Daniel I. Russell is the author of Entertaining Demons, Samhane, Retard, Come Into Darkness, Critique, The Collector Book 1: Mana Leak, Mother's Boys and the huge collection Tricks, Mischief and Mayhem. Daniel is a HWA active member and represented by the Tobias Literary Agency, NYC. Daniel has also been the vice-president of the Australian Horror Writers' Association, special guest editor of Midnight Echo, associate and technical editor for Necrotic Tissue, and Shadow Awards judge.
Review: Hollow House by Greg Chapman
Read Daniel in...
Sunday, October 31, 2010Blog world tour...ish
Here are the dates and locations of my blog world tour for the run up to Samhane release. We shall see it as a 'followers of Zandathru' virtual trip, where I shall be visiting the various chaos cults throughout the world. On the less fictional side, there will also be interviews and single, in depth questions about writing and the publishing industry.
3rd Nov: Ginger Nuts of Horror SCOT
6th Nov: Sarah Masters ENG
10th Nov: TBC ENG
13th Nov: Rebecca Besser USA
17th Nov: S.D. Hintz USA
20th Nov: Louise Bohmer CAN
Dates to be confirmed:
Voodoo Press GER
Stygian Publications USA
For your information, I shall be visualising the little plane on the Street Fighter 2 character select screen as I go from country to country.
Please note that we only have one GERMAN site and no AUSTRALIAN sites. I would love this not to be the case. If you run a site concerned with books, writing or horror and live in these countries (or even if you don't, but especially if you do or any country not mentioned) shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, October 30, 2010Blurbs and news
It's nearly four in the morning. Oh, and that's a Saturday morning. Why am I up so early on my day off? Thank my son, who is one year old on Tuesday. If he isn't shouting or crying, he's kicking the sides of the cot and being a general arse (teething, eh?). But at least I have time to get this blog post and update done. There might not be many zombies in this, despite me feeling like one...
THE BIG SAMHANE UPDATE
While it may not seem that much has been happening on the Samhane front of late, there's been a lot of behind the scenes stuff going on.
Danny Evarts, of Shroud Magazine and It's Okay to be a Zombie fame (my no zombies thing didn't last long), has been working tirelessly to put the book together. His interior layouts are the best I've ever seen and there is nothing this man cannot do (so I've heard).
He is currently finishing the front and back covers. While the art was completed by uber-artist Patrick McWhorter a few weeks back (see older posts for examples of his work), we're still waiting on a few nice blurbs to slap on there before it all comes together.
This is a perfect example of having been developed as a writer. I know for a fact that several years ago I would have been more impatient and wanted my book out asap. DAMN THE CONSEQUENCES! But now, and after going through this process once with Wild Child Publishing (and there will be more on that later) I don't want to have any regrets. To wait a few weeks here and there to get everything perfect is just fine by me. So happy that Danny, Patrick and especially R. Scott McCoy have been so patient and understanding...especially when I demanded my study to be filled with black roses and any emails to be sprayed with my own personal fragrance (odour l'horreur) before I read them.
Speaking of blurbs, we've received these BEAUTIES:
"Horror lovers rejoice--you're about to be scared...or scarred. Russell's well-crafted nightmares will haunt you long after you've closed the pages of Samhane!" Fran Friel, Bram Stoker Finalist-MAMA'S BOY AND OTHER DARK TALES
"My, oh my does it get wet within these pages, dear friends." Shroud Magazine (taken from their prerelease review which should be out when the cover is done and a release date set)
Glad to see that people are liking what they read!
THE OLD EDITION
Yes, yes. The old edition, it seems, is still available despite the rights expiring on the 28th of October. I will be trying to address this later today, so please do not buy the Samhane ebook from Wild Child Publishing, Fictionwise or any other affiliate company. They do not have the rights and I will not see any money from it.
BLOG WORLD TOUR
In the run up to release, I will be virtually touring the world via the blogs of other writers/editors/readers. Stops have been confirmed in England, Scotland and Australia. I would really love to visit some German sites, as the German version of Samhane will be going to the printers for the test copies next week.
