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Good News for “The Fire and the Stag” [Sep. 15th, 2019|02:07 pm]
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I’m thrilled to announce that my story “The Fire and the Stag” is included in Ellen Datlow’s extended recommended reading list for The Best Horror of the Year, Vol. 11!

“The Fire and the Stag” appeared in Black Static #63, which you can pick up here.

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

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The Glittering World [Sep. 13th, 2019|03:17 pm]
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The Glittering World: A Book Club Recommendation!The Glittering World: A Book Club Recommendation! by Robert Levy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The story of a young man returning to the place of his birth only to discover he was abducted as a child, although he has no memory of it, takes a supernatural turn in Robert Levy’s dark, sexy debut novel. A melancholy, thorny take on changelings and the Fae, Levy gives us four complex, indelible characters in Blue, Elisa, Jason, and Gabe, each of whom has their own secrets, their own desires, and their own way of coping with the strange and frightening circumstances that have befallen them. Levy wisely presents the Fae without too many overt details, implying that they are something language is inadequate at describing, which keeps the supernatural element satisfyingly mysterious and otherworldly throughout. Neither good nor evil, both beautiful and horrible, representing both complete freedom and the complete submission of will, Levy’s Fae are an incredible and compelling achievement, as is the novel itself. Highly recommended.

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

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Growing Things and Other Stories [Aug. 28th, 2019|03:27 pm]
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Growing Things and Other StoriesGrowing Things and Other Stories by Paul Tremblay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paul Tremblay’s tour-de-force story collection is a must-read, not just for existing Tremblay fans (the good news for those who’ve read his previous, small-press collections is that there’s only a small amount of overlap here), but also for fans of smart, literate stories that are more interested in evoking emotions from the reader than in tying things up in a nice, easy bow. Tremblay trades in the chilling and the unsettling, not in gore, violence, or classic a-monster-comes-to-town tales (although he does play with that trope in the story “Our Town’s Monster”). As a result, each of these nineteen stories will leave you feeling off balance and uneasy, concerned about the stability of the world around you and everything you thought you knew.

It’s hard to choose favorites from such a consistently excellent collection, but a few of the stories did stick out for me. One was the novella “Notes from the Dog Walkers,” one of two originals in this collection, in which a horror writer named Paul ___ hires a dog walking service. Each dog walker leaves a note for him afterward detailing how the walk went. Only, the notes get longer, darker, more intrusive, more passive-aggressive toward Paul and his success as an author, and weirdly personal as time goes on. I really enjoyed how Tremblay builds the slow escalation over the course of the story, leading to a very creepy ending. “Something About Birds” is another standout for me, a hallucinatory, surreal story that reminds me of the best, most ambiguous parts of the movie EYES WIDE SHUT, while also allowing Tremblay to articulate the power of ambiguity in fiction through the protagonist’s interviews with the reclusive author William Wheatley. I felt a deep connection to the story “Her Red Right Hand” as well, with its beautifully related message that creativity and imagination can help you get through an emotionally difficult time.

One word of warning, at least for the hardcover edition: Because Tremblay’s stories are so much more than the sum of their parts, and because they are designed to leave the reader with an emotional response rather than a plot revelation, the synopses of some of the stories on the flap copy are atrocious. There’s a far richer experience waiting for you in these pages than those synopses would lead you to believe.

Tremblay’s work continues to excel. I second Adam Neville’s blurb: “Paul Tremblay is one of the key writers who have made modern horror exciting again.” Read GROWING THINGS and experience why.

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

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My NecronomiCon Providence 2019 Schedule [Aug. 19th, 2019|08:26 am]
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NecronomiCon Providence is coming up this weekend, August 22nd – 25th in Providence, Rhode Island! Here is my program schedule:

Friday, August 23rd

10:30 AM – 11:45 AM AUTHOR READINGS — L’Apogee, Graduate 17th Floor
Catherine Grant, Nicholas Kaufmann, Robert Levy, Douglas E. Winter

6:00 PM – 7:15 PM THE WEIRD ON A BLACK AND WHITE SCREEN: CLASSIC WEIRD TELEVISION — Washington-Newport Room, Omni 3rd Floor
The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Kolchak the Night Stalker — For decades, classic television brought the weird into living rooms across America. Our panelists explore the classic era of weird television. What did they do well and not so well? How did they influence generations of creators and fans of weird fiction, cinema, and television?
Panelists: Nicholas Kaufmann (M), Gwendolyn Kiste, Pete Rawlik, Alan Tromp, Joe Zannella

