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International Bon Vivant and Raconteur

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Two More Blurbs for 100 FATHOMS BELOW! [Apr. 16th, 2018|09:29 am]
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Hot on the heels of Jonathan Maberry’s blurb, which I revealed last week, two more exciting blurbs have come in for 100 Fathoms Below!

“Claustrophobic Cold War combat with plenty of vampires, 100 Fathoms Below is what would happen if The Hunt for Red October had a baby with ‘Salem’s Lot and it joined the Navy.” — Grady Hendrix, author of Paperbacks from Hell

“The tension never lets up in this white-knuckle thrill ride. You can feel the pressure of the freezing cold ocean bearing down on you, feel the terror as the bodies pile up. I couldn’t stop reading — I had to know what horrific thing waited around the next corner, behind the next hatch of the USS Roanoke. This book will make you gasp — and scream.” — David Wellington, author of 13 Bullets

100 Fathoms Below is scheduled to be published October 9th, but you can pre-order the novel right now from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your favorite bookseller!

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

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The Scariest Part Turns Four [Apr. 14th, 2018|08:15 am]
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Today marks the fourth anniversary of my blog feature, The Scariest Part! Over the past four years, I’ve had some really great authors write guest blogs, including, just this past year, Alethea Kontis, Chandler Klang Smith, William Meikle, Jason Ridler, Douglas Wynne, Vivian Shaw, and many more!

If you’ve got a book coming out in the horror, dark fantasy, dark science fiction, and suspense genres and would like an opportunity to promote it on The Scariest Part, please click here to check out our guidelines.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you, and to another great year of authors talking about the scariest parts of their work!

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

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First Blurb for 100 FATHOMS BELOW! [Apr. 13th, 2018|04:39 pm]
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Our first blurb for 100 Fathoms Below has come in, and it’s from none other than the inimitable Jonathan Maberry!

100 Fathoms Below is deliciously creepy and deeply unnerving. Kent and Kaufmann take a real bite out of the horror genre with this killer of a book!” – Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Glimpse and V-Wars

Don’t forget, you can pre-order 100 Fathoms Below now from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your favorite bookseller!

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

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Motherless Brooklyn [Apr. 9th, 2018|08:07 am]
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Motherless BrooklynMotherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I would give this novel more than five stars if I could! I loved it!

There’s a compelling whodunit at the center of MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN, and a sense of humor both broad and sly, but in many ways the novel is about language and that’s where author Jonathan Lethem shines. MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN is an exquisitely written book, with prose that places us so deeply inside the mind of our Tourettic hero Lionel Essrog that his verbal and physical tics, which might feel so alarming and random if encountered in real life, begin to make a kind of sense to us here. The characters are wonderfully and indelibly drawn: Lionel, of course, but also his mentor and father figure Frank Minna; the bitter and disappointed Julia Minna; the two old gangsters, Matricardi and Rockaforte (“Garden State Bricko and Stuckface”), who might talk like a parody of Marlon Brando in THE GODFATHER but are not to be underestimated; and the utterly oblivious Kimmery.

It would be a great novel just on its own, but the fact that I lived for twenty years in the very Brooklyn neighborhood in which it takes place — including several years on Bergen Street, where the fictional L&L Car Service has its office — added an extra layer of enjoyment for me. I recognized many of the landmarks Lethem utilizes to ground the story with a sense of place: Ziad’s, here called Zeod’s, the deli on Smith Street that made the best sandwiches in the neighborhood; the Brooklyn Inn, here called the Boerum Hill Inn, which was my watering hole for many years (and the neighborhood’s only English-speaking bar for a time); the Promenade and DeGraw Street (where I also lived for several years), and of course those old Garden State Brickface and Stucco commercials. More than a novel for me, MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN doubled as an enjoyable walk down memory lane.

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

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100 FATHOMS BELOW Now Available for Pre-order! [Mar. 28th, 2018|04:07 pm]
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My forthcoming vampires-on-a-submarine novel, 100 Fathoms Below, co-written with Steven L. Kent, isn’t coming out until October, but it’s available for pre-order now!

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Books-A-Million

Powell’s

IndieBound

Or from your favorite bookseller! Order today!

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

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Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery [Mar. 23rd, 2018|07:49 am]
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Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass & SorceryRat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hilarious and delightful, Wiebe’s RAT QUEENS is a pleasant surprise. It’s got great characters and funny dialogue, and it’s about as addicting as Betty’s favorite meal of candy and drugs. I would happily follow these foul-mouthed warriors on many more alcohol-fueled adventures!

