Say it ain’t so

undefinedI never had the good fortune to meet the man. I had known of his work since the late 90s, writer/editor EP Berglund having recommended it to my attention back when I was working on the giant Lovecraftian site Letters from Outside. Things by both of us lived in Paul’s fiction indexes, which I would check out from time to time.

But Joe didn’t hang out in the usenet sites that I favored, and our circles only intersected at in frequent intervals.

Many years later, I was introduced by writer/editor Ran Cartwright, when I was embarking on some King In Yellow-flavored work… Joe being the primary exemplar of such work, with the ability to thumb-up or down, or so was the connotation.

A lot of exclamation points followed!!!!!!!!! Joe was a fan of the idea that Carcosa was a deathworld!!!! a big dumb object with some native intelligence!!!!!! a frozen hell that was still somehow the template for all existence, an Amber, casting its baleful shadow over the multiverse, wuth the horrible monstrosity Hastur squatting evilly in the gigantic methane lake as if it were a personal hot tub!!!!!

I embarked on that course and am still chugging along. I read some of his work and was captured. Blood Will Have Its Season was an epiphany!!!!! for!!!! me!!!!! and unlocked the rest of his ouevre.

I fanboyed. Joseph S Pulver, Sr grew to become one of my three favorite living writers — and I told him so a frequent intervals, saying that I loved his work like Erich von Zipper loved his fabulous self. I wrote music inspired by his work.

And most of all I grew to know the man. His mood, his generosity. When I started to put together a book of weird tales, Joe was the first one on board.

That says more than anything, and I’m not the only one who will have such a tale.

Thanks, Joe, and farewell, and we’ll make the books as well as we can. I will bleed on the page. Rest in peace, and say Hi to Stanley and Wilum, please.

I can’t even

I’ve been writing short satirical articles for Medium lately. It isn’t going well, but as I’m not exactly following their preferred template, I expect it to be a long haul.

Am going to try to write here daily again, as well, despite the world’s apparent desire to make me invisible and keep me there.

I’m really discouraged. I’ve been a professional writer on and off since I was a teenager, and despite the many acknowledgements of my competence in both fiction and nonfiction, have yet to get any sort of headway, except for one book that sells two copies a day in Japan.

Recently an acquaintance, who I thought was a friend, published an anthology of things, work done to picture prompts, in my wheelhouse … and I wasn’t invited to contribute.

Given that I’ve gone out of my way to encourage this fellow, that really hurt. And this isn’t unusual. I’ve helped a lot of people get started, and they have no sense of gratitude whatsoever, most of them.

I don’t matter, so they just go somewhere else.

At this point, anger, spite, pain, and self-pity are pretty much all I have left. My health deserted me long ago, and money and relative comfort are not things that people on disability have any right to expect.

I write to fill the time. Originally I was gonna ‘give back’ and all that kinda noble shit but after five years of being a pro and a freelancer I’m reduced to doing research for other people’s articles and links columns with just a little op-ed.

People on the blog I write for have savaged me over and over, to the point that I’m reluctant to to write anything with any depth. I don’t feel like the work would be recognized anyway. So I just do the job — I do it as well as I can, and I’m proud of what I do, but I’m capable of more.

My fiction is relatively subtle and fairly stylized. But there’s no traction there, either. It’s hard for me to successfully argue with myself to continue. It isn’t a crisis of confidence in me – I have no confidence in anyone else at this point.

I’m trying to be above it, and above feeling resentful that what I feel is lesser work is lionized, but I’m utterly failing and the chronic pain and the effort it takes to draw breath are winning the battle.

So I’ve resolved not to support anyone who doesn’t support me. I think that’s fair.

Those who do extend a hand either in friendship or as aid will reap a bounty soon as I write for them these days. The others?

I will treat them with exactly the disrespect I experience, and have all of my life from people like them. I don’t give a fuck anymore.

Yule love these

Happy Holidaze. We recommend these as stocking-stuffers. They’re books I have either produced, helped to produce, or have appeared in.

This is the first book from Oxygen Man Books, a specialty micropress that I run. It’s brand-new, oversized, and ready for prompt delivery.

Moe moe moe

I mentioned the skein of personal victories this weekend… my beloved Cubs won two home games going away, the Scott Thomas poetry collection happened, and lastly, a smol cat boy entered my life.

