You’ve reached my repository of writing, a home for my finished work and early drafts for your enjoyment and savage criticism, as well as other occasional digressions. Please have a look around, and always feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments, or other concerns.
Can I confess something? I google myself.
It happens. I’m not proud of it. But if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have found these readings of some of my older stories.
Videos after the break…
A few folk have asked me over the last few months for some recommendations of horror fiction, and while I have more than a few suggestions, I’ve always put aside the task of compiling any sort of master list. And I’m still not going to.
Instead, let’s do this together. To start, here’s just a few films and books that have inspired or affected or intrigued me. I’ll try to keep this going with a little regularity. Also, on twitter I frequently do ultrabrief reviews, but this will give me a chance to be a little more detailed.
I’d also love your suggestion, so please comment and tell me your favorite or newly discovered films, books, authors, news stories, podcasts, terrifying Wikipedia articles or other scary ephemera of the web. There’s not a story I’ve written that didn’t have a clear inspiration point, and I always need more.
Some of these recommendations are likely old hat for many of you. I’ll try to get more obscure as I go. No numbers, or ratings. If I like it enough to talk about it, then I recommend it.
I warned you I’d start doing this more. Proceed at your own risk.
Over on my twitter feed, I got a little excited about the Lev Grossman article in response to Arthur Krystal’s article in the New Yorker (unlinked, as you have to pay to read) about genre fiction and traditional literary fiction. I debated putting those terms in quotations.
Before I even finished the article, I had to google one of the books in the lead image that I hadn’t heard of, Zone One, by Colson Whitehead, which led me to this review by Glen Duncan.
A literary novelist writing a genre novel is like an intellectual dating a porn star. It invites forgivable prurience: What is that relationshiplike? Granted the intellectual’s hit hanky-panky pay dirt, but what’s in it for the porn star? Conversation? Ideas? Deconstruction?
So, genre fiction: pornography, literary fiction: intellectualism. Got it. Then I read this part:
The waitress brings us our coffee, dishwater pale murk in cracked porcelain cups. Behind the thin surgical mask, her face is unreadable, but her gaze flicks from me to my companion and back again before she leaves without a word. Mickey watches her go and then fixes me with that stare that locked us together only an hour ago. For a long moment, the silence continues, as our eyes confirm what our hearts seemed to know the instant we passed outside my office building.
“Okay, Dale,” he says, his voice hoarse and still raw, like my own, but with an accent I can’t place – perhaps a district on the other side of the city, perhaps another country. “I’m going to ask you a couple of questions, but I think I already know the answers.”
I pick up the coffee, finding it smells as weak and thin as it looks, and contemplate taking an exploratory swig. Around us the few lunchtime patrons of the dingy coffee shop are listlessly eating, lifting up paper masks to shovel in crumbling and greasy burgers, backsides squeaking on red vinyl seats. Those that aren’t are staring at us, at our uncovered faces.
“Okay,” I say, “Shoot.”
I had a good weekend for writing, finding the time to work out a new short piece, First Souls, (that I will be posting within the next day), and getting some good solid editing on some other work. Runner B stopped mid stride in the last couple weeks, as I’ve found little time to work on it from home. I’m currently on paternity leave, so my time to write is dictated by the nap schedule of a capricious id that cares little for quiet, uninterrupted working time.
First Souls was something that bubbled up between running and a bout of what I hope was food poisoning last week, and it needed to get on the page. If I didn’t give it a shot at life, it would have eaten away at me while I tried to work on Runner B. I will return to Runner B, but for some reason it’s proving more challenging than I’d thought.
I’m trying to take writing much more seriously now, scheduling out the tasks I need to address, including research of markets, agents, and publishers. Finishing Runner B is next on my task list, followed by final drafts and submissions of two other pieces. No more rejections or acceptance letters have come back in, and I’m about to send queries to some of the more tardy markets to see if I can goose them into a response, if only to free up the pieces for other submissions.
Two other things of note on the publishing front:
Forgive the Runner B delays, it’s been a complex couple of weeks.
That said, I’m having a bit of a dilemma regarding traditional publishing versus open blogging. I want to continue posting rough drafts for all to read and critique, because it’s become such a part of my creative process. But having a story freely available can jeopardize its chances of being published, as an open internet post can be seen as “prior publication.” I do think that publication and a wider audience needs to be my next objective.
My plan is to put all new Story Posts behind a password gate, with a single password for the whole site. This allows me to repost the drafts I had previously taken down. (They’re going to be back up within an hour, email me for the password!)
Since I can’t freely post the password, I hope you will be willing to email me to receive access. Of course, what you do with the password beyond that would be entirely up to you.
Of course, if anyone has any insight into traditional publishing, I’d be ever so grateful for your feedback. Does this solution work? Is there a more elegant solution I’m missing entirely?
This isn’t a new story, per se, but instead something I wrote up recently for a subreddit while I was waiting for some code to compile. This is, for most intents and purposes, a “true story”. Or rather, that’s what I said when I posted it there. There is one slight fabrication here, a keystone to hold this together as a narrative, as opposed to just a simple scene. But other than that, the rest is as I remember it, with all the unreliability that that implies. Enjoy.
I love horror, and I write scary stories, but I’m a skeptic, a strict rationalist through and through. I am not a believer. There have been, however, a couple of events in my life that I can’t properly explain.
When I was in college, a group of six friends and myself were on college campus, fresh from the disappointment of a failed attempt to score some hash. The college has a large arboretum, that edges a wide slow moving creek. It was a perfect California summer night, hot and muggy punctuated by gentle breaths of cool breeze.
We were walking along a long stretch of path, a wide paved trail with a steep drop into the water on the left, and a steep incline up a hill to the right. We’re talking too steep to go up without using your hands. On the incline to the right, a row of oak trees stood side by side with tall thin streetlights, casting the only light around, as it was a new moon. Ahead, we could see two hundred meters of trail, wide pools of orange light broken up by the deep black shadows under the limbs of the oak trees. But the path was flat and straight, so although the areas beneath the trees were inky dark, you could see there was no one else ahead of us on the path. The only sound was the gentle breeze and the frogs and insects in the creek.
As I submit polished stories for publishing, I’ll be removing the corresponding scraps of the rough drafts that were posted here. Many markets consider any online postings as prior publications, and although the final drafts I am submitting are usually quite changed from the rough drafts you’ve read here, I want to make sure there is no room for confusion.
If the pieces are rejected from enough venues, I will likely update the pages to share the final drafts with you. What this means is that some stories will be unavailable while their polished counterparts are in submission, and potentially forever if they are accepted, in which case, you will not be able to get me to shut up about it.
If you’d like to read a draft that is no longer available, please email me and I will be happy to discuss.
This is a temporary post to solicit feedback on the new site before I switch over entirely and to test the Facebook and Twitter linking. It’s very similar to the old layout, albeit with a sexier URL, but I please let me know if there is anything you’d like to see or have changed before the switch. Just comment here to let me know, and thank you in advance.
I’d also love to crosslink to your personal site if appropriately themed, just send me your address and let me know. I’m trying to find ways to promote and evangelize this new address, and I’m afraid I really don’t know how to do that…
Thank you for following me here.