Archive for May, 2014

Remember the fallen today

Posted in Observations & Musings on May 26, 2014 by Christian

Today, the people of the United States remember the men and women who died serving in our armed forces. I never had a family member I knew die in battle, but my grandpa and several great uncles fought in WWII, and they had friends who died.

I started writing a new kind of zombie novel on New Year’s Eve that started out just being about a guy, his family, and some weird zombie coyotes and a ‘denim stranger’ back in the woods behind their house, but the further along I got, the more of my uncles and grandpa creeped into this character who was dead before the book started. I never meant for that to happen. It just did.

Like one of my uncles, ‘Butch’ was part of Operation Overlord, and in the passage, below the main character, Marshall, is remembering one of his last visits with his dying uncle:

A soldier makes it ashore during the Utah Beach invasion.

A soldier makes it ashore during the Utah Beach invasion.

At age ten, Marshall had no appreciation for Butch’s participation in the Allied invasion of occupied France. He imagined it happening in black and white—written, acted, and shot in the same simple terms. The only color he could possibly imagine was the green of the army guys he kept in the bucket under his bed, and not the buckets of blood that must have stained the sand. It was something no one could ever really appreciate it unless they had lived it, but at ten, he got it less than most. But he had seen Butch, the man cut from granite, crying on Memorial Day, a day when you ate hot dogs and went to parades.

It took his own dad explaining it for him to have an inkling. Guys died that day. And some of them were friends of Uncle Butch’s. There was blood. Lots of blood, but they slipped away knowing they had done right by their country, watching their comrades take the ground. Except that it wasn’t like that—that wasn’t enough to make Butch shed actual tears. There was more to it. Plenty more. But he wouldn’t know it until years later, when Butch was sitting in a chair in the sun room with an afghan on his lap.

Butch’s skin was sallow—a thin, pale yellow—hinting at the corpse flesh it someday soon would be, the backs of his hands bruised from IVs and the crux of his elbow a solid purple from all the needles. He was listing in his chair, his face drooping like a stroke victim’s. With slow blinks, he fought against his sleepiness, the kind of sleepiness that a nap couldn’t dent, no matter how long and deep.

“Ungh, Marshall,” said Butch with a wave of his hand. Marshall wasn’t sure if it was a gesture of runoff from some sort of palsy. “We lost a lot of guys that day. Goddamn Eisenhower was a lunatic setting things up all half cocked. And it wasn’t like when Teddy Roosevelt charged Utah Beach—that was Teddy’s son, did you know that?—no sir, buddy. Eisenhower did it from an office. Phoned it in. He was miles away when guys, good guys, got their arms ripped off by mortar fire, or their feet blown to bits by land mines.”

Marshall didn’t quite know how to answer him, and wasn’t sure if it was even a good idea. He seemed to be inside the story. And Marshall had no point of reference. He hadn’t even seen someone die of old age, or illness. People just died off screen for most Americans. Baby boomers and Gen Xers and everybody who followed. He couldn’t imagine what that would be like, seeing your buddy disassembled by zinging Nazi ammunition. And while that might have been the best thing to say, he didn’t say a thing. Instead, he settled for pursing his lips in a way that he hope said, ‘I’m thinking about what you’re saying and I’m sorry it happened.’ That his uncle was mostly blind didn’t figure in to his decision.

“You know the worst one was Norv—now what was his name?” Butch nodded his head a few times to jar loose the memory. “Harv—no, the other college.” Butch would have snapped his fingers, if he could. “You know, Yale? Yep, Norvie Yale. A good kid. From Cairo, down at the tip of the state, by Kentucky.  A real good baseball player. Second baseman, I think. He was playing in the minors when he got drafted. I haven’t thought about Norvie in, oh, probably fifty years.”

Marshall gulped a mouthful of hot spit that had been collecting under his tongue. That Butch had untended memories ten years older than Marshall was a little stupefying. It reminded him of his place next to Butch. A late comer. A real late comer, and it wasn’t time to start feeling sorry for Uncle Butch just yet.

