Read Eyes or No Eyes at Heroic Quarterly

“Are your eyes not a pittance for the sake of your kingdom?”

I wrote a fantasy piece that would make my knighted ancestors proud — a misanthropic old wizard nurses a brave knight back to health after she is wounded in a joust. The shattering of a lance is the fulcrum upon which the fates of a kingdom turn in “Eyes or No Eyes” and all will be tested. Except for the wizard. He hates that kind of thing.

Kat Deggans is the artist who contributes an illustration to the tale; it’s always a pleasure to have a story illustrated by an artist and I’ve been fortunate in having several stories graced by the talents of my fellow creatives. We need art in this world, and I thank Kat Deggans for being able to give this story more impact with the visual element than it would otherwise have.

Adrian Simmons is the editor and he was great to work with on this one; there’s no doubt he loves what he does, and authors can’t ask for much more than that kind of respect for the creative work we all toil at.

Give Heroic Fantasy Quarterly some love, their whole issue 30 for November is online and I’m looking forward to giving the issue a read between researching the Yakuza. While primarily I’m known for horror and the dark, my first love was fantasy when I found “The Book of Three” by Lloyd Alexander, when I was young. Every now and again, I return to it, and it nourishes in turn like mother’s milk.

Enjoy.

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Read Eyes or No Eyes at Heroic Quarterly

Grey Matter Press to Release DREAD

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Grey Matter Press has asked fans to pick out their favorite stories from the Grey Matter Press catalog, and so Dread: A Head Full of Bad Dreams is on its way to you, featuring yours truly with a reprint of “How To Make A Human” originally published in Ominous Realities. It’s a great line up with amazing writers. I’m still rubbing my eyes to see names like “Zelazny” and “Maberry”, along with my talented wordsmith peers like Dunham, Stone, and so many other inimitable writers.

I think any writer whose story is picked by an editor who thinks highly enough of it to publish it in a ‘zine or an anthology, is always thrilled by the prospect. But there’s something special about having fans and dedicated readers who make their voices heard. In the words of Sally Field, “You like me! You really like me!”

I also hear Grey Matter is putting out a limited 100 print run of a special hard cover edition. Looks beautiful, created by the fine sensibilities of Victor Slepushkin and you can see it here.

Table of Contents:

(Alphabetical by Story Title)

AMNION – John Everson (Equilibrium Overturned)
ANGIE – John F.D. Taff (Ominous Realities)
CITY SONG – Trent Zelazny and Edward Morris (Dark Visions Two)
HEIRLOOM – Michael Laimo (Splatterlands)
HOUSESITTING – Ray Garton (Splatterlands)
HOW TO MAKE A HUMAN – Martin Rose (Ominous Realities)
MARTIAL LAW – JG Faherty (Equilibrium Overturned)
MISTER POCKETS – Jonathan Maberry (Dark Visions One)
MISTER WHITE – John C. Foster (Dark Visions Two)
MOONLIGHTING – Chad McKee (Dark Visions Two)
ON THE THRESHOLD – William Meikle (Ominous Realities)
PURE BLOOD AND EVERGREEN – Bracken MacLeod (Ominous Realities)
RELEASE – Jane Brooks and Peter Whitley (Dark Visions Two)
SECOND OPINION – Ray Garton (Dark Visions One)
SHOW ME – John F.D. Taff (Dark Visions One)
THE LAST ELF – T. Fox Dunham (Ominous Realities)
THE TROLL – Jonathan Balog (Dark Visions One)
THIS IS NOT A HORROR STORY – Tim Waggoner (Equilibrium Overturned)
THROUGH THE GHOSTLANDS – Rose Blackthorn (Equilibrium Overturned)
WORMHOLE by J. Daniel Stone (Dark Visions Two)

Grey Matter Press to Release DREAD

Death’s Realm Mini-Interview: Jay Caselberg

Everyone, welcome Jay Caselberg to the blog. I’m featuring fellow contributors to Death’s Realm, of Grey Matter Press, with a short mini-interview to learn more about the talent involved, a preview of what we can expect from their story, and speculate on what lies ahead in the great beyond.

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Tell us about your background, who you are, and how you came to the writing life.

