My Necon 39 Schedule

It’s almost time for Necon 39! From July 18th through July 21st, I will be returning to the famed “summer camp for horror writers” in Portsmouth, Rhode Island for my 18th year! Here’s my schedule while I’m there:

Friday, July 19th

9:00 a.m.     Mini-Golf (a Necon Olympic Event)
I won the gold medal in mini-golf last year, and I look forward to defending my title!

8:00 p.m.     Meet the Authors Party
I’ll be signing books all night, and will have a small selection of titles on hand to sell as well.

Saturday, July 20th

4:30 p.m.     It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! Writing Superheroes in the 21st Century
Rachel Autumn Deering, Christopher Golden, Carol Gyzander, Nicholas Kaufmann (M), Errick Nunnally, Charles Rutledge
Following with this theme, Superman’s tagline used to be, “Truth, Justice, and the American Way,” a phrase that could be interpreted very differently today. Yet superheroes aren’t just persisting in 2019, they’re thriving. Our authors tell us how.

9:00 p.m.     The Infamous Necon Roast
Once again Jeff Strand and I will be co-hosting the annual Necon Roast. Who will be sitting in the hot seat this year? You’ll have to be there to find out!

Sunday, July 21st

11:00 a.m.     Necon Town Meeting
Come tell me and the rest of the convention committee what we did right, what we did wrong, and what you’d like to see next year.

I helped put together the panels again this year, and I’m very proud of how they turned out. Click here to see the full Necon 39 program.

See you at Necon!

The Scariest Part: Daniel P. Coughlin Talks About SATANIC PANIC

This week on The Scariest Part, my guest is author Daniel P. Coughlin, whose new novel is Satanic PanicHere is the publisher’s description:

Satanic Panic, a mass hysteria created in the nineteen-eighties, has returned to a small college town in the Midwest. Ritualistic murders and the presence of the occult have bled below the surface of the town in the form of icy accidents and other coincidences. And when three lifelong friends find themselves on the radar of a killer — and leader of a satanic cult — they must fight for what’s good without being seduced by the evil that possesses their campus.

And now, let’s hear what the scariest part was for Daniel P. Coughlin:

Satanic Panic is a book about the progression and lineage of sin from inception to seduction to destruction. The scariest part about this book was presenting characters that make a steep departure from morality, but that a reader can still sympathize with and follow along their journey. Creating protagonists that need to be quickly connectable before being presented with moral conflict is not easy. The perception of Satanic Panic’s characters is left to you, dear reader, but know that many frustrating hours went into the “what if’s” of creating compelling characters that are flawed by age, new freedoms and basic biology.

The central characters are three friends who grew up together, Brock, Lance, and Brianna. Since an early age they’ve shared just about everything and are now budding into adulthood. Their bond is tight, but their bodies are developing sexually and they know each other too well to ignore their lustful thoughts. Honesty is something that they honor deeply and therefore, as maturing young adults, they will initiate the topic of lust and romantic feelings for each other. Quickly, they concede that attraction exists. Can they experiment without cracking the foundation of their bond, or should they suppress their secret desires?

The layering and complexities of pulling off a three-way sexual experience without insulting the reader’s sensibilities was a challenge especially since the conflict is presented very early in the book. Translating my vision into an effective experience for the reader was daunting. Good people conducting extraordinarily bad behavior is the basis of much storytelling, but crafting the complex nature of a relationship into a violent story needed finesse and precision. Wanting the reader to understand the devolving morality was key in understanding the voice of this piece. Evil is real. Evil is hungry. Evil will take everything. Before this evil devours the soul it shows its innocent attributes. “Its just sex, we’re being mature about it” segues into “who said this was wrong?” Once the characters lose their sense of morality their souls become subject to attack, both metaphorical and literal. Designing this kind of a relationship into the structure of a story about a murderous satanic cult was another terrifying strain.

College age loss of innocence paired with satanic sacrifice is a pretty blunt story idea so the book needed forms of relief at times. Dark humor seemed to fit. Flawed human beings self-destructing can be comedic.

So long as it’s you we’re talking about and not me.

Satanic Panic: Amazon / Powell’s / IndieBound

Daniel P. Coughlin: Website / Twitter

After graduating from high school in Watertown, Wisconsin, Daniel P. Coughlin joined the United States Marine Corps and served four and half years as an infantry Machinegunner in an Amphibious Raider Unit (Fox 2/4). After being Honorably discharged, Daniel attended and graduated from California State University at Long Beach. While studying screenwriting under the mentorship of acclaimed writer Brian Alan Lane, he also interned and served as a script analyst for his favorite director, Wes Craven. Daniel is the author of six novels and an anthology of short fiction. Daniel is a proud member of the Horror Writer’s Association (Los Angeles chapter). He holds a professional certificate in Technical and Professional Writing from Cal State Dominguez Hills and a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Full Sail University.


