Tag Archives: John Langan

Cover Reveal/Now Available to Preorder: John Langan’s The Fisherman

Coming June 30, 2016: John Langan’s long-awaited second novel, The Fisherman. We think you’re going to enjoy the hell out of this one. Here’s your first look at the cover:

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Here’s the teaser:

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.

And here are just a couple of the blurbs The Fisherman has picked up so far:

“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.

“For some fishing is a therapeutic, a way to clear one’s head, to chase away the noise of a busy world and focus on one single thing. On good days it can heal the worst pains, even help develop a sense of solace. John Langan’s The Fisherman isn’t about the good day fishing, it isn’t even about a bad day fishing, its about the day that you shouldn’t have even left the house, let alone waded chest deep into a swollen stream of churning water. Langan tells you that up front, warns you this isn’t going to be that story, but you ignore the signs, lured in by the faint smell of masculine adventure, hooked by tragedy and the chance of redemption, and reeled in by a nesting tale of ever growing horrors. By the time you realize what has happened it’s already too late, you’re caught in an unavoidable net of terror that can end in only one way. It doesn’t matter how strong you are or how prepared, John Langan has you hook, line and sinker, and he doesn’t let go until the very last page.”
–Pete Rawlik, author of Reanimatrix

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

Preorder your copy of The Fisherman today!

Xmas Hiatus / An Interview with John Langan

We’ll be taking a short break this week in order to spend the Xmas holiday with family, but we’ll be back to shipping orders on December 29. In the meantime, we’d encourage you to order Word Horde from the better bookstore near you. And to fill your stocking with Holiday Horrors, here’s Sean’s interview with John Langan.

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

I think of genre as a fundamental component of narrative (and here I’m using genre as Michael Chabon does in his introduction to Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands, to indicate regions in a country, as compared to countries on a globe). It’s inescapable: every story has a context, has a set of texts to which it is related. To me, this is something to be celebrated and explored.

Your story from The Children of Old Leech, “Ymir,” deals with the Norse myth of, well Ymir. Do you often like to draw from myths in your work?

I love myth; I love comparative mythology. No doubt, I was led to it via comic books, The Mighty Thor in particular. When I was a kid, most of the books I could find dealt with Greek and Roman myth; although there were a couple about the Norse pantheon. I picked up a copy of Edith Hamilton’s Mythology when I was eleven or twelve, and it laid the Greek and Roman myths out in order; there was also a brief section at the end about the Norse deities. Hamilton remains my go-to; though I loved Roberto Calasso’s The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony (so much I named a character in a story after him [actually, he’s shown up in a few stories]). I suppose the differences between the Greek and Roman treatments of a figure such as Ares/Mars were what led me to an interest in comparative mythology, which was fed by reading both in other mythologies and in literary critics such as Northrop Frye, who pointed out the underlying similarities among mythic narratives. Especially given the current predominance of the Cthulhu mythos in fantastic fiction, the older myths can provide a welcome alternative narrative context.

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I know you can’t say a lot about your upcoming novel, The Fisherman, but what can you say about the novel?

The Fisherman tells the story of a fishing trip two widowers take to a haunted river that promises to allow them one last meeting with their loved ones. In the middle of that, they learn some of the occult history of the construction of the Ashokan Reservoir in upstate New York. Terrible things ensue. I hope to have more news to share about the book in the near future.

Have you ever wondered why memory works the way it does? Why some things burn themselves into your brain, but others won’t stay unless you go over them over and over?

Yes, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about memory and the way it functions. It’s at the heart of some of my favorite writers’ works: Ford’s The Good Solider, Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury and Light in August and Absalom, Absalom!, Straub’s Ghost Story and Koko and Mrs. God. Proust and Eliot both obsess over the relationship between memory and time. The nature of memory is at the heart of the way influence functions, I think, which is one of my academic preoccupations. I did some reading of trauma theory years ago—especially Cathy Caruth’s Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative and History—as a way to approach questions of memory and influence (in light of what you might call traumatic memory, I suppose). Caruth explores the idea that it’s the very wound in your psyche that allows you to speak, which is kind of an updating of the argument that Edmund Wilson made decades earlier in The Wound and the Bow and which I’m not sure I (completely) agree with. At the same time, I think of Kirk’s declaration, in the otherwise-atrocious Star Trek V, that he won’t relinquish the pain in his life, because that’s what makes him who he is. To take things down a notch, it may very well be that the things that lodge in your memory, from annoying tunes to bits of dialogue to images you can’t place, are part of the material from which you construct yourself.

Do you consider yourself a weird fiction author, a horror author, or do you simply think of yourself as an author?

