Interview with Artist Luke Spooner


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Carrion House is the online domain of England artist and illustrator Luke Spooner, whose work has appeared in projects featuring stories by horror masters Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, and Stephen King.

“I have a First Class degree in illustration from the University of Portsmouth,” Spooner says on his website. “My current projects and commissions include illustrations and covers for books, magazines, graphic novels, books aimed at children, conceptual design and business branding.”

Spooner’s projects include the interior artwork for Crystal Lake Publishing anthology “Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories” and the interior artwork for Bram Stoker Award-winning Crystal Lake Publishing anthology “Behold: Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders.” Both feature stories by horror masters Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, and Ramsey Campbell.

Spooner’s illustrations are also featured in the anthology “You, Human,” which includes the short story “I Am the Doorway” by Stephen King, and in “The Dead Song Legend Dodecology” by Jay Wilburn.

 

In an exclusive interview with HorrorAddicts.net, Spooner discusses his career.

 


THE INTERVIEW

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HORROR ADDICTS: Where did your artistic eye and talent originate? Any artists, books, or movies inspire your style?

SPOONER: I was doodling from the moment I discovered pencils and things to scribble on. In those early formative years, it was just a way of emulating what I loved; I used to draw my favourite characters from television shows, books – even imaginary characters that I’d make up and try to explain to others and write stories about. In hindsight; the desire to communicate ideas through visual means actually developed earlier than my attempts at communicating through spoken language. I’m not saying I was any good at it – I’m just saying it was my first port of call once I realized there were things I needed to get out of my head, but gradually, over time, it became a tap – a leaky faucet that you really had to put your back into if you were to have any hope of turning off. It never occurred to me that some people just didn’t do it. It seemed so important and instinctive but as with most things in life; once you arrive at school and find peers of your own age staring back at you, you notice people and they notice you, the things that separate you from them start to become clearer and more definitive.

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HA: How long have you been a cover designer? What compelled you to start your own business in this field?

SPOONER: When I reached the age of 18 I had gathered enough understanding of the world to know that there was a chance I could do something creative, something that involved creating images to convey meaning, for a living – a way of making money to allow me to create images for as long as possible with no interruptions. It was suggested by my art teacher that I undertake a Foundation Degree at the Wimbledon College of Art in London.  Following this suggestion and applying myself to getting accepted was a confirmation that I was indeed going to do something creative as a profession; I’d sat across tables from other students with artistic prowess far greater than my own for years by this point and despite this I still felt very strongly that I could find a niche for myself that they couldn’t fit into. That degree, in total, lasted a year and was essentially, what became known in retrospect, as an ‘options year,’ a term suitably vague and confusing. I ended up in a scary umbrella option called ‘visual communication,’ which basically meant commercial imagery in the broadest and (sadly) vaguest sense. I was trapped in a room, right on the edge of Wimbledon like a dirty secret, shoulder to shoulder with photographers, graphic designers, typographers, traditional illustrators, children’s book illustrators and even a couple of fine artists who had severely lost their way but decided that it couldn’t have possibly been there fault. I barely made it out of that year purely through the department’s constant need to try and cover every discipline’s needs on a daily basis. We were essentially a broth with too many chefs and I lost any sort of direction or idea of what I truly wanted to be. However, I did survive it and based on the few tethers I’d managed to grasp over the course of a year under the degree’s instruction I decided to sign up to The University of Portsmouth’s illustration degree.

When I got to Portsmouth everything was confirmed. I was reminded of what I truly enjoyed and what I wanted to do more of in the future. The degree provided the perfect platform for me to start from and presented the bare bones truth of what the world I was trying to install myself into was and would be like, so any second thoughts I would have had were put aside fairly early on. The unofficial mantra that got passed down by the lecturers, and made frequent appearances in our group tutorials like a support meetings code of conduct was “what you put in – you will get out,” and while that obviously sounds like common sense, I can assure you that you’d be amazed at how many people decided to sit back, put in minimum effort and just assume the work would find them both during University and out in the big wide world of work. I heard from one of my friends at a London based art degree while I was Portsmouth that her department’s stock phrase was “nobody wants you,” which although incredibly depressing is an unfortunate truth.

