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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Announcing the first ever MYTHIC DELIRIUM trade paperback

/ October 14th, 2014 / No Comments »

Reposted from the Mythic Delirium website:
 
Mythic_Delirium_paperback_cover_smallI’m so thrilled to announce that the first ever Mythic Delirium trade paperback anthology, with its beautiful cover from Galen Dara, is available, if not quite everywhere yet, then enough places that there’s certainly no point in keeping it a secret! (It’s basically gone live a month earlier than planned, which we had to do to have copies available for launch at the World Fantasy Convention in D.C.) I am so proud of this book and all it represents — namely, the culmination of three years of fundraising and labor on our part, resulting in a beautiful showcase for new voices and established pros from around the world.
 
I don’t at all mind repeating what Publishers Weekly had to say in its starred review:
 

Rich word choices and settings that blend speculative concepts with quotidian reality highlight this stellar anthology of prose and poetry … This anthology is a winner from cover to cover.

 
This book has an electronic edition, I might add, and it is quite a bargain: taking the contents of four issues, a $12 value, and rearranging them into a full-blown anthology that we’re offering for a mere $5.
 
Here’s all the places you can get it (so far):
 

AMAZON: trade paperbackKindle
AMAZON UK: trade paperbackKindle
BARNES & NOBLE: trade paperbackNook
iTUNES: ebook
KOBO: ebook

 
And once again, here’s who’s in it:
 

“Myths and Delusions: An Introduction” by Mike Allen
“This Talk of Poems” by Amal El-Mohtar
“The Wives of Paris” by Marie Brennan
“Cuneiform Toast” by Sonya Taaffe
“Hexagon” by Alexandra Seidel
“Unmasking” by Sandi Leibowitz
“Ahalya: Deliverance” by Karthika Naïr
“Katabasis” by Liz Bourke
“The Art of Flying” by Georgina Bruce
“Dreams of Bone” by Christina Sng
“India Pale Angel” by Robert Davies
“a recipe” by Lynette Mejía
“Anna They Have Killed” by Jennifer Crow
“The Two Annies of Windale Road” by Patty Templeton
“Zora Neale Hurston Meets Felicia Felix-Mentor on the Road” by J.C. Runolfson
“Princess: A Life” by Jane Yolen
“Present” by Nicole Kornher-Stace
“Old Bone” by Sandi Leibowitz
“Backbone of the Home” by Lisa M. Bradley
“Flap” by David Sklar
“Rhythm of Hoof and Cry” by S. Brackett Robertson
“The Silver Comb” by Mari Ness
“Milkweed” by Cedar Sanderson
“Never Told” by Jane Yolen
“Foxfeast” by Yoon Ha Lee
“Seeds” by Beth Cato
“Seedpaper” by Rhonda Parrish
“The Onion Prince” by David Sklar
“The Girl Who Learned to Live with Bees in Her Hair” by Brigitte N. McCray
“The Giant’s Tree” by Yukimi Ogawa
“Two Ways of Lifting” by Virginia M. Mohlere
“Levels of Observation” by Kenneth Schneyer
“Cat’s Canticle” by David Sklar
“Nisei” by Beth Cato
“Echoes in the Dark” by Ken Liu
“Voyage to a Distant Star” by C.S.E. Cooney
“WereMoonMother” by Brittany Warman

 
Here’s the full wraparound art.
 

Mythic_Delirium_paperback_cover

 
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My latest Tour of the Abattoir at TALES TO TERRIFY: Ligotti and Llewellyn

/ October 12th, 2014 / No Comments »

I must sheepishly confess, in the whirlwind of the past two months, I missed this when it actually appeared online: my latest “Tour of the Abattoir” column is up at horror podcast Tales to Terrify. In this installment I look at short story collections by Thomas Ligotti (new book The Spectral Link) and Livia Llewellyn (Engines of Desire, a 2011 Shirley Jackson Award nominee that I’ve just recently read and hugely enjoyed.) Click here to have a listen.
 
This column has melancholy associations; it was completed the day that Tales to Terrify editor Lawrence Santoro died. I will miss working with him. The site has posted parts one and two of a three part tribute to a man who deserves many, many more.
 
Larry, who worked in theater, would be the first to say that the show should go on. Tales to Terrify is looking for a new host: interested parties take note!
 
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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 / 3 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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