His name, for now, is Moe. He is about ten weeks old, a sturdy and athletic and curious and lovable black kitten. He’s been here about a day and a half and he and I are firmly bonded. He’s sleeping on my hip right now.

Moe, by Elizabeth Bailey

Sweet little guy. The grown cats hiss and occasionally slap, and he goes about his business. They’ll stop eventually… mean kitty Shadow doesn’t bother him as much as the guys do. That girl’s a born hunter.
He purrs loudly and easily, is easily able to jump up on tables and chairs, is fully box-trained, and loves to curl up in my belly when it’s time to sleep.

Midmonth updates

Been a busy-ass weekend so far, with lots of personal victories. Yesterday I accepted additional material for NIGHTMARES IN YELLOW, and again today some words rolled in and aggregated themselves to the whole.

I’ll post the current Table of Contents below, so you can see how it’s shaping up.

Oxygen Man publication schedule currently sits at four chapbooks, three novels, an anthology, four collections, and two books of poetry, taking us through 2020. No contracts have been exchanged, but we’ve just agreed to publish a book of poems authored by renowned scribe Scott Thomas, with an introduction to be written by his brother, Punktowner Jeffrey Thomas.

The other book of poetry is by up-and-coming horrorist/absurdist Matthew St. Cyr and will contain illustrations. The collections are by esteemed horror writers Sam L. Edwards and Calvin Demmer and by yours truly (who also penned the three novels and the four chapbooks). More by the latter are always possible as I have a tremendous backlog of material and few outlets.

I’m also shopping two novels and am about to get a third out there. Plus the last two Planet X anthos, which are just about wrapped on my end. I’m about ready for a fall staycation, where I can just write my baseball dailies and kick back some. I might even try at some point to take a week off from the blog and go somewhere, if sales are decent (by micropress standards).

All of the Oxygen Man stuff will be available at huge discounts to Patreon subscribers. I urge you to get in on the ground floor while you can.


Table of Contents as of September 14, 2019

Rebecca J. Allred — Lambda 580
Donald Armfield — BEing (p)
David Barker — Chamber of Shards (p)
Adam Bolivar — The Door to Nod (p)
Bruce Boston — Exiled to Hastur (p)
Frank Coffman — Warnings to the Curious (p)
Frank Coffman — Audience With the Last King (p)
Scott Couturier — We Are the Sacrifice (p)
Matthew R. Davis — IL Re Giallo
Mike Davis — Tales of the King in Yellow
Douglas Draa — Neighbors Good and Fair
John Paul Fitch — Faces
Mike Griffin — No Mask to Conceal Her Voice
David Hoenig — Of Kings, Queens, and Knaves
David Hoenig — Last Dance for the Ancient Gods (p)
Curtis M. Lawson — Pinocchio and the Black Pantheon
Ross E. Lockhart — Shrubberies (p)
Edward Morris — Beast: A Fable For Children
Edward Morris and Joe Pulver — The Resplendent Troswoman Below
Renee Mulhare — Paper Masks
KA Opperman — Cassilda Dons the Pallid Mask (p)
Duane Pesice — Sunshine and Scarlet
Mark Rainey — Masque of the Queen
Peter Rawlik — The Imperial Dynasty of America
Erica Ruppert — The Traveller
John Claude Smith — The Yellow Hour
Jeffrey Thomas — The Seed
Scott Thomas — The Sea Might Yet Be Weeping
DJ Tyrer — Beautiful Dreams
Sean M. Thompson — Songs of EyEs
Kaaron Warren — The Naked Man
Don Webb — The Fourth Man
Michael Wehunt — numbers of the bEast

Well, done

Can’t help but notice that I haven’t posted in a century or so. Sorry much. Am trying.

Lots of things going on, this side of the screen. I’ve undertaken to produce a new anthology, to benefit author/editor Joe Pulver and his wife, who are having a tough time of things due to illnesses, and that’s going great guns, with a ToC to die for and early days still. We have about 90K of material on hand and every indication that there will be twice that at least.

Nightmares in Yellow, it’s called. The cover will be decorated with work by artist Derek Pegritz, and it should be out in time for Christmas.

