To Other Similar Abysses!

Part of my day job entails coming up with Read-Alikes: little lists for popular books that can direct readers to other titles based on sharing similar themes, concepts, or aesthetics. For example, Laird Barron’s The Croning could be on a Read-Alike list for Jeff VanderMeer’s City of Saints & Madmen due to them both dealing with strange nonhuman entities and toying with the reliability of historical accounts. Diehard cosmic horror fans could probably quibble over the finer points of the comparison, but it’s a way of saying “if you liked X, try Y” for people who may not be that familiar with the genre.

And if there’s one thing common to the genres I like the most, it’s that lots of folks aren’t familiar with them.

So here’s a list of Read-Alikes for To Another Abyss. If…

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To Another Abyss!: the Soundtrack

If the title and cover weren’t enough of a sign, punk music has been a pretty big influence on my writing. There was a period of a year or so in my teens where I’d spend afternoons laying face-down on my bedroom floor listening to a new (to me) Bad Religion album with liner notes in one hand and a dictionary in the other. But it goes beyond just the vocabulary and invective; I’m pretty sure listening to so many albums that blow through 14 songs in ~30 minutes is the reason my novel barely breaks 50k words.

A couple songs work as themes for specific characters, but most of them are just thematically-aligned with the book in general: songs about selling out, overestimating one’s own abilities, wails of existential despair, a psychobilly song about primordial sea-creatures. I guess the last one isn’t a theme so much as it is something that just plain appears in the text, but hey, what’s more punk than being too on-the-nose with your lyrics?

Dust off your checkerboard Vans and enjoy!

For those of you who don’t use Spotify, here’s the track list:

Mouthwash – Fool’s Gold
Strung Out – Mind Of My Own
Propagandhi – Anti-Manifesto
Osker – Ballad of a Traitor (Hiii Ian!)
Tsunami Bomb – Dawn on a Funeral Day
Bad Religion – We’re Only Gonna Die
Tiger Army – Nocturnal
Refused – New Noise
Sick of it All – Scratch the Surface
Minor Threat – I Don’t Wanna Hear It
Chelsea Wolfe – Advice and Vices
Chelsea Wolfe – Pale on Pale
Priests – Suck

Novel Debut – To Another Abyss!

So this is a thing now. My first novel To Another Abyss!, has been published by Spaceboy Books.

It’s a farcical little book following a trust-fund kid and a punk fighting off independent filmmakers and Lovecraftian horrors in a Western Massachusetts college town. “Fighting” in the least effective sense, mind, but still pretty exerting by the characters’ standards.

Nate, TJ, Shaun and everybody else at Spaceboy did an awesome job on the manuscript and cover — it even looks like a hastily-Xeroxed band flyer!

You can find it at the usual massive online retailer, or order it through your favorite independent bookshop. And please review it on GoodReads or the other big retailer if you like it!

Three Curtal Sonnets about Books

The theme for last night’s Esoterotica show was scifi/fantasy fandom. I decided to write three Curtal Sonnets (which you can read about at this lil’ link right here) inspired by three genre books I’ve been constantly recommending to people as of late. Liberties were taken with plot and character to make them fit the form and the nature of the show, so they aren’t spoilers or anything really.

They Who Wait Love You
after the novel The Croning

We’ve all got secrets, don’t we, loverboy?
Our eggshell-thin masks barely keeping tight
an inner void that yawns, that sighs, that grins.

It may engulf you with some clever ploy,
or you might fit inside and sleep the night
straight through. I won’t know until it begins,
’cause it’s not often folks like you come ’round.

I’ll show you, if you think you’d stand the sight…
(A seam splits from my hairline to my chin,
the frailties of humanity not found
within.)

All His Stories Were Apologies
after the novel Mongrels

Let’s run at night, follow the railroad ties,
because the moon pulls us like ocean waves.
We go for miles, out where men won’t tread.

Some vacant freight container’s where we lie,
and rut like what-we-are, no face to save
when mongrels curl up in a makeshift bed.
Leave toothmarks, all the better to remind.

We sleep with limbs entangled in our cave
of rusty metal, feral hungers fed.
The sun awakens me as man, to find
you’ve fled.

Teeth of Ice Biting Flowers
after the novel Winterglass

Pull tight the coat against your muscled frame
to fight this evening’s chilblains as you wait
to be received by the General, your host.

Her stern demeanor scarcely masks her aim,
her lingering gaze, her appetite to sate.
She knows the splintered core beneath your boasts,
the stillness inside while you bring the storm

You’ll surely fuck her as you contemplate
swift ruin washing ‘cross her nation’s coasts.
Vengeance and lust entwine, your blood as warm
as ghosts.