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Last Minute Holiday Gift Suggestions: The Holidays can be Murder

I’m drawn to dark stories. Always have been. Rather than tales of sweetness and light, give me a story like “The Monkey’s Paw,” “A Rose for Emily,” or “The Killers.” I’m not a violent person, in fact I’m repulsed by real-world violence, but on some level, for a story to hit me the right way, it needs to have something strange and dark about it: An uneasy spirit, a desperate criminal, a murder…

So if your tastes, like mine, are a bit noir, or if you’re shopping for a gift for that weird friend or family member with a habit of reading tawdry black-covered books on killers, I’ve got some recommendations for you…


A Parliament of Crows, by Alan M. Clark:

Murder, fraud, suicide, war, isolation, madness, duty, pride, love, loyalty.

From World Fantasy Award winner Alan M. Clark comes a godforsaken southern gothic based on the three most evil sisters in history. They are the Mortlow sisters, and they do it all for the family.


Of Thimble and Threat: The Life of a Ripper Victim, by Alan M. Clark:

In Victorian London, the greatest city of the richest country in the world, the industrial revolution has created a world of decadence and prosperity, but also one of unimaginable suffering. Ever-present in its streets are rats, parasites, filth, death, decay, danger and sorrow. Catherine Eddowes is found murdered gruesomely in the street. When the police make their report, the only indicators of her life are the possessions carried on her person, likely everything she owned in the world.

In Of Thimble and Threat, Alan M. Clark tells the heartbreaking story of Catherine Eddowes, the fourth victim of Jack the Ripper, explaining the origin and acquisition of the items found with her at the time of her death, chronicling her life from childhood to adulthood, motherhood, her descent into alcoholism, and finally her death.

Of Thimble and Threat is a story of the intense love between a mother and a child, a story of poverty and loss, fierce independence, and unconquerable will. It is the devastating portrayal of a self-perpetuated descent into Hell, a lucid view into the darkest parts of the human heart.


A Pretty Mouth, by Molly Tanzer:

Re-Animator meets The Secret History in this Tale of Sex and Science

Henry Milliner thinks his days of being the school pariah are over forever when he attracts the attention of Wadham College’s coolest Fellow Commoner, St John Clement, the Lord Calipash. St John is everything Henry isn’t: Brilliant, graceful, rich, universally respected. And as if that wasn’t enough, St John is also the leader of the Blithe Company, the clique of Natural Philosophy majors who rule Wadham with style. But when being St John’s protege ends up becoming a weirder experience than Henry anticipated — and the Blithe Company doesn’t quite turn out to be the decadent, debauched crew he dreamed of — Henry has some big decisons to make. Should he beg the forgiveness of his only friend, naive underclassman John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester, or should he ride it out with St John and try to come out on top?

Tangling with a Calipash is an invariably risky endeavor. From antiquity to the modern era, few who have encountered members of that family have benefited from the acquaintance. If only Henry knew the that Calipashes are notorious for their history of sinister schemes, lewd larks, and eldritch experiments, he would realize there are way worse things than being unpopular…


Terminal Island, by Walter Greatshell:

As a child, Henry Cadmus lived on Catalina Island, a scenic vacationland off the Southern California coast. But Henry’s experiences were far from idyllic. Today, even though Henry has seen firsthand the horrors of war, the ghastly images that haunt his dreams are ones he associates with his childhood… and the island: a snarling pig-man holding a cleaver; a jackal-headed woman on a high balcony, dripping blood; strange occult rituals… and worse. If it was up to Henry, he would avoid the island entirely.

But Henry is returning to Catalina Island. At his wife Ruby’s insistence, Henry, Ruby, and their infant daughter are coming to Avalon, so that Henry can face his fears, exorcise his demons, and reconcile with the one he dreads most… his mother.

From Walter Greatshell, author of Xombies comes Terminal Island, a novel of cosmic horror.


Chick Bassist, by Ross E. Lockhart

Making a killing in rock and roll can be murder…

Chick Bassist is utterly savage. Lockhart’s style waxes poetic as a modern Beat giving us a glimpse into Rock & Roll hell.” – Laird Barron, Shirley Jackson Award-winning author of Occultation and The Croning

Erin Locke, the Queen of Rock, wakes up at the crack of noon.

