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Saturday, September 30, 2006
In conjunction with the Book Em fair coming up in Waynesboro, Virginia, in a couple of weeks, the Waynesboro newspaper ran a nice little interview with me  in its weekly entertainment section, and Beth Massie was kind enough to send me a copy. The event is being well-publicized, and I hope the turnout will be decent. There will be at least a few other writers of the scary persuasion, including Beth, Matt and Deena Warner, and I believe Ms. Elizabeth "There's shit on my car!" Blue is coming. I'm looking forward to this; should be a fun time.

And what do you know...time to do another archive of The Log...


Friday, September 29, 2006
My newest Storytellers Unplugged essay is hereby officially posted: 
Tropophobia.

No, it's not obscene. So sorry.

Enjoy...


Saturday, September 23, 2006

James Robert (Bob) Smith's novel, The Flock, is a worthy first effort, beautifully produced in hardback by Gale/Five Star Books. The flock of the title is a group of prehistoric birds, known as Phorusrachids, which has survived in one of Florida's last remaining wilderness areas. They are impressive, predatory creatures whose survival is largely due to their near-human intelligence; however, their existence is now threatened by both developers and by an eccentric militiaman who owns a portion of the wilderness. A group of environmentalists, who wish to see the land preserved, pit themselves against the exploiters, and in the process discover the existence of the creatures. A complex game of intrigue ensues as the various parties square off, each with its own single-minded agenda.

Smith is a capable writer and has created a remarkably believable backstory for these dinosaur-like creatures. His human characters are mostly colorful sometimes a little too colorful but the drama never fails to be engaging. The birds themselves, though, are the stars of the story, and their unique characters enliven the book far more than if they were merely one-dimensional, predatory monsters.

The Flock is available at all major online retail outlets, including Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books-a-Million, Shocklines, and others.


Thursday, September 21, 2006
If you frequent the Shocklines message board, you probably spent your evening doing this. Bloody time waster. But jeez, what a hoot!

It took me one hour and 23 minutes. But that was with a lot of clues that came through Shocklines. I switched over to that every now and then while I was working on the foreword for Terry Bane's Actual, Factual: Dracula, which is now done.

Whew.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006
I've heard from Mr. Rob Hood, co-editor of Agog Press's Daikaiju anthology (which features my dark fantasy tale, "The Transformer of Worlds"), that it's now available in the U.S. courtesy of Prime Books, so that it doesn't have to ship from Australia. According to Rob, the book is the same as the original Australian edition, though the reproduction of the cover (art by Bob Eggleton) isn't quite as true and Todd Tennant's interior painting is now on the backcover. It's available in both trade paperback and hardback. Daikaiju won the Australian Speculative Fiction Ditmar Award for Best Anthology, 2005.

If you're keen on giant monsters, then this is the book for you. Astounding stories of absurd size and impossible dimension! Mammoth mega-fauna! Apocalyptic adventure! Surreal suspense! Catastrophic comedy! Monstrous metaphysics! Original fiction from around the world and a special film history by Cinescape's Brian Thomas. Give 'er a look, mate.


Sunday, September 17, 2006
Publishers Weekly has given Evermore, edited by James Robert Smith and me, a nice review this week. Here's a portion of it:

Evermore
Edited by James Robert Smith and Stephen Mark Rainey. Arkham House, $34.95 (242p)
ISBN 978-0-87054-185-8

"Of the several Poe-themed horror anthologies published in recent years, this volume comes closest to evoking the streak of morbid curiosity that was Poe's unique contribution to weird fiction... Fred Chappell, in 'The White Cat,' sees a skeleton key for unlocking the enigma of Poe's obscure prose poem 'Eureka' in mysterious events that might have taken place in Poe's last days of life... Steve Rasnic Tem, in 'The Masque of Edgar Allan Poe,' and Joel Lane, in 'All Beauty Sleeps,' both effectively distill obsessions and passions of Poe's classic characters into the experiences of tragic contemporary everymen. Not all the contents measure up to the quality of these selections, but most show an imaginative ferment lacking in more derivative competitors."