The three chapbooks are soon to debut. All three are set in the CRAZYTOWN universe… two of them are part of the book, and one takes place shortly before the events in the book and the short novel THE FORGOTTEN GOD, which is set to appear next spring.

GREEN will be first,

Bone Sequence second,

and the former Pizza story NARANJA SOUL should be out by Hallowe’en.

Silicon Pringles

I don’t like Mondays. Let’s just say that, explain the title and blow the lede right out of the water with one swell foop. I did promise me that I’d do 500 words a day on the blog so here we are.

(The content that I had put together is on rain delay right now — the unfortunate death of author/editor Sam Gafford threw a monkey wrench into the affairs of my esteemed con-conspirator and the simulposts are on hold for now.

But I don’t want to neglect this page any more, especially given that all of my other urls lead here. So here I am. I expect mostly I’ll just bitch about stuff. If you don’t like screeds or complaining or lefty politics, I understand.

I could post stories but I’m still stupidly hoping to be paid for some of them, and a couple of dozen are due for collections. Am not in the best mental state or in the best spirits right now — fighting too much mental bullshit to work right now. Thanks, brain. Love those bad chemicals.)

Gilroy. Yay. A fucking SIX YEAR OLD CHILD. Please let’s keep those assault weapons on general sale. Or better yet, issue them along with birth certificates so everyone can have one ALL THE TIME. I hate guns. I think they should all be melted down to slag and used to make nails and screws and shit for infrastructure. Don’t @ me.

And THIS is the President? Fuck. Stop dignifying his bullshit with coverage and endless jawflap. The entire media machine are unindicted co-conspirators in this fucking circus. I’m pretty happy that things worked out so I didn’t have to cover this eternal circle jerk. I got out of politics-ghosting and column-and-article-finishing for little money and less credit just in time. My NDAs have run out but I’m going to keep the bylines to myself. I don’t think I’ll revisit that side-hustle. Will stick with the baseball, as frustrating as that is, as it contributes to my never-ending “y not me?” syndrome.

(I write daily columns… three days a week (Monday, Tuesday, and Friday), I do Cubs history factoids. It’s a good column but not especially well-read. The other four days I write/compile Cub Tracks, a complicated affair that’s essentially yardbarker with a literary frame and scientific drop-ins. The baseball history column was originally part of this but was spun off.

Sometimes I write other articles but they’re typically not well-received. The readers object to my lack of statistical data viewpoint and find that my literary humor puts too much spin on the ball.)

(It’s ego-deadening, cheerless work.)

(kind of like fiction these days)

(Add that all in with my usual general worthlessness or feeling of worthlessness and it’s full emergency-brake time.)

Where the hell was this going? Oh yeah, this is your brain on pain. Hooray fibromyalgia.


I have a book coming next week.

GREEN will be the first chapbook from Oxygen Man Books. It’s a teaser, like the Test Patterns teasers, just a bauble to advertise the upcoming CRAZYTOWN collection and the related THE FORGOTTEN GOD short novel.

Maybe the way out of career doldrums is just producing more work. You have to be ready when lady luck calls, I reckon. I’ve done a huge amount of work these past five years, and there just aren’t enough outlets for the kind of things I like to do.

But, for now, I’m going to indulge my inner scared little kid and watch some cartoons or something. Thanks for reading.


muscadinesAgain, in conjunction with greydogtales, our friends from across the big water, we present ten questions with one of our favorite writers — in this case the redoubtable S P Miskowski, who I first encountered in the fabulous Muscadines, a story of three women who have interesting hobbies. It might also be called the Wrath of Grapes but that would be a good deal less poetic and effective.

Ms. Miskowski is perhaps best known for her Skillute Cycle, stories and novels taking place within her created milieu in Washington state. Furthermore, she is a recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships. Her stories have been published in Supernatural Tales, Black Static, Identity Theory, Strange Aeons and Eyedolon Magazine, and in numerous anthologies including The Best Horror of the Year Volume Ten, Haunted Nights, The Madness of Dr. Caligari, October Dreams 2, Autumn Cthulhu, The Hyde Hotel, Darker Companions: Celebrating 50 Years of Ramsey Campbell, Tales from a Talking Board and Looming Low. Her novel I Wish I Was Like You won This Is Horror 2017 Novel of the Year and a Charles Dexter Award for Favorite Novel of 2017 from Strange Aeons Magazine. Her books have received three Shirley Jackson Award nominations and a Bram Stoker Award nomination, and are available from Omnium Gatherum Media and JournalStone/Trepidatio, according to her Amazon author page.