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

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New Novel Coming Out in October: 100 FATHOMS BELOW! [Mar. 22nd, 2018|03:26 pm]
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Now that Dread Central has broken the news with an exclusive cover reveal, I’m thrilled to finally be able to announce my new novel, co-written with the incomparable Steven L. Kent, 100 Fathoms Below!

100 fathoms below …

The depth at which sunlight no longer penetrates the ocean.

1983. The US nuclear submarine USS Roanoke embarks on a classified spy mission into Soviet waters. Their goal: to find evidence of a new, faster, and deadlier Soviet submarine that could tip the balance of the Cold War. But the Roanoke crew isn’t alone. Something is on board with them. Something cunning and malevolent.

Trapped in enemy territory and hunted by Soviet submarines, tensions escalate and crew members turn on each other. When the lights go out and horror fills the corridors, it will take everything the crew has to survive the menace coming from outside and inside the submarine.

In the dark.

Combining Tom Clancy’s eye for international intrigue with Stephen King’s sense of the macabre, 100 Fathoms Below takes readers into depths from which there is no escape.

Pretty cool, huh? Steve and I have been working on this in secret for quite some time, so it’s nice to finally let the world know about it! As you can see from the publisher’s website100 Fathoms Below will be hitting physical and online bookstores on October 9th in hardcover, e-book, and audio formats. I’m really excited about this one and can’t wait for you to read it!

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

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Destroyer [Mar. 15th, 2018|10:38 am]
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Victor LaValle's DestroyerVictor LaValle’s Destroyer by Victor LaValle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In just six issues, LaValle tells a captivating, unexpectedly emotional, self-contained story that mixes literature, science fiction, and the kind of family tragedy that’s all too real. (Also, you get to see Frankenstein’s monster battle a huge, heavily armed robot, which is pretty cool!) Occasionally, I wished the story were longer, even if only by one issue, because there are so many great plot threads that I would have loved to see explored further, including the monster’s own experiences and an intriguing bit about cloning that definitely could have developed into something more. What dwells at the heart of the story, though, isn’t the monster’s murderous rage at all life, but a mother’s righteous anger at the untimely, unnecessary, and unpunished death of her son. The series may be called DESTROYER, but LaValle’s message is about how important every life is, how full of promise and potential, and what a catastrophe it is for all of us when a life is cut short and that potential is never realized.

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

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The Scariest Part: Alethea Kontis Talks About BESPHINXED [Mar. 13th, 2018|07:00 am]
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My guest this week on The Scariest Part is author Alethea Kontis, whose new novel is Besphinxed. Here is the publisher’s description:

Heather Hayden has everything a young witch could desire: beauty, money, popularity, and exceptionally strong magical powers. Too bad she’s also got a dysfunctional family that couldn’t care less about her and a Head Witch who’s watching her every move. Heather has no idea what she wants. But she’s pretty sure it’s not some low-rent cat shifter boy from goddess-knows-where, despite the fact that their paths keep crossing again and again…and again.

Owen Liddell is in big trouble. A hundred years ago, a descendant of Arachne tricked him into staring into the eyes of the Great Sphinx, leaving him bespelled into the form a cat. Now Arachne’s sisters have found him again and placed one of their own as a substitute teacher at Harmswood. And if that weren’t bad enough, destiny got involved, tangling his heart up with the most popular witch in school: his best friend Kai’s sworn enemy.

Can Owen escape the evil spider sisters, thwart the spell, rescue the girl, save his friendship and pass his finals all before Zombie Prom? It seems unlikely. But unlikely things are known to happen in Nocturne Falls…

And now, let’s hear what the scariest part was for Alethea Kontis:

Besphinxed is the third book in my Harmswood Academy trilogy, written in the Nocturne Falls Universe. Kristen Painter’s original Nocturne Falls books are paranormal romantic comedies set in a town that celebrates Halloween all year round (to mask the fact that things like witches and werewolves really exist). My books were the first in the Universe geared toward young adults. So I had my work cut out for me from the get-go: Find a way to mix YA, romance, comedy, fantasy, adventure, and horror into tightly-paced short novels based in someone else’s world.

