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The Greatest Christmas Present Ever [Dec. 25th, 2014|08:56 am]
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You guys, this happened:

Screen Shot 2014-12-25 at 7.24.00 AM

It’s the greatest Christmas present ever!

Speaking of, merry Christmas, everyone (from your favorite Jew)!

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

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A “Well Written Whodunit”! [Dec. 24th, 2014|01:19 pm]
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I haven’t seen many reviews of the IDW anthology The Rocketeer: Jet-Pack Adventures around the Internet, but one from DVD Corner just hit my radar, despite being a few months old now. It’s a mixed review, but my story, “The Mask of the Pharaoh,” is given some kind words:

Nicholas Kaufmann’s “Mask of the Pharaoh” is a well written whodunit involving Betty starring in a mummy movie, an alleged prop Egyptian mask, and murder. Not only does this story perfectly fit the Rocketeer era, but it’s also a clever throwback to old school Hollywood and classic horror films.

If you love the Rocketeer and want to read all-new adventures written by the likes of me, Yvonne Navarro, Gregory Frost, Nancy Holder, Nancy A. Collins, Cody Goodfellow, and lots more, why not pick up a copy with that inevitable Amazon gift certificate you’re going to get for Christmas tomorrow?

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

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WINNER: Alex Hughes E-Book Giveaway [Dec. 24th, 2014|10:28 am]
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The winner of the Alex Hughes e-book giveaway has been chosen and notified.

Congratulations to bn100! (You didn’t include your real name, so now you will forever be known as bn100, like a Star Wars droid.)

You will be receiving the e-book you selected soon!

Thanks to everyone who entered.

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

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2014: The Year in Kaufmannia [Dec. 23rd, 2014|05:02 pm]
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I don’t usually do these year-end wrap-ups (except for my annual list of the books I’ve read, which is coming soon), but I thought this year I’d give it a shot. Let’s start with the big stuff: novels!

This year, my novel Die and Stay Dead came out from St. Martin’s/Griffin, the sequel to last year’s Dying Is My Business. The reviews were pretty snazzy, too. The novel garnered me my first starred review in Publishers Weekly and a glowing review in Rue Morgue, which is my favorite magazine ever. This year also saw the re-release of my Gabriel Hunt novel, Hunt at World’s End, by Titan Books. From what I hear, it’s selling a lot better than when Dorchester/Leisure originally released it back in 2009. You can tell Titan actually cares about how well their books do because they’re putting a little PR behind them, while Dorchester…well, they probably already knew that their doors would be closing soon, so they didn’t do squat to promote the series. Now that World’s End is in better hands — and actually has my name on the cover instead of the house name Gabriel Hunt — I saw royalties from it for the first time, and for a pretty hefty amount, too.

This was the year I also tried my hand at e-book self-publishing for the first time, releasing my 2007 Bram Stoker Award-nominated novelette General Slocum’s Gold for a number of different e-book platforms. So far the sales numbers haven’t set the world on fire or anything, but it was an interesting and rewarding experience. I would definitely consider self-publishing more e-books in the future. Maybe even new stuff.

I spent pretty much all of 2014 working on Only the Dead Sleep, the third volume in the trilogy that started with Dying Is My Business, due to its rather epic length, so I didn’t write any short stories. I did have one published, however, which I wrote in 2013: my Rocketeer story “The Mask of the Pharaoh,” which appeared in The Rocketeer: Jet-Pack Adventures from IDW Publishing. I had a lot of fun writing that one and learned a lot about Hollywood history, thanks to editor Jeff Conner’s incredibly detailed notes. I hope Rocketeer fans enjoy it.

I had a lot more non-fiction out there in 2014 than short fiction. My essay “Hardboiled Horror” was published by Nightmare Magazine. I wrote an article about demons titled “Beyond The Exorcist: Demons of a Different Type” for SF Signal. I was interviewed by The Book Plank and Crime Thriller Fella about the re-release of Hunt at World’s End, and by Blood Rose Books as a featured author. I was interviewed by The Big Thrill, the online magazine of the International Thriller Writers, about the release of Die and Stay Dead. I wrote about the story behind Die and Stay Dead for Upcoming4.me and wrote about my favorite bit for Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog.

In April, I launched my own blog feature, “The Scariest Part,” to showcase new works of horror, dark fantasy, dark science fiction, and suspense by authors, filmmakers, comic-book writers, and game creators. It’s still going strong, which is great, but so far it’s been 99.9% authors and .1% comic-book writers. I suppose that’s to be expected, but I’d love to get some filmmakers and game creators in there, too. Perhaps in the coming year. You can see past installments of “The Scariest Part” here.