Great stuff… this is one of the people I was most wanting to ‘interview’ when I first embarked on this series of little visits. Without further ado, let’s get on with it:

Where should a reader that is new to your work start?

My first novel, Knock Knock, offers a reliable indication of my obsessions and my general approach to storytelling. Although I’ve used a range of styles, points of view, and settings in my books, I’d say if you don’t find anything of interest in Knock Knock you probably won’t love the rest of my work.

Is there a piece that you are particularly proud of?

Muscadines, a wicked novella in which a character’s sincere journey of self-discovery turns out to be a bad, bad thing. Although the book (published by Dunhams Manor Press) was a finalist for a Shirley Jackson Award and people who like it find it vivid and memorable, it isn’t widely read. It’s almost as if people are disturbed by the idea of three middle-aged sisters resurrecting their childhood as daughters and henchmen to a vicious killer named Ruth Parker. (LOL) This female-centric tale is probably the most poetic thing I’ve written and certainly the most brutal.

I think we still have a deep fear of admitting how violent women can be. We can’t reconcile female cruelty with our sacred mythology around motherhood. Every time we try, we end up making excuses to return to a comfortable place where all women possess maternal instinct and want to care for babies.

Women are everywhere in my fiction. I want to write the full range of possibilities, not only roles and actions most people think of as ‘women’s concerns’ but everything—every possible act. Because people are capable of so many things, and if we refuse to acknowledge women as perpetrators of violence, we are saying that we refuse to see women as human.

Transgressive fiction should seek to injure expectations and leave a scar. Give the reader something new to consider. Muscadines does that, I hope.

Miskowski Cover 2Whose work do you read, yourself?

I read widely, non-fiction and fiction. I’m interested in everything. For clarity and pure joy I return time and again to Janet Malcolm, Flannery O’Connor, and Shirley Jackson.

What kind of beer goes with your pizza? And what’s on the pizza?

I’ll take a blood orange blonde—in a bottle. Olive oil, mozzarella, goat cheese, roasted garlic, oregano, and basil.

Do you consider your work weird, or horror? Or do you leave that to the marketing department?

I am the weird thing. I write the horror. To answer more seriously, horror is close to my heart and I like to think what I’m writing can be classified as horror, whether supernatural or psychological. But I’m not much concerned about categories. I’m concerned about telling the truth no matter how painful it might be.

My life has taught me to be on the lookout for hypocrisy, and to ask hard questions. With each story I try to fuse atmosphere and action, character and setting. But these are technical aims. In terms of content, my wish is to peel away all of the layers we create to conceal what we really are. The resulting fiction is usually horror or something close to it. Readers can decide whether or not I’ve done a good job.

You’ve been convicted of crimes against the empire. What would be your last meal? Include something big to hide the explosives in.

That meal would be French. A seven-course meal prepared by Eric Ripert, please. I’d go for the obvious and put a bomb in the bombe. No one will suspect the bombe, right?

Are you involved in any arts besides writing? Any odd hobbies we should know about?

I love to ride trains. Not much of a hobby, is it? I’ve tried many things including modern dance, martial arts, sewing, skating, cooking, and pottery. I’m awful at all of these. I tend to dabble. Writing fiction is the only activity to hold my interest over the years. I’ve been making up stories to entertain other people since I was three or four years old.

Cats or dogs?

I love both. My current partner in crime is feline.

Tell us about a work-in-progress.

At the moment I’m revising a novel and writing a novella. The novel is about two women and how the breakup of their brief friendship has unexpected, tragic consequences. The novella concerns a woman whose dull life is made more colorful by her obsessive attraction to a washed-up TV actor.

Thanks for being so kind. Is there anything else you would like readers to know?

If they Google my peculiar name, they will find my website and my author page on Amazon. My books are published by Omnium Gatherum and JournalStone and can be ordered through any independent bookstore. Happy reading!

That’s the end… characteristically terse and informative.

