Category Archives: Dawn of the Interns

He’s most dangerous when he’s being pleasant.

29. 13 More Tales of Horror – A. Finnis, ed.

And so we shall commence the unholy terror that is the “Christmas in July” theme month. For the rest of this month, the YA horror will be set at Christmas and the mixtapes will be somewhat lackluster because I’m not really a fan of Christmas music. I tried. I really did. And I filled in some large gaps with Kauna’s deeply gloomy metal opus treatment of the Dyatlov Pass incident. Holiday spirit!

There are also sort of presents. Sort of in that they do not become presents unless you buy them and they are only available online. I am way more like Krampus than Santa, I do like hooves and horns and subversion. And if you want “presents” from me in person this year, come to SUPERCON July 12-15 in Fort Lauderdale and Geekcraft Expo St. Louis July 28&29. I won’t have my horns on, my hooves will be hidden, and I probably won’t bring my switch, so it’s painless every way but monetarily.

Present Number One – A very specific sale! Smashwords is having their 2018 Summer/Winter Sale (Hemispheres) and I have discounted the entire Squirrelpocalypse Trilogy by 25% !!! !!! !!! So, if you have been tempted to read my ridiculous trilogy of lab experiments, gore, and friendship, now would be a good time to get it. Take advantage until July 31!

covers-touching.jpg

I mean, just imagine this on your virtual bookshelf for a total of $8.97. …$8.97? What have I done? Get It Here

We begin with a non-Christmas themed book, the second of the Point Horror short story collections, 13 More Tales of Horror, and the mixtape just includes one Christmasy thing – a song/sermon from the Reverend A.W. Nix from the “Death May Be Your Gift” Christmas compilation. Cheery!

“The Cat-Dogs” – Susan Price – So the font that they used for the title pages for each story is straight out of Scooby Doo. Thankfully many of the stories are a bit less predictable than the average Scooby episode. “The Cat-Dogs” is one way to learn the lesson of not bringing home any stray animals you find – especially not if you find them in a bag in the forest. Bringing them home just gives them a better chance to eat you and all your relatives. There was a particularly nice scene in the forest at night in this one. Disorienting.

“The Piano” – Diane Hoh – This is one seriously manipulative haunted piano.

“The Devil’s Footprints” – Malcolm Rose – This story was very weird and refreshing for me as an allergic asthmatic who has had many people say “I don’t smell anything” and “It’s fine” when my canary senses are firing on all cylinders telling me to run from the bad air. A Halloween party, a devil, a house computer named Brian that keeps warning the occupants only they don’t listen…it’s another metaphor for climate change that some people don’t want to listen to because they aren’t personally effected by it. Yet. I’m excited to see the hoof prints leading away from their house someday.

Murderface and Pickles would’ve listened to Brian the house computer.

“Softies” – Stan Nicholls – An interesting concept, but a bit smashed into the short story format. I could easily see this expanded with one of those “stuffed animal with a bloody knife” horror paperback covers. Would’ve been cool. As it is, it didn’t invoke my consistent childhood nightmare that my toys would get mad at me. Thanks a lot, Child’s Play TV trailer, they were all I had.

“The House That Jack Built” – Garry Kilworth – It is really hard to know what to do when you’re stuck by the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. If you’re in the wrong place, you’ll end up as an evil talking house’s manservant.

“The Station With No Name” – Colin Greenland – One thing I haven’t mentioned is that this collection is very UK-specific. I’m used to my Point Horror being very U.S.-oriented because the U.S. is a major source for teenager-based horror in fiction and real life. But I did get my MA in England and London happens to be my favorite city on earth, so it wasn’t too hard for me to get into these. This story involved the UK version of tagging and a station that hadn’t been open since WWII…because it’s super haunted. “The bombers got the line.”

Murderface wonders about these children who can’t stop spray painting their own first name onto things. If it was her name or Pickles’ name she’d get it because those are cool names.

“Something to Read” – Phillip Pullman – True hell is not being able to turn the pages because you’re non-corporeal.

