I’m Brian Keene and this is the 262nd issue of Letters From the Labyrinth — a weekly newsletter for fans of my work. Previous issues can be found here. If you’re reading this via email, and you’d like to leave a comment, just click that link. I’m always happy to hear from you.
This was a week lost to Covid. I had to quarantine from Mary when she arrived home until we knew whether she had it or not, so she stayed here with the cats and the hermit crabs and the fish. (I’ve argued endlessly that I should be allowed to add a dog to the Casa Keengiovanni zoo, but to no avail). I stayed with my youngest son and his mother at their house, and while that was nice enough (the three of us played a lot of Mario Kart in the evenings) it’s not the same as staying in your own home, or working in your own office. My office there is the dining room table, and while I did get work accomplished, it wasn’t what I should have been working on. My intention this past week had been to focus on the final fifty pages of PROJECT CASTLE. But because I am an idiot, I forgot to bring my various reference books and material with me — and those fifty pages couldn’t be whipped into shape without them. So, instead, I focused on the second draft of SUBMERGED: THE LABYRINTH, Book 2.
On Thursday, we determined that Mary was free and clear of Covid, so I came home. I also got my Pfizer booster before that (disclaimer: I am a minor Pfizer shareholder — less than 20 shares). That third shot knocked me off my feet. Within the first two hours I had overwhelming fatigue and a headache like nothing I’ve ever felt before. When I woke up Friday, both remained, along with a low grade fever. But by Friday night, those symptoms had mostly passed. I’m writing this on Saturday morning, and the only remnants that remain is some light fatigue. Not enough to impact writing, but I doubt I’d want to go for a five mile hike though the woods today. Anyway — Friday was a rare lost day for me, work-wise.
My plan for today is to make up for some of that lost time until Mary wakes up. And then I want to spend some time with her since we haven’t really seen each other since Thanksgiving. Tomorrow (Sunday, when you are reading this), my oldest son, my godson, and author John Urbancik will be here for our weekly Magic the Gathering game, and then after that Mary and I are going to visit Dave and Deena. Then, on Monday, I’m going full hog on PROJECT CASTLE, with what I expect will be many extended work days.
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We had our monthly Scares that Care board meeting on Friday night. We voted in two brand new board members — Angel Hollman (who has served as one of our state representatives) and author Sonora Taylor. I’m looking forward to working with both of them, for sure (and it’s nice to have another author on the Board, as well. If you’d like to check out her work, here is her latest short story collection).
We also cleared the next round of Guests of Honor for AuthorCon, which takes place this coming April. We’d already announced Grady Hendrix, F. Paul Wilson, Hailey Piper, S.A. Cosby, Mary SanGiovanni, Jonathan Janz, Wrath James White, Weston Ochse, Yvonne Navarro, CV Hunt, and Andersen Prunty as Guests of Honor. But we weren’t done! Plus, there’s dozens and dozens of other authors, artists and publishers also attending, and workshops from folks like videogame veteran Richard Dansky and legendary spoken word master Robert Ford. If you’re a fan of horror fiction, and you can only do one convention next year, this is it. This is the one. Full details, including the full line-up, tickets, hotel, etc., can be found here.
It’s worth pointing out that the charity’s goal has always been to help three families per year, but thanks to the support of the horror community, we’ve been able to exceed that goal and help more than three families these last few years. That’s because of you. Know that the people we help appreciate it. And so do we.
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People get mad when I don’t include a kitten update, so…
Stripe, Dallas, and Bubbles are all doing well. Each of them has developed their own distinct personality and quirks. Stripe is an independent alpha who tolerates Mary and myself, but adores my youngest son. He also follows Mary’s older cat, Spike, around the house like a sidekick. Dallas has bonded to me. He’s laying across the top of my desk as I type this. Indeed, wherever I am, that’s where he is. His favorite thing to do is to snuggle. And Bubbles has bonded to Mary. She’s extremely smart and very inquisitive, and has already mastered he art of pulling open unlocked doors (something Spike also excels at).
Josie, the outdoor cat, is doing fine as well. She likes the shelter I made for her, and sleeps in it at night. During the day she still prowls the neighborhood. I suspect that may change with the first heavy snow.
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CURRENTLY LISTENING: Various Beatles albums
CURRENTLY READING: The new Thunderstorm Books edition of Dead Souls by Michael Laimo.
