Kristi DeMeester’s Beneath Now Available / John Langan’s The Fisherman Wins the Stoker

Happy Book Birthday to Kristi DeMeester, whose debut novel Beneath hits the streets today. If your Walpurgisnacht weekend reading includes Beneath, please help us spread the word by posting a photo on your social media feed, and posting a review at Goodreads and/or Amazon once you’ve finished the book. Here’s just a bit of the critical acclaim Beneath has received so far:

“This novel is going to propel DeMeester onto that list of authors you’ll want to follow.” —John Boden, Ginger Nuts of Horror

“…one of the most upsetting and horrifying tomes of dark fiction in recent memory.” —This Is Horror

Beneath by Kristi DeMeester

“…genuinely shudderworthy […], and the sweaty, gritty Appalachian setting is full of religious fervor and salacious secrets…” —Publishers Weekly

Order your copy of Beneath from Word Horde today, or ask for it by name wherever better books are sold.

And congratulations to John Langan, whose novel The Fisherman took the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Novel at last night’s StokerCon awards ceremony. It was an amazing pack of nominees this year, and an incredible honor just to see The Fisherman nominated. Thank you to everyone who recommended the book. Thank you to everyone who voted.

The Fisherman by John Langan

An Interview with Kristi DeMeester, author of BENEATH

Kristi DeMeester’s debut novel, Beneath, writhes its way to the surface at the end of this month, so our intrepid Sean M. Thompson set out to ask Kristi a few questions in this exclusive Word Horde interview…

How do you think growing up in the South has influenced your work?

Everything runs a bit slower, a bit hotter and more confused in this Southern humidity. That oppressiveness leaked into my fiction. It was around me in the stories my aunt told me about alligators that rose up from the South Georgia swamps to chomp off the meaty legs of small children. Jesus is pervasive in the South, and my childhood was “Christ-haunted.” The devil and evil were real, tangible things during those tender, formative years. It seems like a natural progression to have had both a fascination and aversion to the darker things that lurk in the world and then have that become such an integral part of my writing.

What are the themes you think you come back to the most in your work? Why do you think certain themes resonate with you?

I consistently come back to the relationships between mother and daughters. The idea that it can be predatory. I constantly come back to the idea that loss is something that cannot be explained or healed fully. Here lately, I’ve been writing more and more about things that scare me in real life and that is completely wrapped up in the nonsensical nature of loss.

Do you have any writing rituals you stick to?

Minimum of 500 words per day. Every day. No matter what. Lull or Cities Last Broadcast on repeat.

How do you manage your time between being a mother, working, and writing?

People ask me this a lot, and the honest answer has nothing to do with time management or finding any kind of time I can, but everything to do with how I let things slip through the cracks. My kid probably watches too much television while I’m writing. My house is nowhere near as clean as it could be. I should probably grade essays faster. I forget things a lot. But it’s a weird balance that works for me. I also took a lot of pressure off of myself this year by lowering my daily word count from 1,000 words to only 500.

Is there anything you’d love to write you haven’t done yet?

I’d love to do something more literary, but I cannot bring myself to carve the spooky out of my writing.

Beneath by Kristi DeMeester

How do you feel about snakes?

Terrified of them. TERRIFIED.

Would you say writing a novel takes a lot of faith?

100%. There’s so much time in sitting with that stack of words alone. So much time to self-doubt and wonder if the whole thing isn’t working. It’s one thing to scrap a 5,000 short story. It’s another to have the sudden realization that 50,000 aren’t working. It takes a lot of faith in your belief that you can come to the page, every day, and do the work. It takes a lot of faith to know that’s enough.

Do you like to outline, make it up as you go, or a bit of both?

I don’t usually outline, and the time I tried, the novel died after 7,000 words. I like it best when I can discover as I go, but that also leads to a lot of staring at walls and wishing I was a trust fund baby.

What writers lately have really inspired you? What writers over your life have had the most impact on your work?

Writers lately include Helen Marshall, Kelly Link, Livia Llewellyn, Amelia Gray, Damien Angelica Walters, Lysley Tenorio, Stephen Graham Jones, Paul Tremblay, Joyce Carol Oates, Michael Wehunt, Ramsey Campbell. This list is longer, but I’ll stop there because there are only so many pages in the world.