But I am a princess known for juggling the genres in a myriad of formats — these elements just happen to be the gingerbread from which my magical wheelhouse is built! (How’s that for mixing metaphors?) I took to this universe like a fairy to a wishing well. But things still popped up to surprise me during the process of writing this trilogy, and Besphinxed was no exception.

Because there were times when Heather Hayden’s character scared the hell out of me.

Heather spends the first two books as the quintessential Mean Girl of Harmswood Academy. She’s the richest, most powerful, and most popular girl in school. (She’s totally Head Cheerleader, OF COURSE.) She’s a bully to the local girls, who refer to Heather and her two besties as the “Godawful Gothwitches,” because they never wear anything but black. Heather has done some terrible things — mostly because she doesn’t care about anyone but herself — and she’s careless with her magic.

But in Besphinxed, Heather takes the spotlight and becomes the heroine of the piece. This meant I had to figure out the machinations behind WHY she did all the shocking things she did. As someone who was often ostracized and bullied by these sorts of girls in school, it wasn’t exactly a headspace I was looking to get into.

But if George R. R. Martin could create sympathy for Jamie Lannister, then by gods I could do the same for Heather Hayden.

First step: Create a terrifically dysfunctional home life.

Well, who had more troubles than Jan Brady?

So I made Heather a middle sister (because witches should always come in threes). Her older sister Taylor (*cough* Swift) would be the picture of perfection and her younger sister Katy (*cough* Perry) would be the rebellious attention-seeker. Add an absent father and a self-absorbed mother and voila! Heather is now a flawed-but-decent-enough girl raised by people who care more about their own drama than they care about her — a situation that results in Heather believing some pretty horrible things about herself.

Second step: Show how that dysfunction bleeds into Heather’s school life.

This is where the bullying reared its ugly head, as well as the acceptance of toxic masculinity for the sake of reputation…and other similarly bad choices. My goal was ultimately for Heather to recognize the difference between healthy relationships and bad ones, and to begin learning how to tell the difference.

My goal was NOT to look in the mirror and suddenly see Heather looking back.

Authors write what we know. It’s difficult to write a hero or heroine that doesn’t resemble ourselves in some small way. But I did not expect to see so much of myself in Heather. I ended up in some bad relationships before I learned to recognize what was good for me. (I totally made some bad choices based on those, too.) I am the middle of three sisters in my family, right between the perfect eldest and the rebel youngest. I grew up with an absent father and a challenging mother.

I found myself crying when I wrote the chapter where Heather visits her family in Vermont — her happy place. MY happy place. It was like a razor blade that cut right to the bone, so sharp and quick that I didn’t notice until it had already happened.

I came from a background just like Heather’s. I invented the petri dish that had grown Heather, but after doing so, I realized that same sort of petri dish had grown me as well.

Maybe those Mean Girls of my childhood weren’t the monsters I had imagined, so far removed from my own precious world. If fate had dotted her Is and crossed her Ts a little differently, I might have been that Mean Girl.

And maybe, in the story of someone else’s life, I was.

Dear gods.

What a horrifying thought.

Besphinxed: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iTunes

Alethea Kontis: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Patreon / YouTube

New York Times bestselling author Alethea Kontis is a princess, a voice actress, a force of nature, and a mess. She is responsible for creating the epic fairytale fantasy realm of Arilland, and dabbling in a myriad of other worlds beyond. Her award-winning writing has been published for multiple age groups across all genres. Host of “Princess Alethea’s Fairy Tale Rants” and Princess Alethea’s Traveling Sideshow every year at Dragon Con, Alethea also narrates for ACX, IGMS, Escape Pod, Pseudopod, and Cast of Wonders. Born in Vermont, Alethea currently resides on the Space Coast of Florida with her teddy bear, Charlie.

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

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Backward Masking Unmasked [Mar. 11th, 2018|10:24 am]
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Backward Masking Unmasked: Backward Satanic Messages of Rock and Roll ExposedBackward Masking Unmasked: Backward Satanic Messages of Rock and Roll Exposed by Jacob Aranza
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Despite the title, Jacob Aranza’s inane 1983 “exposé” of Satanic messages in rock and roll doesn’t spend much time on the backward messages supposedly hidden in all the popular albums of the time. Instead, Aranza chooses to spend the majority of his word count detailing salacious, absurd, and wildly inaccurate rumors about the songs and bands themselves. “There’s a revival going on in Satan’s kingdom,” Aranza writes breathlessly, “and music is his tool.” He goes on to warn the reader, “Young man, that rock music is from the devil! Those loud guitars and that jungle beat are from the pit of hell! You stay away from that stuff!” Rock and roll may be the music of rebellion, but “CAUTION: The end of rebellion is always death.” (Interestingly, since we are all mortal, the end of obedience is always death, too.) Here are some of my other favorite excerpts:

“The [sic] Queen’s top song ‘We Are the Champions’ is the unofficial national anthem for gays (homosexuals) in America.”