I did a few readings and signings over the past year. In January, I signed books at Dark Delicacies in Burbank, California, alongside Christopher Golden, Amber Benson, and Jonathan Maberry. In May, I read with Chandler Klang Smith and Karen Heuler at the Hi-Fi Bar in Alphabet City. October was my busiest month for readings (hello, horror writer!): I read at WORD in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, with Laird Barron and L.A. Kornetsky; at Writers Read NYC in Alphabet City with Gene Albertelli, Marcia Loughran, and Malcolm McNeill; and at The New York Review of Science Fiction Reading Series in SoHo with John Langan.

I was at Readercon in July, where I hosted my first Kaffeeklatsch, gave a reading, a spoke on a panel about horror for diverse audiences. Also in July, I was a Guest of Honor at NECon, along with Amber Benson and Michael Koryta. There, I was on a panel about non-fiction and a panel about erotic genre fiction, and was interviewed by Toastmaster Jack Haringa. I was also roasted. Ahem. In October, I attended New York Comic Con, which was amazing if utterly overwhelming. In November, I attended the World Fantasy Convention in Washington, DC, where I was on a very fun panel about dragons and saw many, many friends from faraway places.

And that, my friends, was 2014 in a nutshell. Less productive than I would have liked in some respects, but more productive in others. I hope your 2014 was a good one, and that your 2015 will be even better!

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

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Hanukkah Present from Alexa [Dec. 20th, 2014|10:03 pm]
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Threadless

Two t-shirts from Threadless!

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

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What’s My Favorite Bit of DIE AND STAY DEAD? [Dec. 18th, 2014|10:21 am]
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I’m Mary Robinette Kowal’s guest today on “My Favorite Bit,” talking about my latest novel Die and Stay Dead. Sometimes it’s hard to decide what your favorite bit is of something you wrote — it’s always easier to find the things you wish you could have done better or differently — but for this one I knew right away. I’m delighted that I got to talk about not just my novel, but also one of my favorite places in New York City. Here’s a snippet, which ties into my favorite scene in the novel:

Back in 2011, I started doing my daily writing at the New York Public Library on 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue (you know, the one from Ghostbusters). Before then, I had worked from home for years. Generally, working from home had never been a problem. I was pretty disciplined and almost always reached my word count goal. But over time, that changed. Working from home became unexpectedly difficult. All of a sudden I was too easily distracted by the dishes in the sink, the cats who wanted attention, that show I’d been binge-watching on Netflix. When you get in a rut the best thing you can do is shake up your routine, so I figured a change of scenery was what I needed. The New York Public Library was the perfect choice for my new “office.”

Check out the rest at Mary Robinette Kowal’s website. And if you haven’t ordered your copy of Die and Stay Dead yet, why not do it now? It makes a great holiday gift, too!

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

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Dream Houses [Dec. 16th, 2014|08:45 pm]
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Dream HousesDream Houses by Genevieve Valentine

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A haunting and harrowing exploration of loneliness, madness, family, and survival in deep space. Valentine excels at writing convincing characters — especially ones that are deeply scarred in some way — and then putting them in compelling, often intense situations. With Amadis Reyes she has created one of her best characters yet. Amadis is a loner, albeit a reluctant one; she’s tough, but more fragile on the inside than she thinks; she has an encyclopedic knowledge of classical music but has no idea how to talk to or behave around other people. Thanks to mysterious circumstances, she finds herself stuck alone on a deep space run with a dead crew and a ship’s AI she’s not sure she can trust. With five long years to get through before she’ll be close enough civilization to be rescued, the question becomes not only if she’ll survive, or how she’ll survive, but if she’ll be able to keep from going insane in the interim. ALIEN is a clear influence on this claustrophobic, spaceship-bound novella, although not in the ways such an analogy might bring to mind, as is 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, but Valentine has succeeded in crafting a character-driven science-fiction piece that is all her own. It’s remarkably rich in character and detail for such a short work, not to mention a pervasive sense of dread that will stay with you a long time. If you haven’t read any Valentine yet, this novella is a perfect place to start.

View all my reviews

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

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Happy Hanukkah, Everybody! [Dec. 16th, 2014|10:28 am]

Hanukkah

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

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The Scariest Part: Helen Marshall Talks About GIFTS FOR THE ONE WHO COMES AFTER [Dec. 16th, 2014|07:00 am]
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GIftsFortheOne_LowRes

Welcome to this week’s installment of The Scariest Part, a recurring feature in which authors, comic book writers, filmmakers, and game creators tell us what scares them in their latest works of horror, dark fantasy, dark science fiction, and suspense. (If you’d like to be featured on The Scariest Part, please review the guidelines here.)

I’m thrilled to have my good friend Helen Marshall as my guest. Her first collection, Hair Side, Flesh Side, blew me away, and her latest collection, Gifts for the One Who Comes After, looks to be just as amazing. Here is the publisher’s description:

GHOST THUMBS. MINIATURE DOGS.
ONE VERY SAD CAN OF TOMATO SOUP.

