatists.

People in the world today fall into one or the other category, changing with circumstances. Sometimes we need illusion to ask her out, to fly the plane, to write that novel, but in the end, we need to prove it. Prove yourself worthy on that first date, keep the plane flying, edit the crap out of the book and make it good. Because illusions only go so far. If we can't prove that they are reality, then they may not be. And reality will fly over and pop the balloon. You're not as funny as you think, you need to shower more, you need to change careers, you need to clean the mirror so you can see better who you are, or clean your glasses so you can see better who others are, and why. ...and this is rambling is taking too long. It's like that, roads, life, figuring things out. Long and rambling and wordy.
I don't think I've made the point I wanted, but blogs are like that, aren't they. With a name like 'blog', they don't necessarily have to make sense.

* 3

Friday, December 18, 2009

1984, or Watching the Tube Slide Down Kane's Throat

I recently decided I simply am not reading enough of the classics. I managed somehow to avoid all, or most, of the literature courses when in school, at least those which made you read books... no seriously, I was a fantastically lazy reader (and Stephen King would probably say fantastically lazy writer, since I just used an adverb, but then he did, just there in the beginning of this parenthetical remark, so I think I'm entitled to adverbise now and then....)... okay, where was - ah!

I was a lazy reader. Loved books as a concept, just couldn't focus on them for long, not when I was younger. Until two things happened... I entered eighth grade and Miss Dawson's English/Reading class at Francis Wyman Middle School where I was introduced to Richard Matheson and H.P. Lovecraft, and a couple years after that, read the novelization to Alien: not high literature but scared the shit out of me, then soon after - Fahrenheit 451 and Ray Bradbury entered my life. A wonderful moment for a reader when he meets Mister Bradbury.

More about Miss Dawson another time. The woman who made reading fun and amazing and... another time. Let's jump ahead in the Life of Dan about 3 years or so... maybe 4...

The novelization for Alien was written by the King Of Novelizations - seriously, he's probably the only person who could have given my fellow Neconer Chris Golden a run for his money in the arena of sheer volume of work - Alan Dean Foster. In retrospect, I don't think anyone yet knew what the alien itself was going to look like - Foster was likely given the screenplay and as he wrote the book H.R. Giger and Ridley Scott were hashing out the monster... the book never described it. (so when, years later, I saw the movie I thought - that's it? My mental version had a hundred arms and it was furry... dunno, the movie one was still frikkin' scary... so where the hell was I....?

I was going to talk about classic literature and 1984, its dystopia, a life of illusionary living and poor Winston Smith, was going to tie in Christmas and... I guess all of it has to wait. I'm too caught up in the Summer of '80, or '81....

Hampton Beach, vacation week at the my parents rented each year and Mom - God bless her, always pointing me, if inadvertently, to the dark side - hands me the novelization she'd just read of Alien. Not sure how many novels I'd read before that... a few, none I remembered much save Great Expectations and Hemingway's work, (all pretty good), the stuff from Miss Dawson's class (later... later...), though the act of reading for school was a chore

Side bar: kiddies, I should explain: I drank WAY too much soda, was constantly wired on caffeine and sugar - having bad grades? Get the Frak off the Mountain Dew, deal with the withdrawals for a couple of days, and watch how the frakking world suddenly becomes available to you TRUST ME...., over-doing the power drinks the caffeine and sugar is not making you smart or alert, you're body is simply carving it and telling your brain - look, cut down at least...).
Back to: Hampton Beach, Mom, sand in between the pages... OK, back on track... I've never forgotten the scene - not in the movie, but the Book(!!!) where Kane goes down into the ship, the face hugger bursts from the egg, latches on, and I cringe as the author goes into detail how the alien melts the faceplate, pushes the tube down the guy's throat... that, boys and girls, wasn't filmed. In this case, the novelization was much better... especially to a 17/18 year old boy.

Hey, Kane was played by the same actor who portrayed Winston in the best adaptation of 1984, a topic I was about to talk about tonight but then put aside for this after-midnight blog post.... (John Hurt, by the way, in case you're wondering - sigh, OK, the wand salesman from the Harry Potter movie). I couldn't put that book down (Alien, I mean, though 30 years later same went for 1984). Read it in a week, a lifetime record back then (and maybe now, though I read like a fish these days... fish read, so shut up). I read at the beach, at home on the front yard in a folding chair.

All the while, brother Paul watches me from his sad, 4.5 years younger-than-me vantage - staring at brother Danny staring so intently into that green paperback book. He inquires. I tell him. Poor 13 year old kid was never the same again... he read it when I was done. Was slapped upside the head - I remember watching him sitting out in the front yard and freaking out while reading it. Books are cool. They do that to you sometimes.

And books became cool for me with that one. I recently re-read it - and yea, it was an early A. D. Foster book, he got better. It wasn't great but for the first time, it didn't matter. The story grabbed me. I was pulled away into some distant, unknown planetary system and everyone around me was friggin' dying and it was wonderful. In a literary sense. I could be elsewhere, escape to new worlds and be back in time for supper. It wasn't a happy story - I mean, more people lived in 1984 than Alien, but it did what it was meant to do, for me, in that summer. Finally bonked me on the head and said look! Books! Read more, visit new and exciting places before you step on your glasses like Burgess Meredith and lose the chance!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Book Signing at Borders Books in Shrewsbury MA this Friday

I'll be participating in a multiple author signing event at the Borders Bookstore in Shrewsbury MA this Friday, November 27th, beginning at 1:00 along with other local horror authors Nate Kenyon, Bob Heske, Scott Goudsward, Patrick Rahall and a number of other non-horror writers as well. I'll be signing copies of Solomons Grave, of course. As we all know, the day after Thanksgiving tends to be a huge shopping day, so if you're out and about, and near Shrewsbury, swing by and say hello!

Is Tim Deal an Assassin or a Character Actor?