“He was on the Higgins boat with me coming across the English Channel. I didn’t know him real well, but we’d talked a little. Played some cards—that kind of thing. He was eighteen or nineteen, just a young kid, you know? But he wasn’t afraid. Not him. He had real smooth skin, a baby’s skin. Had to shave maybe once a week, but his eyes … he knew what was coming as well as any of us, and he was set. If it was his time, well then, give ‘em hell on the way out. Like a lot of the guys, I guess.” He shut his eyes and nodded to the side, like he was counting sheep that were named after each of his friends.

Marshall watched him, snoring softly for a minute or so. At first, he wasn’t sure that Butch didn’t die. It would be like that, he thought. At least that’s what he always told himself. It would be peaceful, not like the awful story that he knew Butch had begun. And the ending was waiting for him, ready to spring on him like a jump scare, and settle into the long, slow horror of his memory. Maybe Butch has to do this. Maybe he has to pass on his demons. He watched the old man sleep, and wanted to catch the moment by the tail, but he was too slow.

If you know a veteran, hug him or her today. Thank them for their service. And remember the soldiers who have died protecting the lives and ideals of the American people.

Why horror? It helps weight loss.

Posted in News, Observations & Musings on May 24, 2014 by Christian

It’s a question that ranks right up there with “Where do you get your ideas?” … the dreaded “Why do you write horror?” question. Sure, I can answer those questions with reasonably intelligent-sounding responses. If I’m being honest, though, the answer is “I don’t know.” But now I have another reason to write horror.

Apparently, it can help you lose weight.

Easy come, easy go, if you snack in moderation while you watch this.

Easy come, easy go, if you snack in moderation while you watch this.

A recent study by the University College London confirmed the physiological changes that take place when we’re scared. The journal CIRCULATION, ARRHYTHMIA AND ELECTROPHYSIOLOGY reports that watching stressful scenes in horror films affect blood pressure and breathing speed that mimic the effects of a small workout. Very small, but still…

I let my subscription lapse, unfortunately, but I can tell you that this echoes a 2012 University of Westminster study that suggests watching horror movies can burn up to 200 calories at a sitting, making that chocolate bar you snarfed down before the blood and guts started spraying everywhere a “wash” in the moments-on-the-lips, lifetime-on-the-hips equation.

Even better news for readers and writers of horror like me, the top three calorie burners on the list were books before they were films. The parenthetical numbers listed represent an average number of calories burned by study participants while watching the film adaptation:

So now I’m wondering when one of our institutions of higher learning will commission a study of how reading horror might burn calories. Short of that, I’d settle for a film adaptation of LOSING TOUCH. Either way, I’m cool…

Christian A. Larsen is the author of LOSING TOUCH, featuring a foreword by New York Times bestselling author Piers Anthony, now available in paperback and ebook formats from Post Mortem Press.

Barnes & Noble announces summer writers’ day lineup

Posted in News on May 23, 2014 by Christian

Barnes & Noble Southland Center in Racine has announced the participating writers for its summer authors’ day on Saturday, August 16th, during which I will be personalizing copies of LOSING TOUCH.

LOSING TOUCH, on the shelf at the Racine Barnes & Noble.

LOSING TOUCH on the shelf at Barnes & Noble Southland Center in Racine.

The panel of authors begins at 11:30. It will be moderated by Ann Marie Pilot, and will include the following participants:

From 1:00 to 2:00 p.m., participating authors will take part in a writing workshop for aspiring, or even already published authors. And from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m., readers and authors will mingle during the ‘open house’ portion of the program, signing copies of their books.

August 16th will be here sooner than you think. Mark it on your calendar and get in out of that sticky heat you know we’ll be complaining about in a couple of months.

CAMP ARCANUM author to join PMP at Printer’s Row

Posted in News on May 22, 2014 by Christian

 

Now available in paperback and Kindle formats.