Hey, I'll take it...


Saturday, September 16, 2006
The Augusta Free Press, the online newspaper for Waynesboro, Virginia, has featured a little profile about me in conjunction with the Book Em fair to support literacy, which I will be attending next month. Here's a link to the page: Stephen Mark Rainey First in Fright. The complete interview text may be found here: August Free Press Book Em Interview.


Friday, September 15, 2006
I've received the sad news that Charles L. Grant, one of the legends of the horror/dark fantasy field, has passed away of a heart attack. He'd had serious health problems and had been hospitalized for some time but he had just come home last week after showing some improvement. He went peacefully, I understand, and I imagine that being at home would have been his preference. It sounds not unlike the circumstances when my dad passed away in 2001; he rallied a bit just before the end and then went quietly.

I didn't know Charlie all that well personally, but I met him a number of times in the late 80s/early 90s, and while he often wore a curmudgeonly face, he was at heart a gentle and kind soul who always showed consideration and genuine interest in others. In a lot of ways, he influenced me in much more than just my writing. R. I. P., Charlie. You will be missed.


Monday, September 11, 2006
I had considered writing something deeper, perhaps respond to some of the conspiracy theorists who think the U.S. government was directly responsible for the 9/11 attacks. But as I started composing my thoughts, I realized how much time and energy it would require, and right now, it's getting late, it's been a long day, and I'm tired. And the whole conspiracy angle, so improbable as to be beyond ludicrous, angers me as much as the Islamist enemy. So I will merely say here, my heart is with those who lost loved ones on that terrible day, and my prayers are for America daily. Bless you.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Hoo hah! Got the Godzilla DVDs today and just watched the Japanese version probably for the 30th time, but this thing still gets me right in the gut. Hard. It's one of those that, for me, rather than losing impact, just gets more intense.

The print is pretty good, though there are a few places where the scratches and spotting get pretty noticeable.

I might mention that the commentary on the Japanese version is by Steve Ryfle (author of Japan's Favorite Mon-star, the closest thing to a definitive book on Godzilla around) and my old friend Ed Godziszewski, who took over the fanzine Japanese Giants, which I started up some 32 years ago, and still publishes it periodically. I've not listened to the commentary yet, but that'll be coming up...

If you'd be keen on the definitive retrospective of the original
Godzilla, complete with beaucoup behind-the-scenes info and photographs, check out Japanese Giants. The cover is by Bob Eggleton.

Going from the sublime to the ridiculous, I also picked up the first volume of Ultraman to go with Godzilla. I'm actually going to have to spend some time in front of the TV this week.


Tuesday, September 5, 2006
Classic Media's DVD release of the original
Godzilla, featuring both the original Japanese version as well as the American version (with Raymond Burr) has hit the streets. I just received notification that my copy has been shipped. Yay! (I guess I can dump my old DVD-R and even older VHS copies of the Japanese version now.)

While most folks associate Godzilla with miniature cities, rubber suits, and atrocious dubbing, the original Godzilla is a masterpiece of dark cinema, and only in recent years, when it traveled around the country to various theaters, have Americans gotten to see what it was really all about. Although the Americanization was respectful of the source material, the original is still a very different, far more powerful movie. It is easily my favorite monster movie of all time, surpassing even the original King Kong. Yeah, heresy in some quarters, I know, but hey...I'm right.

I'm just glad that, finally, the original is getting the treatment it deserves and that, during its recent domestic release, it received consistently good reviews and showed that American moviegoers still have an appreciation for damn fine moviemaking -- particularly when the subject is a big-ass monster.


Monday, September 4, 2006
Hope everyone had a good Labor Day weekend with some time off from the daily grind. Peg and I spent most of the weekend at my mom's in Virginia. We also got with our friends, the Albaneses, on Saturday for an afternoon of swimming, which was kinda...cool. As in chilly. Quite. But it was a nice getaway, as we killed some pizza that evening and watched a bad 70s horror movie (Black Christmas). There's always something entertaining about a bad 70s horror movie when you're in exceptionally fine company.

