Just back from a “Provo-cative” weekend in Provo, Utah, where I attended the 2016 World Horror Convention as a special guest. It was a very intimate con, mistimed in the grand scheme of genre events this year (i.e., the first StokerCon is in Vegas next weekend — I’m going to that too), but having a smaller event led to tighter bonds as we all got to know each other better as professionals and people. They kept me VERY busy (I was on three-to-five programming events per day), so I didn’t take as many photos as usual, but I did manage to snap a few which I’ll post below. Shout-outs to everyone who I met (which felt like EVERYONE at the con), even if you’re not in the shots below. And in lieu of writing up a lengthy con report, I’ll just tag some comments in the captions of the photos. Enjoy.
THANK YOU to World Horror Con and the gang in Provo for inviting me out as a Special Guest. I was worked like a dog, yet given the royal treatment, and I totally appreciated both! And thanks to many old friends who came to support me throughout the weekend. Next up in early May: StokerCon!
Jaren Rencher (of Utah Horror Writers chapter) kindly picked me up at the SLC airport. Kevin J. Anderson and I rode an hour to Provo with him, as KJA regaled us with tales of his work with the band Rush. Amazing.
The awesome “souvenir book” for WHC 2016, designed by Bailey Hunter (Dark Recesses Press) and featuring art by Keith Thompson. As one of the guests, I’ve got a story in this one — if you got that, plus my signature, you’ve got a rare collectable book!
I was honored to be a special guest. Guests got tokens for free massages. I gave mine to homeless people on the streets (esp. the pickpocket guy asking passers-by for “free hugs”)
Off to lunch with Jeff Strand and Sara Tantlinger. We found pizza nearby and cracked each other up for an hour or so. I spent a lot of time with these two; they are joyful in the darkness and we shared cackles all weekend.
I had a powerpoint for the “Mutterverse” experience (which is not in print and can only be seen live), but the A/V technology at the conference failed … so I just read scary short-shorts for an hour to a small group of attending friends and trapped IT personnel.
This is what I sometimes look like reading weird stuff. (Photo: Jeff Strand)
I enjoyed trading a few tales about the old days with Brian Keene (author of The Rising, The Complex). He rushed off to make a new podcast shortly after this most metal moment.
Something evil lurked in the NEBO room at the con hotel. If you’ve read Play Dead, then you know what it might be.
I cheered from the back at this year’s “Gross Out Contest.” Here Brian Keene dishes out the rules of the game. It is the most dangerous game. Jeff Strand took 2nd with a fab story. Stephen Kozeniewski (Koz — who was an awesome panel moderator, too) won the night; I missed it, but heard it was gaggingly great.
Had good conversations with these two (Michael Bailey and Jason V. Brock) throughout the con. Jason and I got into some very heady topics. Both these guys really know their horror — plus Michael Bailey’s long arms will terrify you — so do not mess with them.
Jeff Strand gave a fantastic reading of two hilarious horror tales. He is a towering presence. Weiner dogs beware. One highlight of the con was our “kaffeeklatsch” together, where a gaggle of friends and new readers asked us about our history and process and future plans. We giggled with the gaggle. Jeff shared some impressive stories about film and other developments in his career.
Here my friends Jeanne and Bill Bush chat up with Brian Keene at the Mass Autograph session.
A moment with the wonderful Sunni Brock of JaSunni Productions. We shared a panel (along with her partner, Jason) on music later in the con that was very deep, and very good.
I really enjoyed getting to know Rachel Autumn Deering at this convention — her book Husk is impressive. She signed it with a reference to my “Doofus” story in 100 Jolts and blew my mind! She’s really cool. Seek her work.
Sara Seeley had brains on her table; I juggled them. (Photo by David West, who was an awesome guy to chat with, too).
Laughing it up with my old army buddy, Bill Bush. Bill has quite a collection of Arnzenalia… I promised him a signed femur in the future. Not sure when I’ll deliver. But some day. I never said it would be MINE. Maybe I’ll extract and sign his? We’ll see.
Mountains and railings in SLC.
And…back home to PA. Pittsburgh is a city of bridges. This beast reminds you of this fact at the airport. It’s probably supposed to represent a Pittsburgh Steeler, but I see it as a monstrous transformer about to destroy the place. And I can imagine being stabbed to death by the Andy Warhol Bridge.
However, I am also sensitive to the notion that adult coloring books have therapeutic value. When my dad had a stroke, this was something I bought him to help retrain motor memory and create even though debilitated. I also think coloring is fun, and it’s kind of cool when groups of people gather together in coffeeshops to fill in the blanks and chat in a sort of crayola-laden kaffeeklatsch.
Anyway — no, it’s not the therapeutic value, it’s the denegration of publishing and the deskilling of the arts I’m against. We are substituting artistic creation with…something else. So I’ve gathered together a list of some research I’ve been doing (and madly sharing on twitter all day) as a sort of “but seriously!” counter-message campaign:
As luck would have it, I knew one of the recent contributors to the journal, because she’s working with me as a horror writer presently enrolled in our MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction: Sara Tantlinger. We meet roughly once a month to talk shop, and so I took advantage of the opportunity to ask Sara about her “criminal” motivations as a writer, especially in a creepy love poem she placed in the journal last year, called “Love Me like a Murder Scene.”
