So it’s still the “old” cover of THE TEARS OF ISIS but then this was done with John Palisano a few months ago, an interview of me at the World Horror Convention in Portland, at last edited and revealed via YouTube. Or as HWA President Rocky Wood has it on Facebook, “Bram Stoker Award(R) nominee James Dorr talks about successes networking at Worls Horror Convention, the Horror Writers Association, being a poet, author and sculptor, and his work.”
Also I should say I am not a sculptor, though I have been a (not very good) illustrator, cartoonist, and graphic designer (the “sculptor,” specifically, relates to THE TEARS OF ISIS’ opening poem, about Medusa, and its closing title story), but the point I’m making has to do with artists in general and so with sculptors as an example. But I’m not complaining. Also what may seem like me interrupting the off-stage interviewer from time to time is just a byproduct of the editing (of which I like to think it’s simply that I had so much to say that, the editor not wanting to cut too much out, meant he had to cut out his own questions instead). And, yes, I do get nervous about “live” interviews but here I hope it doesn’t show too much (or, ignore the way my hands seem to twitch).
And so, enjoy by (if all goes well) pressing here.
Several days before leaving for Detroit, “The Darker Side of SF & Fantasy” moderator Bernadette Bosky emailed the other four scheduled participants with suggestions of what we might plan to cover. Panelist Christian Klaver responded, followed by me, but then potential disaster struck. A third panelist reported that due to a last minute work obligation he wouldn’t be able to come after all. Then, apparently just to Bernadette, the last participant said she would need to drop out too — leaving just us three, enough to present a panel of sorts, but with a danger of ending up more a question and answer session than the free-wheeling seminar-type discussion we’d hoped to present. Bernadette would let Programming know in hopes they might find a last minute addition, but all would be up to fate.
Fast forward to Saturday in Detroit and the10 a.m. “SFWA Regional Meeting” where they were discussing possibly expanding membership requirements to accommodate successful self-published authors. Holding dual citizenship, as it were, as a member of the Horror Writers Association as well, I pointed out that the HWA has actually put a proposal up for a vote, so SFWA might want to look over their metaphorical (if horrible) shoulders to see if there were ideas that they could use too. A woman a couple of rows in front of me also recommended they look at the HWA’s proposal, allowing she was a “dual citizen” too.
Now by then I knew that a fourth person, Suzanne Church, had been added to the “Darker Side” panel and so, two hours later, was not too surprised to find out that she was the one at the SFWA meeting. So that gave us four, not quite up to our original five, but enough that we had what I thought was a great discussion — and with a reasonably large audience especially considering we were scheduled at lunch time. Topics discussed included genres in general with “horror” perhaps more a mood than a genre, intended to gain a specific reaction, and thus by analogy to comedy usually found combined with sf, or mystery, or fantasy — i.e. humorous sf, etc. – or some other genre rather than standing by itself; whether horror has changed over time or do the same things continue to scare us — in this I noted DRACULA as an example of Victorian “invasion story” with intimations of disease as well (see also July 1, below, “Dracula Fun Facts and Fancy”) in light of news reports on TV where some people genuinely fear the children at the Mexican border are carrying diseases with the government unable or unwilling to keep them out; vampires and zombies with the transition from I AM LEGEND to the movie NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD to Fulci’s ZOMBI 2 (which first rechristens Romero’s flesh-eating “ghouls” as “zombies” as well as setting the film’s major part in the Caribbean) as contrasted with the original Haitian idea of le zombi; guilt and the Seven Deadly Sins as subjects for horror; Freudian psychology concerning sex and death — Eros and Thanatos — as driving motivators of horror, noting that in the movie PSYCHO prior to the shower scene everyone recalls, the movie begins with the actress in a hotel with her lover during her lunch and, after she’s been killed, ends as a movie that’s really about an Oedipal situation on wheels; and the suggestion that the ultimate universal fears are (1) the unknown, and (2) possibly knowing what’s causing a situation but helpless to do anything about it.
In all, the panel went over quite well* judging from the audience reaction, which might suggest fantasy/sf con programming directors could take a chance on giving horror panels a more prime time slot. Or maybe even have more than just one panel on darker fiction.
