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.


/ 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.

Starred review of my debut collection UNSEAMING in Publishers Weekly!

/ August 4th, 2014 / 1 Comment »

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.

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”

Read the rest of this entry »

It lives! One Kindle/Goodreads giveaway to rule them all

/ July 27th, 2014 / 1 Comment »

My slugline there isn’t hyberbole if you understand that I’ve comparing this one to all the other giveaways I’ve personally done.
There’s five more days to go in the Goodreads giveaway for my upcoming short story collection Unseaming: twenty paperback advance reading copies are up for grabs. To promote that giveaway, I thought I would expand it with a few more.
Starting today and continuing through July 31, to coincide with the end of the Unseaming giveaway, five of my titles will be free on Kindle: my new poetry collection, Hungry Constellations; my sf novelette Stolen Souls; my dark fantasy tales She Who Runs and Sleepless, Burning Life; and, courtesy of the generosity of Haunted Stars Publishing, my debut novel, The Black Fire Concerto.

Unseaming_MD_web black_fire_concerto_front_cover Hungry Cover Mockup 0
cover She_Who_Runs Steamexp

That’s a whole lot of literary darkness for you to savor. Click on the covers to scarf them up!

Aug. 1 in New Paltz, NY, I am reading from UNSEAMING

/ July 23rd, 2014 / 2 Comments »

Unseaming_MD_webI’m thrilled to announce I’m going to be reading from my forthcoming horror story collection Unseaming at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 1 in the Inquiring Minds bookstore in New Paltz, NY. The Facebook event page for the reading is here.
I have to thank my buddy Nicole Kornher-Stace for suggesting this. I did not expect to be doing a reading from the book this fast! What’s especially cool is that there’s a good chance that Laird Barron, who wrote the introduction, and John Langan, who wrote me a wonderful blurb, will also be there.
Though Unseaming doesn’t officially come out until October, I will have some copies with me at the reading.
The trip also means Anita and I get to hang out with Nicole and her husband Dan, and Shveta Thakrar will be joining us, too, and the next day we get to see Paula Friedlander marry her longtime beau.
I hadn’t actually expected to be giving a reading up New York way until February 18, when I’m going to be appearing for the first time ever in the Fantastic Fiction at KGB series organized by Ellen Datlow and Matt Kressel. (To say I’m excited about that would be the understatement of the year.)
For those in Roanoke, VA, where I, heh, actually live, I just got offered a reading slot 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28 at the newly renovated main library branch downtown! (Well, it will be newly renovated by then, anyways. Thanks, Shalon Hurlbert!)
This is probably a good time to remind folks that there’s a giveaway of 20 ARCs of Unseaming going on at Goodreads until July 31. So even if you can’t make my reading next week, there’s still a chance you could get an early copy…

Guest post at THE REVIEW REVIEW on the digital revolution

/ July 8th, 2014 / 2 Comments »

Over at The Review Review, a review site for literary magazines, I’ve contributed a “Publishing Tips” article, which the editors titled On Crowdfunding, Paying Writers, and the Shift to Digital: An Editor Tells His Story. I was asked by poet Alicia Cole to talk about my experience with talking Mythic Delirium digital.
Have an excerpt:

It’s still difficult to get subscribers in the traditional sense, and I suspect that trend is unstoppable. Traditional magazine subscriptions seem to be headed the same way as radio serials. Crowfunding flips the transaction on its head by turning it into an exchange of gifts rather than a business transaction. That’s not so helpful if you’re Newsweek, but if you’re Mythic Delirium it’s a godsend.

Read the rest here.


/ July 3rd, 2014 / No Comments »

Sometimes the writing life smiles on you. Much of the time it doesn’t, but sometimes it really does. Two weekends ago I was stabbing at a creepy-crawly, half-finished horror story called “Tardigrade,” unsure what direction I wanted to take it, hoping I could figure it out before end of summer. Then came a surprise anthology invitation, a deadline of a week, a race to the finish, a last minute plea for beta reader feedback.
Monday, Jason V. Brock of [NaMel3ss] Magazine informed me he would buy “Tardigrade” for his mammoth anthology A Darke Phantastique, a gathering of horror filtered through magical realism with a forward by the late Ray Bradbury and already-accepted stories by Joe Landsdale, Steve Rasnic Tem, Nancy Kilpatrick, Greg Bear, Dennis Etchison, Melanie Tem, William F. Nolan and tons more.

The complete wrap-around cover art by Samuel Araya for Jason V. Brock's A Darke Phantastique anthology. Click to enlarge.

The complete wrap-around cover art by Samuel Araya for Jason V. Brock’s A Darke Phantastique anthology. Click to enlarge.

My thanks to Ken Schneyer, Jennifer Crow, Virginia Mohlere, Shveta Thakrar, Francesca Forrest, Mari Ness, and Anita (of course) for helping me navigate that 0-to-60 writing challenge.
Fortuitously, the same day Jason told me he would buy “Tardigrade,” I received an email from Shawn Garrett of audio magazine Pseudopod accepting my weird horror story “Monster” for adaptation to podcast. In one of those funny coincidences, Jason was the original publisher of “Monster” — it appeared in [NaMel3ss] 3 this spring.
The stories have in common vaguely scientific notions stretched by something akin to dream logic until they’re weeeeell into the realms of the bizarrely sinister.
For the record, “Monster” is now the final story in my forthcoming collection of horror tales, Unseaming. In case you haven’t noticed, there’s an advance reader copy giveaway going on at Goodreads through July 31. I hope you’ll check it out.

Advance Reader Copy Giveaway of UNSEAMING

/ June 30th, 2014 / No Comments »

Antimatter Press is giving away 20 ARCs of my debut horror collection Unseaming. For details, click the widget!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Unseaming by Mike Allen


by Mike Allen

Giveaway ends July 31, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Another Tour of the Abattoir at TALES TO TERRIFY

/ June 16th, 2014 / No Comments »

This latest episode of Tales to Terrify concludes an epic four-part serial of William Hope Hodgson’s The House on the Borderland … and it also contains my latest “Tour of the Abattoir” audio column, in which, at the suggestion of Dominik Parisien, I talk about two weird collections: Karin Tidbeck’s Jagannath and Helen Marshall’s Hair Side, Flesh Side. I had mixed reactions to both books, but found individual stories that I enjoyed muchly. You’ll also hear me wrestle with the notion that, while both books partake of horror tropes, I don’t consider either to be “horror.” Give it a listen here, and share what you think, whether you agree or don’t. Especially if you don’t!

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