Sorry, just have to add this. Look down two blog entries, to the Bushnell photos, in particular the group photo - specifically Tim Deal. Better yet, I've cropped out his picture and put it here. OK? So, if you don't watch Fringe, never mind. But if you do, and caught last week's episode where the bald alien/time traveler guy kidnapped the woman - remember the assassin hired to kill her and fix the timeline? Now take a look at Tim's photo again. Sorry, but Tim, how do you get all the way to LA for a guest role in a major television show AND run a magazine here in New England? Good time management, I guess...? :-)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Smell of Movies Makes Me Happy

I picked up my daughter Audrey and her friends from the movies last night. Got there a little early and sat on a bench to read. But after a while I couldn't just sit there. This was the movies! It was opening night of New Moon, tons of people were filling every nook and corner of the place (the girls chose another film because New Moon's sold out until Thursday, believe it or not). Anyway, tons of people, smell of popcorn filling the massive hall, voices upon voices, more popcorn smell.

I walked around, relishing in the air of all of this, mixed with bad hot dogs and second-mortgage pizza slices and steady hiss of soda being foaming into cups.

On the walls, massive marquees, movie posters from King Kong, Casablanca. For some ridiculous reason every slot for modern films were promoting the upcoming Alice in Wonderland... I mean, come on, leave some for the next guy.... anyway, I wandered around, looked and smelled and experienced an environment which has such a connection to my past, so many memories of growing up. The good kind I mean. Going with Kevin and Brian and others to see Star Wars (the original) 29 times. I still remember, fondly, when I was a junior at Bentley. One night, after trying to convince everyone to come see this new movie that just came out with no luck (no one was interested because the title just sounded too dumb to bother), I went down to the Woburn Showcase and watched Raiders of the Lost Ark all by my lonesome and was blown away and had a blast (and was never the least bit lonesome)!

Been wanting to go to the movies for a while now - I'm having withdrawals, maybe go see Where The Wild Things Are... seems going to the movies as in the past doesn't look like is going to happen for a while. Still, maybe I'll just go alone... I've done it before. And why not? It makes me happy, makes a lot of people happy, and how can it not? It's the movies! So much more I can talk about in this world within a world. Maybe I'll make it a recurring theme. Return to the place on occasion, as I'm always want to do. Still, I need to write the Monkey Story and there's bound to be some writing-related news, but now and then, maybe we can go back to the movies and shoot the shit some more about it.

OK, ok, that's about 6 ending sentences without actually ending it... sorry.... I'll stop..... now

A couple of Bushnell photos

Hi. A couple of pictures from the event at the Bushnell Theater this Halloween. Above, left to right standing are: Lou (a.k.a Edgar Allen Poe), Peter Fox, Tim Deal, me. Seated is Alisa Sheckley.

Now these photos were taken at the break between Alisa's and my talks, and the photographer was heading out, so she asked that I pretend to be making my speech so she can get more candids (she asked the same to Tim and Peter). So here, I'm really just saying something like, "I'm really just going to talk randomly for a moment but it doesn't matter since this is only for the picture." Or some other mundane comment. Not sure what the finger thing was all about. Still, the things we do for art. :-)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

To answer the question (finally), How'd Hartford Go, at the Bushnell?

Sorry for the delay in recapping my Halloween weekend at the Boo! at Bushnell event in Hartford - wanted to give "Kill Brian Keene on Your Blog Day" a few days of front-pageness...

So, anyway, I drove down Friday night to Hartford and checked into the hotel provided me by the Bushnell and host Zita Christian. Almost immediately Jason and Stacey Harris picked me up and played excellent hosts for the rest of the evening. We went to the Texas Roadhouse - where you can eat peanuts and dump the shells on the floor and eat lots of great food - I got the ribs. Had a tremendous dinner with the two newlyweds (one year, Happy Anniversary!). Before dropping me back off at the hotel we stopped at the Barnes & Noble to see if they had Solomon's Grave in stock - of course, no. Sigh. Lots of fun, though. :-).

Got to the Bushnell Performing Arts Theater nice and early Saturday and met my host for the day, Zita (if you remember, she interviewed me on her cable show in May, and it aired all month in June). I was shown to my very own dressing room, with my name on it (no, no star on the door), and those mirrors with bulbs all the way around and my own bathroom it was just wicked cool and I haven't used any punctuation yet... so, I'll add some. Here.

The day went, literally, without a hitch. The first speaker, celebrating his 200th birthday, was none other than Edgar Allen Poe himself. Lou, the guy who looked, talked (I assume) and presented himself so much as you would imagine Poe would have (the writer, not the Teletubby), talked about his life and gave a tremendous reading of his famous story, "The Telltale Heart" (I missed some of it, because I fell into a coughing fit and had to sneak out... but they broadcast the speakers everywhere throughout the building, even the bathroom, so could still hear....)

Alisa Sheckley, the next speaker, is just one of those people you can't help but like the moment you meet her. As a novelist herself, we worked out ahead of time what we were covering so there wouldn't be much overlap, and it worked out great. Alisa talked of the growth of horror throughout the last century. She was funny and informative, overall a great talk.

After a short break, it was my turn. Listening to Zita's introduction, you'd think a stand-up comedian was coming on, so I had to be funny. :-) Thankfully, I think I was, mostly. My talk was already geared that way and people seemed to enjoy it. I had props - the infamous Monkey Picture which caused so many nightmares in my childhood (someday I'll tell you the story - the audience seemed to enjoy it), and used that and others to talk about the influence of childhood on forming a horror writer. I spent some time then talking about the New England Horror Writers organization, of which I and L.L. Soares are co-chairs, and networking within the horror genre. After a fun Q&A session, I sadly had to sit down. But I had lots of fun.

After lunch, Tim Deal, publisher/editor of Shroud Magazine, held court with an interesting approach - talking about the publishing business in a town-meeting style, asking questions of the audience and getting a lot of participation from everyone. It paid off, making the 45 minutes fly by with people still lined up with questions when time ran out.

