Monday, October 29, 2018

Making a Murderer (Writer Abouter)

Another quality post brought to you by Steve!
Happy (Almost) Horror Christmas, everybody!

Sometimes it's funny to think about myself being a horror author.  Like most people I grew up being taught that horror had a certain disreputable sheen, maybe one step above porn and one step below country music.  Horror was simply "understood" to consist of bargain bin dregs with titles like "Freddy III," "Leprechaun in the Hood," and "Jason Goes to Space."

I recall one weekend as a young boy staying at my aunt's house.  As was customary at the time, my sister and I were each allowed to pick out one video at the video store.  (Am I dating myself with that reference, kids?  A video store is what Netflix was before Netflix mailed you DVDs, which is what Netflix was before it was what Netflix is now.)  Anyway, my sister picked out "Drop Dead Fred" and I tried to pick up "Critters."  My sister said I knew my mother would never let me pick out a "slasher movie" and to pick out something else, so I settled on "Godzilla vs. Biollante" with her grudging acceptance.  

Over the course of the weekend we watched "Drop Dead Fred" not less than one dozen times, and I tried, with some desperation, to watch my movie as well, but only managed to see about half an hour before our mother picked us up Sunday evening.  My sister later bragged that "I had tried to pick up some slasher movie at the video store" but she had successfully prevented me from watching it.  And then I got in trouble for the attempt at "deception."

This is a silly little story, of no real consequence really, but I'm reminded of it because it's illustrative.  "Critters" and "Godzilla" were horror movies, and therefore indistinguishable from slasher movies, and therefore utter trash, and not only that, but banned in our household.  It was a very simplistic perspective that my parents held, but one that I know was common at the time, and I suspect is common among parents of today as well.

Well, I discovered Johnny Cash in college, and learned that while Billy Ray Cyrus and Big & Rich aren't exactly the finest artists on the planet, they don't represent the depth and breadth of all country music.  And as for porn, well you grow up and find out there's really nothing wrong with sex work performed by consenting adults it's just our cultural hangups that make it seem illicit.  It wasn't terribly long ago TROPIC OF CANCER, PORTNOY'S COMPLAINT, LOLITA, and, hell, MADAME BOVARY were banned as pornography.  It turns out that reducing entire genres to "obscene" or "lowbrow" is reductive and not just a little bit ignorant.

And the funny thing is, we watched "The Exorcist" and "Aliens" and "The Birds" in our household, not to mention "Jaws" and "Psycho."  My mother, of the "no horror movies" rule was a huge Alfred Hitchcock fan.  In fact, I was allowed to watch "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" on Nick at Nite every night during the summer.  And "The Twilight Zone" and "The Outer Limits" every day.  My sister of the "slasher movies are trash" outlook read Christopher Pike and "Goosebumps" and "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" and, oh yeah, Dean Koontz and Clive Barker, and introduced me to all of the same.  

We just didn't call any of that "horror."  

"Horror," you see, was demonstrably bad.  Therefore, if we were reading and watching stuff that was good, it wasn't, by definition, "horror."

Strangely (and somewhat to my detriment in my present occupation) Stephen King was an absolute no-no.  Stephen King, you see, was known to write horror, and therefore his books were not allowed in the house.

Ten years ago when I started trying to get published, I had always thought of myself as a science fiction author.  But the first novel I had banged into shape to be published was a story about a zombie detective.  Not really science fiction, maybe a mystery, but I could market it as horror.

And once I became a horror author I realized how much horror was still considered obscene.  Lowbrow.  Many book reviewers explicitly state "no horror or erotica."  

But in the last decade something strange started happening.  "Get Out" and "The Shape of Water" were up for Oscars, something once all but explicitly prohibited for horror films.  "The Walking Dead," "Stranger Things," and "American Horror Story" turned out to be smash hits, while shows like "Black Mirror" and "The Terror" aspired to award worthiness.

