Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Review: Dangerous boys - by Greg F. Gifune

5 of 5 Stars

In my humble opinion, Dangerous Boys is the first must-read novel of 2018.  Greg Gifune's latest work falls squarely in the crime fiction category and is a brilliant tale set in the Summer of  '84.

New Bedford, Mass, was a city like many others.  A city with both good and bad.  In many ways, Ritchie and his friends were much like the city they lived in.

There's a line early on in Dangerous Boys which refers to the city but also sums up its central characters.  "Once darkness took hold, the city turned even more dangerous than in daylight hours."

I was immediately and totally engrossed by this coming of age tale.  Ritchie, Aldo, Petie, Fritz, Ray, and Dino.  "Dino Abruzzo.  We called him Ma, which was a nickname that stood for mental Abruzzo."   Under no circumstances, did you want to do anything to set Dino off.  "When it came to Dino, it was like hanging out with a tiger.  All fine and good until the tiger went tiger on your ass."

I found myself easily lost in the world created by the author. His words paint the picture of the life and times of these characters...

"I set the small oscillating fan to high, smoked a couple cigarettes, finished the beer and threw my headphones on. Rocking along with DIO for a while, I watched the shadows play along the walls and ceilings, the lights from passing cars on the street below gliding through the room like spirits, as lost and trapped within these walls as I was. Although it served as a sanctuary of sorts, my room was no different than the rest of the apartment: small, cramped, dusty and old. The building was dying. Slowly. Just like everything else in this neighborhood. It wasn’t much, but I was used to it, and it was the only room I ever remembered having, so I made the best of it. We’d lived in the building, in this same third-floor apartment, since I was five years old. People always told me nothing stayed the same. Here, nothing ever changed." 

The story is relentless and the pace is blistering as the characters and their lives roll along to the inevitable destiny they all share.  By the middle of the story, I felt I knew these characters intimately.  Like I was one of them like I was a part of the gang.

It's been a long time since I've read a book as engrossing as Dangerous Boys.  I can't recommend this one highly enough.

Dangerous Boys is published by Down and Out Books and is available now in both Paperback and e-book formats.

From the author's bio - Greg F. Gifune is a best-selling, internationally-published author of several acclaimed novels, novellas and two short story collections. Greg's work is predominantly in the horror and crime genres. Two of his short stories, Hoax and First Impressions have been adapted to film. His novel Children of Chaos is currently under a development deal to be made into a television series, and his novel The Bleeding Season has been called one of the best horror/thriller novels of the decade. Greg resides in Massachusetts with his wife Carol, a few cats, and his beloved dog Dozer.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Interview: Thirteen Questions with Greg F. Gifune

Every now and again, it's nice to shake things up just a bit.  Thanks to recent nor'easters, power outages, and the like.  Here is the first in what may turn out to be a series of occasional interviews with some of the best genre writers in the business.  Now, it is with great pleasure I present Thirteen Questions with Greg F. Gifune.

1)  Tell us a bit about yourself, Greg.

I never know quite how to answer this kind of thing, Frank, I guess just refer to my bio.
I’m a professional novelist and editor, have been for twenty years, live in Massachusetts with my wife of 31 years and our dog Dozer.

2)  Anyone who follows you on FB has seen that post as often about your dogs, Bella & Dozer, as you do about your work.  I was saddened to hear of Bella's passing recently, but could you share a little about your love for these animals.

It’s really funny. Dozer and Bella have almost as many fans around the world as I do. There are a handful of people who could not possibly care less about what I’m up to and only follow me so they can keep up with my dogs and their exploits, which I think is hilarious, sweet and absolutely wonderful.  Bella, in particular, came to us as a rescue when she was two, and immediately had a huge impact on our lives, including Dozer. Unfortunately she had cancer and succumbed to it in February, just three days after the death of my mother, actually. It was a horrible month, to say the least. Bella was a character and a very loving girl and we all miss her terribly. My love for animals is something that’s been a part of me for as long as I’ve been alive. From the time I was a little boy I had a connection and affinity for animals, and it grows stronger the older I get. I often prefer the company of animals to humans, and I consider them to be our superiors, not the other way around. I can only dream of loving as unconditionally as Dozer does, of having a heart as pure as his. I think at their best, animals make us better human beings, better people, if we let them, and I’ve always believed the way someone treats and considers animals speaks volumes about who they are. Dozer brought a tremendous amount of healing and joy and love to our lives from the moment we met him as a puppy, and, so did Bella. Dozer continues to enrich our lives every day, as does Bella’s memory.

