A SINISTER QUARTET reading by Cooney, Wick, McGee and me at Book No Further in Roanoke

/ July 8th, 2020 / No Comments »

Alas, C. S. E. Coooney, Jessica P. Wick, Amanda J. McGee and I won’t literally be together in Roanoke, Virginia, for this upcoming reading from A Sinister Quartet.

However, we will reunite Saturday, July 18 at 3:30 pm. on Zoom for this new event hosted by independent bookseller Book No Further and the shop’s wonderful proprietor Doloris Vest.

The good news is, you don’t have to travel all the way to far Southwest Virginia to see us — you can just sign up for free!

To further whet your appetite, let me share this excellent review A Sinister Quartet from Zig Zag Claybourne:

There’s a theme in this book, likely unintended, grown organically out of the times, of not giving up, regardless of fatigue, pain, unfairness or a sense that you are small and meaner forces are grotesquely big. I think, if anything, this collection speaks to the fact that there’s no amount of horror, predation, murder hornets, trickery, or even self-delusion that ought to make folks digging upward for light raise a flag of surrender. Hope’s a sinister thing to folks peddling strife.

Lord knows, I needed that message. You might too.

Click here or the graphic below to sign up.

Cross-posted from Mythic Delirium Books

AFTERMATH OF AN INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENT and a bittersweet book birthday

/ July 7th, 2020 / No Comments »

My newest horror collection, Aftermath of an Industrial Accident, came out today, at long last. It’s a book that took years to come together, and it had a bit of a rough birth, though I console myself that it wasn’t anywhere near as difficult a process as it was for my first horror collection, Unseaming.

Nonetheless, it’s here, it exists, and it is probably the most rounded representation of who I am as a writer of any book that I’ve produced.

Without further ado, here’s where you order it:

Paperback: Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA
Amazon DE | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Bookshop

Ebook: Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE
Amazon AU | Nook | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

A wild twist is, for all the pre-production troubles Unseaming had, the timing of its release hit some kind of bull’s-eye. It remains the best-selling book of all the books I’ve produced (in fact it sold about 1,000 more copies through the 99 cent e-book special that started this weekend). Given the pandemic, the protests, the political turbulence, I suspect the opposite is true for Aftermath — a problem that also afflicts its sister-book, A Sinister Quartet. As a recent NPR review put it, “Horror isn’t many readers’ first choice during times like these.” But I don’t see waiting for a mystical “good time” for horror (Ha! Ha!) as a sensible option. Full steam ahead!

No, that’s not what makes this day bittersweet. The reason for that is because right now, in a different world, maybe one where our government took the advance of COVID-19 seriously soon enough (maybe!), Anita and I should be packing books and clothes and groceries to head to Boston for Readercon, stopped for a day along the way to pick up Nicole Kornher-Stace and maybe meet up with Laird Barron or Paula Arwen Owen if schedules allowed.

Then off to Readercon proper, where Nicole, Patty Templeton, Zig Zag Claybourne and I were going to do a group reading (a feat I still would like to pull off virtually, but I haven’t had the brainspace available to figure out how to arrange and promote it). C. S. E. Cooney and I would likely have done a reading for A Sinister Quartet (Jessica P. Wick and Amanda McGee, alas, likely weren’t going to make it). And Anita and I would have run a dealer’s table and thrown a big room party for these new books and hopefully showcased many of our older books too. After that, coordinating somehow with Nicole, Cooney and Carlos Hernandez, we were going to back to New York and join Matt Kressel and Ellen Datlow at the Wednesday Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading, which would double as the launch reading for Aftermath.

The KGB reading is still happening; more details on that tomorrow. And Claire, Amanda, Jess and I are are actually going to get to do a reading together, virtually, with Roanoke indie bookseller Book No Further: it’s free to sign up, please do, more details coming on that too.

But instead of spending thousands of dollars on travel, we’re going to be spending thousands of dollars on surgery. Anita has discussed this on her Facebook page; we’re actually in self-isolation right now before she gets surgery to remove a basal cell sarcoma from her face, and plastic reconstruction surgery afterward. It is sort of horribly fortuitous that all the time we originally blocked out for this book tour will be used for isolation and recovery instead. It’s not a life-threatening process but there is still a lot to worry about. I’ll be grateful for any good thoughts you can send Anita’s way.

These sort of things tend to make me feel like the making of art is a frivolous thing — and yet, it’s what we do, so we do it.

Danielle Tunstall’s cover art for Aftermath really does match my mood right now, in a way I didn’t plan. I still love it though!