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When I left University in 2012 I had finished my illustration degree; handed in work, filled 14 sketchbooks, written a dissertation on film noir, even wall mounted my work for an exhibition to be looked over by a horde of complete strangers – all over the course of the final third year. What I didn’t realise was that we although the work was handed in on 11tth May – we didn’t officially graduate until the 23rd July. This meant that we effectively had two whole months of not having a clue who we were supposed to be; were we students? Were we graduates? Could we start working without knowing whether we’d passed or not? The list of open-ended questions goes on and on but when you’re talking about a department full of potential freelancers you knew you weren’t going to get any answers – even the lecturers gave the impression that they now saw you as competition as opposed to the subordinates they were teaching a week previous.

There was absolutely no hope of turning to your fellow artists and finding out what they had planned because competition was verging on blood thirsty, so rather than dwelling on it I decided that I didn’t need to know what grade I got, or even whether I’d passed, to be a practicing freelancer. I had a portfolio to my name and a desire to work and seek out potential projects so, for those two months, I emailed and searched, rinsed and repeated, sending upwards of fifty emails a day until eventually one client, just as fresh and new to ‘the game’ as I was, said they wanted me on board for their new project and were willing to pay me actual money in return for my services. That was six years ago, and I haven’t stopped since

HA: You call your online domain, CARRION HOUSE. Why that name? Does it have a special meaning?

SPOONER: I didn’t actually live in the city I studied in when I was at University. I lived forty miles away and was working two part-time jobs, so I didn’t really socialise much with other students outside of the formal lessons and group tutorials attended at the University. I used to commute via bus and train and when you couple that with the fact that our schedule, especially towards the end of the course, was pretty lax it meant that not a lot of people actually knew me beyond being able to recognise me in passing me in a corridor. However, during the second year of the course there was a big emphasis placed on creating an online identity for ourselves as prospective illustrators through online portfolios, social media, blogs etc. We were encouraged to represent ourselves as more of a brand than a person, where possible, and so for two weeks I went through all sorts of names that I thought would highlight the dark work I was creating, and hoping to create, for other people.

There were some truly awful names amongst the list of potentials and some downright laughable, so I eventually decided to take stock of how people already viewed me within the course as they were, to a point, pretty unbiased and probably a good indicator of how people would view my work having not really known me personally. In the first year we had done a project where we were set the task of researching and illustrating an animal of our choice over the course of a month and producing some sort of ‘end result’ based on our research and development. I had chosen a crow as my subject and had jumped head first into my research almost gratuitously. The end result was a series of illustrations based on ‘The Crow’ by Ted Hughes and when it came time to present the research and final product to my teachers, alongside everyone else, the other students were slightly taken aback by how ‘into it’ I had become when they saw the bulging sketchbooks and development folders. Subsequently people started referring to me as ‘the crow guy,’ not in a negative capacity (as far as I know) but simply as a convenient moniker based on simple fact — I did nothing to dissuade this.

So, knowing that I was already known as ‘the crow guy’ I took the word ‘Carrion’ and coupled it with the word ‘House,’ because I liked the idea of appearing as a professional house, or style of illustration as opposed to just some guy who could colour in really well and that’s how the name came about. It may also interest you to know that I also work on children’s books under the name of ‘Hoodwink House,’ a name chosen because I don’t feel that the child friendly style of illustration I utilise under that name is an honest representation of my artistic self, therefore I feel like I’m tricking/hoodwinking both customers and myself when I put on that particular hat style.

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HA: I read your website where you have worked on projects that include works by Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, and Stephen King. That’s impressive. Can you talk about how those projects developed for you? Do you feel more pressure when creating covers for high-profile projects with big-name talent attached?

SPOONER: All of those stories have come to me as parts of anthologies, so they are packaged alongside other stories, by other authors and therefore it diffuses that pressure by normalising those particular names and reminding the elated fan in you that they are just people. I try to make a point of going through anthologies avoiding any knowledge as to who has authored what as it’s the story I’m illustrating – not the writer. It also prevents me from trying to mimic any sort of aesthetic that they or their publications are synonymous with and in turn raise the chance of me coming up with something genuinely original and honest.

