Bones Are Made to be Broken is up for pre-order

So go buy it already.  What are you waiting for?

Today, it was officially announced, via newsletter and social media blasts that a lot of people seem to be “like”-ing, that my first book, Bones Are Made to be Broken is up for pre-order over at Dark Regions Press’s current campaign for the anthologies Return of the Old Ones: Apocalyptic Lovecraftian Fiction, The Children of Gla’aki: A Tribute to Ramsey Campbell’s Great Old One, and You, Human.  The paperback will be released, officially, on October 18, 2016, the day before my wife’s birthday (and picked because of that, actually).

I’m just going to simplify the whole thing: Go here to pick up the paperback/eBook (it’s set at $22.00) and here to pick up the deluxe, slipcased hardcover (it’s set at $150.00).  You have options, then; once you make your…donation? contribution? sacrifice to the ink-blood demon?..you select the book you want–in this case, Bones Are Made to be Broken.  Go now.  I’ll wait.

giphy

Oh, so now you’re waiting yourself, are you?  Perhaps wondering what’s in the book?  Weighing whether it’s worth some of that hard-earned cash of yours?

Okay, then.

Well, first, the book collects 14 pieces from the past 5 years (15 pieces in the hardcover–I’ll explain).  2 of the pieces are original to the collection, including the title story, a 38,000 novella I wrote specifically for the book.  The other piece was supposed to be published–in 2012, I think–but the project fell through after the story was sold.  All stories are illustrated by Pat R. Steiner, who also designed the glorious masthead for my website (for which I’m eternally grateful), not to mention the cover(s).

Oh, and Damien Angelica Walters, writer of hands-down my favorite novel of the year (Paper Tigers) is writing the foreword.  So, y’know, that’s a thing that’s happening.

As for the meat of the book, with two different editions come two different versions–not just with material but also the cover.  When it comes to the paperback, you’ll be getting this:

14141557_10157325638805223_6362829419929938004_n

  1. Foreword – Damien Angelica Walters
  2. Introduction – Where You Find Yourself When You’re Nowhere
  3. “Crawling Back to You”
  4. “Survivor’s Debt”
  5. “Baby Grows a Conscience”
  6. “A Nice Town with Very Clean Streets”
  7. “The Doorway Man”
  8. “Love Song for the Rejected”
  9. “The Universe Is Dying”
  10. “Surviving the River Styx”
  11. “The Agonizing Guilt of Relief (Last Days of a Ready-Made Victim)”
  12. “Reflecting the Heart’s Desire” **
  13. “To Touch the Dead”
  14. “In the Nothing-Space, I Am What You Made Me”
  15. “Bones Are Made to be Broken” **
  16. “All That You Leave Behind”
  17. Acknowledgements

** – never-before-released

The book, in paperback/eBook, is a mighty tome, but the hardcover’s got more weight to it.  When editor Michael Bailey and I were discussing the book, I wanted to make sure any limited edition had as much bang for the buck as possible.  Yes, Dark Regions produces some wonderful hardcover editions, truly beautiful, but what’s between those oh-so-sexy covers has to match up, right?

So, in the end, all the illustrations will be rendered in glorious color, and we added roughly an additional 19,000 words of bonus material for your eyeballs to go with all that color.  Also, a cover you might be familiar with if you follow me, or Michael Bailey, or Pat R. Steiner (designer extraordinaire), or Written Backwards on social media:

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00074]

  1. Foreword – Damien Angelica Walters
  2. Introduction – Where You Find Yourself When You’re Nowhere
  3. “Crawling Back to You”
    1. Notes
  4. “Survivor’s Debt”
    1. Notes
  5. “Baby Grows a Conscience”
    1. Notes
  6. “A Nice Town with Very Clean Streets”
    1. Notes
  7. “The Doorway Man”
    1. Notes
  8. “Love Song for the Rejected”
    1. Notes
  9. “The Universe Is Dying”
    1. Notes
  10. “Grownups”
    1. Notes
  11. “Surviving the River Styx”
    1. Notes
  12. “The Agonizing Guilt of Relief (Last Days of a Ready-Made Victim)”
    1. Notes
  13. “Reflecting the Heart’s Desire” **
    1. Notes
  14. “To Touch the Dead”
    1. Notes
  15. “In the Nothing-Space, I Am What You Made Me”
    1. Notes
  16. “Bones Are Made to be Broken” **
    1. Notes
  17. “All That You Leave Behind”
    1. Notes
  18. Acknowledgements

** – never-before-released

Like I said, a little meatier.