I think of myself as a writer working within the horror tradition. If someone wants to call me a horror writer, I’m fine with that. I’m also fine with being called a weird writer; though, to be frank, much of what has been included under the weird umbrella strikes me as a semantic fig leaf, horror writing looking to rebrand itself with a more appealing name.

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I remember hearing in passing that you, sir, are a fan of comic books. What are some of your favorites, and do you think that comics have influenced your work in any way?

Comics played a foundational role in my development, first as a reader, then as a writer. I became interested in comics during the seventies, when Marv Wolfman and Roy Thomas were working on The Amazing Spider-Man and Conan the Barbarian, respectively. I followed Wolfman’s work on Spidey, The Fantastic Four, and then The Teen Titans and Night Force; recently, I picked up the black and white reprints of his and Gene Colan’s Tomb of Dracula. During the later seventies, there were paperback reprints of the first issues of The Amazing Spider-Man and The Fantastic Four, and this introduced me to Stan Lee and Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby. When I was a little older, I discovered Alan Moore’s work on Swamp Thing, which led me to The Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and pretty much anything by Moore I could get my hands on. In more recent years, I’ve been a fan of Gaiman’s Sandman, Mike Carey’s Lucifer and Unwritten, and Bill Willingham’s Fables. The entire run of DC’s Hellblazer was probably my single favorite comic, ever: pretty much every writer who worked on it rose to the occasion and produced some of their best work, ever. Lately, I’ve been reading Eric Powell’s The Goon, which I love for its astonishing, Bernie-Wrightson-esque art, and for the way it swerves wildly between raucous comedy and utter pathos, and the books in the Hellboy universe, especially The B.P.R.D., which seems to me unparalleled in its portrayal of a world dealing with the consequences of an ongoing apocalypse. I could talk about comics all day.
As to how they influenced me: when I was younger, I aspired to work in comics, first as an artist, then as an artist-writer. I think the Marvel comics I was reading when I was very young showed what you could do if you brought a relative degree of realism to your fantastic situations, if your superheroes struggled to balance their private and public lives, if they operated in a world something like ours. At their best, those Marvel books are master-classes in melodrama. Alan Moore’s work built on all of that, deepening the characters’ psychologies and thinking through the implications of their powers and places in the world more thoroughly. Gaiman, Carey, Willingham, and the Mignola crew constructed elaborate mythologies that they followed through long, intricate narratives.

How much of a role do you think where you live has to do with the type of fictional landscape you choose to create?

It would seem it has to have some connection, wouldn’t it? In my own case, I wonder how much my use of the mid-Hudson Valley in my work has to do with the fact that this is where I was living when I started to read those writers who made use of their particular places, Stephen King and William Faulkner (though I’m pretty sure I was planning a comic book set in this region before that, so maybe I’m wrong [or maybe I was responding to Stan Lee et. al.’s use of Manhattan and its environs…])? And yet, there have been places I’ve been to, Glencoe in Scotland, the varied landscape of Kentucky, that struck me the moment I saw them, and that have stuck with me since then. It’s funny, Simon Schama wrote an interesting book, Landscape and Memory, that touches on a couple of these interview questions.

Thanks for stopping by. Long live the Word Horde.

Thank you!

For more on all things John Langan, visit his website, or, better yet, read one (or more) of his books.

An interview with Bram Stoker Award-winning author Laird Barron

Sean M. Thompson recently sat down with Laird Barron, the Bram Stoker Award-winning author who inspired our Shirley Jackson Award-nominated anthology The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron, to ask him a few questions.

How did it feel to hear that Ross and Word Horde wanted to publish a collection in homage to your work?

I wasn’t keen on it initially. However, I trust Ross. He and Justin Steele worked hard to put the anthology together and avoid pastiche. The contributing authors wrote great stories. It was a humbling experience and altogether fascinating to see what bits and pieces of my universe they responded to. The anthology succeeded, so all’s well, et cetera.

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

Genre is a default, a convention. You start with horror as a broad concept and that’s genre. Then you subdivide and subdivide, or you strike out into other territory. For an author, it’s the beginning of a conversation. For editors and publishers and booksellers, it’s often the end of a conversation.

What scares you?

My dog stood at the top of the steps yesterday, deciding. After a while she limped down and we went outside. She trotted around the yard once, then collapsed in a patch of sun and looked at me and panted. Her eyes are getting a blue tint and her face is going white. I couldn’t egg her into playing like we used to do. Back in the house, she drank some water, curled up on the couch in my office and began to snore. I sat for a long time, adding the numbers, moving them around, looking for loopholes—people years versus dog years, what I have got left versus what she has left. I couldn’t make it add up to anything equitable.

