How Horror Saved My Life (And Why Writing Horror is Good for the Soul)

Writing horror almost killed me. But it saved my life too.

It has saved my life more than once.

I’ll start with the almost-killing. Me, eleven years old and fresh from reading my first Stephen King (Pet Sematary, and even the thought of that book still brings a grin to my face). I suddenly knew what I wanted to do with my life, I wanted to be a horror writer. I wanted to tell scary stories and get paid to do it. In my eyes I was already a professional, I had five years experience under my belt after writing my first gothic masterpiece, The Little Monster Book, at six years old. I was ready to shift things up a gear, though. I wanted to write something that would terrify people.

Back then, I had a huge advantage. I believed in horror. In fact, that’s how I thought writing worked: authors didn’t just sit down and imagine things, they went out into the world and found real ghosts, and real monsters, then used those experiences as nightmare fuel. I couldn’t quite comprehend how something as good as Pet Sematary could exist without some kernel of truth at its heart, some secret, real-life horror. I was convinced that there was a conspiracy of horror authors who had witnessed the supernatural, a cabal of paranormal detectives who shared their experiences as fiction. And I wanted in. At eleven years old I didn’t just suspect that the supernatural existed, I knew that it did. I had a desperate, unshakable faith in it. That was my modus operandi, then, to find real horror and then use that experience to create a truly unforgettable story.

[My plan involved a murder house, a flashlight, and my best friend Nigel.]

Did You Catch Stubby the Rocket’s Cameo on The Man in the High Castle?

It’s comforting to know that, in the disturbing alternate reality presented by The Man in the High Castle, one stalwart little rocket is still chugging along! We spotted Stubby sitting alongside other antiques in Robert Childan’s American Artistic Handcrafts store. Childan collects items both authentic and counterfeit, but we know our Stubby is the genuine article.

Push the Button, Patton!

We have (another) Mad! In a wonderful merging of my theory and the AV Club’s, that last “Patton Oswalt-shaped” silhouette on the MST3K Kickstarter page has indeed been filled with Patton Oswalt…but he’s going to be TV’s Frank’s son! Or, to call him by his proper moniker: TV’s Son of TV’s Frank!

Will he bubble over with Frank-esque enthusiasm? Or will he be sullen, forced to follow in his old man’s henchman footsteps?

[Will he share his father’s love of Squanto?]

Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a copy of Tania del Rio and Will Staehle’s Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye, available now from Quirk Books!

Meet Warren the 13th, a cursed 12-year-old Victorian bellhop who’s terribly unlucky … yet perpetually optimistic, hard-working, and curious. Orphan Warren’s pride and joy is his family’s hotel, but he’s been miserable ever since his evil Aunt Anaconda took over the management.

Anaconda believes a mysterious treasure known as the All-Seeing Eye is hidden somewhere on the grounds, and she’ll do anything to find it. If Warren wants to preserve his family’s legacy, he’ll need to find the treasure first—if the hotel’s many strange and wacky guests don’t beat him to it!

Comment in the post to enter!

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The Walking Dead Season 6 Midseason Finale: “Start to Finish”

The Walking Dead may be a lot of different things to a lot of different people—family drama, zombie horror, warnings of a dystopian future, cash machine—but at the end of the day, it’s a show about the lengths a person will go to survive in a world determined to destroy them. While that’s a thrilling storytelling device, in the long haul it makes for a weak theme. There are only so many ways in which a character can develop within those narrow borders that you end up telling variations on the same story ad nauseum. To spice things up, a writer might turn a bunch of extras into cannon fodder or kill off a beloved character, but once the dust settles the same old, same old is still ambling along. The best and worst thing to be said about TWD this far into the game is that at least it’s consistent.

[“Well, at least you’re being honest.”]

Science and Swashbuckling: A Daughter of No Nation by A.M. Dellamonica

In Child of a Hidden Sea, adventurer and biology enthusiast Sophie Hansa is transported to Stormwrack, a world of island nations ruled by swashbuckling and magic. She finds herself embroiled in a political conflict involving members of a family she never knew she had, and quickly realizes that Stormwrack isn’t just an exciting playground for her to explore. In fact, it may hold important warnings about the future of her own world. After a series of high-stakes escapades involving deep sea diving, dueling, and murder, she is forced to return home to San Francisco with far more questions than answers.