“Killing Time” – Jill Bennett – Don’t move that alarm clock, or you’ll have to answer to that creepy dude on the hill who keeps telling you the earth needs blood. Really, the old gods need to get some new tricks – like the ones that did the Christmas crafting on Supernatural. Wreaths and pipes for everyone followed by brutal tooth pulling and other assorted bleeding!

“J.R.E. Ponsford” – Graham Masterton – I always expect a level of vulgarity from Graham Masterton and frankly, this was downright sentimental. I was extremely perplexed when the characters died in a way that was borderline off-page for Masterton. What the hell, Graham? Vulgarity is totally for teens.

“The worst part was when he mentioned an ear turning to ‘red gristle.'” Pickles summarizes the grossest part of “J.R.E. Ponsford” for Murderface so she doesn’t have to be disappointed by Masterton for teens.

“The Buyers” – David Belbin – This was not a horror story, it was a kidnapping story that definitely needed more zazz. Now, I know that in the Library of Congress classification system kidnapping and murder are close together, but that’s not all you need for horror.

“Closeness” – Chris Westwood – Guarantees of “FOREVER” are not for the faint of heart. It’s almost always better when they turn out to be unintended lies in a relationship too.

“The Ring” – Margaret Bingley – I would say this was a case of “Be careful what you wish for,” but when Kate wanted that ring, she didn’t want it because she thought it would allow her to hear all the horrible things her family and friends were thinking about her on her birthday. She wanted it because it was pretty.

“Bone Meal” – John Gordon – Texas Chainsaw Massacre-light for the UK includes way more dusters. Dusters.

Murderface and Pickles never answered the door. So they never had to murder anyone just for showing up.

Mixtape:

1. “Skogens Hamnd” – Finntroll
2. “Under My Chin” – The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster
3. “Cellophane” – METZ
4. “Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man” – Grinderman
5. “Moths” – Wolfmen of Mars
6. “Patterns of Evil” – Electric Wizard
7. “16 Psyche” – Chelsea Wolfe
8. “Someone’s in the Wolf” – Queens of the Stone Age
9. “King of Bones” – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
10. “Evil” – Grinderman
11. “Scratch at Your Skin” – Ice Dragon
12. “Begin a New Life on Christmas Day, Pt. 1” – Rev. A.W. Nix

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Filed under art, Books, Dawn of the Interns, Day of the Robots, Night of the Squirrels, Review, Writing, YA Megamix Summer

“This thing doesn’t want to show itself, it wants to hide inside an imitation.”

63. NOS4A2 – Joe Hill

Victoria McQueen felt very familiar to me, and not just because we’re both good at finding things. When I originally read the description for NOS4A2 before the book came out, all I could think about was Regan, the main heroine of my Squirrelpocalypse trilogy . I know that Joe Hill and I aren’t working on the same level, but we are working within the same territory. We’re a little bit like the two camps in The Thing. I’m the Norwegian one, for a variety of fun reasons. And it’s little comparisons such as that one that give me the indications that Hill and I are neighbors. Allusions are part of the fabric of our writing. The Thing is, heh, if you know what one of us is alluding to, you’ll either love the whole story more or start to resent it.

I recognized many things in NOS4A2 just as I have in other Hill works. The one that most significantly sparked for me was the bridge. I knew I’d seen it before. The vision that Vic crossing it put in my head was straight out of something that, at the time I read this, I hadn’t seen in a very long time – In the Mouth of Madness. It’s that bridge. Those lights between the boards. That rickety slapping. NOS4A2 is a masterwork of allusion and it’s also just an amazing damn original story- always what I’m aiming for as well. Christmasland reminded me a little too easily of his father’s work, which is neither here nor there, as it mostly made me worried the ending wouldn’t be satisfactory.

Merricat would’ve burned down both camps. She was a finisher and fierce little pig.

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The album is called Reign in Blood, the song is “Raining Blood.” You’re welcome.