HA: In the age of Amazon and ebook readers, are covers as important in this digital age as they were in the days when hardcovers and paperbacks ruled?

SPOONER: Yes, of course. Covers are very important for conveying a theme or the essence of a book, ultimately providing an insight into what you might stand to gain or experience should you decide to have a look inside. On a simpler level; humans are sensory creatures so if you can appeal to someone’s imagination simply through the power of sight and image then you’ve already enriched their experience of a publication before they’ve even opened it. I would almost suggest that ebook covers need to be more illustrative than that of a physical copy as they are at a sensory disadvantage by not having that physicality and appeal to touch that humans enjoy so much.

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HA: What’s the key to a successful collaboration with authors and publishers in creating cover designs? Do most authors and publishers have a specific cover in mind or do they give you a lot of latitude in your design?

SPOONER: I think a successful collaboration comes from a mutual understanding and respect between the client and the illustrator. The writer should never see themselves as some sort of divine benefactor that has stooped to the illustrator’s level and offered them work that they are lucky to get – even if that is the case, and the illustrator should never be tempted to hold their skills to ransom and demand inordinate sums of compensation. Writer’s should realize that illustrators are a key part to making their body of work, not just a marketable and interesting package, but a complete and fully realized one with multiple layers. Illustrators should also realize that; yes, they are artists, they should never work for free because it undermines the entire profession, but they should also be open to the needs of the writer and understand that just because they are talented does not mean they are entirely right when it comes to understanding a writer or publishers’ vision. Working in tandem with each other towards the same goal, making all criticism fair and constructive from both parties – they seem like common sense things to keep in check, but they are often the first things to suffer when a collaborative effort starts to break down.

HA: I see your art incorporates visceral colors but also you have black-and-white illustrations. Which do you prefer and why?

SPOONER: I genuinely don’t know. I spent a long time simply sketching in standard pencil, sticks of charcoal and standard black ink so colour rarely made an appearance in my work during my infant to early teenage years. Around seventeen/eighteen years of age I had access to my A Level college’s entire art department, pretty much whenever I wanted, so I took the opportunity to explore the use of colour in my free time (lunch breaks etc.) and did so quite sporadically. The result was that colour would tend to explode within my images, as if the fact they were no longer repressed was reflecting a sort of violent display of annoyance at me personally through the very paper or canvas I’d set myself to. So I don’t know which of the two I prefer but I’m very happy that they are both present and hope I treat both equally well.

HA: On your website, you have a section for your illustration work. You also have a section titled “Self Directed Work.” What is the difference?

SPOONER: That simply refers to the work I make out of sheer impulse and self direction. None of it is commissioned by a third-party, they are simply the things I create because I have to create. Therefore, there are a few slightly weird pieces up there as well as a few canvas pieces, which is a medium I don’t advertise as a service to anyone. As you can probably imagine; there is a massive amount of work that I’ve produced for myself that isn’t on that page and is instead going completely unseen by anyone other than me.

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HA: What scares you?

SPOONER: The idea of not being able to create or be creative in my pursuits or hobbies scares me tremendously. Once, while in a group tutorial at University, after summer holidays through which we’d been told to maintain a visual diary, a teacher asked to see what I’d amassed. Upon opening my book and flicking through it she went very quiet, looked back over everything and asked me if I had produced as much as I had because I was perhaps scared of not being able to one day. That question caught me completely off guard with how direct it had been but also provided me with the quickest, most uninhibited ‘yes’ I had ever given in my life.

David’s Haunted Library: Two from Crystal Lake Publishing

Ugly Little Things: Collected Horrors by Todd Keisling is a collection of stories that explore what happens when people are pushed to their limits.The first story called A Man In Your Garden sets up the anthology perfectly. It’s about a man who believes a stranger is standing on his lawn. The man is scared but is there, someone, really out there or does he have an overactive imagination. I love how this story shows that sometimes we are our worst enemy.