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to pick up a copy of Occult Detective Quarterly at your earliest convenience. Also please help us to ensure that The Death of an Author takes place in the reasonably near future. And stay tuned for more interviews and other madness.

D3M0N From the Sky

oxygenmantransIn conjunction with our wise friends at greydogtales (lurchers are people too), across the Atlantic sea, the editorial we have been publishing short interviews with a group of weird fiction purveyors — writers, editors, publishers of such fictions, and it in this newly-minted tradition that we present to you ten questions with the mighty Sean M. Thompson, whose work I have had the great good fortune to view in my inbox several times.

I could tell you about Sean and his deeds and humors, but I am strictly forbidden to do so under penalty of law. Therefore we shall let that worthy speak for himself.

His several works can be obtained via his Amazon author page. I dislike shilling for Bezos, but that’s where the stuff is.

His words are below:

Where should a reader that is new to your work start?

Hmm. An interesting conundrum, to be sure. I would say a reader brand new to my work, if they are into short stories, should seek out my story from VASTARIEN volume 1, issue 3, known as THE BLIND OPERA. I say this, as the story seems to be well liked. I hesitate to lead new readers to my chapbook and ultra short collection TOO LATE, as it is, and has always been a collection of early works, which frankly would be better appreciated AFTER reading my newer output.

If a reader were so inclined toward novels, I’d say read TH3 D3M0N, my first book. If they were inclined to short novels, aka novellas and or novelettes, I’d steer them to FARMINGTON CORRECTIONAL, or if they were more into surrealism, my bizarro novella HATE FROM THE SKY.

And since I’m such a nice man, I can even link to a story featured on the Conqueror Weird website they can read for free. I realize not everyone has the money to drop, or the proclivity to do as such, without first sampling of my work.


Is there a piece that you are particularly proud of?

I’m very proud of most of my output. That’s such a difficult question, as I try to not get hung up on any one piece of work I’ve done. I’m always looking forward to the new projects and challenges, the experimentation and hard work required to continue to push myself to be the best I can be.

But, this. This is objectively the best thing I’ve done.

Whose work do you read, yourself?

I only read my own work. I lock myself in a room full of mirrors, and read my own work aloud, while fondling my body, slicked with olive oil. Then at the moment of climax, I scream I HAVE THE POWER!

No, uh… let’s see here. I do read myself, though it’ll usually consist of picking up one of my older books, and turning to a page at random, and seeing how it reads. It’s an exercise in seeing if any one page in random sequence can hold up. It doesn’t always, but it’s usually good enough I remember why I decided to spend so much time at this.

As for others, of course I read them. You have to. I try to read widely, but I tend to branch out more with audiobooks. Some of my biggest influences are writers like Barker, King, Ketchum, Matheson, Oates (JCO ftw), Ligotti, Gaiman, Lovecraft, Palahniuk, and if I’m being honest, Crichton. SPHERE fucked me up as a kid.

In terms of my peers, people writing similar things, yeah, I also read them. Matthew M. Bartlett, Gwendolyn Kiste, Sleddy, Jeremy Robert Johnson, Jonathan Raab, Tom Breen, Stephen Graham Jones, Brian Evenson, Paul Tremblay, Farah Rose Smith, Jon Padgett, Nicole Cushing, Laird Barron (early works), John Langan, John Claude Smith, Gemma Files, Livia Llewellyn, Leza Cantoral, Autumn Christian. I hate doing these lists though, as there’s perpetually someone who has a new story or book that lights me up, where I haven’t read enough of their work to really say if it’s going to have a lasting influence. Just this week I read a book by Scott Cole TRIPLE AXE that was so much god damn fun.

And of course I read a lot of other pop lit, and or horror adjacent stuff, people like Gillian Flynn, Dan Chaon, Stewart O’ Nan, those kind of writers.

What kind of beer goes with your pizza? And what’s on the pizza?

I have a bad stomach, so I tend to like lighter beers, though I also like fruity beers. I just had one this weekend, a local one (I live in Santa Fe, NM) called… hold on, let me see here… *Googles brand… AH! Yes, it was called SOCIAL HOUR, from the SANTA FE BREWING COMPANY. Light, with hints of citrus. I also like CORONA LIGHT, or HEINIKIN LIGHT, maybe a LONE STAR.