33. Darkest Heart – Nancy A. Collins

It’s recently come to my attention that I still know every single sound in the movie Interview with the Vampire by heart. It was on HBO the other night, presumably in anticipation of that Vampire Chronicles TV series I’ve heard minimal amounts of things about and so I watched it for the first time in ages with Finny, and Peregrine, when Finny got tired of me telling him when a noise I didn’t like was about to come on – like when Louis first dies and when that one prostitute is making that snapping noise at Lestat, and there’s more…there’s always more. I believe the main reason I know it by heart is that I used to listen to it when it was on Pay per View and I couldn’t see it (scrambled), but the sound was perfect. Apparently that’s not what other people were “watching” on scrambled Pay per View but that’s fine.

Anyway, vampires have been of interest to me for a long time, and my mom found Darkest Heart at a library sale and got it for me. It turns out it’s the last in the Sonja Blue series, and I read it first. It did make a little bit of a difference. I wasn’t entirely invested in the character as a vampire who also happened to be a “badass vampire hunter,” perhaps I’ve been tainted by Blade. But I did see a certain familiar conflict between vampiricism and humanity (“Oh, Louis, Louis, still WHINING, Louis!” – best part of the whole movie, unexpectedly) and the plot and action were fast paced (Sonja is not as mopey as Louis, even though I’ve always loved Louis, [named one of my own characters after him – a broody, angry poet werewolf] Sonja is like the Slayer to Louis’ Neutral Milk Hotel) and made it clear that there’s a toothsome quality to the series. I’ve since read more Sonja Blue books and enjoyed them, but I haven’t stumbled across the first one just yet.

"Yes, please, tell me more about all those noises I don't even understand in this movie." - Peregrine

“Yes, please, tell me more about all those noises I don’t even understand in this movie.” – Peregrine

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“I’m not even supposed to be here today.”

73. Horrorstor – Grady Hendrix

Several people saw this book and thought of me. It’s droll, involves the supernatural, and has an amusing title. I also thought of me from both my existence as a writer of that sort of thing and a reader of it when I read a review and then by happy coincidence I found it in the stacks while looking for a different book that was misplaced sometime in the last two years – I hate it when things are misshelved and have no history of being checked out; it just makes me think the first person to shelve it did it wrong and set off a horrible chain of events.

Anyway, I read it in an evening and I did enjoy it quite a bit. I returned it to the library and was told about how I might like this “book with the weird name” by someone, and then later it was given to me for Christmas. I wanted a copy, so I was happy about that, but my aunt was not as pleased that I’d already heard of it and read it. Sometimes things attract me for reasons I cannot explain. The right kind of horror comedy will find me. Preferably. I’d rather the right kind found me early on in its existence, but I have no control over discoverability …as much as I try to be both discoverable and discover things.

Not surprisingly based on the title, it’s a take off on Ikea and the drudgery of working at a giant store. The book is set up in a catalogue format, with a particular product advertisement at the beginning of each chapter. The descent into madness with those products is one of my favorite things about the book – the design of this book is absolutely excellent. It’s quirky as hell, which, being published by Quirk books, makes sense. I have also always been pretty fond of reluctant anti-hero types forced into ridiculous circumstances, as both a writer and a reader (one might say a squirrelpocalypse qualifies as a ridiculous circumstance, they’d be right) and Hendrix does a good job of pushing the reluctant heroine in a believable way. There are a lot of familiar things in Horrorstor, the co-workers, the policy issues, the dead wanting to make their way back into our world, the convenient storage solutions, and I was very amused by how everything came together.

If you need to improve your Kleenex storage options or if you have ever had a guinea pig as inclined to take out Kleenex boxes as Miss Pickles...perhaps there is some sort of haunted store near you.

If you need to improve your Kleenex storage options or if you have ever had a guinea pig as inclined to take out Kleenex boxes as Miss Pickles…perhaps there is some sort of haunted store near you.

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“I thought you’d be bigger.”

48. The Grounding of Group Six – Julian F. Thompson

For me, this book has a bit of a reputation. I knew I had to read it, but I was also dreading it a little bit, because when you decide that you’re going to write this one kind of story and then you hear about a YA book from the 1980s that has a similar plot and you’re totally immersed in pop culture and read a ton of 1980s YA but you hadn’t come across this yet…it causes a rumble of anxiety. So imagine my surprise when I started reading it and got a smidge bored. Surprise.

