About Paul Michael Anderson

Paul Michael Anderson is a writer, editor, journalist, and teacher living...somewhere

It’s the Author’s Preferred Edition of BONES ARE MADE TO BE BROKEN! Whee!

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Really fast–go read this from my editor Michael Bailey.  Go ahead, I’ll wait.

All right now?

Oh, this is fantastic, friends and neighbors.  I’ve been waiting for this 2nd edition since Written Backwards dissolved its relationship with Dark Regions Press, which had been in the works for a while.  And, now, it’s ready to drop next week, on the 24th?  Jesus Christ, guys.

The edition above, cover included, is how I initially envisioned the book, all the way back in the fall of 2015.  I wanted this type of cover–and illustrator Pat R. Steiner to this day will occasionally still message me new drafts of the cover as he gets inspired by something–with the material within.  Seeing it come out is immensely satisfying for me.  I wanted these stories, in this order, with these story notes and this price.

What happened?  Typical business stuff.  We had to cut spacing for price (which always struck me as odd, given that the book was always priced at the too-expensive $25, but that’s history now), so the story notes disappeared.  My publisher liked a different type of cover and it wasn’t offensive to me–it was the illustration for the story “In the Nothing-Space, I Am What You Made Me”–so we went for it.  The story notes (along with another story called “Grownups”) became part of the come-on for the ultra-fancy limited edition DRP put out and sold out of.

But now the notes are back for the ten people who like to read that sort of thing, the original cover is back, rocking the blurbs from the first round of reviewers, and my man Bracken MacLeod did me the absolute solid of writing an afterword for the book, bookending perfectly with the introduction Damien Angelica Walters had written.  Of the many excellent writers working today, I have a special affinity for Damien and Bracken–in the case of Bracken, it led to him and I writing a novella together (“How We Broke”) for the anthology Chiral M4d this fall.  Both are doing things I envy as a writer and adore as a reader.

And all of it for the much more reasonable price of $14.95 in paperback.  Thank goodness.  (I think the ebook’s also going to be reasonably priced, as well, but I can’t remember the exact number.)

I’m hoping the book does well.  With the first edition, it did all right and got some kind words from people I respect and reviewers I read regularly.  I’m hoping to build on that with this preferred edition.

 

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Max Booth III & Lori Michelle Made the Mistake of Inviting Me onto Castle Rock Radio

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Hey!

I was a shit for not posting this earlier, but Max Booth III & Lori Michelle, the hosts of Castle Rock Radio: A Stephen King Podcast (and the runners of Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, who sometimes like me) invited me on to talk about one of the “lost” Stephen King stories, a vignette called “Squad D”.

I wound up not promoting the thing when it dropped not because it was a bad interview or a poor time for all involved, but we wound up talking about writer Harlan Ellison a fair amount because “Squad D” had been written for, and rejected from, the legendarily unpublished Last Dangerous Visions.  I had worked with Harlan on a few things and so Max and Lori brought me into discuss the story and Harlan.

And then Harlan died.  Like that day.  I had to take some time to unpack my thoughts on this man who…

…whatever.  I’ve got my thoughts in a well-enough order, but I’m not going to put them here.

If you want to hear us talking so much shit (I’m a kid who grew up in the 1980s/1990s; I can talk trash, sirs and madams), give it a listen here.

If you like what Max and Lori do, sign up for their Patreon.

If you want a good anthology, pre-order Lost Films here.  (I’m not in it, but was in the first entry of the “Lost” series, Lost Signals.  In spite of this, I’d be willing to put my own cred on the line and say Lost Films is a strong goddamned book.)

A Fresh Can of Updates Opened Just for You (This Is Horror! Ashes & Entropy! Suspended in Dusk 2! War on Christmas! The 2nd edition of BONES ARE MADE TO BE BROKEN!)

Hey!

A bunch of stuff has happened, is going to happen, has been revealed!

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1.- This is Horror!

Recently, I was featured on the This Is Horror podcast, a longtime goal of mine and as fun as I’d hoped.  Hosts Michael David Wilson and Bob Pastorella were fun and inviting and we had a blast of a conversation.

You can listen to Part 1 here.

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And you can listen to Part 2 here.

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(I really want to be on again, so take a listen and tell Michael and Bob how much you loved it, so they’ll ask me on again.)

2. Suspended in Dusk 2!

My story “Wants and Needs” will be appearing in Suspended in Dusk 2, edited by Simon Dewar and published by Grey Matter Press.  This hits July 10th, and will also include stories from Damien Angelica Walters, Bracken MacLeod, Sarah Read, Paul Tremblay, Christopher Golden, Gwendolyn Kiste, and more!   Read more here.

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3. Ashes & Entropy!

After some shifting around publisher-wise, the “cosmic noir” anthology Ashes & Entropy will be coming out this December from Nightscape Press!  The name might be familiar because they just released Tim Waggoner’s new collection Dark and Distant Voices.