Over my life is a much more eclectic list. C.S. Lewis, Beverly Cleary, Frances Hodgson Burnett, L.M. Montgomery, R.L. Stine, Stephen King, Shirley Jackson, Christopher Pike, Anne Rice, John Irving, Pat Conroy, William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, Vladimir Nabokov, Edgar Allan Poe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zora Neale Hurston, Emily and Charlotte Bronte, Ray Bradbury.

What’s your favorite swear?

It’s a tie between the old standard “fuck” and “goddammit.”

What’s the hardest part about being a commercial artist?

As in creating content for sale? The constant worry and anxiety that people are going to hate everything I do. The fear of being called a fraud or a hack. You know. The typical.

Do you think being completely complacent is the death knell of progression in art?

I think being uncomfortable or at least uneasy with your work is what keeps you moving forward. It’s like a musician who puts out album after album of songs that sound exactly the same. Eventually, people stop paying attention. It’s the same for fiction.

KRISTI DeMEESTER writes pretty, spooky things in Atlanta, Georgia. Her work has appeared in publications such as Black Static, Apex Magazine, The Dark, and several others. Her work has been reprinted in Year’s Best Weird Fiction Volumes 1 and 3. Her debut short fiction collection, Everything That’s Underneath, is forthcoming this year from Apex Publications. In her spare time, she alternates between telling people how to pronounce her last name and how to spell her first. Beneath is her first novel.

Preorder Beneath today!

Wiking Wednesday with Christine Morgan

Christine Morgan’s Viking-themed collection The Raven’s Table is out now and getting rave reviews. Publishers Weekly calls it “an excellent read for those who enjoy myths and legends of all kinds.” GreyDogTales says “The Raven’s Table is a must-have for anyone with an interest in stories based on Nordic mythology and lore.” Which got us thinking about the collection’s ties to the legends and history that inspired its stories. The stuff that goes deeper than D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths and Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology. So we asked Christine to tell us about the influences behind her stories. Here’s what she had to say…

Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon series

A chance find at the library first got me going on these books. I’d taken to checking out audio books on CD for my work commute, usually a half-hour each way at that point, and for longer drives. I spotted The Pale Horseman (which turned out to be the second in the series) and thought I’d give it a try.

And, wow. Never looked back. The combination of fantastic story and an amazing reader just took me away. One line in a fight scene, one phrase about “the sucking backwash of the blood-touched water” … yeah. I will never forget. The way it was written, the way it was read, bam. I got goosebumps just listening to it. I knew then, that was what I wanted to do.

Bernard Cornwell was familiar to me because of the Sharpe’s books, of course, but I’d never gotten into them all that much (though, cinematically, they do mark one of the rare occasions where Sean Bean’s character gets to survive). I’ve since given various of his other titles a try as well, the Arthurian and Grail Quest ones, and they’re all right, but it’s the Saxon stuff all the way for me.

They’re now billed on his official site as The Last Kingdom series, no doubt to coincide with the BBC television adaptation (very much recommended; some changes from the books but it has the right look, the right feel, handles the political and religious complexities well, and the guy who portrays Alfred in particular does an incredible job)

http://www.bernardcornwell.net/

Nancy Marie Brown

I don’t remember exactly how I discovered her work. Social media, maybe. Or a link here, a link there. However it happened, I’m just so glad it did! She does fantastic non-fiction digging into the history behind the history, presenting it in a very personable, readable way.

Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths looks at the life of Snorri Sturlson, who collected and compiled most of the sagas we still know today. Kind of like the Brothers Grimm of Viking stories. We also get in-depth looks at medieval Iceland, its society and laws, the heart and hardiness of the entire culture.

The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman shows the feminine perspective and how those early ladies were just as tough in their way, if not tougher, than the menfolk. Gudrid not only left home to cross an unknown sea to homestead in a new world, she did so while having a baby along the way.

Ivory Vikings: The Mystery of the Most Famous Chessmen in the World and the Woman Who Made Them … I realized I’d had on my gift/wish list but hadn’t gotten, so just ordered it as a birthday present for myself. Those little carved game pieces, for hneftafl or just tafl, are right up there with dragonships and hammer amulets as iconic Viking images. Looking forward to learning more about them!