Should you want me soiling your blog over the next three weeks, please email me at email@example.com.
I will be posting links and dates when I have a list.
Monday, October 25, 2010American Gods by Neil Gaiman
By the gods, I may have discovered the perfect novel!
This book had been recommended to me so many times that I eventually caved and bought this at the same time as Lindqvist's Let the Right One In. It took me a while to get to American Gods as, and I'll be honest,the page count was daunting. Yes, this is after reading Under the Dome and The Passage. Why would a 600ish page book put me off? Because I expected a long haul, and my to be read pile is so high, I could have got through two or three other titles in that time. Eventually, it had been at the back of the pile for too long. I had to read it.
What a pitiful fool I was.
Shadow is a large, simple man who got involved in a heist three years previous. After engaging in a little fisticuffs over missing loot, Shadow was sent to prison, and this is where we find him: at the end of his sentence, awaiting release in the coming days.
Something happens which not only gets him out early, but sends his life spinning into a surreal web of gods and deities spanning the length and breadth of America.
With mentions of a road trip, I expected American Gods to be something akin to King and Straub's epic The Talisman. Yes, there's some traveling, but nothing quite as road trippy. I would put this in the same camp as Barker's The Damnation Game perhaps. While I always saw that book as one of his weaker works, it's still a good read. Gaiman's novel is by far its superior and for one reason only.
Gaiman is an expert on mythology and this shines through in spades. You know that these characters and histories have been thoroughly researched and this adds weight to experience. If Zeus was living a mortal life...what would he be doing? Where would he work? Who would his friends be? Gaiman puts his own modern stamp on these beings, with the Queen of Sheeba working the street corners, Odin being a conman and Easter? Well, she's happy to walk around and letting the flowers grow.
The sheer cleverness comes through with the bad guys in the book. If gods exist because people worship them, then shouldn't modern life spawn its own gods? We have the god of technology, who is appropriately, a fat nerd child. Media is here as a glorified newscaster (I am Media, and the television is my alter). We even have shady FBI-esque guys that bear a resemblance to Agent Smith in The Matrix, who exist because 'people expect them to'. The whole set up is genius.
While I was initially concerned about pacing and the 600 pages to slowly plod along, I was delighted to find that Gaiman has an electric pace while still retaining the literary feel. He gets straight to the point and doesn't pad out the writing with flowery prose. The pages will scorch between your fingers. Shadow is such a beautifully simple and naive character that you invest heavily in him, and want to see what kind of man he will become at the end of his journey. You can see the development and it works well.
What are the flaws? Personally, I couldn't find one. In the edition I read there was an interview with Gaiman at the end (always enlightening to listen to a writer talk about his novel) and a few bookclub suggested questions. That was my flaw actually. I'm not a fan of bookclubs. Nothing against you if you attend one, but from experience, I find the journey of reading a book to be a very personal one. I can read reviews and quite enjoy doing that, but if I was face to face and a guy was telling me my opinion of a book was wrong and then tried to alter my experience...nah, not for me. So yeah, the only fault for me was the questions at the end.
I may have found a new favourite author here and I'll have to delve deeper into his other works. Gripping, humerous, magical and very, very clever...I can't recommend this book enough.
As always, a quick Amazon purchase link is to the left.
Sunday, October 24, 2010Crimson by Gord Rollo
Following my own advice in Necrotic Tissue #12, thought I'd start posting my reviews on my blog as well as Goodreads. I take the time to write them anyway, right? So should you! Here's the last one I read. Expect a bit of Neil Gaiman in the next few days, as well as an update from yours truly.
Crimson by Gord Rollo
This is my first venture out with Gord Rollo. Yes, it's another Dorchester-Leisure review from me. I'm not going to bang on about the current Leisure debacle here, but I'm sure followers of the publisher know that the mass market paperbacks are going to be hard to get in a few weeks.
I hope that most of the Leisure horror writers find new homes with respected (and savvy!) publishing houses...Gord Rollo being one of them.