This anthology, edited by Robert S. Wilson, will include my novella “I Can Give You Life” and will include illustrations by Luke Spooner.  Here’s a sampling below and one of those images is the one for my story.  There’s more going on here with the antho, but I’ll talk about that later.

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4. War on Christmas!

This was literally just announced today, June 22nd, but my story “Well, You Asked for a Miracle” will be in the ChiZine anthology War on Christmas: An Anthology of Tinseled Mayhem, edited by Sandra Kasturi and Craig Wolf.  I’m fucking excited about this, gang.  I’m at my wife’s family reunion–big group, big, big group–and when I got the email, I was sitting between two separate conversations and yelled loudly as I checked my phone.  This is good stuff.

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5. The Return of Bones Are Made to be Broken!

Slowly, we get closer to a second edition for Bones Are Made to be Broken, which went bye-bye when Michael Bailey’s Written Backwards split off from Dark Regions Press.  I can’t say too much now, except that we’re expecting a mid-summer release, even with the bonus material (including an afterword that was just turned in and oh dear Christ…it’s awesome).

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More later.  I promise.

 

My Process (Because I’m Nothing If Not a Bandwagon Jumper)

One of my literary soulmates, Bracken MacLeod, posted this morning about his “process” when it comes to writing.  He did in a response to a social media post from his friend, who is, to use the illustrative phrase, a “pantser”–meaning, they get an idea and they just run with it.  MacLeod isn’t a pantser…but I am.

Sorta.

In one of the “definitive” editions to American Gods, writer Neil Gaiman talked about the process of writing the novel, expressing relief after he had written it that now he knew how to write a book.  However, a legendary writer whose name escapes me pointed out to Gaiman that he had only figured out how to write that book.  Every book is different.

This is true.

So, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, here’s as close as I get to a process:

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  • Gets an idea, usually a what-if.
  • Noodle it
  • I’m waiting for a title at this point.
  • But this title sucks.
  • This title is marginal
  • Do I have a good opening-scene?
  • That one comes too soon
  • That one means I would have to do flashbacks.  Fuck flashbacks.
  • Start writing.
  • “Hey, this is going decently”
  • Doesn’t write for two days.
  • I hate the first three pages.
  • Man, I’m using a lot of passive sentences here.
  • Spend the next week imagining how I’m going to fix the one scene I wrote to night.
  • Spend the next week imagining how the next scene’s gonna go.
  • Finish the first draft.
  • “This thing is three times as long as asked for.  Fucking hell.”
  • Stare at it for a month or so.
  • Print it out, wincing.
  • Start reading.
  • Cut 40%
  • Realize that the sentence structure is choppy as hell.
  • Stew about this for four nights and three days.
  • Open a blank document.
  • Write the entire story over without looking at the original.
  • Revise, cutting only 20% of the overall.
  • Begin submitting.

Now, this ignores the times when I get a title before a story–“Bones Are Made to be Broken”–or think of a weird scene before I have a conflict–“Baby Grows a Conscience”–but this is fairly close to accurate for a majority of my work.  Sometimes, the idea comes from me noodling a prompt for an hour or so (“In the Nothing-Space, I Am What You Made Me”) or from spit-balling with another writer in conversation (“How We Broke” in Chiral Mad 4, which is forthcoming).

Being an Editor of Anthologies and Magazines in 2018:

Quick message to those dudes–always dudes because of course it fucking is–who rail against “forced” diversity in trying to get beyond just straight white dudes in the Table of Contents:

To be an editor means to seek diversity so that readers can see/experience different angles or perspectives or viewpoints (or whatever in the fuck you want to call it) on a specific theme.  To not seek that diversity is to be lazy, at best, and morally repugnant at worst. 

Doesn’t matter if you’re a little nobody outfit with an editor whose time passed right around the time Bill Clinton was first elected or a New York Times bestselling author and an icon of your genre.  If it’s a pale sausage party in your TOC, you flat-out fucked up and you offer nothing new to the readers.

Oh, totally and completely off-topic, here’s an incomplete list I came up with in roughly five minutes for no particular reason:

Damien Angelica Walters. Kristi DeMeester. Rachel Autumn Deering. Erinn Kemper. Sandra Odell.  Stephanie Wytovich. Lucy Snyder. Cat Valente. Gwendolyn Kiste. Linda Addison. Nnedi Okoafor. Ashlee Scheuerman. Jessica McHugh. Livia Llewellyn. Rena Mason. Lisa Mannetti. Mercedes M. Yardley. Althea Kontis. Sarah Langan. Tonya Liburd. Meghan Accuri-Moran. Kelly Link. Gemma Files. Amber Fallon.

There are over twenty names on that very incomplete list.  They’ve all been recognized for their short fiction.  Again, I offer it for no particular reason at all.

 

 

Quick Bits: The Early 2018 Edition

Oh. Heya.  Popping in for a few minutes of:

1. …Imma gonna have a new story out!

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My story “Wants and Needs” will be in Simon Dewar’s Suspended in Dusk II.  It has wendigos, blizzards, and bereft parents, if that’s your thing.  It’ll be out sometime this summer; click the title to see more info/who else is in the book.

2. New interview!

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Curtis Freeman over at Cedar Hollow Horror Reviews asked me a few questions and I answered them and managed to fit in references to ASPCA commercials while still plugging Bones Are Made to be Broken, so there you go.  Click the title to read it, if you so wish.

3. More stories–later this year!

So, right now, I have a total of four stories, two of them novellas, showing up at some point this year, most likely late-summer/fall:

  • “Guardian” – Tales from the Lake, Vol. 5 (about pets and the center of existence)
  • “How We Broke” (co-written with Bracken MacLeod) – Chiral Mad 4 (a novella about the past and trauma)
  • “I Can Give You Life” – Ashes & Entropy (a novella about the 1950s and Virginia State Troopers and Elder Gods)
  • “Wants and Needs” – Suspended in Dusk II (I already told you about this one)

I’m actually cleared of deadlines at the moment, so turning back to older projects while stories circulate with the editors who requested them.  See if you can guess where my head’s at:

  • “Well, You Asked for a Miracle”
  • “To-Do Lists of the Possessed”
  • “Every Apocalypse Is Personal”
  • “A Collapsing Life, but with Free Rentals”
  • “The Simple Lives Offered at Rest Stops”

So, how are things with you guys?

 

The “I Love Everything about This Goddamned Book” Post: Husk, by Rachel Autumn Deering

Hi there.

At the start of this year, I took on the Goodreads Reading Challenge, putting an insane amount of books I quite simply don’t have time to read if I intend to work, write, parent, husband, eat, or sleep at some point this year.  Still, I’ve kept to it because, fuck, why the hell not?  Some books are better than others.  Some I don’t finish because they’re fucking awful.  Some are fucking great.  And some I absolutely loved. 

Here’s one of those books.

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I don’t have the blurbin’ power of Brian Keene, but, for what it’s worth: “Rachel Autumn Deering’s Husk is a stunning, heart-pounding (and heart-wrenching) story that will force you to read one more page, and then one more, and then another, until you take in this entire novella in one sitting.”

In Husk, writer Rachel Autumn Deering effortlessly creates the world and the voice of a veteran suffering from PTSD and forced to rebuild his life after his final tour.  Kevin joined the military when his grandparents died, his last-living relatives.  While fighting, his unit is attacked and his best friend is violently killed right in front him.  Now Kevin’s come home, left with just the broken pieces of his life prior to serving, the pieces of his time in uniform, and not much else.  Worse, he’s begun to see things, out of the corners of his eyes, and those things are growing bolder.

The first thing that strikes a reader when they start Husk is the voice.  Not necessarily the voice of the characters, but of the narration.  This is a story one could imagine hearing told in the oral tradition.  The setting for the vast majority of the novella is in the South, but it doesn’t fall into the pit of stereotype; this isn’t caricature.  More, the narration itself is almost a character, filling in the gaps between dialogue like the side-comments of a trusted friend.

Kevin and, later, Samantha are fleshed-out figures, done quickly in keeping with the overall stories length and when the sense of doom builds, this makes the inevitable all the more impactful.  Even characters with almost no page-time–the receptionist in Kevin’s doctor’s office, Samantha’s parents–breathe freely here, moving throughout the world in a way that the reader senses that, when the scene cuts away from them, they might still continue moving and going about their business.  Deering doesn’t belabor the characterization, choosing key details that will resonate with the reader.  The reader knows someone like Samantha or Samantha’s mother or even Kevin’s best friend in the service.

The novella hinges on one conceit for the reader–is what Kevin seeing real or not?  Honestly, at the end of the day, you could go either way and not get much of an argument from me (Deering, although building some ambiguity, tips her hand a bit, but not enough that to argue one way or the other would be a fool’s game; YMMV).  Because of that seeming-ambiguity, the novella works all the more; it forces you to think of it after the final too-soon page passes through your fingers and you close the cover.

Really, the only problem with Husk is the length.  Deering built a world quickly and threw a ton of plot lines out into the fields; while she ties everything up, you won’t want her to.  Husk doesn’t beg to be a full-fledged novel, but you will.  Easily.


 

On a more subjective note, I tend to cull my collection of books pretty regularly; only so many bookcases in my house.  Will I reread this?  Have I reread it in the past decade?  Books that answer in the negative get donated.  Still, on the top shelf of my tallest bookcase are my go-tos.  My absolutely favorite novels.  David Morrell’s First Blood is up there, as well as Damien Angelica Walters’s Paper Tigers and Harlan Ellison’s Shatterday and Eddie Little’s Another Day in Paradise, among others.  When I finished Husk, I put it on the top shelf.  It fit right in.

You can pick up Husk here.  Go.  Buy.  Read.