Today, I was hoping to get out and about on one of my traditional long walks, but the weather was anything but cooperative, so I buckled down and spent the entire day working on the opening chapter of the novel I'm calling The Monarchs of Harrow. It's going to be a bitch going back to the office this week, as I really got fired up working on this.

Now, the rest of you...get back to work.


Friday, September 1, 2006
Please pardon the thoroughly commercial tone hereabouts, but time is ticking down to the deadline for pre-ordering The Nightmare Frontier, my novel from Sarob Press, coming out in October. September 20 is the cut-off date for pre-orders. Stunning cover art by Chad Savage.

Also coming in October, from Arkham House: Evermore, the anthology edited by James Robert Smith and yours truly. Features a line-up of killer short fiction about Edgar Allan Poe, with contributions by Kealan Patrick Burke, Fred Chappell, Rick Hautala & Tom Monteleone, Joel Lane, Manly Wade Wellman, and many others. Cover art by Tony Patrick.

Click on the covers to get further details and ordering information.

    

Happy Labor Day weekend. Hope everybody's got some time off and will enjoy it thoroughly.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006
My latest bit of rambling for Storytellers Unplugged has been posted:

 
"Shades of Intensity."


Sunday, August 27, 2006
Bob Freeman's Shadows Over Somerset is a contemporary horror/dark fantasy tale that chronicles the rather mysterious Cairnwood family and the individuals/entities who come to be at odds with them. It's not always simple to tell who's protagging and who's antagging, though, as the Cairnwood family is something of a mess. They've got heroes, they've got werewolves, they've got vampires...they've just got all kinds living under the family name. Their homestead, Cairnwood Manor, situated in a dark corner of Indiana, is reminiscent of the classical mansion full of secrets, a la Collinwood from Dark Shadows; in this tale, however, the secrets are multiplied something like tenfold.

Freeman's storytelling is enjoyable, particularly during the action-packed scenes of character conflict. I did have a problem with the lack of breaks between paragraphs when scenes changed, though I'm not sure whether this was a copy-editing gaffe or something done intentionally. Whichever, it's cumbersome, and it brings the flow of the drama to a screeching halt on any number of occasions, particularly because there are so many characters to follow. Better structuring of the book's passages would have helped distinguish what's happening when and to whom. In fact, I would like to have seen better copy-editing in general, as there are numerous small problems that a second trained eye could have easily caught and fixed. KHP Publishing, take note.

Regardless of its problems, Shadows Over Somerset is a generally entertaining novel, fast-paced, and vividly rendered. With its dark, gothic atmosphere and occasional moments of breakneck action, it's got a little something for fans of every dark persuasion.

Saturday, August 26, 2006
Just got back from the Starlite Drive-in Theater Durham, NC, where the missus and I met Mark "Horror Drive-in" Sieber and his family to see Snakes on a Plane, which was, in general, a big hoot, and perfect drive-in movie fare. I haven't been to a drive-in theater since college, back in 1980, and I believe it was The Crater Lake Monster. I've always loved going to drive-ins, and this was the perfect movie to see at one. Naught but silly fun, and it was great to hang out with Mark and Tanya and their brood. I might add that the Starlite is the first drive-in I've been to that sells bullets and handcuffs at the concession stand.

This afternoon, just for kicks before we left for the drive-in, I watched the American version of The Ring, so it was almost like having a double-feature horror show.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006
I received contributor copies of Dark Discoveries issue #8 today, which features my story, "The Devils of Tuckahoe Gorge." A mighty nice-looking issue this, and I'm in great company Kealan Patrick Burke, Michelle Scalise, William Simmons, and Brian Knight, among others.