3)  When did you start writing and when was it that you had your first story published.

I’ve been writing literally since before I could write.  I have an older sister, and she used to write down my stories for me as I dictated them as a little boy.  Then she’d illustrate them.  It’s one of my fondest memories from childhood.  I don’t ever remember it not being part of me. I always had to get things out, to write them down, to exorcise myself of them in a way, and writing was a way to do that.  I think I was born with some God-given talent, as I had this basic ability to write and have no idea how I got it or where it came from.  It was just something I could do and felt the need to do.  I then worked very hard and learned my craft both formally and on my own, and continued to hone it (and will continue to do so forever).  I decided to give writing a shot professionally when I was in my early 30s.  I went just shy of five straight years with nothing but rejections. My first published fiction was back in the late 90s, my story Down to Sleep (which a few years later became the anchor and title of one of my two short story collections). It was accepted by a small magazine called Dream International Quarterly, and things took off from there.

4)  Among all of your works to date, do you have a favorite, and what would it be an why.

I really don’t.  I’ll spare you the whole ‘they’re like my children’ routine (or I won’t, I guess, since I just said it), but all of my novels and novellas have their own life and meaning and value.  There are some that hold a special place for me, THE BLEEDING SEASON, because it was my first published horror novel (my second novel published) and it really put me on the map, so to speak, led to everything else and has since garnered a cult classic status in the genre with many.  Other novels like SAYING UNCLE, BLOOD IN ELECTRIC BLUE, DANGEROUS BOYS and GARDENS OF NIGHT I have deep personal connections with, but then everything I write has that to a degree, or I don’t write it. So no favorites, really, they all have their own unique power and importance to me in their own ways.

5)  Who is your favorite genre writer and your favorite non-genre write and why choose them?

Too many to name, frankly, but whoever I’m drawn to, it’s because their work speaks to me on some level.

6)  Do you ever write under a pseudonym?

Very rarely, but I have done it a couple times.

7)  What is your writing schedule like? Do you have a set routine, or do you write when the spirit or the muse moves you?  Do you actually have a muse?

I treat it like the job it is, in that specific regard.  I get up, have some coffee, and go to work in the morning (usually around 7-7:30). On good days I generally wrap up around 5:00-6:00, but many days end up being twelve or fourteen hour days, particularly if I’m dealing with deadlines and juggling multiple projects (which is most of the time).  I usually work Monday through Friday and try my best to take weekends off when I can.  There are those weeks where I have to work six or seven days a week, but generally it’s five. My muse is my mortgage and general desire to live indoors. Honestly, what moves me is internal.  It’s emotional, spiritual even.  It’s that feeling deep inside that needs to get out. It’s a purge for me, which is why I’ve always been in the Dorothy Parker camp in that I don’t necessarily like writing, but love having written.

8)  I'm not going to ask, "Where do you get your ideas?" per se, but how about this?  What was the strangest or most unusual source for a story idea?

Thank you for not asking that (I’ve been asked that so many times in countless interviews over the years I couldn’t even give you a number), and besides, I never know how to answer it anyway, because the truth is, I have no idea.  As for the strangest source, probably just life experiences, in that everything I do comes from that (suffice to say I’ve experienced a lot, good and bad, enough for several lifetimes) or something I’m fascinated by/with. It’s always the jumping off point in some way, shape or form.

9)  What is the best piece of advice you ever got when you were starting out as a writer and who gave it to you?

