Archive for August, 2013

LOSING TOUCH is “definitely on base”

Posted in Book Reviews, News on August 14, 2013 by Christian

LOSING TOUCH got its first “critical” review on Amazon. It was a three star review, and said some nice things–I’m not sure why Amazon considers it “critical” (although I guess it does make some critical points), but I’ll take it:

LOSING TOUCH, now available at Amazon.com.

LOSING TOUCH, now available at Amazon.com.

“You got the lines right. You need more conviction.” 

So say the two thugs as they have Morgan Dunsmore tied to a chair and are ready to beat the snot out of him. This is also the case with the book. It’s an auspicious moment when an artist in any field slams one out of the park on his first at bat. (In this case, it’s Chris’s first novel.) But just getting on base is something to be heralded and Chris is definitely on base.

Here’s the scoop. Morgan Dunsmore is not having a good time. He’s lost his job. His wife Corrine can’t work due to a back injury. The credit cards are maxing out and the future looks bleak. Morgan’s coming apart both figuratively and literally. Through a fluke he finds that he can move through solid matter. Is this a blessing or curse? He figures he can use this ability to get through these rough times, but his moral compass is giving him grief about it. What’s a super hero to do?

This is a very thoughtful book but it does start a bit soft. It seem Chris hasn’t quite found his voice yet. For instance: You learn of his plight early on but you don’t really feel it. How is his predicament affecting him? He seems like he’s on a pretty even keel. It’s not until half way through the book he’s even looking for a job. I needed more of the angst. The big surprise to me was that the more I read the better it got. It were as though the exercise of writing it propelled him in honing his skill. The chapter with Morgan during a job interview, and the subsequent chapter of his returning home to talk with his wife, were good by nearly any standard. There was a device he used (his sub-conscious Pelham) I didn’t much care for. Was it the name Pelham or the way he played it that irked me? Probably a bit of both. And the analogy of the “disco floor” got me as well. Being a long time rock musician, any mention of the word disco makes my skin crawl.

I will play devil’s advocate here without spoiling. If I found out I had Morgan’s ability, I think I would make a bundle by letting people study me. Seems to me any number of folks would pay millions for the opportunity. There would be no moral conundrum (and not much story for that matter) were that the case though. Also, Morgan can pass through walls but his clothes cannot. What about the fillings in his teeth? But these are minor quibbles compared to the overall quality of the story and writing. He does need to be careful with the thesaurus. There were a few words used that simply jumped off the page as not belonging. And his publisher needs to (1) get him a better editor. There were a couple of sentences that were wrong. And (2) flip for a slightly larger font and ink that has not been watered down. Tired old eyes such as mine struggled with this.

That being said, hats off to Christian Larsen. I’ve spent more money on books from more notable publishers that were nowhere near as good as this. As I said: the more I read the better I liked it and that’s a good thing for any author. As for those five star reviews, come on. Five stars puts him in the company of Melville, Joyce, and Pynchon. No. He’s not there yet, but hopefully on his way.

-by Eric Sanberg
August 13, 2013

Not a bad “critical” review at all. And if it has to be MOBY DICK, ULYSSES, or GRAVITY’S RAINBOW to be a five-star book, then I’ve certainly got no complaints.

LOSING TOUCH, featuring a foreword by NY Times bestselling author Piers Anthony, is now available in paperback and ebook formats at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

DARK LIGHT III now available in paperback

Posted in News on August 13, 2013 by Christian
DARK LIGHT III now at Amazon.com.

DARK LIGHT III now at Amazon.com.

DARK LIGHT 3, which was released in Kindle format on June 29th by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing, has just been released in paperback.

The dark fantasy anthology features my short story, “Harby’s Last Stand”, which is available to read for free using Amazon’s ‘Look Inside’ feature.

“Harby’s Last Stand” is a story about a Confederate sergeant major who lived far past his time, and the reason … well, the reason isn’t what you think.

You’ll also be able to enjoy L.D. Ricard’s “From Out of the Night” using the ‘Look Inside’ feature, but don’t stop there. Pick up your copy of DARK LIGHT III and enjoy all the stories:

DARK LIGHT III explores the darker side of our world, the things no one wants to speak about or admit. The stories in this anthology will make you think, make you shiver, intrigue and entertain you. Please step into our world of the darker side where little light shines through. Are you ready?

Reader: ZIPPERED FLESH 2 is “the best anthology” so far this year

Posted in Book Reviews, News on August 12, 2013 by Christian

Barnes & Noble reader “SaraFangoria” has posted a review of ZIPPERED FLESH 2, which features my story, “The Little Things”:

ZIPPERED FLESH 2, now available at Amazon.com.