I have to say a few words about two things before I get to the ego-stroking of awesome people saying nice things about me: first about Pat R. Steiner and, second, about Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing.

First, Pat fucking outdid himself on these illustrations.  Some have trickled out onto the interwebs, like this one:

the-universe_bw2_edited-2

“The Universe Is Dying” (Pat R. Steiner) – also, you have to see this thing in goddamn color.

However, I cannot wait until the others see the light of day. Right now, my favorites are the illustrations for “Survivor’s Debt” and “Baby Grows a Conscience.”  Sweet goddamn Jee-zus, they’re good.  However, my favorites switch roughly weekly at this point.

On Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing – The last story in the collection is “All That You Leave Behind”, which was just published in the anthology Lost Signals, edited by Max Booth III and Lori Michelle.  And I mean, just.  My initial story-lists didn’t include the story because it was so new and, as anyone in the business knows, typically there’s a bit of a wait a writer’s gotta do between original publication and reprint.  However, I fucking loved the story, Michael fucking loved the story, and I thought it would’ve been the perfect capstone to my collection (especially coming after the title-novella; just wait, you’ll see).

So, I talked to Max and, thank Christ, he was on-board and cool.  “Actually,” he told me, “I was hoping you’d put it in your book.”

It’s easy to vilify small press–there are enough charlatans out there to populate a mid-sized European country–but when there’s a good one doing good work, you need to recognize.  PMMP does great work.

(I glorify PMMP and another press, Grey Matter Press, in the book’s acknowledgements, but–y’know, spread the good word and all that.  Also, go pick up Lost Signals.)

Finally, blurbs are starting to trickle in; two of which that are publicly available right now–because Dark Regions published them–come from two Bram Stoker Award winners:

“Anderson’s style is tensely exciting. This collection is a treasure for any horror or dark SF fan’s library.” – Marge Simon

“Paul Michael Anderson writes like no other writer in dark fiction. Simply, he writes a Paul Michael Anderson story—the highest compliment any serious writer can hope to achieve.” – Gene O’Neill

There are others, and goddamn are they nice, but that’ll do for now.  Also, it’s two a.m. and I’m tired.

So, I’ll close with a final shout-out to Justin Courtney Pierre, lead singer of the band Motion City Soundtrack.  He did a song by himself recently, “Everything That Hurts,” and I fell in love with it.  As I was rewriting “Bones”, I put the chorus at the top of page 1 as an epigraph, to get to the heart of what I was trying to write in the story itself.  When the book began to inch towards publication, I went, “What the hell” and asked Justin if I could use the chorus.  And he said, “Yes.”

Check out the song below and, if you like it, go to his linked page and pick it up.  It’ll cost you the princely sum of $1, but it’s worth way more.

(Also, thanks, Justin.)

Now, go pre-order Bones Are Made to be Broken.

Advertisements

Lost Signals coming through the wire

So, this dropped this week:

lost-signals-jacket

Jacket image by Matthew Revert

You can pick up the anthology here, as well as read Max Booth III’s origins for the anthology here.

The names are impressive and I was given a quick peek inside the full book before it dropped and, hoo boy, it’s stunning.

But, fuck that, this is about me, right?  Right.

(Although, honestly, the other stories are pretty goddamned brilliant.  Anyway.)

AllThatYouLeaveBehind-Spooner

Story illustration by Luke Spooner

For this, I’m going to dip into the story notes for “All That You Leave Behind”, lifted–but modified–from the deluxe hardcover edition of my upcoming collection Bones Are Made to be Broken:

…So.

Here’s “All That You Leave Behind”.

…I can never describe the depth of the emotions that go through you in the middle of a pregnancy–although, if parents are reading this, you probably know. It’s the world’s worst, most abstract waiting room, when you’re stuck anticipating the moment the doctor comes in with the results of the biopsy report.  Even if every checkup and ultrasound come back clean, you still worry.  You still fear, but the articulation of that fear is nearly impossible to get across in any way that feels true to you.  The truest things in life are the hardest things to express.

There’s nothing more terrifying than parenting.  Nothing.  The constant realizing—and, thus, terror—that you are responsible for another life, a life that had no say in its creation and existence, a life that looks to you to navigate the ship, can freeze you in your tracks. 

But what if you’d geared yourself up for dealing with that fear and realization, only to have it taken away from you?

