All posts by Nate Southard

Appearing at STAPLE!

Ahoy, mates!  Or some other weird greeting.  I dunno.  I’m awkward.

Okay, then….

So, I’ll be appearing at STAPLE! The Independence Media Expo on September 9th and 10th in Austin, Texas.  STAPLE! is it little comic con that could, and I’m thrilled to once again be a part of it.  Sunday the 10th, at 2:30, I’ll be on a panel with Lee Thomas, Gabino Iglesias, Wrath James White, and Nicky Drayden discussing genre writing.  Come check us out and say hi, and then come see us in the dealers’ room!

What’s New?

It’s been a long time.  Sorry about that.  As you may have noticed, the website’s been having some issue. It appears we’re now back up and running, so I figured I should update everybody on life and stuff.

First off, I have a new short story collection available. Selected Stories, published by Independent Legions, is now available in both paperback and ebook.  It’s a pretty comprehensive collection.  Any short of mine you want to read is probably in there.

Also, I’m dipping my toes into that Patreon stuff all the kids are raving about.  The Barnyard Series will be a quartet or serialized strange crime and horror novellas.  Just one dollar gets you access.  You can also sign up for additional material, like bonus essays, never before seen stories, recipes, or to become a character in the series!  Check it out….

Finally, Sinister Grin Press has released several of my previous books.  If you’re looking for Red Sky, Lights Out, or Just Like Hell, you can grab ’em below:

Red Sky

Lights Out

Just Like Hell

It’s good to be back, friends.  More soon….

RED SKY available now!

Howdy do, folks?!  It’s with great pleasure that I can announce Red Sky is once again available in paperback and ebook.  Thanks so much to Sinister Grin press for releasing the new edition.  In the coming year, they’ll also be re-releasing Lights Out and Just Like Hell (with a little added surprise), so stay tuned for that.

2015 Top Reads

Well, another year has come to an end.  Maybe you noticed that, but more than likely you’re too busy watching Star Wars.  I get it.  If I wasn’t terrified of crowds, I’d be seeing it today, too.  Instead, I’m writing this for you.  Pretty cool, huh?  Eh, just roll with it….

Anyway, as I have to say every time I do one of these lists, these are not all books that came out this year.  These are books I read this year.  I am constantly playing catch up and–shocking!–I still haven’t caught up.

So enjoy.  Then follow some links and buy some books.  There’s still time before Christmas!

10. KNIFE FIGHT AND OTHER STRUGGLES by David Nickle – This year, I read a lot of short fiction.  Gotta say, I am so glad I did!  Of all the amazing genre shorts I read this year, this collection contains some of the best.  Nickle’s short fiction settles in deep and refuses to let go.  Strange love stories like “Looker” leave you feeling lovely and shaken and aching, while horrifying satire like “Knife Fight” leaves you thrilled and…also shaken.  To me, the masterpiece of this collection is “Basements,” a story that scared the hell out of me and is one of the quartet of stories I think every genre author should read.

9. HAIR SIDE, FLESH SIDE by Helen Marshall – Marshall writes the kind of dark fantasy the makes your skin crawl.  The stories in this collection cover the gamut from ghost stories to the downright bizarre. Little girls who receive the bodies of saints for their birthdays, editors who find lost manuscripts written on the inside of their skin, and so much more.  You will find something incredible in this collection.

8. THE VISIBLE FILTH by Nathan Ballingrud – Brutal, grimy, horrifying. This novella, about a bartender who recovers a cell phone after a violent brawl and starts receiving more and more disturbing/violent messages, pulls no punches.  Ballingrud starts with a place full of dirt and shadows, makes you feel at home there, and then slowly turns up the heat.  An excellent study in rising tension and engaging characters.

7. WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY FINE by Daryl Gregory – A support group made up of very unique people might just save the world from a very ancient, otherworldly terror.  This novella was the first Gregory I’ve read, but it will be nowhere near the last.  He creates riveting characters and lets the story roll out naturally, not to mention the amazing amount of imagination and a brilliant, heartfelt final twist.  Read.  Now.

