Tag Archives: ralph robert moore

New additions to Recommended Reading

It’s been a while since I updated the Recommended Reading section of this website. The last addition to the short stories list, I believe, was Priya Sharma’s ‘The Absent Shade’ back in January 2015. Since then, I’ve read 64 short stories in 2015 and 24 in 2016 (to date). From those 88 stories, here are those I unequivocally recommend (in the order I read them):

SHORT STORIES/NOVELETTES

Men Wearing Makeup by Ralph Robert Moore – Black Static #46 (May-Jun 2015)
All the Day You’ll Have Good Luck by Kate Jonez – Black Static #47 (Jul-Aug 2015)
A Case Study in Natural Selection and How it Applies to Love by Eric J. Guignard – Black Static #47 (Jul-Aug 2015)
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver  –  What We Talk About When We Talk About Love (collection, 1981)
Morality by Stephen King  –  The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (collection, 2015)
I Have Heard the Mermaids Sing by Ray Cluley  –  Probably Monsters (collection 2015)
At Night, When the Demons Come by Ray Cluley  –  Probably Monsters (collection 2015)
Obits by Stephen King  –  The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (collection, 2015)
Drunken Fireworks by Stephen King  –  The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (collection, 2015)
Summer Thunder by Stephen King  –  The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (collection, 2015)
Ishq by Usman T. Malik  –  Black Static #43 (Nov-Dec 2014)
Dirt Land by Ralph Robert Moore  –  Black Static #49 (Nov-Dec 2015)

Other additions:

NOVELS

Point Hollow by Rio Youers (2015)
The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick (2014)

NON FICTION:

On Writing by Charles Bukowski (2015)
An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield (2013)
Beneath the Neon: Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegas by Matthew O’Brien (2007)

2015 – What I Read (and Loved)

Okay, so I only read 16 books (fiction/non-fiction) and 64 short stories in 2015. It isn’t a lot, I know, but for what it is worth here is a list of the titles I particularly enjoyed and do not hesitate to recommend. In no particular order:

BOOKS

  • On Writing – Charles Bukowski (2015)*
  • Point Hollow – Rio Youers (2015)

* This is perhaps one for fans, rather than a starting point for readers interested in Bukowski’s work.

SHORT STORIES

  • The Absent Shade – Priya Sharma (Black Static #44)
  • Men Wearing Makeup – Ralph Robert Moore (Black Static #46)
  • All the Day You’ll Have Good Luck – Kate Jonez (Black Static #47)
  • A Case Study in Natural Selection and How It Applies to Love – Eric J. Guignard (Black Static #47)
  • What We Talk about When We Talk about Love – Raymond Carver (collection of the same name)
  • Morality – Stephen King (collection: The Bazaar of Bad Dreams)*
  • I Have Heard the Mermaids Sing – Ray Cluley (collection: Probably Monsters)*

* I am still  currently reading The Bazaar of Bad Dreams and Probably Monsters.

Three Things I Don’t Write About (and Three Things I Do)

Firstly, let me say thank you to the lovely Priya Sharma for tagging me for this, the latest writer-craze doing the rounds. It was nice to be invited to the party for a change, instead of standing outside and wondering why no one has asked me to dance.  Thank you.

And don’t you know it…I get the chance to show off my moves and I’m out of time with everyone else on the dance floor.  Not only is my post several days later than everyone else’s but I put my left foot in when it was supposed to be right (or my Don’ts before my Do’s).  Oh well, the music’s still playing; if I keep dancing maybe no one will notice…

Three Things I Write About.

The outsider.  I’m drawn to people on the fringes, broken people who constantly struggle to relate to the world and the people around them. Why? Two reasons. One: I can relate. I prefer to observe rather than partake. I’m built that way. Two, I find these kinds of people usually have a unique and, to me, interesting view of the world. Often in real life it is those who talk the most that have the least to say. I want to shine a light on the people society forgets. Some examples from my work: In The Things That Get You Through, teacher James Graves retreats from society while he attempts to fast-track himself through the five stages of grief. With the help of a mannequin. In The Machinehouse Worker’s Song, two men are shut away from the outside world behind the walls of the titular machinehouse. The Sound of Constant Thunder is a post-apocalyptic tale about a former street custodian who has his new-found peace shattered by the intrusion of “thunder” or people.

