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Pulp Fiction Reviews on HUNT AT WORLD’S END [Feb. 12th, 2016|04:00 pm]
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Pulp Fiction Reviews has finally gotten around to my 2009 novel Hunt at World’s End. It’s a rave review, but kind of a backhanded one. Still, here’s a nice pull-quote:

“Hunt at World’s End” maintains [a] level of excellence with a fast paced narrative, colorful characters and exotic locales. What more could a pulp fan want?

Click here to read the review in full, and you’ll see what I mean about it being a backhanded rave. Still, new and positive attention for a book that first came out a little over six years ago isn’t a bad thing!

Originally published at Nicholas Kaufmann. You can comment here or there.

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None Of The Above [Feb. 10th, 2016|04:33 pm]
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I was inspired by a conversation with friends about politics (I know!) to do something I’ve never done before. I started a petition at WhiteHouse.gov! The petition’s request? To add a “None Of The Above” option to all primary and general election ballots! Here’s the text of the petition:

Add a “None Of The Above” option to all primary and general election ballots.

Low voter turnout is often blamed on the apathy of the American voter, but that’s not true. Many Americans are simply disgusted with the choice of candidates we’re given in our elections, which leads scores of voters to stay home on election day. It also forces voters who still wish to participate to choose what they consider to be the lesser of two evils, rather than leaders who inspire them.

Offering a non-binding “None Of The Above” option would drive up turnout by allowing voters to voice their dissatisfaction with the choices they’re given. It would also send a clear message to the election winners that they do not have the mandate of the people that they so often think they do.

For these reasons, let’s add a “None Of The Above” option to all primary and general election ballots.

I would have gone into more detail if I could, but they only allow you a certain amount of space to write in, which is probably smart considering who writes some of these petitions. One thing I would have liked to add is what I mean by non-binding, which is basically that if the “None Of the Above” option gets more votes than the winning candidate, it doesn’t mean the election is forfeit and the primaries have to start all over again with different candidates. While that may sound pretty good in theory, in practice it would be a nightmare.

Anyway, this is the link to the petition itself. Please read it, sign it, and share it with your friends! We need 100,000 signatures by March 11th!

Originally published at Nicholas Kaufmann. You can comment here or there.

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The Scariest Part: Mark Matthews Talks About ALL SMOKE RISES [Feb. 9th, 2016|07:00 am]
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FinalKDPintroAll Smoke Rises4 - Digital

This week on The Scariest Part, my guest is Mark Matthews, whose new novel is All Smoke Rises. Here’s the publisher’s description:

Ten year old Lilly is the victim of a terrible house fire and a wretched family. Her father is an addict with mental illness, her mother was murdered and then buried across the street, and her uncle got her addicted to heroin.

Lilly’s tragic story has been told in the book All Smoke Rises, and it may be true, for the author has broken into your house, and placed Lilly’s body on your kitchen counter. He demands you read the manuscript, before cutting his own wrists and bleeding out on your floor.

Now you have decisions to make, for her body may not be dead, and her family is coming for her.

And now, let’s hear what the scariest part was for Mark Matthews:

I don’t write horror to scare others, I write it because I am the one who is scared. When I write, my life of quiet desperation instead becomes an audible cosmic scream.

The scariest part of All Smoke Rises, and its companion story, Milk-Blood, is that all of it is true.

All of it.

That doesn’t mean that there’s an actual ten year old girl who still hears the voice of her mother who was murdered, dismembered, and then buried in a shallow grave across the street.

Who became addicted to heroin when her uncle felt it would ease her suffering.

Who discovers that her true father is a schizophrenic, homeless man who had injected his dad’s ashes into his veins when he was craving his next fix.

Just because these things didn’t happen, doesn’t mean they aren’t true.

The urban decay, where abandoned, burnt-out houses stick out like a mouthful of jagged teeth. The isolation of being stuck in this dark bubble alongside the most despairing creatures the universe has to offer. The poverty where children get their best meals from school breakfasts. Addicts who crave heroin in their body the way a vampire craves blood. This stuff clearly exists.

The inspiration for writing these books came from my own work as a substance abuse therapist. For nearly 20 years, I’ve worked with hundreds of addicts. Before this time, I harrowed in my own addiction. I woke up each day and my daily efforts were how to get high and get by. By the grace of the old Gods and the new, I now have 23 years clean and sober, but I have come to understand the immense power addiction has over the human soul.

Real truth would be impossible to believe, and that’s why, I feel, horror writers make up stories. It’s the only way to express truth on the deepest level. Newspaper fiction has its limits, but when reality gets intense, when we pull out the magnifying glass and let the sun shine through and make it burn, that’s when you see it for what it is. The supernatural elements in All Smoke Rises are a way to give the urban decay and addiction a face and a name.

The fact that families are out there, right now, trying to survive in these terrifying environments is, for me, the scariest part. “We are the monsters,” is how Kealan Patrick Burke puts it in the book’s introduction. Despite the dark and gruesome nature of All Smoke Rises, during the time it takes a reader to finish the book, (spoiler alert) more people will die from a heroin overdose than die in this fictional story. Truth is darker than fiction, and the best way to tell that truth, is to make up a story.

