As always I am thrilled when Titan books asks me to be part of a blog tour. Especially, when I have an excerpt to share!!
Thank you Titan Books!!!
Excerpt From Birds of Paradise by Oliver K. Langmead
Two days later, Adam is moved.
Men in dark suits and dark sunglasses put him into the back of a black armoured van, and he is chained down opposite an armed guard. The guard’s name is Tom, and he’s talkative. So, as the van rattles away through LA, and the palm trees they pass make the white sky strobe through the small slotted windows at the top of the van, Adam listens to Tom’s story.
For a while, Adam forgets that he is Adam, and becomes convinced that he’s Tom. He marries Tom’s wife, and the wedding is bright and beautiful in his mind. He has his first child, and then loses her at the age of three during the hurricane that ravaged the East Coast back then. But he and his wife remain together, and battle on through their grief, and move to the West Coast to start anew. They have a second child, and he’s fifteen now, and while they do struggle – working for the FBI doesn’t pay as well as it used to – they are happy, happier than they’ve ever been. Tom is happy, and Adam is happy, and he doesn’t want the story to end.
Yet Adam’s absorption is interrupted by a distant noise, which Tom doesn’t seem to notice.
The slotted windows are bright across Adam’s face as he returns to reality, and he stares through them, trying to see what it is that has broken his concentration. It was a sound so familiar. There is nothing but the white sky, at first. But there – something dashes across, too quick to see. It might have been a bird. An enormous, monstrous bird.
There is a scream cut short from ahead, barely audible over the engines of the van’s escorts. Tom is at once alarmed, gripping his shotgun tight. “What’s going on?”
Suddenly, his radio blares into life – confused voices yelling over each other – and from outside the van, cackling gunfire is audible. Tom stands shakily and swings his shotgun around, trying to see through the slots. “What’s happening?” he shouts into his radio. “Tell me what’s going on!”
There’s an inhuman shriek, and claws the size of pickaxes come through the roof of the van. Tom is thrown to the floor. Blinding daylight flashes through the slashes raked through the steel, and the van shudders, tottering on two wheels before slamming back down to four.
Adam breaks free of his chains. Tom, panicked, aims his gun, but Adam grabs it by the barrel and red lines are slashed across his face as the blast skims him.
There’s another animal shriek, and claws strike the side of the van. This time, it teeters and then tumbles – hits the side of the bridge and falls from the edge.
Grabbing Tom, Adam cradles him like a father with a son. Sunlight whirls around them as the van spins, plummeting. Tom is screaming, and struggling, but Adam holds tight. They hit the water, and it’s sudden and cold, filling the van and filling Adam’s lungs as the impact pushes his breath from him. They sink, in a rush of torn metal and froth.
The gaps in the roof aren’t big enough for Adam to escape through, so he breaks the lock on the back door, struggling against the icy water making his fingers clumsy. Grabbing hold of Tom, he swims; powerful strokes, free of the van. He can see motorbikes and cars hitting the river around them; ragged bodies tugged away by the strong current, red rushing from them and mingling with the debris of the motorcade.
There are fish in the water. Silvery fish, that dart to avoid the falling wreckage.
Suddenly, Adam remembers.
There was a valley. A mountain valley, in a country a long way away from here, back when it wasn’t even really a country – just the edge of a continent – where he and Eve lived, and made their own little paradise. There was a waterfall that beat his shoulders when he bathed beneath it, and there were so many birds in the trees that there was never a moment of silence, and there were the soft songs that Eve sang when she floated in the lake, gently rippling the waters with her fingers. Crane lived with them there, and she would often be seen circling the big blue sky, or stalking the edges of the lake; and so too did Pike, the lake his kingdom, his brilliant silver scales each a tiny mirror reflecting lost Eden.
About Oliver K. Langmead
Oliver K. Langmead lives and writes in Glasgow. His long-form poem, Dark Star, featured in the Guardian’s Best Books of 2015, and his new book, Birds of Paradise, is arriving March 2021. Oliver is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Glasgow, where he is researching terraforming and ecological philosophy, and in late 2018 he was the writer in residence at the European Space Agency’s Astronaut Centre in Cologne.
There is nothing more beguiling than the Ocean. The sound of the waves weave a magical song for those that choose to listen. However, there are things that haunt deep waters. (Which is why I don’t go in the ocean…knowing my luck I would get eaten by a shark or something). However, for tens of thousands of years people have flocked to these bodies of water that cover most of the earth. I always wondered what we were looking for. I would imagine it is similar to what modern humans are seeking at the beach minus the cocktails. There is one piece of folklore that seems to remain constant even today…and that is mer people. One of the highest watched shows ever on The Animal Plant was a mockumentary about mer people. Even today there are still sightings of mer people. What I really and truly enjoy about this piece of folklore is that it isn’t just a western phenomenon. All over the world there are mer people sightings. One of the most popular stories about mer people is the story of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson, but there are so so many other stories about mer people. Now we can add All the Murmuring Bones by A.G. Slatter to that list.