And that I think has covered my official duties. Ex-girlfriends aside, there were some people I knew from before and some that I met. There was food and schmoozing in the ConSuite, grabbing desserts at later night parties followed by the frisson of walking back to my hotel.**
Then a few other things. Something new this year were the Detcon1 Awards for Young Adult and Middle Grade Speculative Fiction, voted on by the convention members a la the Hugos at WorldCon in London later in August. These were announced Saturday Night during the Masquerade with Young Adult going to Maggie Stiefvater for THE DREAM THIEVES (Scholastic Press) and Middle Grade to Merrie Haskell for HANDBOOK FOR DRAGON SLAYERS (Harper Collins). Also the Golden Duck Awards went for Picture Book to VADER’S LITTLE PRINCESS by Jeffrey Brown (Chronicle), the Eleanor Cameron Award for Middle Grade to HELLO NEBULON and JOURNEY TO JUNO by Ray O’Ryan (Little Simon), abd the Hal Clement Award for Young Adult to THE PLANET THIEVES by Dan Krokos (Tor Starscape). Or so I read in the program update Sunday morning, I having missed the Masquerade (hey, they ought to have pictures of it in LOCUS), opting instead for that night’s “Film Festival — Horror Shorts #4,”**** which included a premiere of “The Tell Tale Heart,” the first of three stories in TALES OF POE directed by Bart Mastronardi and set to premiere as a whole in Hollywood next month.
(As the Friday afternoon “Poetry Corpse” session continued, I graduated more toward surreal and absurdist treatments)
The Dark King proclaimed,
from his Jovian room,
that honor required
the sun cease to shine.
(In this one I riffed on the title of one of Deanna’s poems)
THE FIERY TENTACLE
an octopus out
of the water, a bright sun –
eight bursts into flame
(In this, the first line is from a title idea of Sean’s, except I’d forgotten the final word so I made up my own)
the first magic comes as a quiet room
wrapped in a white fabric
with well-padded walls
*Not to mention gave a platform to show off THE TEARS OF ISIS, as well, at one point, to plug it in passing as an example of a collection that gives a variety of different kinds of horror and in different levels of intensity.
**While, generally speaking, I met no drug dealers, there was one strange phenomenon*** which seemed to occur at perhaps around 1 or 2 a.m. every night, the revving of motors of what seemed a large number of motorcycles. This was enough to wake me up but it didn’t last long (it might in fact have been cyclists just passing by on a fairly major street outside) but, not wishing to make a show of myself peeping out my second floor window at people who might not want to be peeped at, I just rolled over and went back to sleep.
***Another phenomenon possibly not so strange relates to my disappointment last year at World Horror Con in New Orleans that I heard virtually no French spoken (Creole or Cajun) on the streets even though I was in the French Quarter. In Detroit, however, taking an elevated walkway between the convention hotel and a shopping center across the street, I suddenly noticed several couples and families conversing in French which, thinking about it, no doubt just meant they were tourists from Canada. Nevertheless, I did sense a bit of irony in it. Also I might add that, speaking of French, I picked up ribbons from two con committees pushing for WorldCon in Montreal in 2017 and in New Orleans (but to be in one of two hotels in the CBD, not the French Quarter, due to the size of World SF conventions — and yes, I asked, expressing my preference for the one that would be nearest the River) in 2018.
****Horror was much better represented in film than in panel discussions, for whatever conclusions one might care to draw.
Another sale, this one through Thursday this week, gives discounts for six Kindle titles from Smart Rhino Publications. My hound in this hunt is UNCOMMON ASSASSINATIONS (cf. September 27 2012, et al.) which includes my story “The Wellmaster’s Daughter,” originally published in ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE. More information on this as well as Smart Rhino’s other sale books can be found via Facebook by pressing here.
Also, catching up on things while I was away, the end of last week brought my copy of LIFE OF THE DEAD, the new zombie anthology from Martinus Press (see June 29). My bone in this brisket is called “Girls Gone Dead,” originally published in NEW DAWN FADES (Post Mortem Press, 2011). For more information or ordering, both in Kindle and print, press here.
Untreed Reads has announced a 25 percent off “Christmas in July” sale at DriveThruFiction to last through Monday. The sale covers primarily science fiction, fantasy, and horror titles, so, of my Untreed Reads titles, one can find the near-future novelette PEDS, my Christmas horror short story “I’M DREAMING OF A. . . .” (this one at a bargain basement 38 cents!), and the Untreed Reads New Years anthology YEAR’S END with my lead story “Appointment in Time,” but not my other novelette VANITAS which, albeit with steampunk overtones, would most likely be classed as a mystery.
