Monthly Archives: March 2010

Just Like Hell for Kindle

It’s my great pleasure to announce my 2008 novella Just Like Hell is now available for Kindle via Amazon. The hardbound and paperback editions of this brutal story are long gone, but now there’s finally a chance for everybody else to read this sucker.

Dillon has the world on a string. With a record-breaking football season and several scholarship offers in his pocket, he can write his own future. But Dillon has a secret, something he’s never told the rest of his team. Even his best friends don’t know. They might not understand. They might overreact. Now the secret is out. Maybe that’s why Dillon just woke up in the trunk of a car. And maybe that’s why Dillon is about to go through something Just Like Hell.

“A powerful, gut-wrenching novella that grabs hold of you and sucks you in. Realistic and unflinching in its brutality, and all the more horrifying because it could actually happen.” -  Brian Keene, author of Urban Gothic and Castaways

Just Like Hell is a vicious and disturbing work of prose in which the economy of language works like a finely honed blade, separating muscle from bone. Fans of Jack Ketchum, Thomas Tessier and Ed Lee have a new name to look for in Nate Southard. Southard’s work is brutal, horrific, beautiful and moving – just like life.” — Lee Thomas, Lambda Literary Award and Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Stained, Parish Damned and The Dust of Wonderland

“Nate Southard writes with the no-nonsense intensity and the confident swagger of a bare-knuckle boxer.” — Chris Golden, author of The Myth Hunters and Wildwood Road

Isolation and Hell’s Ground

This past week, I had a chance two see two very different horror flicks.  Both were great, but for different reasons.  I take great pleasure in recommending them both.

ISOLATION

First up is this Irish horror movie that saw a 2007 release.  This one took me completely by surprise, mostly because I saw the words “mutant cow” in the description and expected something ridiculous.  Instead, I got this wonderfully acted, tightly directed exercise in suspense.  The director makes great use of darkness, silence, and stillness as he brings about the horror experienced by a small group of fugitives and farmers quarantined on an out of the way farm, struggling for survival.

HELL’S GROUND

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the big, dumb fun of Pakistani horror flick Hell’s Ground. Watching this movie, I get the idea that the writer had an old VHS copy of Texas Chainsaw Massacre that broke before any of the good stuff happens.  What starts as five Pakistani teens getting stoned on the way to a rock concert turns into a wicked romp full of zombie, witches, and serial killers.  It’s a great example of throwing more and more stuff at the wall until it resembles a good time.

Upcoming Collections You Must Own!

Sorry for the lack of a Monday update.  I was working on finishing up the first draft of a new novella called Mr. Gray.  Finally typed “The End” at around nine o’clock last night, so now I’m ready to do my little jibber-jabber thing.

If there’s one thing I love, it’s a good short story collection.  Ever since cracking the spine on my mother’s copy of Night Shift back in the eighties, I’ve been hooked on short stories, and I have a special kind of love for horror short stories.  I always tell people (or I would, if anybody ever asked), that I became a horror writer because I read “Graveyard Shift,” not because I read The Stand.

Anyway, a few writers I know have some incredible collections coming out in the near (or far, depending on scheduling and your patience) future.  I wanted to take a look at them and offer up my recommendations. 

First up is Norm Partridge with his collection Lesser Demons.  Norm Partridge writes pulp the way it should be written.  His prose crackles and is chock full of style, grit, punch, steel, and everything else you can ask for.  He marries the horror of adulthood with the wonder of childhood and creates something new and amazing.  He story “Black Leather Kites” made me want to go fight vampires with nunchuku.  That, my friends, is awesome.  I’ll be buying Norm’s books as long as he writes them.  Lesser Demons is scheduled for an April release.

Second on our list is Laird Barron’s second collection, Occultation.  Laird writes stories of the weird, fantastic, and horrific.  His often-dense prose is some of the best I’ve ever read, and his previous collection, The Imago Sequence and Other Stories, was one of two books I’ve read in recent years that completely changed my approach to prose.  Laird is one of the best writers to come down the pike in a long while, and you’d do well to pick up everything he has available.  Look for this one in May.