A new thing I find myself writing about to an extent that it qualifies for this post is family, particularly parenthood. In 2011, when my son entered my life, he turned everything upside down. I quit my job, moved to another country (twice) in my quest to give him something better than the life we had at the time. It’s still a work-in-progress, but where we are now is a definite improvement. In A Trick of the Night, the devil visits a single mother’s dreams to tell her that her son is going to be responsible for the deaths of many innocent people. What follows is an overprotective parent driven to point of insanity in her efforts to keep her boy out of trouble. In The Space That Runs Away With You, I explore the scenario of the missing child and the familial devastation it can cause. In The Broken and the Unmade, I look at three generations of a Jewish family through the prism of survivor guilt. The protagonist in The Sound of Constant Thunder has father issues. And in my latest, So Many Heartbeats, So Many Words (not published at the time of this posting), I have taken many real-life situations and events and worked them into a tale which, at its core, is about communication within a family.

My final pick is the beautiful in the ugly. What I mean by this is that I look for moments of beauty in even my bleakest of tales. This is no more evident than in my latest story, So Many Heartbeats, So Many Words, in which I tried my utmost to convey glimpses of light in the seemingly all-consuming darkness. Indeed, is there a better, more accurate metaphor for life? I don’t think so. The longer I write what I write – dark fiction, bleak fiction, realist fiction, whatever label you want to stick on it – the more I find myself looking for the happy ending, and if not that then at least allow my characters a peek at the light on their way down the well…

Three Things I Don’t Write About.

Comedy is too easy a choice, so I’m going to have to go with weird or surreal fiction. Most of what I write is horror, but usually it is the horror of the real, the possible. I rarely write about monsters, and when I do all sorts of alarm bells go off in my brain. In Men Playing Ghosts, Playing God, death makes an appearance. In A Trick of the Night, the devil, briefly. But in the majority of my stories the horrors are real and/or psychological. It rarely, if ever, has fangs or tentacles. Indeed, a while back I wrote a story about the homeless living in the tunnels under Las Vegas and despite there being a lot of good material in it, when it came to the point where the monsters finally make their entrance, it became laughable. The story awaits revision. There are always exceptions, of course. The story I am writing now, provisionally titled, The Suffering, has a monster in it and I think it is pretty damn scary. Whether others agree, time will tell. Back to the weird and surreal… One exponent of that genre that I greatly admire is Ralph Robert Moore. Two recent stories of his spring to mind, All Your Faces Drown in My Syringe and Kebab Bob, both of which were published in the excellent Black Static magazine. The imagery and ending in the former touches on sheer brilliance, while the characterisation in the latter is so strong it manages to steal centre stage from the bizarre image of a human kebab. Now that’s a rare talent. I have little doubt that as I continue down the path of writing horror, I will venture deeper into such realms, but for now – or until the next idea comes along – I will likely stick to writing about real-life horrors.

My second choice falls into a similar category as weird fiction in that I am not adverse to “going there” I just prefer to write about other things. I’m talking about historical fiction, or fiction set in a time period other than our own. Simply put, I prefer here and now over there and then. Perhaps it is also a fear of the overlooked detail, of not doing enough research to convince the reader that they are in a specific period in history. A fear that my efforts will have all the historical accuracy of a Bill and Ted Adventure, no matter how excellent that might be. Or, again, maybe the ideas haven’t called for it yet. There is one recent exception that comes to mind. Some scenes in The Broken and the Unmade were set in a death camp during the Second World War, a subject that has fascinated me for years. However, I shied away from them too, leaving the flashback scenes until after everything else had been written before going back and filling in the gaps.

