Letters From the Labyrinth 284
Good morning! 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.
Behold the cover for THE NEW FEAR: THE BEST OF HAIL SATEN Vol. 3, which will be available in paperback and ebook in just a few short weeks. This cover is by Kealan Patrick Burke, and as he has done with the other books in the series, he has based the art on Gak’s art for the covers of the original, out-of-print editions.
The Hail Saten series is composed of four books, and collects my earliest non-fiction works, dating from 1999 to 2009. They’re a chronicle of the first ten years of my career, but also the story of the horror genre during those years. If you’ve not read them, the first two books in the series — SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL and RUNNING WITH THE DEVIL — they are available in paperback and ebook right now! And as I said, THE NEW FEAR will drop in a few weeks. The fourth and final book, LEADER OF THE BANNED, will be re-released before year’s end.
(And yes, Saten is correctly spelled with an “e” rather than an “a”. If you want to find out why, you’ll have to read the first book.)
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I tried, this past week, to write an essay for Patreon and this newsletter about the school shooting in Texas, but all three attempts led to my blood pressure rising, which is not good because it hasn’t done that in months. Watching the videos of the police restraining and cuffing the parents, rather than going in and stopping the rampage has been particularly traumatic and enraging.
So, instead, I’m just going to post this brief excerpt from my much longer essay “Children Playing With Guns”, which I wrote back in 2014 for The Battle Royale Slam Book anthology, edited by Nick Mamatas. It has since been collected in my non-fiction book TRIGGER WARNINGS, which is available in paperback and ebook here, if you want to read the entire piece.
Excerpt as follows:
So, what then, are we to do? If enforcement of current gun laws or the passage of yet stricter laws won't help, and if parents can't responsibly access and identify if their child may be at risk of committing such heinous atrocities, then what are we to do? Is it possible that Battle Royale, like the best dystopian science fiction, is a dark precursor to what's to come — a prediction of what lies ahead for our children and our society? Could it be the antithesis to The Who's statement that "the kids are alright"? During Battle Royale's climax, a mortally wounded Kitano tells his daughter, Shiori that "If you hate someone, you take the consequences". As a parent, I've taught my children to always stand up for themselves and those they care about, and to never, ever tolerate a bully, be it a classmate or some aspect of the system itself. But I've also taught them not to hate. I like to think I've succeeded — that they don't view others in terms of race or gender or faith or sexual preference. I've tried to teach them that love is the answer to all things, and that the only things that deserve hate are ignorance and oppression. I hope that I have armed them, not with machine guns or axes or pot lids, but with compassion and reason. But every morning, when I drop my son off for another full day of kindergarten, and I watch until he goes inside and disappears from my sight, I'm left wondering what lessons his classmates are learning at home, or from each other, or from our society, and what the consequences of those lessons might one day be. I wonder what they're being armed with, and what weapons are in their arsenals, and if compassion and reason and love are an equal match. And then, I wait for the school day to be over so I can hold him again.
(Hopefully, I did that correctly and all of you could read the excerpt above. If not, and I messed up the coding, let me know in the comments or via Twitter).
I really don’t have any other words that can express my outrage, grief, and anger, and instead am relying on words I wrote in 2014. And that in and of itself just fills me with more grief and anger.
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How about a bit of good news instead? I’ve known Mary SanGiovanni for twenty years. We were friends for a very long time. These days, we are more than that. In all of that time, she has always wanted to write something for the Alien franchise. That was her dream gig. I don’t know anyone — anyone — who is more knowledgeable about the minutiae of the Alien franchise than Mary.
Well, for the last year, mary has secretly been working on a new Alien novel for Titan and Twentieth Century Fox. ALIEN: ENEMY OF MY ENEMY is now up for preorder in both paperback and ebook, right here! I’ve read it, and it is insanely good. If you need a film comparison, she’s taken the absolute frenzied, nail-biting chaos of Aliens and combined it with the character work and thoughtfulness of Alien 3. And I’m not just saying that as her boyfriend. I’m saying it as a fan of the Alien films.
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Speaking of Mary, if you preordered THINGS LEFT BEHIND by Mary and myself -- we signed all of the signature sheets last week, and they are now at the printer/bindery. The books will begin printing this week. So it won't be long now.
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Please be advised that the person claiming to be David J. Schow on Instagram is an imposter. The real Schow doesn't have an Instagram account.
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I’ll be a guest at Tremendicon, taking place June 17th – 19th at 2456N Glenstone Ave, Springfield, MO 65803. I’ll be available to sign books all weekend long. You can bring books from home or buy them from me there (while supplies last). Full details can be found here.
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Last week was pretty productive, work-wise:
I wrote three new chapters of ISLAND OF THE DEAD, all of which are now live on Kindle Vella and Patreon.
I began writing the first draft of SPLINTERED: THE LABYRINTH Book 3, and posted the first installment to Patreon.
I worked on the graphic novel script for GWENDY’S BUTTON BOX.
I valiantly answered over 200 emails and didn’t make any sort of dent in my inbox, which currently has 4,023 unread emails..
I approved cover ideas for SUBMERGED: THE LABYRINTH Book 2 and the final cover for THE NEW FEAR (which you already saw above).
Christopher Golden and I received the final story for THE DRIVE-IN: MULTIPLEX. It is a 20,000 word novella by Joe R. Lansdale and Keith Lansdale. Chris just sent me his edits for the story. I’ll be doing mine later today. Then we’ll send those back to Joe and Keith. After that, all we have to write yet is the Introduction, and then this puppy is finished!
Here’s the Table of Contents.
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Speaking of Chris, the penultimate episode of our podcast, DEFENDERS DIALOGUE, is now live. Brother Voodoo and Moon Knight are back in the spotlight for this penultimate episode as we discuss issue 21 of Moon Knight, the character's recent television series, and the impact Brother Voodoo had on both authors creatively. Available wherever you listen to podcasts or this link.
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Auctions for the estate of Dave Thomas are back in swing again. This week there is a signed and personalized book by Robert R. McCammon, a Dean Koontz signed bookplate, signed and personalized book by Brian Knight, a signed book by Mehitobel Wilson, and an extremely rare J.F. Gonzalez book. You can check those auctions out here. Hell, even if you can’t bid, at least click through to see the J.F. Gonzalez book (and learn the secret of yet another of his many pseudonyms).
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Currently Reading: Bastards of the Bayou by Donald R. Guillory, Beowulf (DC Comics, various creators) and The Brute (Atlas Comics, various creators).
Currently Listening: The Eminem Show 20th Anniversary Edition by Eminem.
Currently Watching: The Sadness, Better Call Saul, We Own This City, and The Last Kingdom.
If you enjoyed Crossed or my own novel THE COMPLEX, then I highly recommend The Sadness (playing now on Shudder). It is an utterly relentless and astonishingly brutal extreme horror film. Seriously not for the squeamish, but if you’ve got a strong stomach, it is marvelous!
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No time machine this week. I have a suspicion that the newsletters with lots of photos in them are getting throttled by email service providers, so I want to see how this issue does comparably.
And that wraps things up for us this week. Next weekend, I’ve got Rio Youers, Jeff Strand, Lynne Hansen, and about fifty other writer friends descending on Casa Keengiovanni for our annual big bash, so I’m off to sit on the porch with the kittens and read some comic books and enjoy the silence.
Hang in there. I’ve a feeling it’s going to be a very hot summer. Hold on to the folks who are important to you, and let them know they are loved. And know that you are loved, too.
— Brian Keene