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Daniel I Russell - Writer of Horror Fiction


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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Where it's at: some small press titles

I haven't completely vanished off the face of the planet. I have been reading and doing a little bit of writing and sorting out some new publishing agreements (more on that soon).

Wanted to post this, as what with the current transition some of the bigger presses and bookshops are going through, it's nice to know that the small press is always there, ready to appreciate your hard-earned cash with some quality releases, which might slip under the radar of your usual Best Seller readers. Here's a few I read over the last week or so:

A Life On Fire by Chris Bowsman
Grindhouse Press
$7.95 USD
ISBN 0982628196

Gerald McManner does not have a happy life. His job is boring and he goes home to an empty house. Every day is pretty much the same, until one day when his dreams become nightmares and the boredom becomes insanity. Will he find his way back to the light, or burn in his alcohol and depression fueled hell?

Bowsman has created a strange, beautiful and heart-wrenching story that will continue to haunt you long after you’ve read the last sentence. A must-read! – Gina Ranalli, author of Praise the Dead

Very heartbreaking. It reads like an absurdist’s survival guide to Stephen King’s The Mist. – Nathaniel Lambert, author of The Horribles

A violent nightmare of Charlie Kaufman proportions. – William Pauley III, author of The Brothers Crunk

Dan: I bought this on a very reasonable pre-order, and was already laughing before I started the book, what with the author's graffiti and exclusive piece of flash written on the inside cover.

The story is very dark comedy with bizarre elements, that do nothing to detract from the plot and rattlesnake-quick pace. This is definitely a one sitting read, which was my only real complaint about the book. I wanted more! Be interesting to see what the author does with 80, 000 words or so, as his characterisation pulls you in and the random imagery will keep you guessing. Highly recommended and at a crazy $7.95, I can't think why you shouldn't snag yourself a copy of this short, sharp gem. Go buy! Hang on, read other reviews, then go buy!

Concrete Jungle by Brett McBean
Tasmaniac Publications
$14.00 AUS

It's late. A few remaining shoppers head for the multi-story car park after attacking the sales at an adjacent shopping center.

However, they become trapped in the underground bunker when, incredibly, trees start to sprout from beneath the car park, transforming the concrete structure into a ruined, maze-like cavern.

Unable to find a way out it becomes a struggle for survival, for not only does the car park continue to transform back into a jungle, wild animals have begun to appear, governed by hunger under the foliage canopy.

Now the humans must fight to survive - not only Mother Nature, but a foe
just as deadly...each other.

Dan: Having worked with Tasmaniac Publications and bought from the press before, I know how much effort goes into each release. Concrete Jungle is no exception and oozes high production values.

Imagine if Richard Laymon wrote Jumanji. Basically that's what we're presented with as a multistory carpark is sealed off from the outside world as a sudden jungle takes over to trap the few survivors still inside. I'd been recommended to read some McBean and I was not disappointed when I did. This demanded I keep reading and takes a decidedly nastier turn in the last half (if a book makes me turn off the Xbox on an evening to go to bed early...it must be good).

Refreshing premise, strong characters and equally excellent short stories set in the same event provide a complete package. This is part of a trilogy, and the second part, Neighbourhood Jungle, is on preorder now. Lucky I got paid last Thursday. I'll see you over there by the checkout.

UNDEAD DRIVE THRU by REBECCA BESSER
Living Dead Press
$9.99
ISBN: 1611990092

When Kyndra, Colleen, and Jose apply for jobs at a diner that has seen better days and is undergoing renovations, they have no idea what they're in for. Aunt-B and John have a horrible secret, and when it's unleashed on the unsuspecting employees of the diner, things get . . . complicated. Bloodthirsty and dangerous, a zombie awaits the opportunity to feast on them all. Who will be served first? Can any of them make it out of the Undead Drive-Thru alive?

Dan: Besser tries to make her mark on an often saturated zombie genre with Undead Drive Thru, a short novella with Living Dead Press. From what I can see on display here, Besser may become the female horror writer I long to read: one who knows her way around buckets of blood, guts and puss rather than an overly long touchy feely contemplation. The cover doesn't really hint at the story (yes, there is no undead cook handing out body parts to diners) and this keeps you guessing exactly where the story will go. Besser serves up (pun intended) a traditional zombie story with a suitable villain whose complete batshit insanity is leaked out chapter by chapter. There are some genuine shock moments and a great finale. A few editorial mistakes here and there won't spoil the enjoyment.

Like A Life on Fire, here is an author I'd like to see take a stab at a longer piece.

Small Press. Where it's at.

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