“[The Rolling Stones’] song ‘Satanic Majesty’s Request’ [is] the unofficial anthem for all satanic churches.” Later, he makes the exact same claim about their song “Sympathy for the Devil.” There sure are a lot of unofficial anthems for gays and Satanists! Also, “The Stones’ album title Get Yer Ya-Yas Out is based on a phrase which recurs frequently in African voodoo.” And here you thought it was just about boobs!

“One thing is sure, ‘Hotel California’ is not a place where you or I should spend any day or night! This Southern California group’s country-rock blend may at first sound harmless. But continued listening could become harmful. Don’t forget, BIRDS OF A FEATHER FLOCK TOGETHER!”

“[Alice Cooper’s] hits include. . .‘Working Up a Sweat’ which is a song about working up a sweat during the act of sex.”

“Led Zeppelin is no stairway to heaven but rather, if you pardon the expression, on the HIGHWAY TO HELL!. . .[But] there is a real stairway to heaven — through the cross of Jesus Christ.”

“AC/DC means bisexual.”

“The symbol that [Blue Oyster Cult] use as their trademark, which is a cross with a question mark, can only be an anti-Christ symbol questioning what happened at the cross.”

“Ritchie Blackmore’s music and message are certainly not that of a rainbow but rather a ‘Lake of Fire.’”

“Rumours may be the hit album for Fleetwood Mac, but it is no rumor that this group is indulging in the occult; it is the bare facts.”

“Mind control [in Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2’]? They have it over the minds of millions of young people as they encourage rebellion against authority in the school classrooms.”

“A better name couldn’t have been given to [the Grateful Dead] to describe their music. I’m sure many will be grateful when their music is dead.”

“Hall ’N Oates [sic] often impersonate women and attempt to come across to their audiences as women.” Also, “Daryl Hall is a follower of Aleister Crowley.”

“A warning about those interested in flying with Jefferson Starship: their flight pattern ends in death.”

“Unnatural sex is the theme of REO Speedwagon’s album Hi Infidelity.”

“[Elton John’s] song ‘Bitch is Back’ is about sniffing glue.”

But don’t worry, Aranza tells us, if you love good music there are now many excellent Christian acts that can take the place of these deplorable rock and roll bands. “There are no more good excuses why Christian young people cannot hear good quality music about the ‘Rock that never rolls’. . .Jesus Christ.” Never one to let a bad pun die, Aranza writes of these Christian bands, “Christ has put their feet on the Rock and their names on the roll!”

Unsurprisingly, there are plenty of incidents in the book that further display a lack of fact-checking: “Jim Steinman, or as he is commonly called, ‘Meat Loaf.’” Jim Steinman is not Meat Loaf. “KISS (Kid’s In Satan’s Service).” Nope. And who can forget that famous lead singer of the Eagles “Ron Henley”? Or Kenneth Anger’s film “Lucifer’s Rising”?

In case you were wondering if Aranza’s conservative evangelicalism would take a predictable turn into racism — fear not, it does! In a chapter discussing his own life, including a childhood filled with the horrors of rock music, drugs, and divorced parents, he writes, “As if all this wasn’t bad enough, they had just started integration in schools.” Aranza attended a school where white children were in the minority, which he describes as a twisted, violent hellscape. “We began to have race riots. All the blacks were running around saying, ‘We’s [sic] want black power.’ The Mexicans were running around saying, ‘Hey dude, we want Chicano power.’ The whites were just running around saying, ‘We want OUT!’” I suppose growing up with all those political protests — sorry, I mean “race riots” — it was hard not to see Satan everywhere.

This slim volume is a quick read and good for a laugh, if nothing else. However, when I was finished I also read it backward. Imagine my shock when I discovered that when read backward the book clearly states, “Jacob Aranza is a self-righteous and easily misguided imbecile who wants to use religion to control people’s lives so he can feel powerful and important.” CAUTION: Jacob Aranza is the real Bitch who’s Back because he is clearly sniffing glue!

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

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