Now available in paperback and Kindle formats.

Josef Matulich, author of CAMP ARCANUM, is slated to appear during Printer’s Row Lit Fest June 7-8 at the Post Mortem Press table. He will be personalizing copies of his novel alongside fellow authors Brian Dobbins (WITCH’S CARTEL), Michael Matula (TRY NOT TO BURN), Cynthia Pelayo (SANTA MUERTE), and Max Booth III (TOXICITY). I will also be signing copies of LOSING TOUCH, which features a foreword by New York Times bestselling author Piers Anthony, who writes horror as well as fantasy and comedy.

Matulich writes in a similar vein, but he doesn’t just do novels. His horror/comedy screenplay, “Monster Graduation Weekend” is in “prolonged pre-production”, and while he waits for that to make its way out of development hell, he also co-owns and manages The Alley Vintage Costume, which sells vintage period costumes with absolutely no mass produced junk from overseas. He has also written role playing games, so, you gamers out there … he knows how to roll a die.

You’ll find Printer’s Row Lit Fest on Dearborn between Harrison and Polk in Chicago’s central business district. 2014 marks the fest’s 30th year in operation, and it’ll be bigger and better than ever before, with discussions, readings, a children’s stage and activity area, and thousands of new, used, rare, and antiquarian books. You don’t want to miss this, and you don’t want to miss the Post Mortem Press table from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday the first full weekend in June. We’d love to sign some books for you.

(L-R) Brian Dobbins, Stephanie Kania-Beebe, Cynthia Pelayo, me, Eric Beebe, and Michael David Matula.

(L-R) Brian Dobbins, Stephanie Kania-Beebe, Cynthia Pelayo, me, Eric Beebe, and Michael David Matula.

Snyder, Johnson join QUALIA NOUS

Posted in News on May 20, 2014 by Christian

Prolific short story scribe Erik T. Johnson and Bram Stoker Award®-winner Lucy A. Snyder are the latest additions to the QUALIA NOUS lineup.

Johnson offers “The Angel Chaser” and  Snyder serves up “Dura Matter”.

My story, “Cataldo’s Copy” will also feature in the upcoming science-fiction/horror anthology edited by Bram Stoker Award®-nominee Michael Bailey.

Who are the remaining few? You will find out soon...

Who are the remaining few? You will find out soon…

Johnson’s novella, THE CHAPMAN DELIRIUM, features in the collection THE CHAPMAN BOOKS, written by Johnson, Aaron J. French, and Adam P. Lewis. Johnson’s 2011 short story, “Water Buried”, was called “perfect” by D.F. Lewis and received an Honorable Mention from Ellen Datlow in her list of Best Horror of the Year.

Snyder won the 2012 Bram Stoker Award® for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction with her story, “Magdala Amygdala”, which also appeared in THE BEST HORROR OF THE YEAR, VOL. 5, edited by Ellen Datlow. Snyder has also published three novels: SPELLBENT (2009), SHOTGUN SORCERESS (2010), and SWITCHBLADE GODDESS (2011).

Here is the working table of contents in alpha by author:

QUALIA NOUS will be available later this year in paperback from Written Backwards.

Christian A. Larsen is the author of LOSING TOUCH, featuring a foreword by New York Times bestselling author Piers Anthony, now available in paperback and ebook formats from Post Mortem Press.

LOSING TOUCH is a Post Mortem Press bestseller

Posted in News on May 19, 2014 by Christian

The first quarter of 2014 was kind to LOSING TOUCH. I’ve just been informed by Post Mortem Press that it ranked #2 in digital novel sales for the period ending in March, and THE GHOST IS THE MACHINE, which features my short story, “The Talent’s in the Bones” ranked #1 in digital anthologies.

LOSING TOUCH won the 2013 Preditors & Editors™ award for best horror novel and features a foreword by New York Times bestselling author Piers Anthony:

Now available in paperback, Kindle, and Nook formats.