Cross-posted to Mythic Delirium Books

Psychopomp StoryBundle with C. S. E. Cooney, Nicole Kornher-Stace, Lilith Saintcrow, Beth Cato, Rhonda Parrish and more

/ June 24th, 2020 / No Comments »

I’m pleased to announce that for the first time Mythic Delirium Books is participating in a StoryBundle, thanks to an invitation from writer, editor and Bundle curator Rhonda Parrish! (Seriously, thank you, Rhonda!) You can go straight to the StoryBundle by clicking this link.

Rhonda has taken a quirky but intriguing theme and pulled together a really cool package that includes two Mythic Delirium Books, the World Fantasy Award-winning Bone Swans by C. S. E. Cooney, and the critically-acclaimed novel Latchkey by Nicole Kornher-Stace, which is the sequel to her dynamite Andre Norton Award-nominated novel Archivist Wasp from Small Beer Press, also included in the bundle!

For even more about what went into this StoryBundle, read on to see what Rhonda Parrish herself has to say about it:


The Crossing the Veil Bundle – Curated by Rhonda Parrish

I’ve spent the last several years curating and editing short stories and poetry for anthologies and this year I’m very excited to expand that into curating books for a StoryBundle. I’m excited to share my first ever StoryBundle which is all about psychopomps and crossing the veil.

A couple years ago I stumbled across a word I’d never heard before — psychopomp. When I looked up its meaning I discovered that I’d been aware of the concept of a psychopomp for a long time, I just hadn’t known the word for it. A psychopomp is a being which acts as a guide for the souls of the recently departed, helping them move from this world to the next and occasionally carrying messages between the two.

It’s kind of impressive that I went so long without knowing the word psychopomp because I’ve always loved stories that involve crossing over from the world of the living to that of the dead. Always. As a kid we took Greek Mythology in school and while all the stories interested me it was those set in Hades that really fascinated me. I would seek them out and devour version after version. And as I grew, that never really changed. I still love stories set in the places we go after we die, or featuring characters that can cross between those worlds, which made choosing that as the topic for this StoryBundle an easy decision.

The Psychopomp/Crossing The Veil bundle includes fourteen books by eleven different authors. Excitingly, two of those books are short story collections which means there are actually far more than fourteen stories contained within all these digital pages.

Included are C. S. E. Cooney’s World Fantasy Award-winning book Bone Swans, Nebula-nominated author Beth Cato, Norton Award finalist Nicole Kornher-Stace, and New York Times–bestselling author Lilith Saintcrow. I could keep listing awards and recognitions, but you’re not here for them, right? You’re here for the stories.

And we’ve got them.

A woman grudgingly helping a ghost move on to the other side (so he’ll leave her alone)? Check.

A soul-devouring protagonist who has her life turned upside down by a harpy attack? Check.

Characters walking between worlds as casually as you and I cross the street? Check.

A snarky Newfoundland heroine dealing with an undead infestation in her hometown? Check (x3!)

A leucostic magpie with a lot of personality? Check.

There’s so much more. If, like me, you’re drawn to the stories about passing through the veil between worlds, or shepherding souls through it, this bundle is not one you’ll want to miss. And best of all, because it’s on StoryBundle, you get to set the price you want to pay.

And you can donate 10% of your purchase price to our charities, Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now, which aim to help foster the writers of tomorrow. Rhonda Parrish

* * *

For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you’re feeling generous), you’ll get the basic bundle of four books in any ebook format—WORLDWIDE.

  • The Illuminated Heart by Thea van Diepen
  • Hollow by Rhonda Parrish
  • Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace
  • The Spirit Caller Series – Books 1-3 by Krista D. Ball

If you pay at least the bonus price of just $15, you get all four of the regular books, plus eight more more books, for a total of twelve!

  • The Undine’s Tear by Talena Winters
  • Soullless by Skyla Dawn Cameron
  • The Blood Queen by October Weeks
  • Latchkey by Nicole Kornher-Stace
  • The Marked by Lilith Saintcrow
  • Seeing the Light by E.C. Bell
  • Bone Swans by C. S. E. Cooney
  • Red Dust and Dancing Horses by Beth Cato

In case you didn’t notice that means for $15 you can get twelve books which include Archivist Wasp and its sequel Latchkey!

This bundle is available only for a limited time via http://www.storybundle.com. It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub, .mobi) for all books!

