My Bookish Ways

The 2013 Shirley Jackson Award nominees have been announced!

The 2013 Shirley Jackson Award nominees have been announced! This award is given to work that exhibits “outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic.” The winners will be announced at Readercon25 on Sunday, July 13th. Congrats to all of the nominees!


  • The Accursed, Joyce Carol Oates (Ecco)
  • American Elsewhere, Robert Jackson Bennett (Orbit)
  • The Demonologist, Andrew Pyper (Orion-UK/ Simon & Schuster-US)
  • The Ghost Bride, Yangsze Choo (William Morrow)
  • Night Film, Marisha Pessl (Random House)
  • Wild Fell, Michael Rowe (ChiZine Publications)

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Excerpt: “It’s Against the Law to Feed the Ducks” by Paul Tremblay (The New Black)

Today, I’ve got an excerpt of “It’s Against the Law to Feed the Ducks”, Paul Tremblay’s quietly apocalyptic story from THE NEW BLACK anthology. You can also read my recent Q&A with Paul HERE. Enjoy!

Paul Tremblay


Ninety plus degrees, hours of relentless getaway traffic on the interstate, then the bumps and curves of rural route 25 as late afternoon melts into early evening, and it’s the fourth time Danny asks the question.

“Daddy, are you lost again?”

Tom says, “I know where we’re going, buddy. Trust me. We’re almost there.”

Dotted lines and bleached pavement give way to a dirt path that roughly invades the woods. Danny watches his infant sister Beth sleep, all tucked into herself and looking like a new punctuation mark. Danny strains against his twisted shoulder harness. He needs to go pee but he holds it, remembering how Daddy didn’t say any mad words but sighed and breathed all heavy the last time he asked to stop for a pee break.

Danny says, “Mommy, pretend you didn’t know I was going to be five in September.”

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2014 Edgar Award Nominee Spotlight: Caroline Lawrence, author of PK Pinkerton and the Petrified Man

The 2014 Edgar Award winners have been announced, but I’ve got one more nominee spotlight for you to close out this series (until next year, at least.) Please welcome Caroline Lawrence to the blog! She stopped by to talk about PK Pinkerton, and much more!

Caroline_LawrenceCongrats on your Edgar Award nomination! Will you tell us a bit about PK Pinkerton and the Petrified Man?
After writing 17 Roman Mysteries – I call them “Famous Five in Ancient Rome” – I thought it would be fun to write a history-mystery book for kids set in another exciting period and place. I don’t know as much about my own American heritage as I should and I love Western movies, so I thought of “Nancy Drew in Deadwood”… with a twist!

You were a teacher for 10 years in London, but have you always wanted to be a writer? What made you take the plunge into writing fiction?
Teaching was huge fun but emotionally and physically exhausting. As I got older, I wanted something a bit less stressful but just as fun and mentally stimulating. I thought writing might fit the bill but that if I wanted to be a writer I should probably make a start. Without quitting my day job, I started reading lots of books and writing for an hour a day. Finally I cracked it when I came across a story structure course by Hollywood script doctor John Truby. I needed to learn to write strong plots on which to hang all my ideas! You can see a short list of my favorite book on writing and also my best writing tips here.  They include my summary of John Truby’s story structure principles.

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The 2013 Bram Stoker Award Winners!

The 2013 Bram Stoker Award winners were announced last night and here they are (winners are in bold). Congrats to all of the winners!

Superior Achievement in a Novel

  • Stephen King – Doctor Sleep (Scribner)
  • Joe Hill – NOS4A2 (William Morrow)
  • Lisa Morton – Malediction (Evil Jester Press)
  • Sarah Pinborough and F. Paul Wilson – A Necessary End (Thunderstorm/Maelstrom Press)
  • Christopher Rice – The Heavens Rise (Gallery Books)

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Interview: Roy Kesey, author of “Instituto” (The New Black)

Please welcome Roy Kesey as part of my series of interviews with contributing authors of The New Black noir anthology! He was kind enough to answer a few questions about his story “Instituto”, and more!

roy keseyWill you tell us a bit about your story in The New Black and what inspired you to write it?
I was working at the Lima campus of the Universidad de Piura—this was maybe 2002?—and my drive home each day took me south down avenida Arequipa toward the Óvalo de Miraflores. On the left-hand side of the street there was a big white building—one of those century-old cement-and-stucco jobs that used to fill that part of the city—called the Instituto de Perfeccionamiento. I never did stop in to see what, exactly, they were capable of perfecting, but the name got its hooks in me. I wondered who would be led to seek out such a place, and what they would find inside.