A HUGE THANKS to Titan Books for sending me a review copy!!!
Synopsis: A girl whose family fortune has been lost takes to an adventure to find her past before her present becomes her prison.
My Thoughts: I always love when the backbone of a story is hinged on folklore. Especially, when that folklore is so well known throughout the world. Personally, I think that it makes the story so much more accessible to readers worldwide. Slatter really hit the nail on the head in regards to the Mer people and the stories which surround them. This story is truly grounded in fairytale. From the family whose fortune was made and lost at sea to the damsel saving herself. I enjoyed the backbone of the story and I am so very glad that the mer people were left alone, in the respect that Slatter didn’t try to make them pretty or ethereal. They were true to form and dangerous. I am so glad Slatter wrote the mer people exactly the same way that they are in folktales. The damsel and the other characters were really well written. One of the best things about this story was that the damsel didn’t wait to see what fate awaited her. She took her fate into her own hands. That for me was the most important part. It is like taking back many hundreds of years of the damsel being saved instead of saving herself. There was one character I wanted to know more about however, their backstory wasn’t explored. The ending felt a bit rushed to me, but the pacing of the rest of the story was spot on for me. One aspect of the story I really appreciated was that the world that Slatter created had it’s own folktales, which were rooted in our world folktales. That was perfect….it was a beautiful melding of the two worlds.
About A.G. Slatter:
Angela Slatter is the author of the urban fantasy novels Vigil (2016) and Corpselight (2017), as well as eight short story collections, including The Girl with No Hands and Other Tales, Sourdough and Other Stories, The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, and A Feast of Sorrows: Stories. She has won a World Fantasy Award, a British Fantasy Award, a Ditmar, and six Aurealis Awards.
Angela’s short stories have appeared in Australian, UK and US Best Of anthologies such The Mammoth Book of New Horror, The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror, The Best Horror of the Year, The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror, and The Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction. Her work has been translated into Bulgarian, Russian, Spanish, Japanese, Polish, and Romanian. Victoria Madden of Sweet Potato Films (The Kettering Incident) has optioned the film rights to one of her short stories.
She has an MA and a PhD in Creative Writing, is a graduate of Clarion South 2009 and the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop 2006, and in 2013 she was awarded one of the inaugural Queensland Writers Fellowships. In 2016 Angela was the Established Writer-in-Residence at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre in Perth.
Her novellas, Of Sorrow and Such (from Tor.com), and Ripper (in the Stephen Jones anthology Horrorology, from Jo Fletcher Books) were released in October 2015.
The third novel in the Verity Fassbinder series, Restoration, will be released in 2018 by Jo Fletcher Books (Hachette International). She is represented by Ian Drury of the literary agency Sheil Land for her long fiction, by Lucy Fawcett of Sheil Land for film rights, and by Alex Adsett of Alex Adsett Publishing Services for illustrated storybooks.
I am very very excited to be part of a blog tour today!! I was very excited to be asked to host a blog post for the amazing Tim Lebbon!!
Landscape has always been an important part of my writing, never more so than in my new novel Eden. Eden itself is almost … sentient. It steers the action. It influences the characters and their decisions and is the backdrop against every part of this novel. For such a wide-open landscape, I hope it provides for a claustrophobic feel. My characters are out in the primeval wild, but from very early on in the novel the sense that they’re under siege begins to grow.
Whilst building the landscape of Eden I wanted it to feel real and familiar to many readers, and for that I had to make it familiar to me. So there are deep forests, rolling hills, roaring rivers, treacherous ravines … basically an amalgamation of the wilder parts of the UK where I live, and where I love running, biking and swimming in the countryside. It felt important to test my adventure-racing characters while not making the landscape too alien and unbelievable. Although there are some weird, surreal moments.
As for the location of Eden on our planet … there’s a challenge for anyone who reads the novel. All the other Virgin Zones in the novel I place quite accurately, but the location of Eden isn’t quite so pinned down. That was a conscious decision on my part, but it’s also a challenge to the reader. Where do you think Eden would be?