I was reading Lauren Beukes’s stellar Broken Monsters and there’s a throwaway line in it about a ghost heartbeat.  When I heard about Max and Lori’s upcoming anthology and its general theme of white noise, that line recurred to me, and the structure of the story was born.  It was fueled by the fears every expecting parent has when they walk in for the monthly check-up or ultrasound.  I asked myself the terrible what-if: What if my daughter had been a miscarriage? What if my wife and I had to come to terms with that?

And I wrote my answer to those questions.  It…it wasn’t easy.  At one point in the first draft, I pulled the little DVD the ultrasound tech gave us, and watched my daughter in utero over and over and over again, and I burst into tears.  Just a small clip, under a minute long, but I sat at my kitchen table, my usual writing place, bawling my eyes out late at night with my daughter–completely fine and five years old and asleep with her ragged Bear-Bear–right above my head.  

Parenting is terrifying and the fears–even the stupid, irrational fears–never, ever leave you.

In the end, I made it a half-assed homage to Jack Finney, much in the same way that Joe Hill’s “The Black Phone” in 20th Century Ghosts.  Note the characters’ surnames.  Also, the story takes place in Galesburg, Illinois, a setting that creeps up with Finney (and Hill’s story).  Mostly, though, it’s tone.  Every writer can be fairly panting—the unfortunate side-effect of wanting to make sure we’re touching the reader—but Finney was the best; he set you up, you knocked you down, but he never had to lead you by the nose. 

Finney was pretty neat that way. For me, it was a way to separate myself when the going got tough between my would-be mother and father.

A final note on this story: My wife has not read it.  She’s my go-to for draft readings—she once read something like eight drafts of a story—but she couldn’t, she said, because of the subject matter.  I understood, of course, even if the writing of the story wound up being cathartic for me, a place to shove all the negative worst-case scenarios that, even five years after my daughter was born healthy and alive, still rested in the back of my head (and, if I’m being fully honest, still do).  Because of timing with the deadline–the story, uh, ran a bit long–I went to only one other beta-reader.

She got back to me rather quickly, calling me a bastard and saying I’d made her cry in a Starbucks while she read it.  That’s the plan, man.  Horror is supposed to make you fearful, terrify you, but first it has to make you feel.  You have to empathize.  Done to the hilt, you get the tears—or the laughter—as well as the screams.

In the early reviews, the story kept getting mentioned in a positive way.  Christine Morgan, for example, called it “beautiful tragic emotional agony”.  I’m proud of the story, which shouldn’t be all that surprising, and happy that Max and Lori bought it (and, further, cool with the idea of me reprinting it in Bones; they get some big love in my acknowledgements).

I hope you like it, too.  Hell, I hope I make you cry in a Starbucks (sorry, Erinn).

Here’s a song I find beautiful

So, part of this thing below –

12814494_10100648602847075_6876809168953399886_n

Pulled from Facebook. Stop looking at me like that.

Day 2 is “a song you find incredibly beautiful.”  Yesterday was song played at your funeral–that would be “Happy Anniversary” by Motion City Soundtrack–and today’s song was immediate in my head: the cover of “Stand By Me” Tracy Chapman did on The Late Show with David Letterman.  Peep it below:

I heard the original when I was five or so, when I first saw the Rob Reiner film/Stephen King adaptation Stand by Me (which led to a later love of Buddy Holly, but whatever) and loved it ever since; I still have the cassette soundtrack to the film, even though I haven’t had a tape player of any kind in fifteen years.

I heard this version of “Stand By Me” about a year ago, and it basically completely changed my previous assumption that no one could do that song better (John Lennon covered it in the 1970s, but like everything John Lennon did solo, I thought it was fucking terrible).  Tracy Chapman, who I haven’t thought of since 1996, when “Give Me One Reason” was inescapable, totally owned this song.  It reminds me of when Cash covered Nine Inch Nails’s “Hurt” and made that song his to such an extent that Trent Reznor said in an interview with Alternative Press that the song wasn’t a NIN tune anymore.

So, anyway, there you go. Day 2 and some beauty.

Tomorrow?  A song that would make people think of me and I have no fucking idea what that would be.  (Sidenote: Reviewing the list, goddamn some of them are cheesy–a song that empowers me? Da fuque?–but I’ll figure it out.)

In other news, illustrations are coming in for Bones Are Made to be Broken and they take my breath away.  Some blurbs are coming in and they leave me going, “Wait? Are they talking about me?” I’m thinking, sometime this month, I’ll do a breakdown of everything coming down the line, which I realize I haven’t done yet.  Gotta remedy that.

Just not today, ’cause I’m tired.

1786023

John Rambo thinks that’s a great idea