There’s a third story collection coming later this year that I’m very excited about.  Details remain scare, however, so I won’t mention it just yet. 

I remain hopeful to have some good news for you later this week, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Horror: The Big Fondue Pot in the Ground

Last Sunday, I watched The Exorcist.  At the time, I didn’t know they’d be dropping its name at the Oscars.  I just wanted to watch a scary movie.  I’d been staring at my DVD collection for a while (sorry, no blueray at chez Southard), trying to decide what to watch.  Dawn of the Dead?  [REC]?  The House of the Devil?  April Fool’s Day?  I settled on The Exorcist because I wanted to take my time.  I wanted to be horrified, not frightened.

See, I feel (and most dictionaries would agree) that there’s a difference between horror and fear.  Fear is the result of your fight or flight response kicking in.  It’s a jolt of adrenaline right to your spine that tenses up your body.  Horror is deeper.  There’s a strong emotional component, a sort of dread or disgust that shakes you at your very core.  Horror is what happens once you’ve had time to think about fear.

As I was watching The Exorcist, I found myself thinking how impossible it would be to make a movie like that today.  The first ten minutes consist of Father Merrin walking around Iraq, gazing upon dogfights, archeological digs, and blind men.  It’s a series of scenes that, at first, don’t appear to have much to do with the movie.  Only later do they really resonate.

You couldn’t include those scenes today.  At least, you couldn’t include them with out half a dozen jump-scares and a rape demon that cornholes Father Merrin but good.  Maybe you could, but they wouldn’t describe the movie as a horror film.  They’d call it something else.

But so what?  Does that make slasher films less fun?  Shit, no.  There will always be room for fun in horror.  There should also be room for another kind of horror, though.  The kind that crawls in slowly and doesn’t let go.

For instance, I love both Ringu and its Hollywood remake, The Ring.  They’re completely different takes on the same concept, though.  To me, one of the most chilling scenes in Ringu involves the ex-husband character (whose psychic in this version) sitting alone in a crowd when somebody walks up to him.  We don’t see more than the girls feet and legs, but we know it’s the ghost.  It’s a wonderfully haunting scene.  At roughly the same time in the U.S. remake, we get a jump-scare of a deformed body in a closet.

But damn if I don’t love both of those flicks!

All of this got me thinking about horror fans and the differences between them.  Certain fans thrive on the gore and guts.  They want kill after kill.  Some fans only want that if it involves zombies.  Others like a nice, quiet ghost story.  Still others want something that’s more along the lines of The Exorcist, something that works its way into and maybe connects on a more cerebral level (for lack of a better term).  No one group is more right than the other (unless you ask them. then the others are all idiots or elitists, depending on who you ask).  They’re all a part of the horror.

Horror, ladies and gents. The Big Fondue Pot in the Ground.

The Weekend and After

So this past weekend was a good one.  Saturday, I ran up to Killeen with Lee Thomas to check out the Killeen Arts Festival and to hang out with Lucy Snyder and Gary Braunbeck, who were in attendance.  For a show that’s only in its second year, the Killeen Arts Festival appears to be in good shape.  I know I grabbed a few books while I was there.

Yesterday, I went to see Shutter Island with Shawna and the family.  Good, freaky flick.  Later, we went to a friend’s house for a night of true stories.  I got to tell the tale of when an Aurora cop frisked me in an old Wal-Mart parking lot because he thought I was a meanie drug dealer from Cincinnati.  Much fun!

Today, I get to start working on a new novella.  I wish I could tell you a little something about it, but I’m sworn to secrecy.  Trust me, it will be creepy.

This weekend, I’ll probably be working the door at STAPLE!  I’ll also be sure to spend some time at the pre-party and after party, wherever those are.  Have a good week, folks!