Tag Archives: giallo fantastique

Giallo July

There’s something colorful in the air, things seem super-saturated, and a synthesizer soundtrack just cut in, so we are declaring this month to be Giallo July. To celebrate, we’ve dropped the price of the Giallo Fantastique ebook to just $2.99 (Kindle, Kobo, Nook) for the duration of the month. What’s your favorite shade of horror?

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An anthology of original strange stories at the intersection of crime, terror, and supernatural fiction. Inspired by and drawing from the highly stylized cinematic thrillers of Argento, Bava, and Fulci; American noir and crime fiction; and the grim fantasies of Edgar Allan Poe, Guy de Maupassant, and Jean Ray, Giallo Fantastique seeks to unnerve readers through virtuoso storytelling and startlingly colorful imagery.

Table of Contents:

Introduction – Ross E. Lockhart
Minerva – Michael Kazepis
In the Flat Light – Adam Cesare
Terror in the House of Broken Belles – Nikki Guerlain
The Strange Vice of ZLA-313 – MP Johnson
Sensoria – Anya Martin
The Red Church – Orrin Grey
Balch Creek – Cameron Pierce
Hello, Handsome – Garrett Cook (audio at the link!)
We Can Only Become Monsters – Ennis Drake
The Threshold of Waking Light – E. Catherine Tobler
The Communion of Saints – John Langan
Exit Strategies – Brian Keene

“Lockhart translates giallo fantastique as weird crime, and each story, while very different in style and tone, melds crime and supernatural horror with panache and verve. […] The stories’ conclusions are never definitive, leaving the reader with a delicious sense of lingering unease.” —Publishers Weekly

“A lavish, sumptuous tapestry of luxurious surrealism and strangeness.” –Christine Morgan, The Horror Fiction Review

“…ultimately satisfying, with a few tales that skirt tantalizingly close to brilliance.” –Mer Whinery, Muzzleland Press

Shipping this week: John Langan’s The Fisherman

You’ve enjoyed John Langan’s fiction in numerous anthologies, including The Children of Old Leech and Giallo Fantastique. You devoured his previous novel, House of Windows, and his collections, Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters and The Wide Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies. Now, prepare yourself for a fishing trip unlike any other as Word Horde presents John Langan’s latest novel of cosmic horror, The Fisherman. Available where better books are sold June 30th (ask for it by name!). We will be shipping direct orders of The Fisherman this week. It’s not too late to get your order in.

And while you’re waiting to hook your copy of The Fisherman on your line, check out this brand new interview with John Langan, conducted by Word Horde’s own Sean M. Thompson:

In upstate New York, in the woods around Woodstock, Dutchman’s Creek flows out of the Ashokan Reservoir. Steep-banked, fast-moving, it offers the promise of fine fishing, and of something more, a possibility too fantastic to be true. When Abe and Dan, two widowers who have found solace in each other’s company and a shared passion for fishing, hear rumors of the Creek, and what might be found there, the remedy to both their losses, they dismiss it as just another fish story. Soon, though, the men find themselves drawn into a tale as deep and old as the Reservoir. It’s a tale of dark pacts, of long-buried secrets, and of a mysterious figure known as Der Fisher: the Fisherman. It will bring Abe and Dan face to face with all that they have lost, and with the price they must pay to regain it.

The Fisherman by John Langan

“John Langan’s The Fisherman is literary horror at its sharpest and most imaginative. It’s at turns a quiet and powerfully melancholy story about loss and grief; the impossibility of going on in same manner as you had before. It’s also a rollicking, kick-ass, white-knuckle charge into the winding, wild, raging river of redemption. Illusory, frightening, and deeply moving, The Fisherman is a modern horror epic. And it’s simply a must read.” –Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and Disappearance at Devil’s Rock

The Fisherman is an epic, yet intimate, horror novel. Langan channels M. R. James, Robert E. Howard, and Norman Maclean. What you get is A River Runs through It…Straight to hell.” –Laird Barron, author of X’s for Eyes

Feeling lucky? Take a chance at winning a copy of The Fisherman in our Goodreads Summer Solstice Giveaway, running now through July 4, 2016.

An Interview with E. Catherine Tobler

Sean recently chatted with E. Catherine Tobler, author of the wildly entertaining Folley & Mallory Adventures as well as a number of our favorite short stories. Here’s what transpired.

What do you think the role of genre is in fiction?