Monday, August 21, 2006
By gummy, I kind of like this. Today,
I received an image of the cover for my upcoming World War II novel, Blue  Devil Island, due from Gale/Five Star in January 2007. I was kind of sweating this one because I had a bad feeling that the artist might bomb out on the airplanes (I'm kind of a perfectionist when it comes to aviation art). But while the rendering you see here isn't quite perfect, the F6F Hellcats look not unlike F6F Hellcats, almost certainly enough so to satisfy the layman, and the composition is dramatic and eye-catching, so I have no complaints.

Tom Piccirilli was kind enough to give BDI a decent blurb a while back:
"Blue Devil Island is by turns a war adventure, a buddy thriller, and a gripping horror throwback to the classics of the 40s. Filled with pulpy fun but written with a muscular prose that'll shake you sideways until your back teeth rattle."

I reckon that's pretty apt.

Sunday, August 20, 2006
I was delighted to find that Mark Sieber, of Horror Drive-In, gave The Nightmare Frontier a stellar review. Here's a little snippet:


"...Rainey takes his time with the novel's first quarter, giving us hints of the terrors to come, but he also wisely allows his readers to get to know the principle characters and their personalities. Then all Hell breaks loose when a small town is literally segregated from the surrounding communities by an alien-like barrier, and malignant forces begin making themselves known. Readers that love cosmic horror will love The Nightmare Frontier but any serious or even casual reader of horror fiction will be rewarded."


There's exactly one month left to get pre-orders in; you may use these links to order directly from Sarob Press or Shocklines.

You can check out the entire review here.

This evening, I went over to Borders, where my long-time friend and Evermore co-editor James Robert (Bob) Smith was signing copies of his new novel, The Flock (Gale/Five Star). The signing started at six o'clock, which really isn't the best time on a Sunday to draw a crowd, but we sat and shot the shit for nearly a couple of hours, and he sold a couple of books to unwitting purchasers (raises hand). Looks like a nice novel about big critters; I'll look forward to diving into it.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Twenty years ago today, I got married to Peggy Breheim. Alas, I don't have any of our wedding pictures scanned for which your eyes should thank their lucky stars. Peg had the big hair in those days, and I had about as much hair then as I do now. This afternoon, I brought her some flowers and stuff, but any celebrating will be this weekend. (I guess I should figure out something special to do, huh?)

In these two decades, we've gone from terrorizing Chicago to mildly upsetting Greensboro, NC (it's the age thing, don't you know); our daughter Allison has grown up and left home; Deathrealm magazine has been birthed and buried (I was about as married to it as to the missus); and I've probably written a million-some words, a fraction of which have been unleashed on an unsuspecting populace.

Often it seems such a short time ago that we hiked down that aisle; sometimes it amazes me that for almost half my life I've been hitched to a weird woman. I reckon I like it well enough, or else we wouldn't be together today. And I suppose Peg deals with it because no one else would put up with her. Wait reverse that. Anyone that could put up with me day after day is some kind of angel, and I don't imagine there are many others in the world that would. I am, after all, a writer, and a spooky one at that, so I can only count my blessings and look forward to another good many years with Mrs. Deathrealm, as she's still known, or getting put under the ground, whichever comes first.

So if you're drinking, drink one for Mr. and Mrs. Rainey. If you're not, well, don't.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Returned from Horrorfind on Sunday and spent a couple of days in Martinsville with my mom. And what a trip.

Left Greensboro Thursday afternoon and drove to Waynesboro, VA, to stay overnight with Elizabeth Massie and Cortney Skinner, who, sadly, weren't able to make it to the con this year. That was the one big bummer of the weekend, since for me, Beth and Cort occupy the place of honor among the honored. We did spend an enjoyable evening with her sister Barb and brother-in-law Charlie, some damn good pizza, and last year's silent classic, The Call of Cthulhu on DVD.

Arrived at Horrorfind on Friday afternoon and hooked up with Steve Sommerville of Insidious Reflections magazine and Boyd Harris and Chris Mann of Cutting Block Press. We shared a table outside the dealer's room, which worked well for us; I had The Lebo Coven, The Last Trumpet, and various issues of Deathrealm to sell. My thanks to all who were gracious enough to partake of our bloody wares.