To take advantage, go to DriveThruFiction by pressing here, then search on “James Dorr” in the box at the top. And then prepare yourself for a surprise: the first book listed is not one of the Untreed Reads titles noted above, but Bards and Sages Publishing’s AMERICA THE HORRIFIC: AN ANTHOLOGY OF HORROR with a tale by me of UFOs and little gray men called “Country Doctor.” Appropriate for the 4th of July, not that long ago, eh? But not to worry, the other three follow, and not only that, to add a little more weirdness to one’s life, there’s even a fifth book at the bottom, THE ADVENTURE MEGAPACK, that has no story of mine in it or any other conceivable connection!
Keeps one on one’s toes, it does.
But while I can’t recommend that final item, the others represent pretty good deals from now through next Monday, July 28.
THE POET CONFESSES
I’m a scientist, er,
a technician I might say,
a scientist of sounds
and words –
always delightful –
to find the equation
that puts these together
in form of a poem.
Pretentious? Or just bad? Well, it may not be great shakes as a poem, but it came out of the other Kaffeeklatsch I attended, although this one with Deanna Sjolander and Sean Davis was actually something rather different. Called “Poetry Corpse” — and the only poetry programming at this year’s NASFiC — the billing explained it as “[l]ike magnetic fridge Poetry. Without the fridge. Or the magnets.” That is, there on the table was a pile of cards, each with a single word printed on it, from which we drew a “hand” and attempted to use this to inspire a poem.* I wrote nine in all, most slight little things with perhaps some mild humor, more of which may be published on this blog (as is the first of them just above, derived from words including “scientist,” “technician,” “delightful,” “equation,” and even “er,” all picked without looking at them as I did it in order to maintain a random selection). But the thing is, it was fun, we had a full table including non-poets, but all of whom created at least some poems and were willing to read them by the time the hour ended.**
Then there was my reading earlier Friday, sharing the hour with two other horror writers, Laura Bickle and Cath Schaff-Stump, for as far as I know the only readings that featured the dark side. I ended up a sort of de facto moderator (I was nearest the clock, for one thing) and we read in the order our names had been listed, Laura with pages from a novel with an Amish setting which was rather interesting, I with a short story from THE TEARS OF ISIS***, and Cath who originally thought she might read from a somewhat dark-humored novel deciding, as a result of my reading’s relative intensity, to take a chance with a more serious passage from a story that included child abuse. The session went well, albeit with an audience of only three people, including one friend of mine, some years back a member of my writing group (but no ex-girlfriend who, as noted in Part 1, either never got to the con or remained uncannily well-concealed).
And I had one Friday panel as well, this one that I think surprised us in how well it went, “Maps in Fantasy” with Shanna Swendson, Stephen Leigh, me, and moderated by Kevin J. Maroney. We talked some of actual fantasy maps (famously the one for LORD OF THE RINGS, but also Eddison’s THE WORM OUROBOROS, etc.), some of fantasy worlds that used maps but that weren’t published with them (Fritz Leiber’s “Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser” stories, e.g.), and the use of maps by authors in creating stories. While maps in a book are prestige items — for the publisher to agree to (or suggest) using one can indicate that an author has “made it” as well as the work itself possessing some “epic” qualities — much of our most interesting conversation went into discussing actual maps and the geographical, historical, and economical features they illustrate (e.g. the distance between towns as that of a day’s journey by oxcart, the location of cities by navigable rivers because that’s how goods can be shipped in bulk). Also discussed, how an author might use features on actual maps, perhaps modified, as inspiration for his or her world building (my example here being my far-future dying-Earth “Tombs” stories****, set on a great river that could be only one of three on the Earth as it exists in the present).
Duties over, Friday also involved settling in, including checking out the Dealers Room and the ConSuite, the latter of which had good roast beef sandwich makings at noon, and potato soup, but was a bit more sparse for dinner. But also, through a set of intricate moves around the 3rd level donut, one could find a down escalator to the 2nd level, which then led to other escalators down to a basement level food court that provided nourishment of a fast-food sort for less than ten dollars. Entirely through my fault, however (well, that and the fact it was sort of tucked behind the dealers), I never did get to see the Art Show.
NEW LISTING ON THE NYSE
the zombie stalks,
its smell not delightful
especially in hot weather,
ready to negotiate
for your brains.
*Technically one could fish for verbs as well as nouns, etc., and assemble the entire poem from words picked, but most (all?) of us interpreted the “rules” more gently, to pick six or eight words and use four or five in a poem that they would suggest. In my case I might even change a word form as the emerging poem might require, as in one example substituting “Jovian” for the word “Jupiter.”