ZIPPERED FLESH 2, now available at Amazon.com.

This is by far the best anthology I have read this year. While this one may not be as big as a few others, each story seems to have been well picked and very well written by each writer. Each story in here is either a five star story or a four. None are below that, which is so rare these days. Usually anthologies have a bit of killer and a whole lot of filler. Not here. Here’s how I break them down.

5 STARS –Shaun Meeks‘ “Taut”, Lisa Mannetti‘s “The Hunger Artist”, Bryan Hall‘s “The Modern Adonis”, Rick Hudson “The Affair of the Jade Dragon”, J.M. Reinbold‘s “The Future of Flesh”, L.L. Soares‘ “Seeds”, Kealan Patrick Burke‘s “Underneath”, Jonathan Templar‘s “BabyDaddy”, Christian A. Larsen‘s “The Little Things” and Michael Bailey‘s “Primal Tongue”. Each of these stories effected me in different ways, but they all have one thing in common, they made me want to read them again right away. Not that the other stories in here weren’t great, they were, but these were my stand outs.

GET THIS BOOK!

But don’t take SaraFangoria’s word for it. Pick up a copy of ZIPPERED FLESH 2 and decide for yourself which stories deserve the highest praise:

ZIPPERED FLESH 2 was published by Smart Rhino Publications, a new publishing firm based in Delaware, with a current leaning toward (but not limited to) horror and suspense fiction.

A FEAST OF FRIGHTS is “full of some super talented writers”

Posted in Book Reviews, News on August 11, 2013 by Christian

Barnes & Noble reviewer “dog-earred_reader” reflects on A FEAST OF FRIGHTS, which features my short story, “Clawed Sod”:

A FEAST OF FRIGHTS, available at Amazon.com.

A FEAST OF FRIGHTS, available at Amazon.com.

I loved this book. The editor, Jeani Rector, has really managed to pack this book full of some super talented writers that are known and unknown. In fact, I think some of the more little known writers here steal the show a bit.

There are some great stories in here by Joe R. Lansdale, Graham Masterton, Tom Piccirilli, Simon Clark, Joe McKinney and Scott Nicholson. People more new to me like Susie Moloney, Jeff Strand and Matt Leyshon also give some great stories.

The two writers though that stand out from all the others, and that I had never heard of before this are Christian A. Larsen and Shaun Meeks. Christian’s story is one of those ones that moves so naturally, that moves with a well paced speed, you are quickly drawn in and it is so worth it in the end. Shaun’s story to me, was by far the creepiest, goriest story of them all. It brought me back to the old EC Comic days if they were written by Ambrose Bierce.

The only flaw to me was the poetry. Not that it wasn’t good, I just am not a fan of it and skipped all of it (sorry to all the poets and poetry lovers). Still, I am glad I bought it and look forward to what Jeani puts out next.

Which were your favorites in A FEAST OF FRIGHTS? If you’ve already read the book, here’s a reminder of what’s inside, and if you haven’t read it yet, here’s what you’re missing:

A FEAST OF FRIGHTS (The Horror Zine Books) is a product of THE HORROR ZINE, a monthly e-zine that publishes new issues the first of every month.

I missed these reviews of CHIRAL MAD somehow

Posted in Book Reviews, News on August 9, 2013 by Christian

I won’t make any excuses. I try to hunt down reviews of books that I’m a part of because I like to know how my stuff is being received. I don’t see any shame in that, even to the extent that I do it, but I am a little surprised that I missed a couple of reviews about CHIRAL MAD.

From Claudia McCoy on November 25, 2012:

CHIRAL MAD, now available at Amazon.com.

CHIRAL MAD, now available at Amazon.com.

Being one of those bleeding heart liberals, I am always looking for a way to help out. CHIRAL MAD has earmarked all proceeds to charities that aid those with Downs Syndrome. That was the gravy. The real meat is the stories inside the anthology. An extra added delight, for me, was the careful placement of the stories. One story ends with a mother ending the life of her children and the next one is about a woman who is fighting to save her unborn child. It is a subtle but beautifully flowing juxtaposition of stories. Another story ends with a man speeding in his car, the next starts with boys careening around a room on a handcart. I’m not sure I’ve read another anthology that was as pleasingly edited as this one by Michael Bailey. It is chiral, by definition.