I’m not certain what true purpose genre has beyond acting as a guideline for the reader, maybe–though the more I read, the less I’m convinced of “genre,” as bits of one tend to end up in another, and work out perfectly fine. As a writer, the same is true for me; why not use whatever you like in whatever “genre” they think you’re writing?

Tales of Jack the Ripper edited by Ross E. Lockhart

Your story from Tales of Jack the Ripper, what was the genesis of it?

“Once, November,” came pretty easy, because I wanted to take a route I didn’t think anyone else would. I suspected authors would write about the Ripper–and rightly so–but I wanted to explore his victims–who they were even after their violent deaths; I hope I’ve done them justice in some small way.

Do you find that you work quickly, slowly, or a little of both?

It depends entirely on what I’m working on; writers are surely some of the finest procrastinators on the planet. A good work ethic is important to me–maybe it’s doubly important when you’re your own boss. No one is looking over your shoulder, so if you don’t get the work done, the work doesn’t get done. And I can’t stand that. So we get it done–usually ahead of schedule.

Giallo Fantastique edited by Ross E. Lockhart

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever read?

Lately, the daily news. In terms of fiction, I think my answer will change depending on when I’m asked. Presently, I’d say “The Yellow Wallpaper,” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood. Both contain a horror that is timeless–and possibly not much different from the daily news these days…

What’s the longest you’ve ever edited a piece for?

Sometimes, stories don’t come so easily. I had an idea for one that actually took me eleven years to get right–so that’s probably the longest. It wasn’t that I actively edited or pursued it during those years, however. I wrote the draft, and knew it wasn’t right, but the idea of it still wouldn’t leave me alone. So every now and then we’d talk over coffee and see if we learned anything new about each other. Eventually, we came to terms and it sold to a pro market.

What did you enjoy about working with Ross as an editor?

I’ve worked with Ross on two projects now, Tales of Jack the Ripper, and Giallo Fantastique. Both times he was very welcoming and open to whatever this writer wanted to do. Also, his beer reviews and hair are complete perks.

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Got anything to plug?

The Honey Mummy, the third book in the Folley & Mallory Adventures, is out now, with the fourth volume out this coming fall. My circus novel, The Kraken Sea, is out this June from Apex Book Company. Short fiction is soon to appear again in both Interzone and Clarkesworld.

An Interview With Michael Kazepis

Sean M. Thompson recently sat down with King Shot Press head honcho (and helluva writer) Michael Kazepis to ask him a few questions. Here are the results…

What do you think the role of genre is in fiction?

I’m not sure this is a question I can unpack in a way that doesn’t make me feel like a shithead. My view is, I guess, it’s a marketing tool that can become a cage. I’ll leave it at that.

Your story from Giallo Fantastique, “Minerva” is a traditional take on the Giallo genre. What inspired you to write the story?

Is it really a traditional take? I’m seeing this response enough to think I fucked up there—I kept trying to think of ideas reminiscent of giallo that weren’t going to feel like a retread. When Ross invited me to send him something, I was trying hard to figure out a recipe to fake my way in because I’ve always wanted to work with him, and you never know if that invitation comes around again. I mean, yes, I watched Deep Red to figure out some colors to write toward. But that was the extent of my research in the genre. Julio Cortazar’s “Blow-Up” gets riffed heavily. The character of Detective Halkias is a more serious take on Casey from Lloyd Kaufman’s Terror Firmer. I think the cinema sequence was informed by Godard’s Masculin, féminin—that Bergman “film within a film.” Lynch’s Mulholland Drive was also on my mind—I really like its Rubik’s Cube narrative. The Courier’s Tragedy, too. There are lots of scenes like this in literature and film, where the main character sees a performance and it echoes the main story in subtle ways. Here, I thought it’d be kinda funny to have the protagonist, Celia Marrast, watch a stylized snuff film about her brother. Something else is, I originally intended “Minerva” to be set in Rome, but I don’t really know much about Italian culture so I brought the story home to Athens. So that’s why the location is what it is. And you know, the more I think on this question, I guess there really is an overlap between what I did and what’s come before. The failure feels vaguely Borgesian to me. Like, I ended up rewriting Don Quixote word for word, and to me it reads like some other story. I think it took about seven months to walk away from it. I can be a very slow writer. Ross was extraordinary in his patience.

Giallo Fantastique edited by Ross E. Lockhart

What themes do you find yourself coming back to in your work, if any?

Of what I’ve picked up? There are steady patterns of the unreliable witness, ruined cities, coping with parental death, amateur detectives, ghosts, godlessness, some leftist ideas. The struggle to sustain love, which is significantly more difficult than the pursuit of it. Life as a slasher film garnished with surrealism. I’ve been accused of writing all my lead characters as loners and I’ll cop to that.

