Well, folks — it looks like I drank too much whiskey last night and hit the publish button on my new novella, Abraham Road. It’s now available exclusively on Amazon and will probably remain so for the next ninety days.
I think it’s great. I was trying to hold off and get it published in a real magazine somewhere, but … I couldn’t wait. It’s October. It’s scary story season.
Also, I love this book, and I couldn’t wait for people to read it. I keep saying it’s like what would happen if H. P. Lovecraft rewrote Of Mice and Men.
Sometimes it took weeks before he found another one that worked. He was a big man with plenty of scars. No one could ever look at his face and say he wasn’t terrifying, so he looked for the ones who would hate their own suspicions–the ones he could reassure with a smile.
Hold the door, please, he would say, coming up behind them as they entered their buildings, I know I look scary, but please don’t judge me.
And then to strike the right sheepish note, a disarming awkwardness as they shared an elevator ride or moved up the stairs together. All it took was a flinch, just the right amount of defensive posturing, and he would keep walking, move past, up another flight of stairs, his quarry safely below, unlocking her door, ducking inside, closing him out.
Above, he would wait, longing, his breath quick. His need voracious. Such nights as those, he would need a boy–the filthy one with the chipped teeth the others kept for him in the place on Roosevelt Island. Then he’d sit with the other Deermen in the brown room with the green carpet. He would have ice cream with them. He would share some with the boy, but not too much.
“You don’t want to get fat,” he would say to him. “Do you?”
A few days later, he would try again. And sometimes, his quarry and he would be alone, and she would be calm, perfectly calm, unthreatening, and he would follow her all the way to the door, putting on his pink candy gloves, the fabric soft, pleasing, and he would pull out the polished wooden dowel. She would be unconscious before she could think to herself, Should’ve known.
Now he watched the woman sleep. She had a small child’s chair in her bedroom she seemed to use for her dirty gym clothes. He’d moved those aside. Pulled the chair up. Sat in it, made it minuscule, and watched her sleep on her bed.
His pink candy gloves hot on his knees.
A few moments later, he reached out and put one hand over her mouth, another around her throat, and squeezed. She woke up, biting at the gloves. He let her bite, thinking, Go. Go on. Eat. Eat. Eat.
And beyond that, a high tide would come in of thoughts and emotions he could never tell anyone, the hidden self beneath the breaking skin. Beating against him like her fists.
Got another one in the rejected-by-McSweeney’s and the 600-words-or-less department. There really shouldn’t have been room for overlap there, since McSweeneys.net does not do short stories, as I was told this morning when the piece was rejected.
Looks like I’m going to bail on NaNoWriMo plans this year. Sorry to say it, but the ideas just weren’t there this year. Rather than force a half-baked idea, I’ve decided to focus on some short story goals and editing Ed at Eleven.
As far as the short stories go, I’ve set my sights on publication in Cemetery Dance and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. And then there’s my McSweeneys.net project, where every week I send them a new submission as soon as they reject the previous one (in my head, I call this “Andy Dufresne-ing” the editors).
Last night, I noticed there’s a contest on Lulu.com for the month of November. Publish a 600-words-or-less story through Lulu, and you can enter their short story contest. Prize is a Nook and $500. I figured I might as well, since I Held My Breath as Long as I Could featured a lot of stories around that length, and I’ve sort of gotten used to the format. Last night, I submitted my first entry, “Embrace the Ground,” available now for free on Lulu. Presumably it will eventually find its way to Amazon and iTunes. In the meantime, keep checking back here for news on additional free stories. I’m aiming to write somewhere around five of these pieces this month. Little snacks for the faithful (e)readers out there.
Maybe you’re one of the people who wondered why I Held My Breath as Long as I Could started off with one of the worst stories. Maybe you want to know more about why someone would self-publish. Maybe you’re just bored and have nothing better to do. Whatever the case, the following is an interview examining and explaining the thoughts behind the stories included in an admittedly strange collection.
It’s time for Halloween party-planning, so I figured it’s a good time to take a stroll through some of my favorite Halloween / horror film theme songs. Here goes …
13. Tales from the Crypt
Another classic theme from Danny Elfman. It was a bit of tough call which Elfman piece to go with for this article, the other strong contender being something from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Either way, no Halloween mix is complete without something from this guy.
12. The X-Files
It might’ve ended ingloriously, but this theme still recalls years of pleasant creepiness. The best episodes of The X-Files still hold up, and I’ve yet to find a good replacement for the hole left by its slow dissolution.
The song that became a cliche, and yet … it’s still fun, just like the movie. Of course, it’s also unintentionally hilarious in places, such as when Ray Parker, Jr. sings, “Bustin’ makes me feel good!” I mean, I’m sure it does, but c’mon, Ray, there are children here.
10. Unsolved Mysteries
Ever since I was a young kid, this theme has filled me with the uneasy sense that something terrible is at work in the world. It doesn’t hurt that the show was about awful things happening in the real world that were always left disturbingly unresolved.
Now it’s time to start getting a bit more scary. Christopher Young’s theme sounds exactly like the kind of horrible, revelatory stuff you’d hear playing when someone opens a gateway to Hell. Perfect for any party!
8. Pennywise the Clown Theme
Ha ha ha! C’mon, everybody loves a creepy clown theme that almost sounds like it could be a jingle for an ice cream truck. And really, I might have just loved this photo of Pennywise, one of Stephen King’s finest creations. “We all float down here …”
7. 28 Days / Weeks Later
This adaptation of “East Hastings” by Godspeed You! Black Emperor is the perfect theme for an apocalyptic nightmare spinning out of control. I listen to it all the time while I write.
Arguably the best music video ever made, I might sometimes think I don’t need to ever hear this song again … until it gets to the Vincent Price part.
5. Scream, “Red Right Hand”
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ “Red Right Hand” was on endless repeat after I saw the first Scream film. Nick Cave is really at his best writing songs about murderers. Special points awarded to the editor who timed Deputy Dewey closing the car door to one of the dramatic musical hits in this song. Nicely done!
John Carpenter not only wrote and directed a movie that spawned a franchise and gave endless fuel to the bogeyman/slasher film sub-genre, but he also created one of the single best scary movie themes ever made. This one is not only a must for a Halloween mix, it’s also probably a given.
Did I mention it’s what I programmed into my phone’s to wake me up every day?
3. Dead Man’s Bones, “My Body’s A Zombie For You”
Not technically from a movie or TV show or whatever, although it was originally planned as a kind of musical, Ryan Gosling’s odd side-project is actually amazing and perfect for Halloween. I can’t get enough of the album, and this song in particular is especially great. As if being a good-looking, talented actor wasn’t enough, Gosling has to go and make one of my favorite creepy cool albums …
2. Rosemary’s Baby
Never has a lullaby been put to such good effect. The way this theme is woven into the film through several clever variations is masterful. This is gorgeous, creepy stuff!
1. The Shining
I mean, you could try to do better than this opening music to one of the best horror films of all time.
You could try …