Wild Fell, by Michael Rowe
Worthy of the Shirley Jackson award and then some, I’m very glad I’d taken Sean Moreland’s advice (and of the ChiZine crew) and picked this up. I love a good ghost story and now I’ve been able to read one of the contemporary best. Based in Alvina, Ontario, it has a special resonance since I’m from the north and did have an ancestor named Alvina. Always thought that was a pretty name and wondered if it were a pretty place…
According to Wild Fell it may be but it’s also terribly haunted. Haunted in that way all small towns can be. The mansion itself, Wild Fell proper, is right up at the top of the list of fine literary haunted houses now. Rowe is also now at the top of my list of fine Canadian authors too.
Recently I’ve been participating in a workshop group of writers. It’s been really helpful already. Just having others work to dissect, new stories to dig into, and some feedback on my own work. Precious. I’d spent most of my learning to write by reading wonderful stuff like Wild Fell. Maybe a little too much reading and not enough writing, but that feels like splitting hairs. Between having some really great new authors writing this new dark weird and some of them to toss ideas around with, I feel much better equipped in my own work lately. It’s a nice feeling to have.
Two wonderful horror anthologies came out last week; Gutted, and Madhouse. Of the two, I opted for one in print and one digital. The amount of really good, if not truly important, horror books coming out is cost prohibitive at best. Impossible to keep up with at worst. Anthologies offer a dessert platter and these two up the ante by being illustrated. That was the shiny sparkle I loved about being published in Postscripts To Darkness, as having a story illustrated is a near magical and humbling thing for an author. Tied for first with hearing another person read your work out loud.
Gutted is getting a lot of press. Like, a Lot of press. It has an impressive list of contributors and lovely cover art. I figure is has a lot of traction so I opted for the ebook figuring I may find a print version someday.
Madhouse, however, has been a lurking quiet release. It’s not all over my social media but damn, madness is my wheelhouse so I ordered the print version. With an equally impressive roster of authors, it strikes me as somewhat darker. Since I had such a good time with the John Skipp edited collection ‘Psychos’, then ‘Madness’ should push all those same hidden buttons.
There seems to be a real boom at the moment in horror anthologies, not only in submission calls, but in real quality books on shelves. If you’ve complained in the past of picking up something that only has one gem among coal then these should tap that vein. If not, there is always The Best Horror of the Year where my favourite editor Tobin Elliot (who helped in polishing Nightface and two thirds of Pray Lied Eve) gets a mention for his story in Expiration Date – another fine anthology itself.
Three days of following and participating in this past weekend’s writers conference have come to a close. Since it was uncommonly busy for me being on Halloween I opted to not bring books or promotional materials as a way of simplifying. Seeing as I did get to spend almost enough time reading and watching scary movies as I wanted, it all worked out even though I wasn’t present in the dealers room or at after-parties.
To further ease that, here is a list of some of the books and podcasts mentioned in the panels I was on. This conference offers some really great workshops, panels and reading from mainly fantasy and science fiction work, but does have some really rich horror content. Often these genres are blended and as much as I’d love a horror-only event such as this, having Can-Con here in Ottawa makes it so easily accessible.
Horror Reading panel:
- Psychos: Serial Killers, Depraved Madmen and the Criminally Insane, edited by John Skipp – specifically ‘Jesse’ by Steve Rasnic Tem and ‘Life With Father’ by Bentley Little on Amazon
- The New Black: A Neo-Noir Anthology, edited by Richard Thomas – specifically ‘Father, Son, Holy Rabbit’ by Stephen Graham Jones on Amazon
- Carnal Surgery, by Edward Lee, a collection of gory and boundary-pushing short stories on Amazon
- People Live Still in Cashtown Corners, by Tony Burgess on Amazon
- Something Red podcast
- This Is Horror podcast
- Horror Writer’s Association new releases
- The Wicked Library episode Bad Shepherd by Lydia Peever
Ghost Story panel:
- Ghosts by Hans Holzer, if not his entire body of work on Amazon
- Growing up Haunted by Alexandra Holzer, Hans’ daughter on Amazon
- Summer, Fireworks, and My Corpse by Otsuichi, on Amazon
- The Entity by Frank De Felitta, on Amazon and the film from 1980 to be remade by James Wan
- Kettle Whistle Radio episode 35 Talkin’ Ghosts and the episode 118 where we discuss The Entity
In both I mentioned the podcast I co-host with Wes Knipe, Dead Air, part of splatterpictures.net and my favourite horror film and discussion podcast Bind Torture Kast. The stories I’ve written that were mentioned can be found in my small collection Pray Lied Eve, and the West Pigeon Press anthology For When The Veil Drops. For other works, check out my Amazon author page or find me on Goodreads.