In addition to these excellent books, Nancy Brown does about the coolest field trip in the whole world … every year, she leads an Icelandic excursion where people ride on those shaggy little horses and see the rugged countryside the way Vikings did. Some day, despite me being a terrible miserable whinerbaby of a camper who can’t rough it worth beans, this is something I’d still love to do.

http://nancymariebrown.blogspot.com/

Professor Michael D.C. Drout

Oh, here we go again, Christine gushes and fangirls over Professor Drout … but, can you blame me? He’s THE go-to guy for Old and Middle English, Anglo-Saxon, Tolkien, Chaucer, King Alfred, Beowulf, medieval history and literature, language and rhetoric, and of course Vikings!

This time, though, I’ll limit myself to two of the more pertinent Modern Scholar courses:

The Anglo-Saxon World — you’ll never forget the timeline again with his handy MCGVR mnemonic! And his enthusiasm *almost* makes me forgive that 2007 Beowulf film. Almost.

The Norsemen: Vikings and their Culture — raiders, or traders? How about both? Their ships, their weapons and technology, mythology, adventure, society and spirit!

http://michaeldrout.com/

The Viking Answer Lady

One of the sites I keep bookmarked, and my first stop when I’m browsing for character name ideas or looking for info on Viking fashion, food, and daily life.

http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/

GURPS Vikings

Maybe it’s weird that my gaming shelf doubles as an ever-ready reference section, but it does, and various sourcebooks for GURPS from Steve Jackson Games make up the most of it.

I started gaming when I was fourteen, and what I find most useful about books like this is, well, most of the same kind of stuff you’re looking for in story writing is the kind of stuff you need to run a decent campaign.

You need details on everyday life, on money and food and clothing and weapons. You need history and religion, beliefs about magic. You need stuff on medicine and treatment of injuries. You need maps, timelines, names. Conveniently organized, laid out with tables and sidebars and interesting factoids is also a plus.

And hey, game books do that. I’ve found the GURPS crew to be overall very good at presenting useful information and overviews, giving a good sense of the era or location.

http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/books/Vikings/

Get in touch with your inner Viking. Order Christine Morgan’s The Raven’s Table today!

(And a big shout-out to our Viking models, Mara and Stone!)

Word Horde Wins in Three Categories in the 2016 This Is Horror Awards

This morning, the 2016 This Is Horror Awards were announced, and we at Word Horde are proud to have received awards in three categories:

THIS IS HORROR PUBLISHER OF THE YEAR 2016

Word Horde

“Thank you for selecting Word Horde as This is Horror’s Publisher of the Year for the second year in a row. We are honored by your recognition of our hard work and commitment to publishing awesome authors. We plan to celebrate by continuing to publish books that challenge the status quo and tell irresistible, human stories.”
—Ross E. Lockhart, Word Horde Publisher & Editor-in-Chief

THIS IS HORROR NOVEL OF THE YEAR 2016

The Fisherman by John Langan

The Fisherman, by John Langan

“I’m thrilled and humbled that the voters have selected The Fisherman as Novel of the Year. To have been nominated alongside the other novels in this category was already an honor, and the ballot as a whole is a reminder of the talent flourishing in the horror field. I’m grateful to everyone who sat down with my book and gave it a chance, and I’m thankful to everyone who cast a vote for it. The Fisherman owes its publication to Ross Lockhart, for which, many, many thanks. It owes its composition to my lovely wife, Fiona, for which all, all of my love.”
—John Langan, author of The Fisherman

THIS IS HORROR SHORT STORY COLLECTION OF THE YEAR 2016

Furnace by Livia Llewellyn

Furnace, by Livia Llewellyn

“In twelve years of writing, this is the first award I’ve ever won—I am absolutely thrilled! Thank you to This is Horror and to everyone who voted for me, and to Word Horde Press for publishing the collection. I promise I won’t go mad with my new award powers—or I can, if that’s what everyone wants. Either way works for me.”
—Livia Llewellyn, author of Furnace

Congratulations to all the winners! Check out the full list of winners and their statements at this link.

The Raven’s Table lands today!

The Raven’s Table lands today! Christine Morgan’s collection of Viking-themed stories has been unleashed onto the world. So join us in a toast: Skål!

We do hope you’ll pick up a copy of The Raven’s Table. Here’s just some of the praise it’s received so far.

“These works have the sure, solid feel of a talented author deeply engaged with her source material and genre. They’re an excellent read for those who enjoy myths and legends of all kinds.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Viking fans, gamers, and lovers of dark fantasy and mythic-style horror will find a lot to enjoy here.” —Fantasy Literature

The Raven’s Table is a must-have for anyone with an interest in stories based on Nordic mythology and lore.” —GreyDogTales

Order The Raven’s Table today!

John Langan’s The Fisherman nominated for the Bram Stoker Award

John Langan’s stunning novel The Fisherman has been nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Novel. Congratulations, John! Thanks to all the H.W.A. members and Stoker jurors who recommended The Fisherman, and congratulations to all the nominees. Read the full ballot at this link.

Experience The Fisherman for yourself! Order today!

Coming in 2017 from Word Horde

We’ve got some great books on tap for you in 2017, starting with Christine Morgan’s The Raven’s Table, a collection of Viking-themed stories that Publishers Weekly calls “an excellent read for those who enjoy myths and legends of all kinds.”

The Raven's Table by Christine Morgan

The Raven’s Table is available for pre-order now, and will be shipping later this month, but here’s a preview of what else is coming this year:

Coming April 2017

Beneath, by Kristi DeMeester

When reporter Cora Mayburn is assigned to cover a story about a snake-handling cult in rural Appalachia, she is dismayed, for the world of cruel fundamentalist stricture, repression, glossolalia, and abuse is something she has long since put behind her in favor of a more tolerant urban existence. But she accepts the assignment, dredging up long-buried memories as she seeks the truth.

As Cora begins to uncover the secrets concealed by a veneer of faith and tradition, something ancient and long concealed begins to awaken. What secrets do the townsfolk know? What might the handsome young pastor be hiding? What will happen when occulted horrors writhe to the surface, when pallid and forgotten things rise to reclaim the Earth?

Will Cora—and the earth—survive? The answers—and pure terror—can only be found in one place: Beneath.

Coming June 2017

An Augmented Fourth, by Tony McMillen

Black Sabbath meets John Carpenter’s The Thing in An Augmented Fourth, the new novel from Tony McMillen (Nefarious Twit).

Coming August 2017

She Said Destroy, by Nadia Bulkin

Word Horde presents the debut collection from critically-acclaimed Weird Fiction author Nadia Bulkin. Dreamlike, poignant, and unabashedly socio-political, She Said Destroy includes three stories nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award, four included in Year’s Best anthologies, and one original tale.

Coming October 2017

Tales from a Talking Board, edited by Ross E. Lockhart

Can we speak with the spirits of the dead? Is it possible to know the future? What effect do auspicious omens and cautionary portents have upon our lives?

Tales from a Talking Board examines these questions with stories of divination and fortune telling, through devices like Ouija boards, tarot cards, and stranger things.

Watch for cover reveals and pre-order information coming soon!

The Word Horde Interview with Christine Morgan, author of The Raven’s Table

Christine Morgan’s viking-themed collection The Raven’s Table will be landing later this month, so our intrepid interviewer, Sean M. Thompson, sat down to compose a few questions…

The Raven's Table by Christine Morgan

What was it about Vikings that first drew you into them? Can you remember what the first story about them you wrote was?

CM: I’d been a mythology nut, particularly for the Greek myths, since I was a kid. As a teenager, I got into roleplaying games and fantasy. I also really liked pirates and tall ships. Each of those things were each great on their own but none quite managed to hit the perfect sweet spot of overlap. Vikings, however, had all the elements I craved, with the bonuses of rich language and sometimes over the top descriptions. The first Viking story I wrote was also the first one I sold, and kicks off The Raven’s Table… “The Barrow-Maid,” which originally appeared in History is Dead.

What would you do if Odin was real, and you happened to meet him?

CM: Hopefully, recognize him without immediately letting on that I knew, engage him in conversation, use my wits and word-wiles to persuade him I was a person of interest, and then try to get the whole entire grand tour. During which, I’d glean as much information as I could about the myths and stories that have been lost to us since the Viking age. And maybe ask him who actually did write Beowulf.