Do you have any writing rituals?

It used to be that I’d take smoke breaks and long showers as ways of measuring space between writing scenes. I try not to smoke anymore. I don’t have the free time that I used to. Mostly it’s just sit and do this when I can. Coffee during the day. I’ll drink VISO at night because it’s less abrasive than coffee or an energy drink. Sometimes I’ll wake up at 3am and work when it’s quietest in the house. Today, I overslept and felt mostly unproductive. I’ve noticed that if I don’t regularly change up my diet, or where I’m working, I won’t get anything done. I get stir-crazy if everything’s continually the same. Almost four months ago, part of the middle finger of my right hand was crushed hydraulically and hasn’t healed yet—this week I was told the distal phalanx (or, fingertip, in doctor speak) doesn’t seem to be healing with the rest of the injury, so I’m presently hoping I won’t lose that part. I spent the first couple of months after the accident in a painkiller haze, and that’s set me back, in terms of schedule. Life is moving slower than I’d like it. So I haven’t had a consistent ritual in a while.

What’s your favorite Giallo film?

I haven’t watched enough of them to form an educated favorite. Recently, I liked Deep Red. As a teenager, I remember enjoying Suspiria, Tenebrae, other Argento stuff. I remember seeing a few films with David Hess in them, because I knew him from The Last House on the Left. Bava’s Bay of Blood, that.

Do you like the cold? Do you find your environment influences your writing, including the weather and the season?

I live in an old apartment that used to have baseboard heaters, but I tore them out because they smelled bad and never replaced them. I’ve got a portable radiator that I’ll occasionally plug in and that helps some. Usually I just layer up. I think some level of discomfort is essential for work to get done. Especially since it’s easier to be lazy this time of year. I find myself wanting to work from bed a lot, even knowing I’ll fall asleep. That’s a struggle because I’m already tired from working at my job and fixing things around the house. But as far as the weather goes, it’s not the being cold that bugs me, it’s the wind, when it can cut. That shit’ll split my knuckles in a day and draw blood. I end up hating the notion of going outside.

LLD

Do you have anything you’d like to tell our readers about? Special things?

There’s a novel I’ve been working on for a few years now called Nothing Crown, and it’s written like a post-apocalyptic road novel. It’s about a street kid that walks from Jerusalem to Paris to pursue rapping. Think something akin to Children of Men meets, like, Illmatic (Nas) . . . in the Levant.

I also run King Shot Press, which is a post-bizarro publisher of radical fiction. Last year, we released some really great books by Cody Goodfellow, Eric Nelson and Chris Lambert. This year, KSP is releasing Lambert’s sophomore novel, Killer Unconquered, the second part of a bigger novel-in-series. Violet LeVoit, who won the Wonderland Book Award back in November, has her debut novel coming up, I Miss The World, a Nicholson Baker-esque novel that follows two siblings through the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. November was very surprising in that Scott Nicolay, whose forthcoming book Noctuidae is part of the next batch of KSP titles, took home the World Fantasy Award the same weekend that Violet nabbed the Wonderland. His book’s about a hike through an Arizona canyon that leaves two people stranded with something very big. Lastly, there’s Troy James Weaver’s Marigold, in which a 30-something floral salesman searches for reasons to keep living.

Thanks, man.

Thank you.

An Interview with Nikki Guerlain

Today, Word Horde’s social media maniac Sean M. Thompson talks with one of the preeminent tastemakers of the Bizarro and Weird Fiction scenes, part-time Valkyrie, and darn fine writer, Nikki Guerlain. Here’s what she had to say…

You come upon a pen, and it can only write truth. What do you do with the pen?

It would be super tempting to go all Star Chamber with the pen. That said, I would probably give it to Michael for Valentine’s Day. That would make a great gift, yeah? He’s loads more responsible than I am. I’m sure he would figure out a brilliant way of using it that wouldn’t involve me possibly going to jail.

NikkiGuerlain

What role do you feel genre plays in fiction?

Genres are playgrounds. The more playgrounds the better. Categorizing fiction by genre is just a method of bringing the most promising readers to a particular book. It would be interesting to drop genre altogether and categorize fiction by its intended emotional impact. You know, you walk into a bookstore and you tell the clerk, “You know, I want something that will bum me the fuck out.” And the clerk points you to the Bum Me the Fuck Out section and everything from dark fiction to drug addiction memoirs to books on global warming are all there getting cozy with each other just waiting for you to pick one of them up for your much yearned for bad trip.