Never take yourself seriously but always take the work very seriously, and always respect both the work and the craft. Try not to take things personally, as it is a brutally difficult and often cruel business.  Always remember that while it is art, it is also a business, and if you’re a professional (or want to be) behave that way. Don’t worry about being ‘published’ and concentrate instead on learning and honing your craft.  Always strive to be the best writer you can be, and the publishing part will come. Never stop learning and honing your craft, because the moment you do, you’re dead in the water. Don’t allow failure to be a stumbling block but an opportunity to improve and fight harder to succeed. Prove them wrong. Respect those who came before you who have earned it and deserve it.
All that came from various mentors I was fortunate enough to have known and learned a great deal from.

10) I'm sorry to say, I haven't read all of your works...yet.  But, I have read nine, and among my favorites are Babylon Terminal, Savages, and my absolute favorite, Dreams the Ragman.  Please share a little about the genesis of the later.

The genesis was a friendship, the relationship between the two main characters and how it ends up defining them both in ways neither suspected it might (and yet somehow knew all along it would). It is probably the most polarizing thing I’ve written, because I got some angry letters and emails from people who weren’t comfortable with some of the themes I explored in the work. In fact, I got my favorite bit of hate mail ever when Ragman was released. One guy wrote to tell me how angry the novella had made him because it was ‘nothing more than a thinly veiled love story that attempts to normalize homosexuality.’  He was correct, of course, except that it’s not thinly veiled at all, and simply explores the complexities of love all human beings are faced with, the darkness and the light. Although it was clearly his intention to upset me, I’ve always considered his criticism a source of extreme pride, and have kept his letter in my desk to this day. So, people tend to either love or hate Dreams the Ragman, and that’s cool, because I knew that would be the case going in. The overwhelming majority of readers were really moved by it, though, and I think saw and understood that despite all the darkness in the piece, there is also a universal humanity that runs through it that is (hopefully) just as powerful as the more disturbing parts.  Not long after the release, it ended up winning a reader choice award, which was nice. I don’t care about awards in the arts and generally find them self-serving and rather silly, honestly, but when they come directly from readers, it’s a completely different animal.  Those (I’ve been fortunate enough to win two) mean the world to me, and I’m proud Ragman was one.  It’s also dedicated to the late Tom Picccirilli, a friend and big supporter of mine, who was not just a great writer, but a great guy. So I’m glad to hear it’s a favorite of yours, thanks.

11) Your latest book is Dangerous Boys, which IMHO is right up there with Dreams the Ragman.  I don't really see this one as horror, although it has some elements of that.  What it is is some damn fine storytelling.  Why this story and why set it in the early eighties?

Thanks.  It definitely is not a horror novel.  It’s a crime and coming-of-age novel more mainstream in nature.  I have primarily written in the horror genre, but have also always written (though less frequently) in the crime genre as well. The background with this story is kind of involved, and very personal. My mother just died recently, but a couple years ago, she became quite ill. We were always close, and one of the more difficult things I’ve ever faced was watching this vibrant and extremely intelligent woman have to go into a nursing home and slowly waste away with not only physical ailments, but the onset of dementia. Heartbreaking and very stressful, I tried my best to return to work, but found I couldn’t concentrate enough to write. I had been through some horrible things in the past and I’d never had this happen before. It wasn’t writer’s block exactly, in that I knew what I wanted to write and did want to write it, I just couldn’t seem to focus to the extent necessary to actually get it done. So for a couple weeks, I didn’t even try. Then I thought that maybe if I did some editing it might help, as sometimes that can get my creative juices flowing. I went back through all my unfinished projects, numerous novels and novellas I had to put aside for various reasons, and happened to come upon DANGEROUS BOYS. I had written the first chapter of this novel a couple of years before with every intention of finishing it, but due to other contracted projects I had to focus on instead, it ended up on the back burner and I hadn’t returned to it.  I figured editing that first chapter might help, so I did, and I made some significant changes and tightened it up quite a bit.  I also realized I really liked what I had, and just as when I’d first written that opening chapter, I had the entire novel in my head and could see the entire thing before me.  The problem was writing it. So I played a little game with myself and decided to see if I could write the second chapter, telling myself I’d stop there. For some reason, I was unable to write anything else during that time, but DANGEROUS BOYS flowed out of me with an ease I’ve rarely experienced even at the best of times and with total focus. I went chapter by chapter, fully expecting the same lack of focus to eventually become a problem. But it didn’t, so I kept going.  Do one more chapter and see what happens, I’d tell myself. And a year later, the novel was done. Much of the novel is loosely based on real incidents and the main characters are all based on compilations of guys I knew and ran with back in the day, so I knew this story, I knew these people, and I knew what I wanted to do with it. What amazed me was that I was able to do it when I could do nothing else. Miraculously, once DANGEROUS BOYS was finished, I found I was once again able to write other things and to work on other projects, so it freed me in a way nothing else had to that point. The reason I set it in the early 1980s is because everything it’s based on took place during that timeframe, and it helped with the authenticity and my ability to have these people act and speak in ways they likely never would in 2018. These guys, and their story, fit and belong in that time. DANGEROUS BOYS was a novel I always wanted to write, and now that’s it’s done and out there, I’m very proud of it.