To me, Thompson copped out, in a few areas. The book could best be described as “murky,” like when I put too much paint in one spot trying to fix something I didn’t realize wasn’t going to work when I started. Losing the light areas means I lose the depth of color I want and The Grounding of Group Six could have used more depth. The characters overlapped a little too much for me and the significance of the situation as a whole was glossed over emotionally throughout the book in favor of somewhat effective revengencing. The antagonists were definitely interesting, but reading about the main group just made me feel like I was reading The Breakfast Club, camping edition. And that would have been okay if any larger, emotionally significant choices had been made. Too many near misses.

The photographic choice I made to let Belvedere's little white pants be the focus in this photo instead of Mortemer's adorable face is my analogy of the process of making choices while writing this book.

The photographic choice I made to let Belvedere’s little white pants be the focus in this photo instead of Mortemer’s adorable face is my analogy of the process of making choices while writing this book.

Mixtape:

1. Underachievers March and Fight Song – Archers of Loaf
2. Fairweather Friends – Queens of the Stone Age
3. Secret Plans – Eagles of Death Metal
4. The Deadenin’ – Legendary Shack Shakers
5. When God Comes Back – All Them Witches
6. Overkill (Live) – Motorhead
7. My Own Bare Hands – Ween
8. Mudslide – The Darkness
9. Got the Power – Eagles of Death Metal
10. I’m Not a Young Man Anymore – The Wolfmen
11. Climb Safely – Restavrant
12. Lazy as Fuck – Evil Cowards
13. Don’t Get 2 Close (2 My Fantasy) – Ween
14. Always Looking – Dum Dum Girls
15. Kissy Kissy – The Kills
16. Staring at the Sun – TV on the Radio
17. Fault Line – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

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YA Megamix Summer III: Season of the Witch

The school year is already over for some people, so, it’s basically summer…of course some of those people are now done with their undergraduate degrees or graduate degrees, so in their case summer means “life anxiety season,” unless they already have jobs. Good luck to those about to go over the precipice of the shocking lack of opportunity, it’s not fun.

Anyway, I’m continuing my tradition of the last couple of years and “reviewing” only older YA books and including one hour long mixtapes I’ve compiled to go with them. This year’s YA Megamix Summer shall be known as the “Season of the Witch” because I will not be reviewing a single book that has a witch in it – just like the Halloween franchise entry – and it’s the third Halloween-associated movie and this is the third summer I’ve done this, and I am in the process of finishing my “John Carpenter’s Guinea Pigs” painting series so I can bring all of it to Chicago in August.

To kick off the Season of the Witch, I’m going to post a mixtape of songs that have been carrying themes and revision-staples for my Squirrelpocalypse Trilogy. Somehow, these never ended up being chapter titles.

Mixtape:
1. Stormy High – Black Mountain
2. Ah! Leah! – Electric Six
3. Ash of the Mind – Agents of Oblivion
4. My Apocalypse – Zebras
5. Homemade – Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster
6. My Dreams – Gun Club
7. You Don’t Own Me – Masquer
8. Queeny Gloom Doom – Zebras
9. Restarter – Torche
10. Hold My Hand – UNKLE
11. Down in the Park – Foo Fighters
12. Filled With Fire – Zebras
13. Skogsdotter – Finntroll
14. Holiday in Cambodia – Dead Kennedys

Also, this is Finny. It may not be clear in this picture, but he is a madman. Not a witch.

Also, this is Finny. It may not be clear in this picture, but he is a madman. Not a witch.

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Did I ever tell you my favorite color was blue?

In the Mouth of Madness is one John Carpenter movie I won’t guinea pig-ify- because it is just too close to home sometimes. As a writer, who has written while watching In the Mouth of Madness, and who writes horror things that could be considered ridiculous under certain circumstances, and who decided that it would be a good idea to finish her Squirrelpocalypse Trilogy before Wizard World Madison started, I can relate to the “Did I ever tell you my favorite color was blue?” scene from both Sam Neill and Jurgen Prochnow’s perspectives. When I finished Night of the Squirrels, I yelled the same way Sam Neill does. And I wanted some Cheetos, if you read it, you’ll be able to tell that I wanted some Cheetos.  I did not have any Cheetos and it was late enough at night that I decided not to go out for some. Such a dilemma.