Of course, this would get extremely complicated and you’d always have readers who fell outside the intended emotional response categories–but these people know who they are and would have no problem finding what section they needed. And hey, while they’re hanging out ironically in the Bum Me the Fuck Out section of the bookstore why don’t you sell them a shirt that says “Nihilism Makes Me Wet” and donate a portion of each shirt sale to the Make a Wish Foundation?

Honestly, if we want to get more readers to books they’ll enjoy without the genre hang ups we’d start using movies and television and other visual media as short hand. You know, like If You Enjoyed X Movie You’ll Likely Enjoy Y Books. We need better, quicker, more evolved ways to communicate the potential experience to the would-be reader than simply genre.

Now I’m thinking I didn’t really answer the question I was asked which is entirely possible. I will say that the idea that literary fiction is somehow better than genre fiction is total shit. Either something is written well or it isn’t. It’s totally gross to be around writers who look down upon other writers for the genre they write in. Eww.

Favorite Tattoo?

I have FUCK tattooed across the knuckles of my right hand. It’s my favorite because it’s been the best ice breaker/litmus test ever. This tattoo has brought many awesome people and conversations into my life. Nothing makes me smile wider than when someone asks me if my right hand really says FUCK.

Giallo Fantastique edited by Ross E. Lockhart

Your story from Giallo Fantastique, “Terror in the House of Broken Belles” has a fair amount of eroticism to it, albeit a twisted and deranged sexuality. Do you think that writing about sex is something the bizarro genre embraces over other genres, and if so, why do you think other genres such as, say, weird fiction shy away from sexual themes?

I can only speak for myself and I wouldn’t categorize myself as strictly a bizarro writer. I write fiction that falls in many categories. To me, bizarro is more an attitude–a spirit–than a genre with strict conventions. It has a willingness to play where others might not due to any number of things: taste, propriety, lack of market. Bizarro covers a broad range of work. It can be quiet or quite loud and juvenile. Bizarro does what it wants to and fuck you if you don’t like it–it doesn’t need your approval or respect. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve it. It just means that the writer isn’t fettered by social norms. The work succeeds or fails on its own grounds. Sex is more fully embraced in bizarro than in other genres because the writers aren’t afraid to go there–they’re expected to. It’s a little harder to justify a brekkie bukkake scene with a toaster in “literary” fiction. I mean, you could do it but you’d have to build it up so much and justify it endlessly and it’d take over the entire novel. In bizarro, you can have a brekkie bang and move on with the rest of your day in the space of a couple sentences just like you’d do consuming any normal breakfast. More. Weird. Shit. Faster. Move. Move. Move. Just because the content can be batshit crazy doesn’t mean it’s not written well. Bizarro writers know and trust this. This makes them very free to do whatever it is they want to do which often involves sex.

As far as weird fiction is concerned, I think BIG IF weird fiction writers do shy away from sexual themes it might be because they fear not being taken seriously or it could be that it’s difficult to deal with sex subtly. I don’t think this is the case. I write weird fiction, but in it I have elder gods wearing meatsuits and you better believe there’s going to be a squirrel and a moneyshot and bewbs somewhere in there. Why? Because I I like to play. I want to break any genre I play in. Genres are toys. I want to break them and rebuild them in a way that is mine. I want evolution. I want to piss off the stodgy old guard and usher in the new. I want to show people that there’s room for nearly anything in any genre if written well. Weird fiction is evolving and it comprises more than just a handful of writers that get repeated over and over. Weird fiction and bizarro have a lot in common and I expect that they’ll come to influence each other more and more.

How many gifs do you look at per day?

Oh my gah. I look at maybe a hundred gifs a day. I post a fraction of those. I love gifs because they are moment based. They usually encapsulate a moment or a beat. Other times, they are relaxing meditations. I think the simplicity and brevity of the gif form can have a tremendous impact on someone’s headspace. Gif=play. They have become more important to me and my friends than any of us could have ever imagined.