Had a nice dinner in a quiet, romantic corner of the hotel restaurant with Greg Hill, the grisly proprietor of The Lazy Lion Bookstore. (Insert violent shudder here.)

Later hooked up with Gina Farago and Terry and Glenn Bane of NeDeo Press all good friends from Greensboro as well. We went to the haunted hotel suite and then John Zaffis's presentation about paranormal thingies, where I learned never to attempt an exorcism on my own. It would be bad. (Kinda like crossing the streams, if you know about such things from Ghostbusters.)

Late night partying out front of the hotel. "Good God," expressed in a near-falsetto cry, most adequately describes the experience.

Began Saturday morning with a reading (an abridged version of my tale "Other Gods," coming up in the next issue of Cemetery Dance magazine). Nice bunch, that audience; no one threw things at me. Paul Melniczek followed, with a nicely creepy tale.

One of the con's highlights was meeting the ebullient Fran Friel. On Saturday afternoon, she sat me down and made me eat my lunch like a good little boy, and we laughed and talked shop and other stuff, and it was really nice because she, too, threw nothing at me. Also Saturday afternoon, since my daughter Allison lives reasonably nearby, she came round and helped me grab hapless passersby outside the dealers room. When I say grab, I do not exaggerate. (I must speak with her mother about certain usages of the hand she has adopted.)

Dinner Saturday at Noodles with the NeDeo Press folk, followed by ice cream. Then Matt and Deena Warner's party, which most of the proper people at the con attended. But then came a great wave of improper people. Happily, by then, the free alcohol was gone, so with cries of "This party sucks," the improper filed out. More parties should suck so.

As always, it would be futile to try to list everyone I saw and/or met, but special greetings, thanks, and salutations go to Matt and Deena, the Siebers, Norman Prentiss, Beth "Nice Tits" Blue, Sarah "I gotta pee!" Schoenfeld, Nikki Reinhart, Greg Hill, the NeDeo gang, Skipp, Keene, Chizmar, Brian Freeman, J. F. Gonzalez, Ron Dickie, Steve Lukac, the indomitable (and possibly abdominal) Drew Williams, KellywithanI (I hope you enjoyed sleeping with your parents!), Nanci Kalanta (I remain your adoring minion), Tracy "Cat" West, Jim "thanks for the broken ribs" Moore, Gary Frank, Tom "Padrone" Monteleone, Chad Savage, Matt "You Rock!" Schwartz, Mike Laimo, Mark "the Pod" Justice, John Urbancik, Horror Wench, Steve Shrewsbury, Brian Hatcher, Erik and Laurie (I'd hide you again any day) Alkenbrack, Paul Melniczek, Nick Grabowski, Bill Carl, Jack (keep your hands off my daughter!) Ketchum, Ed Lee, Pamela & Bill Kinney, and on and on.

Hats off especially to Steve Sommerville, Boyd Harris, and Chris (It sounded like a frickin' plum) Mann, who were a treat to share rooms and tables with. Thanks, guys.

And here I sit, all sad and wishing I could have another night of such great company...
 



Ed Schubert is heavy.




Young 'un with Dad




Fran Friel and Steve Sommerville




Gina Farago and Tom Monteleone


Wednesday, August 9, 2006
The Lebo Coven received a very nice review at Horrorwatch. Check it out. (And thanks, BQueen.)

I just got in a fresh batch from Gale/Five Star, so I'll have copies available at Horrorfind this weekend. Thanks to some recent cleaning out of the storage vault, I also discovered some vintage copies of Deathrealm, which I'll be bringing along.

You can find me sharing a table with Insidious Reflections. Just how insidious are they, I have to wonder...?