12) When you're not writing, what are some of your favorite things to do?

I love to spend time with my wife Carol and the Doze, and to hang out with my friends. I’m a big movie fanatic, and I like to read for pleasure too (I don’t get to as much as I’d like to anymore, but I do as often as I can).  I’m a sports fan, for the most part. Big hockey fan in particular (Boston Bruins fanatic since I was about age six).  I enjoy vodka now and then (code for a lot), and sex, drugs, and rock and roll as much as the next person. Okay, maybe more. Probably depends on the person, who can say? I also love to cook.

13) What's next for Greg F. Gifune, provided you're at liberty to discuss?

Lots of exciting things coming, more novels and novellas, including my new horror novel A WINTER SLEEP, which will be out next month from Independent Legions Publishing and available everywhere. Six novels from my backlist that had gone out of print recently will be returning from Journalstone, including a 15-year Anniversary Edition of my novel THE BLEEDING SEASON I’m very excited about, which will feature a new Introduction from Ron Malfi and a new Afterword from Eric Shapiro. Also some film and TV things happening I can’t get into in specifics yet but should be exciting, so stay tuned.

In closing, are there any thoughts you'd care to share?

My official website ( is no longer mine, and I am no longer in ANY way affiliated with it. The domain expired while the site was down for renovation and some other entity in Japan scooped it up and now uses it as some sort of advertising site, but again, it has nothing to do with me even though they’re using my name. If you want to connect or keep up to date with what’s happening with me, find me on Facebook or Twitter (or both).

And thanks so much for having me, Frank, always a pleasure.

Thanks for talking the time, Greg.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Review: Blood Desert: A Penny Miller Novel - by Steven W. Booth & Harry Shannon

5 of  5 Stars     Review copy

Every now and again you need a book like Blood Desert: A Penny Miller Novel just to clear the air, to show you how much fun reading can be.  No political undertones, no heavy themes, no underlying message.  Just a flat-out good time.

If you don't already know who Penny Miller is, that's OK.  You'll learn everything you need to know about the bad-ass Sheriff of Flat Rock, Nevada in this new novel from Steven W. Booth and Harry Shannon.  But, when you're done with Blood Desert you may want to look up the six other books in the Penny Miller series as she does her best to survive the zombie apocalypse.

The newest book in the series takes place before all of those other novels and there's not a zombie in sight, but don't worry, there's plenty of other threats to the peace in this small desert community.  As if, it's not hard enough dealing with her ex, a drunken deputy who happens to be the Mayor's nephew, and a strange ailment affecting the cattle out on the Harrison ranch.  "It seems someone or something drained those cattle of blood."

When the humans begin to succumb to the same conditions as the cattle, things go south quickly.