Now available in paperback, Kindle, and Nook formats.

Morgan Dunsmore feels like everything is out of reach – a paying job, a healthy marriage, and even a good bowel movement. Complicated by his wife’s recent back surgery, Morgan tries to protect his wife and kids from his anxieties, not to mention their financial burdens, but that just pushes them away even further.

And in the middle of it all, he starts to lose his tangibility.

He may be able to walk through walls, but that ability comes with a price. He has to learn not just how to control it, but how to use it without anyone finding out, not even his family. He doesn’t want to become a circus freak or government test subject while providing for his wife and kids, but there doesn’t seem to be any honest work for a man who can secretly phase through solid matter. The temptations, on the other hand–the temptations are endless, and when he succumbs to the first, the rest begin to fall like dominoes…

Here’s what my horror colleagues are saying about LOSING TOUCH:

  • LOSING TOUCH, Christian A. Larsen’s debut novel, wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Regardless, I was quickly caught up in the storyline and clear writing, and taken to an ending I didn’t see coming but thoroughly enjoyed…”

– Rose Blackthorn, Shock Totem

  • “Who hasn’t fantasized, if only for a moment, about being a superhero? Being able to fly, to crush steel, to turn invisible, to pass through walls? On the other hand, how many have wondered what it might be like to become a superhero, to realize suddenly that things are happening over which you have no control, which you don’t understand (and at first don’t particularly want), and which are leading you away from your essential humanity? Ah, that’s a different story…one told by Christian A. Larsen in an insightful, intriguing, and ultimately entertaining and uplifting novel, LOSING TOUCH…”

– Michael R. Collings, Hellnotes

  • “It’s about Morgan, a man who finds himself ‘gifted’ with a superpower of sorts: he can move his flesh through solid objects. The resulting series of misadventures are presented in suitably gritty fashion, showing the effects of this unique ability on (for instance) Morgan’s bowel movements. Ultimately, however, Morgan’s abilities serve to shine an unflattering light on the bleakness and inadequacy of his life, which is presented in a startlingly realistic fashion that belays–or perhaps enhances–the outré premise. The result is a weird and wonderful account with definite real-world resonance.”

– Adam Groves, The Fright Site

  • “Not wanting to give too much away, I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of this book and find out for yourself where this all leads to. An easy read that leaves you wanting more…”

– Paula Limbaugh, Horror Novel Reviews

Available now in paperback and eBook formats, LOSING TOUCH joins the works of Tim Waggoner and Billie Sue Mosiman on the Post Mortem Press frontlist.

Enjoy a book and help defray some medical costs with Post Mortem Press

Posted in News on May 17, 2014 by Christian
"A chump-stumping shock-cinema party book of the highest order!" -- Chris Alexander (Editor, FANGORIA Magazine)

“A chump-stumping shock-cinema party book of the highest order!” — Chris Alexander (Editor, FANGORIA Magazine)

James Newman, author of 666 HAIR-RAISING HORROR MOVIE TRIVIA QUESTIONS, needs your help. While enjoying the park with his wife and sons the last weekend in April, a tree fell on him.

I wish this is a joke, but it’s not.

Newman is recovering from multiple injuries, including a broken back. The good news is, his doctors say he has suffered no neurological damage, meaning he should make a complete recovery, but it will take another couple of months for that to happen. In the meantime, there are bills…

To help James and his family, Post Mortem Press is collecting the Amazon author royalties from select books, including LOSING TOUCH, through the end of June, to donate to the Newmans, their expenses, and medical bills.

If you already have LOSING TOUCH, there are a number of other excellent reads you can purchase for this very worthy cause:

Pick them up in paperback. Pick them up for Kindle. But if you needed an excuse to take a flier on an author you’ve never read (or maybe just a title you’ve never read) … here it is.

James Newman needs your help, and you’ve only got until June 30th, so get in on this now, folks!