From Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year 6

Why did nobody tell me that Ellen Datlow said the following in Year’s Best Horror 6?


In case that image doesn’t display for you, the text says:

The Grimscribe’s Puppets, edited by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. (Miskatonic River Press), is a tribute to weird fiction writer Thomas Ligotti with twenty-two stories, all but one published for the first time. Most of the contributors do an admirable job using Ligotti’s dense, visionary, strange work to create their own weird fictions. There were notable stories by Livia Llewellyn, John Langan, Gemma Files, Jeffrey Thomas, Paul G. Tremblay, Nicole Cushing, Richard Gavin, Michael Griffin, Michael Kelly, Joel Lane and Kaaron Warren.

Most years, I buy the Best Horror of the Year right away. For some reason this year I hadn’t purchased one yet, but the moment I saw this, I had to grab it.

Yeah! Thanks, Ellen!



The Shirley Jackson Awards

This past weekend I attended ReaderCon in Burlington, an outlying suburb of Boston, MA. One of the highlights of the weekend, and really the last major event on Sunday, the final day, was the ceremony for the Shirley Jackson Awards.


All kinds of genre fiction awards exist, such as the Bram Stoker Awards, the Hugos, the Nebulas, the World Fantasy Award, the Locus Awards, among many others. In many cases, the awards are controversial, surrounded by accusations of vote-trading, log-rolling or other manipulations via insider influence. The Shirley Jackson Awards are relatively newer, and appear to exist free from the negative accusations that plague the others.

This was my first time attending ReaderCon, so of course I hadn’t attended SJAs before. Not only did several of my friends and associates have their own work nominated, but Joe Pulver was nominated for editing The Grimscribe’s Puppets, a Thomas Ligotti tribute anthology published by Miskatonic River Press, in which my story “Diamond Dust” appeared. Because Joe lives in Berlin, he wasn’t able to attend the awards, and asked me to accept on his behalf should he win.


I’d made the same promise at the Stoker awards, for which Grimscribe’s was also nominated, but it didn’t win. I felt a superstitious certainty that I had ruined Joe’s chance of winning the Stoker by thinking too much in advance of what I’d say if I had to go up and accept on Joe’s behalf.

So this time, even though Joe emailed me a short statement to read, I didn’t look at it carefully, didn’t print it out, and certainly didn’t memorize it. As I sat in the audience of 100+, I concentrated on texting absent friends the results of winners in earlier categories such as short story, novella and collection. At the same time, I was flipping over to Facebook and posting updates about the category winners. I posted “Next is anthology” and never had a chance to follow-up by posting the winner, because I heard Andrea Hairston say, “The winner is Grimscribe’s Puppets by Joseph S Pulver Sr, who is not present, so the award will be accepted by Mike Griffin.”

That’s me!

I stopped posting updates, stood and switched my phone from Facebook to the app where I’d stored Joe’s acceptance speech. For some reason, the app displayed the lines of text much wider than the screen, so that only the center of each line was onscreen, and other text extended well off to the left and right edges. As I started up the aisle toward the stage, I tried to resize the text but it didn’t work. At that moment, I thought I would be unable to read Joe’s acceptance speech, and have to improvise. “He said something about thanking the awards committee, and the writers with stories in the book, and the publisher…” and slink offstage.

I was able to swipe left and scroll right repeatedly and read each line of the acceptance speech. At the time, it felt very awkward and I kept thinking: It doesn’t matter if I’m doing a terrible job reading this. What matters is that Joe won! Just get through it, grab the award, and get offstage.

There’s official video of the event, and as it turns out, my reading of the acceptance wasn’t as awful as I imagined. Here’s the portion of the ceremony where awards are given out. About 6:45 into the video is where we get to “Best Anthology.” You can see me pause on the way up the aisle, messing with my phone. At that point, I’m thinking “Oh, shit! I’m about to make a fool of myself in front of Peter Straub and Ellen Datlow and a hundred other VIPs in the field of horror.”

It was a wonderful treat to participate in the ceremony during the first Shirley Jackson Awards I attended. I’m so happy for Joe, for the rest of the writers in The Grimscribe’s Puppets, for Miskatonic River Press, and for those who wanted to see Thomas Ligotti get a bit more recognition as the great influence that he is. Here’s a picture of the award, gripped in my sweaty palm, as soon as I sat back down.


I’ll say again, the Shirley Jackson Awards a great event, a wonderful award, and a swell bunch of people. The people giving out the other genre awards ought to take notes. This is how it should be done.


Children of Old Leech Release Day

Today’s the official release date of THE CHILDREN OF OLD LEECH, the Laird Barron tribute anthology edited by Ross E. Lockhart and Justin Steele. Cheers, everybody!


You should buy this book, if you haven’t!