The final speaker, screenwriter/producer Peter Fox, gave a brief historical summary of horror movies, before introducing the film HOUSE OF USHER, in honor or E.A.Poe's birthday. Unfortunately, I missed the second part of his talk, and the ending of the film, because I had to get home in time for trick or treat with the family.

All in all, the weekend was terrific. Special thanks to everyone I met, I forget everyone's name but special shout out to Zombie Girl with whom I had great conversations throughout the day, not to mention the rest of the crew and of course Zita and her husband and the employees of the Bushnell.

Monday, November 02, 2009

In Honor of Kill Brian Keene on Your Blog Day

"I just want a piece of him, of Greatness!"

"There he is. There’s so many friggin’ people around him, though. You see, that’s why he’s so cool: he's so approachable, not like some writers..."

"Come on, before it's too late...."

* * *

"Thanks. I'm glad. You know I have other books..."

"...when it chewed its way out of her belly..."

"(laughs) yea, thanks. Did you read..."

"Now I knew he didn't shoot the kid at the end when - "

"...Urban Gothic or Castaways? I mean it’s not just..."

"Excuse me, I just wanted to say - "

"Hi, Brian? Can I call you Bri-"

"I'm sorry, excuse me, I need to go to the bathr-"

"Wait, can you sign this? It's a Stephen King book, but it's basically the same story so if you signed it - "

"-oom. I will, just let me slip out for a - "

"...touch you, just your sleeve, or - "

"Out of my way, bugger, I was talking to him first."

"Everyone, please give Mr. Keene some room so he can breathe. You, hey, ah! Shit, you bit me!"

"Don't get between me and my man. Brian, can I call you Brian, too, can you lick my scar?"

"After I pee, please. Just let me.. Joe? You OK? Hey! Get off of him! Get off of me!"

"Just one question, where do you - "

"- Get your ideas?"

"- come up with such cool zombies?"

"- make love, and when, and how?"

"You look so yummy."

"Get off me. There's too many of me - um, what did you say? Ouch!"

"Brian, run! Geggrrphhhhh..."

"Jo - gah! Get... away... from... me."

"See my eyes I can hardly - "

"Ow! Stop! There's too little of me! Please, stop putting my fingers in your mouth!"


"Get the fu - aaahhhhhh!"

"Brmmmm... Runnn......"

"I can't, I can't. Stop it, please, ah, that hurt! You're pushing me against the wall. arrrghhh.. my bladder!"


"Just a taste....."

"The right thigh is mine! Get your own!"

The screams were subdued by the low acoustics of the conference facility. More people came, seeing the crowds, not knowing what they would see, but certain it must be good, so good, and they hungered for more.....

* * *
Brian Keene is being killed off today in a number of blogs throughout the world. If you are enjoying watching him being sent to the Great Beyond today, perhaps you'd consider making a donation to the Shirley Jackson Awards in Brian's honor. In recognition of the legacy of Ms. Jackson’s writing, and with permission of the author’s estate, the non-profit Shirley Jackson Awards have been established for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic. Please follow this think to donate. This one. Right here. And thanks!

Rest in Pieces, Brian.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Bushnell Article in the Hartford Courant

Wanted to post this cool article Hartford's major newspaper The Hartford Courant posted on their website (and I assume in the paper itself) about tomorrow's Bushnell event:,0,6989466.story

I will not be nervous... I will not be nervous... :-)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Heading to Hartford for Halloween!

I'll be attending as a speaker the new Boo! At The Bushnell conference in Hartford, CT, this Saturday, October 31st. The confeence celebrates the 200th birthday of Edgar Allan Poe. It will be held at the Bushnell Performing Arts Center. The agenda for this free-to-the-public event is:

9:30 to 10:00 Registration

10:00 to 10:45 Edgar Allan Poe ~ His writing life and The Tell-Tale Heart

10:45 to 11:30 Alisa Sheckley Kwitney
Graphic novels and the evolution of horror in literature

11:30 to 11:45 Break

11:45 to 12:30 Dan Keohane, Co-Chair, New England Horror Writers, an organization providing peer support and networking for writers of horror and dark fantasy in the New England area (I'll also be talking about writing horror both in short story and novel form)

12:30 to 1:45 Lunch

1:45 to 2:30 Tim Deal, Editor, Shroud Magazine
What an editor wants in a horror submission

2:30 to 2:45 Break

2:45 to 3:15 Peter Fox, Screenwriting Instructor
The evolution of horror in film

3:15 to 5:00 Movie: The House of Usher
Post-show discussion with Peter Fox

5:15 Birthday Cake!

This conference is made possible by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and their Big Read Program.

Friday, October 09, 2009

"Box" Gets an Honorable Mention in Best Horror of the Year

My short story "Box," which was published this year in Coach's Midnight Diner 2, Back From the Dead Edition, but had been previously published in its sister publication Relief Journal, Volume 2.2, in 2008 as a promotion for the upcoming anthology. Ellen Datlow, who co-edited Year's Best Fantasy and Horror for years until the long-running Best of anthology was canceled recently, has continued the series as a horror-only collection with Night Shade Books.
Now called Best Horror of the Year, Volume 1 continues the time-honored tradition of republishing Ellen's choice of the best stories published in the previous calendar year, as well as listing a plethora of Honorable Mentions. Always cool to get this latter nod, and nice to see "Box" get the recognition. Thanks, Ellen, and congrats to all the other HM's listed.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Writers and Artists in the Heart of New York, Part Two

Finally, a recap of the rest of my weekend.... sorry...

On Saturday was the Big Event: Union Church's annual Art Show on Main. Now, I'd thought Main Street was, well, a street, but no. Union is a MONDO church, built onto an old elementary school, and it's main reception hall is at least three times as big as my house, hence the name they use for it - Main Street (even done up with lamp posts and coffee shop, very cool). Another special shout-out to the organizer of the event Tamara Murphy, who was as gracious a host as I've ever met, busy, but always taking time to enjoy herself. This year, for the first time, it was not just art, but writers and musicians as well.

