UNSEAMING 2: the second reading

/ September 9th, 2014 / No Comments »

My thanks to my friend Anne Sampson for snapping photos from my reading in Roanoke this past Friday, and thus providing evidence that it actually happened, hee, and that there were even people there! I read a couple short bits from Unseaming, as well as my poem “The Journey to Kailash,” and later participated in the open mic, something I haven’t done in a while.
 
For folks in my hometown who missed it — but weren’t deliberately skipping it — there will be another chance. My next reading in Roanoke is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28 (appropriately close to Halloween) at the newly renovated main library branch downtown. And by then Unseaming will actually be available for sale.
 

Note how the Hollins University M.F.A. students make sure there's a safety barrier between themselves and the horror writer.

Note how the Hollins M.F.A. students make sure there’s a safety barrier between themselves and the horror writer.


 
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A new reading from UNSEAMING, Friday in Roanoke

/ September 2nd, 2014 / 1 Comment »

Unseaming_MD_webI’m grateful to be able to announce yet another preview reading of my forthcoming collection of horror stories, Unseaming, this time in my home city of Roanoke, at 6 p.m. this Friday, Sept. 5. The invitation came from The Roanoke Readings, a series run by the Jackson Center for Creative Writing at my alma mater, Hollins University. I’m to be the first reader of their 2014-15 season of programming, Lord help them. The Facebook page for the event is here.
 
I’m calling this a “preview” reading, by the way, because technically the collection isn’t available for sale until next month — though I will have copies for selling and signing Friday at a wallet-busting $15 a piece, heh. The reading happens at a new venue called the CoLab, 1327 Grandin Road S.W., across from The Grandin Theatre, between The Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op and Nopales Restaurant. After my presentation there’s an open mic for anyone who wants to take part.
 
I’m certainly going to read my short, funny (yet gruesome) story “An Invitation via Email,” which first appeared in the Ann VanderMeer-helmed incarnation of Weird Tales. I’m tempted to deviate from the agenda a little and also share my poem “The Journey to Kailash,” reprinted once more in my new collection Hungry Constellations. I’ve only ever done one live reading of the complete poem, at the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts in 2011, but it was a hit when I did it. We shall see!
 
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Scenes from the UNSEAMING reading in New Paltz

/ August 18th, 2014 / No Comments »

Circumstances conspired so that I ended up giving an unplanned-for preview reading of my forthcoming story collection Unseaming at Inquiring Minds bookstore in New Paltz, NY, a couple weeks ago. It ended up being a cozy gathering of friends, which was fine and dandy. Unseaming comes out officially in October, though I had a few copies on hand specially printed for the reading (and the store kept a few copies of those on hand to sell, along with copies of just about all my other available books.) I read my stories “An Invitation via Email” and “Monster” in their entirety, as well as the opening section of “Her Acres of Pastoral Playground.” Anita took photos, as did my buddy Shveta Thakrar. Laird Barron wrote a few kind words about it on his own blog. The silly giddy captions here, though, are all me:
 

Me_at_Inquiring

Here I am mugging for Anita’s camera beside the spread of my books that the employees at Inquiring Minds set up. Kacey Ezell made that shirt for me back in ’09, when I was up for the Nebula Award and had just released the 10th anniversary issue of Mythic Delirium. It says “Nebula-nominated, Neil Gaiman-publishing supergeek.” And don’t you forget it.


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A new review of THE BLACK FIRE CONCERTO

/ August 14th, 2014 / No Comments »

black_fire_concerto_front_coverMichael M. Jones of Schrödinger’s Bookshelf has posted a new review of my novel The Black Fire Concerto, and gamely posted it to Amazon and Goodreads, too. It’s thorough, honest, and quite a lot of fun:
 

His traveling duo, the seemingly ageless Olyssa and the young Erzelle, are a mismatched pair as fitting as those who once strode the pages of sword and sorcery novels and pulp magazines. It’s an almost refreshingly retro feel; though the modern sensibilities can be seen, this is the sort of eldritch nightmare H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, or Clark Ashton Smith might have appreciated. Allen spins scenes of obscenely-repurposed mobile body parts, unholy constructions built of still-living flesh, armies of the shambling dead. … One of the things I appreciate about this book is that it lacks romance; the most powerful thread here is the love Olyssa has for her missing sister. Even after the enigmatic Lilla’s fate is discovered, that familial bond never wavers. It’s almost unsettling for something as pure and basic as family duty and connect to be the underlying core of such a bizarre story.

 
I’ve mentioned before that I’ve actually drafted the sequel, The Ghoulmaker’s Aria. (It’s much longer and, well, even weirder and gorier, heh, heh.) There are questions to be resolved about when and how it will be published, but trust me when I say that behind-the-scenes skullduggery is afoot to positive purpose. Hopefully it will tunnel to the surface next year.
 
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Author and Shirley Jackson winning editor Joseph S. Pulver Sr. praises UNSEAMING

/ August 11th, 2014 / No Comments »

Unseaming_MD_webJoseph S. Pulver, Sr., author of the collection Portraits of Ruin and editor of anthologies A Season in Carcosa and the Shirley Jackson Award-winning The Grimscribe’s Puppets, has provided me with a delightful new blurb for my forthcoming collection of short stories, Unseaming:
 

“After you travel these often blistering and always fantastic, poetic nightmares with Mike Allen, the darkness owns your soul … and you rejoice in it!”

 
I love the thought of being a bad influence in the best way.
 