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Do you have any writing rituals? Personally I like to smear my shoulders in guacamole, throw on some Stevie Nicks, and take a massive amount of bath salts. The bow tie is of course, optional…

I do have writing rituals. I drink a fuckton of tea, take loads of baths, and usually have a movie or music on in the background. I also do a lot of sprint writing. Fifteen minutes here and there during the day. I write for prolonged periods late at night. I eat a lot of grapefruit when I write. I feel I’m at my best when my mind is loose from sleep deprivation or stimulus overload. 99% of the time I’m stone cold sober during the actual sitting ass in chair part of writing, but I take notes constantly. I write the vast majority of my stuff longhand first so by the time I type, I’m really at a third draft or so. I inhale candy, burn candles, and often write naked. When I get stuck, I do ridiculous things like ask my friends to send me pictures of their dicks in shoes because it’s funny and irreal and brings me back to that “I’m not in reality” headspace I need to write. Writing is serious business but sometimes I have to step back to enjoy it and nothing tells me not to take myself too seriously like an unkempt semi flopped into a Victorian slipper addressed to me me me from a loving and indulgent friend. Oh my gosh. I’ll just stop there.

What is it about working with Ross Lockhart that you find so enjoyable? Is it the advice decreed by his mighty hair?

Working with Ross is amazing because he’s genuine and sincere and he’s got some serious balls to accompany his professionalism. Ross is one of my favorite people on this planet. I will do anything for him. Plus, yes, he has awesome hair.

You got anything to plugeth?

As far as things to plug–I have a few things coming out later this year but I don’t have definite dates so while I have the reader’s attention I would like to point them to the current projects I’m excited about–

1) Michael Cisco’s Animal Money (Lazy Fascist Press) Yes, he is my honeybunny but only because he is absolutely extraordinary. Also, have you seen the cover?

2) Chesya Burke’s The Strange Crimes of Little Africa (Rothco Press) After listening to Rob Cohen and Christine Roth gush about it, and knowing Chesya is awesome, I’m *totes* excited about digging into this one.

3) Leena Krohn: Collected Fiction edited by Jeff VanderMeer (Cheeky Frawg Press) This one is enormous and I can’t wait to educate myself with it!

Want to help Word Horde prove that weird fiction can be a force for good in the world? Make a donation to a food bank or food-related charity near you, then share the experience on social media using the hashtag #FeedCthulhu. You can score a free e-book of Cthulhu Fhtagn!, plus be entered in a chance to win a signed copy of the book. Plus, through the end of November, you can take 20% of any direct order with Word Horde using the coupon code THANKS. Details here!

The Return of #FeedCthulhu / Saying Thanks

One week from today is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday which we celebrate by gathering together, sharing food, and saying thanks. This year, I’ve got a lot to be thankful for, because you’ve helped Word Horde succeed in its most ambitious year yet. We published five books this year: Molly Tanzer’s weird western, Vermilion; Nicole Cushing’s ultra-dark delve, Mr. Suicide; Orrin Grey’s captivating collection, Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts, and the anthologies Giallo Fantastique and Cthulhu Fhtagn! So, to celebrate this success, and to give back, I’ve decided it’s time for The Return of #FeedCthulhu.

In 2011, when my first anthology, The Book of Cthulhu, was published, I challenged readers to make a donation to a local food charity, and to share news of that donation on Twitter, using the hashtag #FeedCthulhu. That year, we raised several hundred dollars in pledges across the country to local food banks and homeless shelters. In 2012, to accompany the publication of The Book of Cthulhu 2, we repeated the challenge, raising over a thousand dollars worth of pledges.

Thanksgiving may be the time to celebrate our prosperity and providence, but people still go hungry. And hunger sucks. So once again I’d like to challenge you to make a difference, by making a donation–no matter how small–to a food charity. This can be a local food bank, church, temple, mosque, coven, bin outside your grocery store, or national (or international) hunger relief organization. The organization doesn’t matter, so long as they’re feeding people. Once you do that, post the following on social media:

I fed Cthulhu [your donation] to [organization] #FeedCthulhu @lossrockhart

Don’t forget to include the hashtag (#FeedCthulhu) and my Twitter handle (@lossrockhart) so that I can see–and share–your post. Also, if you send a link to your post via email to publicity[at]wordhorde[dot]com, in return for your generosity, I’ll send you the ebook of my latest anthology, Cthulhu Fhtagn!. Just let me know if you’d prefer ePub, mobi, or PDF format. I’ll be checking social media for the hashtag, and on December 1, I’ll be selecting three random posters, who will receive a personalized autographed copy of Cthulhu Fhtagn!

