Letters From the Labyrinth 342
Sorry for the delay. Depending on what time you usually read this on Sunday morning’s, it may be an hour or two late. It is 7:11 AM as I write this, and Dallas just woke me up to remind me to finish the newsletter and send it to you. I’m normally awake and sending it at 5, but I didn’t get home until 1 this morning, because myself, authors Wesley Southard and Geoff Cooper, Coop’s girlfriend, and two of their friends, went to see Pantera and Lamb of God last night. And thanks to Charlie Benante (Anthrax, S.O.D., and now Pantera) and Jeremy Wagner (Broken Hope, Earthburner) we got the full treatment — backstage passes, after party, reserved seats — the works.
We had such an absolute blast. And having a blast is what it is all about. Writing is a strange kind of fame. As Christopher Golden puts it when asked if he’s famous, “It depends on what room I’m standing in.” After writing professionally for nearly thirty years, and being famous in certain rooms for twenty-five, I have never achieved wealth or even much of a financial safety net. But I have made readers, fans, and friends from all walks of life, and when those connections sometimes allow me to give my friends a special moment like last night? Well, that’s a kind of wealth that money can’t buy. Thank you Charlie and Jeremy for making that happen.
I got home at 1 AM to find that Mary and my 15-year old had a fun night of bonding — watching Birdemic, The Truman Show, and the original Halloween. So, an absolute blast for everyone last night.
* * *
If you missed last Sunday’s livestream with myself, David J. Schow, John Skipp, Chet Williamson, and Douglas E. Winter, it is now available for you to watch for free at your leisure. Click here to view or listen.
I’ll be livestreaming again tonight with three more living legends — Ellen Datlow, Linda Addison, and Steve Rasnic Tem, starting at 7pm Eastern time. Click here to watch it live.
* * *
All of the CLICKERS novels are now back in print and available in paperback, audiobook, and for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and Apple. Click here for handy direct links to all of those various formats. A new edition of the CLICKERS FOREVER anthology is forthcoming, probably late this year or very early next year.
* * *
A reminder that I’ll be at KillerCon in Austin, Texas next weekend. The convention is being held at Holiday Inn Austin-Town Lake, 20 N Interstate 35. I’ll be on hand to sign your books, and Deadite Press will have plenty of my books for sale at their table. I’ll also be hosting the 2023 Splatterpunk Awards, along with my dear friend and awards cofounder Wrath James White. And on Sunday, I’ll be hosting a special screening of GHOUL. And I’m doing a reading and a ton of panel discussions. To view the programming schedule and get more information on the convention, click here.
Here’s some more information regarding the 2023 Splatterpunk Awards, which honor superior achievement in the literary subgenres of Splatterpunk and Extreme Horror fiction published in 2022, as well as the sixth recipient of the J.F. Gonzalez Lifetime Achievement Award, a new induction into the Splatterpunk Hall of Legends, and the recommendation process.
The nominees are as follows:
-- Playground by Aron Beauregard (Independently Published)
-- The Television by Edward Lee (Madness Heart Press)
-- Faces of Beth by Carver Pike (Independently Published)
-- Last of the Ravagers by Bryan Smith (Thunderstorm Books / Death’s Head Press)
-- Mastodon by Steve Stred (Black Void Publishing)
-- Ex-Boogeyman (Slasher vs The Remake) by Kristopher Triana (Bad Dream Books / Thunderstorm Books)
-- Charcoal by Garrett Cook (Clash Books)
-- Grandpappy by Patrick C. Harrison III (Independently Published)
-- Mr. Tilling’s Basement by Edward Lee (Deadite Press)
-- #thighgap by Chandler Morrison (Cemetery Gates Media)
-- Plastic Monsters by Daniel J. Volpe (Independently Published)
BEST SHORT STORY
-- “Just Another Bloodbath at Camp Woe-Be-Gone” by R.J. Benetti (Independently Published)
-- “Of The Worm” by Ryan Harding (from Splatterpunk Zine issue 13)
-- “My Chopping List” by Stephen Kozeniewski (from Counting Bodies Like Sheep, The Evil Cookie Publishing)
-- “Gutted” by Bracken MacLeod (from Splatterpunk Zine issue 13)
-- “Jinx” by Bridgett Nelson (from A Bouquet of Viscera)
-- Always Listen To Her Hurt: Collected Works by Kenzie Jennings (Blistered Siren Press)
-- Mr. Tilling’s Basement and Other Stories by Edward Lee (Deadite Press)
-- Horrorsmut by Christine Morgan (The Evil Cookie Publishing)
-- A Bouquet of Viscera by Bridgett Nelson (Independently Published)
-- Pornography For the End of the World by Brendan Vidito (Weirdpunk Books)
-- Human Monsters edited by Sadie Hartmann and Ashley Sawyers (Dark Matter Ink)
-- Camp Slasher Lake, Volume 1 edited by D.W. Hitz and Candace Nola (Fedowar Press)
-- Counting Bodies Like Sheep edited by K. Trap Jones (The Evil Cookie Publishing)
-- Call Me Hoop edited by SC Mendes & Lucy Leitner, created by Drew Stepek (Blood Bound Books)
-- Czech Extreme edited by Lisa Lee Tone and Edward Lee (Madness Heart Press)
J. F. GONZALEZ LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD**
-- Monica J. O’Rourke
HALL OF LEGENDS INDUCTEE***
-- Jay Wilburn
The recommendation process for next year’s ballot is open to readers, critics, and the general public. Eligible works must be first published in 2023, and must meet the definitions of either Splatterpunk or Extreme Horror. Email recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org. The recommendation window will close at 11:59pm (EST) on December 31, 2023. THERE WILL BE NO EXTENSIONS. Thank you for your attention in this matter.
* Tie category
** The previous J. F. Gonzalez Lifetime Achievement Award recipients are David J. Schow, David G. Barnett, Edward Lee, John Skipp, and Clive Barker.
*** The previous Hall of Legends inductees are Richard Laymon, Jack Ketchum, Charlee Jacob, J. F. Gonzalez, David G. Barnett, John Pelan, and Gak.
* * *
If you purchased a personalized LOST LEVEL story from me in May/June, please verify that your last name (or the last name of the person you purchased the story for) is included below. If your last name does NOT appear, please email me at briankeene at live dot com as soon as possible. I began writing the stories this week. Each story will take one week to write (if all goes well). A copy will be emailed to you, and the physical manuscript will be mailed to you, signed. The stories will also be published on my Patreon and eventually collected in book form.
LIST OF NAMES:
Again, if your last name does NOT appear, please email me.
* * *
Work this last week was pretty much set inside the Lost Level. I began the first of those stories mentioned above, and it has unexpectedly become a real thoughtful, heartfelt meditation on diverging roads, so I’m taking my time with it. I’m also going full bore on BENEATH THE LOST LEVEL, having gotten the setup and exposition out of the way.
Those were the main thrusts this week. I also approved cover art for the forthcoming Manhattan On Mars reprint of AN OCCURRENCE IN CRAZY BEAR VALLEY. And shipped out a lot of Manhattan On Mars packages. (I was at the post office every day this week). I got another shipment of books for Lifetime Subscribers and began signing them. I worked on edits for LOVE AND HATE IN THE TIME OF COVID. And I answered a lot of emails concerning OPERATION: WALKABOUT, but can’t do much else with that one right now, as we now have to wait for others.
That’s one of the big differences between publishing your book with an indie press versus publishing your book with a mainstream press. I know people talk about the differences in money, but in my nearly 30 year experience of writing for both, the money comes out even eventually, provided your books are selling. So, no, the money thing has never been an issue for me. What I find frustrating is the speed at which the two move. If you’ve gone the indie route, you’re probably only dealing with one to three people behind the scenes. With a mainstream book, there could be fifty, and each and every one of them has their own agenda, some of which align with yours and some of which don’t. Mainstream publishing moves at the speed of a crowd, in fits and spurts. For a person like me (whom my lovely wife has repeatedly and lovingly described as “a control freak’s control freak”), it can be hard to let go and let others drive the bus. Particularly when there are as many moving parts as this thing is going to have.
* * *
Currently Playing: Fallout 76, Clash of Clans
Currently Watching: True Story of the Kelly Gang (Hulu), New Jack City (Prime), What We Do In The Shadows season 5 (Hulu). The Outer Limits season 2 (Blu-Ray)
Currently Reading: Tarzan and the Forbidden City by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Currently Listening: Desert Oracle Radio
Desert Oracle Radio is my new favorite thing. It won’t be for everyone, but if “Bill Hicks and William S. Burroughs host Coast To Coast AM from Twin Peaks and Nightvale” means anything to you, then you will probably like it too. I’ve only listened to three episodes so far, but I’m hooked.
This past Friday’s episode of What We Do In The Shadows (“Local News”) is easily the funniest of this season, and one of the funniest of the entire series. A glorious return to form for the entire team.
* * *
My garden is a mixed bag so far this summer. I’ve only had enough beans to cook for two meals and freeze for two more. After that, all the bean plants said “Screw this heat” and promptly died. But I have cucumbers and tomatoes out the wazoo (which is a unit of measure taught to me by my farmer father). Seriously, cucumber yield has been insane this summer. They are huge, each measuring over twelve inches long and a minimum of an inch thick. I’ll be eating cucumber and tomato salads twice a day for the next month, with plenty left over for freezing, canning, and pickling.
* * *
And that does it for this week. I hope to see some of you on tonight’s livestream. Bring questions. And thanks to those of you who showed up last Sunday night, and to those of you subscribing to this weekly newsletter. I’ll see you back here next week.
— Brian Keene