How did you first get in touch with Word Horde?

CM: I knew Ross from way back, before he began Word Horde, through various conventions and anthology calls and other small presses. When he was at Night Shade, he lobbied really hard to have one of my earlier books taken on, and even though it didn’t work out, neither of us had ever forgotten it. Then, at some event or another I happened to mention a Viking novel I was working on (currently back-burnered for other projects but I really want to get back to it) and he perked right up, so when I realized I had enough Viking stories to my credit to make up a collection, I decided to bounce the idea off him.

How do you think the environment you grew up in has shaped your work?

CM: Heh, until age 18 I lived in the high deserts of Southern California, so there certainly wasn’t much in the way of environmental influence there. Except it did create in me this craving for trees and water and cool weather, which eventually brought me to the Pacific Northwest. Which still isn’t Norway or Denmark or England, but has enough similarities to satisfy.

What are your ties to the bizarro community?

CM: Chosen family, closer than blood. I love the Bizarros. In a way, now that I think of it, they’ve got kind of a Viking spirit among them … there are rules, but there’s also a fierce independence, a value on merit and deed, a warrior’s bond. Besides, they write some of the most amazing stuff! People may think it’s only just calculated outrageousness, tawdry sleaze and tacky crudity for shock value and offense, but I’ve found a level of erudite intelligence and genius in the bizarro community that I’ve never encountered anywhere else.

What’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened to you at your job?

CM: I have been, in my 25+ years of working residential psych, incredibly lucky in that department. I’ve had coworkers who were physically attacked on the job; one guy got stabbed in the head with a broken lightbulb. Another coworker was very nearly sexually assaulted, and then further given the victim-blame treatment by our own supervisors and agency who were supposed to have her back. Me personally, I’ve been yelled at a lot, sometimes threatened, sworn at in some pretty inventive ways, but that’s been about it. Knock on wood.

You’ve written in a lot of genres. Why do you think that is?

CM: I started out writing fantasy because of my roleplaying game hobby, but even then I was a big horror reader. I’d go to fantasy and sci fi conventions, even be on panels, and more often than not, the other panelists would be talking about books I hadn’t even read. Then I got into writing fanfiction (shhh don’t tell, shameful secret under my own name for decades now) and smut, which got me exploring other types of setting than your basic traditional fantasy, and made me confident enough to try writing horror. From there, I’ve kept on trying new things; I love the challenges of themed anthology calls, for instance. But, ultimately, I tend to gravitate toward historical horror and dark fantasy.

What’s your favorite swear?

CM: I’m a big fan of the classics, but, my current go-to when I am particularly exasperated is “Loki’s goat-tugged NUTSACK!” Which, admittedly, sometimes gets looks.

What’s your favorite food?

CM: Ice cream with crunchy or chewy stuff in. Rocky road, cookie dough, candy pieces, cheesecake bits, that kind of thing.

Sword or axe?

CM: Given my shoulder and upper back nerve damage issues from some past surgeries, I know I’d be pathetic with an axe, or a big sword. But, a short, sturdy, stabbing-blade like a seax or gladius? That’d be much more my speed. If, that is, I wasn’t also a squeamish wuss. The first time anybody’s blood splurted out on me, I’d freak out.

Favorite animal?

CM: My favorite would be various varieties of cat; I only half-joke that I’m training to become a crazy cat lady. I currently have four, plus carry a baggie of kitty treats in my purse for neighbor cats I meet while out and about. Big cats, like leopards, especially snow leopards … lynxes … love them. But the animal I most identify with would have to be the raccoon. Nocturnal, waddly, bottom-heavy, clever, nimble-fingered, fastidious handwasher, often misunderstood.

Do you think if a Raven could read your upcoming collection, it would like it?

CM: I certainly hope so, and if it’s Huginn or Muninn, hey, put in a good word with the big boss, pretty please?

What’s next for Christine Morgan?