Helen Marshall’s second fiction collection offers a series of twisted surrealities that explore the legacies we pass on to our children. A son seeks to reconnect with his father through a telescope that sees into the past. A young girl discovers what lies on the other side of her mother’s bellybutton. Death’s wife prepares herself for a very special funeral.

In Gifts for the One Who Comes After, Marshall delivers seventeen tales of love and loss shot through with a profound sense of wonder. Dazzling, disturbing, and deeply moving.

And now, let’s hear what the scariest part was for Helen Marshall:

Let’s talk dead cats.

Many people’ve told me how striking they find the cover of my new collection of short stories, Gifts for the One Who Comes After — striking being translatable into anything in the range of gorgeous, sad, creepy, disturbing and downright horrifying. I’ve had people tell me they won’t buy the book because of the cover. I’ve had people tell me they have to keep the book facedown. Several reviews of the book came out used blown-up copies of my author photo rather than the book cover.

And all this really intrigues me. Because the cover doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

Here I suppose it’s worth me giving my usual disclaimer that I’m not exactly a horror writer — or I’m not a horror writer entirely — that I grew up avoiding horror movies like the plague and that it’s only in the last five years or so that I came to realize how really, seriously cool horror can be. And one of the reasons that I always feel uncomfortable saying I’m a horror writer is because my work tends to be dissonant rather than outright horrific. But what I find interesting about horror — not the genre but the emotion — is how complicated it is. Stephen King talks about three different types of emotions in this respect: terror, which is the fear of that which we cannot see or perceive fully, it is full of uncertainty and obscurity; horror, which involves actual perception of something horrid or monstrous; and revulsion, or, as he calls it, the “gag reflex” or “gross-out”.

Now this cover doesn’t look anything like a normal horror cover so it’s unclear to me what makes my cover so disturbing — except, I think, that it somehow manages to conjure up all three emotions, but none of them completely. The cover itself gives off a series of different signals to the reader. While at a glance it seems to show a dead kitten — and even I have to admit that the image of a dead kitten triggers a peculiarly specific set of sympathetic responses! — the longer you look, the less clear it becomes exactly what the creature is — the neck is too thick, the body truncated, the scales fantastic rather than horrific. The image is dissonant — it creates an uncomfortable sense that the image is at odds with itself and this, I think, is somehow more upsetting.

The cover comes out of a story called “In the Year of Omens” which Ellen Datlow bought for her anthology Fearful Symmetries. “That was the year of omens—” the story begins, “the year the coroner cut open the body of the girl who had thrown herself from the bridge, and discovered a bullfrog living in her right lung. The doctor, it was said by the people who told those sorts of stories (and there were many of them), let the girl’s mother take the thing home in her purse — its skin wet and gleaming, its eyes like glittering gallstones — and when she set it in her daughter’s bedroom it croaked out the saddest, sweetest song you ever heard in the voice of the dead girl.” This weirdly apocalyptic story follows a young girl named Leah whose family members all discover their own special omens; in fact, everyone Leah knows receives an omen — everyone except for her. The story hinges, in many respects, upon a moment when Leah comes across her baby brother’s omen: a tiny dead kitten covered with fine, translucent scales. But rather than recognizing the dead kitten as horrific, she places it for safekeeping inside a music box her father gave her. And just like the cover, the scene is somehow both horrifying and not at the same time: it’s sweet and it’s sad and it’s creepy but somehow being all of those things makes it even worse.

Horror — as a genre this time! — is interesting because despite the fact that it ostensibly feeds on a sense of the unknown, the obscured, the ambiguous, it’s also one of the most predictable and patterned genres out there. We intuitively know how a horror story is supposed to go. And that makes it, in its own weird way, both comforting and predictable. But the horror that interests me most is the horror that’s utterly unpredictable, horror that consoles even as it condemns, horror that never lets the reader know exactly what it’s up to. Because, for me, not knowing is the scariest part.

Helen Marshall: Website / Twitter

Gifts for the One Who Comes After: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Powell’s / IndieBound

Helen Marshall is an award-winning Canadian author, editor, and doctor of medieval studies. Her debut collection of short stories, Hair Side, Flesh Side (ChiZine Publications, 2012), was named one of the top ten books of 2012 by January Magazine. It won the 2013 British Fantasy Award for Best Newcomer and was shortlisted for a 2013 Aurora Award by the Canadian Society of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Her second collection, Gifts for the One Who Comes After, was released in September, 2014. She lives in Oxford, England where she spends her time staring at old books.

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

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Olympia Has Come a Long Way to Become a Lap Cat… [Dec. 13th, 2014|10:09 pm]

laptimes

Here she is on Alexa’s lap!

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

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