Letters From the Labyrinth 283
Ninety degrees here along the Susquehanna River as I write this. It’s Saturday afternoon, and I’ve been working from the porch today — writing a new chapter of ISLAND OF THE DEAD, doing some edits on the graphic novel adaptation of GWENDY’S BUTTON BOX, and of course, putting this missive together.
It would be easy to think myself alone, were it not for the steady flow of traffic as vacationers and weekend boaters and bikers descend upon our little slice of heaven. And if it were not for the occasional sound of Mary inside the house. And for the occasional cry of the birds circling the river.
And, of course, these ruffians.
I am not alone. And neither are you. Because it’s Sunday, and I’m Brian Keene, and this is Letters From the Labyrinth, a weekly newsletter for friends, family and fans of my work. Previous issues can be read here. You can also leave comments, which I’ll read and answer as time allows.
They’ll be ready for adoption in about another two weeks, if you are local and interested. I will miss their little selves, but will be happy to see them go to loving homes where people read good books and like animals.
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I think we’ll start this week by addressing a rumor that’s been making its way across the fan sites this past week. Yes, Bryan Smith and I are planning to write a CLICKERS novel together. I know I said multiple times that I wouldn’t write one without Jesus, but having collaborated with Bryan on SUBURBAN GOTHIC — it was very, very close to what it was like to collaborate with Jesus, and I have missed that. Jesus and Bryan were friends and respected each other and enjoyed each other’s writing, and I think he’d be okay with this collaboration. But don’t start saving money for preorders yet. We are still a long way out from this. Bryan has to finish rereading CLICKERS, CLICKERS II, CLICKERS III, CLICKERS VS. ZOMBIES, CLICKERS FOREVER, and CLICKERS NEVER DIE before we write word one. Plus, we each have our own individual responsibilities and deadlines. but yes, it is happening.
Other CLICKERS collaborations in the works include Jeff Strand and Kenzie Jennings, and Kristopher Rufty and Jay Wilburn. Jonathan Janz and Livia Llewellyn have also expressed an interest in playing with the franchise, and I think they’ll both be great.
But I would also really, really like to see some pitches from BIPOC authors. After all, this series was created by a man of Mexican descent, and I’d like to see that legacy continue. So, if you’re a writer of color, and you’ve got a pitch for me, please reach out. Twitter is the best way to contact me. If you Tweet me, I’ll see it. If you email me, there’s only a 50/50 chance I’ll see it. Let me know you’re interested, and we’ll discuss in DMs. It goes without saying that you need to have a deep knowledge of the series. I’m looking for professional, BIPOC writers, be they mainstream or indie, who are also fans of the CLICKERS franchise. If that’s you, have a knowledge and an understanding of the franchise and what has come before, then definitely reach out.
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Speaking of opportunities for BIPOC writers, Red Lagoe is editing a new anthology called Nightmare Sky, to be published by Death Knell Press. They’d like to have some more submissions from writers of color, and have extended their deadline until June 11th in the hopes that they’ll get some. Complete guidelines can be found here.
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Oh, and the other rumor that I see many of you buzzing about in all the usual places — yes: Mary, Cynthia Pelayo, Hailey Piper, and I are working on something together. No, we will not tell you what it is, but I will tell you that it is kind of like 4X4, but not exactly.
Last year was the twentieth anniversary of 4X4. There’d been talk of reprinting it and possibly doing a follow up, but sadly, we just weren’t all able to get together for it. nobody’s fault. There was a lot going on. Pandemic and all. Maybe for the twenty-fifth anniversary? I was disappointed that we didn’t get to do it, but this makes up for it.
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Scares That Care Weekend VIII is just a few months away (July 29 through the 31). This week, we announced the author Guests of Honor: Stephen Graham Jones, Rio Youers, V Castro, Daniel Kraus, Ronald Kelly, Ronald Malfi, Laurel Hightower, Cullen Bunn, John Edward Lawson, Somer Canon, Kristopher Triana and Steven L. Shrewsbury!
I have run the author guest booking and programming for the last eight years, but I’m happy to announce that beginning next year (2023) author Sonora Taylor will be stepping into that position, so that I can better focus on Scares That Care’s fast-growing AuthorCon event, and my duties as public ambassador for the charity. Sonora is fantastic, and has already been a valuable addition to the Board of Directors, and I’m really excited to see what she has planned for Scares that Care Weekend going forward.
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And speaking of Scares That Care AuthorCon, we previously announced that given the smash success of the inaugural event, there would indeed be an AuthorCon II in 2023. Well, if you are a fan or reader, you can now reserve your hotel room for next year! The con will take place March 31 to April 2, 2023.
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Currently Listening: Long Distance Voyager by The Moody Blues
Currently Watching: Better Call Saul, We Own This City. and The Last Kingdom
Currently Reading: Magnolia Lane by Donald R. Guillory
I had the pleasure of hearing Donald read the first chapter of this at StokerCon, and it immediately grabbed me. The prose is poetic but deceptively blunt, and dangerously hypnotic because it lulls you with its beauty and then when you are distracted, Donald does very bad things to your brain. After his reading was finished, I bought a copy, and I absolutely blew through it this past week. I told him that if I enjoyed it, I’d give him a blurb, if he liked, and I enjoyed the hell out of it, so here’s my official blurb:
“Poetic, engrossing, and full of frights, Magnolia Lane is a beautifully written horror story that pulls no emotional punches. Standing ovation!” — Brian Keene, bestselling author of The Complex and End of the Road.
Seriously, gang. This book’s fantastic. I urge you to check it out. It’s available here in both paperback and for Kindle. I can’t rave about it enough. If you need a comparison, it’s like Jack Ketchum, Tim Lebbon and Maurice Broaddus wrote a book together. But honestly, I’m not even sure that accurately describes it. Just read it. Trust me. You’ll thank me later.
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For this week’s installment of Brian Keene’s Time Machine let’s go back to the year… well, we aren’t sure. I say it was my 41st birthday. Mary says it was my 42nd. Either way, I’m 54 now, so regardless, it was at least a decade plus ago.
She surprised me with dinner reservations at a restaurant in New York City called Ninja. After that, Dallas Mayr (aka Jack Ketchum) reserved a back room for us at his favorite bar, so we met up there with him and some more of our friends — Richard Christy (drummer for Death, and the heart of The Howard Stern Show), Jeremy Wagner (guitarist for Broken Hope and now author and publisher), author Nicholas Kaufmann, and a bunch more folks. It was a lovely evening, and I came across the pics the other day and thought they’d be the perfect addition to the time machine.
This was the first big romantic gesture Mary ever made for me, and I’ll never forget it. A great night, in a great city, with great friends.
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And also a reminder that that preorders for the paperback and ebook editions of CURSE OF THE BASTARDS by myself and Steven L. Shrewsbury are now available direct from the publisher. Use code ROGAN30 to save 30%.
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And that’s it for this week, I think. Now that the weather has warmed up, I’ve been fishing off our dock most evenings, so that’s what I’m off to do. I really enjoy that quiet time. I don’t take my phone, but I usually bring along a book. Not always. Sometimes I like to just listen to the water and the geese and ducks. Right now there’s some dingbat racing up and down on a jet ski, however, and scaring the hell out of my kittens and my baby geese, so I’ll probably bring a book along just to keep myself out of trouble.
Soon, the apocalypse will occur, and then me and my baby animal army shall have our hour. Oh, I should mention that we have baby possums now, too.
I hope things are well with you. As always, I appreciate you taking the time to read this. I hope it brings you as much enjoyment as reading my books does, because it brings me enjoyment to write it every week.