A Daughter of No Nation picks up months later. Sophie has been hard at work, improving her stamina, learning knot-tying techniques and self-defense, and generally making herself into the best potential Stormwrack explorer that she can be. When her half-sister Verena turns up and asks her to go back to Stormwrack, Sophie jumps at the chance to return.

[Read more]

Jessica Jones is Her Own Worst Enemy

Hot off her Alias reread, Tansy Rayner Roberts reviews Netflix’s Jessica Jones. In this post: “Episode 6—AKA You’re a Winner.” Spoilers for season 1.

AKA You’re A Winner!

Written By: Edward Ricourt
Directed By: Stephen Surjik

Malcolm is now in recovery from drug addiction, and he’s being a model patient. He’s attending group therapy far more often than Jessica, and after some soul searching he is all aboard the Anti-Kilgrave Committee with an unprecedented amount of enthusiasm.

[“I preferred your brain on drugs.”]

Pull List: Pretty Deadly

At this point, if Kelly Sue DeConnick is involved, I’m guaranteed to be there front and center. She could reboot the phonebook and I’d have it in my pull list the second it was announced. It’s more than just being a fan of her work. Yes, she’s a feminist icon and a comic book powerhouse, but more than that she uses an old medium to tell new stories, well, maybe not new per se but overlooked and ignored. Her take on Carol Danvers reinvigorated a wasted character into a truly amazing run on Captain Marvel. By blending the lost art of Blaxploitation and age-old fears of a patriarchy run wild she created Bitch Planet, a high watermark graphic novels will spend decades trying to match. And with the hook of a genderbent Spaghetti Western, Pretty Deadly came roaring onto shelves.

[“Am I a monster?”]

Peter Jackson Announces He’s Directing an Episode of Doctor Who in the Silliest Way

In 2012, when asked if he would ever direct an episode of Doctor WhoLord of the Rings director Peter Jackson said, “I’m a huge Doctor Who fan… Just name a time and place, and I’ll be there!” Looks like that time and place will become clear very soon, as evidenced by this tongue-in-cheek video Jackson posted to his Facebook page over the weekend.

[Read more]

Need a Ride? BITE by K. S. Merbeth

Back in the distant past, when Mad Max: Fury Road was still a big hit in cinemas, Orbit announced—not coincidentally, I think—that it had acquired “a dark debut” complete with “an amazing world” and a “strong female main character” sure to prove perfect for fans of George Miller’s movie.

The book in question was BITE by Kristyn S. Merbeth, “the stark and darkly comedic story of a young girl who joins a crew of bandits in a lawless, post-nuclear world,” and last week, its publisher showed it off properly.

[Cover art coming up!]

Series: British Fiction Focus

Return of the Ham. Watching Return of the Jedi for the First Time

Oh, Lucas. What have you done?

What have you done?

Last time, you showed me what you (or at least, you in cooperation with others, possibly?) could do with The Empire Strikes Back. And the result was a wonderful movie that knocked my socks off and sold me on Star Wars forever.

I trusted you, or at least past you, a bit more than I should have. Fortunately, some warnings kept me from getting my hopes up too much, but goodness.

I’ll be blunt: I don’t think Return of the Jedi is as good as The Empire Strikes Back or A New Hope.

And yet… despite not being as good as its predecessors, Return of the Jedi still strikes a chord in me.

[“There is good in him.”]

Syfy’s Childhood’s End Updates a Classic to Ask Big Questions

Childhood’s End is coming to Syfy as a three-night event beginning December 14th and starring Mike Vogel, Charles Dance, and Colm Meaney. I was fortunate enough to see an early screening of the first episode, and I’ve tried to gather a few non-spoilery thoughts about it, as well as a few of the highlights from the panel that followed the screening. While I found it a little choppy at times, I thought this opening episode set up an intriguing premise that will be compelling for those who haven’t read the book, as well Arthur C. Clarke fans who have wanted to see this story brought to the screen. Check out our non-spoiler review!

[Would you trust an alien who sounded like Charles Dance?]