Archive for the ‘ChiZine’ Category

 

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Ordinarily when I write longhand, I use a Lamy Extra Fine Point fountain pen or a Shaeffer Extra Fine on old accountant ledgers. (Why old accountant ledgers? See this post: https://michaelmarano.com/category/lovecraft/) Why a fountain pen? I love the feel and flow of a fountain pen and, best of all, I love the scritching sound they make on paper. I use ballpoints all the time for note-taking and regular, everyday writing not related to writing fiction. But the sound ballpoints make on paper isn’t nearly as satisfying as a fountain pen nib’s scritching. I’m old enough to have begun my writing career on a typewriter, and to write in a way that is not associated with some kind of sound feels like a cheat. (For that matter, as a journalist, I’m of the very last generation to have worked in a newsroom with a typewriter and a teletype. All that wonderful noise and clatter helped me to focus and make deadlines. I still have a few sheets of used teletype paper in my files, on the backs of which I scribbled copy.)

Why write longhand at all? Simple. I get really fucking sick of looking at computer screens. Past a certain point, they hurt my eyes, and my hands get all achey from too much typing. Plus, it’s just a good idea to grab a pen, a tablet of paper, plop down in a coffeehouse or a library and just write, without any interfacing digital technology. I think it’s a healthy way to use different parts of your brain, so they don’t get all creaky and gummed up.

Today, though… I wrote with a Cross Medium Point. Why? Because in the novel I’m writing, A Choir of Exiles, I had to kill two sympathetic characters, and the ink had to really flow along with the mayhem. I gotta finish typing it all up before I make dinner.

Maybe I’ll play a sound file of a teletype machine going, so it’ll sound like a race with a real deadline?

 

 

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The totally gorgeous new cover for DAWN SONG by Erik Mohr

The totally gorgeous new cover for DAWN SONG by Erik Mohr

Hi, Everybody!

Above, please take a look at the stunning new cover by Erik Mohr for ChiZine Publications’ reprint of my first novel DAWN SONG. I think it’s an absolutely stunning piece of work, and when Brett Savory e-mailed me the cover, I was in a coffee shop in Cambridge, MA, where I kinda embarrassingly expressed my delight almost the same way Jan Brady would, upon receiving a signed 8 X 10 glossy in the mail from her favorite Monkee.

The reprint of DAWN SONG will be coming as a Trade Paperback and an ebook in June 2014; the ChiZine edition will be loaded with a few extra goodies that have not been in any other previous edition of the book. It will be followed by a sequel in 2015 and another sequel in 2016, the titles of which aren’t really finalized yet, though I can assure you that DAWN SONG: BREAKING DAWN has been considered and soundly rejected.

For those of you who don’t know, DAWN SONG was first published in 1998, and went on to garner the Bram Stoker and International Horror Guild Awards. According to some metrics, it’s still among one of the 100 most critically lauded genre publications, at # 72. (Hey, man… I’m right between Philip K. Dick’s Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said and Fredrick Pohl’s Man Plus on that list. That’s pretty goddam good company to be rubbing shoulders with!)

DAWN SONG is set during the first Gulf War build up of 1990, and is part of a mythology I’ve been developing in fiction based on the notion of a War in Hell… in which the struggles of various factions of demons in Hell for supremacy at once create, and are created by, the psychic shockwaves of conflicts on Earth. The book centers on the quest of Lawrence, a young gay bookstore clerk who’s come to Boston to create a new life for himself, and a Succubus who has also come to Boston to further the agenda of her demonic Patron in the War in Hell. I’ll be posting here about DAWN SONG some more in the future. But for now, let me sign off with a very generous quote from a writer who really helped me a lot in the development of my approach to this kind of material. Thanks so much for stopping by!

“‘The falling snow, dropping from the darkened sky, reminded her of the steady rain of souls upon the plains of her homeland. Although, unlike the souls, the snow did not scream.’ When I read those lines (from Michael Marano’s Dawn Song), I got up, turned on all the lights and checked the locks.”

“The author’s talent is unquestionable, his sensitivity and power of expression quite impressive. How rare to find a work of this genre written in so literate a style. It put me in mind of Anne Rice.”

–William Peter Blatty, author of The Exorcist and Legion

Doctor Johansson packed his pipe with another bowlful of tobacco as fictional as the dreams I’d used as weapons.

—Would you describe yourself a serial killer if it would help your defense? To cop an insanity plea?

No, I am an avatar.

—I wouldn’t. Besides, I’m not going to see the inside of a courthouse. I’ll see the inside of a cheap coffin, first.