CM: Well, let’s see … I will have two other, very different books also coming out this year — Spermjackers From Hell, a succubus-summoning-gone-wrong; and White Death, a frontier blizzard novel based partly on actual events but with added snow monsters. I also edit the Fossil Lake anthologies, the fourth of which — SHARKASAURUS! — will be out in hopefully February maybe March. I’ve got stories coming up in several anthologies. Plus, I want to write my Medusa-smut novella to follow up my previous Minotaur-smut one … and there’s still that Viking novel on the back burner … and two books in a psychic detective series I need to edit and submit … and a sort of hard to classify one about a widow and her kids who go to live with her father-in-law, who’s part of a village of way too dedicated medieval living history types, which I also need to edit and resubmit because it was previously published for like two days before the company folded. So, a lot hanging over my head that I should finish up, but in the meantime there keep being all these tempting new anthology calls and invites!

Preorder Christine’s The Raven’s Table today!

Get Ready to Ragnarok with Christine Morgan’s The Raven’s Table

Our first book of 2017, Christine Morgan’s Viking-themed collection The Raven’s Table, just received a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly. “These original stories of Viking adventure ring with historical glory and drama, rising and falling in the rhythms of legends and myths passed down over the generations. Thriller and fantasy author Morgan (Murder Girls) taps into the power of fireside tales in a collection that is steeped in tradition and yet completely fresh. […] These works have the sure, solid feel of a talented author deeply engaged with her source material and genre. They’re an excellent read for those who enjoy myths and legends of all kinds.” Read the full review at this link.

The Raven's Table by Christine Morgan

Listen…

The furious clangor of battle. The harrowing singing of steel. The desperate cries of wounded animals. The gasps of bleeding, dying men. The slow, deep breathing of terrible things–trolls, giants, draugr–waiting in the darkness. The wolf’s wind howling, stalking like death itself. The carrion-crows, avaricious and impatient, circling the battle-ground, the Raven’s Table.

Listen

The skald’s voice, low, canting, weaving tales of fate and heroism, battle and revelry. Of gods and monsters, and of the women and men that stand against them. Of stormy Scandinavian skies and settlements upon strange continents. Of mead-hall victories, funeral pyres, dragon-prowed ships, and gold-laden tombs. Of Ragnarok. Of Valhalla.

For a decade, author Christine Morgan’s Viking stories have delighted readers and critics alike, standing apart from the anthologies they appeared in. Now, Word Horde brings you The Raven’s Table, the first-ever collection of Christine Morgan’s Vikings, from “The Barrow-Maid” to “Aerkheim’s Horror” and beyond. These tales of adventure, fantasy, and horror will rouse your inner Viking.

Preorder The Raven’s Table today!

In other news, we are quite pleased to see John Langan’s The Fisherman and Livia Llewellyn’s Furnace on the Locus Recommended Reading List, alongside a bunch of other great books. Check out the full list at this link.

And we also note that author Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley died on this day in 1851. Check out our tribute to her: Eternal Frankenstein.

Vote Word Horde

As we mentioned a few weeks ago, it’s Awards Season in the genre fiction community. This is your chance to suggest, nominate, and vote for your favorite books of the year. And if a 2016 Word Horde title made your list of favorites, we’d like to encourage you to suggest, nominate, and vote for it in the appropriate venues.

IMG_8130

Last year, we were honored with wins in the Anthology of the Year (Cthulhu Fhtagn!) and Publisher of the Year categories of the This Is Horror Awards. This year, the This Is Horror Awards have recognized Word Horde in five categories:

Nominated for the 2016 This Is Horror Award for Novel of the Year:
The Fisherman, John Langan

Nominated for the 2016 This is Horror Award for Short Story Collection of the Year:
Furnace, Livia Llewellyn
The Lure of Devouring Light, Michael Griffin

Nominated for the 2016 This is Horror Award for Anthology of the Year:
Eternal Frankenstein, edited by Ross E. Lockhart

Nominated for the 2016 This is Horror Award for Publisher of the Year:
Word Horde

We’d like to encourage you to visit the This Is Horror Awards website and VOTE for your favorite books of 2016. It only takes an email!

Another prestigious award that has just opened up for nominations is the David Gemmell Award for Fantasy. Please consider dropping by their website and nominating John Langan’s The Fisherman for The Legend Award for best fantasy novel. We’d love to see John win an axe. And once again, it only takes an email!