“La Cucaracha” has infested her dream, and now echoes through her hotel room. “What the fuck is that?” Erin’s voice is muffled by the thick blankets that completely cover her. Beside the lump that is Erin lies a black Ibanez bass guitar. A Heroes for Goats sticker adorns its reflective surface. Erin thrusts one arm out from beneath the blankets and fumbles for the nonexistent alarm clock. She’s still slogging off fragments of her dream, that goddamn recurrent creep-out where she’s a praying mantis, translucent green, perched on the crest of a burning city, devouring her still-copulating preymate. This time her meal had worn her father’s face. Those dreams were the worst.

Chick Bassist welcomes you into punk rock hell, the friendless disillusionment of waking up in a shitty motel room in California with half a joint and an empty six-pack, radio blaring Lou Reed, concrete ocean on all sides and a blazing inferno within.

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Coz and Effect: Arch Oboler and “The Killer Fruitcake That Ate Petaluma”

I blame Bill Cosby. Yes, that Bill Cosby. Before Coz was “Cliff” Huxtable, Mother, Fat Albert, or the Jell-O Pudding Pop pitchman, he was a very funny guy, a stand-up comedian, and the track “Chicken Heart,” from his 1966 album Wonderfulness, was my first exposure–albeit secondhand–to the storytelling genius of American playwright, screenwriter, novelist, producer, and director Arch Oboler.

Lights Out!

While Cosby futzes a number of the details in his retelling of Oboler’s 1937 radio drama “The Chicken Heart,” his routine stands as one of the most original and memorable accounts of a young child’s formative encounters with not just horror, but cosmic horror. For Oboler’s is a horror story that works on many levels: absurdist cautionary tale, Grand Guignol, “what if?” speculative sci-fi, newspaper noir, and apocalyptic cosmic joke. And I credit–and blame–Cosby for leading me to Oboler, and Lights Out, and my lifelong obsession with weird fiction and cosmic horror.

Coz and Effect

In mid-2007, David Templeton asked me to write a story for that year’s Twisted Christmas showcase at Santa Rosa’s Glaser Center. The result, my tribute to Coz and Mr. O alike (not to mention my adopted home town) was “The Killer Fruitcake That Ate Petaluma.” The story was performed–in full-on ear-cupping 1940s radio announcer style–by West Coast Live radio personality Sedge Thomson on December 8, 2007.

“The Killer Fruitcake That Ate Petaluma” opens my mini collection, The Pugilist’s Holiday and Other Holiday Tales of the Twisted and Grotesque, which is currently free to download for the Amazon Kindle, my Xmas gift to you.

And, just to give you an incentive to download and read “The Killer Fruitcake That Ate Petaluma”, if you’re one of the first three people to review The Pugilist’s Holiday and Other Holiday Tales of the Twisted and Grotesque, you can win your choice of a signed copy of The Book of Cthulhu, The Book of Cthulhu II, or Chick Bassist! Download, read, review, and send me a link to win!

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Last Minute Holiday Gift Suggestions: Kaiju Edition

If you’re anything like me, you love giant monsters. From King Kong to Cthulhu and everything in between, the humongous “strange beasts” of Kaiju cinema and literature have captivated and entertained us by flattenin’ cities and wrasslin’ with one another for the better part of a century.

So here are a few gift suggestions to my monster-loving friends. Because really, short of suiting up and stomping a cardboard city of your own design, what could be more fun than watching or reading about giant monsters?

All-Monster Action!
All-Monster Action!, by Cody Goodfellow:

“A tour-de-force! Goodfellow’s latest is his best yet. Compulsive, breakneck reading!” -BRIAN KEENE, author of The Rising and Ghoul

IT’S THEIR WORLD… NOW GET THE FUCK OFF!

Whether on the sun-kissed beaches of a nameless South Pacific paradise or in the suffocating dungeons of retail Hell, the misfits of evolution and mistakes of misbegotten science are battling, breeding, and feeding. And they’re looking at you…

COMING ATTRACTIONS!

They came seeking cheap thrills and interspecies recreational sex, but they reaped a whirlwind of clusterfuckery when they toyed with the unspeakable forces of monster lust. From the idyllic nostalgia of WW2 to the thoroughly bat-shit future, witness the wages of sin and mutation as you’ve never seen them before (unless you read them previously in the periodicals or anthologies in which they first appeared)!

OUR MAIN FEATURE!