Horror is gradually becoming acceptable, even commendable.  And Stephen King, the guy who was banned in my childhood house?  Well, he got a National Medal of the Arts.  I'm glad to be where I am and do what I do, because it feels like I'm on the cutting edge of a new era in terror.  Even if I never expected to end up here growing up.

Happy Halloween, everybody!  Enjoy the month when everybody loves fear.  Soon there will be twelve of them.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

My Life as a Hang Nail

By Cheryl Oreglia

I have spent a great deal of time focused on yet another shift - as in occupational - my sixth I believe - only to discover this holistic inner longing - to become a writer - gritty - exposed (except for the fig leaf) - which I believed to be absurdly unique for someone my age - ends up being as common as a hang nail, just as annoying, and completely devoid of value. Shit. 

I have a thing for Nora Ephron. I wonder if anyone else struggles with the same affliction? 

I walk around dropping Ephron quotes like bread crumbs, as if meaningless idioms can be tracked, and followed. Most of the time I get blank stares? "Who?" Then I shout, "Everything is copy," which I think is hysterical. Apparently I'm the only one? I start spewing bullet points from Ephron's resume. "When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail!" Nothing? Most people need to refresh their drink at this point, which suits me just find, I wasn't enjoying your company either. 

I have come to grips with the fact I'll never be Nora Ephron. I'm not Jewish, I don't write screenplays, nor am I fearless, acute, or funny but we do share the same birthday. It's our thing. I'm not sure if life happened to Nora or Nora happens to life because she struggles at being Nora too. Don't we all. 

I mean the struggle to be our authentic selves, not Nora.

She wrote, "after I went into therapy, a process that made it possible for me to tell total strangers at cocktail parties that breasts were the hang-up of my life, I was often told that I was insane to have been bothered by my condition (small breasts syndrom)." Her large breasted girlfriends assured her their lives were much more miserable than hers, to which she responded, "I think you are full of shit." Who doesn't love her?

Nora's dirty laundry is epic and she hangs it out for everyone to see. In her best selling novel Heartburn she recounts with fictional characters her devastating divorce from Carl Bernstein. It's sharp, painful, and funny all at once. Your emotions get confused, fighting to emerge at the same time, as in wincing with a smile, or laughing so hard your hernia kicks in, but you really just want to cry. She does this with words.
What are you going to do? Everything, is my guess. It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications. Nora Ephron
In chapter thirteen of her novel Heartburn, "If I had to do it over again, I would have made a different kind of pie. The pie I threw at Mark made a terrific mess, but a blueberry pie would have been even better, since it would have permanently ruined his new blazer, the one he bought with Thelma." She throws a pie at her husband and we all cheer. 

She helps us not only imagine what a blueberry pie would look like on a new jacket, but how satisfaction is an impermanent condition, as our emotions tend to be. The pie, the mess, her husbands surprise, and yet absolutely nothing changed. Her husband was still having an affair with her best friend while she was expecting their second child. It's pitiful but you don't pity her. Why? She owned the story. 
When you slip on a banana peel, people laugh at you; but when you tell people you slipped on a banana peel, it's your laugh. So you become the hero rather than the victim of the joke. Nora Ephron
This is what I like best about Nora. When asked why she's compelled to turn everything into a story she said, "because if I tell the story, I control the version. Because if I tell the story, I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh at me than feel sorry for me. Because if I tell the story, it doesn't hurt as much. Because if I tell the story, I can get on with it." She does lament the hardest thing about writing is writing. 