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“Pie is my favourite dessert, and blueberry (for summer) and mince (for winter) are my preferred kinds—with apple as a good all-year-round third. Like to take vanilla ice cream with apple and blueberry pie.” –H. P. Lovecraft to Robert E. Howard (7 November 1932)

And for dessert, I’d also like to say thanks to you by making you a special offer. Place an order with Word Horde between now and the end of November, use the coupon code THANKS, and take 20% off your purchase. It’s our way of saying “Thank you!” for a great year, and encouraging you to give Word Horde books to your cool friends this holiday season.

An Interview with Anya Martin

Word Horde’s resident social media maniac, Sean M. Thompson, recently chatted with one of our favorite authors, Anya Martin, whose work has appeared in Giallo Fantastique and Cthulhu Fhtagn! Here’s what Anya had to say…

What do you think the role of genre is in fiction?

That’s a tough one in that like most writers I both hate being placed in a genre box, and yet I am a fierce defender of the claim that spec-lit in all its forms (SF/F/H, etc.) has every bit of legitimacy as literary fiction. I tend to prefer “mode” to “genre” and see the different forms of spec-lit as freeing me to approach realistic topics more, rather than less directly through a fantastic lens. For example in “The Prince of Lyghes,” my story in Cthulhu Fhtagn!, I consciously tackled the destructive impact of alcoholism on a relationship through the mode of Weird horror. The story begins monotonously because the daily life in such a relationship tends towards a constant, creeping dread, but the mode of the Weird allows me to push further into the emotional horror of that daily Hell by giving it a physical manifestation.

I’ll add that I never set out to be a Weird fiction writer per se, but since the recent ascent of the Weird, I have had an easier time selling my work. Before that, I was often told that it didn’t fit. It’d be nice to dream of a day when all books are shelved together and genres don’t matter, but genre classification is also a marketing reality that writers have to live with if they want to be published. Right now, I am fortunate in that editors and publishers seem to be more open to the type of whatever genre I write, whether Weird, horror, dark fantasy, or magic realism. I haven’t written a story I consider explicitly science fiction since “Courage of the Lion Tamer” (Daybreak, 2009), but I grew up loving science fiction and “Sensoria” in Giallo Fantastique actually started as a science fiction story. But that’s another story.

Cthulhu Fhtagn! edited by Ross E. Lockhart

Your story from Giallo Fantastique, “Sensoria,” contained a drug primarily taken at a rock and roll show. What kind of influence does music have on your writing, and have you been to a lot of concerts in your life?

I listen to music constantly, though I stick to instrumental when I am actually writing. A lot of experimental jazz, funk, Krautrock recently filling in gaps because I was such a punk rock girl. My punk/post-punk roots are still on my daily playlist–Patti Smith, the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, John Cale, Bowie, Eno, Iggy, Ramones, Robyn Hitchcock, Pere Ubu, Wire, The Cramps, to name just a few. And yes, I have been to a fair amount of concerts from local bands to international acts, though not so many stadium-sized shows as I tend to prefer more obscure music. I was also a college radio DJ and music director. I named my show Dangerous Visions.

Music is more of a subliminal than a direct influence in most of my work, though my characters are often listening to music. However, as chance would have it through anthology invitations, I had two stories come out this year in which rock music was integral–”Sensoria” and “Resonator Superstar!” in Scott R. Jones’ Resonator anthology which explores a possible occult side to Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable light/film shows accompanying early Velvet Underground gigs. The latter took a considerable amount of research and came out of attending a re-creation of that experience by a local avant garde film group in Atlanta. I actually wrote the first draft of what would become “Sensoria” around 1990, but its final form was heavily influenced by Goblin and Fabio Frizzi concerts–the latter in a London church on Halloween in 2014. So, OK, yes, my concert experiences, I guess, do bleed directly into my writing. I’m not working on any explicitly music scene stories right now, or wait, I just remembered the novel I am probably writing as my first might have something to do with a dead rock star.

Giallo Fantastique edited by Ross E. Lockhart

Do you have any writing rituals?

Well, as aforementioned, I do listen to music either before and/or while writing. Otherwise they fluctuate. In the winter, I’ll often drink green or camomile tea depending on whether I need a caffeine lift. I do coffee in the morning but that’s my nonfiction journalism day job time. For “Sensoria,” “Resonator Superstar!” and other stories that I need to tap into a more intense trance state especially as I get near the climax, I have drunk Kava. Some stories come together better in bed with my laptop with scented candles lit, and others sitting at my computer desk–I’m not sure why other than needing a change of scenery. I do usually prefer writing alone rather than in a public place like a coffee shop.

Would you ever eat a bug?