I got there early, and did my best to help Andy with the artwork displays. Later, Kevin & I held court in the main hall from 1:00 - 3:00 for critique sessions for anyone who wanted to bring a writing sample to discuss, or simply talk about writing. The two hours flew by (wasn't until then I realized I hadn't eaten anything since breakfast!). We then moved to a smaller hall where we participated in a panel discussion of art, in all its forms. Kevin & I were the writers, and answered varying questions along with artists Julia Dean and Erin McMahon and musicians Brian Moss and Jason Harrod. Then we ate, and the official Show began at 6:00.

What an amazing show. Tamara introduced the show, then the show kicked off. There were three 'acts' as it were, with headliners Brian and Jason performing in each. We had other amazing musicians playing, writers reading their stories or poems, the artists discussed their work and methods. Just one brilliant performer after another, so much so Tamara had to chime in and make everyone stop paying so much attention and mill about! It worked. The entire night was like a very cool coffeehouse. Me, I read an excerpt from Solomon's Grave in the second hour. Seemed to go over well. Kevin read an excerpt from his Coach's Midnight Diner story in the third act.

Really, I can't say enough good things about the show, and was pretty bummed out when it ended.

The next day, I had to get moving if I was going to make it home soon enough to close the pool (ah, October, one of the saddest moments of the month when we can't pretend anymore and the pool gets covered for another 7 months...). The drive was even more stunning since it was nice weather. Five and a half hours later, I was home, with a lot great memories. Thanks again to everyone for such a great time. I hope I can make it back, even if only as a visitor, next year.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Writers and Artists in the Heart of New York, Part One

Sorry it took so long to post this, been pretty much out straight since coming back from Binghamton and parts thereabouts. So much to talk about, but let's take this a step at a time..

I had a wonderful time this past weekend in upstate New York. Everyone I met welcomed me with open arms, and lots of questions (especially the Seton students!). To recap as briefly as I can:

Thursday, I took the 3 hour drive to Troy to visit my son Andrew. Haven't seen him in a month and it was great to wrap him in a bear hug - twice - when I saw him. Delivered a bunch of critical supplies like a mini fridge and jelly beans. Kicked his butt in pool... OK, well, we each won a game. :-)

When he kicked me out so he could head to class, I drove another 2.5 hours to the small village of Lisle, NY, just outside of Binghamton. I have to say first, I almost wished the drive didn't end - even with the clouds and the occasional rain, I've never seen such a beautiful country. Rolling hills, farms and more farms and quaint small towns (yea, OK, I just used 'quaint' in a sentence, but couldn't think of a better word). Reminded me of Acadia National Park, only hundreds of miles long. Special thanks to Andy Palmer who was kind enough to put me up for three nights! Andy's an artist with one of the coolest houses in existence. He and I had a frighteningly lot in common on so many levels, and we instantly became friends. I'll miss him - and his moldy coffee and questionable butter. :-)

On Friday, I met with Kevin Lucia's (my overall host for the weekend and the reason I was there in the first place) Creative Writing class at Seton Catholic High School. I've been blogging with the students for the past couple weeks as they read and comment on their assigned work: Solomon's Grave. I also met with five other honors and AP English classes throughout the day. Special shout-out to everyone! I've included some photos. I had a really, really fun time talking with everyone, both during class and in the two and a half minutes between bells.

That night, Kevin had arranged with the local Barnes and Noble for a book signing of Solomon's Grave. Can't tell you how great it was to see the book on the table with the other, more-deserving works in the store. As per usual for a bookstore signing unless you're already a best-selling author, turnout was pretty low, but I still had a great time. The folks running the shop were terrific, and very attentive. Overall, though no books moved, I had fun. :-)

To be continued in Part Two, where our hero steps into one of the coolest churches in existence and one of the most enjoyable artist events he's seen in a long time, and he also eats lots of pasta... stay tuned...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Binghamton, New York Speaking Engagement and Signing

Thanks to fellow writer and high school teacher Kevin Lucia, I'll be traveling to Binghamton, New York, October 1 - 3 to be a speaker at Kevin's Creative Writing class at Seton Catholic Central High School as part of their Writers & Readers Series.

They're currently reading Solomon's Grave as an assignment and that'll be the topic of discussion.

That Friday night, I'll be doing a signing at 7:00 for Solomon's Grave at the Barnes & Noble in Vestal, NY! They've already got the book in stock (thank you again, Kevin!).

On Saturday, I'll be participating in a local Art Show in town, and doing some more signings, etc, that afternoon and evening. Final details still being worked out for Saturday, but a full docket for the weekend. If you're in the neighborhood please swing by!

The best part: On the way there, I'll be swinging by my son Andrew's college and giving him a hug! If he lets me....

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Plage der Finsternis (Plague of Darkness) hits German Bookstores!

The German edition of Plague of Darkness, Plage der Finsternis, has hit bookstores across Germany and Austria. This is, in fact, the book's World Premiere, as we're currently marketing the novel here in the states. The book has been published by Otherworld Verlag, the same publisher which released Das Grab des Salomon (Solomon's Grave) a couple of years back. Special thanks to publisher Michael Krug for the photo, taken by another author. You can see my book in the upper right corner of the picture.

The book is currently avaiable in all major German and Austria, as well as Amazon Deutschland!

Monday, August 31, 2009

"Family at Dinner" Now Playing

I learned from L.L.Soares, who also has a story in this issue, that Shroud Magazine issue #6 has hit the newstands! My short story, "Family at Dinner" is featured, along with a number of other fantastic New England authors in this one. Check out the cover, done by tremendous cover artist Steven Gilberts, whom I had the pleasure of hanging out with this past Necon. Check it out, I believe it should be in most Barnes & Noble magazine racks. Let me know if you find it and what you think of the story.