The world gave him a blank check and a demand: Create giant monsters to fight our wars. But Dr. Otaku was not satisfied with mere chaos and mass destruction…. Even as his subversively delicious kaiju creatures undermined the very fabric of American life, he hatched a scheme to animate the cities themselves and inaugurate a new dark age of mega-monster abominations who would finally give humanity the ass-whipping it deserved. Now only one man, riding inside the skull of a much larger man, stands between us and the planet-devastating madness of…

ALL-MONSTER ACTION!


Enormity, by W. G. Marshall (AKA Walter Greatshell):

ENORMITY is the strange tale of an American working in Korea, a lonely young man named Manny Lopes, who is not only physically small (in his own words, he’s a “Creole shrimp”), but his work, his failed marriage, his race, all conspire to make him feel puny and insignificant – the proverbial ninety-eight-pound weakling.

Then one day an accident happens, a quantum explosion, and suddenly Manny awakens to discover that he is big – really big. In fact, Manny is enormous, a mile-high colossus!

Now there’s no stopping him: he’s a one-man weapon of mass destruction. Yet he means well.

ENORMITY takes some odd turns, featuring characters like surfing gangbangers, elderly terrorists, and a North Korean assassin who thinks she’s Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. There’s also sex, violence, and action galore, as Manny battles the forces the seek to seduce or destroy him.
Who will survive? Who will be annihilated? Read ENORMITY and find out!

Super Giant Monster Time!
Super Giant Monster Time!, by Jeff Burk:

Will you escape the giant monsters that are rampaging the fuck out of your city? Aliens are invading the Earth and their ray guns turn people into violent punk rockers. At the same time, the city is being overtaken by giant monsters tougher than Godzilla and Mothra combined. You can choose to be a lone scientist trapped in a secret government lab on a remote island swarming with monstrous killer insects, a badass punk rock chick with a green mohawk caught in a bar room brawl as the city goes up in flames around her, or a desk jockey forced to endure tedious office duties while his building is being attacked by a gargantuan centipede with claws the size of sports utility vehicles. Which character will you become? To become the scientist, turn to page 149. To become the punk chick, turn to page 11. To become the office drone, turn to page 77. But choose wisely! You might conquer a fleet of alien saucers with the help of a high-flying monster-slicing super cat or drown in a giant monster’s pool of sperm as it butt-fucks your office building. What will happen next? That’s up to you! When the story hits a fork in the road, you get to choose which path to take. The ending will always be different depending on your decisions. Not only that, you can read this book over and over again for a new experience every time!

Godzilla!
Godzilla

Ishiro Honda’s Godzilla is the roaring granddaddy of all monster movies. It’s also a remarkably humane and melancholy drama made in Japan at a time when the country was still reeling from nuclear attack and H-bomb testing. Its rampaging radioactive beast, the poignant embodiment of an entire population’s fears, became a beloved international icon of destruction, spawning more than twenty sequels and spinoffs. This first thrilling, tactile spectacle continues to be a cult phenomenon; here, we present the original, 1954 Japanese version, along with Godzilla: King of the Monsters!, the 1956 American reworking starring Raymond Burr (Rear Window).

The Pugilist's Holiday
The Pugilist’s Holiday and Other Holiday Tales of the Twisted and Grotesque, by Ross E. Lockhart:

The only selection on this list with a kaiju fruitcake… just in time for Xmas!

A boxer must go toe-to-toe with a jolly old elf and his devastating left hook. A seemingly-innocent holiday confection grows to enormous size, threatening a scenic Northern California town. The reanimated dead rise from their graves, bringing terror to a season previously known for peace on earth and goodwill toward men. These are the weird worlds contained within The Pugilist’s Holiday and Other Holiday Tales of the Twisted and Grotesque, a collection of short Christmas stories inspired by Arch Oboler, Robert E. Howard, and George A. Romero.

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My Xmas Gift to You: The Pugilist’s Holiday is FREE for the next five days!

Here’s my Xmas gift to you! The Pugilist’s Holiday and Other Holiday Tales of the Twisted and Grotesque, my mini collection of strange holiday stories for weird readers, is now FREE for Kindle!

The Pugilist’s Holiday

A boxer must go toe-to-toe with a jolly old elf and his devastating left hook. A seemingly-innocent holiday confection grows to enormous size, threatening a scenic Northern California town. The reanimated dead rise from their graves, bringing terror to a season previously known for peace on earth and goodwill toward men. These are the weird worlds contained within The Pugilist’s Holiday and Other Holiday Tales of the Twisted and Grotesque, a collection of short Christmas stories inspired by Arch Oboler, Robert E. Howard, and George A. Romero.

