My Twitter feed indicates that posting WorldCon schedules is très chic at the moment. Ever passionate about maintaining lock-step with industry expectations, I present my own schedule for your amusement:
8:30 PM, August 29 (Thursday): Ghost-walking Tour of San Antonio – Really, is this much of a surprise? I wrote two books about paranormal things in the Old West. It would be terribly out-of-character for me to miss the opportunity to learn more about the history and hauntings of classic Old West locales.
7:00 PM, August 31 (Saturday): Drinks with Authors – I like drinks. I am an author. Much like the ghost tour, this one seemed pretty natural.
As far as formal events go, that’s it. I plan to spend some time around the Angry Robot table, so you might catch me there if you’ve a mind to. Sightings may also occur at panels and/or readings featuring other AR authors. Why did I not volunteer for any panels, readings, or signings myself? Well, I aim to relax on this trip. See friends, get drunk, eat notable amounts of steak and Tex/Mex. I’m still attending in my capacity as an author, but as a very lazy one.
Also, I will have calculus homework to do.
While all of the elite publish-y people are nobhobbing each other with martinis and beards at BEA, I will be holding forth in the Mile-High City at Denver Comic Con. Yes, this has been previously addressed, but now I have the full and complete outline of my time:
-The Weird Wild West (hosted by Denver Public Library): 3:00 – 3:50 PM; Room 105
-Steam and Gears: 5:00 – 5:50 PM; Room 107
-Mash-ups and Genres: 3:00 – 3:50 PM; Room 102
-Horror and Dark Fiction: 7:00 – 7:50 PM; Room 102
If you’re at the con and haven’t made plans for those days and times, please drop in so you can watch me sit at a table and mumble. Hope to see you there!
The four Alden children have failed me yet again. Their worthless husks notwithstanding, I return once again for a long overdue update. It will not be lengthy, alas, but surely you’ve come to expect this by now.
Anyway, the biggest update is that I will be appearing on a Weird West panel at Denver Comic Con this coming Friday (May 31) at 3:00. One of the first panels at the con, which probably means we won’t have a huge audience, but it frees me up to follow George Takei around and perhaps bear witness to the coming of The Shat. Besides, I’d rather not have an audience of thousands for my first panel; the experience will be intimidating enough without half of fandom staring at my stupid face. Many thanks to the folks at the Denver Public Library for offering me the chance to participate!
So yeah, that’s the big news. I’ve also booked my flight out to WorldCon in San Antonio this August, so hopefully I’ll see some of you there. Perhaps we will achieve a special sort of oneness as we all melt into a collective puddle under the Texan summer sun. Lastly, I’m hoping to blog with greater frequency now that the semester has ended. I wasn’t in school this time, but there was enough going on at work to drain me of all non-essential life force. My ice-beam-and-missile combo has sent it packing, though, so you might just see more of me in the near future.
There’s something decidedly unromantic about experiencing personal milestones from inside a cluttered university office. Student emails and visiting faculty itineraries have a nasty habit of interrupting the lovely messages from friends about the release of my second novel. The big revelry planned for the day She Returns From War hits bookstore shelves both physical and virtual is to have pizza for lunch instead of my usual ham sandwich.
Granted, celebrating a release day at home in my underwear probably wouldn’t be all that romantic, either. There will be an official release party in the near future, but I learned from The Dead of Winter‘s release to avoid scheduling such things in the middle of the week. Midweek parties have limited available drinking time.
So what are my thoughts on this, the day of my second book’s release? Decidedly different than those of October 30, 2012. I feel like I’ve been traveling through a long, dark tunnel since that day. Some of this tunnel was undoubtedly carved from the cold, uncaring granite of the depression I discussed awhile back, and another stretch was fashioned from the frenetic pace of the past three months. Thus, where The Dead of Winter‘s release was greeted with the exhalation of a long-held breath, She Returns From War feels more akin to getting a surprise visit from an old friend.