I did a lot of research whilst writing the novel that pertained to the geography of Eden, and the effects that climate change might have had upon it. This includes effects on flora and fauna as well as landscape, especially to areas our teams sees (briefly) early on in the novel, on their approach into Eden. As for the zone itself, I was able to be more creative. It was fascinating to see and imagine how the world might move on and fix itself without human influence, and a book that was especially useful whilst researching this was The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman. Scary, yet uplifting. The chapter on how New York will change without human occupancy or influence will stay with me for a long time.
In my research I also ‘built’ a good portion of Eden in my mind’s eye, so much so that there are part of the place I didn’t even use in the novel. The snowcapped mountains were always there, but my characters didn’t quite reach them. It’s world-building in the same manner as researching … always know more than you use, so that what you do use feels part of a greater whole.
And I was also shocked to discover that the Virgin Zones from this novel aren’t as far-fetched as I believed! In 1927, Tsar Nicholas II officially set aside land for Russia’s first zapovednik, or ‘strict nature reserve’. I was delighted to read about this, and to discover that my fictional Eden actually mirrored reality.
Not so much running and screaming and blood, though.
I hope you enjoy the novel. Eden awaits.
If you haven’t read anything by Tim Lebbon you need to correct that. He uses landscape as another character. His books are a study in how landscape can be used as horror element.
In the last couple of years there has been a increase in authors who release playlists while they are either working on their project or after they are done with their projects. This gives readers a glimpse into how their minds think when they are working. I am pleased to be part of the blog tour for The Golden Key. Marion has put together a great playlist that she was using while she was writing it.
The Golden Key – From The Golden Key Playlist
by Marian Womack
I write to music. I find it easier to concentrate and get into my own head. Music helps me evoke the right mood, find the right words. The Golden Key is a dark, uncanny novel. This means that the list below – and my usual preferences for music as well – is dark and slightly weird. I favour female singers, and I like to write to the sound of song; I do not mind hearing words as I write. As English is not my first language, I found the words more comforting than distracting, solitary beacons that throw messages at me in my chosen language. But I also like writing to classical music, to Celtic music, to a few operas that I love. In a way, it is strange to share the music I like writing to. It feels more intimate than speaking about my favourite books or poems; almost as if I were opening a window into the inner workings of my brain.
(1) Isobel, Bjork (Post, 1995): Brought to you by the original, one and only queen of weird music, Isobel by Bjork is the ultimate dark fairy-tale. The rhythms are hypnotic, the lyrics tell a story of female self-sufficiency, of a fearless girl, surviving the many things that lurk behind the trees. You can almost hear the rustling of the wind, the creatures advancing towards your refuge, and also the hope, in that tune in crescendo.
(2) Yes, Anastasia, Tori Amos (Under the Pink, 1994): Under the Pink was the first Tori Amos album I heard. The encounter was providential, at a time when I was struggling to find my own voice as a writer. It is difficult for me to choose a track, the album is utter perfection, and it meant so much for me. I have written often to the final one, Yes, Anastasia, a marvel of a 10 minutes song, or rather experience, the feels timeless, and goes from delicacy to intensity in a heartbeat, like an ocean throwing wave after wave. Some of Amos’s songs are like short stories, so filled are they with meaning. Her piano, her vocals, the orchestra that appears out of nowhere, all contribute to the storytelling, and make this a memorable track, difficult to get out of your head.
(3) Black Dove, Tori Amos (From the Choirgirl Hotel, 1998): Another Tori Amos favourite to get into the right writing mood. In the same dark-fairy tale vein as Isobel, Black Dove is also a telling, perhaps retelling, of a familiar story, of a tale that we have heard sitting around the fire. Another highly hypnotic track, in great measure thanks to Amos’ vocals, to that way she has of pacing slowly across a song, making sure all the meanings are spoken, and creating a new space of possibility, where the unexpected is allowed to enter the room.
(4) The Dark Night of the Soul, Loreena McKennitt (The Mask and the Mirror, 1994): I am very fond of this album by Loreena McKennitt. She has stated that her inspiration for it was the mixture of cultures that lived together in fifteenth century Spain, and that it was inspired by a journey that took her through Andalusia, Morocco, and beyond. Still, there is space for the Celtic Irish tunes that mirror the melodies from the North of Spain, and for Prospero’s speech, speaking not so much of the universality of Shakespeare, as to the fact that we are all overcome by the same emotions. This particular love song is a translation by a mystic Spanish poet, San Juan de la Cruz, and depicts his love for God. But its lyrics are intriguing, and its place in the middle of the album allows it to be read as a love song for a lost moment in time when the coexistence of different cultures was not impossible.