"For a moment, vertigo set in, and Miller felt simultaneously lost in the vast expanse of the corridor and closed in by the sound or her own heartbeat.  She realized her mind was struggling with uncomfortable truths and cognitive dissonance of a most unusual nature.  The craziest of ideas suddenly seemed sane, and the normal abruptly threatening.  Monsters walked the earth."

Of course, Penny Miller remains the undisputed Queen of Snark.  Many of her best witticisms are too colorful for an Amazon review, but here are a couple of her milder remarks...

"As sure as a teenaged zit on prom night." & "I screwed up bigger than a drunk field goal kicker at the Superbowl."

Steven W. Booth and Harry Shannon still have entertaining tales to tell.  Blood Desert was Flat(rock)-out fun.

Welcome back Penny Miller, can't wait to see what your future holds.  Recommended.

Blood Desert: A Penny Miller Novel is available in both paperback and e-book formats from Genius Book Publishing.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Guest Post: A letter from Penny Miller (The protagonist in the new novel Blood Desert)

To: Frank Michaels Errington

From: Sheriff Penny Miller, Flat Rock NV


Right off, let me caution you that this memo was written under difficult circumstances. In fact, it may not seem to make a lick of sense at first, mostly because I’m worn out as a goose with a bad case of the shits. I don’t even know where to start, so just gonna come right out and say whatever comes to mind, whether in or out of order.
Seems hard to believe now, but my little desert town, and the whole damn flat as a bovine frisbee county it squats in, used to be a calm and sleepy place. A big Saturday night had me putting a drunk in a cell to sleep it off, and maybe warning Ricky Bob Walker not to discharge his rifle within city limits. It was pretty nice around here, to be honest. Back then, downright pretty. Until the poop hit the fan and my life got splattered like bug guts on the windshield.
Before I go any further, I need to reveal a very weird thing. I don’t know dick about abstract physics, alternative universes, and all that SciFi stuff, but I suspect that something from way out there recently snuck up behind to nip me on the ass. What I mean by all that, Frank, is that everything just changed overnight around here.
And I do mean everything.
Stay with me: Time itself has kind of changed. And we ain’t talking about daylight savings. For a bunch of reasons I don’t understand, we have all somehow gone backwards. Like for real, by a couple of years, and that means that all six books you reviewed about that whole zombie thing, well they never happened. Not yet, anyway. In fact, back in this here world, I’ve just split up from Terrill Lee, who I caught banging some air headed bimbo while we were married. Here I’m somewhat new at being the Sheriff of Flat Rock, Nevada, but am already as good at this job as any limp noodled, numbnuts male who’s ever held the title. Way better, in fact. A fact which should come as no surprise. Because if you want something done right, always give it to a woman.
The thing is, some odd strangers have come to Flat Rock. Two new ladies who are bringing real money in, which our corrupt Mayor loves. But they are also dragging behind them, kind of like the tail of a kite tied to firecrackers, one hell of a lot of trouble. I've also spotted a pair of teen drug dealers who look to be exploiting this sudden uptick in our local economy. Now, you might think those events won't add up to a big deal, but you’d be wrong as a turd on a salad plate. It’s a slow-motion train wreck from the start and quickly gets a whole lot worse. Because Terrill Lee found some cattle with very unusual holes in them, and a then there's also that dead man out in an alley who kind of proved my point. Which is that things really do suck around here. And that ain’t just a figure of speech tonight. Things are sucking the blood out of people.
Hold on a second. I just heard something up on the roof. Might just be the wind or some raccoons. Gotta listen.
Never mind. It's gone now.
Anyway, that is just an update in case this whole case goes south. The good news is I’m not up against those ravenous, mindless zombies who can reproduce faster than a herd of bunnies chowing down on a garden of Viagra. The bad news is that this time the things that suck around here have turned out to have fangs and piss stuff you could use to scrub away rust.
These ass hats are actual vampires. Honest to God. They are batshit crazy and thirsty as a broke Shannon boyo on St. Patrick’s Day.
Yeah, I know how all this sounds. I can't believe it either.
Hold on to your package for another second. Did you hear that?
Shit fire. Something is for sure moving around up on the roof. Like it's looking for a way in. Claws on it, maybe? Not small. More like a bobcat or a cougar than a raccoon. Or maybe this is just one hell of a Plus Size bat. Not what I wanted to be dealing with, but guess it saves me a trip underground.
Looking out the jailhouse window I just saw a shadow cross the ground below, sort of like the huge thing is just pacing around up there. Is it nervous to try and take me on alone? Or maybe it is waiting for some backup?
Bullets won’t work on these assholes, but I’ve got me something rumored to get the job done. And I’m fixing to go take the bastard on.
Got to go, my people need me.
Stay well, and if folks want to find out what happens next, they will just have to buy the book Blood Desert. Frank, old friend, if I live through this one, I’m gonna be sure to check your page to see what you think of the new novel. At least that is one thing which is guaranteed not to suck.
Shhh. There it is again.
Now it’s hanging from the rain gutter. Butt ugly son of a bitch.
Gotta go. The sun is gone and it’s now full-on dark.