Monday, August 7, 2006
For the past few days, I've found myself heavily involved in plotting a brand new novel, which I'm tentatively calling The Monarchs of Winford. It's not a title I particularly like because it sounds like some hoity-toity primetime soap opera television show, yet in its way, it's perfect for the story. Who knows, maybe I'll run a contest or something with freebies for anyone who can come up with a better title I can use, heh heh.
It's kind of a southern-gothic-descent-into-madness-but-loving-it story that could almost be shelved as Paranormal Romance. Well, maybe not. More like Paranormal Romance with barbed wire, hot coals, and fish hooks embedded in virgin flesh.

I'm about three-quarters of the way through my detailed outline, but I probably won't finish it until after Horrorfind this coming weekend. Then I'll start writing the book proper, get a treatment off to Bob, my agent, and try to procure some bites.

And speaking of Horrorfind, I've still got lots to do, preparations to make, books to pack...all that good stuff. I'd better start thinking about getting to it.


Saturday, August 5, 2006
Mark is a happy camper. Peg got a major gift certificate for her birthday for Amazon.com and was sweet enough to let me order a couple of things with it too. So today I received a couple of killer B movies that I enjoyed immensely as a young 'un Teenagers From Outer Space and The Creature From Black Lake. The former I saw at about age six; With a badly superimposed giant lobster and ray guns that turn people into skeletons, it's a real classic. And the latter I saw at the drive-in as a teenager, and it was actually creepy.

Any movie with Jack Elam threatening to make a rug out of Bigfoot can't be bad. I have an old VHS copy of it, but the quality is nearly unwatchable. Getting these on DVD is a real treat. I expect tonight is going to be movie night.



At Fanta-Sci: Mr. Damned Rodan (in the foreground), Beth Blue, Mark & Tanya Sieber

Tuesday, August 1, 2006
And another edition of The Log gets logged into the archives...

I'm a little late posting here because I've been gone for several days. Went to Fanta-Sci in Chesapeake, Virginia; visited Dave Wilson and Trish Macomber in Hertford, North Carolina; and been to my mom's in Martinsville, Virginia. Otherwise, I've been nowhere.

Fanta-Sci was fun enough; I met some great folks (Hi, Ann!) and saw several other good friends including Mark and Tanya Sieber, Gina and Karl Farago, and Elizabeth Blue. Saturday night, we had a great time watching the old 70s schlock classic Frogs and the unrated version of The Hills Have Eyes remake.

Speaking of the latter...

I've always said that having a GPS in one's car would take the fun out of getting lost. Well, I don't have a GPS, and I certainly had some fun Sunday afternoon. Holy shit.

I took a different-than-usual route out of Hertford, since I was going to Mom's rather than heading straight home. I studied Google maps and wrote myself up a detailed set of directions -- which was perfect until I discovered too late that two different rural roads had the same route number. Or I should actually say that two different legs of the same road turned off the main highway. I took the wrong one.

I was in the backwoods south of Suffolk, Virginia, where the average population must be half a person per square mile and there are no road signs, no route numbers, nothing to indicate which direction one is traveling. The roads were deserted, and I mean deserted. It was exactly midday and the sun was directly overhead, so I couldn't get my bearings that way. Suffice it to say I could see myself driving right into a tidewater version of The Hills Have Eyes. Or the southern redneck incarnation of Dunwich.

Eventually, I found a gas station and bought a map. I followed it carefully, only to find that the roads did something altogether different than the map showed.

Needless to say, after much experimenting and a healthy amount of cursing at the local asphalt, I found my way to the main highway. I generally have an excellent sense of direction, and I haven't actually been lost on the road, even in totally unfamiliar areas, since I was a teenager. But the layout of these roads got me hopelessly turned around, and I'm compelled to wonder if the complete and utter absence of signs is an intentional ploy to entrap unsuspecting victims.

The clincher is that the road which instigated this mess was route 666.

When I arrived at Mom's, I went back to Google maps and I can see exactly why I made the mistake I did. Bet plenty of others have done the same thing and I wonder how many have lived to tell the tale...


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