(5) Go Long, Joanna Newsom (Have One on Me, 2010): Joanna Newsom is my favourite performer. I have seen her play in several countries, and she is the one musician I have followed obsessively since her first EP. Go Long is a track from her triptych album Have One On Me, a musical feast which has space for this retelling of Bluebeard, one of the fairy stories I am most obsessed with. The verse ‘what a woman does is open doors / it is not a question of locking or unlocking’ is a haunting reminder of the curiouser and curiouser theme running through my work.
(6) Autumn, Joanna Newsom (Have One on Me, 2010): Another one by Newsom. The death of Summer, the advent of Autumn, the year quickening to an end. There is something magical about Autumn, my favourite season of the year; and this quiet tale, where “even the ghosts / huddled up for warmth”, is the perfect reckoning
(7) Rubycon, Part 1 and 2, Tangerine Dream (Rubycon, 1975): A track as old as I am! I find it very easy to get lost in this dual track, and seek it out deliberately when I am looking to write a weird or uncanny piece. The ending is suitably unnerving, the piece in its entirety like an episode of Sapphire and Steel on steroids. Unmissable weird music.
(8) Nu Solen Gar Ned (The Sun is Setting), Trio Mediaeval (Folk Songs, 2007): Trio Mediaeval is another of my writing staples; any album, and track. Overwhelmingly immersive, truly inspiring stuff.
(9 y 10) Piano Concert Number 20 in D Minor, Mozart; & Bluebeard’s Castle, Bartók: When I don’t want lyrics, I look for something equally inspiring and gloomy. These two fit the bill perfectly!
Keep reading if you want to know more about The Golden Key.
Synopsis: London, 1901. After the death of Queen Victoria the city heaves with the uncanny and the eerie. Séances are held and the dead are called upon from darker realms.
Samuel Moncrieff, recovering from a recent tragedy of his own, meets Helena Walton-Cisneros, one of London’s most reputed mediums. But Helena is not what she seems and she’s enlisted by the elusive Lady Matthews to solve a twenty-year-old mystery: the disappearance of her three stepdaughters who vanished without a trace on the Norfolk Fens.
But the Fens are a liminal land, where folk tales and dark magic still linger. With locals that speak of devilmen and catatonic children found on the Broads, Helena finds the answer to the mystery leads back to where it started: Samuel Moncrieff.
There is one more stop on the blog tour is Looking Glass Reads!!
I am really pleased to be a part of the cover reveal for the re-release of The Cipher by Kathe Koja!! This cover is beautiful folks!!! The cover artist is Keith Rosson. He did an amazing job on this re-release. The Cipher releases on 09/15/2020 by Meerkat Press.
Kathe Koja’s classic novel of fear, obsession, creation, and destruction, The Cipher, which reopens the door on the Funhole with this brand new and long-awaited print edition. It is the winner of the Bram Stoker Award, Locus Award, and a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award.
Nicholas is a would-be poet and video-store clerk with a weeping hole in his hand – weeping not blood, but a plasma of tears…
It began with Nakota and her crooked grin. She had to see the dark hole in the storage room down the hall. She had to make love to Nicholas beside it, and stare into its secretive, promising depths. Then Nakota began her experiments: First, she put an insect into the hole. Then a mouse…
Now from down the hall, the black hole calls out to Nicholas every day and every night. And he will go to it. Because it has already seared his flesh, infected his soul, and started him on a journey of obsession – through its soothing, blank darkness into the blinding core of terror.
Kathe Koja is a writer, director and independent producer. Her work combines and plays with genres, from YA to contemporary to historical to horror. Her novels–including THE CIPHER, SKIN, BUDDHA BOY, TALK, and the UNDER THE POPPY trilogy–have won awards, been multiply translated, and optioned for film and performance. She creates immersive fiction with a rotating ensemble of video artists, dancers, musicians and performers.
Her latest novel is CHRISTOPHER WILD. VELOCITIES, her second short fiction collection, is upcoming in 2020 from Meerkat Press, along with a reprint of her classic novel THE CIPHER.
Every time I go to the bookstore I always look at the copies of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I want to buy it for a child and watch them read it. Watch their eyes light up as they read about the March Hare or the Cook that had a pig for a baby. Which, incidentally was the part that scared me the most. I really couldn’t tell you why either. The jabberwolky never scared me…..just the cook and the pig baby. I digress though. I love retellings of many different stories, so when Titan Books asked me if I wanted to participate in the blog tour for Wonderland I jumped at the chance.
Synopsis: Within these pages you’ll find myriad approaches to Alice, from horror to historical, taking us from the nightmarish reaches of the imagination to tales the will shock, surprise and tug on the heart strings.
So, it’s time now to go down the rabbit hole, or through the looking glass or….But no, wait. By picking up this book and starting to read it you’re already there, can’t you see?
