Halloween shenanigans: two new stories (and a sneaky reprint)

/ November 3rd, 2014 / No Comments »

Illustration for "The Vintage Dress" by Elena Hernandez

Illustration for “The Vintage Dress” by Elena Hernandez

It’s only fitting that Halloween was a busy week for me, beyond reading submissions for Mythic Delirium and all the little things I’m doing to promote Unseaming.
 
My editor at The Roanoke Times once again asked me to write an original ghost story for the paper, the result, based on a suggestion from Anita, appeared on Halloween proper: “The Vintage Dress.” I crafted it as a sequel of sorts to “The Helping Hand,” my first horror tale for the Times. The fact that I get to make up ghost stories for my day job is pretty damn awesome. (My boss has told me to start thinking about next year’s story, heh.)
 
I also wrote a Halloween-themed guest post for The Little Red Reviewer called “Building My Own Haunted House” that, naturally, delves a bit more into why I write horror. Embedded in that guest post is the complete text of my flash fiction “Six Waking Nightmares Poe Gave Me in Third Grade,” which originally appeared in the Fall 2009 issue of Weird Tales. My thanks to Andrea Johnson for lending me her soapbox.
 
Finally, the anthology A Darke Phantastique (containing my new story “Tardigrade”) has been spotted in the wild! Alas, I will not be anywhere near the big Nov. 6 book signing in Los Angeles where the book makes its official debut, but I’ll certainly be there in spirit … or in other words, I’ll be haunting it.
 
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Fun with Amazon, UNSEAMING edition

/ October 30th, 2014 / No Comments »

My thanks to everyone who has bought Unseaming so far — by the standards of one of my books (admittedly not a high bar) the collection is doing quite well, especially on Amazon. Ordinarily I only get to play these sorts of games when I’m holding a Kindle giveaway:
 

Stephen King, Stephen King, & me

Stephen King, Stephen King, & me


 
Hangin' with Joe Hill

Hangin’ with Joe Hill


 
These Amazon “bestseller” lists don’t mean much, but they’re fun.


Oh, yes, I do.
 
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Scenes from the first launch reading for UNSEAMING

/ October 29th, 2014 / No Comments »

So it turns out the rejuvenated Roanoke main library has a room that’s the perfect size for a reading. The first official launch reading for Unseaming turned out to be quite cozy. My thanks to Roanoke librarian Shalon Hurlbert (my good friend, whom the book is dedicated to) for setting this up!
 

Photo by Dwayne Yancey

Photo by Dwayne Yancey. I believe at this point I’m taking a question from one of the gentlemen in the front row.


 

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UNSEAMING at Weird Fiction Review

/ October 27th, 2014 / No Comments »

Jeff VanderMeer’s interview with me about my new collection Unseaming was republished last week at Weird Fiction Review. My thanks to Jeff (again!) and to David Davis, the new managing editor at WFR.
 
Weird_Fiction_Unseaming
 
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Our World Fantasy Convention schedule

/ October 23rd, 2014 / No Comments »

Anita and I are gonna be at the World Fantasy Convention in D.C. in two weeks, and I have my schedule in hand. Both of my scheduled events are Friday, Nov. 7:
 

Poetry in Fantasy: Yesterday and Today
Time:
11am-12pm, Nov. 7, Regency F
Panelists:Mike Allen (M), Maria Alexander, Rain Graves, David Lunde, Laurel Winter

Description: Including poetry in fantasy, both by the author and quoted from other sources, used to be more common, such as Alice in Wonderland, The Lord of the Rings, and The Worm Ouroboros. Why is poetry not as prevalent now as in the past? Are certain types of poetry, such as non-formal or non-rhyming verse, under-used in fantasy?

I have some bones to pick with the assertion made in this panel description, but don’t worry: the other panelists and I are already talking about how we’ll subvert it.

Reading: Mike Allen

Time: 5:30pm-6pm, Nov. 7, Arlington

 
I’ll be reading selections from Unseaming, of course, just before dinner. Folks interested in an appetite suppressant might consider attending, heh.
 

Some of the goodies Anita and I will have with us at the World Fantasy Convention. Small Beer Press has graciously agreed to sell our books in the dealer's room.

Some of the goodies Anita and I will have with us at the World Fantasy Convention. Small Beer Press has graciously agreed to sell our books in the dealer’s room.


 
Fellow Antimatter Press author James Maxey (whose Bad Wizard came out the same day as Unseaming) will likely be joining Anita and me later that evening Saturday evening for a little meet and greet social kinda thing in our hotel room. Friday evening, he and I will take part in the mass autograph signing.
 
Other than that, we’re wide open. We look forward to seeing all of you there!
 
#SFWApro
 

UNSEAMING Halloween: Oct. 28 reading at Roanoke Main Library

/ October 22nd, 2014 / No Comments »

My first official post-book-launch reading of Unseaming happens Tuesday, Oct. 28, 6 p.m. in the Parrot Room (heh) of the newly-renovated and reopened Roanoke Main Library. Naturally I’ll have copies for signing and selling. There will be light refreshments, though what I’m going to read may not be appetite-whetting (heh, heh.)
 
Unseaming_library_reading
 
Here’s the Facebook event page, the newspaper listing and the Roanoke city website listing. My thanks to Shalon Hurlbert for pulling this one together.
 
