The Outer Dark now and The Outer Dark then

/ Thursday, May 7th, 2020 / No Comments »

I am honored to return to The Outer Dark podcast to take part in the latest episode their Quarantine Readings series, alongside (so to speak, in virtual space) my great friend (and Mythic Delirium alumna) Christina Sng. She reads from her new poetry collection from Raw Dog Screaming Press, A Collection of Nightmares, and I read an excerpt from “Aftermath of an Industrial Accident,” the title story of my forthcoming collection Aftermath of an Industrial Accident, and an excerpt from “The Comforter,” my novella in the forthcoming anthology A Sinister Quartet (the first of many promotions for that book that C.S.E. Cooney, Jessica P. Wick, Amanda J. McGee and/or me will be concocting and participating in). Anya Martin is our gracious host, and Gordon B. White provides a review of horror author Michael Griffin’s latest book.

Here’s the full episode description:

In the second installment of The Outer Dark Quarantine Reading series, Christina Sng (0:16:30) and Mike Allen (0:58:45) offer their tips for surviving social distancing, writing, and book promotion in a stalled world and their quarantine reading recommendations, plus discuss and read from their new books: A Collection of Dreamscapes (0:37:33), Christina’s poetry collection from Raw Dog Screaming Press; Aftermath of an Industrial Accident (1:12:16), Mike’s upcoming collection from Mythic Delirium (out July 7); and ‘The Comforter’ (1:35:25) in A Sinister Quartet, which also includes works by C.S.E. Cooney, Amanda J. McGee, and Jessica P. Wick, also from Mythic Delirium (June 9). The episode opens with a few words about the passing of author/editor Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. (0:02:20), a monumental loss to the Weird fiction community, and a new installment of Reviews from The Weird by Gordon B. White (0:06:00) featuring Armageddon House, Michael Griffin’s new novella from Undertow Publications. Listen to Mike read from Armageddon House in TOD 067, part one of our Quarantine Readings series.

If you like what you here, consider supporting Outer Dark and their hosts, the This Is Horror podcast! They’re awesome folks.

While I’m at this, I want to correct a wrong. I made appearance on the Outer Dark last year as well, after Anita and I traveled to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., to give a talk about “Horror and the Weird” for a group of interested librarians. The frenzy of preparing for launch events related to Snow White Learns Witchcraft and The History of Soul 2065 (and working on the draft of my next novel, These Bloody Filaments, in whatever free time I didn’t have) was such that I neglected to share this particular episode (exactly 20 episodes ago) anywhere other than on fleeting social media posts! So here I am, fixing that, 11 months later.

The episode description that Anya Martin wrote includes a great breakdown of my talk:

(00:19:25) Rachel Frederick, Library Technician at the Library of Congress, introduces writer/editor/publisher Mike Allen, who jumps off with the recent revival of horror as a hot publishing and media category, then veers Weird, starting with Jeff and Ann VanderMeer, as well as a list of other prominent horror authors which they include in their groundbreaking collection The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories . He continues with ‘working definitions’ of horror and The Weird and his personal passage from Tolkien high fantasy to horror, as well as recommending A Spectral Hue, the new novel by Craig Laurance Gidney, who was in the audience. He then reads from three stories that for him capture the strength and allure of Weird fiction: ‘The Mystics of Muelenberg’ by Thomas Ligotti (00:30:49), ‘Descending’ by Thomas M. Disch (00:34:35), and his own deeply disturbing ‘The Button Bin’ (00:41:45). Next he talks about Weird fiction as ‘spiritual dare’, 2014 as a banner year for the Weird, his own warm experience with the Weird writing community, Sword and Soul, his ‘Cliff Notes History’ of The Weird, strands coming together in the New Wave of science fiction, built-in contradictions and how Lovecraft’s writing seems so much less Weird than he used to. A Q&A with the audience ends the lecture.

This presentation I gave has added poignancy now. I was there to speak at the invitation of Library Technician Rachel Frederick as part of the Library of Congress Professional Association’s “What If…Science Fiction and Fantasy Forum,” but that invitation would never have come about without the prodding of our mutual friends Casey and Mark Shapiro, who also schlepped Anita and I in an out of D.C. and let us stay over at their house in Northern Virginia, where excellent conversations took place, making the trip even more special.

Alas, in the months that followed, Mark Shapiro developed pancreatic cancer. During treatment, he never lost his wit and courage. He died just days ago, and I regret that I won’t be able to talk books with him anymore. My heart goes out to Casey and their daughter Alanna Shaffer. Bless his memory.

Cross-posted from Mythic Delirium Books

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