Sunday, August 25th

10:30 AM – 11:45 AM ENDLESS DARKNESS, ENDLESS CHAOS, ENDLESS WAR: THE COSMIC HORROR OF THE WARHAMMER UNIVERSE – Biltmore Ballroom, Graduate 17th Floor
The Warhammer universe is as vast as it is grim, positing cosmic horror on a scale that boggles the imagination. Whether played out in the Age of Sigmar fantasy setting or the million embattled worlds of 40K, humanity is doomed to conflict against alien races, malign supernatural powers, and malevolent gods with a distinct Mythos flavor. For over thirty years, Games Workshop has produced and licensed wargames, RPGs, video games, fiction, and film, all of which share the Warhammer world view. Our expert panel discusses the philosophical themes of the Warhammer Universe, their expression in the games, and how they relate to the work of HPL.
Panelists: John Goodrich, Niels Hobbs (M), Nicholas Kaufmann, Mike Mason, Molly Tanzer

You can see the full program schedule here. Looking forward to seeing you in Providence!

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

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100 FATHOMS BELOW Nominated for a Dragon Award! [Aug. 7th, 2019|05:37 pm]
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Friends, I’m delighted to inform you that 100 Fathoms Below is up for a 2019 Dragon Award in the Best Horror Novel category!

You can see the full ballot here.

I fully expect Grady Hendrix’s masterful We Sold Our Souls to win, but it’s an honor just to make the ballot. Voting is open to the public, even if you’re not attending Dragon Con, so if you feel like voting for 100 Fathoms Below, please do! Instructions can be found at the link above.

Also, please consider voting for my pal David Mack’s awesome novel The Iron Codex in Best Alternate History Novel!

Thank you for your consideration!

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

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2019 Scares That Care Weekend Charity Event [Jul. 23rd, 2019|09:05 am]
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In just about two weeks, from Friday, August 2nd to Sunday, August 4th, I will be at the 2019 Scares That Care Weekend Charity Event, selling and signing books as an Author Guest. I will also be on a couple of program items, so here’s where you can find me when I’m not in the Celebrity Room:

Saturday, August 3rd 

3:00 PM – 3:45 PM — Paul Tremblay and Nicholas Kaufmann: Reading and Q&A

4:00 PM – 4:45 PM — THE BUSINESS OF WRITING: So, you’ve sold your first novel or story. What happens next? How do you turn this into a career? Find out with John Boden (moderator), Jonathan Maberry, Josh Malerman, Elizabeth Massie, Nick Mamatas, Nicholas Kaufmann, and Wrath James White.

You can see the full weekend schedule for author events here. This is my first time attending the Scares That Care Weekend Charity Event, and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone there!

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

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The Last Astronaut [Jul. 22nd, 2019|07:08 pm]
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The Last AstronautThe Last Astronaut by David Wellington
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An excellent, well-crafted novel that mixes science fiction and horror with masterful results, THE LAST ASTRONAUT is full of adventure, mystery, and terror. In some ways, it reminds me of Jeff VanderMeer’s ANNIHILATION, with its human characters trying to make sense of completely alien surroundings, and in other ways it reminds me of a haunted house story, where the farther our characters explore, the more its secrets are revealed — sometimes terrible, sometimes awe-inspiring, and sometimes inexplicable. David Wellington has done a fantastic job not just with his use of realistic science but also with creating something so completely alien that it seems insurmountably unknowable. I hope this novel gets the attention it deserves. It’s one of Wellington’s best yet.

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

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The Scariest Part: Mark Sheldon Talks About SARAH KILLIAN: THE MULLETS OF MADNESS [Jul. 9th, 2019|07:00 am]
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This week on The Scariest Part, my guest is author Mark Sheldon, whose new novel is Sarah Killian: The Mullets of MadnessHere is the publisher’s description:

Have you ever woken one morning with a burning, insatiable desire to go out and kill someone?

Sarah Killian, notorious serial killer for hire, and cohort assassin, Mary Sue Keller, are back on assignment for the Trusted Hierarchy of Everyday Murderers (T.H.E.M.) After receiving an ominous warning from a mark-gone-wrong, it becomes clear that Nick Jin — Sarah’s former nemesis — is still at large and singling Sarah out.

Sarah and Mary Sue are dispatched to Tennessee to discreetly kill off an accused family of KKK organizers, but their true mission is to lure Nick Jin into a trap. But will Nick Jin — who always seems several steps of T.H.E.M. — see their bait for what it is? Either way, one thing is guaranteed: blood will be shed.

In the spirit of Sidney Sheldon, Dean Koontz, and Joss Whedon, The Mullets of Madness is a truly unique blend of horror, suspense, and espionage.