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Southern Reach debriefing: Jeff VanderMeer interviews me about UNSEAMING

/ October 20th, 2014 / No Comments »

Jeff VanderMeer took time out from his explorations of Area X to interview me about my story collection Unseaming, and graciously posted the results on his blog.
 
VanderView
 
By the way, I’m hugely impressed with his Southern Reach Trilogy and recommend it without reservation. And I wasn’t induced to say that by hypnotic suggestion. So far as I know.
 
#SFWApro
 

A starred review of UNSEAMING from Library Journal

/ October 20th, 2014 / No Comments »

Last week Library Journal floored me with a starred review of Unseaming, included in a round up of authors way, way better known than I am (David Baldacci? Alexander McCall Smith? Well then!) — and here’s what the review itself said:
 

The stories in this debut collection range from the sly to the splatteringly horrific, with every nuance of dread and menace in between. It opens with Allen’s Nebula-nominated “The Button Bin,” which throbs with a guilty conscience highlighted by the use of second-person narration. From there, Allen sears readers with the visceral image of everyone on Earth waking each morning bathed in blood in “The Blessed Days.” Another gem is “The Hiker’s Tale,” a ghost story that does a wonderful job at misdirection. Grief turns to horror in the marvelous “Condolences,” in which a murderer offers empty regret to the daughter of his victims, triggering continuing horror in the young woman whenever she hears words of condolence. By the time “The Quiltmaker” rolls around and we get a bigger, even better story featuring the narrator of “The Button Bin,” Allen leaves readers with nerves jangling.
 
Verdict: These 14 stories show that Allen (The Black Fire Concerto) is an author to watch, as capable of wringing sadness from a tale as he is of causing chills. From his background in poetry, the author surely learned his deft construction skills, placing words and evoking emotions with impressive economy but maximum effect. —Megan M. McArdle, San Diego

 
Given the Publishers Weekly starred reviews for Unseaming and Mythic Delirium, I feel like I’m on a hot streak in a poker game. Given the many times in my career when I’ve felt the opposite, that’s not a bad thing!
 
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How to get a signed copy of UNSEAMING

/ October 19th, 2014 / No Comments »

Unseaming_signedA couple people have requested copies of Unseaming signed by me, and so I thought I’d share how folks can get one.
 
I have my own copies of the book now (snapshot at left is proof!) for my upcoming readings at the Roanoke Main Library (Tuesday, Oct. 28, 6 p.m., Facebook event page to come) and at the World Fantasy Convention in D.C. (Date/time not set but I’m told I’ll have one.) If you can’t make either of those and you want a signed copy, one can be yours, shipping included, for $20 (U.S.) or $35 (outside the U.S.), sent via PayPal (mythicdelirium[at]gmail[dot]com) or via check in U.S. funds made out to me and mailed to 3514 Signal Hill Ave. NW, Roanoke VA 24017. (And don’t forget to tell me your mailing address.) I’m happy to inscribe it however you wish, or you can leave that part up to me, heh, heh.
 
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A new review of HUNGRY CONSTELLATIONS

/ October 16th, 2014 / No Comments »

Hungry Constellations coverOf the three books I’ve released this year, my short story collection Unseaming is getting by far the most attention, a lot more attention I’m used to, frankly, which is a great thing. Unsurprisingly, though, my new poetry collection, Hungry Constellations (which, thanks to the editorial labors of Dominik Parisien, is my best yet, without question) has gone just about completely unsung. This is fitting in a number of ways; I’ve gone over the past ten years from someone who was at the dead center of all the exciting things taking shape in the speculative poetry scene to someone who feels almost no compelling connection to any aspect of it. As far as my own writing is concerned, I’ve been shown the way forward, and it doesn’t have much to do with poetry.
 
But that doesn’t mean I’m done with poems; and that’s why the review of Hungry Constellations by John Philip Johnson that appeared in the latest issue of Star*Line is so personally gratifying.
 

The poems in Mike Allen’s latest book, Hungry Constellations, make a rowdy, red-tinged tapestry, representing twenty years of work from one of the major creative forces in this genre. These poems are physical, expansive, and revolutionary. They are grand and dystopic. They seethe with the conflict of opposites. Allen likes the destructive side of creation as much as the emergent side. He likes dying gods, because they need to be revived or transformed. He writes about stars and legends and human beings contending with the monster-filled and glorious cosmos. He does it all with a relentless, energetic style, full of thought and invention. … even if you aren’t a fan, I urge you to reconsider, for I was a recent outsider to this clan, and from that outsider perspective, Mike Allen’s work was one of the things I saw that gave grace and importance to a genre that sometimes loomed too close to limericks.

 
This is a review that actually startled me more than once with its level of insight into the places my poetry comes from. Not as in, “Hey, somebody finally figured out what I’m up to,” but as in, “Wow! Somebody just mapped out something that I’m doing, and even though I’ve never articulated this approach even to myself, what he says is dead on.” So thank you, John Johnson.
 
(The full review is posted on the Science Fiction Poetry Association website. However, there is no direct link: you have to go to this page where all the reviews are posted and scroll down or search the page for “Hungry Constellations.”)
 
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