Contributing Authors: Jane Yolen, M.R. Carey, Cat Rambo, Angela Slatter, Laura Mauro….and many many others.
Star Rating: 4.5 Stars
My Thoughts: Many of the stories worked really well in the wonderland type back drop. There were a couple that didn’t really work for me. But that didn’t mean that the story was great it just didn’t fit with the others. Saying that all the stories were so well written. The poems by Jane Yolen which opened and closed the anthology were so beautiful. Each story was very different then the other.
If you have an itch to return to Wonderland in a more adult manner then please check out Wonderland it does not disappoint at all. There is something there for each genre.
Make sure you go to the next stop on the blog tour!!
Big Thanks to Titan Books as always for including me in an amazing blog tour.
A couple of months ago the LOHF received an email from a lovely author that personally blew me away. He wanted to partner up and offer a grant based on the pre-sale of his poetry book he was putting together. I thought it was an amazingly generous offer that really made my heart happy. The LOHF took Steve up on his offer and a couple of us offered up guest spots to help promote the LOHF Grant. Enough of reading me waffle about. Steve sent a guest post with a little taste of The Night Crawls In by Steve Stred.
The news has been gaining steam and from what I’ve seen – many people are excited about this partnership between myself and the LOHF. We were really please to announce the 1stAnnual Writer’s Grant. I wanted to find a way to give back to the horror community and the Ladies of Horror Fiction are all about helping facilitate this!
To help fund the initial grant disbursement, I’m releasing a poetry/drabbles collection. On September 1st, 2019 The Night Crawls In will arrive. Containing 33 drabbles and 17 poems, all ebook presales and 1stday paperback sales will go towards funding the first grant. All additional sales there-after will be put towards future grants!
I worked with Mason McDonald once again to create some killer artwork for the cover, which you can see here as well!
I’m here to share two drabbles and a poem that will be featured in The Night Crawls In!
Autopsy. (A Drabble)
“Patient appears to be fifty years old. Male. Approximate height is five feet eight inches. Approximate weight is two hundred pounds. Body has multiple slash marks across his face, neck and torso, exposing his organs behind. Weapon could possibly be a machete or a large knife. Male has a large protrusion in his lower abdomen. May be a pre-existing hernia. Will begin incision at navel.”
The coroner applies light pressure to the deceased man’s stomach, the blade of the scalpel slicing easily through the skin. As the man moves along the skin ruptures.
“Good lord… there’s… something in here… moving.”
Ocean Breeze. (A Drabble)
We stood on the sandy beach, holding hands.
We thought of the old days – falling in love, our kids, our pets, the life we had lived together.
We looked at each other, waiting for the sun to rise and warm our bones.
She smiled, the lines on her face telling their tales.
I smiled back, my eyes sunken, my spirit fading.
As the sun rose, we took off our hats, our hair long since gone.
The doctor’s had tried their best, but there wasn’t any way to save us now.
With tears in our eyes, we walked into the water.
New Friends. (A Poem)
I lay on the ground and watch all of the leaves
Leap to their deaths from high in the trees.
From behind comes a noise that makes my skin shrink
A beast has appeared and is taking a drink.
It doesn’t know that I’m so very close
But it stops all movements when I kiss its nose.
Instant friends now, I hear it purr
And the woods part before us as I wrap into its fur.
Now, a bit about each of the shared drabbles and poem.
Autopsy, was an idea I had come to me when I was watching one of those amazing ‘TOP 10’ videos on Youtube. You know, those videos that take you down the worm hole of endless click bait lists. I saw a video titled something like “Ten Most Shocking Autopsy Moments.” The mortician/coroner guy was blacked out and voice disguised. I won’t tell you what was actually inside the person, but it was unique.
Ocean Breeze, is obviously (on the surface… sorry!) a sad tale, but it’s also a happy story. I was inspired by a news story I had heard years and years ago. A husband and wife who were married for 3 or 4 decades were both diagnosed with terminal cancer. They tried treatments and nothing worked. Then a few weeks later their truck was found at the end of a logging road. They’d left a note saying essentially that they wanted to spend their last moments together and simply walked into the woods, never to be seen again.
New Friends, is a poem that I wrote that was originally going to be included in my son’s story book. Then I realized after re-reading it – it’s a bit dark for a kid’s book! So here it is!
Thank you to the amazing crew at Ladies of Horror Fiction – both for hearing my idea and jumping on board. I hope we can work to growing the grant bigger and better every year!
About Steve Stred
Steve Stred is an up-an-coming dark, bleak horror author.