**Deanna, in fact, went even further actually publishing several of hers on Twitter as soon as she wrote them. At the end of the session she defined them as being successful insofar as several had already been re-tweeted.
***The story, the next-to-last in the book, was “River Red” which times to just under 15 minutes, thus giving me a chance to display both the old and new covers of THE TEARS OF ISIS while making sure that everyone knew it had been a Stoker® nominee (that is, the “horror equivalent of the Nebula, or if you’re into mysteries the Edgar”).
****One of which I might add is “River Red,” noted just above, that involves in part a trip up that river.
One session I attended at NASFiC Friday was on “Why the Soviets Lost the Moon Race,” presented by Diane Hall of the Warren Astronomical Society. Then today, back home, via a Science Fiction Poetry Association message by Ann K. Schwader leading us to a poem she wrote for the occasion, came a link from the Smithsonian Institution reminding us that . . . forty-five years ago Sunday we won the Moon Race. Press here and enjoy, then if you also wish check out yesterday’s SFPA Digest as well as Ann’s poem by pressing here.
How’s this for an omen? I just got home tonight, Sunday, and on the steps leading up from the sidewalk there lay a dead bird. Then when I got to the front porch there was evidence the cat sitter had not come that day, not entirely unexpected in that she had said she might have travel problems that day. But there was the answer: combined the signs indicated that the resident cave cat, Wednesday, was hungry. This was augmented by the fact she was waiting for me just inside the front door.
So that mystery was solved, but there had been other strangenesses dogging my trip to NASFiC. One was the trip itself, in that, it turns out, the easiest was to get from Indianapolis to Detroit by air, a distance normally of less than 300 miles, is via Atlanta. So after some research, I decided to travel the way of our pioneer ancestors — and much more cheaply — by Greyhound bus. And of this, some observations, the first being that the true adventure of such trips is discovering how to get to and from the Greyhound terminals, often to be found in arcane locations in the eerier parts of a city, although in Detroit as it turned out (in fact, it was this initial discovery that suggested traveling this way in the first place) still within longish walking distance of the convention hotel (with my hotel within easier distance of the con but yet farther on, on the other side of the renovated new business district and once more in one of the eerier districts, one in which at some point after midnight the hotel staff puts up bulletproof glass in front of the front desk, with a little slot to shove credit cards through and receive your key*, but the cost was less than half of even the discounted rate at the con hotel). Indianapolis was more complex, one still having to first take an airport bus to that city, but then transfer to a city bus to get downtown, then walk six or seven blocks through a progressively seedier cityscape to an ancient, decaying combined Greyhound/Amtrack station. A travel tip: when boarding the bus it’s considered appropriate among experienced long-distance bus travelers to spread your hand luggage across the seat next to yours to discourage potential seatmates. And, even if listed on the timetable, assume that scheduled “rest stops” may not be (the bus will sometimes run a tad late and this is a way to make up time) so pack a lunch.
The convention hotel was a marvel also in a silly sort of way, but able to be gotten around in once one got used to it. Imagine a stack of 70-some donuts, arranged in a square with three other stacks and a fifth stack placed in the square’s center. One of these corners is your hotel though, within the complex, it’s not always clear which. But once you are in the right stack, and have mastered the locations of escalators vs. elevators (both “high” and “low” and with special lobby elevators that only go between levels 1 and 3 — we speak not of “floors” in the meeting room section), it’s best to think of room locations in terms of how far they are “around the donut,” with function rooms on the third and fifth donuts and a good, if not perfect, ConSuite open continuously on the 69th (a Con Committee member explains: it’s a matter of corkage, that food isn’t allowed in function rooms unless it’s catered — one exception, coffee and tea could be had in the Green Room, though maybe I’m not supposed to say this** — but in the top-floor hotel suites there’s nothing wrong with having a 24-hour private party with approximately 1300 invited guests).
Also it may be well to remember that in this particular part of the world, to go to Canada one goes south.
But meanwhile it’s late here, the cat is still lonely, my last “meal” was on the bus, and there’s a Godzilla movie starting on TV that I haven’t seen yet (GODZILLA VS. DESTROYER, 1995, with Takuro Tatsami and Yoko Ishmo), so more tomorrow.
*A running joke was my explaining I had to leave parties early because I wanted to get to my hotel before the drug dealers came out.