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

When I wrote the first book of the Sarah Killian series, Sarah Killian: Serial Killer for Hire, it was not an easy headspace to get into. Being a violent sociopath, Sarah is not exactly a pleasant corner of my psyche to explore. And the fact that it was written in first-person narrative made it even harder to disassociate myself from the character and her point of view. I had to take frequent breaks from writing the first book to work on other projects just to clear my head and get into a healthier head-space, so to speak.

The second Sarah Killianbook, The Mullets of Madness, went much smoother — I wrote it in one go without taking any breaks — probably partly because Sarah’s targets in this book were alleged KKK members as opposed to high school students, so her moral justification was slightly easier to swallow.

So, for my own sanity if nothing else, I tend to try to steer away from the introspective analysis of where Sarah comes from in my mind. It’s also why I gave her such a snarky edge — she had to be someone that you hate to love, otherwise she just wouldn’t be readable.

That said, Mullets of Madness lent itself some nice opportunities for gore as I expanded on the world that Sarah lives in, and one in particular comes immediately to mind.

In the first book, we learned that Sarah works for a secret organization of professional killers for hire — the Trusted Hierarchy of Everyday Murderers (T.H.E.M.) T.H.E.M. contracts Professional Serial Killers (P.S.K.’s) such as Sarah to perform covert contractual killings. When on assignment, Sarah will be placed into a community for months — sometimes years — at a time establishing two separate personalities: the “dupe” persona, the everyday person she pretends to be while on assignment, and the profile of the “killer,” who will commit the murders and then disappear at the end of the mission, to be forever labeled an unsolved crime. The covert necessity of Sarah’s assignments makes the Sarah Killian books a unique blend of slasher horror and espionage.

In The Mullets of Madness, I got to explore what happens when T.H.E.M. needs to dispose of a body that they don’t want to be found. While on assignment, Sarah gets attacked in her hotel room by an agent of her nemesis, excommunicated T.H.E.M. assassin Nick Jin. Sarah manages to thwart the attempt on her life but is left with the inconvenience of a corpse that the hotel’s housekeepers undoubtedly would have some questions about.

Fortunately, T.H.E.M. is always prepared. I admit I took an unhealthy macabre delight with inventing the Bond-esque gadgets that T.H.E.M.’s extraction team utilized to dispose of the inconvenient hotel room corpse — in fact it’s one of my favorite examples from both books of how horror and espionage can be blended together.

The morning after Sarah’s attempted assassination, two inconspicuous, blond-haired, blue-eyed, business-suited men with briefcases arrive at Sarah’s hotel room — the Yuppy Aryan Twins, as Sarah refers to them. While Sarah nonchalantly watches Saw on pay-per-view, the Yuppy Aryan Twins proceed to remove various tools and gadgets out of their briefcases, which they then use to dismantle the corpse, piece by piece. After each body part is removed the Yuppy Aryan Twins place the appendage into a device similar to those vacuum-suck-storage bags you can buy on infomercials, except these are a little more heavy-duty than the as-seen-on-TV models. With the T.H.E.M. model, you place an average-sized foot into the bag, and the vacuum compresses it down to the size of a tennis ball, which can be easily transported off of the hotel property without raising suspicion and properly disposed of elsewhere. Then all that’s needed is a bit of cleanup, and not even a Dateline blacklight would yield any clue that anything had happened in that hotel room.

Despite the difficulties with getting into the right headspace for Sarah, writing these books has been a rewarding experience and I look forward to further exploring how horror and espionage can be merged in the next book.

Sarah Killian: The Mullets of Madness: Amazon / Facebook page

Mark Sheldon: Facebook / Amazon Author Page

Mark Sheldon is the author of the Sarah Killian series, Sarah Killian: Serial Killer for Hire! and Sarah Killian: The Mullets of MadnessPrior to Sarah Killian, Mr. Sheldon has self-published Mores of the Maelstrom, a collection of short stories, and The Noricin Chronicles, a twelve-part sci-fi novel series that could be best described as a combination of Harry Potter, The X-Men, and The Da Vinci Code. Mr. Sheldon lives in Southern California with his wife, Betsy.

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

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My Necon 39 Schedule [Jul. 8th, 2019|08:45 am]
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It’s almost time for Necon 39! From July 18th through July 21st, I will be returning to the famed “summer camp for horror writers” in Portsmouth, Rhode Island for my 18th year! Here’s my schedule while I’m there:

Friday, July 19th

9:00 a.m.     Mini-Golf (a Necon Olympic Event)
I won the gold medal in mini-golf last year, and I look forward to defending my title!