Mark Matthews: Website / Twitter / Goodreads

All Smoke Rises: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound

Mark Matthews has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Michigan, and is a licensed professional counselor who has worked in mental health and substance abuse treatment for over 20 years. His novel Milk-Blood, along with its companion short story, “The Damage Done,” have been optioned for a full-length feature film. All Smoke Rises: Milk-Blood Redux is the follow up and was published on February 8th, 2016. He is the author of On the Lips of Children, from Books of the Dead Press, which was nominated as a semi-finalist for the 2014 Best Kindle Book Awards. Matthews lives near Detroit with his wife and two daughters. All of his books are based on true settings. Reach him at wickedrunpress@gmail.com.

Originally published at Nicholas Kaufmann. You can comment here or there.

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Happy Birthday To “The Horror Show With Brian Keene”! [Feb. 4th, 2016|11:09 am]
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Big congrats to The Horror Show with Brian Keene on turning one year old!

Here’s a link to the time I appeared on the podcast. It was recorded back in July, before I returned to Facebook (although I had secretly been planning it at the time), so disregard the part where I say I’m not on Facebook.

I had a great time chatting with Brian and Dave, and I would do it again in a heartbeat!

Originally published at Nicholas Kaufmann. You can comment here or there.

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The Scariest Part: Patrick Rutigliano Talks About WIND CHILL [Feb. 2nd, 2016|07:00 am]
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Wind Chill

This week on The Scariest Part, my guest is Patrick Rutigliano, whose new novella is Wind Chill. Here’s the publisher’s description:

What if you were held captive by your own family?

Emma Rawlins has spent the last year a prisoner. The months following her mother’s death dragged her father into a paranoid spiral of conspiracy theories and doomsday premonitions. Obsessing him, controlling him, they now whisper the end days are finally at hand.

And he doesn’t intend to face them alone.

Emma finds herself drugged and dragged to a secluded cabin, the last refuge from a society supposedly due to collapse. Their cabin a snowbound fortress, her every move controlled, but even that isn’t enough to weather the end of the world.

Everything she knows is out of reach, lost beyond a haze of white. There is no choice but to play her father’s game while she plans her escape.

But there is a force far colder than the freezing drifts. Ancient, ravenous, it knows no mercy. And it’s already had a taste…

And now, let’s hear what the scariest part was for Patrick Rutigliano:

To me, the scariest part of my new novella Wind Chill is its isolated setting…or maybe just that it appeals to me.

A cabin in the remote wilderness, no matter how well equipped, probably sounds miserable to most people. I think this isn’t so much due to a loss of modern conveniences as the lack of human interaction.

People are social animals by nature. Interdependence has allowed us to survive as a species and serves as the touchstone for society. Virtually every conceivable service a person can’t provide for himself can be found via a phone book or 9-1-1. Free time is often spent going out with friends for a drink, to a party, or to be part of an audience. Live together, love together, mourn together. It’s the human way.

So, why does solitude come off sounding so…enticing?

Introversion is surely part of it (I’m a homebody, and I tend to find gatherings draining), but I think a lot of it is the quiet. Connected as we are now, our tendency for chatter has filled our world to the brim with racket: television, social media, and even the steady pulse of street noise. It’s always there–ambient sounds rattling in your skull–even if you don’t notice it. But when you do, it’s about as piercing as a jackhammer. So much so, that the thought of waking up and finding it gone feels like waking up on another planet. And with all those handy services gone, a far more dangerous one, too. But even that’s part of the draw. Because with that complex system missing, things suddenly become a lot simpler.

All the crap that’s become par for the course in modern life disappears. There’s no time card to punch or traffic jams to traverse. Instead it all boils down to living as well as you can without snuffing it. All the pressure and rewards are on you. I think there’s a freedom and simplicity there that resonates with me. And given the ongoing obsession with post-apocalyptic works in this modern age, I have a feeling I’m probably not alone.

So, I suppose the frozen wastes I wrote about hold a certain glamour for me. A siren song that makes me want to enter despite what would likely be dire consequences. I guess there’s just something to be said for choosing a road entirely of your making, even if the rest of the world never gets to see you walk it. Or if you happen to freeze to death Jack Torrance style along the way.

Patrick Rutigliano: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon Author Page

Wind Chill: AmazonCrystal Lake Publishing

Patrick Rutigliano made his way as a fry cook, cart monkey, and feral cat tamer before going into business for himself. Working as an editor and proofreader in addition to writing, his first independent release, The Untimely Deaths of Daryl Handy, hit Amazon in 2013. His first novel, Surviving the Crash, was released by Retro Rocket Press in 2014. Crystal Lake Publishing put out his newest work, Wind Chill, in January 2015. During his off time, Patrick can usually be found attempting to recreate foreign cuisine, performing the solemn duty of feline waterbed, and having spirited debates with his wife over the failings of Disney villains.

Originally published at Nicholas Kaufmann. You can comment here or there.

