Boycott Dorchester

For years, Dorchester Publishing and their Leisure Books line felt like the Holy Grail to up and coming horror authors.  Their open door submissions policy almost made up for the fact that their covers looked like warmed-over ass.

Then they got nasty.

So some of their former writers have decided to play their game.

As an author, I hate publishers who try to screw their former authors even more than I hate most people (I’ve mentioned I’m not much of a people person, right?).  So I’m throwing my support 100% behind this boycott.  Why?  Because it’s the right thing to do.

So there.

Coming in April: SCAVENGERS


Millwood was a good place to be when the dead rose. It was small, isolated, and easy to defend. The survivors there forged a community, weathered what came, and began to prosper.

But then they ran out of food.

Now, Millwood is sending five men to the neighboring town of Rundberg, a town ruled by over three thousand living dead, to find enough food to save a community.

Five against three thousand? They don’t stand a chance.

Scavengers: coming in April from Creeping Hemlock Press.

(Note: Scavengers is a prose adaptation and drastic expansion of my 2005 graphic novel A Trip to Rundberg. Think of it as the new and improved version.)

The Secret Life of Laird Barron

Today we’re celebrating The Secret Life of Laird Barron.  All across the internet, folks will be checking in with their tales of Laird’s exploits.  You can find a central hub of sorts at John Langan’s Livejournal.  

Chapter Six: Modern Medicine

At the tender age of eight, a fully-bearded Laird Barron challenged small pox to a fist fight.

And you thought vaccinations eradicated it?  Fool.

The disease had been cutting a swath through humanity, striking down the firm, the infirm, and the kinda squishy with equal viciousness.  Medical science had turned up Jack and Squat.  Then Jack caught small pox and died.  There was much mourning.

Enter Laird Barron.

Something should be known about young Barron: he simply did not give a fuck.  As a bare-knuckle boxer, he had an impressive record of eighteen wins, zero losses, and one fight that was declared a no contest after his opponent spontaneously combusted out of sheer terror.  Bullies begged him to take their lunch money.  Usually, he took one of their fingers as well.

Because young Barron simply did not give a fuck.

Anyway, back to our tale.  After small pox had taken the latest attempt at a vaccine and bent it over its knee, the head muckity-whosits at the CDC were sitting around, drowning their sorrows in old lab specimens, when a knocking like one thousand explosions sounded on the door.

It was young Barron.  Even at the tender age of eight, he was a scary example of humanity.  His beard reached his knees, which was pretty far, considering he stood an impressive seven feet, fifteen inches.  His one eye glowed with either disease-killing rage or a hunger for Cap’n Crunch, the kind with the berries.

“Hello?” asked a doctor with a fresh mess in his undies.

“I’m here to fight small pox.”

“Excuse me?”

“Whoop it.  It’s been a problem too long, and I’m gonna end it.”

“Um, you do realize that, should if enter your internal organs–”

“I had my organs replaced with rabid wolverines when I was six.”

“You don’t say?”

“I just did.”

“Fair enough.  Come in?”

Over the next hour, young Barron convinced the muckity-whosits that he was mankind’s last, best chance.  Barron regaled the research staff with tales of closed fists and bloody knuckles.  He showed them scars and did things with his beard that few would believe, if written here.  What began as an audience of dubious scientists ended as a riotous throng of bloodthirsty savages.  The really pissed kind.

Within moments, the research staff erected a boxing ring.  The scent of old canvas  and stale sweat drifted through cigar smoke and broken hopes.  Young Barron paced his corner like a caged tiger.  Across the ring, small pox played it lazy, lounging against against the used ropes and smirking.  He liked to think himself a smart fighter.  A surgeon.  He didn’t think young Barron–all wishes and brawling attitude–stood a chance.  He would operate on the whelp.

He was fucking wrong.

The bell rang and young Barron waded out for Round One.  Small pox hung on the outskirts, testing his range with slow jabs…

(Editor’s Note: Yeah.  It’s ridiculous, right?  No man living or dead could ever have a fist fight with small pox.  Because small pox is a germ, and not a person.  Bet you feel superior for figuring out that little puzzle, huh?  Bet you think this is just bullshit.  Tall tales.  Well, fuck you.  You haven’t lived Laird Barron’s Secret Life!)

…crushing overhand right!

Small pox fell apart like a starter-junkie come payday.

Laird Barron took his reward from the United States Government in the form of whiskey and flapjacks.  The CDC initiated a cover-up to explain the sudden departure of a modern day plague, giving the growing inoculation market a nice little boost.

Laird Barron was not seen for another seven years.  It was suggested in some circles that he may have been hibernating, waiting for the next threat to mankind.

What happened next is really amazing….

Best Horror of the Year

Ellen Datlow just posted her honorable mentions for the third volume of Best Horror of the Year.  I was both shocked and thrilled to see my short story “Going Home, Ugly Stick in Hand” made the list.  This is two years in a row I’ve received mentions, and I’m ridiculously honored.

“Ugly Stick” is one of my favorite short pieces.  It appeared in issue 20 Black Static.  If you want to check it out, you can order a copy from the publisher.

Though they won’t be listed in the book, my short story “The Taste of Memories” and my novella He Stepped Through also received honorable mentions.