The story kept getting weirder and weirder—this was a trick that worked for a while—as my fictional instituto’s staff and processes and goals made themselves (kind of) known. I knew fairly early on that Stanley was going to find something much different than what he thought he sought, but it took me a while to sort out the implications of that difference.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
My first book, The Monster Knocks on the Door, was published (by my mom, each of the eight copies hand-typed, cardboard and zebra-print covers) when I was four, I think, or maybe five. Its plot involved a monster, as I remember, and its setting surely involved at least one door. Then I wrote poems for twenty years. They weren’t good. Neither were the first several stories. But all those writing years were reading years, too. I was perpetually amazed at what words could be asked to do on the page, and soon enough I didn’t want to try anything else.

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Interview: Paul G. Tremblay, author of “It’s Against the Law to Feed the Ducks” (The New Black)

Continuing my series of Q&As with authors that contributed to THE NEW BLACK anthology is a chat with Paul G. Tremblay, author of “It’s Against the Law to Feed the Ducks.” Please give him a warm welcome!

paul2Will you tell us a bit about your story in The New Black and what inspired you to write it?
“It’s Against the Law to Feed the Ducks” features a young family in the midst of their one-week vacation on a New Hampshire lake. The story is told from the POV of a five-year-old as some unseen apocalyptic catastrophe disintegrates the world around them. Fun in the sun!

One of my very own summer vacations served as the inspiration with a simple what-if question: what if the world ended while my family and I were vacationing on a beautiful lake. Yes, I think happy thoughts like this all the time.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I wanted to be Larry Bird or Spider-man when I was a kid. Neither worked out.

I didn’t mess around with writing until my early-to-mid 20’s. I was a mathematics major in college and earned my Master’s Degree at the University of Vermont in math. Yeah, math. In my spare time at UVM, I was reading horror novels and trying to learn Husker Du tunes on my guitar. Post-grad school I fooled around with trying to write songs and short stories. I quickly found out I was a better writer than a musician. I still want to rock, though.

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A chat with Karen Heuler, author of Glorious Plague

Please welcome Karen Heuler back to the blog! Her new book, GLORIOUS PLAGUE, just came out and she answered a few of my questions about it, and more!

Karen Heuler - high-res author photo (2)I love the premise of GLORIOUS PLAGUE! Will you tell us about the book, the world you’ve created, and what inspired you to write it?
An insect virus which causes insects to rise to the top of the stalk, crosses over to humans, and people are struck by an irresistible urge to climb high and sing. I think the idea of heights pulled in the singing—it was terrible but at the same time absolutely riveting to think of an apocalypse that wasn’t screaming oozing zombie-ish, but was beautiful. A beautiful apocalypse.

Of course it’s also deadly. There’s no recovery. People are seized by exaltation and search for their song and when they find it, they climb and sing until they die. I take the George Washington Bridge from New York to New Jersey a fair amount, and I can never take it now without imagining people up on the struts singing, or arranged along the niches in the Palisades cliffs, singing.

After the plague passes through the population, the survivors have to deal with what’s left in terms of goods and society. People try to get organized, and when angels and gods start walking the earth, they’re barely noticed.

Why do you think readers will connect with Dale?
Dale works for a sort of state agency checking on any molds or funguses affecting farmers in NJ. Her daughter, Hallie, works as a realtor in New York. As Hallie is struck, Dale loses touch with her daughter and makes her way through the rising surge of the virus, with trucks and cars abandoned on the highways as people feel the call. The bridges and tunnels are littered with abandoned vehicles, and she does the last leg on foot, entering Manhattan as the notes rise in the air.