CURRENTLY WATCHING: Get Back, Bohemian Rhapsody, and the Evil Dead franchise.
Deciding that, at age 13, my youngest son was finally old enough for Evil Dead, he and I worked our way through the first three movies. He loved them all, particularly Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness. We’ll be working our way through Ash vs Evil Dead next. I don’t know if we’ll include the remake or not. I saw it in theaters with J.F. Gonzalez and his daughter, but haven’t seen it since.
My youngest son also asked if we could watch Bohemian Rhapsody, so we did. I was both surprised and not-at-all surprised to discover that he is a huge fan of Queen. Surprised because he’s a teenager and doesn’t always share things like that with us anymore, and also surprised because he discovered Queen independently of me or his mother or Mary. (He was aware of Queen, of course, since they are one of my favorite bands, but he did a deep dive on his own and began listening to them in his room and getting into the album cuts, etc). And then not-at-all surprised because the kid has always had remarkably eclectic and independent tastes in all forms of media, including music. And also in hindsight, this is where his current fashion sense must have come from. He likes the glam rock look, and — when he can get away with it — he often resembles a teenager who has robbed the wardrobes of the New York Dolls, David Bowie, and Guns N’ Roses. (He’s got this particular pair of farmer-green pants with gold edging that his mother bought by mistake but which he loves).
Anyway, we watched Bohemian Rhapsody. I cautioned him that it wasn’t 100% historically accurate, but it’s still an excellent biopic, and Rami Malek’s transformation into Freddie Mercury is really something to behold, particularly on a second viewing. He was impressed that his old man watched Live Aid as it happened, from a Navy barracks in San Diego.
I’ve watched the nearly nine-hour Get Back twice now. Both times, it left me smiling and weeping. I’d seen the Apple rooftop concert footage before, but watching the version in Get Back… it’s all there. Their friendship. Their artistry. And all of the darkness on the horizon (particularly their first encounter with Allen Klein, whom I’ve always pointed at as being the one who truly broke up the band). As a fan, I’m left both emotionally drained and fulfilled.
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David Agranoff has an article on TOR.com about genre classics that need to be adapted for film. It includes my thoughts on Del Toro’s stuck-in-development-hell adaptation H.P. Lovecraft’s At The Mountains of Madness, and a Rob Zombie helmed adaptation of J.F. Gonzalez’s Survivor. Click here to read it.
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On the latest episode of DEFENDERS DIALOGUE, Moon Knight takes the spotlight as Christopher Golden and I discuss the character's origin, history, supporting cast, and the second issue of his iconic 1980's run. Available for free wherever you listen to podcasts and via this link.
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Speaking of comic books, I often post pics on Twitter and Instagram of my latest Silver and Bronze Age purchases, and people occasionally ask where I buy my comics.
Locally, my two main sources are Comix Connection in York, PA and Cooper’s Comics in Columbia, PA. I’ve got a long-standing deal with Comix Connection — if you live in Central PA and you have a book or comic you would like signed, you can take it in to the York store, and ask for either Bill, Ned or Justin. Tell them you’ve got something you’d like me to sign. Give them instructions on how you would like it signed. And then next time I’m in the store (usually Monday or Tuesday) I’ll sign it and then they’ll call you and let you know to come pick it up. This is a free service, so we would all appreciate it if you’d support them with your business while you do this. (I don’t have this arrangement with Cooper’s Comics, but it occurs to me I should set something similar up with them for folks on the opposite shore of the river).
I also occasionally buy back issues from Comic Store West in York, PA but they are primarily my gaming store.
As for online sales, I really like New Kadia. Their prices are good, and I’ve never had a problem getting a shipment from them.
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And that’s it for this week, I think. As I said, we’ve got cards and then we are going to head down and visit Dave and Deena later on today. Every time we see him, we know that it will probably be the last time, and yet then we get to see him again. It’s a blessing we have had this extra time with Dave, but he is also bedridden now, and very, very tired, and I hope what he wants will happen soon, if that makes sense.
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ADDENDUM: Woke at 4am this morning (Sunday) to the news that Anne Rice has passed away due to complications from a stroke. I was never fortunate enough to meet her, but I read all of her books, of course, and I am friends with her son, Christopher. My condolences to her loved ones and her fans.
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See you back here next week.