Anyway, Night of the Squirrels is up and ready for purchasing via the usual ebook retailers, I’m waiting for distribution to finish to a few retailers, and it’s currently easiest to find via my Amazon Author Page (Who knew that title would be so hard to search for? Me. I am a librarian, so I know some searching, but, still, that’s why I also decided to use “Squirrelpocalypse” repeatedly and I should have used it when I printed the first cover…damn the permanence of printmaking!)

It's all three covers together at last!

It’s all three covers together at last! So squirrely.

 

Of course, I’ve also done some paintings and prints related to my series (I have a few sets of all three book covers, several of the Day of the Robots cover, and several of the Night of the Squirrels cover – all in multiple colors) for Wizard World, today is the last day, so…  Merchandising, where the real money from the novel is made!

 

 

I've always been inspired by the WPA posters. Not only because if I was alive during that time period, I would have been angling for a printing job, I'm also just super fond of the typography. This one recreates a scene from Night of the Squirrels. The travel poster, McWikken style.

I’ve always been inspired by the WPA posters. Not only because if I was alive during that time period, I would have been angling for a printing job, I’m also just super fond of the typography. This one recreates a scene from Night of the Squirrels. The travel poster, McWikken style.

 

Another WPA inspired one (oh, and although I am a printmaker, both of my WPA inspired works are paintings), this time in honor of Babette and Louis. Shiny purple!

Another WPA inspired one (oh, and although I am a printmaker, both of my WPA inspired works are paintings), this time in honor of Babette and Louis. Shiny purple!

 

They call her Regan Brite. This one is a silkscreen also available in glow in the dark green. This print was so involved that I barely came away with any to sell - and so I made some postcards of this version. A few.

They call her Regan Brite. This one is a silkscreen also available in glow in the dark green. This print was so involved that I barely came away with any to sell – and so I made some postcards of this version. A few.

 

Will you endure the placement of this link with me, one last time? my profile on the Wizard World site

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Gotta have you on my wall, ’cause-

I love skulls. And bones. At one point I was tempted to call this blog Guinea Pigs, Books, and Skulls because those are the three things that I’m interested in artistically, but at that point I didn’t think I was going to feature my paintings on this blog- Ha.

The four paintings below are going to be available for sale at Wizard World Madison April 8-9-10 ( my profile on the Wizard World site ).

The star painting, I also have prints of my Bye Bye, Li'l Sebastian design.

The star painting of the most important mini-horse skull. I also have prints of my Bye Bye, Li’l Sebastian design.

 

My signature piece, Guinea Pigs are for Life. Now one person can also have a guinea pig skull painting (I kept the first one I did) and about six people can have guinea pig skull prints. Sometimes I don't have very many available because printing is not always a sure thing when you do it all by hand.

My signature image, Guinea Pigs are for Life. Now one person can also have a guinea pig skull painting (I kept the first one I did) and about six people can have guinea pig skull prints – sometimes I don’t have very many available because printing is not always a sure thing when you do it all by hand.

 

This is what a Columbian Ground Squirrel's skull looks like...when I paint it.

This is what a Columbian Ground Squirrel’s skull looks like…when I paint it.

 

The skull of the other mammal I'm regularly associated with, the squirrel. I made its teeth less scary in this painting than the teeth featured in Night of the Squirrels.

The skull of the other mammal I’m regularly associated with, the squirrel. I made its teeth less scary in this painting than the teeth featured in Night of the Squirrels.

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This is my design.