**And so, yes, the scheduled “Kaffeeklatsches” were coffeeless, but I imported mine down from the Green Room (one-eighth around the donut to the main elevators — used this time instead of the preferred escalators on function levels for fear of sloshing — then two levels down half way farther around and to the level 3 hotel lobby, turn left then right then left again, and look for table 2). But then no-one came anyway, which was not an unusual thing (I’d been to the information desk and seen the sign-up sheets — those with good tallies tended to be locals, or people at least with many attending friends***, or very well known “stars” — so, for official statistical purposes (as “moderator” I had to note attendance) I put down “3” including (1) the slow mover from the previous Kaffeeklatsch who was still sitting for a few seconds after my time started, (2) the person who stopped by to say hello about half way through but was in a hurry and couldn’t stay, and (3) me.
***An ex-girlfriend of mine was listed as an attendee so I had planned to at least buttonhole her and her present husband, but as it turns out I don’t believe they actually made it to the convention.
Well, it was one of my favorite TV shows in its time (I do have the whole series on DVD). So, while I may be away from a computer for much of the weekend, I thought I might leave folks with something to read, a Baltimore Sun piece about John Astin who played Gomez Addams against Carolyn Jones’s Morticia on the original 1960s THE ADDAMS FAMILY, which can be found by pressing here. And should you care to tarry on this page, something nice to contemplate as well.
Then in other news (or life goes on), when is a rejection not a rejection? Well sometimes it happens along lines like this, via Mark Parker of Scarlet Galleon Publications: “Mr. Dorr, I wanted to tell you what an honor it was to have you submit ‘The Hole’ to my inaugural anthology, DEAD HARVEST. I regret having to pass on it at this time, but would guarantee it a spot in a future ‘Harvest’ anthology I have planned, ZOMBIE HARVEST. In truth, I feel it would fit that one so much better. I don’t know if that would be of interest to you, but where it’s a reprint, perhaps you’d consider that.”
As noted, the story is a reprint that originally appeared in FRONTIERS OF TERROR by Marietta Publishing in 2002 (also, incidentally, First Runner Up for that year’s Darrell Award for short fiction set in the Mid South, in this case Memphis Tennessee) so, while we agreed that should another opportunity for “The Hole” come up I could withdraw it, why not? And, insofar as it is about unreconstructed Confederate zombie soldiers seeking to reunite with the corpse of General Nathan Bedford Forrest, buried in Memphis, it probably would work better in ZOMBIE HARVEST. This would mean a publication in autumn 2015 or possibly early 2016, the “Harvest” motif to become a sort of annual series, assuming things go as planned.
For more information on Scarlet Galleon Publications and, although now closed to submissions, DARK HARVEST press here.
Happy Bastille Day, a mostly pleasant and sunny day here, though interrupted by a brief, hard rainstorm at about 5 p.m. For the Fourth of July we re-reviewed a film, ZOMBIES OF MASS DESTRUCTION (a.k.a. ZMD: ZOMBIES OF MASS DESTRUCTION) so, just for fun and along the lines of our recent post on “Dracula Fun Facts and Fancy”(see July 1), why not some lore on the Vampires of France? So herewith two entries, discovered semi-serendipitously, beginning with a fairly straight history of French hemophages by pressing here. And then let us move to an appreciation of Jacques Sirgent, author of LE LIVRE DES VAMPIRES, combined with a visit to le Musée des Vampires and a stop at Cimetière Père Lachaise, by pressing here.
As announced last month (see post for June 27) THE TEARS OF ISIS has gotten an all-new wraparound cover by artist Matthew Revert, noting at the top that the book is a 2013 Bram Stoker Award® nominee for Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection. Also the back cover matter has been changed, in part to feature a new photo of (ahem) me, taken just this spring at a local prose reading. Taken, in fact, the first Sunday in April (cf. April 6) depicting me explaining “bizarro” just prior to reading my short short “Rocky Road.” So we see how things connect, “Rocky Road” in turn having since been bought by DAILY SCIENCE FICTION (cf. May 18). As for the interior of THE TEARS OF ISIS, however, it remains exactly the same regardless of which cover edition you have.
But enough of that, here is the new cover. More information including ordering can be found on Amazon by pressing here (including a peek at the back cover with, replacing the previous long blurb, four review excerpts — whereupon one can then check the readers’ reviews section to match the quotes to their original context) or Barnes & Noble here. Also it can be ordered directly through Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing (though still with a picture of the old cover as of this writing) by pressing here.