As for pizza toppings, Hawaiian is probably my favorite, ham and pineapple. I prefer Canadian bacon to ham with the Hawaiian, and or ham and bacon. And before anyone starts with that week bloodline shit, I’m descended from Grace o’ Malley the pirate queen, who stole British naval vessels and robbed motherfuckers. Just because y’all don’t recognize that the taste combo of salty and tangy and sweet is no different than say, most Chinese food, or BBQ ribs, or any number of sweet sauces put onto salty meats, does not mean we of the pineapple have to bow down and accept your cowardly ways. I would like to add that I think a lot of places don’t do Hawaiian pizza right. You ABSOLUTELY need to make sure the pineapple is drained, because if there’s any excess liquid it’ll soak into the dough and mess with the baking process. When done correctly, pineapple on pizza should be no wetter than tomatoes on pizza. And for real, you need good ham or Canadian bacon, or good bacon. Any sub par version of these meats will mess with the flavor profile, and then it’s just a mess.

Do you consider your work weird, or horror? Or do you leave that to the marketing department?

I consider my work to be horror. But I don’t give a shit what you call it as long as you buy it.

You’ve been convicted of crimes against the empire. What would be your last meal? Include something big to hide the explosives in.

I’m going to refrain from the original answer I had in mind, which was fairly perverse. I’m like a pregnant woman, I tend to go for bites of this and that. So, Tuna melt, quesadillas, lobster roll (best are in Maine, I like the ones from THE ROCKLAND CAFÉ, but there’s a ton of good places), clam chowder, Boston cream pie, Skittles and Starburst, and chicken strips from WILLIE’S in NOLA, but you better bring me the fucking honey sauce, and some sort of mustard sauce. And yeah, probably a slice of two of Hawaiian pizza.
And Adderall. If I’m about to die, I’m taking a LOT of fucking Adderall. Sobriety be damned.

Are you involved in any arts besides writing? Any odd hobbies we should know about?

Yeah. I like to try many different art forms. I think experimenting in different mediums gives you a unique perspective into prose. I’m a hobby editor of audio and video, and I’m not half bad. I’ve performed and recorded stories, and at one point I played around with a radio play type of thing, with sound effects, all dialogue and no prose. I admittedly don’t really paint yet. Not that I’m against trying it out, I just haven’t had the money, or inclination to try yet. I did a few collages, and I wouldn’t mind going back into that. They were fun. I doodle sometimes, though I’m not very good at it.

As for other hobbies, I can juggle, but only 3 objects at a time. And I like to skateboard, or rather used to skateboard. I’m a little too old and fat, and lacking good insurance to really go hard in the streets.

Cats or dogs?

Both. I prefer cats because I’ve never owned a dog. But someday, once my current cat goes over the Rainbow Bridge, my girlfriend and I plan to get a pup. We have a specific breed in mind, the great American brown dog (a shelter mutt).

Tell us about a work-in-progress.

There are two, which will ideally be out within the next year. One is an extreme horror novella, and the other is my first full-length short story collection, about 13 or so stories. I don’t want to say any more, as I’m not supposed to. And I’m about 20 pages into my next novel, which is the one I plan to find an agent with, or, ideally to find an agent with.

Thanks for being so kind. Is there anything else you would like readers to know?

Yes. I’m assuming many of you reading this are writers. Writing is hard. When trying to make writing into any sort of career, you need to realize that the hardest part of the job has nothing to do with the writing itself. Who takes off and who doesn’t is, more or less, arbitrary. Who is popular usually has less to do with skill and much more to do with hard work, and luck. It’s important to stay positive, and to try to keep the faith. There’s a high probability you’ll stay in relative obscurity for most of if not your entire writing career. You need to be able to enjoy the writing for what it is: self-expression, and artistic achievement. You need to be able to accept you might only ever have a handful of readers, and that’s okay. Even having one story published, you’ve still accomplished a feat that the majority of the population can not, nor will ever do. Go easy on yourself. No one else will. Ignore the haters, always take the comment section and reviews with a grain of salt, and above all, try to keep having fun with it. If you aren’t having at least a little fun writing, why bother? You only get one go around on this crazy planet, so do what makes you happy, as long as it doesn’t actively hurt anyone else. Even if that is reading your own work in a room full of mirrors covered in olive oil.


Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to pick up a copy of Occult Detective Quarterly at your earliest convenience. Also please help us to ensure that The Death of an Author takes place in the reasonably near future. And stay tuned for more interviews and other madness.


Slow cooking is best

Simulposted on GreyDogTales.

oxygenmantransGreetings, weird children of all ages. For the first part of our GIANT CROSSOVER EVENT, we bring you the words of Sam (S. L.) Edwards, a writer and professional Texan who has hijacked the weird horror wagon and is steadily urging it southward, toward the Lone Star State.

It must be confessed, here at the onset, the outset, the preface as it were, to borrow a phrase from Bruce Wolf, that I myself have been guilty of including Edwards stories in many of the anthologies I have edited, and will likely do so in the future. I also have in my possession a contract which says that I am responsible for an entire book of his tales, which Oxygen Man Books will release next year.

nuff said? Onward!

Where should a reader that is new to your work start?

Well, I suppose the easiest answer is “in the beginning.” I’ve put the stories in “Whiskey and Other Unusual Ghosts,” in what I hope is a thematically coherent manner, but I’ve also organized them by length. The first story “Maggie Was A Monster,” is something of a flash-fiction sucker punch. I’m afraid that many people will buy this collection expecting the humor of Borkchito and that’s…just not what “Whiskey” is. Start with “Maggie,” then continue on to “I’ve Been Here A Very Long Time.”

Is there a piece that you are particularly proud of?

I think that “Volver Al Monte,” was a piece where I really began to realize what exactly I was about. This is a piece where there really is no hero to speak of. General Alfonsín Santos seems sympathetic. He’s old. He’s trying to do what is obviously the right thing, but only in this particular moment. We learn that the General cut his teeth on an earlier, more brutal war. And that his ruthlessness continued well past the end of that conflict.

That’s when I started to think about how character-oriented I am as a writer. How I needed to strive even to make my monsters sympathetic. And from reader feedback, I think I did accomplish that to some degree. At least I hope I did.

Cabras,” gets an honorable mention, as well as “Golden Girl.” Golden Girl I really wrote as a fun piece, and I think readers had fun with it. There are other characters, who didn’t make it into “Whiskey” who I am proud of. I am proud of John Armitage, who will be debuting in the “Test Patterns: Weird Westerns” anthology, and I’m proud of the Bartred family, who can be found in the pages of “Occult Detective Quarterly.”

Whose work do you read, yourself?

Man when I get asked this question…let me tell you: nothing like an interview to get you to go out and promote the ever-loving **** out of your fellow writers. I’ll start with John Langan, whose latest collection “Sefira and Other Betrayals” was some of his best work yet. Nadia Bulkin, who changed the game for the sort of political writing that I also try to do. Gwendolyn Kiste, who managed to create a very haunting ghost story in “The Rust Maidens.” S.P. Miskowski, who’s Skillute Cycle and “I Wish I was Like You” still make me think, two years after going through them. Matthew M. Bartlett, Michael Wehunt, Jon Padgett, Jonathan Raab, Mer Whinery, Orrin Grey (how great is Orrin Grey?), Christopher Slatsky, Kurt Fawver, Jayaprakash Satyamurthy. Part of the benefit of being friends with poets Ashley Dioses and KA Opperman is that they’ll send you beautiful poems to read.

Then there’s writers who I know I have collections coming out soon. Betty Rocksteady’s “In Dreams We Rot,” and Scott R Jones “Shout, Kill, Revel Repeat” are both slated to be out this year. I’ve been a fan of theirs’ for a long time, and I am very eager to read what they’ve put out. I hope readers of this interview, and Whiskey, will go and look at these author’s works. The shrimp-master himself, Peter Rawlik had his debut collection drop as well.

I also just finished Max Booth III’s “Carnivorous Lunar Activities.” Outstanding, funny. Fast-paced and also outstanding.

Then of course, there’s my friends. Duane Pesice with his gonzo-fantasy horror. I’ll tell you I’m rereading my Robert Bloch (the first dead writer to come up so far) and I see a lot of connections between Pesice and Bloch. Same with my friend Russell Smeaton, who just kickstarted his own collection quite successfully. I’m currently Beta reading for Robert S. Wilson, who is coming up with some extraordinary work. John Paul Fitch remains one of my favorite writers, and one who started with me quite early on in the pages of Ravenwood Quarterly.