Nora Ephron passed away in 2012 and I've been trying to channel her ever since. She's busy, I get it, but once in a while she throws me a bone, and I come up with this spectacular thought so beyond my scoop, that all I can do is bow down and thank her! 
You do get to a certain point in life where you have to realistically, I think, understand that the days are getting shorter, and you can't put things off thinking you'll get to them someday. If you really want to do them, you better do them. There are simply too many people getting sick, and sooner or later you will. Nora Ephron
Nora wrote, "I spent my first 45 years never thinking about my nails. Occasionally, I filed them with the one lone wretched emery board I owned, put a little polish on them, and went out into the world." My life as a hang nail is going pretty well especially when you consider I could be snipped at any moment. I've been hanging on, annoying the best of you for years, maybe it's time for a manicure?
I look out the window and I see the lights and the skyline and the people on the street rushing around looking for action, love, and the world's greatest chocolate chip cookie, and my heart does a little dance. Nora Ephron

When I'm not writing for Across the Board, I'm Living in the Gap, drop by anytime, we'll watch When Harry Met Sally

  • “We have a game we play when we’re waiting for tables in restaurants, where you have to write the five things that describe yourself on a piece of paper. When I was [in my twenties], I would have put: ambitious, Wellesley graduate, daughter, Democrat, single. Ten years later not one of those five things turned up on my list. I was: journalist, feminist, New Yorker, divorced, funny. Today not one of those five things turns up in my list: writer, director, mother, sister, happy.” Nora Ephron 
  • “And so, Thanksgiving. Its the most amazing holiday. Just think about it — it's a miracle that once a year so many millions of Americans sit down to exactly the same meal as one another, exactly the same meal they grew up eating, and exactly the same meal they ate a year earlier. The turkey. The sweet potatoes. The stuffing. The pumpkin pie. Is there anything else we all can agree so vehemently about? I don't think so." Nora Ephron
  • I'll have what she's having. Nora Ephron

Do you have an author obsession? Share a few thoughts in the comments! 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Back Jacket Hack Job - Big Sexy Love

This Back Jacket Hack Job is especially for all of you rom com lovers. It's got a big sexy romance and an amazing friendship at its center and it was a pretty perfect read for me. I've read a lot of the hyped, talked-about rom coms this year and none of them came close to this one. I read it on a very turbulent flight (which terrified me) and it STILL made me laugh!

So, what's the book, Brenda?

Big Sexy Love by Kirsty Greenwood. Before you wonder what I'm hacking here, it's not erotica, despite the title. The title is actually a super sweet part of the book, but don't type it into Google, whatever you do!

About the book
Olive likes her life. She works as a fishmonger, lives in her childhood home and has never left her hometown. Until Birdie, her best friend in the whole world who's dying of a terminal illness asks Olive to go find Birdie's first love. In New York City.

READ THIS FOR THE PLANE SCENE, ALONE. Olive asks a random stranger to take her to the bathroom because she's afraid to go by herself. Which is funny enough, but the random stranger is a writer for Saturday Night Live who thinks Olive is looking for a quickie. All Olive wants is a wee and hilarity ensues. (This is the part I read during my particularly terrifying flight and I was crying with laughter. Talk about a great distraction.)

Olive gets to New York, dignity somewhat intact, and meets a whole cast of characters, all of whom have their little quirks and characteristics that make them memorable. One of them even gives her a free "makeover", creating a unicorn horn out of her unruly hair. The only person she can't seem to meet is Birdie's first love... 

I could gush about this book for days, but maybe the fact that it has over 500 5-star reviews on Amazon (and over 1500 on Goodreads) will help to sway you? If you DO read it (or have read it already - even better!), let me know so we can gush about it together, yes?

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Magic of Writing

This past week was fall break for us, and we decided to take an actual vacation for the first time in years. Our daughter is 12 and a huge Harry Potter fan—so it made sense to book a trip to Orlando to experience the magic of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. Given her age and only-child status, we figured this might be our last trip to Orlando for a while so we wanted to do it up right. We stayed at a resort and let her bring a friend. I’ll admit I was pretty stoked myself. I love Harry Potter and couldn’t wait to see it all.

And it did not disappoint.

We had a blast—the girls and the hubs rode lots of rides while I took in the sights. We got the park-to-park tickets, so we were able to experience both the Hogsmead and Diagon Alley attractions. As I looked around, the primary thought I had was, “All this came from the mind of an author.”

And it wasn’t just how the setting was brought to life—from the castle to the butterbeer—or how visitors were able to experience a bit of magic through the rides.  It was also how many of the people there, from young to old, were immersed in Harry Potter attire. Oh, and of course the spells. There was one moment when I was waiting for my daughter and her friend to ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey for probably the 4th time, and my husband was off trying to get some pictures printed. As I was waiting, a couple of kids met up in front of me. One waved his wand at the other right before their parents joined them. The mom took a few steps and then this exchange happened:

Mom: {looking at the kid who wasn’t moving} Come on.
Kid: I can’t.
Mom: {looking at the other kid and sighing in a way that suggests it wasn’t the first time} Unstupefy him.

Seriously, how cool is that? Being an author has to be the best job in the world. Even if the vast majority of us will never achieve a fraction of the success J.K. Rowling has seen, we can make just as big of an impact in someone’s life. Our stories mean something to someone.

That’s why I write. The trip only reinforced why I do what I do for such little pay. It’s knowing that I’ve been given words to translate in a way that can resonate with people on a very personal level.

Now it’s time for me to go and write all the words.

~ Carrie

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Veronica Mars, #Metoo, and the future of crime fiction

Like any Veronica Mars fan, I am giddy about the show's return. So giddy, in fact, that I will be getting a Hulu subscription (exactly what the Hulu gurus intended) so I can watch it when it drops. The show's creator, Rob Thomas, has said in interviews that the show will return to its gritty, neo-noir roots, unlike the film which was a fanservice partly funded through its Kickstarter campaign.

Veronica Mars is the intrepid female detective with an unwavering sense of justice. She is a sexual assault survivor and has fought off many attempts against her life. She confronts corrupt cops and shady politicians, and richy richy types who literally try to get away with murder. And she brings them all down with tenacity, wit, and fortitude. We're living in dark times, folks, and women, in particular, are looking for justice. Veronica Mars is one such character to see us through.

The majority of Americans, particularly women, are going to be looking to storytelling for some type of catharsis. Dystopia is fun escapism when times are good, but just try stomaching an episode of Black Mirror (not San Junipero) when it all feels too plausible. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, what will emerge from the #Metoo movement and Trump presidency is a new crop of fictional female warriors. Vigilantes. Hardened private investigators. Unflinching journalists. All with one goal--to expose injustice, ruthlessness, and inequality.

What domestic suspense and psychological thrillers provide its mostly female readership are damaged women trying to hide or outrun their trauma from spouses, neighbors, and friends. It's typically centered around a theme of a crumbling facade that shatters a precious complacency. But what we're going to see are characters whose trauma is the momentum for their narrative. They are not ashamed of their past, but empowered by it. Exposure is the goal. They want to bring everything into the light, uncovering the villain, revealing misdeeds, and doling out punishment accordingly. And expect this new wave of crime fiction to feature women in all aspects of characterization. They'll be the sheriffs, the investigators, the corrupt politicians, and the killers.

And it won't be the work of white authors with white women that will lead the way. There will be a revolution in hardboiled crime fiction featuring women across the spectrum of ethnicities, religions, sexualities, and class. It has already gotten started. My current favorite is the new series by Kristen Lepionka featuring badass Roxane Weary, a hardened bisexual PI with a wee bit of a drinking problem.

And I'm here for it. I'm here for all of it.

Let's go, ladies.

Monday, October 8, 2018

In Defense of Insta-Love in YA Books

A post by Mary Fan
Many YA novels include a healthy dose of romance. It’s a staple of the genre, practically woven into its DNA. Even books that aren’t specifically written to be teen romances – that is, if you take out the romance, the bulk of the storyline still exists – often have fun, dramatic, tumultuous, and thoroughly entertaining subplots about two people in a romantic relationship of some kind. Of course, not every YA main character has to have a love interest, and it’s not an absolute requirement, but suffice it to say that romance thrives in books about teens for teens.