‘Chiral’ means that something is asymmetric in such a way that the structure and its mirror image are not superimposable. Just when you think you understand where the author is going, your realize the story has totally turned around, but not quite. I had to immediately reread some of the stories; they were that good. “The Shoe Tree” by Pat R. Steiner, for example, leads you to believe it is a monster story when in actuality, it is a heartbreaking tale of loss–almost. One of my other favorites was “Five Adjectives” by Monica J. O’Rourke. I am a teacher, so this story was uncomfortable but required reading. We are often too busy to read beyond the grammar and syntax to grasp what the child is really saying. I loved the formatting of the story, and as usual, Ms. O’Rourke’s prose is impeccable. Another favorite in this anthology was “Lost in a Field of Paper Flowers” by Gord Rollo. I love a good revenge tale and this one was good enough to have me retelling the story over dinner.

There are thirty great reasons to buy this anthology. Twenty eight of them are the stories it contains, the twenty-ninth is the editing, and the thirtieth is because you need to be looking out for your fellow travelers on this planet.

From Richard Wright on April 28, 2013:

A lot of charity anthologies aren’t very good. There, I’ve said it. A lot aren’t bad either, but it’s rare to find one that’s actually a superior book in its own right. CHIRAL MAD is raising money to support Downs Syndrome charities, and while that’s very worthy I don’t recommend that you buy the book for that reason. Instead, I recommend it as that rarest of things – a vastly superior collection of smart, stylish modern horror. You should buy and read it, because it’s a phenomenally good book. That’s all the reason you need. These stories show just how intelligent and relevant the horror genre can be when it frees itself from shock, gore, and an obligation to actually scare you. These are stories that look at your life and the world you live in, peel back the edges, and say something about what’s underneath. Like the best of science fiction, these are stories that comment on the world.

They’re fun too, and constantly surprising. My own highlights start with Meghan Arcuri‘s witty and disturbing “Inevitable”, which takes an entertaining body swap scenario and uses it to poke at what identity is. Gary McMahon delivers “Some Pictures In An Album”, in which photographs are examined for forgotten truths and tell a disturbing story full of blanks that you as the reader have to complete as you see fit. Gary Braunbeck gives snapshots of a different life that is rotting at the centre in “Need”. There are many more I loved. Amidst the twenty-seven tales here there were perhaps five that didn’t work for me at all, draping vast quantities of style over too little substance, but that’s a a staggeringly good hit rate. It’s a real pleasure finding the genre I love (but often get frustrated with, due to lack of ambition from so many practitioners) presented with such relevance and skill.

Read this.

No, I wasn’t singled out for praise in either of these reviews (unless you count an oblique reference in McCoy’s review to the boys on the handcart), but that’s really not the point. I read these reviews to see what strikes a nerve with the readers, what doesn’t work for them, and what really works for them.

If you haven’t read CHIRAL MAD, you really should. My fellow contributors really know how to spin a tale:

Published by Written Backwards, CHIRAL MAD is a charity anthology that has raised thousands of dollars for the Down Syndrome Information Alliance. Buy your copy here and be sure to leave a review. I promise I’ll read it.

LOSING TOUCH “delivers”

Posted in Book Reviews, News on August 8, 2013 by Christian

Shaun Meeks, author of AT THE GATES OF MADNESS, has written a review of my debut novel, LOSING TOUCH:

LOSING TOUCH, now available at Amazon.com.

LOSING TOUCH, now available at Amazon.com.

I have been a pretty big fan of Christian A. Larsen since I started to read some of his short fiction about a year and a half ago. So when I found out that he was releasing a novel, I was pretty stoked. I was even more excited when I read the description and found that it was about someone that pretty much gets superpowers. So the comic and horror nerd in me was revved up for this one.

The story itself is very well played; well thought out characters, great tension and some great scenarios. There were times when I was reading LOSING TOUCH that I wanted to scream at the page like my friends scream at movies, saying “What are you doing? Stop it! That’s a terrible idea!”, which is saying a lot. Any book that can pull that type of reaction from me has done the job it is supposed to do. Getting an emotional response from the reader, whether it be from frustration at a characters act, sadness, joy or terror, is the key to any great story and this one delivers.

The comic book nerd in me also enjoyed the more Marvel Comics-like character and situations. He has a power that so many would love to have, yet life is far from perfect. He has money issues, relationship issues and seems to have a hard time making good choices. I also found myself wondering what I would do with the same talent and that made the direction the story takes that much better.

Now Mr. Larsen could have gone the easy road and made it just a simple comic book hero origin story with a dash of horror, but he doesn’t. There is more to it than that. There are real problems he is faced with; his gift sometimes comes off as a curse, and failure is a common thread in his life. And in the end, as you think it is going to go a certain way, you are given an ending you might not be expecting, or at least I wasn’t.

My only complaint about the entire book is that it ended, which isn’t really a complaint at all, but still, I didn’t want to leave these characters. I highly recommend this book and I’m pretty sure you will walk away as happy as I did.

LOSING TOUCH, featuring a foreword by Piers Anthony, is now available in Kindle and paperback at Amazon.com.

