Friends Like These

Friends Like These…

Find yourself a community of writers and liked-minded folks who are willing to dress up like you for Halloween as a surprise. 🖤

Don’t they all look good? Black is the best color, obviously. Bonus points for the use of black and white. Double-bonus points for Drew rockin’ the all-black stealth MLB hat. Seriously though, this was sprung on me over Discord last night, and it absolutely made my Halloween evening. I’m feeling very loved today.

Thanks to Drew Gerken, Emily Earhart, J. Rushing, Richie Franklin, Scott Drakeford, and Will Munn for randomly making me feel special. Each of them are incredible people, and I’m proud to be apart of their writing community and to be able to call each of them a friend. They push me to be better every day. I recommend giving them a follow—links go to their site or to their various projects. They’re all doing amazing things.

Three Great Horror Reads for Halloween

Three Great Horror Reads for Halloween 2020

Today is spooky day! Leaves are falling. The full moon peaks out from behind rainclouds. There’s a pandemic raging through communities. Reality sorta sounds like the start of a horror novel these days. Instead of dwelling on our real-life horror, perhaps now is a good time to escape into some fictional horror. (Besides, you should be staying home, and reading is always a good excuse.)

To that end, I thought it’d be a great idea to follow my lead from last year and recommend three great horror reads for your 2020 Halloween. Since I’ve been reading horror since I was a kid, I figured I’d limit myself to books I’ve only read in the last few years. You can see my reading list for 2018 and 2019 here on my blog, and you can view my current list for 2020 over on Goodreads.

What three did I choose? Why let me show you…


In the Valley of the Sun

by Andy Davidson

I just finished this, and I was blown away. A deeply unsettling sun-baked vampire novel set in Texas that has become a new favorite. Tense in unexpected ways. Character focused and driven. Brutal. Anguished. Tormented. Bloody. Lyrical in ways that remind me of Cormac McCarthy without the weight. Davidson has a new book out this year, The Boatman’s Daughter, and after In the Valley of the Sun, it’s rocketed up my TBR list.


The Cipher

By Kathe Koja

It’s hard to categorize this one. But it’s perfect for the spooky season. Part haunted house story, part body horror, part descent into madness tale all told in the style of Transgressive Literature. The Cipher is one of those stories I was shocked I hadn’t read until this year. Koja writes stunningly physical characters and knotted complex relationships that feel eerily familiar to anyone who’s spent time in artist circles. Enjoy the Fun Hole.


The Only Good Indians

by Stephen Graham Jones

At its heart, this is a horror novel about growing up poor and native in western Montana. But The Only Good Indians also a novel about revenge, mistakes, and their extended consequences. I blew through it. I grew up not too far from where this novel is set, and I have yet to find a recent author that captures the behavior and actions of the rural poor quite as well as Jones. You’ll never look at elk the same way again.


So those three books are my picks for 2020’s Halloween reads. Funny enough, I’ve read all three this year. I think any one of them would be perfect for our extended autumn nights and a nice escape from the daily chaos of a pandemic stricken world. (And you just might learn something about humanity. All three have a lot to say about people and our behaviors, both good and bad.)

What are your favorite horror novels from the last few years? What would you recommend as a Halloween read? Leave a comment below and let everyone know!

Have a safe and happy Halloween!


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Three Great Horror Reads for Halloween 2019

Three Great Horror Reads for Halloween 2019

It’s Halloween today, the perfect time to curl up with a good scary story. I’ve been reading horror since I was a kid, and I wanted to share three of my favorites. Since I’ve read a lot of good horror, I figured it’d be best to limit myself to books I’ve read over the last few years. You can see my reading list for 2017 and 2018 here on my blog, and you can view my current list for 2019 over on Goodreads. So, what three did I choose? Why let me show you…


A Lush And Seething Hell by John Hornor JacobsA Lush And Seething Hell

by John Hornor Jacobs

I’ve just started into my reading of A Lush and Seething Hell, a book consisting of two masterful novellas of cosmic horror. The first, The Sea Dreams it was the Sky was one of my favorite books from last year [See my review here], and I’m finding myself falling into John’s beautiful and haunting prose all over again. Lyrical and evocative while remaining starkly human, I cannot wait to dive into the second story, My Heart Struck Sorrow. I’d also recommend John’s weird west series that begins with The Incorruptibles.

 


Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham JonesMapping the Interior

by Stephen Graham Jones

Jones is a modern master of horror and always approaches the genre in unique ways; Mapping the Interior is no exception. Told from 12-year old Junior’s perspective, the story is one part family-struggle and one part ghost-story all woven with a heartfelt earnestness that’s easy to believe and hard to shake. It’s a book about childhood, about family, about heritage, about legacy, and the cost and ramification of all four. The ending devastated me. I’d also recommend Jones’ Mongrels.