Personally, I love it – both as a reader and a writer of YA fiction. In fact, the first full-length YA novel I published, Starswept, is an unabashedly fairytale-esque romance. And whenever I pick up a new YA book to read and there’s a romantic subplot, I know I’m going to enjoy it that much more for all the heightened passions and emotions teen relationships—“Will they or won’t they? Of course they will, but how?”

I'll use any excuse to show
off my book cover again ;-)
But like I said, not everyone enjoys romance in YA books, and even those who do often have critiques of how particular ones are written. Which is all fair, of course. One of the most common complaints about teen romance is the trope of “insta-love” – that is, the main character and the love interest falling in love pretty much as soon as they meet.

What counts as insta-love? It’s hard to say. For Starswept, I’ve had some people call it insta-love and some people call it a slow burn… which are pretty much on opposite ends of the romantic speed spectrum.

It’s become almost a knee-jerk reaction to criticize teens falling in love quickly as bad writing. But I think that’s oversimplifying things – kind of like how some people have a knee-jerk reaction to adverbs simply because so much writing advice calls them bad (everything in moderation, folks!).  In my reading, I’ve come across some egregious examples of insta-love, where two characters who just met and have barely interacted are magically in love… and some cases where the two characters fall in love really fast, but it works. Really, it comes down to the quality of the writing, and to claim that ALL insta-love is bad is like claiming that you should never, ever, in a million years use an adverb for any reason whatsoever. That kind of scorch-the-earth criticism ignores nuance and, frankly, has started to irritate me a great deal.

I’ve thought about doing a post in defense of YA insta-love for some time now, but this tweet from last week was the kick in the pants I needed to actually write it:

That was a post that had me like

Here are some reasons why insta-love in YA deserves a little love of its own:

1. In the real world, a lot of teens DO fall in love fast

Really, they do. I remember going to week-long summer programs back in high school and watching my fellow teens meet on Day 1, start dating on Day 2, and by the time it was time to pack up and go home on Day 7, be so infatuated with each other and so distressed by their parting that you’d think they were Romeo and Juliet. Who, by the way, were insta-love teens themselves (more on that in a bit).

Teens tend to be wonderfully passionate, energetic, and impulsive in everything they do. They aren’t hampered by a lot of the cautions and filters we adopt as time and experience wears us down. So why shouldn’t that apply to romance as well? Plus, time passes slower when you’re a teen… A month can feel like a lifetime. What may feel “instant” to adults could feel like a slow burn to younger folks.

William Shakespeare,
author of teen romances
with lots of insta-love
2. Sometimes, you need it for the plot

In some books, the main character and the love interest meet early on, spend a good chunk of the book together, and finally get together at the end – and that’s how the plot’s structured. But in others, the plot needs the romantic pair to get together FAST for the rest of it to work. For instance, maybe the conflict isn’t “will they or won’t they,” but “they ARE, but the world keeps trying to tear them apart.” I again point to Romeo and Juliet. The bulk of the story is about these star-crossed lovers trying to find a way to be together and failing. Which means for the pacing to work, they’ve got to get together right away so they can spend the rest of the story agonizing over how this is going to work (or not work). Or how about stories where the love interest is taken away – kidnapped by the villain, vanished into the wilderness, etc. – and the plot is about the main character trying to get them back? Or where the drama is that they desperately want to be together but can’t – because one’s promised to someone else, or the families object, or they’re on opposite sides of an intergalactic war? (Lost Stars, I’m still waiting for my heart to heal!)

Some books get around this by having the main pair already be together at the beginning of the book, depriving us of the meet-cute. That can work, but personally, I always feel a little cheated.

3. It’s cute… and it’s classic

I think it’s human nature for many of us to want to see two people get together. It’s why real-time stalker-ish social media posts about two strangers who seem to have chemistry go viral so easily. And it’s why our oldest stories often feature love at first sight. Fairytales, myths, legends… and, of course, Shakespeare. So many enduring narratives involve insta-love.

And why not? It’s cute. It’s fun. It’s entrancing. There’s something special about watching two characters on a stage lock eyes for the first time, then start reciting beautifully poetic monologues, or singing a devastatingly passionate duets, or spilling their emotions into intimately personal paragraphs.