It’s also super easy to give the gift of reading with StoryBundle, thanks to our gift cards – which allow you to send someone a code that they can redeem for any future StoryBundle bundle – and timed delivery, which allows you to control exactly when your recipient will get the gift of StoryBundle.

Why StoryBundle? Here are just a few benefits StoryBundle provides.

  • Get quality reads: We’ve chosen works from excellent authors to bundle together in one convenient package.
  • Pay what you want (minimum $5):You decide how much these fantastic books are worth. If you can only spare a little, that’s fine! You’ll still get access to a batch of exceptional titles.
  • Support authors who support DRM-free books: StoryBundle is a platform for authors to get exposure for their works, both for the titles featured in the bundle and for the rest of their catalog. Supporting authors who let you read their books on any device you want—restriction free—will show everyone there’s nothing wrong with ditching DRM.
  • Give to worthy causes: Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now!
  • Receive extra books: If you beat the bonus price, you’ll get the bonus books!


StoryBundle was created to give a platform for independent authors to showcase their work, and a source of quality titles for thirsty readers. StoryBundle works with authors to create bundles of ebooks that can be purchased by readers at their desired price. Before starting StoryBundle, Founder Jason Chen covered technology and software as an editor for Gizmodo.com and Lifehacker.com.

For more information, visit our website at storybundle.com, tweet us at @storybundle and like us on Facebook.

Cross-posted from Mythic Delirium Books

AFTERMATH OF AN INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENT available for review on Netgalley

/ June 16th, 2020 / No Comments »

The second scary summer release from Mythic Delirium Books is less than a month from release — the first of course is A Sinister Quartet, available most everywhere — and if you have a Netgalley account, then you can request a copy of our second spooky release and preview it for yourself. Aftermath of an Industrial Accident, the newest collection of horror stories from Shirley Jackson Award finalist Mike Allen (a.k.a me!), debuts June 7.

You can request it from Netgalley here.

“From heartbreaking character studies to exercises in Grand Guignol excess, from scalpel-sharp poetry to sledgehammers of blood-soaked prose, Mike Allen displays not only his own considerable range, but the range of the horror genre as well. Aftermath of an Industrial Accident will surprise and delight you at every turn.”
Nathan Ballingrud, author of Wounds

“So what does Mike bring to this particular collection? Well, I’m thinking he brought pretty much everything he’s got … and that’s a lot, to put it mildly. What I’ve said above, and what I’ll be going on to say below, illustrate perfectly how extremely versatile Mike Allen is, and that’s a quality I highly prize; a quality I am ever striving toward, myself. Many writers endeavor to establish a certain style or voice or tone, to clear a small but distinct plot of ground they can build within, so as to create a kind of brand that inspires recognition in a reader. Maybe this is just their natural inclination, or maybe it’s a calculation. Perhaps they do this partly out of fear that if they extend themselves toward too many horizons on the compass, readers won’t be able to get a grip on their work overall. And there’s nothing wrong with such an approach! But those writers who do as Mike does have a special place in my heart.
  “And what Mike does, as I say, is just about everything. In these pages you will encounter straight up horror. Experimental horror. High fantasy. Science fiction. Poetry. The consistency, here, is simply excellence.”
—from the introduction by Jeffrey Thomas, creator of Punktown

pre-order links

Paperback: Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Bookshop

Ebook: Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon AU | Nook | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

Cross-posted from Mythic Delirium Books

SNOW WHITE LEARNS WITCHCRAFT & “A Country Called Winter” are Locus Award finalists!

/ June 16th, 2020 / No Comments »

Snow White Learns Witchcraft by Theodora Goss, a new collection of stories and poems by the author of The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter, will be the next release from Mythic Delirium Books, available everywhere Feb. 5, 2019.Even though this news has been out for a couple of weeks, Anita and I are still thrilled to share it: our collection of stories and poems from Theodora Goss, Snow White Learns Witchcraft, is a finalist for the 2020 Locus Award for Best Collection, and on top of that, one of the stories she wrote specifically for the book, “A County Called Winter,” is a finalist for the 2020 Locus Award for Best Novelette.

We are so proud of Dora and glad to see her work recognized with this well-deserved honor — and we’re all thrilled to have a new benchmark to celebrate, as this is the first time works from Mythic Delirium Books have made the Locus Awards’ final ballot. We wish Dora all the best at the June 27 ceremony, which by the way is virtual this year and only $35 to attend, with that admission fee including a six-month subscription to Locus Magazine.

“A Country Called Winter” has since been reprinted at Lightspeed Magazine and can be read there for free. You can find all the ways to order Snow White Learns Witchcraft here.