Do you have anything in particular you like to do during the fall season?

Late August through October is my favorite stretch of the year. As I write this, I’m living in the countryside in the Hudson Valley. There are massive stands of sycamore around the house, a dairy farm across the road, and farther on, fields, streams and foothills of the Catskills. Way back in the day, this was the season I’d return home from the cannery or salmon processor and start cart training my team of sled dogs. I’d hook them up to my old Ford truck or a four-wheeler and we’d cruise for miles on back country roads. These days, long walks through farmland suffices, but I admit, the smell of September dampness and cold dirt still gets me.

Would you consider a hip, new iteration of your infamous cosmic monster-deity: Young Leechy?

I think the Cartoon Network should be brought in on this.

What’s your favorite dog from a novel?

Buck from The Call of the Wild. I’m also partial to Blood from A Boy and His Dog.

What’s the scariest part of where you currently reside in upstate New York? Is it John Langan’s bear hugs? (optional to answer second part of question)

I am nimble enough to evade John’s bear hugs. It’s between him and Paul Tremblay now.

Nothing is particularly scary about the Hudson Valley, although I have a lot of exploring to do. Closing in on four years since I moved here from the west. The geography (old towns surrounded by dense forest; mountains, rivers, caves…) appeals to me as does the rich history. There’s a distinct sense of wildness at the edge of civilization. It will influence my writing in years to come. And I hope some of that will be scary.

Cover Reveal: Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts

Coming next month from Word Horde, Orrin Grey’s new collection Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts. Here’s your first peek at the cover!

Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts

ORRIN GREY LOVES MONSTERS. That is abundantly clear in the stories he spins. No matter where he draws inspiration from, whether the weird tales of Lovecraft, Machen, and Poe or the films of Murnau, Corman, and Argento, the end result is inevitably fresh and new. And wonderfully monstrous.

If you love monsters—the macabre, the murderous, the misunderstood; the strange, the sinister, the sympathetic; the cinematic and the literary—you will find plenty to love in Orrin Grey’s Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts.

Cover Art by Nick Gucker
Cover Design by Scott R. Jones

Table of Contents:

Introduction by John Langan
The Worm That Gnaws
The White Prince
Night’s Foul Bird
The Murders on Morgue Street*
Ripperology
Walpurgisnacht
The Red Church
Remains
The Labyrinth of Sleep
Lovecrafting
Persistence of Vision
Strange Beast*
Painted Monsters*

* Titles marked with an asterisk are original to the collection.

Pre-order Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts today!

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.

The Children of Old Leech Nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award

It is with pleasure and gratitude that we announce the following: The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron has been nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award. Needless to say, we are over the moon.

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It requires an army of people to put together an anthology like The Children of Old Leech, so a huge THANK YOU! goes out to the following: Co-editor Justin Steele; authors Allyson Bird, Jesse Bullington, Michael Cisco, Jesse James Douthit-Nicolay, Gemma Files, Richard Gavin, J. T. Glover, Cody Goodfellow, T.E. Grau, Orrin Grey, Michael Griffin, Stephen Graham Jones, John Langan, Daniel Mills, Scott Nicolay, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., Molly Tanzer, Jeffrey Thomas, and Paul Tremblay; copyeditor Marty Halpern; hardcover artist/designer Matthew Revert; softcover artist Dalton Rose; softcover designer Scott R. Jones; and, of course, Laird Barron, for letting all of us play in his universe. Thanks also to all of you who purchased the book (and other Word Horde titles), and to all of the readers and reviewers who have taken the time to recommend the book to others. Thanks to the Shirley Jackson Awards Board of Directors and jurors. And thanks to everyone who shared a toast to Old Leech with us back when we launched the book. Cheers!

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Read the full list of nominees here: http://www.shirleyjacksonawards.org/nominees/

Giallo Fantastique: Cover and TOC Reveal

Coming May 15, 2015 from Word Horde: Giallo Fantastique

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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.

What’s your favorite shade of yellow?

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

Cover art by David Palumbo
Cover design by Scott R. Jones

Coming May 15, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-939905-06-2
Preorder now at Word Horde

The Children of Old Leech: Excerpt: “Ymir,” by John Langan

In Norse mythology, Ymir was a being born from primordial frost and poison, who became ancestor to all jötnar, or giants. In the realm of weird fiction, John Langan is also a titan with a penchant for birthing ettins from his armpits and monsters from his feet. What follows is an excerpt from Langan’s story “Ymir,” from The Children of Old Leech.

Never trust anything that comes out of a hole.