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The Sandman: Overture [Jan. 26th, 2016|05:46 pm]
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The Sandman: OvertureThe Sandman: Overture by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I would give this 100 stars if I could! Gaiman’s six-part story, a direct prequel to his classic SANDMAN series, is nothing short of mind-blowing. In addition, Williams’s art is heart-stopping, Stewart’s coloring is breathtaking, and Klein’s lettering, including dozens of different, unique fonts for dozens of different characters, is nothing short of an astonishing labor of love. All this, and a giant, talking cat! I can’t recommend this trade collection highly enough. I loved Gaiman’s SANDMAN comics, but sometimes when you love something you read a long time ago you forget why you loved it so much. THE SANDMAN: OVERTURE reminded me exactly why, and in some way even surpasses the original’s brilliance. If you loved SANDMAN too, you’re going to eat this up with a spoon!

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Originally published at Nicholas Kaufmann. You can comment here or there.

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Fatale: Death Chases Me [Jan. 23rd, 2016|10:45 am]
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Fatale, Vol. 1: Death Chases MeFatale, Vol. 1: Death Chases Me by Ed Brubaker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Great characters, great writing, a combination of noir and supernatural horror that should be right up my alley — so why didn’t this resonate with me more? I wish I knew. All I can say is that it didn’t feel fresh to me, that there was a sense of having seen it all before. Admittedly, these comics were published four years ago, in 2012, when the idea of mixing classic noir tropes with the supernatural might have seemed newer, and to judge them with 2016 eyes is perhaps unfair. After all, I did enjoy it. Brubaker’s writing is very good, the story is well plotted, and Sean Phillips’ art perfectly complemented the narrative. But it just didn’t grab me, and unfortunately I don’t find myself eager to read the rest of the trades in this series.

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Originally published at Nicholas Kaufmann. You can comment here or there.

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Hellboy In Hell, Vol. 1: The Descent [Jan. 21st, 2016|11:13 am]
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Hellboy in Hell, Vol. 1: The DescentHellboy in Hell, Vol. 1: The Descent by Mike Mignola
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This latest collection in Mignola’s ongoing HELLBOY saga is essentially a tour of Hell by way of Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL. There’s not a lot of drama to be witnessed, it’s more spectacle than story in these five issues, but Hellboy is such a great character and Mignola’s concept of Hell as a place is so compelling that I kept turning the pages with mounting interest. The art is some of Mignola’s most evocative, especially in Hell’s capitol city of Pandemonium, and each panel succeeds in offering something spooky or beautifully rendered (or both). I look forward to more adventures of Hellboy while he’s in Hell, although I hope future issues will be less episodic and offer stronger, more definitive storylines.

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Originally published at Nicholas Kaufmann. You can comment here or there.

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Kindle Spree! [Jan. 21st, 2016|09:15 am]
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I went on a Kindle e-book-buying spree with the last of my Amazon gift certificates from the holidays! Here’s what I bought:

Best Horror 7

The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Seven edited by Ellen Datlow. The latest in the long-running and always high-quality annual anthology series. I read these not just as a fan of horror fiction but as a writer who’s always looking to learn from the best.

Cold to the Touch

Cold To the Touch by Simon Strantzas. This is the only collection I didn’t already own by the weird fiction maestro, good friend, and frequent convention roommate. (Yes, I called you a maestro, Simon! Deal with it!)

X"s for Eyes

X’s For Eyes by Laird Barron. The new novella from another favorite author and friend. Actually, maybe Laird is the weird fiction maestro. Sorry, Simon!

Glider

The Girl on the Glider by Brian Keene. An acclaimed novella from the award-winning horror author that’s reputed to be a departure from his usual fare, more M.R. James than Richard Laymon. He’s also a friend of mine. God, I have a lot of friends in this business, don’t I?

Originally published at Nicholas Kaufmann. You can comment here or there.

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Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham [Jan. 20th, 2016|09:49 am]
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Batman: The Doom That Came To GothamBatman: The Doom That Came To Gotham by Mike Mignola
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found this mashup of DC’s iconic superhero Batman with the equally iconic Lovecraft mythos to be absolutely charming, and in many ways everything Alan Moore’s failed NEONOMICON should have been. Mignola and co-author Richard Pace do a great job of fitting Batman and his various supporting characters — mostly villains — into a narrative of horror and cosmic dread. For me, half the fun of these types of books is in spotting the analogs, and so my heart went pitter-pat at the inclusion of so many recognizable characters in new forms: Oswald Cobblepot (brilliantly linked to the giant penguins of “At the Mountains of Madness”), Mr. Freeze, Man-Bat (yes!), Poison Ivy, Two-Face (in a fantastic and very apropos re-interpretation), the Green Arrow, a wide variety of Robins, and many more.

Unfortunately, I found the story detrimentally rushed in places. I wonder if four issues instead of three would have given Mignola and Pace a chance to better pace the story and explore its themes. Troy Nixey’s art is good and surprisingly Mignola-like, but not always clear. There were a few panels where I couldn’t quite tell what was going on, which left me frustrated. But overall, I enjoyed this graphic novel very much. Frankly, I’d love to read more mashups like this. At this point, I find them more interesting than the straightforward “canon” stories.

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Originally published at Nicholas Kaufmann. You can comment here or there.

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