21 October 2014

Reading at World Fantasy 2014!

The World Fantasy Convention is an annual convention of professionals, collectors, and others interested in the field of fantasy. It places emphasis on literature and art, while de-emphasizing dramatic presentation, gaming, masquerade, and the like. 

1914 was a time of transition, and the 40th World Fantasy Convention will focus on this with our commemoration of the births of the artist Virgil Finlay and the author Robert Aickman, as well as the beginning of World War I. We welcome you to join us in exploring the many facets, both light and dark, of these forces that shaped the future.

Last night I received word that my reading slot is Saturday, November 8 from 12:30pm-1pm in Arlington. (Right after Mr. Jonathan Maberry.)

I'm very excited to be a part of this, especially I've been knee deep in WWI research for ALL SAINTS--everything from Jacques Tardi to John Baxter. (Picked up three of Tardi's Putain de guerre! graphic novels in St-Germain des Pres this summer.) If I can polish up the WWI section from ALL SAINTS I may even read a little of that. Either way, I'm very happy to be a participant. (Thanks, Colleen!)

And I will be participating in the Mass Autograph Session, to be held Friday evening, November 7, in the Independence Center at 8 p.m. Bring your own books or purchase at the con! 

25 September 2014

This is a little something I wrote for the program which was distributed at the inaugural Pennsylvania Literary Festival, held this spring in Uniontown.

My words were rooted in these hills, carried on the backs of the Irish farmers who followed the Potomac southwest instead of crossing the spruce-covered ridges of the Allegheny Front. My muscles formed from climbing white oaks and boulders, from hauling firewood. The mountain rivers that flashed through narrow canyon walls, over boulders and under high railroad bridges flowed through my veins. Laurel brakes that nestled beneath Pottsville sandstone ledges were my nursery. Sad fiddle tunes, played by old-timers beside a dying fire, were my genetic code.

These words from the epilogue of my second novel, Hellbender, came from the point of view of my main character, Henry Collins. But as the author, I had specific experiences from my
own corner of Appalachia in mind as I wrote them. Growing up among the ridges and mines of Fayette County—a place long written off by people who don’t get it, or don’t try to—has inspired almost a million words of my published fiction and nonfiction, and has left me with enough gas in the tank for at least a million more. From the Youghiogheny River’s Dimple Rock rapid to an abandoned coal mine called Crow’s Works, just outside of Fairchance, the locales of my home live on in the minds of readers, many of whom have never set foot in these hills, but now want to because of my books. The Currence farm from The Devil and Preston Black is based on my Great-grandmother Muchnok’s, near Dunbar. And Mick’s guitar shop? It’s where I bought my first guitar. And it’s still there, on Morgantown Street in Uniontown.

I ended Hellbender with the line Blood is not thicker than water. Family isn’t who you are born to, but with whom you choose to spend your life. And maybe I’m one of the lucky ones, because my wife Heidi and I chose to move back here after a stint in Florida. We chose to be close to our families and friends, to live in a place we’d call home no matter how far we wandered.
And this is why I’m so happy that the Pennsylvania Literary Festival’s journey starts here in Uniontown. Right where my very own literary journey did. It’s a place that fosters strong, deep roots. 

15 September 2014


Thank you Albert Wendland for inviting me to participate in the My Writing Process (#mywritingprocess) blog tour.

1) What am I working on?

Right now I'm juggling a few things. As long as they don't fall at the same time, I'm good.

ALL SAINTS is the next part of the MURDER BALLADS AND WHISKEY series. It tells Ben's story after the events in THE REVELATIONS OF PRESTON BLACK. Ben is dealing with his PTSD and some other issues as a few of some of Dani's old enemies close in. Right now I'm working on a section from Dani's POV that sets the stage for the events in ALL SAINTS to play out. I'm really excited to be telling her story, and in a way, I think I'm seeing MURDER BALLADS AND WHISKEY is as much about her as it is Preston, Katy and the gang. 

The other big thing I got going is the thriller I'm working on with Heidi. Kind of like CHILD 44 meets THE X FILES. Very, very excited about this.

Lastly, I'm repackaging THE DEVIL AND PRESTON BLACK and THE REVELATIONS OF PRESTON BLACK into an Amazon bundle which will include song lyrics, short stories, some article I've written about the music I curated for the books. Kind of a Preston Black 'starter kit.'

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

If anything, it's urban/dark fantasy meets rural noir. The back cover blurb for HELLBENDER describes it as 'JUSTIFIED with witches,' but it's a lot more than that. THE DEVIL AND PRESTON BLACK reveals some strong literary elements while sticking to a fairly structured plot. Most of the horror elements are subtle, and of a more personal/less supernatural nature. THE REVELATIONS OF PRESTON BLACK is a more tightly structured plot that lets it sit firmly in the catbird seat between dark fantasy, horror, and supernatural thriller.

The best part of this nebulous genre labeling? My readers come from across the spectrum. Literary readers see deeper meaning in Preston's actions. Romance readers see the love triangle between Preston, Katy and Dani. The only thing it isn't, is SF (until PRESTON BLACK AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS, that is.)  

3) Why do I write what I do?

I write what I know and love. Music, travel and the power of place, meeting the girl of your dreams. I try to live in a way that puts her first, and I think that's why the relationships are always at the center of my plots. And then there's the drinking...

4) How does my individual writing process work?

My process doesn't emanate from any particular place. The plot of REVELATIONS came from an image I had in my head—a woman walking through a swamp with fistfuls of vipers. HELLBENDER was conceived when a crazy weekend on Spruce Knob, West Virginia joined forces with a bunch of guide stories I hoped to tell one day. The book is is essentially a result of my love of the mountains. THE DEVIL AND PRESTON BLACK is my love letter to music.

But the process begins with a complete outline. Okay, 80% of an outline. Pages and pages of research—setting details, colloquialisms, historical details. I need to get as immersed in a world as I possibly can. The details let plot points reveal themselves to me as I go. That deep knowledge lets my outline—maybe that final 20%—materialize while I write.    

Here are some other participant responses:
Heidi Ruby Miller
Anika Denise 
Shawn Hopkins
Eva Hudson
Rhonda Mason
Albert Wendland
K. Ceres Wright

26 July 2014

Murder Ballads and Whiskey on Kindle Unlimited!

All three of my novels are available on Kindle Unlimited! If you know anybody who is trying Kindle Unlimited out (and you enjoyed Preston Black's antics) please recommend these. I'd greatly appreciate it.

If you're unfamiliar with Kindle Unlimited, here's the description from Amazon:
 Your Journey Awaits, Dear Reader

Kindle Unlimited gives you the freedom to explore. Try new genres, discover new authors, and dive into new adventures with unlimited access to our wide and varied selection of books. From rhetoric to romance, or comedy to tragedy, you will find unlimited stories waiting to be discovered. Relive the classics you grew up with, start on that best seller you’ve been wanting to read or try one of the hundreds of thousands of books you won’t find anywhere. Find your next great read today. 

Excerpt from THE RHYTHM OF WAR, Despumation #1

At the moment, I'm trying to finish up a draft of ALL SAINTS, the follow-up to THE REVELATIONS OF PRESTON BLACK. I describe the novel as THE LIFE OF PI meets THE WIZARD OF OZ. It's Ben's story, and it picks up shortly after the events in REVELATIONS. I wrote THE RHYTHM OF WAR as a way to understand Ben. I knew him superficially, and figured writing this would be a really good opportunity to deepen him. 

Read more about DESPUMATION #1 here: http://despumationpress.com/
Or pick up the eBook or print version at Amazon.com.