Thursday, March 8, 2018

Review: Land of Bones - by Glenn Rolfe

4 of 5 stars     Review copy

If you read Glenn's guest post on my blog yesterday, you are likely already aware that Land of Bones is a collection which deals primarily with loss.

And it all begins with a flash fiction piece set in a graveyard,.  The title story, Land of Bones.

Ghost of Spears Corner - Wow!  This coming of age short will definitely reach out and grab you.

"We weren’t perfect, but I’d say we managed to be relatively normal. All that changed, at least for me, the last week of summer vacation in ’57."

Simon - Little Ally has a fascination with worms, especially Simon.

"Her worm, as she liked to lovingly think of him, was not like the worms in Katy's, or Michael's yards."

Not Kansas Anymore - Another killer story about a series of deaths in Kansas, Maine.

"On the news, they were telling us we had a murderer in our town.  In the halls between classes, we were talking about vampires.  We were all wrong."

Fire - Thus far, I have thoroughly enjoyed every story in this collection.  How would you deal with a world suddenly aflame?

Welcome to Paradise - This story may be short on words, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in violence.

"She loved damage.  She loved scars.  She loved anything beautiful and broken.  The Lucky Lounge Motel served as the feeding ground for her biggest passion...murder."

Wish - All I can say about this story is one really needs to be careful what they wish for.

Avenging Kitten - Love the title.  Another story of loss and in this case revenge.  This is one of those tales where I couldn't wait to see where it would go.

Charley Sings the World Away - A heartbreaking story of the end times.

The Fixer - A tale of horrible loss. A story that moved me to tears and then made me angry.  Well done.

The Rooster - "That Alice in Chains record is one we both loved."

Too Much of a Dead Thing - A novella-length story with a zombie-like event where the survivors are far worse than the monsters.

Little Bunny - Brenner's Woods were off limits. A haunted place with snakes, spiders, and ghosts, but that didn't stop Tommy Schafer from venturing in.

"While he came back each and every time, poor Tommy never came out quite the same."

Death Lights (A Lee Buhl Story) - If you read The Haunted Halls, you are already familiar with Glenn's demon-fighting urban shaman.

"Years after his showdown at the Burton Inn, Lee is going back to work and finds himself at an old farmhouse.  What he finds might be more than he is ready for."

A singular voice in speculative fiction, Rolfe is able to tell complete stories in his shorts, something some novelists fail to accomplish in 300 pages.  Some of these tales can be difficult to read, particularly if you've experienced a similar loss.  But, overall I found Land of Bones to be a worthwhile collection.


Land of Bones is currently available for the Kindle.  If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can read it at no additional charge.  Also, if you are an Amazon Prime member you can read it for FREE using the Kindle Owners Lending Library.