8:00 p.m.     Meet the Authors Party
I’ll be signing books all night, and will have a small selection of titles on hand to sell as well.

Saturday, July 20th

4:30 p.m.     It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! Writing Superheroes in the 21st Century
Rachel Autumn Deering, Christopher Golden, Carol Gyzander, Nicholas Kaufmann (M), Errick Nunnally, Charles Rutledge
Following with this theme, Superman’s tagline used to be, “Truth, Justice, and the American Way,” a phrase that could be interpreted very differently today. Yet superheroes aren’t just persisting in 2019, they’re thriving. Our authors tell us how.

9:00 p.m.     The Infamous Necon Roast
Once again Jeff Strand and I will be co-hosting the annual Necon Roast. Who will be sitting in the hot seat this year? You’ll have to be there to find out!

Sunday, July 21st

11:00 a.m.     Necon Town Meeting
Come tell me and the rest of the convention committee what we did right, what we did wrong, and what you’d like to see next year.

I helped put together the panels again this year, and I’m very proud of how they turned out. Click here to see the full Necon 39 program.

See you at Necon!

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

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The Scariest Part: Daniel P. Coughlin Talks About SATANIC PANIC [Jul. 2nd, 2019|07:00 am]
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This week on The Scariest Part, my guest is author Daniel P. Coughlin, whose new novel is Satanic PanicHere is the publisher’s description:

Satanic Panic, a mass hysteria created in the nineteen-eighties, has returned to a small college town in the Midwest. Ritualistic murders and the presence of the occult have bled below the surface of the town in the form of icy accidents and other coincidences. And when three lifelong friends find themselves on the radar of a killer — and leader of a satanic cult — they must fight for what’s good without being seduced by the evil that possesses their campus.

And now, let’s hear what the scariest part was for Daniel P. Coughlin:

Satanic Panic is a book about the progression and lineage of sin from inception to seduction to destruction. The scariest part about this book was presenting characters that make a steep departure from morality, but that a reader can still sympathize with and follow along their journey. Creating protagonists that need to be quickly connectable before being presented with moral conflict is not easy. The perception of Satanic Panic’s characters is left to you, dear reader, but know that many frustrating hours went into the “what if’s” of creating compelling characters that are flawed by age, new freedoms and basic biology.

The central characters are three friends who grew up together, Brock, Lance, and Brianna. Since an early age they’ve shared just about everything and are now budding into adulthood. Their bond is tight, but their bodies are developing sexually and they know each other too well to ignore their lustful thoughts. Honesty is something that they honor deeply and therefore, as maturing young adults, they will initiate the topic of lust and romantic feelings for each other. Quickly, they concede that attraction exists. Can they experiment without cracking the foundation of their bond, or should they suppress their secret desires?

The layering and complexities of pulling off a three-way sexual experience without insulting the reader’s sensibilities was a challenge especially since the conflict is presented very early in the book. Translating my vision into an effective experience for the reader was daunting. Good people conducting extraordinarily bad behavior is the basis of much storytelling, but crafting the complex nature of a relationship into a violent story needed finesse and precision. Wanting the reader to understand the devolving morality was key in understanding the voice of this piece. Evil is real. Evil is hungry. Evil will take everything. Before this evil devours the soul it shows its innocent attributes. “Its just sex, we’re being mature about it” segues into “who said this was wrong?” Once the characters lose their sense of morality their souls become subject to attack, both metaphorical and literal. Designing this kind of a relationship into the structure of a story about a murderous satanic cult was another terrifying strain.

College age loss of innocence paired with satanic sacrifice is a pretty blunt story idea so the book needed forms of relief at times. Dark humor seemed to fit. Flawed human beings self-destructing can be comedic.

So long as it’s you we’re talking about and not me.

Satanic Panic: Amazon / Powell’s / IndieBound

Daniel P. Coughlin: Website / Twitter

After graduating from high school in Watertown, Wisconsin, Daniel P. Coughlin joined the United States Marine Corps and served four and half years as an infantry Machinegunner in an Amphibious Raider Unit (Fox 2/4). After being Honorably discharged, Daniel attended and graduated from California State University at Long Beach. While studying screenwriting under the mentorship of acclaimed writer Brian Alan Lane, he also interned and served as a script analyst for his favorite director, Wes Craven. Daniel is the author of six novels and an anthology of short fiction. Daniel is a proud member of the Horror Writer’s Association (Los Angeles chapter). He holds a professional certificate in Technical and Professional Writing from Cal State Dominguez Hills and a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Full Sail University.

 

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

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