6. AVAILABLE DARK by Elizabeth Hand – Cass Neary ain’t your standard heroine.  I mean, she has experience with heroin.  And speed.  And pills.  And death.  She’s lived hard, she’s a mess, and she’s tough as a metal bucket.  There is a lot to love about Cass Neary, but don’t you dare pity her.  This book, the sequel to Generation Loss, is in many ways its equal and in some ways its better.  In this one, Cass travels to Europe to authenticate a series of gruesome photographs for a collector and ends up embroiled in a series of murders related to the Scandinavian black metal scene.  If the standard crime novel isn’t mean enough for you, check out this one.

5. CONFESSIONS by Kanae Minato – Yuko Moriguchi is a teacher giving her last lecture in the wake of her four-year-old’s accidental drowning.  Here’s the thing, though: Yuko knows her child’s death was no accident.  It was murder.  Further, she knows two of her students are the murderers.  This novel, told from several points of view, adds layers of tension and intrigue in a way that never lets you forget the very real hearts of its characters.  You’ll find yourself cringing on one page and then cheering on the next.

4. LET’S PLAY WHITE by Chesya Burke – I was four years late reading Chesya Burke’s most recent collection.  It’s a mistake I will not make again.  At turns terrifying, thought-provoking, and heartbreaking, the stories in Let’s Play White examine society, relationships, and the horrors humans inflict on each other and ourselves, all wrapped in delicious, fantastical prose. The story “Purse” is still lodged in my brain.  I can’t shake it loose.

3. NOT FOR NOTHING by Stephen Graham Jones – Hands down, the best noir I’ve read in years.  Nicholas Bruiseman is a disgraced homicide detective living in a storage unit in his Texas hometown.  When his former cheerleader crush shows up asking for help, it leads him on a path straight to destruction.  Nicholas is all too human, making choices he thinks are the right ones only to find they were wrong at best and downright stupid at worst.  Jones writes prose that crackles with a pitch black energy.  This one, here…amazing.

2. A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS by Paul Tremblay – Look, if you read any list of the best horror novels of the year, you’ll read about this book.  Stephen King loved it.  Brian Keene loved it.  Everyone loved it.  Why?  It’s amazing.  A demon possession novel that makes you continuously doubt there’s an actual possession taking place, A Head Full of Ghosts keeps you guessing right up to the last page and beyond, the way The Caretaker of Lorne Field and Gone Girl did in years past.  Paul always delivers the goods.  He does the same here, and it is well worth the read.

1. THE PULSE BETWEEN DIMENSIONS AND THE DESERT by Rios de la Luz – Holy Hell, man.  I was not prepared.  Not even a little. Rios de la Luz came out of nowhere to deliver this collection–her first–and amaze me on every level.  In these stories she rides a razor’s edge between crime, fantasy, and horror (so much so that some might call these stories bizarro, which I find steals some of the credit due her incredible balancing act) while exploring such themes as alienation, racism, sexism, family, and so much more.  Some stories are sweet and wondrous, while some are so brutal they’ll make you flinch.  No other book I read this year was so refreshing and thought-provoking.  nothing made me feel as deep and desperately as this collection.  Rios is it.  Check her out immediately.

Slab City T-Shirts!

Heya, everyone!  If you’re fans of my over the top zombie/hot rod novel The Slab City Event, then I have some excellent news for you!  The fine folks at Sinister Grin Press were kind enough to create as serious of Slab City Event T-Shirts.  You can pick the color, and there are plenty of options. Go grab one, wear it with pride, and I will give you an awkward-yet-heartfelt thumbs up if I ever see you wearing one. Have a good one, people!

Where Ideas Collide

“Where do you get your ideas?”

