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Hot for Halloween
Less Than Pulp, Issue 65
Fall is upon us. It’s probably shocking to no one that I am a big fan. For people who enjoy horror, regardless of medium or subgenre, the season has the one month of the year when it feels like the rest of the world is on our wavelength. Cable channels run horror movie marathons, grocery stores have dedicated areas for plastic skeletons and bags of candy corn, and haunted house attractions open for business. As comedian Iliza Schlesinger says, “pumpkin everything!”
All that said, it’s hard to get into the spirit of the season in Central Texas. Here we are at the end of September, and we still have days where the temperature is in the triple digits. Sure, Starbucks sells pumpkin lattes and kids are picking out their Halloween costumes, but the leaves—the ones that didn’t die during this sunmer's heat dome—are still green. They won’t change until mid-December. I’m not joking, either. You get trees with red leaves on them the week before Christmas and it’s weird.
Even so, I do find ways to enjoy this time of year. Putting up Halloween decorations helps. Watching the kids get excited for candy and costumes is nice too. In fact, since becoming a parent, I’ve rediscovered the joys of both Halloween and Christmas. The former became more than just an excuse to watch a bunch of my favorite horror movies, while the latter became a day to spend time with our extended family and watch the kids enjoy themselves.
Life has seasons too, and I’m entering a phase where I’m making peace with my trauma and recognizing my place in something larger than myself. I used to love Halloween because it was a time when I could watch scary movies—sometimes with Jean but usually by myself. Now, I love it because it gives us the chance to do something unique with our kids (trick or treating is a HUGE event in my neighborhood). I used to dislike Christmas because I hated how my family was split apart. Now, I love Christmas because it gives Jean and I the chance to make new memories with our family and anyone who wants to share them with us.
Things are different now, as I said in a previous newsletter.
Shane McKenzie and I met up on Friday for our now weekly writing sessions. I worked on editing Barn Door to Hell, while he worked on his inaugural newsletter.
Edits are going well. The first half of the book is considerably more polished than the second, which is no surprise. I may have mentioned here before that I edit as I go, but during the latter half of a project, momentum usually keeps me moving forward. This means the first half of a book is usually in its fifth or sixth draft, while the second half is in its third or fourth. I’m now at a point where I feel like I can leave the first half of Barn Door to Hell alone and focus my attention on editing the second half. Once that’s done, I’ll probably give the whole thing one last read before letting someone else look at it.
I’m still hoping to release this one before the year is out, but that depends on how edits go and how quickly I can get my store up and running. Watch this space for updates.
Currently reading: Gone to See the River Man by Kristopher Triana, A Choir of Ill Children by Tom Piccirilli, and Bullet Tooth by Grant Wamack.
Currently watching: This brilliant video essay by Scout Tafoya on the history of horror movies.
I finished River Man Saturday morning. I’d read some Triana before, but I see why this is the book of his that took off. It’s as much Cormac McCarthy as it is Jack Ketchum. Having said that, he is a writer in a class by himself.
A Choir of Ill Children is a book I’ve owned for years but somehow never read all the way through. I’m not yet a quarter of the way into it, so I’m withholding my thoughts until I’m a bit farther.
I’m reading Bullet Tooth for a blurb. I told myself I wasn’t writing anymore blurbs, but when I read what this book was about, I reached out and offered. It sounded up my alley, and so far, it absolutely is. More on this when I’m ready to post my blurb.
This week, I want to highlight Mania. It’s about a cursed screenplay that kills or drives to madness anyone who tries to film it. Though an earlier novella, it’s got a lot of elements that have become hallmarks of my work. Cursed media. Cults. Mental illness. You know, the fun stuff! You can grab it on Audible, Kindle, or paperback.
On the newest episode of Make Your Own Damn Podcast, we take a look at underseen found footage horror movie Death of a Vlogger. You can take a listen on our Patreon, Apple, Spotify, or YouTube.