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A new interview with me at the Interstitial Arts Foundation

/ August 11th, 2014 / No Comments »

Interstitial Arts FoundationThere’s a new interview with me posted at the Interstitial Arts Foundation blog. (You can tell it was conducted before the latest issue of Mythic Delirium came out, but that’s okay.) In said interview, I talk about what crowdfunding can mean for hard-to-classify art projects:
 

[O]nce upon a time, if I wanted to publish a book as strange and niche as Clockwork Phoenix, I would have had to live with the idea that I was going to lose thousands of dollars of my own money and hope that, despite limited resources, I could put on enough hustle to recoup at least a little of what I spent. Crowdfunding puts the hustle right up front, cast out to a wide audience, and if you make your goal, then you start out with everything paid off and your book pre-sold — so long as your budget’s solid and you’re solidly committed to giving your backers everything you promised them.

 
And tangentially:
 

[P]eople fret about relying on Kickstarter to support a long-term project like a magazine, and that’s understandable: if you don’t make your goal, you’re done. (Indiegogo, I imagine, mitigates this effect somewhat, since you get some of the money you raise regardless.) But you know what? These days, the traditional subscription model isn’t any more reliable — unless you enjoy death by slow attrition. People respond to crowdfunding campaigns; maybe it’s the time limit that makes all the difference.

 
My thanks to IAF board member Deborah Atherton for the chance to stand on a soapbox.
 
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Shirley Jackson Award nominee Livia Llewellyn endorses UNSEAMING

/ August 7th, 2014 / No Comments »

Unseaming_MD_webNot only did I get a starred review of my new horror collection from Publishers Weekly this past weekend, but I received a new blurb for the book from the incredibly talented Livia Llewellyn, which I’m honored to be able to share here:
 

“Mike Allen’s Unseaming is wonderfully, wickedly labyrinthine in nature — which is to say, where you start with each story is nowhere close to the destination he has in mind for you. Just when you think you have a handle on the journey he’s sending you on, Allen masterfully leads you down an entirely new path, just as wondrous and terrifying as the previous twist in the road. These are beautiful, complex, unsettling tales of love, loss and pain that will stay in your head long after you put down the pages, stitching their way through all the dark corners of your soul.”

 
By the way, if you’re a horror fan and you haven’t read Llewellyn’s harrowing story collection Engines of Desire, you need to fix that immediately.
 
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New poem out in POSTSCRIPTS TO DARKNESS

/ August 7th, 2014 / No Comments »

cover-art-pstd5-final-for-printer-fonts-embedded-with-is-templateThe newest issue of Postscripts to Darkness was just released, featuring my surreal far future sci-fi poem “Dearly Beloved.” This poem is set in the same universe as my short stories “Twa Sisters” and “Still Life with Skull,” and like them it’s heavily inspired by the art of Alessandro Bavari.
 
While those stories involve labyrinthine identity-switching double-crosses, this companion poem is intended more as a portrait of a day in the life of the citizenry. My thanks to poetry editor Dominik Parisien for giving this piece a home.
 
By the way, Dom has been agitating for me to write more stories in this milieu, and indeed, another one is in the works.
 
It might be worth mentioning that “Twa Sisters” was included in a chapbook given out as a reward by the Interstitial Arts Foundation as part of their recent successful Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for a new issue of Interfictions magazine.
 
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Starred review of my debut collection UNSEAMING in Publishers Weekly!

/ August 4th, 2014 / No Comments »

Unseaming_MD_webForgive me for punctuating the slug of this post with an explanation point, but I’m beside myself. The first official review of Unseaming has appeared, from Publishers Weekly no less, and it’s a starred review. Anita and I have just come back from a wonderful, whirlwind trip to upstate New York (where everything mentioned in this post happened) and I have so much to catch up on, giveaway prizes to mail, Clockwork Phoenix contributor royalties to calculate, Mythic Delirium submissions to read; but this could not wait:
 

Allen’s 14-story debut collection saturates alternate dimensions with literal horrific fleshiness. His unsettling Nebula-nominated “The Button Bin” is as disorienting as it is disturbing; it neatly sets the stage for the blood-soaked dreamscape vision of an overstuffed sin-eater in “The Blessed Days,” as well as the more direct but no less chilling creature that crawls onto the Appalachian Trail in “The Hiker’s Tale.” In prose both lyrical and unvarnished, Allen depicts haunting regret in “Stone Flowers” and disembodied shrieking rage and grief in “Let There Be Darkness.” When he combines both emotions in “The Quiltmaker,” a continuation of “The Button Bin,” he transforms that original tale in ways that resonate throughout the collection. Never obvious, sometimes impenetrable, Allen’s stories deliver solid shivering terror tinged with melancholy sorrow over the fragility of humankind.

 
Whoever wrote this review was frighteningly spot on — they really, really got what I’m about as a writer. Given all the obstacles and false starts that plagued this book on its long road to publication … well, this feeling will pass — it always does, heh — but right now I feel like the runner who trips over every hurdle but completes the race anyway, and then gradually realizes that against all odds he crossed the finish line first.
 
#SFWApro
 

Fun with giveaways

/ July 29th, 2014 / No Comments »

Sharing some of the entertaining consequences of my big ole Goodreads/Kindle giveaway (details here):
 

Stolen Souls encroaches on Hugh Howey,

Stolen Souls encroaches on Hugh Howey. #SFWApro


 
The Black Fire Concerto breaks "Top 6" in "Dark Fantasy Horror" and "Science Fiction Dystopian"

The Black Fire Concerto breaks “Top 6″ in “Dark Fantasy Horror” and “Science Fiction Dystopian”

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