Then there’s folks like William Tea, Christopher Ropes, Brooke Warra. I need collections from them. Demand it. And if I don’t get to blurb those collections I will be personally slighted. Erica Ruppert does outstanding work too. As does Premee Mohammad. I just ran across Lena Ng in an issue of Gehenna and Hinnom and loved what I read.

Dead writers: Bloch. Gabriel García Marquez. Leo Tolstoy. H.P. Lovecraft. Poe. Poe everything all the time. Blackwood, Machen, Hope Hodgson, Clark Ashton Smith. Vasilly Grossman. Lots of Grossman. Neil Gaiman.

What kind of beer goes with your pizza? And what’s on the pizza?

Hahaha. Well you know, I’m from a hot climate. And hot weather really pairs best with an IPA or a pilsner. I used to like wheat beers, but they’ve really started to taste like nothing to me. I love stouts, but a stout is an end-of-the-day beer. Mostly a meal of its own, particularly if it’s an imperial. Barleywines too, are whole meals.

So I’m going to throw you for a bit of a loop (broether): I’m going to go with a hazy ipa. They’re still gonna be too hoppy for you IPA haters, but are cloudy and juicy.

As with beer, I like most of anything on pizza. I am a very simple, easy man to please. BBQ chicken, Hawaiian, meat lovers, etc. But I suppose my ideal beer and pizza, today, would be:

Canadian Bacon. Pineapple. Jalapeños. Diced tomatoes. Hazy IPA. I’m also partial to mushrooms, but the pineapple mushroom combination just doesn’t seem to bode well.

However, and I cannot stress this enough, no black olives. I find a black olive on my pizza and I’m gonna riot.

Do you consider your work weird, or horror? Or do you leave that to the marketing department?

You know what? “Horror.” I remember getting the first blurbs from Whiskey back and one author, who I really admire, reached out to say “Wow. This is surprising. This is ‘literary.’” And I take that as a compliment, but I’m just not sure what it means. I think it’s one of those distinctions, like “graphic novel” and “comic” that was first made to make fiction seem more sophisticated. But horror is plenty of sophisticated. How could it not be? When dealing with human anguish, smallness, life-after-death, living memories, physical transformations? These are the hardest things that a human being could grapple with, subjects which have seen the dedication of philosophers and scientists alike for hundreds of years.

How could that not be sophisticated?

You’ve been convicted of crimes against the empire. What would be your last meal? Include something big to hide the explosives in.

The head of the emperor. He will know my vengeance.

Are you involved in any arts besides writing? Any odd hobbies we should know about?

No arts, and this is my hobby. I like to run, hike, exercise. Cook when I can afford it.

Cats or dogs?

I like the idea of a cat. They can be very affectionate pets, in tune with the emotions of their people. They are also quite cute. But sadly, I am very allergic. Which I do regret, because people do love them. And they do deserve love.

So, I am thoroughly a dog person. Particularly corgis. I like their fat little bodies and stumpy little legs.

Tell us about a work-in-progress.

John Armitage is a warlock sheriff. He currently serves as the sheriff of Freedomtown, a settlement founded by the children of runaway slaves. He’s being called upon to investigate a murder in Night Town, a vampire settlement built in the side of a cliff and hidden from the sun. Next, he’ll have to deal with the arrival of a team of scientists and a young samurai to Freedomtown.

Thanks for being so kind. Is there anything else you would like readers to know?

Readers: look at me. It is paramount that you take care of your mental health. I want you to know that no matter how hard things seem now, you’re going to get through it. You’re not as alone as you think you are and I think you’re great just the way you are. I hope you’re getting enough sleep. I hope you’re drinking plenty of water.

But I do want to tell you about my collection, “Whiskey.” I can’t say I made it alone. I had a great editor in CP Dunphey, an outstanding collaborator in Yves Tourigny. And the horror/weird community has come out of the woodwork to support me.

I hope you’ll give me a chance, just like they have.

Thank you.

Oh, and thank YOU, Mr. Edwards, and YOU, dear reader. Myself and Mr. Grant will be pleased to present interview #2 as soon as is humanly possible. Until then, we’ll have the usual kind of content we feature.