From the author's bio - "A vital part of this generation." - Brian Keene, author of The Complex and The Rising.  Glenn Rolfe is an author/singer/songwriter from the haunted woods of New England. He has studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the novels of Stephen King, Ronald Malfi, Jack Ketchum, and many others. He and his wife, Meghan, have three children, Ruby, Ramona, and Axl. He is grateful to be loved despite his weirdness.  Glenn is the author of Becoming, Blood and Rain, The Haunted Halls, Chasing Ghosts, Abram's Bridge, Things We Fear, and the collections, Out of Range, Slush. and Land of Bones.  He is hard at work on many more. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Guest Post: Glenn Rolfe - Tracks: The Making of Land of Bones

Tracks: The Making of Land of Bones

I put out my first short story collection in October of 2014. That was a book called, SLUSH. Within six months, I wanted to do it again. I set a date, threw out a tentative title (The World Comes Down), and started piecing stories together that I was excited about. I can’t recall all the dates I threw out to my readers and followers, but I remember February of 2016 was one of them, maybe the first.

What happened?

Well, for one thing, I started being published by Samhain Publishing. I wrote three novellas and two novels for them (one that never came out due to their closing up shop). Like most, I kept on writing and writing and writing. Another novella, another novel (one for Sinister Grin Press, one self-published), until I turned my eye back to the piles of short stories I was gathering.

Last summer, I finally decided on a new set of stories and ended up with a new title for the collection, Land of Bones. Yeah, that’s a pretty cool title. I started the work of rifling through had 14 “tracks” that I thought would do the trick and went to work touching them up and sending them to my editor.

Somewhere along the line, I decided 14 was the right number of tracks. I also knew that I wanted to include a new novella. I had two that were in the works to choose from, Bring Me to Life and Too Much of a Dead Thing. I chose the latter due to the characters. I had a bunch of stories I knew I wanted to be included, “Death Lights” (which I had to get permission to use-thanks Grinning Skull Press and Northern Frights!), “The Rooster”, “Welcome to Paradise”, “Wish”, “The Fixer” (which I had written at one point for Michael Baily), “The Land of Bones”, “Simon” and “Charley Sings the World Away”. A lot of those were shorter pieces which is part of the reason I wanted a novella included.

I also planned on putting a number of alien horror stories in here, but once my editor went through the few batches of stories, she pointed out the theme. That of loss. While the alien ones touched on that theme, I had already been there and done that with my short collection Out of Range. I needed to dig up some more…bones (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

I went deep. I went to old back up files from a laptop I had in 2014-2015. I picked out the ones I remember liking, “Fire”, and another alien one, “Hollowed”, and I also found an unfinished one that I remember liking a lot, “Ghosts of Spears Corner.” For me, this one really stuck out. I remember loving it while I was working on it, but pushing it aside when I didn’t meet the deadline for the submission call it was intended for. I was more than happy to rediscover my love for this one, specifically the tone and the voice of the story. Every author has a voice, but sometimes you discover another style or tone you can pull off. Like James Hetfield discovering he could sing “, Nothing Else Matters”, sure there was “Welcome Home” and “Fade to Black” before that, but “Nothing Else Matters” was a next-level, emotionally-packed delivery. I felt like I had another range I could sing in, if you will.

And that brings us to the one that was in and out and in and out like a pervert and his sexbot, “Avenging Kitten.” I loved it, another odd style, another odd character and tale, but was it good? I don’t subscribe to the “different is good” saying when it comes to stories. I prefer “good is good”. This story of a man and his cat, and an owl and some environmental dudes….it just wanted to be included so badly.

In the end, I decided on ten that had to be in and then asked my editor to help me select the final four spots. If you pick up a copy of Land of Bones and find yourself excited by “Fire”,
“Avenging Kitten”, “The Rooster” (she asked me to try re-writing that piece, which I did, and it turned out so much better), and “Little Bunny”, send a thanks her way.

We’ve got the tracks, but anybody who has been in a band and recorded a record knows that the sequencing, the order of the songs is a part of telling the full story and telling it in a way that keeps you invested and wanting to go on.

