It’s stating the obvious: haunted house movies—even not so good ones—are scary, because, on a metaphorical level, what they’re really about is what happens when someplace we deem safe isn’t really safe at all. The house is the stand-in for that secure thing—an actual home, a family structure, a romantic relationship, a job, our physical health—and the “haunting” is the stand-in for anything that threatens it: fire, foreclosure, death, infidelity, unfair treatment, terminal illness. In the end, why haunted house movies are effective—and popular—is because they prey on our fear of destabilization.
This is probably why so many of them have the same tropes—but if you’re a junkie like me, who’ll give any haunted house movie a fair shot until it proves otherwise—you’re used to that; in fact, you expect it.
That said, here’s a couple of recent ones on Netflix Read the rest of this entry
It’s everywhere that Betty White died a couple of weeks before her centennial. Although she was special to me for so many reasons, this isn’t a tribute post—it’s really just something I found interesting.
On what would’ve been her 100th birthday on January 17, I was working with my Golden Girls Tarot Deck and the image on the 8 of Cups struck me: Rose is walking away.
Tarot cards have a myriad of meanings, depending on which cards they’re surrounded by in the spread and their provenience. But what struck me about the 8 of Cups is that, while the most dire of its meanings is abandonment, it’s also simply walking away from something that no longer serves you for something new.
This image made me sad, but it was also a comfort. Goodbye, Betty. I hope there’s a whole lot of better cheesecake in the heavenly kitchen.
34 Orchard, the dark literary magazine I founded in 2019, is my baby, and while it has faced its challenges, it does well and brings me a lot of joy.
The past three days were a little bit rough, but it also reminded me that I have a lot of great people in my life, that everything happens for a reason—and that sometimes, you need things to burn to the ground so you can rise from the ashes. I don’t even know why I’m sharing this here, exactly–it’s not customary, or a good idea, for editors to talk about their negative experiences publicly. It might even be considered unprofessional. But I just have this feeling someone out there needs to hear this today, so whatever. I’m human.
The short version: 34O was listed Read the rest of this entry
I’m going to preface this by saying I’m not even close to knowing much about the late George Romero’s films, and in fact, I’m not even a fan of his work—mostly (I know, understand, and can appreciate its brilliance, and I think he was a genius. Zombies are just not my thing). He has, however, thanks to Night of the Living Dead, become synonymous with a specific brand of horror, so fan expectations are set.
I just watched George Romero’s gorgeously restored lost gem, 1975’s The Amusement Park, which has been available as a Shudder exclusive for a while now. In my opinion, this is one of the scariest films I’ve ever seen; if you enjoy the work my magazine, 34 Orchard, publishes, then you will definitely be into this—this is profound, visceral, disturbing, real-world, inevitable horror.
I will keep this all spoiler-free, Read the rest of this entry
The release date of Dark Ink Books’ Generation X-ed —which contains my short story “Nothing to See Here”—is almost here! Hardcover, paperback, Kindle and Audiobook will be available January 26, and if you want to pre-order the print editions, you can do that here: https://bit.ly/GetGenXed
Since it’s the first (and I think, only) anthology featuring GenX horror stories written by real GenX-ers, if you’re a GenX-er (or even if you’re not and you want to know what it was really like?), then this is a must-own for your shelf (yes, even if you’re not a big reader). It’s chock full of references to all things GenX: from rotary phones to the Challenger, from Satanic Panic to leg warmers, it’s all here.
However—here’s something even cooler: show your GenX pride and get some swag! Beer and shot glasses, coffee mugs, stickers and T’s—fun for you or the GenX-er in your life (because they make great gifts). Check it out on the anthology’s official store here.
Know a GenX-er hitting 50 this year? What’s better than the book, some swag, and maybe one of those great old snacks we used to have that are still around, like (Jeno’s, now Totino’s) Pizza Rolls, Cool Ranch Doritos, or microwave popcorn? Just a thought!
You can also visit the official Generation X-ed page, which has all sorts of treats like advanced reviews, way-back memories from the writers, links for purchase in several countries, trailers, and other goodies. Check that out here: https://rowlandbooks.com/generation-xed
I’m beyond thrilled to announce that my short story, “Wish Bones”—a cosmic horror piece set in 1873 Utah—has found a home in Timber Ghost Press’ Dead Stars and Stone Arches: A Collection of Utah Horror!
I don’t want to give any spoilers, so the only thing I’ll say beyond this right now is that this is an anthology you won’t want to miss—especially if you enjoy the burgeoning subgenre that is Old West Horror. I will tell you that this was my very first attempt at writing in this genre, and since TGP specializes in this, I was quite surprised and honored that the story was accepted.
I’m also really happy with how I smashed the state’s early religious history and well-known paleontological discoveries together to create something even I wasn’t expecting. And a very special shout-out goes to my friend Bruce Shillinglaw–my very helpful dinosaur expert, without whom I wouldn’t have had my facts straight.
I will keep you posted on the release date!
Another year has passed … for me, it’s “Already?” Well, they say time flies when you’re having fun, and quite honestly, my 2021 was pretty awesome. I went to or held a few really fun virtual parties (including my 50th birthday!), and got to visit some favorite and new places: twice to Mystic, a few times to Portsmouth, Rhode Island, to a retreat on Cape Cod, and to Salem for the first time. I attended two virtual Cons–StokerCon and the HP Lovecraft Film Festival–and, with my co-chair David Griffith, got the Horror Writers Association’s Connecticut Chapter off the ground. Horrorfest with my cousin returned. I read some amazing books, both issues of 34 Orchard were successful, and I was honored to participate in two online readings as well as be a guest at a few online high school and college classes. And me and Nathan got to spend many an evening watching movies in the comfort of our living room–something we have always enjoyed, but never seemed to have much time to do pre-pandemic.
But it was the Read the rest of this entry
Every year, one of the big events at my New Year’s Eve party is the opening of the poppers, which comes with my special wish for each person to be granted in the new year—happiness, good fortune, fruition, peace, et cetera.
What’s interesting about this is that not only does my wish come true every year, others have told me theirs do, too. Whether it’s really a bit of magic—or simply just people “making it so” through positive thought—it’s still pretty amazing.
Here’s a run-down of how all of mine have manifested so far—and at the end, directions on how to make them Read the rest of this entry
We’re staying in and hosting a virtual party at 10pm. Last year, we did the same, only to come down in the morning and our house was trashed like we’d had our pre-pandemic annual NYE bash … fingers crossed we do it again!
Don’t forget to enjoy The Twilight Zone marathon with your mimosas and Bloody Marys tomorrow, and very best wishes for a celebratory evening and a very productive and magical 2022!
Charles, Nathan, Krissi and our kitty Mikey
We wish you a bright and merry holiday weekend! From our house to yours, here’s a short video clip (below) of our vintage (1960s) silver tree that has been stowed in our basement for nineteen years—my little cat Poe had Pica, so to him, this was just a big, glittering snack. While I’d rather have my kitty back, and I miss my live tree, it was tear-inducing to put this baby back together and listen to her sing “Silent Night” to us. The color wheel is modern–we DO have the original, but it’s just not fire-safe.
Always love your traditions—but always relish the moment you can shake them up a little bit, too! Thank you for reading and always supporting my work. May your celebrations be filled with joy.
Kristi, Nathan, Charles (housemate), and Mikey (the cat)