Me, I’m Australian, though I have lived in Europe for a number of years now, traveling around for day job related stuff. I spent time growing up in various countries as well. Despite all that, I still retain an essential component of the Australian psyche, or so I believe, and it tends to seep through into the fiction. Embedded in the Australian subconscious is the sense of removal, of separation from the rest of the world, because, you know, from most places, it is a long long way away. Anyway, I always thought I’d turn out to be a scribbler and I read and wrote as I was growing up. Then, at an impressionable age, I stumbled across a book on how to write a novel. Within those pages was a piece of the worst advice I have ever heard: you cannot write a book till you are over forty because you don’t have the life experience to make it real. What rubbish. Anyway, taking that to heart, it caused me to stumble. Much later, I happened across on online forum that acted as a kind of virtual critique group and suddenly, it was as if the world had opened up. I’d had no dealings with other aspirants until that stage and about then, I realised that I was probably good enough. I wrote a few stories, sent them out and the first one I sent out, a little science fiction tale with a pretty dark edge sold within a couple of months.

Although I write and have written novels, science fiction, horror, literary and even YA fantasy most of my work is short fiction and generally, it tends to be what I would characterise as soft horror, more the psychological, but none the less dark for that. Literature, ultimately, is about the human condition, and the inside of people’s heads is often a dark and squirmy place. I like playing with that.

Gray Matter Press has released an anthology, Death’s Realm, featuring your work, “Penumbra.” Give us a preview of your short story without giving away too much.

The concept for “Penumbra” is what happens to someone who is deeply, madly in love, and they die. What efforts would one go to to keep that bond alive even though you may not be.

The premise behind Death’s Realm is what happens after death. If there is a great beyond, what do you imagine it to be?

I’m not a great believer in a great beyond per se. I have no vision of heaven or hell. I do believe that there is something there. I have seen and experienced too many things to accept that there is simply nothing, things that defy normal everyday explanation. Despite that, I am not going to sign up to any orthodox set of rationalisations that make the less certain feel more certain. For me, it’s not about faith or anything else. Sure, there’s something going on there. You just need to be able to live with it.

We thank Jay Caselberg for coming by to share his thoughts. He’s got a web page here, and twitter account you can stalk him at here.

Death’s Realm Mini-Interview: Jay Caselberg

Death’s Realm Mini-Interview: Matthew Pegg

Everyone, welcome Matthew Pegg to the blog. I’m featuring fellow contributors to Death’s Realm, of Grey Matter Press, with a short mini-interview to learn more about the talent involved, a preview of what we can expect from their story, and speculate on what lies ahead in the great beyond.

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Tell us about your background, who you are, and how you came to the writing life.

I grew up in Staffordshire in England. We lived in an old farmhouse that had a cellar that filled up with water every so often, open fireplaces, no central heating and windows that got covered with ice on the inside in winter. My mother insisted that there was a ghost on the top landing. She never saw anything but she said she could sometimes smell a sweaty smell. It was probably just the drains, or our unwashed socks. I wrote a lot of stories when I was in primary school. I particularly remember writing an alternate version of ‘The Snow Queen’, which had some ideas and characters that I intend to reuse at some point. Then in secondary school I got put off writing fiction by my English teacher, who thought writing stories was kids stuff. How he got the job I don’t know.

I went to drama school and worked as an actor for a few years until I realised I wasn’t great at it and liked having an overview of a story rather than being responsible for just one character. So then I started writing plays.

I’ve written some odd stuff for theatre: a one man version of Twelfth Night, a play designed to be performed during a medieval banquet, an adaptation of the film ‘Onibaba’, a puppet show, street theatre, plays for young people to watch, plays for young people to perform and a version of Rumpelstiltskin that was rather too influenced by ‘Beetlejuice’. I also adapted M.R. James’s story ‘Lost Hearts’ for the stage and then as a short film. Writing for theatre has given me some useful skills: creating dialogue, developing dramatic tension and an awareness of structure but it’s very different from writing prose. A play is probably closer to sheet music than it is to a novel: it’s a set of instructions for actors, designer and director and an audience experience it collectively rather than in a one to one fashion.

I came to writing fiction quite late. I’d always wanted to do it, but I wasn’t sure whether I had the basic skills. Eventually I did an MA in Creative Writing which I completed in 2012. My fiction tutor was the greatly missed author Graham Joyce, who was really enthusiastic about the stuff I was writing. I came out of the course thinking, “Yes, I can do this after all!” It taught me a lot and gave me a big confidence boost. Since then I’ve completed a novel and I’ve been submitting short pieces to various publications.