Another good story here is Saving Granny From The Devil, this is a coming of age story where a young kid name Todd gets help from the devil. Flash forward a few years and the devil is coming for Todd’s Granny and Todd makes a deal to save her. The problem is that while Todd’s heart is in the right place, he may have made the wrong decision. We then see how his actions affected his life and his Granny’s. What I like about this story is the idea presented that love lasts forever and maybe the devil isn’t such a bad guy. Todd Keisling shows that he has a gift for creating deep characters that you can’t help but care for even when they do wrong.

My favorite story in this collection is When Karen Met Her Mountain. Karen comes from a religious father who recently died and not too long ago she had a miscarriage that she hasn’t mentally recovered from. Tragedy strikes when a religious cult shows up and kidnaps her husband. The Cult is messing with the wrong woman and Karen is going to make them pay.  I liked how you see Karen’s personality change as she hunts down her victims and then towards the end we find out that her therapist believed something like this would happen if the wrong trigger was pulled. The ending of this one really surprised me, this is a woman pushed to the edge and comes out stronger and more vicious.

The last story in the collection is a novella called The Final Reconciliation. It’s about a progressive rock band called The Yellow Kings, four kids with big dreams set out on their first tour. Little did they know that their first album would only be heard once and would cause the death of nearly 200 people. This story is a twist on an old mythology and a story of four kids achieving their dreams and worst nightmares at the same time.This is another coming of age story as the kids are working to leave the rough backgrounds that they come from.

Ugly Little Things is a book about the human spirit but the human spirit doesn’t always triumph. Even when you get what you want there is a dark side to it and that’s what Ugly Little Things is about. This is a book that’s shocking and disturbing but most of all it’s a look at what happens to people when they can’t handle the horror of life.

We’re all fascinated by things that are strange, odd and just plain different. Behold! Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders edited by Doug Murano is an anthology that embraces weirdness. When you start reading this book you know to expect the unexpected from the first story. In Larue’s Dime Museum by Lisa Morton. The story follows a woman who is obsessed with the past and finds two photos that transport her back in time. I loved how this story opens leading you to believe it’s about a circus style sideshow. Then you start to realize it’s really about a photographer and a woman who wishes to be in another time. I loved the descriptions of the setting and hearing about the woman’s daily routine and how she sees the world around her.

Another good story in this anthology is Chivalry by Neil Gaiman. In this story, an old woman finds the holy grail in a second-hand store and before long Galaad comes on a quest to bring the grail to King Arthur’s Knights Of The Round Table. The woman does not want to give it up. Galaad keeps coming back with extravagant gifts and finally offers three gifts to the woman and the woman accepts two in exchange for the chalice but the one she rejects is a huge surprise in the story. I love how the woman rejects the gift and her reaction after Galaad leaves her. At this point you are left to wonder is she crying because she liked the attention from Galaad or is it because she really wanted the third gift. This story is a must read.

Another good one is the Wildflower, Cactus Rose by Brian Kirk. This is a completely original story about a woman who goes in for surgery to take care of a sleep apnea problem. She comes out mutilated and thinks her life is over. Her new gifts seem to change her life though as she finds it easier to do the right thing.  There is a good message in this story about how the way you look doesn’t affect the life you choose. In reality, it’s our attitude that either draws people to us or pushes them away. The world is a mirror, you see what you want to see.

This book is full of great stories and one of the best is Clive Barker’s Jacqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament. This is an odd story about a woman who almost dies due to a suicide attempt. She then discovers she can make men do anything she wants and kill people with a simple thought. This one is fascinating because it is told from two perspectives and there is a bizarre love story involved. This tale can be described as a journey as you watch Jacqueline change as she understands her power and you watch the men around her change as they figure out what she can do.  Behold! Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders is a speculative fiction anthology that is a must read.

http://www.crystallakepub.com/

 

An Interview with Valarie Kinney

Our Featured author for episode 131 of the HorrorAddicts.net podcast is Valarie Kinney. Valarie is a writer, fiber artist and Renaissance Festival junkie with a wicked caffeine addiction.  Recently she talked to us about her work:

What will you be reading for episode 131?