My Best Friend’s Exorcism

My Best Friend's ExorcismMy Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this novel! It’s frightening and suspenseful, but also funny, charming, and at times delightful. Grady Hendrix writes teenage girls so convincingly I can only assume he was one in a previous life. At the heart of MY BEST FRIEND’S EXORCISM is Abby and Gretchen’s friendship, with all its ups and downs, frustrations and challenges, moments of deep connection and moments of supernatural terror, and because Hendrix portrays that friendship so realistically in its complexity, it keeps you invested throughout. The exorcism itself, when it comes, is both hilarious and profoundly emotional, and the end of the novel is beautiful. I can’t recommend it enough!

View all my reviews

The Scariest Part: Elizabeth Hirst Talks About THE FACE IN THE MARSH

This week on The Scariest Part, my guest is author Elizabeth Hirst, whose new novel is The Face in the MarshHere is the publisher’s description:

Kenzie is twenty-five, with two degrees and no job prospects. When her parents offer her a job curating their museum, Ettenby’s Log Palace, she accepts out of desperation, despite their history of family conflict. She arrives praying that her secrets will stay buried, and her hard-won mental health won’t relapse. Once at the Log Palace, Kenzie is fascinated by an unsettling collection of junk dolls found on the property. As she follows the thread left by the collection, she discovers a history of poltergeist activity, witchcraft and death on the small island housing the museum.

And now, let’s hear what the scariest part was for Elizabeth Hirst:

The Face in the Marsh started as a vivid nightmare, the kind that causes you to jolt awake in the middle of the night, heart racing, veins filled with pure lightning. I tell this story a lot when I’m at conventions, recounting how I saw and felt the museum, the staring of the carvings, the decaying little people made of pieces of discarded junk that crawl around under the surface of a still, lily-covered marsh. In my nightmare, I was there, living my main character Kenzie’s most terrifying moments. And yet, that wasn’t the scariest part.

Even in those early stages, I knew that the museum collection menacing Kenzie, the shack across the river, and the strange way that Kenzie could pop through reality like a cut in a film were only symptoms of something larger. Even in the nightmare, the carvings and the little mechanical people had only scared me because I knew there was something behind them, something animating them that was vast and empty and hungry.  That emptiness is mirrored in Kenzie herself, and for a long time, it lived in me.

Like Kenzie, I am bisexual. I grew up in a rural area where even the offbeat straight kids had a hard time getting along, and where nobody understood people like me. When I realized my own sexual orientation, I searched for years for somebody, anybody that could act as a positive role model, who could show me that I could grow up to be the successful person that I always wanted to be. I found only criticism and misconceptions from the people that were supposed to look out for me.

Feeling like my only choice was to forget about being bi or to face a bleak future, I tried my hardest to forget. Doing so came with a price, and that price was a facelessness that dogged me in all aspects of my life. ‘Just be yourself’ was the cruellest and most confusing thing that anyone could say to me during that time of my life. They might as well have been saying, ‘Just step in front of that firing squad. You’ll be fine. They’ll love you.’ Deep down, I knew who I was, and I was thoroughly convinced that I was a monster. But I summoned my own monster, just as Kenzie did, and as I think we all do in different aspects of our lives.

The scariest part is that there is a monster out there that distorts our features until we can’t see our own face in the mirror. It slowly alienates us from everyone we love, until the bonds are so eroded that all we feel is emptiness. It isolates us from human emotion, as if we are trapped behind glass that no one else can see. It leeches away our sense of self-worth until we are just a hunk of colourless goo that might as well be anything else, some water or a goose or a few pieces of junk that rattle around at night. That monster is real, and it steals faces every day.

I tend to write stories from start to finish with characters and themes in place but no clear idea of what the end will be. I dive into the mystery in the same way that readers will, and much of the tension in my writing is derived from the fact that when I was writing it, I also did not know what would happen. I did not know if Kenzie would kill her parents or save them. I did not know if she would conquer the faceless void or surrender to it. Writing this book meant stepping out in front of that firing squad not knowing if the guns were loaded. It meant staring into the faceless void that destroys so many queer people, wading through it and finding out what happens.

Did I come out on the other side? You’ll only know if you read the book.

Sweet dreams.

The Face in the Marsh: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Chapters Indigo

Elizabeth Hirst: Website / Twitter

Elizabeth Hirst has loved fantastic fiction since her father read her The Lord of the Rings and other classics as a young girl. She has worked as an animator, online game writer and founder of her own small publishing label, and during that time, representing the people, places and culture of Ontario has remained close to her heart. Find her at the beach, the museum, or watching cartoons with her husband Robin.



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