Here is the awesome cover for ChiZine Pub’s cover for the Trade Paperback

Just a teaser from “Displacement”, the opening novella of my collection Stories from the Plague Years, reprinted soon as a limited edition Trade Paperback signed by me and interior illustration artist Gabrielle Faust from ChiZine Publications. To learn more, click here. Hurry, because you can only pre-order the book until November 1, 2012. Here’s what Daniel Kraus at Booklist had to say about “Displacement”, which was nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award: “[A] tale that takes several unexpected and delicious turns, somehow combining a Poe-like belligerence and a Clive Barker–like vividness.”

Thanks!

I love this quote…

“Few horror authors are better equipped to write about madness than Marano.”
–– Daniel Kraus, Booklist

Hey, Everybody!

I’d like to make a special announcement. My good friends at ChiZine Publications are putting together a really beautiful signed, limited, and I do mean limited, edition of  my recent collection of horror fiction Stories from the Plague Years, coming in December 2012. The bitchin’ new cover is by Erik Mohr. Check it out!

I dig the new cover a lot… we’re making the blood on the hands kinda ambiguous. Blood on a murderer’s hands? Or is it from Scarlet Fever? Or both? The concept nicely blends the theme of violence as plague that I explore in the book.

The new edition will still have the same Introduction by cyber punk godfather and Dark Fantasy legend John Shirley and the same gloriously gorgeous interior illustrations by Gabrielle Faust as appeared in the out-of-print hardback edition. Here’s one of Gabrielle’s beautiful illustrations…

This is a scan of Gabrielle’s illustration for one of the sections of the book, “Days of Rage”, which explores the idea of Violence as Plague that I talk about above. The mask on the table to the lower right is a Shakimi mask from Japanese Noh theater. It’s a traditional representation of… demonic rage.

The limited edition Trade Paperback will be signed by both Gabrielle and me. We’re really excited to to be putting this new edition together and making the book available to a wider audience, because the original edition from Cemetery Dance sold out in just nine days. It was kind of frustrating, to get really nice notices on the book–like being named one of the Top Ten Horror Publications of the Year by Booklist, the original novella “Displacement” getting nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award and the original novella “Shibboleth” getting an Honorable Mention from Ellen Datlow— and not have  any copies available anywhere to share with anybody.

Also, I am pretty psyched that this text of the book will be corrected. These will be the preferred versions of all the stories, both original and reprinted.

Now, when I say that this signed limited edition trade paperback will be coming out in December, that doesn’t mean you can just pick it up in December. You need to pre-order a copy from Cemetery Dance or ChiZine by November 1st, 2012! We’re only gonna print as many as we get orders for, so this really is a one-time offer, folks!

So, please place your orders soon, and if you know anybody who might be interested, please let them know!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Hey, Everybody!  Well, I am back from Readercon… had a most awesome time hanging with a bunch of my home-boys and home-girls. Will try to write a more complete report later, if time permits. I do want to follow up and say that I was not awarded the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novella for which I was nominated (for “Displacement”). That award rightly went to Elizabeth Hand (for “Near Zennor”), whom I had the pleasure of finally meeting at the con after years of admiring her work. The mighty cool thing about being a Shirley Jackson Award nominee is that, while other awards give nominees official letters or certificates, The Shirley Jackson Awards give you… a STONE! Yes, a little mineral-based reminder not only of Jackson’s “The Lottery”, but also (to me, any way) of The Haunting of Hill House, and the stones that fell on Eleanor Vance’s home when she was a child. How freakin’ cool is THAT?

Here it is! Pretty cool, huh? It has a place of honor in my living room. I’m gonna name him “Pollock,” ‘cuz I always wanted a Jackson Pollock in my house. (Sorry…)

(UPDATED August 1, 2016)

Hey, Everyone! Just posting  for my students the topics I’ll be covering and the possible readings I’ll be assigning in my upcoming Grub Street class “The Smart Page-Turner Strikes Back!” The first class session will be on Wednesday, September 14, 2016 from 10:30 AM to 1:30 PM at Grub Street HQ in downtown Boston. The class will run at that time for ten weeks, with the final class taking place on Nov. 16, 2016. 

(If this seems like a lot of readings, keep in mind the lists below are tentative. I’m not going to assign them all!)

Grub Street is a non-profit creative writing center dedicated to nurturing writers and connecting readers with the wealth of writing talent in the Boston area. For more information on Grub Street, click here.

1. Creating Strong Imagery

How do you create effective imagery? How do you make imagery that’s truly yours? How do you find the right way to express a specific idea? We’ll take a look at different techniques for creating imagery that suits your plot, your characters, and your premise in ways that will make your writing strong and vibrant.