Steve is the author of the novels Invisible & The Stranger, the novellas Wagon Buddy, Yuri and Jane: The 816 Chronicles and two collections of short stories; Frostbitten: 12 Hymns of Misery and Left Hand Path: 13 More Tales of Black Magick, the dark poetry collection Dim the Sun and his most recent release was the coming-of-age, urban legend tale The Girl Who Hid in the Trees.
On September 1st, 2019 his second collection of dark poetry and drabbles called The Night Crawls In will be released.
Steve is also a voracious reader, reviewing everything he reads and submitting the majority of his reviews to be featured on Kendall Reviews.
Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog OJ.
I am really thrilled to partner with Penguin Random House today to present a interview with Craig Davidson. I love a good coming of age story, don’t forget I grew up with Wonder Years and watching Stand by Me. Now, that I am 42 when I think back to those times I can see why coming of age stories can be so powerful.
A Conversation with Craig Davidson
Author of THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB (July 9; Penguin Books)
You’ve previously published four literary fiction books, including the short story collection Rust and Bone, which was adapted into a Golden Globe-nominated feature film, and penned bestselling horror novels under your pseudonym Nick Cutter. Already a prominent writer in Canadian fiction, THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB seems poised to be your big, breakout book in the U.S. Why do you think this novel will resonate with so many people? How did your previous books and your horror novels as Nick Cutter influence THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB?
Well, it would be nice to break out, sure! I think this is probably the most, I guess you’d say, the most accessible book I’ve ever written? With my earlier work, well, those are the books of a young man, full of the things that some young men worry about, obsess over, aspire to—as a result, they were kinda violent, myopic in the way that twentysomethings can occasionally be, navel-gazing, all that. They were a true expression of how I felt at the time, for sure—all the things that vexed and bothered and energized me, they’re all on display. But they may’ve been narrowly focused for all that. The Cutter books … I’m really proud of those, but again, perhaps narrowly focused. They’re likely seen (fairly) as pretty extreme in some ways. They’re a product of the horror books I grew up reading; in addition to King and McCammon and Barker—who is himself a rough pill to swallow sometimes—I enjoyed David Schow, Joe Lansdale, Poppy Z Brite, Skipp and Spector; writers who had a real dangerous edge. So again, if your influences are those, and you set out to have your writing have those kinds of sharp teeth … well, likely it won’t be for everyone. But that’s not to say The Saturday Night Ghost Clubis some sort of toothless pap. It’s just that it’s concerned, I suppose, with the things that now matter to me: being a parent, nostalgia and what it felt like to be a child, the mysteries innate to that time of one’s life. Maybe I’ve become an old softie, I don’t know.
THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB beautifully addresses sophisticated concepts of memory, trauma, family dynamics, and mental health, but it is also very accessible and includes fantastical elements that appeal to wide range of readers. How were you able to create a story that transcends both genre and generation and why was that important?
I suppose to be honest it was a lot of luck! Most writers will likely tell you that they aren’t 100% sure where their ideas come from—although there’s often a hint of their own selves and history in their stories, as there is for me in this one—but ultimately I just find some characters who I want to follow, to invest myself in their fictional existences, and I guess to work through some element of life (my own, or just some ambient question that I’ve wanted to try to answer, in this case about the power and frailty of human memory) that I find fascinating. Where it goes from there, how successful it eventually is in capturing those characters or addressing that question … well, that’s one of the challenges and fears of writing a book. How close did I come to accomplishing my ambition, lofty though it may have been?
The mutability and fallibility of memory is a clear theme of THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB, which makes the protagonist Jake an unreliable narrator as he looks back on his summer as a twelve year old. Memory continues to be a thread throughout the narrative with adult Jake’s profession as a neurosurgeon and his eccentric Uncle Calvin’s severe brain trauma. How do you think readers will look back on Jake’s story after revealing himself to be an unreliable narrator? Why does the function of brains in relation to memories interest you?
I think we’re all fairly unreliable narrators when it comes to chronicling our own lives, or even the lives of others. Some of that is pretty harmless—say, a person’s Instagram page presenting a narrative of that person that is more glamorous or wise or instructive than their lives most likely are; so, basically a curated presentation of one’s life—and some are probably more problematic. But I mean, I’ve curated my own memories over time. I remember things differently than they happened, I’m sure. I could talk to old friends about a given event from our childhood or even our twenties, and we all may remember it slightly (or vastly) differently. Why is that? Well, we evolve as people. The things we felt and believed at one point in our lives—and acted on those beliefs—may not prevail when we look back at those events years later. So we kind of … sanitize our past selves, I guess. Make our past selves measure up in some way to the people we believe ourselves to be now. Unless there’s definitive proof to dispute our memory, then I suppose it can hold up in the only place it really matters—our own minds. So however readers react to Jake, I suppose it may inform the way they think about their own memories, and how reliable they really are.
THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB introduces its central characters to the supernatural world. However, they come to learn that the real monsters, and ghosts that haunt us, are human. Through the scenes depicting human violence, you weave in stories of how far one will go to protect those they love. What were you trying to convey about the challenges of protecting someone from the world and themselves and, as a father yourself, particularly the desire for parents to protect their children?
I think a lot of that comes from being a parent now. Someone wrote that being a parent opens up this new intensity of love—like, something that registers on a different tenor or timbre than romantic love, or love for a friend. I’m not sure that’s the case. It could be for some, that’s not for me to say. But I do feel that it unlocked a new level of fear. I feel fear that I never really dreamt was possible when I think of all the terrible things that could happen to my kid. A lot of it is stupid, daydream-y ridiculous things, shark attacks and bizarre unfeasible threats, but they feel real to me! But in the end, I won’t always be there to protect my son. I won’t be there when he needs me, not always, and anyway, he may not take any advice I have to offer. So a great deal of that kind of love—of all love, really—is helplessness. You’re helpless to make someone love you, and you’re helpless sometimes to help those you love so much.
In THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB, you alternate between scenes of twelve-year-old Jake and adult Jake’s perspective, which creates a fascinating juxtaposition between the experiences that shape us as children and who we become as adults. How do you write such complex children?
I just came back from picking up our six-year-old from daycare, and it always amazes me the innocence of emotion and, I guess, need, on display. As adults, we withhold things, don’t say what we mean (or not quite), and sometimes fail to let other people know how we feel about them, good or bad. And that’s likely the way it needs to be to have a functioning adult society. But the kids in this novel (and in a way, Uncle Calvin, who exists in somewhat of a permanent, willfully childlike state) are in that middle zone: old enough to know you can’t just blurt out your feelings like you did when you were five, but not yet cynical or wounded that they might chastise themselves for feeling things as deeply as they do. So, to be honest, I think any ability I may have on the front is really a “feel” kind of thing; you try different ideas and different thoughts out, as presented through your younger characters—and if they feel accurate, representative of how you yourself may have felt at that age, then you go with them.
Niagara Falls is not only the perfect setting for a ghost story given its surrounding lore, such as the “Maid of the Mist,” but it is also your hometown. As someone who grew up in Cataract City, how much of the book is inspired by your own childhood? Why was it an important setting for the narrative?
A great deal, yes. A huge amount. The Niagara Falls of the book is more the Niagara Falls of my childhood and teenagehood: the taffy stands, the cheap tourist junk shops, the cheesy haunted houses and wax museums. Clifton Hill’s really corporate now! They’ve got Starbucks and IHOPs on the strip now. All the mom and pop places are kinda gone. So again, it’s that feeling of going back, for me. The more I write, the older I get, the more I inevitably seem to retreat to those times and places and people in my past. It’s not that I don’t love my life now. I do. I’m so lucky, so grateful for it. But the world now has a complexity and threat that unnerves me sometimes. You’ve got people in positions of great power who don’t seem like they belong there, aren’t doing the right things, and vast swathes of people who support them anyway. So maybe I just skedaddle back into the past as a mental health measure!
From Stranger Things to GLOW to The Americans, eighties nostalgia has become increasingly prevalent in media and pop culture over the last five years. Why do you think that decade is captivating viewers and readers right now? Why did you choose it as the time period for THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB?
Yes, well, the simplest answer is: I grew up and came of age in the 80s. I basically thought, what year was it when I was Jake’s age? 1988. So I tried to put myself there, at the tail end of the 80s, and write from that perspective. I would guess the popularity may be due to simple nostalgia value, plus the fact that a lot of creative people from that generation are now in their thirties and forties, and are writing books and TV shows and films, and that’s the time-frame they gravitate to for the same reasons I do. The 80s feel like such a lightweight, untroubled decade now. The Amblin decade, right? The nineties, everyone became Wall Streeters. So it feels like the right decade to tell stories for some of us who grew up at the time, and it’s perhaps an embraceable decade for those who didn’t.
About Craig Davidson
Craig Davidson is a Canadian author of short stories and novels, who has published work under both his own name and the pen names Patrick Lestewka and Nick Cutter
Born in Toronto, Ontario, he was raised in Calgary and St. Catharines.