– Introduction: Of Whisky and Doppelgängers by Justin Steele
– The Harrow by Gemma Files
– Pale Apostle by Jesse Bullington & J.T. Glover
– Walpurgisnacht by Orrin Grey
– Learn to Kill by Michael Cisco
– Good Lord, Show Me The Way by Molly Tanzer
– Snake Wine by Jeffrey Thomas
– Love Songs From The Hydrogen Jukebox by Ted E. Grau
– The Old Pageant by Richard Gavin
– Notes for “The Barn in the Wild” by Paul Tremblay
– Firedancing by Michael Griffin
– The Golden Stars at Night by Allyson Bird
– The Last Crossroads on a Calendar of Yesterdays by Joseph S. Pulver Sr.
– The Woman of the Wood by Daniel Mills
– Brushdogs by Stephen Graham Jones
– Ymir by John Langan
– Of a Thousand Cuts by Cody Goodfellow
– Tenebrionidae by Scott Nicolay & Jesse James Douthit-Nicolay
– Afterword by Ross E. Lockhart


ReaderCon Travel Upcoming

I’m going to ReaderCon! If you don’t know, it’s a convention about books and stories and writing and reading, and it’s in Boston.


I think it will be fun. I plan to post some pictures and silly comments with my phone while I’m there, so if you want to see those, you should follow or “friend” me on one of the social network-y things that show my photos as soon as I post them.




Really, you should be my “friend” anyway. Come on, it’ll be fun. You’re already reading my blog, anyway!

Burnt Black Suns by Simon Strantzas

After I read Nightingale Songs, the prior collection of restrained and disquieting stories by Simon Strantzas, I found myself wondering what kind of work this author might creat with a more direct, less elliptical approach. His follow-up, Burnt Black Suns, answers that question.


Whether this change in direction arose from a natural drift in the author’s motivation, or a desire to prove he can successfully master new and different tricks, the stories here seem clearly designed to take a more straightforward approach than Strantzas has used previously. In particular, pieces like the opener “On Ice” and the titular closing novella hit so much harder as to seem almost the work of a different writer.

Not one story in the book is anything less than excellent, and the novella “Burnt Black Suns” is my single favorite thing Strantzas has written. This collection is a work of real excellence, which deserves to be read by everyone interested in intelligently crafted horror fiction. Burnt Black Suns is highly recommended.

Review of The Children of Old Leech by Benito Corral

Here’s another new review of The Children of Old Leech, and it’s another rave. It’s by Benito Corral, here:

I’m pleased to see another positive mention of my story “Firedancing.” This book really seems to be getting universal praise so far, and that’s something I love to see.

World Horror Convention 2014 – Rock & Roll and Horror Panel

I never got around to documenting much of the 2014 World Horror Convention, which took place here in Portland, and was the first time Lena and I had attended WHC.

One noteworthy event in which I participated was the “Rock & Roll and Horror” panel, moderated by Anya Martin and also including John Skipp, John Shirley and Scott Nicolay.


In this first photo, we’re still waiting for the panel to begin. Scott Nicolay has not yet shown up. While the audience settled in, we played music from Anya’s surf-horror compilation CD on a little boombox to set the mood.


Here we’ve gotten underway. From left to right, that’s John Skipp, John Shirley, Anya Martin, Scott Nicolay and me.


Here we are after the panel, getting ready to pose in front of some cool World Horror Con room decor. We brought the head of Joe Pulver, because he belongs!


And this one captures the fun atmosphere of the event. John Skipp is pure rock and roll. We all had a blast!

Many subjects were discussed, including the earliest examples of rock and roll music appearing as a subject in horror stories or films, and ways in which we as writers use music as a story element, or as background while we write.

Here are a few short videos my wife Lena took during the panel. She didn’t want to record anybody else this way, because she didn’t have permission, so the videos are mostly limited to the three times I spoke at length.

In the first video we’re introducing ourselves, explaining our own background with music and horror. You can see the end of Scott’s introduction, then my introduction, then Anya getting the panel started.

In the second, we’re talking about our first recollections of where we first encountered rock and roll connected with horror books or films. Scott is talking about a crazy rock and roll book, and I mention a couple things that came to mind: Stephen King and Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The third video is nearer the end, where we’re talking about how we use music as writers, what we listen to, and what music contributes to what and how we write.

We spent a fair amount of time talking about Pink Floyd and the Velvet Underground and other mutual favorites. I was content to speak less than the others, as this was my first panel appearance of any kind.

The last time I spoke at greatest length, there’s no video, but we had moved on to talking about similarities and differences between making music and writing. I tried to explain how much alike my approaches are between the two — how most often I start with a very simple, almost uninteresting overall pattern, and try to add new layers and complications to it until it becomes interesting. Often then as it becomes more complex and many layers have been added, some of the earliest layers added might be removed. Very often by the time I’m finished, not only is the flavor different from what it was when I started, but even the general shape has completely changed.

I wish there was video of what I said, because some of these thoughts were things I hadn’t really realized until I was asked the question, and tried to answer it on the fly in front of an audience.

Overall, the panel experience was a lot of fun, and I’m fortunate to have been a part of this fun and interesting discussion at 2014 World Horror along with other great people like John Skipp, John Shirley, Anya Martin and Scott Nicolay.

The Children of Old Leech Hardcover is Here

I tore through the electronic Advance Reading Copy as soon as I received it, and found The Children of Old Leech to be an absolutely top-notch anthology of weird fiction. Though I continue trying to adjust to electronic books, nothing will ever approach the experience of holding a quality print hardcover.

I present the first pictures of The Children of Old Leech, edited by Ross E. Lockhart and Justin Steele, and including my story “Firedancing.”






I’m very pleased, excited and proud to be in this book. Can’t wait to see how it’s received!