I have eaten bugs! Dried seasoned grasshoppers and still not sure whether those were caterpillars in the soup in China. Also more recently at a natural history museum insect-tasting event, but I can’t remember what kind of insects they were now.

Have you ever written a novel?

I have started novels but have not finished one yet. One in particular keeps knocking around in my brain. It seems manageable in length, I haven’t read anything else like it and fortunately the concept seems saleable. I hope to pick it up again sometime soon, but not until after a novella and I finish up at least three more short stories for anthology invitations.

How do you deal with fear of failure?

I just try not to think about it and keep working. Get the story done and move on to the next one. My brain may be a little too good at compartmentalizing, which is something I may tackle in a future story. On the other hand, right now I also try to keep my fiction goals modest. Get a few more stories completed and sold, see how my work is received, and then hopefully someone will want to collect them. And in due time, hopefully this winter, novel.

Would you consider yourself a fast writer, or a slow writer, in terms of your output.

Haha! Both. I tend to write very rapidly once a story gets going and have been known to complete a story in a day to a week. But I’ll start other stories and there could be long gaps of time as the parts come together in my head. “Resonator Superstar!” and “Old Tsah-Hov” in Cassilda’s Song (edited by Joe Pulver, Chaosium) were both written in two weeks or less, but “The Prince of Lyghes” evolved over three years and even when I thought it was done, I made more changes after a beta reader hit upon something simple and missing that should have been obvious to me.

Thanks for taking part. Anything to plug?

You’re welcome. I do have two more works slated to come out this year–making it a total of six in 2015. My short story, “A Girl in Her Dog,” will be in Issue #2 of Xynobis from Dunhams Manor Press. And Dunhams Manor is also publishing a one-act Weird play called “Passage to the Dreamtime” in its chapbook series. It’ll be the first time a work of fiction by me will be published in a freestanding format, i.e. not in an anthology or magazine, so I’m pretty excited.

Garrett Cook reads “Hello, Handsome” from Giallo Fantastique

Today is September 30, the 127th anniversary of one of the most brutal and audacious crimes in history, the Jack the Ripper murders known as the Double Event. The first Word Horde anthology, Tales of Jack the Ripper, explored this terrible crime in horrific detail, contemplating in multiple stories just what it is that drives someone to murder. Is it something within? Or is it something else entirely?

And so, as summer turns to fall and Halloween approaches, we thought we’d share a tale of murder and mayhem with you all. One that confronts that question head-on. With gloves off. Or on, as the case may be. Here is Garrett Cook’s “Hello, Handsome,” from Giallo Fantastique. Read live, with musical accompaniment by Erin Jane Laroue. Turn down the lights, sit back, and get ready for terror.

Photo by Nick Giampetro

Photo of Garrett Cook and Erin Jane Laroue courtesy of Nick Giampetro. Recorded live at The Hour that Stretches at the Jade Lounge, Portland, OR. Special thanks to Edward Morris.

Giallo Fantastique edited by Ross E. Lockhart

Click here to listen.

For the Word Horde!, by Sean M. Thompson

FOR THE WORD HORDE!

Word Horde

Thousands of them, warriors covered in the blood of fallen subjects, their axes stained crimson from predicates who never knew it was to be their end.

“Sean, this is not just any group of warriors you’re teaming up with, this is the Word Horde!”

Their swords are terrible in the light of a scalding sun, gleaming with the ferocity of verbs, nouns, and adjectives ready for a fight. I too am ready to do battle; to sacrifice my body, (mostly my fingers and hands) to the cause.

“I will join the Word Horde!” I scream, and the din around me is terrifying, but it certainly gets my adrenaline pumping.

The drums thunder with the promise of hand-to-hand combat, page after page of it.

We charge, individuals made strong by a common goal. To whoop these readers upside the head, and go in for the kill. To shake those in search of literary entertainment to the core. None of them have any idea what’s in store, but oh let me tell you, we got a fever inside us. Inside of me, my ancestors are high off wode, and the thrill of Valhalla, cheering in unison.

Lightning cracks the sky, scorching the horizon, and a storm begins in an instant. I grit my teeth, get ready for it. The smile on my face would set a clunky paragraph to crying.
Rain soaks the land, and a qualifier falls beside me: I grab his mace. A terrible spiked metal ball attached to a wooden handle: I slam it into the spine of an adverb as it advances upon me, shrieking onomatopoeic obscenities.

“Great job Sean, I like what you’re doing here!” Ross says, and he’s in a terrifyingly scant amount of armor, his hair underneath a horned helmet.

