Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Volume 3 of my collected short stories: The Beach That Summer

Thanks once more to my good friends at Crossroad Press, the esteemed David Wilson and David Dodd, the third volume of my collected short stories is now in print. Yay!

Fifteen horror, crime, post-apocalyptic and science-fiction stories -- most never before published, including "The Feeling," my latest, written in 2013. And several personal favorites: the very strange "Every Step of the Way," the religio-dystopian (my specialty) "Christmas in the Year of Our Lord Ten," the seriously demented "The Overseer," and the title story, a twist on Jaws.

Available from Amazon, and in other digital formats and read-online, at Smashwords.

Volumes 1 and 2 (and the rest of my books)? Read more here.

Here is my introduction to the third volume, which tells some of the early story of my other-writer half (yes, the dark side). As always, enjoy -- and heed the last line of the intro, my friends! It all goes so fast, trust me...


So here we are. The third volume of my collected short stories. My thanks once more to David and David.

I remember fondly when this long, fulfilling journey of writing horror, mystery and dystopian fiction began. I was in high school – a freshman, I believe – and I had started reading Edgar Allan Poe, who, I assure you, had not been on any reading list at my parochial grammar school, or recommended by my unbending Irish-Catholic mother, whose demons have served me well in my dark fiction in these later years. I loved Poe immediately. He opened a new world to me.

Those early stories, some of which were published in my high school newspaper (easily enough, since I was co-editor!), were not my first tries at fiction. Those came earlier, when I began to scribble vignettes and dribs and drabs of stories. If memory serves me, the very first story I wrote was in fifth grade: a fantasy set on the bottom of the sea, the characters an octopus and a fish. 

So writing has been pretty much in my blood forever, for better and for worse (trust me, there is plenty of worse, but we’ll save the psychoanalysis for another time).

After college, I became a journalist, with non-fiction my bread and butter. Reading my first Stephen King Book, Salem’s Lot, in 1980, brought me back to horror. I started writing fiction seriously again, on an old electric typewriter. I sold some stories and my first horror novel, Thunder Rise. And while non-fiction remained – and remains – my meal ticket, fiction is my true love.

And so, I am delighted to present The Beach That Summer, fifteen explorations of horror, mystery, madness and more. A couple appeared in magazines a few years back, but the rest are new. Several rank among my personal favorites, if I may be immodest for a moment.

“Christmas in the Year of Our Lord Ten” harkens to that ’60s Catholic upbringing that many of us endured, and it belongs firmly to a treasured sub-genre of my fiction – religious madness, as it may be called – many examples of which you will see in my other collections. 

“Every Step of the Way” is a tidy little tale of insanity – or is it? 

“First Love” is a most unconventional coming-of-age story, “Labor of Love” a twist on Rosemary’s Baby. The aging mother in Momma” seems to suffer from Alzheimer’s… seems to. In “Something for Heidi,” a creepy misogynist gets what he deserves. “The Overseer” demonstrates that while you may be able to run, you can never, ever hide. “The Place He Was In” was inspired by “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” the best Twilight Zone episode ever, in my view. 

Title story “The Beach That Summer” is near the top of my personal favorites – a noir tale of a serial killer loose in an idyllic setting. In that one, I took the basic premise of the great summer movie Jaws and turned it human. Or, more accurately, inhuman.

And I offer several more dark stories in this volume, including one I completed just a few weeks ago: “The Feeling,” about a young man with a haunting connection to his dead father.

As always, enjoy. Be well. 

And give someone you love a hug. That’s the best kind of feeling.

January 5, 2014
Providence, Rhode Island

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