As I have been preparing mercilessly for my Artist Alley table at the Madison iteration of Wizard World ( my profile on the Wizard World site ), I haven’t been posting as much and now I’m posting without very many words…unusual for me. Anyway, the guinea pigs are making their public debuts in a couple of series I’ve painted and I’ve done some prints, and the end of my Squirrelpocalypse Trilogy will be coming out soon, and I’m going to share some painting pictures and some dear god what did I do to my living room printing pictures throughout the month of April, and let’s face it, probably also May because my hands and brain are tired. First up, The Thing-part of my John Carpenter’s Guinea Pigs series. All these paintings will be available at Wizard World Madison – April 8-9-10 at the Alliant Energy Center.

 

Danger Crumples has always been from another world, his role in my guinea pig version of The Thing just confirms it.

Danger Crumples has always been from another world, his role in my guinea pig version of The Thing just confirms it.

 

Peregrine gets to be Kurt Russell by virtue of having the middle name "Plissken." Here she is wearing the wrong jacket for the MacReady character adorably.

Peregrine gets to be Kurt Russell by virtue of having the middle name “Plissken.” Here she is wearing the wrong jacket for the MacReady character adorably.

 

And here's Peregrine as MacReady with the head monster, which ended up looking a mite Trumpish, not sure how I feel about that. I blame yellow ochre.

And here’s Peregrine as MacReady with the head monster, which ended up looking a mite Trumpish, not sure how I feel about that. I blame yellow ochre.

 

Blood test! Horace, Ozma, and an unhappy Danger Crumples await the sizzle noise in their sweaters.

Blood test! Horace, Ozma, and an unhappy Danger Crumples await the sizzle noise in their sweaters.

 

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Start with a Queen, End with all the Queens

Thus ends the specified “Year of the Ladies.” Although next year starts tomorrow, I’m not clear on whether or not I want to have a theme.

The main thing I know about next year is that I have a lot of art to finish before April.  Another thing I know is that I am both petrified and anxiously awaiting the edited version of the final book in my Squirrelpocalypse trilogy – Night of the Squirrels. I will then revisit it, stare at it wondering what I was thinking, re-write some chunks, probably cry about said chunk re-writing, ask the guinea pigs if they have any ideas about why it turned out so differently than what I planned for the story in 1998 and not get ANY useful answers, and then accept it and rearrange all the semicolons before I format it and put it up with the other two. I finished it this year, on December 5th at 11:53 PM, and immediately wasn’t sure if I liked it. That probably means it’s all right because every single time I finish a book – and I’ve finished two this year, personal best, probably never to be repeated – I’m not sure if I like it. So, I await my cognitive distance and since I like to end with pictures, here are all the sweet little lady pigs that I’ve owned since 2008. Snippiest, most gratuitously disagreeable bunch of cavies ever to exist and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Murderface and Pickles in Hattiesburg

Miss Murderface and Pickles the Drummer (yes, that Pickles, and her full name is the entire line from the opening credits – that’s a behind the scenes secret you couldn’t get from very many sources).

Sepia toned teddy bear ladies Twiglet and Pammy. So fuzzy. So domineering. But so fuzzy and so good at napping.

Sepia toned teddy bear ladies Twiglet and Pammy. So fuzzy. So domineering. But so fuzzy and so good at napping.

Murderface and the lovely Duncan Hills. I only got to have Duncan for eleven months, but she had the softest ears and the sassiest disposition. She also helped me quite a bit with the planning of Day of the Robots.

Murderface and the lovely Duncan Hills. I only got to have Duncan for eleven months, but she had the softest ears and the sassiest disposition. She also helped me quite a bit with the planning of Day of the Robots.

Merricat and Peregrine, my first non-Mississippi or Iowa born lady pigs. Merricat was frighteningly special and my first lady Abyssinian. She was very small in size, but had a very large bite.

Merricat and Peregrine, my first non-Mississippi or Iowa born lady pigs. Merricat was frighteningly special and my first lady Abyssinian. She was very small in size, but had a very large bite.

Peregrine and Ozma having a mild moment. Peregrine has not been the most friendly of new friends to Ozma, but Ozma's willingness to explore is slowly, very slowly seeping in to Pere.

Peregrine and Ozma having a mild moment. Peregrine has not been the most friendly of new friends to Ozma, but Ozma’s willingness to explore is slowly, very slowly seeping in to Pere.

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