College Bound / High School Bound

Sigh... and Yay... life is full of the happy and sad, even if both are the same thing sometimes.

Last week, we drive my son Andrew to school, where he's beginning his freshman year of college, majoring in Computer Science. One of those... what's the expression... I forget, where it's happy and exciting and sad and scary. He's doing well, starting classes this week, surrounded by like-minded folks. Best of luck Andrew, we love you and are immeasurably proud of you.

Speaking of starting classes and being immeasurably proud, my daughter Amanda has begun her first day of high school today. Yikes! One in college, another in high school. I'm sure she's nervous, but she'll kick butt. She always does. Kicks butt and takes numbers. :-)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Black Belt

Late but hearty congratulations to my son Andrew (and his friend Jon!) for earning his black belt in Kempo Karate last weekend. He's heading off to college in a week and a half and wanted to earn that highest of belts before, and they made it, after a grueling two-hour trial. Nice job, boys, well-earned and you deserve mondo kudos!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Annual Wheels And Heels Against MS - a Win-Win Year

From my sister Anne Murphy:

This September 11th – 13th, 2009 is the MS Challenge Walk, a 50 mile walk through Cape Cod that raises money to fight the effects of Multiple Sclerosis. It is the 5th time I’ve joined my brother Paul Keohane and his team, “Wheels and Heels Against MS’.

This year everyone who donates will have an opportunity to win a prize! What would be better than that? How about a whole month of prizes?!

What do you win?

Up to $25 donated earns 1 chance. $100 earns 4 chances….and so on.

This October we will draw a name every day from the names of generous supporters and that person wins the prize for that day. Prizes include free haircuts, beautiful necklaces and earrings, and gift certificates.

Visit our website to make a pledge or mail your check to:

Anne Murphy
16 Kenneth Lane
Tewksbury, Ma 01876
Paul Keohane, (Team Captain)
2 Jillian Rose Dr
Oxford, MA 01540

We know that this is still a tough economic time, but this letter is asking for your help once again. Please join me and our team in our fight. If there is anything you can spare, it is greatly appreciated. And you might win a prize!!.... It’s WIN-Win!

Thank you so much!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Naming Names

On the topic of characters, I've been asked a few times where I come up with names. Sometimes it's whatever pops in my head as I write the first draft of a story or novel. At other times it's a feeling that the name should have a meaning of some sort, a specific sound, begin with a certain consonant. Rarely (but not never) do I think - hey, I'll name a character after Person I Know #47. If you've read the Harry Potter novels, it's obvious (I hope) that J.K. Rowling almost always works under the Names With Meaning school of thought. Almost all of her side characters have a moniker pertinent to their role in the story. Snape, Lupin, Sirius are three of the more obvious. Sometimes just a sound or feeling they inspire. Dumbledore, McGonagall.

Sometimes it's random. The main character in Solomon's Grave is Nathan Dinneck. Dinneck: because I'd just finished a zombie story before I'd begun the book, and the character's name was Dinneck (no first name). I decided it was original enough I wanted to use it again. His first name was originally Marcus in early drafts, partly because I wanted a name beginning with a consonant, and I wanted it two syllables. I have no idea why, but I don't question my thought process - plenty of others do that for me. I changed Marcus to Nathan because there was another character with an "M" name and it caused confusion to one of my proof-readers.

In my as-yet-unpublished novel, Margaret's Ark, the main character's first name came about when I began the original short story, thirteen years ago, on which the novel was based. We were in the process of buying property (on which our house now stands), and dealing with a very nice woman named Margaret who would later become our neighbor. I used her first name for the character. Come novel-writing time, I needed a last name. That evening I happened to visit my friend Fran Bellerive who lives near a store called Charboneau Shoes. I liked the look of the name, so dropped the 'H' and Margaret Carboneau was born... or at least named.

As I began writing Plague of Darkness, I needed a better concept of the main character, a teenage girl with an attitude - my own teenage-daughter-with-an-attitude was too young back then to serve as a role model . I used to teach a high school CCD class ("Sunday School" held on Mondays, for teens), and pegged one particular student as being the embodiment of my character. Good kid, mind of her own and funny (and a little belligerent, which made the class interesting). In order to associate the character with her as I began writing, I reversed her first name and called the character Gem. As Gem's character developed and became her own "person", the name had become too strongly associated (in my mind) with this character so rather than change it, I came up with a goofy but effective reason for the name and kept it.

Sometimes it's just a random - I might use any old name as long as it doesn't start with the letters M, Q or T (because it's never a good idea to have main characters begin with the same letter, too visually confusing for the reader). I don't care what name I use. Or an interesting name occurs to me as I write and it drops into the story and I think very little as to why I used it.

There are some names which I have never used, because they are too strongly associated with people in my life. I've tried a couple of times to use the my wife Janet's name, but it's hard to disassociate it from the real person - and you have to be able to do that (unless you're writing a memoir). I've used my kids names now and then, mostly because they keep asking me but only for minor characters because let's face it, I write horror. Sometimes this comes in handy - I might give specific names to victims in my writing, especially ones that get smeared under a slow moving steamroller or something equally as enthralling. I'd planned on mentioning some sample names here, but decided against it - you know who you are. Some names, even of those closest to me, are common enough I can probably manage it, like Joe (my Dad's and brother's name), but not Marilyn (Mom's name, and too unique..).

In the end, whichever name I use, once the book / story is finished they've become so ingrained in my mind with the character that I can't imagine using any other.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Post Protagonist Life

For a book or story to work, we authors try to create realistic characters. We need to know what they look like, what motivates them. If we know them well enough, we're able to write their responses and reactions to whatever thrown at them almost automatically - as if the character is controlling the words you type. Do it right, and the reader feels and sees what they do, is frightened or happy or whatever alongside them.

And we, as authors of horror, mystery, suspense, throw a lot at these people. Put them through the ringer as the expression goes. No one should have to suffer the way some of these make-believe characters do. In real life, they do, sometimes, sometimes not.

But what about when the last page is written and the book is closed? How do these people pick up the pieces of their lives and move on? King is pretty good in this regard. He tends to tie up loose ends, implies either implicitly or explicitly how the survivors of his plot will fare later. Koontz, of whom I've always been a fan, not so much. He ends with his characters, and readers, exhausted.

How do they cope, move on from the events of the story? If it’s a disaster-type scenario, some natural scourge against which the people have struggled, it's implied they move on with their lives, in a world that may or may not be the same. They'd fought, and survived, and are better for it. But let's take a murder mystery. Or better yet, a thriller. The hero of the story has defeated the bad guy(s), but not before "learning the truth" about her trusted butler, or great Aunt who's really an axe murderer, or employer who's secretly been working as a slave trader. She survives, makes it through, is safe again.

Then what? The next job she takes (because her office building burned down in the climax), the next man she meets (since her late husband tried to poison her with Playdoh or something equally diabolic).. does she wonder whom she can trust? How long will she relive the events covered between page 1 and page 423? If her best friend is revealed on page 397 as being a flesh-eating alien, how will she act towards friend B or C? What if they're also flesh-eating aliens but are hiding this fact because the good guys will find them and melt their wax like they did to A?

I can imagine our former protagonist sitting in a therapist's office, nodding enthusiastically when the doctor says she needs to move forward, focus on the present. Maybe she could, given time with no more tentacles jumping out of her pudding - but will she wonder if she's safe because it hasn't happened again, or because she stopped eating pudding without first donning a neck brace?

Habits have been born into her psyche, from solving the mystery and surviving the attack in the latter half of the book. She survived by seeing the clues chapter after chapter, denying what she was seeing at first, then having no choice but to accept something was amiss. Only then could she discover the plot before being eaten like so many others before her. But... long after THE END, she tries to surround herself with people and occupy her mind because when she's alone she thinks too much, finds herself seeing things that might not be there, or having suspicions that might not be warranted. She tries to look away because it might mean being dragged back through the same nightmare but she cannot ignore that trusting her instincts defeated the bad guy the first time, saved her from certain death. Is it real or some post-traumatic paranoia?
This could lead to a sequel, Jamie Lee Curtis crawling along the hospital floor because, finally, she acknowledges that Michael Myers is not dead.

If our beleaguered survivor was real enough, she would be plagued by worries that she missed something important - had her oldest friend with whom she defeated the evil alien boss been a part of it, implicit in the planned invasion in some way? She doesn't want to think this, but there had been signs, especially around pages 112 and 175 - she simply hadn't enough facts then to see it clearly. Even now, things feel... wrong (cue soft dramatic music). But it's over. She's safe now. She needs a friend, someone to go to the movies with to forget all the craziness that transpired. Besides, he couldn't have been that involved in such a despicable plot since the Great Author never gave him his come-uppance.... Could he? (cue louder dramatic music). Part of her doesn't want to know, but after five hundred pages filled with deception, truth is an important commodity. She shrugs, acknowledges that she would probably never completely know and because of that, never complete trust anyone again. Either way, the Great Author isn't going to write a sequel; has left her on her own to cope however she can. Authors are like that - they move on to the next story and try not to think much more about the characters they created. After all, these people aren't real.

Monday, June 29, 2009

4th in the State... Congrats, everyone

My daughter Audrey's Mountain Club soccer team, Thunder and Lightening, just finished competing in the Massachusetts Tournament of Champions, where they took 4th place (out of a total of somehting like 750 teams!) in the U12 category. They played amazing and kept us parents entertained. Congrats to all the girls, and special thanks to Coach Darryl Kinzer and Asst. Coach Dominick DiPilla for doing such a tremendous job and leading their team to such an impressive standing in the Commonwealth.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Roads Diverging, Part 6

Congrats to our daughter Amanda who just graduated middle school and is now officially, I guess, a High Schooler. Our Elementary/Middle school does quite an elaborate ceremony for graduation, rivaling that of the high schools themselves.

Two out of Elementary, one to go. :-)

Publisher's Marketplace

Decided to set up my old Publisher's Marketplace account again, as I was researching something. Pretty cool site. It's how I initially sold Solomon's Grave in the first place.

Anyway, the more hits I get the better I look, so go to it:

PS: My daughter Amanda will be returning here tomorrow as she makes another headline tonight. So many milestones, so little time....

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Mythology of Mythology

11 years ago, I discovered the joys of having your own web page on the ever-growing Internet. Before there was such a think as blogs, I'd begun writing little essay/ditties, various... how did I put it, ah, I forget, but trust me it was clever. In 1998, I began a series of short essays on the Meaning of Life, just for shits & giggles. Here was the first. Now and then, I'll post one of them here, again, just for S&G, and maybe, for a touch of Enlightenment... ("ooooooh"... says the crowd).

From July 15, 1998:

I just finished listening to an abridged audio recording of Joseph Campbell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces. It's a tome written in the 1940's about myths and legends throughout very-early history. (This is an example of when it's OK to listen to an abridgment). Campbell compares the elements of myth with the human psyche and psychotherapy in general.... I think. It wasn't the easiest to follow, but the various myths and legends he recounted were pretty fascinating.

After hearing these tales of yore, I came to a startling revelation. Before I share this with you, let me give you an excerpt from a 2000-year-old myth of creation. It has been told throughout the generations in ancient Tumeria. (That's somewhere west of here).

Conoraboro was light incarnate. He was born as a half-god, half-mule in the age of chaos in the center of a barren field that grew neither wheat, nor rice, nor speckled fruit. In the center of this wasteland (which measured a thousand thousand cubits end to end) sat an egg. This egg measured only five cubits. It had been laid by the bird of eternity (which passes by all things only once every million million turnings of the empty cosmos).

Upon feeling the dry arid wind of nothingness, the egg cracked. A yellow light emanated from within. This is from hence issued Conoraboro. He stood only two cubits. In his infant form he ate of the sand and dried flakes of rock (chipped away with his many rows of sharp teeth). He grew. Soon he stood in the center of the field, a full six hundred cubits high.

Wings of shining gold adorned his back. His face was that of a condor, his body that of an ape. One day, he came to the realization that there must be another. From his beak there issued a flake from an earlier feeding. When it fell to the ground, two things happened: the land became lush with grasses, and trees, and lakes. The second thing that happened was the creation of a being much like himself, only with the head of a raven and the body of a wildebeest. They coupled, and from their coupling they begot six hundred sons, and six hundred daughters. Soon the lush world filled with their songs, and the sweet juices of the pomegranate.

What an incredibly fascinating version of the creation myth. After hearing this lost tale, and so many others from days long lost, I came to a conclusion: the people of that time were all insane. Now, I'm not referring just to the wise ones who told these stories. Everyone was crazy. They had to be.

Think about it. If you sat around fires all night with a wiry old man who wore paint on his face and a decapitated elk head on his scalp, listening to him tell these stories over and over, you'd be a little nuts, too. This is OK, though. Since everyone's concept of reality was so skewed, there was no one individual to sneak into your tent and steal the bowl of ripened fruit while you contemplated the story of the mongoose king and the salmon princess.

And so the world and its inhabitants lived in peaceful bliss. Throughout these cloudy-minded years, however, evolution slowly took hold. Here and there, scattered like diamonds on a rocky shore, clarity descended upon certain individuals. One woman would suddenly stand up during the above-mentioned fireside talks. She'd scream, "No. You are wrong. We do not come from the excrement of the fly on the camel's dung. Rather, we most certainly must be born of the seeds of knowledge which lay hidden in the core of the mango." Well, it was a start at least. Of course, this woman was immediately put to death and eaten before the spider-woman heard her blasphemy and made the leaves of the willow rise with the wind.

Over the years the human mind popped into clarity, as much as possible, until now we can watch current events with an open and analytical mind, look for the lies in someone's words by the subtle inconsistencies in their speech. We can tell normal stories to each other, realistic ones with much better computer effects and commercial tie-ins. And we can do this with complete autonomy, as long as we don't offend any major public group with our modern myths and legends. They still, even if only metaphorically, will put you to death and eat you before anyone else has a chance to understand your truths.

Think of how far the human consciousness has changed (and not changed) over the last two thousand years. Even over the last two hundred. Not to sound like a popular song of the sixties, but consider the world in the year 3998. What kind of beings will look back on us? Oh, to be sure, they'll still spend hours looking for technical flaws in Star Trek films. But what will they think of our news broadcasts, our magazines? Will they wonder with amused minds how our age insisted on showing only real-life or depressing shows at ten o'clock, when the people of our time are trying to go to sleep? That an entire legal system of the most powerful tribe of the era focused around a tryst between their leader and a stenographer? It will be interesting. I hope they find my DNA and bring me back for a look.

"Ninchula, look at this!"


"What kind of people could they have been, to believe in such things as DNA? That the world revolves around an imprinted code in every cell of their bodies?"

"What are bodies?"

"Did you retinate through the entire Ancient History module?"

"Doesn't everyone?"

"Not me. This stuff is fascinating. How could people have survived thinking like that?"

"I honestly don't care. Let's get moving. We're going to be late for church."

July 15, 1998

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Little Nod for The Little Sleep

Now and then I've got to tout a book I've read and loved, and when it's from a friend, even better. Paul Tremblay's first novel is called The Little Sleep, and in all honesty this has to be a record for me, how quickly I read this book. One of those stories I was sad that it had finished.

In short, South Boston private investigaor Mark Genevich gets a new case. Problem is, he spends quite a few chapters trying to figure out who hired him and what was said, since he was asleep at the time. Genevich is a narcoleptic, a condition which causes you to fall asleep anytime, anywhere. Problem is, you might still be functioning and speaking in the waking world while this goes on, as when Genevich gets his assignment. Sounds like a premise for a humorous novel, but in reality it's not. There's quite a lot of dark humor in it, and the character - who narrates the book in traditional first-person – is rather self-depricating at times. However you hurt with the character far more often than laugh at him, and this is deliberate by the author. Even so, I found myself laughing out loud very often, mostly due to the clever dialogue and sharp writing. The case, as its nature more and more hits home to Genevich, is unqiue enough on its own without everything else thrown in, including times when the character wakes up after an action-packed scene and is never quite sure - and so neither are you, as the reader - what was real and what wasn't. In the end, it really didn't matter.
Nice job, Paul. I'm glad to hear the next book in this series is underway. Can't wait for it.....

Monday, June 15, 2009

Nice Review of Solomon's Grave at Shroud Magazine

Shroud Magazine's book reviewer Kevin Lucia has a nice review of Solomon's Grave posted on the magazine's website. This is the first "official" review of the book since it was released this year (not counting the Amazon reviews and some nice blog / word of mouth compliments). It'll also be appearing in a future issue of the magazine itself. Thanks for the nice words, Kevin!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Princeton Library Reading / Signing a Success

Thanks to everyone who came out for my reading / signing for Solomon's Grave at the Princeton library. We had a great crowd, and people didn't seem to bored with my reading skills. I tried to keep it short. We talked about some aspects of writing, both in general and for the book, and I even read a passage from the German edition. Thanks again for everyone who came, and I hope you enjoy the reading!
PS: this picture is stolen from another website - I couldn't have Janet take pictures because Amanda has the camera with her in DC (if she didn't drop it over the edge during the harbor cruise, that is...) :-)

Monday, June 08, 2009

Saturday's Other Big Event

It was quite a weekend in the family to be sure. As you saw last entry, Andrew graduated from high school Saturday, and now we rock and bump through a busy summer as we prepare both for him to start college and my daughter Amanda to begin high school.