Gray Matter Press has released an anthology, Death’s Realm, featuring your work, “March Hays.” Give us a preview of your short story without giving away too much.
Sam Meacham is injured during WW2 and sent to March Hays, a stately home requisitioned as a hospital for servicemen. One of the nurses Lily, is the daughter of the house who Sam met when he was a child. As Sam recuperates he experiences some strange and disturbing events in the library of the house, but isn’t sure if they are real or just a side effect of his injuries. He also becomes increasingly attached to Lily and determined to protect her from her monstrous husband Edward, who seems to be a threat to her life.

The premise behind Death’s Realm is what happens after death. If there is a great beyond, what do you imagine it to be?

I’ll be very surprised if there is anything, but then I like surprises! I suspect if there is anything it will be beyond the power of our imaginations to comprehend. Or it might be a bit like Milton Keynes.

We thank Matthew Pegg for coming by to share his thoughts. You can keep up with him at his website, here.

Death’s Realm Mini-Interview: Matthew Pegg

Death’s Realm Mini-Interview: John F. D. Taff

Everyone, welcome John F. D. Taff to the blog. I’m featuring fellow contributors to Death’s Realm, of Grey Matter Press, with a short mini-interview to learn more about the talent involved, a preview of what we can expect from their story, and speculate on what lies ahead in the great beyond.
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Tell us about your background, who you are, and how you came to the writing life.
My background is pretty heavily in writing.  I was an English major in college and worked for many years in the magazine industry–marketing & sales, editing & writing, all the way up the ladder to publisher.  I started writing fiction when I was in grade school, but didn’t get serious until around 1990.  Then I started in on short stories and never looked back.  I love to read and listen to music.  I just got married to my wonderful fiancee Deb, and am father to three great kids and three great pugs.

Gray Matter Press has released an anthology, Death’s Realm, featuring your work, “Some Other Day.” Give us a preview of your short story without giving away too much.

“Some Other Day” is actually a rewritten version of an older story that I somehow lost.  The idea stuck with me, about a boy’s unexpressed grief for his dead mother and how it affects everything around him.  So I rewrote it, even before the call for Death’s Realm went out.

The premise behind Death’s Realm is what happens after death. If there is a great beyond, what do you imagine it to be?

Probably just what you need it to be, what you think it will be, at least for some time after you die.  Until you get acclimated to what death really is, what it means.  I think the afterlife we all sort of mentally go to is a cushion to protect us from a reality that is so much larger than we can contemplate.  And I mean that in a good way…of course.
We thank John F. D. Taff for coming by to share his thoughts. His more recent offering also comes to us by way of Grey Matter Press, the much acclaimed “The End In All Beginnings.” You can keep up with him at his website, here.
Death’s Realm Mini-Interview: John F. D. Taff

Death’s Realm Anthology – Mirrorworld

I’ve been remiss in updating my latest projects for this blog, as I’ve been too busy to breathe since 2015 moved in. I was recently proud to have “Mirrorworld” published in the anthology from Grey Matter Press, Death’s Realm.

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In the next few weeks, I’m going to be hosting a a little tour featuring several authors from the anthology answering a few questions about their contribution and their thoughts on life after death. Reviews have also started to trickle in, one, notably, from Fangoria.

The Table of Contents:
“OMNISCOPIC” by Rhoads Brazos“SOME OTHER DAY” by John F.D. Taff“HAUNTER” by Hank Schwaeble
“BURIAL SUIT” by John C. Foster“NINE” by Aaron Polson“PENUMBRA” by Jay Caselberg“FOXHOLE” by JG Faherty“DROWNING” by Gregory L. Norris“THE WEIGHT” by Jane Brooks“HARDER YOU FALL” by Brian Fatah Steele“MIRRORWORLD” by Martin Rose“MARCH HAYS” by Matthew Pegg“HIGH ART” by Karen Runge and Simon Dewar“A PIRATE’S RANSOM” by Jay O’Shea“TO TOUCH THE DEAD” by Paul Michael Anderson
“YOU ONLY DIE ONCE” by Stephen Graham Jones

Death’s Realm Anthology – Mirrorworld