Lastly, I’m going to pair these two together because they go together like…well, you know. I’m talking about romantic fiction and the sex scene. It takes a particular set of skills (to paraphrase Liam Neeson in the film Taken) to write romance or to create a sexual encounter of the convincing kind. Many writers lack these skills, and I may or may not be one of them. I wrote a brief sex scene for The Sound of Constant Thunder. A thousand words before I, pardon the pun, hit the spot, I started to sweat and worry. Performance anxiety. As it turned out, the protagonist was a virgin and came quickly, saving me (and the reader) further embarrassment. Joking aside, his…brevity suited the character and the situation and wasn’t merely a product of my own discomfort. Still, sex scenes are rare in my work. If you want some (again, beg your pardon), go pick up a copy of 50 Shades. Romance has little place in fiction of a darker persuasion, but it’s something I’ve included to some extent in stories like The Sound of Constant Thunder and Men Playing Ghosts, Playing God, and my latest, So Many Heartbeats, So Many Words. Of course, when you write dark or horror fiction the good things like romance and sex often have a tendency to turn bad.

That concludes my answers.  If anyone reading this fancies having a go, by all means, consider yourself tagged.

New story

Finished a short story collaboration last night. My first. And what better guide and companion to have than the hugely talented (and patient) Ralph Robert Moore? Thank you for the great experience, Rob. I’ve been a fan for years and this is something I will always treasure. Although the voyage wasn’t swift I had a wonderful time every step of the way. The story is called THE ONLY MAGIC LEFT IN THE WORLD, it’s approx. 10,500 words, and we hope you get the chance to read it soon.

I’ll say more about my thoughts on the collaborative process in a future post.

Black Static #39 cover art

Here’s the Ben Baldwin cover art for the forthcoming issue of Black Static (#39) due for release any day now, featuring columns from Stephen Volk and Lynda Rucker as well as fiction from Ralph Robert Moore, Tyler Keevil, Suzanne Palmer, Vajra Chandrasekera, Joel Arnold, and yours truly.  Can’t wait to get my hands on this one.

Black Static #39

Black Static #37

This month, with the publication of Crimewave 12:  Hurts and Black Static #37, I have achieved two trebles.  The first, to have three stories appear in horror journal Black Static.  The second, to have a story appear in all three TTA Press periodicals – Black Static, Interzone, and Crimewave.  In short, what a lovely way to tie up the year!

I’ve talked about Crimewave elsewhere, so here are the final cover, ToC, and interior artwork for Black Static #37.

Black Static #37
(Cover art by George Cotronis)

Stories:
“When Charlie Sleeps” by Laura Mauro.  Art by Rich Sampson.
“Bones of Crow” by Ray Cluley (recent winner of the British Fantasy Society award for Best Short Story for “Shark! Shark!”)  Art by George Cotronis.
“All Your Faces Drown in My Syringe” by Ralph Robert Moore.  Art by David Gentry.
“The Strongest Thing About Me is Hate” by DeAnna Knippling.
“The Sunflower Seed Man” by Priya Sharma.  Art by Richard Wagner.
“The Sound of Constant Thunder” by Steven J. Dines.  Art by Joachim Luetke.

When Charlie Sleeps   Bones of CrowAll Your Face Drown in My Syringe   The Strongest Thing About Me is HateThe Sunflower Seed Man   The Sound of Constant Thunder

Please visit TTAPress for more details, or to take out a subscription.  I recommend you do.

There will be no other new material from me this year, but I have a story,  A TRICK OF THE NIGHT, due to appear in Fireside Magazine in January.  I’m also working on new short fiction for 2014 including THE BROKEN AND THE UNMADE and my first ever collaboration.  Details to follow!

“The Sound of Constant Thunder” sold to Black Static

My 12,000 word post-apocalyptic novelette, THE SOUND OF CONSTANT THUNDER, has been accepted for publication in UK literary horror magazine, Black Static.

This will be my third appearance, following THE THINGS THAT GET YOU THROUGH in #31 and MEN PLAYING GHOSTS, PLAYING GOD in #35.

I’m also looking forward to sharing the pages with the talented Ray Cluley and Ralph Robert Moore (as well as those still-to-be-announced).  I’ve been a fan of Ralph’s work for years (check out his fiction, available free, on his web site) and Ray’s excellent story, THE DEATH DRIVE OF RITA, NEE CARINA, from Black Static #32 is one of my favourite short story reads of 2013.

Also out in November from TTA Press:  Crimewave 12: Hurts.

Finally, if you’re interested in reading a little more about the origins of THE SOUND OF CONSTANT THUNDER, I touch upon it in the two following posts:

Where My Ideas Come From

Toothache and Inspiration, or, Where My Ideas Come From, Part II