So let’s dial back the knee-jerk criticism and embrace insta-love for what it is: a trope that, like, any trope, can be done well or not depending on the strength of the writing.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Food as an Element of Worldbuilding

Fellow ATB contributor, Mary Fan, and I often participate in a mostly Young Adult, Twitter trend called #ThursdayAesthetic hosted by writer, Jessica James. Every week she chooses a theme, and those who participate (usually other writers) design an aesthetic meme to illustrate how that subject appears in their book or current Work in Progress. Last week, Jessica chose “sustenance” as the theme and left the interpretation up to each participant. Not surprisingly, many of us chose to show how food appears in our books.

For example, here’s the aesthetic meme Mary designed for her upcoming YA fantasy STRONGER THAN A BRONZE DRAGON, illustrating what her main character would eat in her East Asia inspired world.

Following Mary’s lead, I designed a food aesthetic for my upcoming YA fantasy, Crown of Thunder (Stormbourne Chronicles Book 3). As a former cook and caterer, I strongly relate to the world through food, and that often bleeds into my world-building. Food is so much a part of the culture of a person and place. 

In Crown of Thunder, Evie travels and eats her  way through numerous countries. Scones, salumi and cheese, saffron rice, maultaschen (dumplings), dilled vegetable salads, fish,   pastries... OMG there is SO MUCH FOOD in  this book

In choosing the dishes Evie would eat, I did quite a bit of research into what foods were available in her current locale. Evie’s world is fantasy, but it’s not-so-loosely-based on Europe, and I wanted her location reflected not just in language, attire, customs, and religion, but also in the meals she ate. I also considered what she might eat when she had plenty of money versus what would she could eat when her pockets were mostly empty.

Putting together the picture aesthetic for the Twitter theme got me thinking a lot about how much food is an important tool in effective world-building. Alice's tea party. Snow White's poisoned apple. Pistachios, figs, almonds, and quince chutney in The Wrath and the Dawn. Honey Cakes in The Bear and the Nightingale. Who are Middle Earth's Hobbits without their insatiable appetites?
Image result for second breakfast

What would Harry Potter's world be without Hogwarts's massive magical feasts,chocolate frogs, butter beer, and Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans? Katniss in The Hunger Games goes from hunting for wild game to keep from starving to eating feasts aboard the train to the Capital. Remember the blue milk in Star Wars? That small element immediately signaled how Luke Skywalker's diet, and therefore his world, was alien from our own. Urban Fantasy author Hailey Edwards writes a series (The Beginner's Guide to Necromancy) with a main character obsessed with churros--it's a small detail, but one that makes Grier seem more real. In my upcoming paranormal romance, Touch of Smoke, my main character lives in a small mountain town in the South, and her diet of biscuits, sweet tea, and pimento cheese reflects her culture.

Food in books is often like background noise--easy to ignore, but getting it wrong adds a dissonant note to what should be a melodic song. Sometimes, though, we're not aware of when we're getting it wrong nor the harm that comes from it. I'd never considered how much weight such a seemingly inconsequential thing like food could have in a story until I read a blog post by Franco-Vietnamese author, Aliette De Bodard.  In her post, WE ARE NOT FICTIONAL: ON DEFAULT ASSUMPTIONS AND WORLDBUILDING de Bodard decries the many ways in which non-Western cultures are erased in media, including in their food.

"It’s exhausting to see, again and again, assumptions that the entire world must follow Western Anglophone norms; that every language must behave like English [1], that every food stuff must be US/UK; that every single culture has the same gender demarcations and boundaries as the Western Anglophone world–that, if you don’t follow these norms, you’re weird. That you’re otheralien, forever not welcome...

Sometimes food is merely a simple innocent detail, but sometimes it conveys a subliminal message. Depending on the setting of a story, things like spices, grains, and other crops were closely intertwined with slave labor and colonialism. Some foods are taboo in certain cultures or carry special religious implications. Using food carefully can enhance and enrich a fantasy culture. Thoughtless applications cuisine can offend, hurt, and erase identities.