Tentative readings: Robert Leslie Bellum, “Dan Turner: Hollywood Detective”; Ray Bradbury, “Long After Midnight”; Joyce Carol Oates, “Did You Ever Slip on Red Blood?”; Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; Junot Diaz, The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao; Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men.

2. Tracking Plot(s)

There’s more than one kind of plot. There’s the narrative plot, and that can include multiple threads. But there can also be also the symbolic plot, the thematic plot, the emotional plot…  how do you develop and co-ordinate them all? We’ll come up with different ways to stay on top of your plot(s) so that none of them get away from you.

Tentative readings: Daphne Du Maurier “Don’t Look Now”; John Gardner Freddy’s Book (1980) or Nickel Mountain (1973), and a short story submitted to the magazine I edit that illustrates through the editorial process it went through how there are several _kinds_ of plot.

3. Tracking Themes

Just as plots can have a lot of threads, so can themes. How do you weave several ideas into a whole? How do you keep track of all your ideas and incorporate them into your work without having the seams show? Or, worse yet, seem like you’re getting on a soapbox? We’ll look at ways to cook ideas so that they’re integrated into your story and don’t clutter your plotting.

Tentative readings: Mickey Spillane, My Gun is Quick; Shirley Jackson, TBD; Annie Proulx, Close Range: Wyoming Stories .

4. Harnessing the Weird

How do you use the unreal, the bizarre, in ways that are intriguing, but that won’t alienate the reader? How do you ground the bizarre in the real so you can use it in your fiction? We’ll figure out how to balance the everyday with the off-kilter so that they play off of and compliment each other.

Tentative readings: Justin Haythe, The Honeymoon; Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye; Hubert Selby, The Room, or Requiem for a Dream, or The Demon (1976);  Rosellen Brown, “The Only Way to Make It in New York” (1974).

5. Incorporating the Real

How do make everyday things dynamic? How do you add your own personal spin to the mundane in a way that makes for compelling as fiction? We’ll take a look at how two views of the same world (1950s suburbia) can create two wildly different fictional realities.

Tentative readings: Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road; Philip K. Dick, “The Father-Thing”.

6. Happy Endings?

How do you finish a story, rather than just have it just… stop? What makes an ending a real ending, and not just a narrative running out of steam? We’ll look at ways to keep your eyes on the prize of a memorable resolution while dealing with those pesky beginnings and middles.

Tentative readings: John Cheever, “The Five Forty-Eight”; Rod Serling Twilight Zone episodes; Harper Lee, the last chapter of To Kill a Mockingbird (1960); Richard Matheson, “Night Call” short story and teleplay.

7. Starting a Story

How do you make the beginning of a story a real grabber of a beginning, and not an incident that just happens to be front-loaded in your narrative? We’ll figure out ways to make the kick-off of your story the first of a sequence of incidents that that hook the reader.

Tentative readings: John Le Carre, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; Jack Ketchum, The Lost (2001); Ian Fleming, From Russia, with Love; Douglas Fairbairn, SHOOT (1973); JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone; the opening 26 Minutes of The Godfather screenplay; Don Stuart “Who Goes There?” compared to its screenplay adaptation.

8. Violence and Action Scenes

How do you write action scenes and violence without just re-hashing, in prose form, things we see in the movies? How do you make action and violence seem real? We’ll take close looks at the ways writers make action and violence immediate and visceral.

Tentative readings: Jon F. Merz, “Prisoner 392”; Conrad, “Youth”;  David Morrell ,First Blood or The Totem; Richard Matheson’s short story “Duel” compared to Matheson’s teleplay adaptation of same.

9. Generating Conflict and Creating Good Villains

Plots need conflict. But how do you put characters into conflict in ways that are natural, and not forced? We’ll figure out methods to get the various characters in your work to lock horns, and go over ways to make your villains worthy of your protagonists (and vice versa).

Tentative readings: Gerald Walker, Cruising; Alan Moore, Watchmen; Raymond Chandler short stories; Elfriede Jelinek, TBD; Star Trek: Countdown graphic novel; William Faulkner, Sanctuary.

10. Research Techniques

How do you hunt down facts that enrich the story you’re trying to tell? Do you hunt down facts to buttress your plot? Or do hunt down facts to help you come up with plot points? Do you do both? We’ll come up with ways to put facts in your fiction so that they enrich what you write, and not read the copy from a Discovery Channel special jammed into your story.

Tentative readings: Marano, “Shibboleth”; Patrick Susskind, Perfume; Cori Crooks , Sweet Charlotte’s Seventh Mistake.