25848622I will be reading an excerpt from my novel SlitherSlither follows the story of Zari, who is on the run from her family of snake-god worshipers. She has run away, gotten married, started a business, and thinks she is safe. Suddenly, her family and Slither are back in her life, threatening to harm her husband if she doesn’t submit to their will.
Zari’s husband, Emmett, has a past as dark as her own. He is ready and willing to stand between Zari and Slither, but first she has to be honest about the threat that is coming for them.

When did you start writing?

I wrote a lot in junior high and high school, took a pause for a time while raising a family, and came back to it about six years ago.

What are your favorite topics to write about?

My favorite things to write about are difficult topics, such as pain, addiction, struggle, and heartbreak. I really enjoy digging down beneath the surface to find the reason people act the way they do in a given situation.

Could you tell us a little about your book Kapow?28176119

KAPOW (Kick Ass Powerfully Original Women) is a collection of stories about super chicks presented in literary form. This is the first book in a dual anthology, and shows us the “bad girls” who get into some trouble. KAPOW 2 is when the “good girls” come in to save the day (we hope.) My bad girl super chick is Copper, a nearly seven-foot-tall redhead with a talent for breathing golden lightning. One thing you don’t want to do is make her mad. All the authors for these collections are female.

What is Dragons of Faith?

Dragons of Faith is a collection of short stories revolving around dragons who all have different belief systems. When the fate of the world is at risk, they must learn to work together to save the world. I didn’t write a story for Dragons, but I wrote the poetry at the beginning of each story.

Who or what inspires you?

I am often inspired by authors who write about difficult or uncomfortable topics. Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, and Diana Gabaldon all come to mind.

What fascinates you about the horror genre?

28495292My favorite thing about writing horror is that it is such a departure from my everyday life. In real life, I work from home, have four kids, and spend a lot of time washing dishes and doing laundry. When I write horror, I can live in a world where evil, talking snakes are real; where I can murder a character and describe the scene in detail; where the creepiest of monsters might be your next door neighbor. Often, the stories I write are just plain weird and often gross, and that’s what I enjoy writing the most. It’s fun.

What are some of the other books you have available?

My first book, Just Hold On, is a drama/romance.

https://www.amazon.com/Just-Hold-Valarie-Savage-Kinney-ebook/dp/B00JLUHRD8?ie=UTF8&ref_=asap_bc

My latest release, Heckled, is a psychological thriller.

https://www.amazon.com/Heckled-Valarie-Kinney-ebook/dp/B01ADXRSCQ?ie=UTF8&ref_=asap_bc

Where can we find you online?

On Twitter and Instagram @kinneychaos

My blog https://organizingchaosandothermisadventures.wordpress.com/

FB https://www.facebook.com/ValarieSavageKinney/

http://www.amazon.com/Valarie-Savage-Kinney/e/B00KIQE17E

I’m also on Wattpad and Pinterest

 

 

 

 

An interview with Chantal Noordeloos

Our featured author for episode 120 of the Horror Addicts podcast is Chantal Noordeloos. Chantal is a member of the Horror Writers Association and one of her hobbies is board games which you can read about here. Recently Chantal answerd a few questions about her writing:

When did you start writing?

deeplytwistedThat’s one of those ‘tricksy hobbitses’ questions. I can’t tell you when exactly I started. I’ve been making up stories since I was a kid, and even wrote some of them down when I was six or seven (much to the frustration of my mother, who was trying to get me to keep a journal of our holidays) I was also partial to essay writing at school, but I remember in my teens that I thought writing was a bother. I didn’t realize I wanted to be a writer until I turned fifteen, and my English teacher, Bob Harrison, made us do a lot of creative writing. That’s when I knew that this was my passion above all others.

Now, had you asked me “When did you start getting your work published?” I would have had a more straight forward answer *cheeky grin*. My first short story was published in 2012 (unless you count the stories I used to write for my school newspaper) My first novella came out in 2013, and my first novel in 2014.

 

What do you like to write about?

I like to write about ALL THE THINGS *insert little comic meme here* Sorry, I couldn’t control myself there for a second. Ehm… I’m a genre floozy (I don’t just write one genre) and a slipstream Sally (I mix genres) to boot, so I could go in very many directions with this question. I do have some preferences, I guess. I am a big fan of ‘epic stories’. I like to write about angels and demons and the apocalypse. Go big or go home… (not really because I enjoy small stories too, it just felt appropriate to randomly write that) Most of the time I incorporate some sort of mythology or fairytale into my work. Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it’s very subtle. That’s just a little thing I do.