 


The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley JacksonThe Haunting of Hill House

by Shirley Jackson

A horror classic that I (oddly) hadn’t read until last year. This is the archetypical haunted house story that defined the genre for decades to come. You’ll recognize the tropes it established right immediately, but be drawn along by Jackson’s incredibly descriptive prose and the layer of uneasiness she weaves throughout. It’ll get under your skin, and you’ll see its fingerprints everywhere. I’d also recommend Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

 


So there are three of my favorite horror novels from the last several years. If you’re looking for something to read on a cozy and dark autumn night, you’d be hard-pressed to find better. What are your favorite horror novels from the last few years? Leave a comment below and let everyone know!

Have a safe and happy Halloween!


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

Creepy Vintage Halloween Costumes

Vintage Halloween Costumes Were Creepy

For the last few years, I’ve been collecting old photos of vintage Halloween costumes—early to mid-19th century, mainly. Despite their earnestness, there’s something deeply unsettling about many of them. The homespun approach only seems to amplify their eerieness, and I find that delightful. That’s not something modern costumes have really been able to replicate.

Since it’s 2019’s spooky month, I sorted through my collection and assembled my favorite for a gallery. None of the photos below are mine. Most are old enough they should be in the public domain. If something looks or seems amiss, please let me know, and I’ll happily correct it. You can click on any photo to view it larger.

If you enjoy these images and want to see more, I highly recommend checking out Ossian Brown’s book Haunted Air. It collects some of these and many more anonymous Halloween photographs from 1875–1955. It’s weird and wonderful and perfect for October.

H.P. Lovecraft and his pumpkin pal

H.P. Lovecraft’s Halloween Poem

When he wasn’t writing cosmic horror about indescribable beings, H.P. Lovecraft considered himself a poet. I’ve mentioned his Christmas poetry in the past, and since today is Halloween, I thought it’d be fun to take a gander at another holiday poem.

Hallowe’en in a Suburb was originally published as In A Suburb in The National Amateur in March of 1926. The poem was later renamed. I spent some time researching why the name was changed, but I couldn’t find an answer. The poem stands on its own without the Halloween association, but there is a definite fall/harvest feel with reflection on sheaves and chill winds. Perhaps it was marketing?


Hallowe’en in a Suburb

The steeples are white in the wild moonlight,
And the trees have a silver glare;
Past the chimneys high see the vampires fly,
And the harpies of upper air,
That flutter and laugh and stare.

For the village dead to the moon outspread
Never shone in the sunset’s gleam,
But grew out of the deep that the dead years keep
Where the rivers of madness stream
Down the gulfs to a pit of dream.

A chill wind weaves thro’ the rows of sheaves
In the meadows that shimmer pale,
And comes to twine where the headstones shine
And the ghouls of the churchyard wail
For harvests that fly and fail.

Not a breath of the strange grey gods of change
That tore from the past its own
Can quicken this hour, when a spectral pow’r
Spreads sleep o’er the cosmic throne
And looses the vast unknown.

So here again stretch the vale and plain
That moons long-forgotten saw,
And the dead leap gay in the pallid ray,
Sprung out of the tomb’s black maw
To shake all the world with awe.

And all that the morn shall greet forlorn,
The ugliness and the pest
Of rows where thick rise the stones and brick,
Shall some day be with the rest,
And brood with the shades unblest.

Then wild in the dark let the lemurs bark,
And the leprous spires ascend;
For new and old alike in the fold
Of horror and death are penn’d,
For the hounds of Time to rend.


It’s not half bad as far as creep poetry goes, and it’s certainly better than his cat-centric silly Christmas poetry. The very talented Andrew Lehman cut a record for Cadabra Records where he reads several of Lovecraft’s poems including this one. The record doesn’t appear to be available anymore, but you can listen to Hallowe’en in a Suburb and The Cats below.


Have a happy and safe Halloween everyone! Remember that today is the last day to get FREE SHIPPING on any signed paperbacks from my store. Just use the code BFCMONTH on checkout. You can see all the details in this post.


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

Fresh Boxes (of Books)

Signed Paperbacks! Free Shipping!

Don’t forget, all month long you can pick up signed paperback copies of any of my books and receive free shipping from my store. (US only, sorry.) Just use the code: BFCMONTH at checkout. Free shipping expires Halloween at midnight.

Along with books, I also have some new Bell Forging Cycle gear: hoodies, mugs, and new die-cut stickers. I think you’ll dig ’em.

Paperbacks not your thing? eBook copies are always available from a variety of stores. See the full list at any of the following pages:

The Stars Were RightOld Broken RoadRed Litten World

 


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →