Recommended Reading and What’s Next: Part Five of Our October Author Interview Series

Welcome back for the final installment in our October author interview series! Today, we discuss what books our eight fabulous authors are reading as well as what they’ve got planned next!

So let’s take it away!

What books are currently in your to-be-read pile? Likewise, what book has been your favorite read of 2018, and what forthcoming books are you looking most forward to reading?

LORI TITUS: I have a pretty thick list! I’m always reading something but I still don’t get to read as many as I like. Lately I’m doing two at a time with one of those being on audio.

I’m looking forward to reading Blood Communion by Anne Rice when it comes out this fall. I really enjoyed All Systems Red by Martha Wells.

I think my favorite book so far this year is probably a tie between two novels: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor and Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.

CALVIN DEMMER: To-read next: James S. A. Corey’s Leviathan Wakes and Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies (non-fiction).

I’m slow when it comes to reading novels at the moment, so my favorite novel I read this year would be Jeff VanderMeer’s Borne (published in 2017). For a novella, I’d go with Philip Fracassi’s Shiloh, which was a very original and fantastic story set during the Civil War. I’ve recently read Christa Carmen’s collection, Something Borrowed, Something Blood-soaked, which I enjoyed. I liked how she had supernatural horrors and real-life battles, such as substance abuse and mental health issues.

Well, your debut novel, The Rust Maidens, is a book I am looking forward to. I read the synopsis and couldn’t resist pre-ordering it.

ANYA MARTIN: Unfortunately I haven’t read as many novels this year as I would have liked to because I’ve had so many other things on my plate, including my own writing, and my carpal tunnel made it hard to hold up a book during flare-ups, even, perhaps ironically triggered some of those flare-ups. I’m old school and still prefer actual books to a tablet. One way I addressed these limitations was large graphic novels which I could spread open on a table, bed, or my lap. It actually came out in 2017 but I was absolutely blown away by My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris! Also the graphic novel adaptation of Octavia Butler’s powerful SF/horror novel Kindred by Damian Duffy and John Jennings

Both Michael Griffin’s and Orrin Grey’s new collections from Word Horde are top of my to-read pile, along with John Claude Smith’s Occasional Beasts: Tales from Omnium Gatherum and Damien Angelica Walters’ Cry Your Way Home, which came out at the beginning of 2018 from Apex, and I tragically haven’t gotten to yet. Plus The Future is Female, the new Library of America anthology of classic SF stories by women edited by Lisa Yaszek, Georgia Tech Professor of Science Fiction Studies, who also edited the kickass Sisters of Tomorrow anthology (2016). As for upcoming, I simply can’t wait for Craig Laurance Gidney’s novel A Spectral Hue, set for June 2019 from Word Horde!

DOUNGJAI GAM: what’s not in my TBR pile is more like it…I typically had about 5-6 books going at a time, but my reading habits have slowed considerably in the last couple of years and I need to fix that. currently it’s Buried in Blue Clay by LL Soares, Hannahwhere by John M McIlveen, and a reread of Jack Ketchum’s Peaceable Kingdom. My favorite reads so far this year (none of which were released in 2018):The Fisherman by John Langan, Haven by Tom Deady, and Husk by Rachel Autumn Deering. I’m really looking forward to Bracken MacLeod’s next collection White Knight and Other Pawns as well as pestilent by Rachel Autumn Deering and Matt Hayward.

MICHAEL GRIFFIN: My favorite read of the year was You by Caroline Kepnes, just because it’s so fun, crazy and over the top, with such a compelling narrative voice. It’s not weird fiction and not even really horror either, but I think of it as something like American Psycho for the social media age. I also enjoyed the sequel, Hidden Bodies, though not quite as much as You.

My favorite 2018 read “in genre” would be Corpsepaint by David Peak, a really cool pagan black metal novel published by Word Horde. I hope a lot of people will check this out.

The to-be-read pile is stacked higher than ever, because I’ve spent so much time this year reading crime novels and thrillers. One of those, Laird Barron’s Blood Standard, proves weird authors can write really great crime books! Next up, I’m looking forward to Darkest Hours by Mike Thorn, Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez, Bones Are Made to Be Broken by Paul Michael Anderson and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. Of course there are always more things landing in the pile and this intended reading order is subject to constant shuffling.

LEE FORMAN: My to be read pile is always growing, never getting smaller. But I’m currently reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy. After that I plan to read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, then on to Sleepwalk by John Saul. I’d have to say my favorite read this year has been Still Dark by D.W. Gillespie. I’m really looking forward to reading Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.

CHRISTA CARMEN: One of the books I’m most looking forward to reading is The Rust Maidens, by the lovely and infinitely talented facilitator of this interview. I’m a huge fan of your short stories and the Pretty Marys novella, and S.J. Budd’s early review of the novel has me that much more excited to get my hands on it, rust and all. Others anticipated releases include Stephanie M. Wytovich’s The Dangers of Surviving a Slit Throat, and Stephen King’s Elevation.

I don’t know if I can narrow down my favorite book of 2018 to a single reading experience, so I’ll list several: Bring Me Back, by B.A. Paris, Florida, by Lauren Groff, The Death of Mrs. Westaway, by Ruth Ware, and The Hunger, by Alma Katsu. My current TBR pile consists of Unbury Carol, by Josh Malerman, The Boy at the Keyhole, by Stephen Giles, Foe, by Iain Reid, and Bad Man, by Dathan Auerbach.

GEMMA FILES: My to-read pile is (I shit you not) two full bookcases’ worth and still growing. I used to read faster, or so I can only assume—I can certainly knock out a John Connolly Charlie Parker mystery in two hours or less even now, but then, he’s special to me (The Woman in the Woods is his latest, and it’s excellent, as ever). Most recently, I finally got hold of a copy of Victor LaValle’s The Ballad of Black Tom and read it all the way through (incredible, from top to tail), then re-read Margaret Irwin’s slim, odd little out-of-print book Still She Wished For Company, which reminds me strikingly of the work of another quietly brilliant historical/weird female writer who most people don’t know about, Marjorie Bowen. It’s about time travel, sort of…time bending, at any rate, crossed with 18th-century rakery and haute magie, plus a really creepy incest-vibe brother/sister relationship, but because it’s seen through the eyes of two people who barely know what’s going on, almost all of it lives in the liminal, between-spaces of the narrative.

But David Peak’s Corpsepaint is probably still my favourite of what I’ve read so far this year: bleak, cold and cosmically horrifying as an explosion at a factory that makes Hieronymous Bosch prints scored to whatever black metal band you find rawest. Next on the list: probably Hitler’s Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reich by Eric Kurlander, a series of essays about Nazi “border science,” and The Penguin Book of Witches (ed. Katherine Hoew), which excerpts accounts of witch-trials from 1582 to 1813.  

What’s next for you?

LORI TITUS: More books! I have more short fiction, but also plans for one or two novels next year. A sci fi, a fantasy, and more horror, of course.

CALVIN DEMMER: I have quite a few different projects at various stages of completion. It’s hard to say which I think will see the light next. I’ve been going back to work on some of my Dark Celebrations short stories. Also, I have been slowly looking to put out a collection of short stories, and I am working on my first novella. Lastly, I do have a couple of short stories that will be coming out in magazines and anthologies in the near future.

DOUNGJAI GAM: There’s stuff in the works but nothing that’s coming out anytime soon—a couple of anthology submissions I’m working on, a few short stories that have been begging for attention too. I have plans for a novella and what I think may end up being a novel as well. I’m a very slow writer who gets easily distracted, but I’m really hoping to strike a solid balance soon so that I can get more work out there. I also have three readings coming up in October and November that I’m excited about.

MICHAEL GRIFFIN: First I’ve got to finish one novel, then go back and finish a second that I set aside to work on this one, then go even further back and finish “Armageddon House,” the half-done novella I mentioned that’s been simmering on the back burner for almost a year.

At some point, between these things, I’d like to create a new short story or two. This focus on longer works is fine, but since I have no new work coming out for such a long time, it’s tempting to imagine the world might forget I exist! I know from past experience there’s no pacing these things. Sometimes I have five stories published in three months, then nothing for almost a year.

LEE FORMAN: What I’d love to do next is finish my full-length novel. Now that I’ve got a book or two on the shelf I’d love nothing more than to add a few more. It’s probably going to take some time with all the other projects I have going on, but that’s my main goal—to continue publishing long fiction at least on a somewhat regular basis.

CHRISTA CARMEN: As for forthcoming projects, I’m only a few short stories away (stories that are already in the works) from having enough material to put together a second collection. The tone of this one would be a bit different from Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked, but some of the same themes would abide.

Still, I won’t pursue another collection until I’ve finished the novel I’m working on. I was surprised by how much additional work came with the release of Something Borrowed…, and so I’ve been beating myself up regarding the last few things I wanted to tinker with on this new book, Coming Down Fast. Now that the collection has been released, I’m going to use that relentless self-flogging for actual good, and finish it.

Besides Coming Down Fast and the new collection, there’s another novel I have in the works, about a thirty-something year old woman who writes a blog about the pharmaceutical industry and ends up pursuing acupuncture as a personal infertility treatment, with monstrous results, entitled 13 Sessions.

Staying busy sustains my passion for this crazy thing I love to do. When I first started writing, I kept a folder with me at all times containing a printout of a WIP short story, or several novel chapters. I printed out a quote from Stephen King and pasted it across the front: “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” As silly as it may seem, it reminded me that the only thing I actually have control over is not whether I get published or if readers like my stories, but how hard I work. I don’t use the folder anymore, but the quote is engrained in my mind, and I like that I can use it to hold myself to a certain standard of productivity. When seeing through longer projects, it’s imperative that I feel satisfied with at least the amount of words on the page, if nothing else.

GEMMA FILES: Write a story, send it in. Finish that next damn book. Keep on keeping on.

Thank you again to my eight featured authors for being part of this month’s roundtable interview series! One more time, let’s look at all of their awesome new books, available now!

Something Borrowed, Something Blood-SoakedSomething Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked by Christa Carmen

In her debut collection, Christa Carmen combines horror, charm, humor, and social critique to shape thirteen haunting, harrowing narratives of women struggling with both otherworldly and real-world problems. From grief, substance abuse, and mental health disorders, to a post-apocalyptic exodus, a seemingly sinister babysitter with unusual motivations, and a group of pesky ex-boyfriends who won’t stay dead, Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked is a compelling exploration of horrors both supernatural and psychological, and an undeniable affirmation of Carmen’s flair for short fiction.


Soul BondedSoul Bonded by Lori Titus

My soul is in hock, a mystical layaway.
I haven’t sold my soul to the devil, but the deal I made is close enough. I have to work for a demon for the next seven years. If I do my job well enough, my contract is void after that time, and I get the part of my soul back that he took away. Unless he decides I’m more valuable to him than that. I’ve come across worse odds.

The Human AlchemyThe Human Alchemy by Michael Griffin

Heralded as one of the leading voices in contemporary weird fiction, Michael Griffin returns with his second collection, The Human Alchemy. Here you will find eleven magnificent tales of the strange and sublime, the familiar and the disquieting, where dreamlike beauty and breathtaking horror intertwine. Featuring an introduction by S.P. Miskowski.

glass slipper dreams, shatteredglass slipper dreams, shattered by doungjai gam

from glass slipper dreams, shattered: Like a stupid girl with glass slipper dreams, I did everything you wanted with the hopes that one day, you would love me back.

glass slipper dreams, shattered the debut collection from doungjai gam is filled with loss, sorrow, revenge and remorse.

gam delivers devastating punches in this collection of short-shorts, taking our breath away with a turn of a phrase, a dark play on words; every syllable paints unexpected shadows in our imagination.

Sleeping with the MonsterSleeping with the Monster by Anya Martin

Twelve women. Twelve horrors disguised as love. In Anya Martin’s new collection of horror tales: a teenage girl faces the consequences of wishing her dog could live forever; a romantic college student wakes a gargoyle in Paris; and a lonely woman finds her house infested with insects. History’s darker depths are delved as an American jazz singer confronts her lover who has committed terrible war crimes as he descends into madness in post-WW2 Germany; and a couple experiences H.P. Lovecraft’s Resonator machine via found footage from the Velvet Underground. In the publisher’s favorite tale: Actress Elsa Lanchester reveals the true story of Bride of Frankenstein involving the preserved brain of Karl Marx’s daughter in 1923 London. With this book Martin joins the ranks of daring woman delving into the dark fantastical.

The Sea Was a Fair MasterThe Sea Was a Fair Master by Calvin Demmer

The world’s fate lies with a comatose young girl; an android wants to remember a human she once knew under Martian skies; men at sea learn that the ocean is a realm far different from land, where an unforgiving god rules; a school security guard discovers extreme English class; and a man understands what the behemoth beneath the sea commands of him.
The Sea Was a Fair Master is a collection of 23 stories, riding the currents of fantasy, science fiction, crime, and horror. There are tales of murder, death, loss, revenge, greed, and hate. There are also tales of hope, survival, and love.
For the sea was a fair master.

Lee FormanZero Perspective by Lee A. Forman

Lost in the depths of space and time, swallowed by something unknown to humanity, a derelict ship is adrift in an alternate reality. John and his crew board the vessel, the Esometa, on a rescue mission. The ship’s been lost for two weeks with no explanation. When they discover its occupants dead and decaying, a mind-bending journey begins. The Esometa takes them down a path filled with horrid creatures and bizarre events from which there may be no return…

Drawn Up from Deep Places by Gemma Files

Drawn Up from Deep PlacesIn her second collection from Trepidatio Publishing, award-winning author Gemma Files takes her readers on journeys out beyond safe borders—from the trackless depths of the sea, to the empty desert frontiers of the Weird West, even to the edges of cracks between worlds. Here, in these narrow spaces between the known and the unknown, behind the paper-thin curtains of reality, lurk monsters both human and ancient: selkies and avenging revenants, voodoo priestesses and pirate sorcerers, ghosts and vampires, and the most famous murderer of all time. But however strange the things found in these deep places, what draws them up, and calls them back, are forces the human heart knows all too well: grief and vengeance, rage and loss . . . and, most terrible of all, love.

Published over the past fifteen years—some only available online until now—these fantasies of the darkest kind showcase the breadth and scope of Gemma Files’s imagination, seamlessly blending styles, genres, themes, and atmospheres into a dark and thrilling voice like nothing else in fiction today. Newcomers and old friends both are invited to join her in these journeys . . . if they dare to look upon what has been—DRAWN UP FROM DEEP PLACES

Happy reading!