Strange Aeons Magazine – new story

Laird Barron has said (and I paraphrase) that you can’t choose what readers see in your work. I think a writer is fortunate to find an audience, and no matter how you might wish to be characterized, people will label what you do as they find it.

The Skillute Cycle (Knock Knock, Delphine Dodd, Astoria, and In the Light) was a challenge to write. Throughout the project I felt slightly out of my element, creating a town with a complex history and mythology, describing a rural setting and portraying characters who never left that setting. My research was extensive and it paid off in the form of another book not connected to the Skillute Cycle.

Muscadines was a story I’d been toying with for a long time, in various forms, but I didn’t have the background material to complete it until I finished writing those other four books. Once I was done with the Skillute Cycle it only took two weeks to write Muscadines.

I’m grateful for every book sold, and every review. Yet after all that time in the heat and claustrophobia of impoverished rural settings I was itching to do something else.

My recent novel, I Wish I Was Like You, might not appeal to a few of the readers who enjoyed the Skillute Cycle. But I hope most of the people who take a chance on it will find it dark and funny, an existential ghost story centering on a highly unlikable yet recognizable protagonist.

If you do like IWIWLY, I think you might also enjoy “Vigilance. Sacrifice.” in the current issue of Strange Aeons Magazine. Set in the near future in a Pacific Northwest city given over to a lucrative tourist trade, “Vigilance. Sacrifice.” is about a woman employed to track down and dispose of certain displaced creatures who feed upon the city’s paying visitors.

As soon as I finished revising the story I had an idea for a sequel. But I’ll take a step back and see if my new story finds an audience. If it does, it’s thanks to Kelly Young and Justin Steele, who edit this wonderful magazine. Here’s a sample of the story. I hope you’ll order a copy of the issue. In addition to my story it features fiction by Philip Fracassi, Robert Levy, and Todd T. Castillo–and a great cover by multimedia artist Meredith Paeper. Happy reading!

“This is what you were born to do?” Calvin asks me, and laughs. “Hiding in the grass at night, among the cat shit and beer piss?”

Note our surroundings, a bank of weeds and wildflowers under a waning moon. I’m here against my better judgment.

“This one’s on you,” I remind him.

We’ve staked out the spot where Calvin and his first partner were ambushed three months ago. We’re chasing shadows on our own time, for no pay. The bureau doesn’t discourage vendettas or underwrite them. If they covered revenge stalking, they might go broke. We’re losing about six people every season.

Calvin’s former partner may be entitled to vengeance, but he isn’t around tonight. The guy lost his spleen and a kidney. Took an early retirement as soon as he got out of the hospital. By comparison, Calvin’s physical sacrifice is nothing. But he’s morose as hell about it. Nursing a grudge by exaggerating the injury.

“Let’s just say I like my job,” I tell him. Settling down on a flat rock. Both relaxed and alert. My right thumb surveying the edge of my holster. “And I’m good at it.”

— excerpt from “Vigilance. Sacrifice.” (Strange Aeons Magazine #21)



Author copies of IWIWLY

These arrived today from my publisher, JournalStone.


I have no idea how many readers will be drawn to the dark corners and rainswept streets of I Wish I Was Like You. The title is borrowed from an enigmatic Nirvana song. The protagonist is an unreliable narrator who borrows a career and sets out to wreck her nemesis–out of envy, boredom, and a craving for undeserved attention. Not your typical young heroine.

“This biting, sly gem of a novel shouldn’t be missed.”  –  Publishers Weekly starred review

“Her prose is at times delicate and poetic, yet can turn as sharp and deadly as the stroke of a knife through flesh.” – Michelle Garza, This Is Horror

“Gritty and insightful, funny and despairing by turns. Refreshing to read some balls-deep outsider fiction again.”  –  Adam Nevill, author of Some Will Not Sleep: Selected Horrors



Shirley Jackson Award Winners & British Fantasy Award Nominees

Congratulations to all of this year’s Shirley Jackson Award nominees and winners, and to the British Fantasy Award nominees! Two great lists, typical of both awards. You can count on the Shirley Jackson Award jury and board of advisors and the British Fantasy Society to locate noteworthy and fascinating new work every year.

This year I was honored to be one of the SJA nominees in the novella category, for Muscadines (published by Dunhams Manor Press). This is the category won by Victor LaValle for his brilliant, celebrated novella, The Ballad of Black Tom.

“LaValle’s novella of sorcery and skullduggery in Jazz Age New York is a magnificent example of what weird fiction can and should do.”
― Laird Barron, author of The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All

The Ballad of Black Tom ( Publishing) is one of NPR’s Best Books of 2016, winner of a This is Horror Award for Novella of the Year, and a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and Bram Stoker Awards. The book is also a nominee for a BFA. Winners will be announced at FantasyCon 2017, at the Bull Hotel, Peterborough, 29th September – 1st October.

Release Day for I Wish I Was Like You

The day has arrived! My new novel, I Wish I Was Like You, is now available. You can purchase the book directly from the publisher, JournalStone. If you buy the print edition the publisher will throw in a bonus–a free digital edition in the format of your choice (mobi for Kindle, PDF, or ePub). Or you can buy the paperback or the Kindle edition (priced very modestly) via Amazon.

Here’s what people are saying about the book.

“Gritty and insightful, funny and despairing by turns. Refreshing to read some balls-deep outsider fiction again.” – Adam Nevill, author of Some Will Not Sleep: Selected Horrors

“Her prose is at times delicate and poetic, yet can turn as sharp and deadly as the stroke of a knife through flesh.” – Michelle Garza, This Is Horror

“This biting, sly gem of a novel shouldn’t be missed.” – Publishers Weekly Starred Review


Hellnotes Interview

Thanks to Gordon White for asking such excellent questions in this Hellnotes interview. We talked about I Wish I Was Like You (due from JournalStone on July 7th), the novel’s origins and my connections to the Pacific Northwest.

During the period in which I Wish I Was Like You is set, there were ongoing clashes between people who imagined a much bigger city where they could make a lot more money, and people who realized that the gentility of their circumstances would soon be destroyed by the affluence of more ambitious residents. I found these juxtapositions fascinating. I’ve tried to portray this sense of a location sliding inexorably toward a different way of life, and the strange loneliness of people caught between these worlds.