For another great resource of food in fantasy world-building, I highly advise checking out: Thinking about Food in Fantasy, a comprehensive blog post that that examines potential pitfalls of food as an element of world-building.

I hope that there's at least one place in heaven that looks like Willy Wonka's chocolate waterfall room--that would be an ultimate fantasy fulfillment. What are some of your favorite foods from literature or meals from books that linger fondly in your memory?

Monday, October 1, 2018

A Horrific Wedding

Another quality post brought to you by Steve!
The countdown to Halloween has begun, everybody!  Yay!  Somehow, and not at all because I plan the blog schedule, I ended up with both the first and the last entries this October.  That means I'm going to both kick off and finish up the Horror Christmas season with you.

And if there's one thing that Hallmark Channel has taught me this time of year (for some reason) it's that everybody enjoys a nice Christmas wedding.  So this year I'm bringing you a Horror Christmas Wedding-themed blogpost to kick things off.  And how will it all end?  Only time will tell.


Something Old:

Image result for "the house on the borderland"

I've been on something of a classic horror kick lately.  This year I've been revisiting some old favorites like Lovecraft and Poe, as well as discovering a few overlooked (by me) gems like Algernon Blackwood, Arthur Machen, and...William Hope Hodgson.

I didn't terribly care for THE NIGHT LAND, Hodgson's I suppose magnum opus, but THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND turned out to be one of those seminal pieces I couldn't believe I'd never read before.  It starts with a man being hunted by pigs from another dimension, and just keeps getting battier and battier from there.  Oh, and did I mention it just turned 110 years old?

The Queen of Cosmic Horror Mary SanGiovanni recently did a deep dive into the novel on her podcast - oh, and you should probably remember that name for later in this list.  It may be reappearing.

For your Horror Christmas wedding I present a delicious (albeit madness inducing) dish: a stuffed, spitted swine-thing with an apple in its mouth.  Mm mm good!

Something New:

I've been talking about it all year, so it should come as no surprise to you that the lovely people at Serial Box decided to release the greatest horror serial of all time (of all time!) in October.

It's coming out on Wednesday, folks.  It's so new it doesn't even exist yet.  But you can still pre-order it with my super-secret 15% off code.

What's it about?  Well, a troop of Cub Scouts goes camping in what's left of the recently burned-down town of Silverwood, California, on the same evening as a corporate retreat.  But there are far more sinister forces at work in Silverwood than just synergy and adolescent curiosity.  Before the end of the night the two groups will be in a full-blown battle alongside and against each other simply to survive.

Couldn't you just picture your dream terror wedding taking place outside in the rolling, ever-changing forests of Silverwood?  What could be better?

Something Borrowed:

When it was announced in 2004 that they would be remaking George A. Romero's seminal 1978 classic (and the greatest zombie movie of all time) "Dawn of the Dead" there was very nearly rioting in the streets.  Well, okay, there was some bitching on message boards.  How dare this Zack Snyder upstart (yes, that Zack Snyder) try to recreate the keystone of the Holy Trilogy?

And you know what?  It turned out to be pretty good.  Pretty damn great, even.  Judging by the first ten minutes, the "Dawn of the Dead" remake should have been the greatest zombie movie of all time, but then it just kind of took things down from 11 a bit.

For the entertainment at your horror wedding I give you a troupe of the undead, handily borrowed from the master himself.

Something Blue:

(also published as: THE BLUE PEOPLE)

Remember up above when I mentioned New Jerseyan professor Mary SanGiovanni talking about Hodgson on her podcast?  Well, it turns out she's also a horror legend, and she also wrote a cosmic horror book about strange blue "people" from beyond the veil of time and space.

Wouldn't they just make perfect guests at your horror wedding?


What about you?  What spooky titles are you going to be checking out this Halloween season?  Let me know in the comments below!
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