In truth, it sometimes feels like the story finds me, rather than me finding the story. Sometimes a thought just hits 23456349me out of the blue, and if it clicks… it’ll become a novel. For me it’s important that I have some sort of connection with my characters. If that works, I enjoy writing.

 

Who are some of your influences?

My main influences are the brothers Grimm, Hans Christiaan Andersen, and all those people who have written down old myths. That’s where my passion started. More contemporary influences are Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett and Joss Whedon, though I am more influenced by my environment than I am by other writers. I think writers are more of a stimulant to each other, than they are an influence. I could never write like any of my heroes, their voices are their own… as is mine.

 

What do you find fascinating about the horror genre?

Horror has a macabre beauty to it. Death is the biggest mystery of them all, because no-one ever lived to tell the tale *grin*. There’s something elegant about horror, even about the gory part of it (though I believe horror is so much more than just gore). To me, as a writer, it’s a challenge to find out what frightens people. There’s something very intriguing about fear. There are also a lot of taboos in the world that are broken by the horror genre, which in a way feels very liberating.

 

What will you be reading for episode 120 of the podcast?

I’m going to read a story called ‘Little Death’. It’s a story I wrote after I saw a real item on the news about a mysterious illness.

 

Where can you we find you online?

*whispers* I’m everywhere…

*serious face* I’m really not, though I do spend a lot of time on facebook, and I’m trying to figure out how to do this twitter thing (does that make me a twit?). So you can find me: https://www.facebook.com/ChantalNoordeloosStoryteller

Or on twitter: https://twitter.com/C_Noordeloos

My website can be found here: www.chantalnoordeloos.info

And of course my favorite hang out is here: http://amzn.to/1NLVtZt

 

Thanks for having me on your show! It’s been a hoot!

 

Biting Dog Press

Since Biting Dog Press was nice enough to arrange for me to interview Nancy Collins for episode 81 of Horror Addicts, I thought I would write about who they are and what they have to offer. Biting Dog Press is a small independent book publisher that specializes in producing limited edition collectable books and e-books. All of their collectable books are handmade and limited to no more then 300 copies.

One of the collectable books they have includes  The Resurrection And The Life by Brian Keene which was limited to 250 signed hardcover copies. The book was produced in the style of a medieval manuscript and tells the tale of a shocking twist from the Book of John. They also have limited edition books from Edgar Allen Poe, Neil Gaiman and Jack Ketchum.

Biting Dog also has quite a few e-books available. Among them is Through Darkest America by Neal Barrett  Jr. Which I reviewed earlier in the season and its sequel Dawn’s Uncertain Light. The sequel follows a young man named Howie Ryder as he travels to Silver Island which was meant to be a symbol of how America was recovering after the great war. In reality the island is a concentration camp where genetic engineering is being done and his sister is being held captive.

Some other books from Biting Dog Press includes: The Transformed Mouse by Jack Ketchum which is a fable aimed at adults but not for people that fear mice. Murder Mysteries by Neil Gaiman which is about an angel who was murdered in heaven before the fall. Then there is Suffer The Flesh by Monica J. O Rourke which tells the tale of a woman named Zoey who was kidnapped in Manhattan and is about to learn what ecstasy and pain is really about.

Another good book that I just finished reading from Biting Dog Press is Knuckles And Tales by Nancy Collins. This is a collection of gothic short stories and novelettes all set in the South. Some of the things you’ll find in  this anthology include a half catfish half woman that lives in the Mississippi River, a half alligator half man that attacks fishermen, a traveling sideshow with a snake charmer, a geek that bites the head off of chickens, a voodoo priest who is leading his undead family out for revenge and an old witch who can turn your luck around for a price.