And on the Amanda-news front, Saturday wasn't just graduation day, it was also annual Dance Recital day. Amanda is 14, and has been dancing with the same studio since she was 3. I've been scouring my electronic-everything trying to find a blog entry (before the term blog was ever heard of) where I talked about her first recital. Can't find it, someday I will, promise...

This year, Amanda's been doing not only a number of group dances, but also a Duo and a Solo! And she danced and twirled and was just so good. Janet said it best, When you look at Amanda's face while she dances, it's so obvious how much she loves what she's doing so it makes you love watching her all the more.

Then, at the end of the night, the woman who started the studio and has run it for 25 years (OK, I was trying to keep things anonymous, but the name's on Amanda's shirt I realized as I proof this, so let's just say Chickee, shall we?) gives one award out, for Most Progressive Student, a monstrous trophy to the dancer who has displayed the most advancement during the year. Each recital, you can see the hope in every girl's eye as the winner is about to be announced, and of course Amanda took home the trophy this year (along with one other, very much deserving dancer, Chickee's daughter Ariana).

It was such a big moment for Amanda and all of us. But even better, her dad was finally able to see her dancing after a year of competitions when I stayed home with the other kids and Janet traveled with her state-to-state.

We're very proud of you, Amanda, and always will be. Congratulations.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Signing at Princeton Library, June 11th, 7:00 pm

I'll be doing a brief reading from Solomon's Grave, followed by a signing, at the Princeton (MA) public library on
Thursday, June 11th
7:00 - 8:00 pm.

If you're in the area, I'd love to see you.In case you want MapQuest it, the address is
2 Town Hall Drive
Princeton MA 01541

Thursday, June 04, 2009

I'm going to be on Television all this month

Special thanks to Zita Christian and the crew of Page 1: The Show for Writers with the Reader in Mind, a public access television show for which I was interviewed this past Tuesday night in Connecticut. We talked about the New England Horror Writers, and of course Solomon's Grave. The time flew by, but it was a really fun time. No idea how well I did in the interview. They seemed to think it went well.

Page 1 is shown every Thursday, and mine will be repeated all throughout the month of June. The following are the broadcast areas for the show (check your local listings for time and channel).

Cox Cable / Manchester CT franchise: Manchester, South Windsor, Glastonbury, Rocky Hill, Wethersfield, Newington
Cox Cable / Enfield CT franchise: Enfield, East Windsor, Windsor Locks, Granby, East Granby, Sommers, Suffield, Hartland, Union, Stafford, Stafford Springs
Cox Cable / Cheshire CT franchise: Cheshire, Meriden, Southington
Charter Communications / Northeastern CT franchise: Ashford, Brooklyn, Canterbury, Chaplin, Columbia, Coventry, Eastford, Hampton, Lebanon, Mansfield, Pomfret, Scotland, Thompson, Willington, Windham, Woodstock
Comcast / Hartford: Longmeadow Community Television / Longmeadow, MA
Metrocast: Central Village, Danielson, Dayville, East Killingly, East Lyme, Griswold, Montville, Moosup, New London, Niantic, Oakdale, Oneco, Plainfield, Putnam, Quaker Hill, Rogers, Sterling, Uncasville, Waterford, Wauregan

Friday, May 15, 2009

Plague of Darkness German edition - new cover art

A quick detour from my pathetic attempt at promoting Solomon's Grave (though I have an idea which I'll share with the 2 people that read this blog and everyone on my various lists, a little later).... in keeping with the pattern of Europe buying my work first (someone once called me the David Halsselhoff of Horror) my novel Plague of Darkness is coming out in Germany in September by Otherworld Verlag - it just got a new cover. The title, of course, is Plage der Finsternis, as it's in Deutsche (German), but I like the cover art (neither me nor my editor Michael Krug know for sure what the symbol in the corner means... not yet, we're trying to find out, lol).
Plage already has garnered some major interest by bookstores, thanks to a new distributor who hopes the book's potential success could also carry Das Grab des Salomon to a new audience as well. Here's hoping.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Sig Ep Lives

Last night, I went out to the Chateau in Westborough, MA (special shout out to Andrea, our waitress - I tipped her with a free copy of the book, lol) for a gathering of a bunch of my brothers from the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. Had a terrific time, and it was great to see some guys I literally hadn't seen in near 23 years! Yikes. Special thanks to Boof and Stretch (Ken and Mike) for organizing the impromptu dinner and book signing. A few couldn't make it last minute, but we still had a great crowd: (I'd better go in order of seating so I don't mess up) Craig, Paul, Fran, Jim, Jeff, Scott, Tim and (fratnernity) big brother Dave: I'll make sure it's not another 23 years before I see some of you all again . :-)

Monday, May 04, 2009

Interview now on Fearzone / Coach's Midnight Diner 2

Coach's Midnight Diner: Back from the Dead Edition, containing my short story "Box," is at last out and available for ordering. Click on the name above to check it out on Amazon. This is quite a unique collection of stories. "Box" starts it out, as well, as the Editor's Choice Award entry.

L.L. Soares's interview with me was immediately picked up by a major horror news site and now can be found at Fearzone. The site is updated very regularly so you may have to scroll down a little to find it now.

Friday, May 01, 2009

The Monkey Man Interviews The Monkey Man!

Hey! Good friend and fellow writer L. L. Soares has posted Part One of a two-part interview with me on his blog: ! He had some great questions and let me ramble on in my usual way. (You probably know the Monkey reference for me, but you'd only get it for Lauran if you've been to a convention with him in the past, lol).

Much appreciated, Lauran! Everyone, go check it out....

And while you're there, check out my most recent author photo, taken my my 12-year old daughter Audrey....