His first short story collection, Rust and Bone, was published in September 2005 by Penguin Books Canada, and was a finalist for the 2006 Danuta Gleed Literary Award. Stories in Rust and Bone have also been adapted into a play by Australian playwright Caleb Lewis and a film by French director Jacques Audiard.
Davidson also released a novel in 2007 named The Fighter. During the course of his research of the novel, Davidson went on a 16-week steroid cycle. To promote the release of the novel, Davidson participated in a fully sanctioned boxing match against Toronto poet Michael Knox at Florida Jack’s Boxing Gym; for the novel’s subsequent release in the United States, he organized a similar promotional boxing match against Jonathan Ames. Davidson lost both matches.
His 2013 novel Cataract City was named as a longlisted nominee for the 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
I have been on a roll lately with books. Most of them I have really liked for the fun story or how they made me feel. But Salvation Day was different. It was a fast paced read but there is a lot to unpack in this book. The difference between haves and have nots. The cult of personality etc….elitism. There was a lot to think about all wrapped up in a space story with a virus. Wanna see the book trailer!! Salvation Day will be out in the wild on July 9th, 2019
Synopsis: A spaceship is hijacked by a cult. They are on a mission to get to a ship which has been decommissioned due to a virus.
What I liked: The story was well paced. I didn’t feel like it dragged at any part. Wallace’s characters were well written and three dimensional. The reader was able to connect with both the main protagonist and antagonist. I thought many of the threads through out the story were interesting and well written. Wallace brought the story arcs together neatly. To be honest that is a hard thing for a writer to do but she pulled it off wonderfully. The story itself is told from two different POV each of the POV were woven together perfectly. I really enjoyed the idea of space, virus and HELLO CULT. Wallace really did pull it off with this one.
What I didn’t Like: I would have liked more information collapse. But I put that together in my head.
Star Rating: 4.5 Stars
My Thoughts: So lets talk a little about some of the themes in this books. The cult of personality is one that I thought was handled very impressively. There are aspects throughout the story you are thinking to yourself this could totally be today….especially when talking about misinformation or rather who is privy to information. I felt like Wallace was drawing inspiration from many of the dramas that are played out on our screens everyday. There was a twist that I wasn’t expecting to be honest. I was like OH well okay, sometimes twists don’t necessarily fit the story but this one totally did. It made sense to where Wallace was taking the story. I really appreciated the story and can’t wait to see what Wallace releases next.
NOW for the really exciting news Berkley is holding a 24 hour giveaway for Salvation Day!! Click here to enter the giveaway.
I love working with Titan Books. I have been introduced to new authors and so many different stories. Today I am super excited to participate in a blog tour for The Record Keeper by Agnes Gomillion.
After World War iii, Earth is in ruins, and the final armies have come to a reluctant truce. Everyone must obey the law – in every way- or risk shattering the fragile peace and endangering the entire human race.
Although Arika Cobane is a member of the race whose backbreaking labor provides food for the remnants of humanity, she is destined to become a member of the Kongo elite. After ten grueling years of training, she is on the threshold of taking her place of privilege far from the fields. But everything changes when a new student arrives. Hosea Khan spews dangerous words of treason: what does peace matter if innocent lives are lost to maintain it?
As Arika is exposed to new beliefs, she realizes that the laws that she has dedicated herself to uphold are the root of her people’s misery. If Arika is to liberate her people, she must unearth her fierce heart and discover the true meaning of freedom: finding the courage to live – or die -without fear.
About Agnes Gomillion
Agnes Gomillion is a speaker and writer based in Atlanta, Georgia, where she lives with her husband and son. Homegrown in the Sunshine State, Agnes studied English Literature at the University of Florida before transitioning to Levin College of Law, where she earned both a Juris Doctorate and Legal Master degree. Agnes is a voracious reader of the African-American literary canon and a dedicated advocate for marginalized people everywhere.
What I liked: There is so much to unpack with this story. The story feels very personal. The first thought I had was that this was the history of the US but set in the future. Gomillion’s writing style draws the reader into the story and doesn’t let you go. The feeling of danger through the book was palatable. The characters are third dimensional and well fleshed out. There are parts of the Novel that are hard to read, emtionally. But Gomillion deals with each of these issues in the novel with such grace that the reader is put at ease.
My thoughts: The scene where Arika is being locked away in the pit was so well written. When you are reading you feel the dark and the claustrophobia that Arika must have been feeling at the time. The story was in the vein of The Handmaids Tale. It is one of those stories that are going to stay with me for a while. I want to push this book into everyone’s hand to read.
Next Stop on the Blog Tour
I want to thank Titan for allowing me to participate on the Blog Tour for The Record Keeper. The next stop on the tour is Travel the Shelves and Angry Angel Books.