Barnes & Noble reader review of SHADOW MASTERS

Posted in Book Reviews, News on August 7, 2013 by Christian

Barnes & Noble reader “RyanRyan” has written a review of SHADOW MASTERS: AN ANTHOLOGY FROM THE HORROR ZINE, which features my story, “The People Eaters”:

Pick up your copy of SHADOW MASTERS at Amazon.com.

Pick up your copy of SHADOW MASTERS at Amazon.com.

Amazing anthology.One of the best has to be by Ronald Malfi. I had never read anything by him before, but I will have to start now.

There are others in here to that I will have to start to read more of or recently discovered that bring some amazing work here.  Shaun Meeks, Tim Jeffreys, Lisa Morton, Christian A. Larsen and William Rasmussen are among them. They bring some amazing stories to the table.

And of course there are the staples, people I love to read that don’t disappoint. Bentley Little, Yvonne Navarro, Simon Clark, Elizabeth Massie and Scott Nicholson knock their stories out of the park.

Over all, an amazing collection.

If you’ve read SHADOW MASTERS but haven’t written a review, you have no idea how much the contributors would appreciate it. If you haven’t read SHADOW MASTERS yet, what are you waiting for? Just check out this table of contents:

SHADOW MASTERS (Imajin Books) is a product of THE HORROR ZINE, a monthly e-zine that publishes new issues the first of every month.

LOSING TOUCH has “subtlety, humanity, humor and folksy wisdom”

Posted in Book Reviews, News on August 6, 2013 by Christian

Doug Murano, author of “Out With a Whimper”, “Teedie and the Night Drive”, and “The Chopping Block” has reviewed my novel, LOSING TOUCH, giving it five out of five stars:

LOSING TOUCH, now available at Amazon.com.

LOSING TOUCH, now available at Amazon.com.

I’ll start off by saying that I’m the type of reader who usually consumes multiple books at once. However, as soon as I cracked into this marvelous novel, I set the others aside (these were heavy-hitters, mind you) and basically tore into it non-stop until I was finished. It’s that good. Larsen deftly balances the tension between the more fantastical elements of the story with shrewd observations about life, relationships (and even bodily functions)that keep the whole thing from flying off the merry-go-round. Without the subtlety, humanity, humor and folksy wisdom holding everything together, none of it would have worked, but Larsen makes it look easy. Highly recommended.

LOSING TOUCH, featuring a foreword by Piers Anthony, is now available in Kindle and paperback at Amazon.com.

Looking forward to ConTamination DEFCON 5

Posted in News on August 5, 2013 by Christian

I might as well just admit it–I like attending events like ConTamination DEFCON 4 almost as much as I like the writing itself. Over the weekend, I got to meet lots of fantastic people, some new readers, and of course, got to hang with the Post Mortem Press folks while signing copies of my novel, LOSING TOUCH.

C. Bryan Brown, Eric Beebe, and me, representin'.

C. Bryan Brown, Eric Beebe, and me, representin’. We all have beards.

After hustling LOSING TOUCH and C. Bryan Brown’s NECROMANCER Friday night, I had dinner at Helen Fitzgerald’s with my publisher, Eric Beebe on the suggestion of L.S. Murphy. Had a pastrami sandwich and a black & tan, and heard some Bon Jovi disco-fied by an overzealous DJ. Food was great.

The music? Not so much, but hey, I dig me some Kiss, and with Ace Frehley at the expo, it was almost like a mini Kiss Konvention, full of delightfully tacky Kiss Krap and “killer” celebs like Camille Keaton, Tom Towles, and John Dugan.

The whole thing makes me kind of wistful, because now I don’t have any events planned for a couple of months. In the meantime, enjoy Ace Frehley and Kiss doing “Shock Me”:

22 essential books?

Posted in Observations & Musings on August 2, 2013 by Christian

I stumbled across an interesting bit of information this week while trolling on the interwebs. While convalescing in a North Carolina hotel room in 1936, author F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of THE GREAT GATSBY, had his nurse write down a list of 22 “essential” books he thought everyone should read, and here is that list, presented in the nurse’s handwriting:

fitzgerald_reading_list

Here it is in much easier to read typeface (with links to where you can read or buy):

Even for someone as purportedly great an authority as F. Scott Fitzgerald, these lists are more often than not simply a look into the tastes and experiences of their maker. The above is no more a list of books you “simply must” read than my own:

And now, looking back on my own list (which would look differently if you asked me again in a month), I realize that I almost exclusively read books by old white men (thank goodness for Harper Lee!). So this exercise wasn’t as fruitless as I thought at first that it might be. I found out that I suck.