And, just to give you an incentive, if you’re one of the first three people to review The Pugilist’s Holiday and Other Holiday Tales of the Twisted and Grotesque, you can win your choice of a signed copy of The Book of Cthulhu, The Book of Cthulhu II, or Chick Bassist! Download, read, review, and send me a link to win!

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Rock and Roll

I fell asleep reading Fungi, dreamed of a mushroom marching band, angel’s-trumpet trumpets blaring, and woke to this amazing review of Chick Bassist, which sprouted at Amazon last night:

I should hate this book. It’s mostly present-tense. It’s about rock ‘n’ roll. It shifts between first-person, second-person or first-person plural. It’s structurally complex. The entire time I just waited for it to collapse under its own weight. It really should have. This should have been the one book I hated this year. But it didn’t collapse. I loved it. It’s very, very good. One-hundred pages. Takes as long to read as it takes to listen to a double album. It feels like music, man. Feels like bad decisions and new opportunities. And it’s not glamorous like other books or films make bands out to be. Usually you’re just really hungry and listening to tracks and trying to figure out where you are. Chick Bassist doesn’t read annoyingly self-indulgent. It reads honest. The narrative structure doesn’t overwhelm the book. This thing is tight as can be. And the fact that it’s more than the sum of its parts (i.e. makes me love things I normally don’t) should be an indicator of just how skilled a storyteller Ross Lockhart is. It even reminds you that Lou Reed was awesome once. Yeah. I know. Listen to The Velvet Underground while you read. Do it. (Codexstatic)

Be a hero for a goat, buy Chick Bassist today!

One reader at a time, one review at a time, one mixtape, one demo, one show. Always forward. This is how we conquer the world.

Click here to order Chick Bassist for your Kindle.
Click here to order Chick Bassist in trade paperback.

As much as I love the Velvets, my mushroom dream leaves me a little more in this kind of mood:

White Rabbit, The Damned

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Chick Bassist Now Available for Kindle

From my publisher, Lazy Fascist Press, comes the following news:

One of our featured fall releases, Chick Bassist by Ross E. Lockhart, is now available as an e-book for the Kindle.

Chick Bassist

Praise for Chick Bassist:

“Chick Bassist is utterly savage. Lockhart’s style waxes poetic as a modern Beat giving us a glimpse into Rock & Roll hell.” – Laird Barron, Shirley Jackson Award-winning author of Occultation and The Croning

“Ross Lockhart knows something about those who people the world of Rock and Roll. In CHICK BASSIST, he provides an intimate and at times truly disturbing look at the pains and pleasures, the aspirations and triumphs, the simple failings as well as the epic downfalls of those who climb the stage with electric instruments and high-voltage attitude. I highly recommend this great Rock novel.” – Alan M. Clark, author of A Parliament of Crows

“A stunningly daring performance…” – Zachary Jernigan, author of No Return

“Could be the ultimate rock novel.” – M.P. Johnson

Click here to order Chick Bassist for your Kindle.
Click here to order the paperback, which may be used as kindling once you’re done reading, should all this stuff about the Mayan apocalypse turn out to be true.

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Spotted in the Wild

Whether you prefer your weird fiction with tentacles or guitars, we’ve got reading material to scratch your itch. Available now from better retailers everywhere, including Amazon.com:

The Book of Cthulhu
The Book of Cthulhu II
Chick Bassist
The Pugilist’s Holiday and Other Holiday Tales of the Twisted and Grotesque

And a shout out to Tiff Franks for the “spotted in the wild” photo!

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Rue Morgue reviews The Book of Cthulhu II

Keep your eyes open for the latest issue of the always-exceptional Rue Morgue (#129), appearing on newsstands now, which includes Dejan Ognjanovic’s stellar review of The Book of Cthulhu II. “The second volume of The Book of Cthulhu,” writes Ognjanovic, “exemplifies the richness of Lovecraft’s legacy: gloomy terror, mystery, thrills, vivid action, chilling visions, satire, science ficiton, humor — all of that, and then some, is crammed into more than 400 pages awaiting readers eager for some apocalyptic horror.” Author shout-outs in the review include: Neil Gaiman, Kim Newman, Fritz Leiber, Karl Edward Wagner, William Browning Spencer, Cody Goodfellow, Mark Samuels, Jonathan Wood, Michael Chabon, Laird Barron, Paul Tobin, and Molly Tanzer.

 Rue Morgue #129

Order The Book of Cthulhu II where better books are sold, including Amazon.com.