My editor offered up another great Foreword, and I knew “The Land of Bones” had to kick off the album, right? It was originally going to be a long story about ghosts in the graveyard, but by the time I had those first few paragraphs, I felt it was perfect as is. Sort of “In the Beginning” for those of you familiar with Motley Crue’s Shout at the Devil album. Obviously, the next track had to punch you in the face. I felt “Ghosts of Spears Corner” fit the bill. Follow it up with a short piece (“Simon”), then another bigger piece that I loved, “Not Kansas Anymore”, a vampire tale that made me think of Ronald Malfi’s fantastic novel, The Narrows, only much, much shorter. “Fire” offers up a quick breather ala “God Bless the Children of the Beast” 9another Shout reference) before the triple threat of “Welcome to Paradise”, “Wish”, and “Avenging Kitten”. Three very different tales before “Charley Sings the World Away” brings the calm.

The last five tracks have no intentions of letting you up for air or letting you go.

“The Fixer” starts with a moment of pain before taking you on a ride you know isn’t what it seems. I was kind enough to throw the most emotional piece I’ve ever written next. “The Rooster” chronicles the loss of my big brother to the monster we call cancer. I cried re-writing this one. That is followed by a story that is a bit more fun, but hopefully, just as gripping, the novella, Too Much of a Dead Thing. A deadly outbreak is causing death and panic; the three characters in here made it all feel real and relevant to me. Hope it does the same for you. “Little Bunny” is a suicidal trip through wonderland that really hit home with some friends. And we close out with my favorite in the bunch, “Death Lights”. While not as grandiose as Springsteen’s “Jungleland” (the best album closer of all-time), “Death Lights” features the return of one of my favorite characters, Lee Buhl, the demon-fighting, urban shaman from my novel, The Haunted Halls. While closing the door to Land of Bones, “Death Lights” also opens things up for another adventure with our friend, Lee.

Jason Lynch provided another amazing cover, channeling the Goonies, making the package complete.
I tried to get to this book so much sooner than I should have, but everything has its own time. I hope you’ll enjoy your time spent with me, these stories, these sorrows, here in the Land of Bones.

From the author's bio - "A vital part of this generation." - Brian Keene, author of The Complex and The Rising.

Glenn Rolfe is an author/singer/songwriter from the haunted woods of New England. He has studied
Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the novels of Stephen King, Ronald Malfi, Jack Ketchum, and many others. He and his wife, Meghan, have three children, Ruby, Ramona, and Axl. He is grateful to be loved despite his weirdness.

He is the author of Becoming, Blood and Rain, The Haunted Halls, Chasing Ghosts, Abram's Bridge, Things We Fear, and the collections, Out of Range, Slush. and Land of Bones.

He is hard at work on many more. Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Review: It Sustains - by Mark Morris

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy

Pete Kahle at Bloodshot Books is a personal hero of mine.  He has an eye for finding books which have only appeared as limited edition releases in the small press and getting the authors to bring their work to a wider audience.

This time around Pete was able to get Mark Morris to allow his company to publish It Sustains which was originally released by Earthling Publications five years ago.  Don't get me wrong, I love limited editions, I'm a collector myself, but once the books are sold out it's important to get these works to the masses.

In many ways It Sustains is a story about loss.  In Adam's case, it's about the loss of his mother.

Less than to hours into the New Year, not long after she had kissed me goodnight and told me that this would be our best year ever, Mum was dead.

The writing is strong and powerful.  Genuine encounters with real people.  Characters with a lot of texture.  Morris is able to convey what a particular character is feeling with a few carefully chosen words.

I really enjoyed this read, but when I was finished, I had no idea what just happened.  But, that's OK.  It Sustains was not so much about what happens in the end as it was about the journey.  Overall, it was a very satisfying read and one I would certainly recommend.

It Sustains has been re-released in both paperback and Kindle formats by Bloodshot Books.  If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can read it at no additional charge.  Also, if you are an Amazon Prime member you can read it for FREE using the Kindle Owners Lending Library.

From the author's bio - Mark Morris has written over twenty-five novels, among which are Toady, Stitch, The Immaculate, The Secret of Anatomy, Fiddleback, The Deluge and four books in the popular Doctor Who series.