Lake Monsters and diabolists

They say whatever you put on the internet will stay there forever. While this is true to some extent — at least until the advent of the looming Second Dark Age, when the grid goes down and my 20-volume real-world copy of the Oxford English Dictionary will give me enough power and prestige to become a regional warlord — it’s easy for me to forget that platforms like Facebook and Twitter are mostly ephemeral. They’re like a bad party where everyone you know is there, but they’re all shouting at once.

The point of which is, I have a book coming out soon and I haven’t talked much about it in the only place where it has a chance of sticking for more than half a day.

So: in July of this year, North American Lake Monsters: stories, will see the light of day. Here’s the cover art, which I think is gorgeous:

lakemonsterscoverAdvanced reader copies are circulating through the world, where with luck they’ll garner a few good blurbs for the cover and maybe a few good reviews as well.

Small Beer Press has a preorder page up here, where you can order it in hardcover (which was a pleasant surprise to me), softcover, or as an ebook. If you’re more into supporting evil empires, which I get, then you can go to Amazon and preorder it there.

Preorders make publishers happy, which in turn makes writers happy. Although they’ve said nothing of the sort to me, I feel as though they’ve taken a risk in publishing a collection with such deep roots in horror. Please go forth, if you’re inclined, and reward their faith in me.

In other news, I’ve recently sold a short story called “The Diabolist” to a market I can’t name yet. Here are the opening paragraphs:

For many years, we knew our monster. He was a middle-aged man, prickly of temperament and reclusive of habit, but of such colorful history and exotic disposition that we forgave him these faults, and regarded him with a fond indulgence. He was our upstart boy, our black sheep. He lived in a faded old mansion by the lake and left us to gossip at his scandalous life story. It was a matter of record that he had been drummed out of a prestigious university which had employed him in the southern part of the state, his increasingly eccentric theories and practices costing him his job, his reputation, and — it was whispered, and we believed it because it was too wonderful not to — the life of his own beloved wife. 

Dr. Timothy Benn, metaphysical pathologist. 

Theomancer. 

Sometimes the sky around his house would light up after dark with whatever wicked industry kept him awake, bright reds and greens and yellows igniting the bellies of the clouds like a celestial carnival show, or like an iridescent bruise. Once he seemed to have tipped the axis of gravity, so that loose objects — pebbles in the road, dropped key rings, toddlers tossed into the air by fathers — fell toward his house instead of the ground. This only lasted a few minutes, and we responded with bemused patience. It was one of the quirks of sharing a small town with a known diabolist.

And so it was that we enjoyed the company of our resident monster and the particular glamor he afforded us, until the day he died, and you found him there.

Dearest Allison. 

We didn’t know you like we knew him. Like him you were sullen and withdrawn, but you lacked any of the outlandish characteristics that made him so charming to us. You did not puncture holes in time and space. You did not draw angels from the ether and bind them with whores’ hair. You only lived, like any awkward girl, attending ninth grade in a cloud of resentment and distrust, hiding your eyes behind your bangs and your ungainly body beneath baggy clothes and a shield of textbooks clutched to your chest. We saw you in class, sitting in the back row with your head down; we saw you weaving like an eel through hallways choked with strangers; we saw you when you came down from the mansion on pilgrimages to the grocery store, where you were as disappointingly mundane in your selections as you were in every other aspect of your life. 

After school, after shopping, we’d watch you climb into your father’s car with the tinted windows, engine growling at the curb, and disappear up the hill into the mansion.

For all the attention you paid to us, you might have been moving through a world erased of people.

We loved your father but we did not love you.

And so on.

In the meantime, I’m continuing to write my novel set on Mars, I have a few more short stories in the works, an opportunity for personal essays (which have long been a secret and neglected love), and I have some plans for “The Cannibal Priests of New England” which I’ll address in a separate post.

And I grow older, and stranger, and more indifferent to the pull of the world. All is as it should be.

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