One of my favorite stories in this collection and really there isn’t a bad story in this anthology is Billy Fearless. Billy is not the sharpest knife in the drawer and hes not exactly stupid but he does have a tendency to take everything at face value and is immune to fear. Thinking that he is an idiot his father sends him away with some money and tells him to go out into the world,  make your fortune and never return. Billy leaves and comes to a little hotel in front of a haunted mansion on a lake. Billy gets dared to spend three nights in the mansion. Several people have been brave enough to enter the mansion but none have lived to tell the tale . Billy is not a normal guy though and the evil spirits that haunt the house may have met their match. I loved how Billy is presented in this story, hes a  nice person that wants to help people but because he is a little slow and never scared, people get the wrong idea. The end of the story is hilarious and I loved it when the evil spirit in charge of haunting the mansion confronts Billy. This story teaches that being righteous does have its rewards.

Another great story from Knuckles and Tales is The Two Headed Man. This is kind of a bizarre love story with an equally bizarre sex scene. It all starts when a man shows up at a diner just before it closes, he unzips his coat and the waitress and cook are surprised to see that he has two heads…or does he? I don’t want to tell any more about this story because it would ruin the surprise. What makes this story good is that it teaches that even people who are a little different can find love and never judge a book by its cover. Also the characters were beautifully written, I could relate to all of them and wanted to see them have a happy ending.

Nancy Collins makes the rural south come alive in Knuckles and Tales and I enjoyed the fact that three of the stories uses a traveling carnival and sideshow as its settings. If you like horror with a mix of comedy and old legends then you’ll want to check this one out.

Free Fiction Friday: Coraline

This week’s Free Friday selection is Neil Gaiman’s Coraline. This book was originally written in 2002 and illustrated by Dave McKean. Coraline was turned into a stop motion animation movie in 2009. The movie version of Coraline was directed by Henry Selick and included the voices of Terri Hatcher, Dakota Fanning and Ian McShane. The movie took 18 months to shoot after two years of pre-production and is the longest stop motion animation movie ever made.

The book Coraline tells the story of a girl named Coraline who has just moved to an apartment in an old house. She lives with her parents who work from home but don’t have a lot of time to spend with her. One day Coraline goes exploring and discovers a door that is just like hers. She enters and finds a world that is like hers but more colorful and better then the one she is living in. Her other mother pays more attention to her and is everything that Coraline wants her real mother to be. Not everything is what it appears to be in the other apartment though. Soon Coraline finds herself trapped in the other world and has to outsmart her other mother to escape.

If you would like to adopt a slightly used copy of Coraline, all you have to do is leave a comment on the blog  tell us why you would like to have a copy of this used book. If you enjoyed Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, American Gods, or The Graveyard Book you will probably enjoy Coraline also. This is for US residents only. Good luck and please leave a comment.

Gaiman vs Moore: Fanageddon with Saints of Ruin

Who better to play Death, than our friend Ruby Ruin?

Gaiman vs Moore: Fanageddon
Kimo’s Penthouse Lounge
San Francisco, CA
Saturday, December 31st

Who’s your favorite, Neil Gaiman or Alan Moore? This New Year’s Eve, vote with your costume and party like it’s the end of the world!

Representing Mr. Moore, up from LA in their first Bay Area appearance since they rocked the Ball of Cthulhu in 2010, Unextraordinary Gentlemen.

And representing Mr. Gaiman, fronted by Death for one night only, the hometown favorite, San Francisco’s own Saints of Ruin!

PLUS, just added: Unwoman!!!

Festivities will begin with dance lessons by Swing Goth. Followed by the Portishead inspired three part harmonies of Blue Rabbit, who show us that even lost girls can be found.

A limited number of early bird tickets are available, for the steep discount of $15. Get them while you can, because once they’re gone, pre-sale is $20 and tickets are $25 on the night of the event.

21+
7:30pm – Doors
8-9pm – Dance Lessons
9-2am – Party!

Minimum Age: 21
Kid Friendly: No
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!

Web: http://www.swinggoth.com/sf

Free Fiction Friday: Coraline

This week’s Free Friday selection is Neil Gaiman’s Coraline. This book was originally written in 2002 and illustrated by Dave McKean. Coraline was turned into a stop motion animation movie in 2009. The movie version of Coraline was directed by Henry Selick and included the voices of Terri Hatcher, Dakota Fanning and Ian McShane. The movie took 18 months to shoot after two years of pre-production and is the longest stop motion animation movie ever made.