Social oaf that I am, unexpected visits are usually greeted with emotions bearing little resemblance to enthusiasm, but Cora and Victoria showing up on my doorstep merited an exception. Cora’s not exactly one to be refused, anyway, and it was a brief visit. After getting into my rum and berating me for not being man enough to own a gun, she stormed out with the bewildered Englishwoman in tow. Her destination was a mystery at first, but I now conclude that they must have made their way to Toronto. Why Toronto, you ask? To that I have no answer, but they seem to have left an impression at The World’s Biggest Bookstore:
My chuffery (or is it chuffedness?) swelled to near bursting when I saw the above. Being a featured author in a famous bookstore thousands of miles away is something I didn’t anticipate ever happening to me. I also completed an interview with them, which you can see in the picture (it’s the two pages on either side of the books). The interview will go live on the Internet tomorrow for your enjoyment. Many thanks to Jessica and company for setting all of this up!
So, while this release event wasn’t quite as much of a hullabaloo as the first, it will still remain an marked occasion. From here, however, the path ahead is unclear.
I quit reading the exploits of Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny somewhere between #20 and #30 in the series. Wikipedia tells me there are over 100 titles now, which makes me very curious in a lazy sort of way. I honestly can’t imagine the most placid of authors getting that far in the series without kicking the shit out of Benny at least once. Maybe that’s why the series has multiple contributors. Anyway, even with so many new mysteries to their name, I doubt the four intrepid Alden children would have found much meat in solving what happened to an author who quit posting on his blog the very same day his first book launched.
This is somewhat disappointing, especially when you consider that Violet was my first book crush. Alas, such young love often goes unrequited, and we push onward. Still, I will take this opportunity to be childishly vindictive and spoil the mystery just so no future royalties can be made at my expense.
Where was I these past two months? The answer, dear reader, is quite simple: I stepped out into the author superhighway and got creamed by a truck. A truck carrying a locomotive made entirely out of unhappy thoughts.
Depression is something I’ve fought my whole life. The intensity fluctuates dramatically and without warning, but rarely has it hit so hard and stayed so long. Most of my energy and willpower was reassigned to maintaining status quo at the day job and helping Tori with her post-graduation job hunt, leaving precious little for anything other than the basest of activities (in my case, Skyrim). Until I discover the secret of using liquor as a catalyst to convert a tsunami of depression into a literary masterpiece, I don’t have much choice but to ride out the wave and hope the damage isn’t too bad.
I’m hoping the worst of it is behind me for now so I can get back to actually doing things. Barring that, I could do worse than splitting my time between Tamriel and Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny. Yes, my means of self-medication are pretty lame.
Every now and again, Pandora’s selection algorithm gives perfect voice to the screaming inside my head. It’s rare, but much like an alien abduction during a solar eclipse, it can and does happen. I suppose it’s only appropriate that it happened today of all days.
I’ve been stewing about today for months. Ever since I got word from Angry Robot that my debut novel would hit the (North American) streets on this date, it has been fixed in my mind as a Rubicon of authorly fate. Once today rolled around, everything would be different. My life as an unpublished novelist would be over. Now that today is here, I can go into a bookstore, point to Chris McGrath’s cover art, and claim the words behind it as mine. People might even pay money to read those words, and some of that money might find its way to me. Citizens of the United States or Canada can pick up that book and read it. Those words–my words–may have an impact on them, whether that impact be amusement, sadness, anger, distaste, fear, or just plain entertainment. Not everyone will like it. Not everyone has. Some people will love it. My novel’s exposure is now only limited by language barrier; anyone who can read English may come across it, read it, and form an opinion.
I’m not really sure how I feel about that.
Prevalent wisdom says fuck that noise. I should just write what I want to write, and to hell with what anyone else thinks. To a large extent, I’ve already done that. Weird Westerns aren’t exactly a guaranteed hit, but they’re what I wanted to write. I don’t regret a single moment spent writing The Dead of Winter or She Returns From War. Sure, they aren’t perfect, but I’m damn proud of them. That feeling of accomplishment, of having reached a milestone in life that few attain, is impervious; nothing anyone says can mar that. No matter what else happens in my life, no matter where I find myself doing, no matter how much I hate it, I still got a fucking book published.