III

The Eckhard Diamond Mine was a collection of Quonset huts set back from the rim of a titanic hole in the endless white. Barry leaned forward for a better view of it, whistling appreciatively. “Isn’t that something? How far across would you say that is?”

“A quarter-mile,” Marissa said.

“I expect you’re right.”

She stopped the Hummer at the front door of the metal shed closest to the pit. The light green paint that had coated the structure was visible only in scattered flakes and scabs. She left the motor running: the digital thermometer on the dash measured the outside temperature at forty below, and she didn’t want to risk the engine not starting. For the same reason, she was carrying the heavily oiled .38 revolver in a shoulder holster under her coat. She zipped and buttoned the coat, pulled on the ski mask and shooting mittens lying on the passenger’s seat, and tugged her hood up. She half-turned to the back seat. “You ready, Barry?”

He had encased his bulk in a coat made of a glossy black material that made her think of seal skin. The gloves on his large hands were of the same substance. He drew a ski mask in the gray and electric green of the Seattle Seahawks down over his broad, bland face. “Ready,” he said. “Let’s go look at my new investment.”

Marissa had expected their arrival to draw some kind of reception from whoever was inside the hut. The moment she stepped outside, however, into cold that shocked the air from her lungs, that she felt crystallizing the surfaces of her eyes, she understood why those inside and warm might prefer to reserve their greetings for her and Barry joining them. The cold seemed to take her out of herself; it was all she could do to keep track of Barry as he lumbered the fifteen feet to the hut’s entrance. Without bothering to knock, he wrenched the door open and squeezed through the frame. Marissa followed, giving the area surrounding this end of the building a quick once-over. She wasn’t expecting to see anything besides the Hummer with its schoolbus yellow paint, a steady cloud of exhaust tumbling from its tailpipe, the great hole in the earth in the background. Nor did she.

The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron may be ordered directly from Word Horde or wherever better books are sold. Ask for The Children of Old Leech and other Word Horde titles at your favorite bookseller.

What to Read in July

Have you been asking yourself “What am I going to read this July?” Barnes & Noble has you covered with this handy list of new releases, including Word Horde’s own The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron. Here’s what B&N blogger Paul Goat Allen has to say about the anthology in his recommendation:

A nightmare-inducing tribute to Laird Barron and his Carnivorous Cosmos, this stellar anthology features 17 original stories from some of weird fiction’s brightest stars—John Langan, Gemma Files, Jeffrey Thomas, Michael Cisco, and Paul Tremblay, to name just a few. You will look under the bed after finishing this creepy collection.

Check out the full list of awesome reads at this link. To order The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron from B&N, click here.

Recent Reviews: The Children of Old Leech

We’ve been busy shipping preorder copies of the latest Word Horde anthology, The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron, and the book is starting to be spotted at retailers, e-tailers, and in the wild. It’s also been picking up some great reviews. You may have seen our previous round-up of the Publishers Weekly and Cthonic Matter reviews, but here are two more to add to the balefire.

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Scott R. Jones of Martian Migraine Press touches onto core fears in his review of The Children of Old Leech, sharing a chilling tale of a hollow tree in his detailed examination of stories by Gemma Files, Molly Tanzer, T.E. Grau, Richard Gavin, Paul Tremblay, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., John Langan, and Cody Goodfellow, concluding: “Each is a class in storytelling, every one is entertaining, and every other one is thought provoking. Lockhart and Steele have a winner on their hands, I think; this is one I’ll keep coming back to, much as I do with Laird’s work. Reading TCoOL was like standing in that Tree beside that lake in the hills, up to my ankles in smoky rot and grey grubs, unable to move, while the sun dipped down to dusk. Recommended.” Read the full Martian Migraine Press review at this link.

Over at Betwixt Book Reviews, Benito Corral also digs deep, singling out tales by Gemma Files, Orrin Grey, Jeffrey Thomas, T.E. Grau, Michael Griffin, Cody Goodfellow, and John Langan, saying, “Each story in The Children of Old Leech leads you deeper and deeper into the ‘carnivorous cosmos’ of Laird Barron; all the authors here have crafted glorious tributes to the master, faithfully plumbing his Mythos to create a truly stunning collection.” The review concludes, “The Children of Old Leech is a triumph for Lockhart and Steele, and a tremendous gift for purveyors of dark fiction. Look for this volume to be on multiple ‘best of’ lists this year. Mr Barron would be proud!” Read the full Betwixt Book Reviews review at this link.

The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron is now shipping from Word Horde. Ask for the anthology and other fine Word Horde titles at your favorite bookseller.