Cross-posted from Mythic Delirium Books

A SINISTER QUARTET makes its debut + new reviews

/ June 15th, 2020 / No Comments »

In case you missed it last week — though, if you follow me on social media, you likely didn’t, I’ve been shouting it from the rooftops — A Sinister Quartet, the new anthology featuring C. S. E. Cooney, Jessica P. Wick, Amanda J. McGee and myself, premiered as scheduled on Tuesday, June 9. (To see all the different ways to buy a copy, click here.)

Quite a few terrific and incredibly thorough new reviews appeared, too, including this one from Little Red Reviewer:

And this one from Anthony R. Cardno:

(There’s more but I believe I am going to save those for a future post.)

This next bit almost feels like it should go without saying, but I think it’s clear it should be said: if you’re instead paying attention to the Black Lives Matter protests and the long-overdue and necessary changes that are happening because of them, by all means keep doing that. And stay safe, as the COVID-19 pandemic has not gone away either.

All that said, if our not-so-little book of dark fantastic tales has caught your eye and made you decide to take a break and check it out, and if you happened not to hear about last week’s launch, there’s some fun things the four of us did to promote the book that you’ll probably enjoy catching up on.

On launch day, we all turned up at John Scalzi’s Whatever blog, contributing an essay to the “Big Idea” series he curates in which we all “interviewed” each other about our stories in Sinister Quartet. (Click on the screenshot to check it out…)

As you can see, we have the distinction of setting a new record in the history of Big Ideas.

The next day, all four of participated in a Reddit Ask Me Anything held on the r/Fantasy forum, and the result doubles as a pretty terrific interview with the authors. (Again, to check it out, click on the screenshot.)

Just in case you missed our other stunts in the weeks leading up the book’s premiere, here’s the group Zoom reading we did, here’s a post about cocktail mixes that match our stories that has matching tongue-in-cheek photos, and here’s one about playlists that match our stories with cool matching graphics by Amanda McGee.

I’m grateful my co-authors for all the work they are putting into making this book a success — above and beyond the excellent stories they contributed.

There will be more to come, including a second virtual group reading scheduled for Wednesday, June 24, orchestrated by Book No Further, the downtown indie book store here in Roanoke, Virginia, which just recently re-opened to admitting small groups of customers.

More news on all of that as it develops.

Cross-posted from Mythic Delirium Books

More readings and excerpts from A SINISTER QUARTET

/ June 3rd, 2020 / No Comments »

In hopes of providing a fleeting but fun distraction in these tense days of justified protest, I’m pleased to be able to share with you more excerpts from A Sinister Quartet, which gets released in a mere six days, and a bit of silly business that goes even beyond that.

First, World Fantasy Award winner C. S. E. Cooney shares another excerpt “The Twice-Drowned Saint,” her new novel that forms the first part of A Sinister Quartet. She reads from chapter seven, “Long Shot: The Serac,” in a fireside setting that includes charming costumes and amusing cameos from her husband, Carlos Hernandez, and from her mother, Sita Aluna.

Sinister Quartet Reading of The Twice-Drowned Saint from C. S. E. Cooney on Vimeo.

Second, Amanda J. McGee has also shared an excerpt from her novella “Viridian” on her blog. Read the excerpt from Chapter 4 here.

Finally, on Monday all four members of the quartet made an appearance with a guest post at The Next Best Book Club’s Next Best Book Blog. We were challenged to participate in the site’s ongoing “Books & Booze” feature, which required us to come up with mixed drinks that somehow related to our stories. Not only did we manage that, but we came up with some pretty priceless self-portraits to go with it.

To hone your thirst, Claire Cooney’s recipe for “Alizar’s Benison Wine”:

In Fabulous Gelethel, which is always under angelic quarantine, the only thing citizens may drink is what is provided by the angels themselves. In this case, the Seventh Angel—Alizar the Eleven-Eyed—has provided, in his great munificence, a shrub called “Benison Wine.”

INGREDIENTS: 1 shot glass of ineffable beauty, bought on the cheap from your favorite thrift store; 1 “dollop” of Ginger Beer (brand: Reed’s “Strongest”); 1 “dash” of Jalapeño/Tequila/Lime Hot Sauce (brand: Queen Majesty, of course); 2 “glugs” of Prickly Pear Sour (brand: Iconic Cocktail Co.); and just a “soupçon” of D’Anjou Pear White Balsamic Vinegar (brand: We Olive). For garnish: a tiny, tasty red pepper! This drink is refreshing, complex, sweet, sour, and bold. Above all, it’s good for the gut!