On the other hand, I got a fucking book published. That means that anyone at all can judge its merits using whatever standard they see fit. They are free to loathe everything I’ve accomplished and possibly my existence for bringing my books into the world in the first place. That kind of exposure leaves me feeling, well, exposed. I’ve lived on the Internet long enough to understand the tendency of people to be shitheads, but now I’m a possible target for that shitheadery. Despite my cool affectation, I’m as human as anybody else. If my books receive overwhelmingly negative responses, I’m not sure how that will impact me. That uncertainty lends a good deal of apprehension to today’s celebratory mood. Then again, so did the giant wolf spider that watched me shower this morning.
All that to say, I found it extremely appropriate that Pandora chose to open my work day with Nightwish’s Ghost Love Score followed by The Black Mages performing Seymour’s fight theme. The two songs played back-to-back made for a nice auditory expression of the various emotions vying for control of my thoughts.
If you’re interested in contributing to my visceral maelstrom, you may do so by picking up a copy of The Dead of Winter straight from the source and passing your own judgment.
Today, I will be making some recommendations for entertainment. In keeping with the spirit of the local deciduous flora, these recommendations will focus on the temporary nature of all known life and the hideous deaths that await us all at the end. Suggested consumption of these various titles includes occasions of depression, hopelessness, and Hallowe’en parties. Also, despite the various media represented on this list, I expect full participation.
R-Point: Classic Korean horror set during the Vietnam War, this movie has fantastic atmospherics and an interesting take on the “vengeful ghost” trope. While there is a long-haired girl in a white dress, she isn’t the only confused, eerie presence to haunt the Korean soldiers deployed to the titular location. Such things must be expected from a mournful bog that collects the souls of the dead like raindrops.
A Tale of Two Sisters: Yes, Korea has put out some absolutely top-notch horror films in its time. This one delves deep into the confusion and paranoia of psychosis with singularly-disturbing visuals and a fevered pallor. In the years since my first viewing, it still remains among my top horror films of all time.
The Eye: You probably remember seeing ads for the American remake of this one with Jessica Alba. While decent, the original film by the Pang brothers outshines its progeny. In what some may call a Chinese take on The Sixth Sense, the protagonist learns that not all of the people she sees are there in the strictest sense. Free of Shyamalan’s pathological need for a twist, however, this film focuses on the absolutely terrifying aspects of such an ability.
Rule of Rose (PS2): A true masterpiece of psychological exploration. Sure, Silent Hill 2 had dead-wife-something-something-dong-headed-guy-raping-mannequins going for it, but Rule of Rose braves the fear, cruelty, and jealousy of childhood while making you battle fish-headed orphans and vomit-spewing mermaids. Also, it is a rare horror title that comes equipped with an honest-to-God, I-shouldn’t-be-crying-this-much-over-a-game ending.
Kuon (PS2): A lesser-known title, this game utilizes two separate characters to tell the story of a priest gone mad with power. Set in feudal Japan, you must explore a sprawling mansion for clues to mysterious disappearances. Unlike Rule of Rose, the protagonists have decent arsenals to deploy when confronted with spirits and monsters, but the game is no less frightening for your exorcismal powers. Running isn’t an option, either, as it attracts very unpleasant attention.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent (PC): The only PC game to date that I actually had to psych myself up to play. Playing as intended (in the dark with headphones), this immersive, dungeon-crawling fever dream synthesizes the best of Gothic horror with a Lovecraftian sanity system to create panicky, ball-shrinking experience that is not easily forgotten.
Fatal Frame (PS2): Can’t get through a list like this without giving this one a substantial nod. Combat in this game consists of staring at the most terrifying thing in the room until it’s close enough to pluck out your nosehairs, then taking its picture. It may sound simple, but when you’re facing a woman who slithers out of the ceiling to the sound of her choking on her own hair, your underthings tend to get warmer and wetter. Unnerving auras, creepy visuals, and a twisted story make this one of the best survival horror games on any platform.
House of Leaves: I’m not easily frightened by books, which is why this is the only entry in this section. In all my years of reading, the only book to give me actual chills was Mark Danielewski’s convoluted, misshapen debut. Much like Naked Lunch, this book captures everything that terrifies me about the thought of losing my sanity. Some of the worst nightmares of my life were fever dreams when I was a child, and this book revives that feeling of sheer uncomprehending terror.
Now that mine are out of the way, I’m curious: which specific interactions with creative media triggered your Paleolithic survival instincts?