“I didn’t see you, brother,” I say, knocking a weak noun off of its feet, ducking as one of my Horde looses an arrow, which slams home into the heart of a particularly poor word choice.

“I’ve been here since the beginning!” Ross shouts, and the slash of his mighty golden editor’s sword is a thing to behold.

A beast of war barks by my feet. I see it’s none other than Elinor Phantom, the terrifying battle hound out for blood with our Word Horde. May the gods help whoever crosses her path of vicious bloodthirsty hunger.

“How many words did you want me to kill?” I shout over to he of the Locked Heart, and he shouts back “as many as seems appropriate,” before he slices another poor word choice down the middle with his powerful blade.

“FOR THE WORD HORDE!” I scream, and lose myself in the chaos of battle, a berserker in a frenzy.

This battle is just beginning, friends. We need warriors to join up with the Word Horde. Can we count you among our number? Do you long to slay boring sentences in the moonlight? Do you worship the Gods of Story, and plot, and Character? Understand, once you join, you must dedicate your energy to the Word Horde. The only way out of this is in a hole in the dirt.

Our Word Horde has anthologies like Cthulhu Fhtagn!, Giallo Fantastique, the Shirley Jackson Award-nominated The Children of Old Leech, and Tales of Jack the Ripper. Our Word Horde has novels, like Mr. Suicide by Shirley Jackson Award-nominated author Nicole Cushing, Vermilion by British Fantasy Award nominee Molly Tanzer, and We Leave Together by J. M. McDermott.

“Tell them about the upcoming warriors joining up with the Word Horde!” Elinor growls at me.

“I didn’t know you could talk!” I shout back, breaking a lazy sentence’s neck with my mace, my word killer.

“Shut up and tell them about the stuff on the way!” she barks out, and proceeds to rip the Achilles tendon of a sad antecedent.

“We have Orrin Grey’s new collection Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts coming in October!” I roar, and snap the forearm of a demonstrative pronoun with my bare hands. This pleases me.

“And ALSO?!” she bellows in a timbre I didn’t think such a small creature could emit.

“Oh, and Livia Llewellyn’s collection Furnace in 2016!”

Before I know it, the Word Horde is alone, our foes seem to have retreated, for the moment. Seeing their comrades rendered into so much spilled ink seems to have put the necessary fear into them they should have had from the start.

“Not bad for a first battle,” Ross says, and puts his hand on my shoulder.

“Do you always wear so little armor?” I ask he of the curly man-mane.

“What do you mean ‘so little’? This is a lot of armor for me. Normally I have on way less.”

The adrenaline of the battle having died down, I start to seriously question my decision to become social media manager for Word Horde.

“Come on, I’m gonna order a pizza,” Ross says.

And like that, I’m back on board!

“LONG LIVE THE WORD HORDE!”

–Sean M. Thompson
Social Media Manager

Now Available: Giallo Fantastique

An anthology of original strange stories at the intersection of crime, terror, and supernatural fiction. Inspired by and drawing from the highly stylized cinematic thrillers of Argento, Bava, and Fulci; American noir and crime fiction; and the grim fantasies of Edgar Allan Poe, Guy de Maupassant, and Jean Ray, Giallo Fantastique seeks to unnerve readers through virtuoso storytelling and startlingly colorful imagery.

What’s your favorite shade of Yellow?

Giallo Fantastique edited by Ross E. Lockhart

Table of Contents

Introduction – Ross E. Lockhart
Minerva – Michael Kazepis
In the Flat Light – Adam Cesare
Terror in the House of Broken Belles – Nikki Guerlain
The Strange Vice of ZLA-313 – MP Johnson
Sensoria – Anya Martin
The Red Church – Orrin Grey
Balch Creek – Cameron Pierce
Hello, Handsome – Garrett Cook
We Can Only Become Monsters – Ennis Drake
The Threshold of Waking Light – E. Catherine Tobler
The Communion of Saints – John Langan
Exit Strategies – Brian Keene

“Lockhart translates giallo fantastique as weird crime, and each story, while very different in style and tone, melds crime and supernatural horror with panache and verve. […] The stories’ conclusions are never definitive, leaving the reader with a delicious sense of lingering unease.” —Publishers Weekly

“A lavish, sumptuous tapestry of luxurious surrealism and strangeness.” –Christine Morgan, The Horror Fiction Review

“…ultimately satisfying, with a few tales that skirt tantalizingly close to brilliance.” –Mer Whinery, Muzzleland Press

Order from Word Horde or wherever better books are sold.