First off, ugh.  Second…no one’s ever asked me that.  Seriously.  It’s such a stereotypical, annoying question, and no one has ever even hinted like they were going to ask me.  Maybe that has to do with having a relatively small readership, or maybe it’s working in the small press, where the fans are generally more knowledgeable about both the genre and the writing process. Shit, maybe it’s my generally abrasive demeanor.  I dunno.  All I know is no one has ever asked me where I get my ideas.

“Nate, get to the goddamn point.”

I’m working on it!

So, last night I was talking to an old friend of mine, and somehow we started talking about how ideas eventually turn into stories. For me, a good idea is seldom enough to hang a story on. The way I work, I sort of collect ideas and information, and eventually a few of them fit together in a way that makes for a good story (yes, this is also what Warren Ellis does, proving there is nothing I can do that a better writer can’t do…better).

A great example of this (and one I used during last night’s convo), is my recent story “Bottle. Paper. Samurai.” The earliest seed of this story idea is eight years old, when I had an idea for a book called Firewater. In that idea, a dying angel gives a homeless man a bottle of whiskey that may or may not contain the soul of Christ (holy shit, that sounds dumb). I took a stab or two at writing it, but it never really came together. the idea was too thin.

Years later, I tried to write a story called Omizawa about a man who is so good at origami that the things he creates become real. Same deal: took a few shots at it, but it never came together.

Finally, I had this idea for a voice, a clipped, fractured voice from someone whose mind had broken in some way.  I tinkered around with it some, seeing if I could get a feel for it. While I liked it, I didn’t know what kind of story I could use it to tell. As I was driving home from work one day, I was creating little sample sentences in my head, and suddenly it happened…

First fold. Easy.
Second fold. Easy.

By the time I got home, I had the first few hundred words in my head, and everything made sense. This fractured voice had brought together Firewater and Omizawa.  It was the bridge that took pretty good ideas and brought them together to become a great one.

So if you have an idea you can’t make work, just file it away until later.  Maybe it’s missing a piece.

Armadillocon Schedule

This coming weekend, I’ll be appearing at Armadillocon in Austin, TX.  It looks like this will be my only convention appearance this year (yay, hometown convention!), so you might want to come out.  or not.  I’m not the boss of you.

Anyway, here’s my schedule….

SATURDAY

Career Adjustments for the Writer
Sat 3:00 PM-4:00 PM Ballroom E
Liu, Maresca, Southard, Swendson, Weisman, Wells*,
Knowing when it’s time to switch agent, publisher, genre, or even (last resort) your name.

Southern Gothic Fiction
Sat 7:00 PM-8:00 PM Ballroom D
Lansdale*, Richerson, Southard, Spencer, Wade, Wood
What is the intersection of Southern Gothic and SF/F? Do the themes being explored today differ from Southern Gothic of the past? Why does the South seem to have a monopoly on deeply flawed, eccentric, morally ambivalent characters?

Reading
Sat 8:30 PM-9:00 PM Conference Center

Ghost Stories
Sat 10:00 PM-11:00 PM Southpark A
Finn, Osborne, Rountree*, Sanger, Southard
Are they considered horror or dark fantasy, and are they even viable in today’s literature?

Short Fiction You Shold Have Read Last Year
Sun 1:00 PM-2:00 PM Southpark A
Fischer, Rylander, Sisson*, Southard, Schwarz
Our panelists discuss short fiction from the last year that you need to know about.

Autographing
Sun 2:00 PM-3:00 PM Dealers’ Room
Rose, Oliver, Southard, Swendson, Yoachim

Scavengers goes limited!

Hi, everybody.  My small town zombie action slab of batshit insanity Scavengers is about to go back into print.  After the folding of Creeping Hemlock Press, Sinister Grin Press was kind enough to offer me a deal.  A new paperback and kindle edition will be available late this year or early next.

But first…!

Scavengers is finally getting a signed, limited edition.  At $45, this hardcover is going to look sweeeeet.  It’s got new cover art, and Sinister Grin always delivers on the production values.

This sucker is pre-order only, and you have until June 15th to order you copy.  Go!  Buy!