Gearing up for summertime, news and notes

Well I finished the second book in The Undying series at the beginning of June and sent the MS off to my agent.  Wrapped up the copyedit for The Undying around that same time.  Felt great to get both shipped off.  For about two seconds.  Then the brain gets churning again, even as I gear up for a road-trip to the rugged Northern Idaho Panhandle.

While I’m thinking over the panels I’ll be on at PNWA summer conference in Seattle in July, I’m devoting a good amount of time to researching.  It’s one of my favorite times in the process.  Reminds me of my researching geophysics and astrophysics before setting pen to paper for The Undying.

I also just completed a question and answer session with my editor at Simon & Schuster, to be posted on Simon451’s website in the months before publication in October.  I don’t want to give anything away, but you can follow and updates as they roll out here.  I’ll be sure to tweet when they’re posted.

One of the questions from my editor concerned my current reading list.  At the end of the list I wanted to name a few of my old favorites.  I had to edit the list down, as it quickly grew unwieldy.  So here are a few books — old and newer — that didn’t make the list, but are very much worth a read:

David Morrell’s thriller, Creepers.  Clive Barker’s magical Weaveworld.  William Gibson’s Burning Chrome.  John Connolly’s Every Dead Thing.  And the vampire tale Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite.  I could go on and on, but I enjoyed each of these and wanted to share.  If I don’t post again this June, happy summer to all.

Bradbury’s writing group shares poem

Sad news yesterday to hear about the passing of author Ray Bradbury at 91. Few authors understand theme and prose as well as Bradbury did, and to have him write Science Fiction was even greater treat, as such talented writers cross genre with such ease.

Author SL Stebel — my mentor in graduate school at USC — had been very close friends with Bradbury over the last 70 years. When I learned of Bradbury’s passing, I e-mailed Sid (SL) to offer my condolences. Oddly enough, when I was in LA a few months back visiting Sid, Ray had phoned, asking Sid for advice on an eulogy for a close friend of theirs. In reply to my e-mail yesterday, Sid shared a poem written by Ray, which was being e-mailed between members of their writing group. The poem touched me so much, I thought I’d share it with you.

Somewhere a band is playing
Oh listen, oh listen, that tune!
If you learn it you’ll dance on forever
In June…
And yet June…
And more…June…
And death will be dumb and not clever
And death will be silent forever
In June and June and more June.

—“Somewhere A Band Is Playing”, Ray Bradbury

I remember when I moved back to Seattle from LA years ago, and a member of Cornish School for the Arts contacted me because they were performing a play based on one of Bradbury’s stories. They wanted permission from Ray to perform the play, so I got them in touch with Ray via Sid. And, of course, the play went on. We get to read the words from writers like Bradbury far too seldom. To me, only the poet Robert Frost had such similarly sweet control of prose. Over the last few months, I’ve often picked Ray’s novel Halloween Tree from the shelf as reference for my current manuscript. The next time I pick it up, it just won’t be the same.

Congrats to the HWA Stoker winners

The Horror Writers Association has announced the winners of 2011 Stoker Awards. Congrats to the winners, and a big congrats to Richard Matheson for winning the Vampire Novel of the Century Award for I Am Legend. Well deserved. Man is a master writer. Truly inspiring. If you haven’t read I Am Legend, do. Then go read Hell House. Just can’t say enough about Matheson’s writing.

More of the awards are listed on the HWA website, here. Straub, King, Oates make the winners. As does Alan Moore for this graphic novel Neonomicon. And a big congrats to Jonathan Maberry, winning a Stoker for his YA novel, Dust and Decay.

If you’ve never had a chance to take a look at the actual Stoker award, here’s a photo of the haunted house.

Random Friday the 13th thoughts/notes

Yeah, I know. But we only get three of these this year. Another in April and July and who cares about Friday the 13th in July unless you’re camping.

Random thoughts/notes: You’d be one of the few, but if you’re not watching Masterpiece Theatre’s Downton Abbey, do. Julian Fellowes is crafting some truly special dialogue (and when did Thomas become such a likeable character? I’m going to miss booing him from the sidelines).

On fiction and why it’s good for you: Friend and bestselling thriller writer Boyd Morrison tweeted some interesting stuff on the benefits of reading fiction yesterday, from the Harvard Business Review: The Business Case for Reading Novels by Anne Kreamer.

And a plug: For my mentor from my USC days, SL Stebel (Rad Bradbury calls him “the best writing teacher that ever was“). His thriller The Collaborator is available on Amazon’s new audiobook website, narrated by Michael Bell. Get a copy here.

And lastly, some true Friday the 13th material: A new poster for the 20th Century Fox/Tim Burton produced film, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. How long before someone spins off Downton Abbey full of zombies instead of wounded soldiers?

AMC’s The Walking Dead gets more, uh, life

Okay, I know I’m behind on this one, but last week’s news that AMC renewed it’s zombie show The Walking Dead is worth repeating. Getting a third year is wonderful news for what I think is a great show, only two weeks into season two.

According to HuffingtonPost, last week’s episode drew an audience of 6.7 million for the first airing and another 2.1 million viewers for the later repeat. Season one averaged 5.2 million viewers a week. If you haven’t, the graphic novels written by Robert Kirkman and published by Image Comics are worth a look. If you haven’t set the DVR yet (and you should), here’s the trailer.

According to, FOX International launched the show globally last weekend on cable networks in Europe, Asia, Latin American, Africa and the Middle East. What? You thought the zombie apocolypse was confined to Atlanta?