Crimson has a great opener, about a man in the small town of Dunnville who has gone crazy. Yeah, I'm sure you're saying you've read about crazy people before, but this guy is seriously MESSED UP! You can tell the author has hit the right nasty buttons if I chuckle as I read. Next, we meet our team.
Four boys are going to have a playdate they'll never forget as they meet at one of their homes...the house were the murders took place some twenty years earlier. The evil has been waiting, its hulking and rotten body sitting at the bottom of the well. The family moving into the house has awakened it, and soon the horrors are going to start all over again.
Let's get something straight right off the bat. One of the blurbs states that "Crimson is Stephen King's IT's superior in every possible way." With IT being one of my favourite all time books, this is a pretty big deal and possibly had raised the bar a little too high.
These are two very different books that share a few themes, mainly childhood friendship and a creature that knows your fears. Obviously IT will be deeper with more character developed, however, it's four times longer! Of course it's going to be deeper. But does that mean it kicks Crimson's ass?
I'd have to say...no.
While Crimson does have a few shared elements, it's a lot faster read and more action packed. IT-lite, if you will. The first act in particular has a breathtaking pace. At one point, the creature is attacking all four boys separately and the reader hops between each one. The tension is cracked sky high, and to make it better, there's plenty of Nightmare on Elm Street-esque dream within a dreams! It's like being on a ghost train full of serial killers: you're thrown around with all these dark figures leaping out at you...and you don't know which are real and which are illusions.
This is where most reviews have stopped, talking mainly about the opener and the first part, but I have to carry on (and try not to give too much away).
This is all in the first act. The second act is very, very different and reads more like a psychic-whodunnit. Rollo keeps the scares coming, as one of the friends must choose victimes for the killer while he rides in his head of the masochistic Ripper. But who is the killer? Is it really the creature?
The final part, despite the horrors and cat and mouse games that came previously, is lighter on the spec elements, but wow, what a page turner. Imagine Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption...but written by Richard Laymon straight after he penned the short story The Champion. We also get the deliciously monstrous Shadowman, every convicts nightmare, who adds another enemy for our protagonist to deal with.
Rollo packs a lot of story and twists in a mere 320 pages, and the book never wants to be put down. I think I read this in two sittings.
For horror entertainment, this was a cracker. I can't wait to get my hands on The Jigsaw Man.
Thursday, October 21, 2010If writing was like acting...would you be a hooker?
Writing is a tough business. Not only do you have to put the hours and effort in to create something worth reading, but you have to develop your skills. It's a long journey, and you'll take your knocks and learn things the hard way. Even then, you might never make a sale because your work isn't 'now' or simply may not fit what publishers want.
And this got me thinking (especially after reading The Last Deep Breath by Tom Piccirilli)...it's kinda like being an actor, trying to get that big break in Hollywood.
Where are you on the acting/writing scale?
THE RED CARPET
Everyone knows you. Your face is on the cover of every magazine. Universal are on the phone, and they want YOU as the new James Bond. Get your people to talk to their people. Do lunch.
Or, as a writer...
Hello, Mr. King, Ms. Meyer or any of the other writers found on every coffee table, New York Times Bestseller list or (heavens, you made it!) Australian bookshop shelf. We want something. Anything! Give us your shopping list! We'll sell millions.... You don't even need to try. Not any more*.
*Author note. I'm sure Stevie tries his very hardest still, and I constantly enjoy his work. And hopefully one day, Meyer will try and write something that doesn't cause people to enter 'the reading rage'.
THE B LISTER
Okay, so we aren't exactly a starlet or Hollywood supremo, but we got some decent credits. You're the guy that always gets to be the funny sidekick, despite the odd serious role, or you're the gal who, far from making millions per movie, did get into the FHM top 20. You try so hard, and have the skill and talent to go all the way...but there's always that one guy who gets the lead role over you! Call your agent.
Or, as a writer...
Congratulations! You're Dean Koontz.
THE CULT ICON
It may have been one role, but the fans, they love you! Well, I say fans, I mean the geeks. Yeah, sorry, guy. The line will be a mile long at Splattercon, full of thick lenses, bad breath (and skin) and leopard print leggings. Y'all know they're your biggest fan. Hell, you seen ma tattoo of ya face on ma inner thigh? Hyuck hyuck.
Or, as a writer...
Actually, you're pretty well respected. A strong, loyal following of readers who will guaranteed buy your latest novel, and do their very best to spread the word of your greatness with the rest of the reading community (that's the community of readers, not the community of Reading). Only problem is...you write horror? Or fantasy? Or sci fi? SPECULATIVE FICTION? Hmm. A spec writer who has the skills but will never be #1 in his field? Shit, you're Dean Koontz again. At least you have the nonfic about keeping dogs. I bet King can't write one of those...
What? The Dark Tower: Roland Get's a Dog?
Well, this coffee shop in downtown L.A is kinda like being an actor. No, it is. You have to pretend that you give a rat's ass about what bagel you want and how frothy you want your chocamochachino. Just keep telling yourself...this is only temporary. Okay, the last few auditions didn't get any call backs, and so far the highlight of your acting career was playing rapist #3 (and they cut your scene in the finals, the bastards), but you have another next week. Think positive. Keep going. You'll make it!
Oh, and can I have a blueberry muffin too, please?
Or, as a writer...
Welcome to the slush pile, bitch! No way you can escape without waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and, well, you get the idea. Keep sending out those submissions and notching up those rejections. It's what we all have to do. It's bootcamp. It's endurance training. It's DO YOU REALLY WANT THIS? Cling to acceptances like life preservers in cruel seas. Keep going. This is only temporary!
THE ADULT FILM STAR
You think you can act...maybe...maybe not. You're a little wooden, but that's okay. We're looking for wood! Hell, technically it's still acting. You can tell your grandmother that you just landed a major part; you don't have to tell her it's in Ghetto Gangbangers 3: Back in da Hood. Just get on set, drop your pants, do your stuff and pick up your check.
Or, as a writer...
Okay, let's see (strokes chin). Vampires are popular. Can you you write me a vampire book in the next 2 months?
What do you mean you don't want to write a vampire book?
Wha? You have a revolutionary novel idea that compares the social and economic differences between the continents, and these concepts are addressed on a parallel dimensional level with a sympathetic protagonist?
No. I said vampires, dammit!
Yes, Hollywood is a cruel, cruel place. You arrived full of dreams with stars in your eyes...but the parts never came. Even the porn roles dried up once the heroine addiction kicked in. A girl gotta eat, and as that money your exboyfriend owes you still hasn't come through (a mix up with his account, he says), and the coffee shops all have workers who want to be in movies...it's time for the oldest game in town.
Unfortunately, you were too young for the over 75's mixed doubles table tennis tournament, so you became a prostitute.
Yes, the work is long and hard (or sometimes short and semi...and unwashed), but you get an honest day's pay at the end. No, wait. Your pimp gets the honest day's pay.
At least you still get to act, as faking an organism needs the timing and delivery of an Oscar nominee.
Or, as a writer...
I'm a writer. After all, I write. I must be a writer! Look here: I was in the Whatever Anthology #137. I got paid $5 in total, but the book sold for $30 a copy. Someone made the cash, and I'm just happy to be on board. Okay, the story wasn't even edited, and it took five months of emails asking where my $5 was to finally get it, but it's all part of the fun. You can't expect perfection when the publisher is releasing an anthology a week, can you? They're obviously very busy.
I'm a writer and I'm happy. Sigh...
Still want to be a writer? ><
DISCLAIMER! Hopefully, you can see this is a very tongue in cheek blog post with no offence intended towards anyone...except possibly Meyer, but then that's justified. I adore the work of Dean Koontz, and will often read one of his novels when King is having a slow year. Writers who struggle to sell work are no way hookers. Unless they're writing about being hookers from personal experience. No hookers were harmed in the writing of this blog, but nothing can be said about the hooker shoot I had with the boys from Skullvines. People who attend conventions to meet horror film movie stars are not necessarily geeks (although I'm a geek and proud of it. See you in line at the next Bruce Campbell signing).
Samhane news in the next few days. Byeeeeee!