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Interview: Ivo Stourton, author of The Happier Dead

I’m thrilled to have Ivo Stourton on the blog today! I loved his newest book, THE HAPPIER DEAD, and he kindly answered a few questions about it, and more! Please give him a warm welcome!

ivostourtonThe Happier Dead is quite a departure from your other two novels (The Night Climbers and The Book Lover’s Tale). What inspired you to write it?
The Night Climbers and The Book Lover’s Tale were both traditional works of realistic literary fiction. When I came to sit down for the third book, I realised I found it hard to say something truthful about the world without talking about technology- the way it changes us and mediates our experience of reality. Technology itself moves so fast, if you’re writing about it in the present, by the time your book comes out it’s about the past. Also, the scope for gunfights and explosions is much smaller in traditional literary fiction, and I am a big fan of gunfights and explosions.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us a bit more about yourself and your background? What’s one of the first things you can remember writing?
Yes- I have written and read ever since I can remember. I lived a lot of my life in my head as a child, and I still spend a lot of time there now. I am English, but grew up abroad following my father, who was a foreign correspondent for the BBC, first during the Reagan administration in Washington, and later in Paris. We moved back to London when I was eight, and I still live there now. I am married and in addition to writing I work as a lawyer in the City.

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Dove Season (A Jimmy Veeder Fiasco) by Johnny Shaw

doveseasonDove Season by Johnny Shaw (Thomas & Mercer)-Jimmy Veeder hasn’t seen his dad, Jack, in years, but he’s back home after Jack finally discloses to him that he’s suffering from cancer and living out the rest of his days in hospice. Jimmy is a college grad, but his degree in English literature isn’t doing him any good, and he’s been wiling away his days doing a variety of manual labor. Jimmy loves his father, and is glad to be back with him, even if it’s for a short time, so he opens up the old house, now full of dust and with a busted air conditioner, and starts mentally ticking off all the things that need fixing. During a visit with his father, and after some catching up, Jack makes a rather odd request: he wants Jimmy to track down a prostitute named Yolanda. So, Jimmy calls on his old friend Bobby Maves to help him out with his rather odd quest. He’s not about to deny his father at this point, and looks forward to spending time with Bobby in the process. Their search leads them to Tomás, the nephew of the man that runs the bar across the street from Jimmy’s house. The last time Jimmy saw Tomás, he was a kid that carried around a briefcase and had nerd written all over him. Not anymore. He’s all grown up, and now Tomás runs girls, among other things, but he remembers Jimmy and is willing to help. Tomás does find Yolanda and Jack is able to see her before he dies. Unfortunately, not too long after Jack dies, Yolanda dies too, and her death certainly is not a natural one. In fact, Jimmy and Bobby find her broken body in the cistern on Jimmy’s property. Her death leads Jimmy on a quest to find her family so that he can tell them what happened to her, and if you think more than a few cans of worms are already opened, things are just about to get really interesting.

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Excerpt: “Dredge” by Matt Bell (The New Black)

As you’ve probably noticed, I’m running interviews with a few of the authors from the incredible new anthology THE NEW BLACK, and I’ve also got a few excerpts for you! Up first is a piece from “Dredge” by Matt Bell (In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods.) Enjoy!

From “Dredge” by Matt Bell

The drowned girl drips everywhere, soaking the cheap cloth of the Ford’s back seat. Punter stares at her from the front of the car, first taking in her long blond hair, wrecked by the pond’s amphibian sheen, then her lips, blue where the lipstick’s been washed away, flaky red where it has not. He looks into her glassy green eyes, her pupils so dilated the irises are slivered halos, the right eye further polluted with burst blood vessels. She wears a lace-frilled gold tank top, a pair of acid wash jeans with grass stains on the knees and the ankles. A silver bracelet around her wrist throws off sparkles in the window-filtered moonlight, the same sparkle he saw through the lake’s dark mirror, that made him drop his fishing pole and wade out, then dive in after her. Her feet are bare except for a silver ring on her left pinkie toe, suggesting the absence of sandals, flip-flops, something lost in a struggle. Suggesting too many things for Punter to process all at once.

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