The big ideas behind UNSEAMING, chez John Scalzi

/ October 9th, 2014 / No Comments »

Sci-fi author/humorist/activist/Hollywood consultant John Scalzi generously lent me his celebrated “Big Idea” platform for the day to talk about Unseaming. But this presented a challenge: how to explain the “big idea” behind a collection of short stories published over an interval of nearly 20 years? So I focused on what most often sets my creative process rolling: a central, disturbing image. My thanks to Anita and to Shveta Thakrar for helping me sort this piece out. Read it by clicking here.
 
bigideaunseaming
 
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Today is Book Day: UNSEAMING is alive (w/ book trailer, even!)

/ October 7th, 2014 / 2 Comments »

Behold, the book trailer for Unseaming! My thanks once again to artist Danielle Tunstall and her model Alexandra Johnson, and the wonderful, prefers-to-stay-anonymous animator!
 

 
AND: My book is live today! Finally! Unequivocally!
 
And here’s all the places you can get it:
 
Amazon: trade paperbackKindle
Amazon UK: trade paperbackKindle
Amazon CA: trade paperbackKindle
Barnes & Noble: trade paperbackNook
iTunes: ebook † Kobo: ebook † ScribD: ebook
Indiebound: trade paperback

 
And here’s my publisher’s page for it. And thanks so much to Elizabeth Campbell and Jonah Knight for giving this long-wandering project a home.
 
Oh, man, has this day been a looooooong time in the making…and what a great day it is!
 
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Nathan Ballingrud endorses UNSEAMING

/ October 6th, 2014 / No Comments »

Unseaming_MD_webJust a day before the official launch of Unseaming (Though — shhhh! — the trade paperback is available already!) I’m honored to be able to share the kind words that Nathan Ballingrud, author of the superb dark fantasy collection North American Lake Monsters, had for my own collection of stories:
 

Mike Allen’s ability as a poet is evident throughout this fever dream of a book. Brutal, elegant, and shocking, the stories in Unseaming are snapshots of a beautiful Hell.

 
Thank you so much, Nathan!
 
While I’m at it, I can’t resist the impulse to share another review of Unseaming that appeared at the Book Crazed and Dazed blog:
 

I completely recommend this to anyone who likes horror books. This is the first that I am reading anything by Mike Allen and I am hooked. I enjoyed this book thoroughly, and will have no problem rereading it later.

 
Boy, I’ve got too much to stay on top of this week. At least they’re all good problems so far. Onward!
 
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Giveaway at SF Signal: 13 copies of UNSEAMING

/ October 1st, 2014 / No Comments »

Unseaming_MD_webI find myself in a bit of a fix this week, albeit a good one, I suppose — stuff is coming together faster than I can keep up with it (at least in terms of signal boosting on social media.) This particular thing I wanted to report right away: SF Signal is hosting a giveaway of 13 copies of my short story collection Unseaming. It’s an appropriately Halloween-y number that includes three print copies and 10 ebooks:
 

Psst! Do you like…weird?
 
Courtesy of Mike Allen, SF Signal has 13 (3 physical + 10 eBook) copies of Mike Allen’s creepy collection Unseaming to give away to 13 lucky SF Signal readers!

 
Read the full details, including instructions to enter, here.
 
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Arkham Digest praises UNSEAMING and interviews me

/ September 25th, 2014 / No Comments »

Unseaming_MD_webJustin Steele of Arkham Digest reviewed my about-to-be-released horror collection Unseaming last week, and he liked it a lot. A whole lot:
 

Mike Allen is mostly known as a poet, and an editor for Mythic Delirium and Clockwork Phoenix, and up until now I hadn’t read any fiction from him, which is unfortunate because these stories could very well snag him an award for best collection … It is my belief that Mike Allen is about to grab a lot of attention with this book. The sporadic publishing of his fiction over nearly two decades has helped him fly under the fiction radar. This changes with his collection. This is where he crashes the party, strutting in like a rockstar, with the skills to back it up.

 
Color me thrilled and maybe even a bit blushy, heh. The full review goes into quite a bit of detail, with nice things to say about almost all of the stories in the book.
 
Justin also interviewed me. Again, from his introduction:
 

Author/Poet/Editor Mike Allen recently blew me away with his debut short fiction collection … Unseaming collects short stories from a span of sixteen years, and quite frankly is one of the best short story collections of the year.

 
In the interview I ramble on about a lot of things, including why I write horror, who I like to read, and what’s coming up next.
 
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On strangeness: my guest post at Locus Online

/ September 22nd, 2014 / No Comments »

A whole lot of cool things happened last week, and thanks to that wonderful combination of too busy and too tired, I didn’t get to do much more about them then chirp enthusiastically on Twitter. Thus this week will bring a series of blog posts about events a week old or more. I ask y’all’s patience in bearing with me.
 
locusonline2008eFirst up, I want to express my gratitude to Alvaro Zinos-Amaro for inviting me to write a guest post about short fiction for Locus Roundtable at Locus Online (clicky to read). I chose, essentially, to write about how, without any particular plans to do so, I seem to have become one of our genre’s Stewards of the Strange, both in the projects I edit and the stories I write:
 

It’s hard to put my finger on a starting point. My fascination with the movie and then the book The Lathe of Heaven? The way I loved L’Engle’s A Wind in the Door even more than A Wrinkle in Time? The morbid childhood freak-outs caused not just by Poe, Lovecraft and King, but Ellison’s “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream”, Jackson’s “One Ordinary Day, with Peanuts”, Disch’s “Descending”? The thrills I got from the boundary-pushing stories in The Books of Blood?

 
And of course I tied it all into my forthcoming short story collection, Unseaming, and dropped a hint or two about Clockwork Phoenix, too.
 
Writing this post was fun and actually made me realize a couple things about my writing that I’d never assembled consciously before. My thanks to Anita and to Dominik Parisien, Mari Ness and Virginia Mohlere for helping me get my mind around the topic.
 
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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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