Remember: Alizar the Eleven-Eyed provides for his people. Unlike some angels we could mention.

Read the whole thing and get the other three recipes here, and pre-order A Sinister Quartet here.

Cross-posted from Mythic Delirium Books

Playlists for A SINISTER QUARTET, picked by the authors

/ May 25th, 2020 / No Comments »

Just two weeks left until the debut of A Sinister Quartet, and it makes sense that this unusual book inspires unusual behavior.

I have never before put together a Spotify playlist. Many other authors do this as a way to keep the inspiration fountain flowing. I haven’t quite joined those ranks yet — I tend still to listen to full albums when I write — but my three co-authors in A Sinister Quartet (C. S. E. Cooney, Jessica P. Wick and Amanda J. McGee) all make extensive use of playlists, including songs curated specifically for their Sinister stories.

The pandemic has required all sort of outside the box promotional thinking. I don’t think it’s that unusual for authors to post playlists, but it’s a step outside the box for me for sure to make one. Between my co-authors’ enticing song choices and the fun graphics Amanda came up with to illustrate the lists in ways that connect directly with each story, I decided I had to give it a go.

Clicking each graphic will take you directly to the songs. Happy jamming!


“The Twice-Drowned Saint” by C. S. E. Cooney


“An Unkindness” by Jessica P. Wick


“Viridian” by Amanda J. McGee


“The Comforter” by Mike Allen


A Sinister Quartet makes its debut June 9

click cover to pre-order


Cross-posted from Mythic Delirium Books

Zoom reading from A SINISTER QUARTET + new stories showcased at Decameron Project

/ May 19th, 2020 / No Comments »

The COVID-19 crisis has required us to get creative as we promote our forthcoming anthology A Sinister Quartet, as live events remain out of the question for the moment and review venues deal with disruptions in schedule and income. We’ve had some good breaks to make up for some of the bad, and my three co-authors, C. S. E. Cooney, Amanda J. McGee, and Jessica P. Wick, have been great at brainstorming all new things to try out in the weeks leading up to the release of A Sinister Quartet on June 9.

The biggest of these so far was an invite-only reading on Zoom held on May 7 that all four of us where able to take part in. Credit to Amanda McGee for coming up with the idea and to our buddy Steve Glassbrenner for helping us with the set up logistics. Claire Cooney read the fourth chapter of her short novel “The Twice-Drowned Saint,” Jessica Wick read a harrowing passage from the third chapter of her novella “An Unkindness,” Amanda read the prologue and first chapter of “Viridian,” and I read the second and third chapter of “The Comforter.” Afterward we had a Q&A session in which we talked about why we do (or don’t, depending on who answered) choose to write dark fiction and discussed some of the surprising thematic connections that exist between the four stories, even though all were created independently.

Amanda and Steve were able to record the event so that afterward, we could share it publicly. Read Amanda’s own blog entry on our reading here.

Authors Mike Allen, C. S. E. Cooney, Amanda J. McGee and Jessica P. Wick participated in a group reading for A Sinister Quartet that took place Thursday, May 7, 2020, on Zoom. Watch each author read excerpts from their ‘sinister’ stories.

Both A Sinister Quartet and my own upcoming collection of horror tales Aftermath of an Industrial Accident have been beneficiaries of a cool new project first through up by Mythic Delirium contributor Maya Chhabra. (Read her poem “After Pandora” here.)

The New Decameron Project, organized by Maya and the amazing Jo Walton, is a wonderful way to provide reading material for everyone stuck at home because of the pandemic — in the spirit of the original Decameron, this Patreon offers new stories and novel excerpts every day.

In recent days, the New Decameron Project featured the mind-blowing second chapter from C. S. E. Cooney’s “The Twice-Drowned Saint,” the first tale in A Sinister Quartet; and the project also featured the entirety of my new story “Blue Evolution,” one of the original stories featured in my collection Aftermath of an Industrial Accident, which gets released July 7. It was a real honor for us to take part!

Links to the stories below.

Read Chapter II. Interior: The Celestial Corridor
from The Twice-Drowned Saint by C. S. E. Cooney
at the New Decameron Project

Read “Blue Evolution,” an original story
from Aftermath of an Industrial Accident
free at the New Decameron Project


Cross-posted from Mythic Delirium Books

The Outer Dark now and The Outer Dark then

/ 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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