The book Coraline tells the story of a girl named Coraline who has just moved to an apartment in an old house. She lives with her parents who work from home but don’t have a lot of time to spend with her. One day Coraline goes exploring and discovers a door that is just like hers. She enters and finds a world that is like hers but more colorful and better then the one she is living in. Her other mother pays more attention to her and is everything that Coraline wants her real mother to be. Not everything is what it appears to be in the other apartment though. Soon Coraline finds herself trapped in the other world and has to outsmart her other mother to escape.

If you would like to adopt a slightly used copy of Coraline, all you have to do is leave a comment on the blog  tell us why you would like to have a copy of this used book. If you enjoyed Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, American Gods, or The Graveyard Book you will probably enjoy Coraline also. This is for US residents only. Good luck and please leave a comment.

The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman was released in 2008 by Harper Collins. Neil Gaiman, as probably most of the people reading this blog know, wrote DC’s Sandman along with Death: The High Cost of Living. He also wrote the novels American Gods, Anansi Boys and the all ages book Coraline. The Graveyard Book is in the same vein as Coraline, meaning it’s a horror novel geared towards a younger audience.

The idea for The Graveyard Book came to Gaiman as he watched his two year old toddler ride his tricycle around a graveyard in 1985. Gaiman was a big fan of The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling and decided he would write a story like that; but rather then it taking place in a jungle it would take place in the graveyard. The book is actually a series of short stories tied together with the same characters. Each chapter being a different story.

The main plot of the book is about a boy who lives in a graveyard. When he was a toddler his family was killed by a man named Jack as they slept in their beds. As Jack went into the boy’s  room he found that the boy had left the house. The front door to the house was wide open and Jack sees the toddler enter the graveyard on top of the hill.

The ghosts in the graveyard debate whether to let the boy stay in the graveyard or not, but then the lady on the grey shows up (presented as death) and asks the dead to have mercy on the boy and they decide to let him stay. Jack tries to enter the graveyard to finish off the boy but is stopped by Silas, a mysterious man who lives in the graveyard. He manages to confuse Jack and keep the boy safe.

Two ghosts: Mr. and Mrs. Owens become the boy’s parents and call him Nobody. Silas becomes Nobody’s caretaker. Because he is the only one who can leave the cemetery to get food for the boy. Also Nobody is given the freedom of the graveyard so he can go wherever he wants in the cemetery.  While living in the graveyard he learns supernatural abilities such as scaring people, dream walking, and fading away.

The book follows Nobody from when he is a toddler to when he is a teenager. During his stay in the graveyard he makes new friends both live and dead, he is kidnapped by ghouls, he meets a shape shifter, and he has a run in with the man named Jack that kills his family.

I enjoyed this book, Gaiman does a great job setting the mood of the book and describing the graveyard.  The characters are all well written, but I felt they could have been a little more developed. I loved the way that Nobody grew throughout the book, when he is a teenager towards the end of the book I felt sorry for him. He mentions seeing the ghost children playing that he used to play with but now he is grown and doesn’t fit in with them anymore. This is what makes any book worth reading to me,  it has to have characters that you care about and does a great job describing the setting.

I did have a few problems with the book though, there are a few unanswered questions. The biggest being that we still don’t know much about what Silas is. He is presented as not living and not dead, he also has powers but the book does not get into his background and why he is the way he is. There is also a character called Mrs. Lupescu that we don’t know much about either. Also I would have liked to see a little more background information on the antagonist Jack and a couple of the other characters. I think some of the action in the book could have been done a little better. There wasn’t a lot of suspense to the story. You knew that Nobody was going to get out of all the problems that he gets into, someone always seems to be close by to save him. I think Gaiman was looking at the action as not being important to the story.

The flaws in the book are easy to overlook though, this is a book that everyone in the family can enjoy. There is some good artwork by Dave McKean and it is a fun read. A kid being raised by supernatural beings in a graveyard, you can’t go wrong with that subject matter.  I think its hard not to like a book by Neil Gaiman. So its definitely something you should check out.