Read and listen to that poem first below, since our interview focuses mostly on the text and her thought process as she constructed it.
You hold me like a ransom note
and love me the way a knife loves
a heart. The police tape is strewn
around us, yellow ribbons that scream
caution, caution, what have you done?
This murder scene love bleeds dark
rubies under my skin, and you can slice
into me all you like, but I remain viciously
tied to our passion crime, a wolf who refuses
to die by anything other than your mouth.
Your eyes, bruised with affection, promise
me forever, but I know that does not mean
golden sun and songbirds. Forever is cruel,
a chilled finality between us. I want it anyway
because I know you will meet me at the end.
Stop your shaking hands. Hold the knife against
our chests, grip me tight in your threatening
embrace, and I’ll promise to love you even when
your skin rots from your corpse. I will clutch your
bones to my heart and bid the world farewell.
Karen Petersen, a guest editor for the 5-2, called the poem “tantalizing”: “‘Love Me Like A Murder Scene’ immediately got my attention and kept it. The poet uses crime scene homicide metaphors with a creepy brilliance that captures the obsessive nature of intense passion.” Editor Gerald So liked it enough to submit it as one of his “Best of the Net” submissions for the year. And I, of course, find the seductive violence of the poem worth celebrating.
So, without further ado, here’s my interview with Sara J. Tantlinger (also posted to Soundcloud), where we analyze what the poem means to her, from the invention of the piece to its possible inspirations and meanings. Happy Days of the Five-Two:
We’re moving into the season for literary conferences and conventions, and it feels like I’m crawling out from under a snow-covered mossy rock, so I thought I’d post a general update on things I’m planning to do after I blink away the sun blindness.
Among other things, I’ll be a guest at two big cons in the horror genre.
The 2016 World Horror Con in Provo, Utah runs April 28th-May 1st, and I’m fortunate to be one of the special guests. This promises to be an intimate con, with a great chance to hang out and chat with writers and artists over the weekend. I’ve got two presentations scheduled, along with a fun “kaffeeklatch” alongside Jeff Strand, and numerous panels on everything from music and poetry to humor and gore. See my event page or go directly to the WHC2016 website.
I’ve attended many Bram Stoker Award banquets over the years, and these are always fancy events, tucked under the arms of someone else’s con or in a hotel for a business meeting. But now they’ve raised the bar to “convention” status for the first ever STOKERCON. I’ll be hosting a guest writing workshop at the conference, sitting on panels, and generally mingling about. You can find me on my event page or go directly to the StokerCon16 website.
The HWA actually interviewed me recently to talk about my “Making the Reader Squirm” workshop, so watch the StokerCon16 blog page for that to appear soon.
I’m also prepping for my usual weeklong stint every June as part of Seton Hill University’s MFA in Writing Popular Fiction residency. This time around I’m teaching a fun short course called “English 666: Advanced Horror.” LOL. If you’re a genre writer looking for a place to earn a Master’s degree while studying with professional authors in the fields of horror, science fiction, fantasy, mystery and more, then SHU is the place for you! Explorer the campus website to discover how to join this awesome program.
In December’s issue of The Goreletter, I posted the following list of story starters for “Scary Politics.” As the primary season is heating up to the boiling point of hellfire, I thought I’d copy it here to the blog, as a reminder that there’s no better place for reimagining the world — and for doing so in horrific ways — than in the real world of American politics.
If you didn’t see this before, it’s because you don’t subscribe to my newsletter. SUBSCRIBE (or fill out the form to update your email address) and you’ll get Instigation fresh off the grill. And if you want giant collection of over 500 things like this, don’t forget my ebook, Instigation: Creative Prompts on the Dark Side.
Discover the weirdest story you can by simply freewriting (without stopping to edit) in response to one the following prompts and seeing where it takes you.
Murder by voting booth.
Script an over-the-top smear campaign or ludicrously accusatory TV commercial.
From the point of view of an assistant or intern, dramatize a politician’s appeal for help in covering up a heinous crime.
Describe a deathmatch between an elephant and a donkey (or other political animal symbol) with as much gritty realism as possible. Give this battle a function.
Write a “Bill of Rights” for the citizens of Hell. Or invent a “Bill of Wrongs.”
Choose your favorite monster or imaginary creature. Now create a political party for others of its kind, or have it run for office on behalf of all monsters.
Zombify an assassinated politician.
Deliver a non-human character’s speech before the UN General Assembly.
The Goreletter Vol. 10, #2 was delivered to mailing list subscribers on 12/29/15 @ 3pm est. It contains extra entertainment/material not available here on the weblog version, including a new gorelets poem, a mini year-in-review, information about upcoming events, a batch of “political” instigation prompts, and new art/photos.
If you subscribe and did not receive this issue, or just want to see the back issues, review the archives at gorelets.com. If you need to check or update your subscription’s email address, just enter it in the subscribe box and review the report. I highly recommend you enroll in the HTML edition, which contains more rich features than the scaled down text-only version. But do as you will!
I hope you’ll sign up! I approach The Goreletter like an artist’s sketchbook and a way to share my creative/horror life with people who may have a mind of a similar bent. And it is bent, indeed. From distorted art pieces to weird poems to fresh “instigation” prompts for sick writers…it’s always got something strange inside. It’s also free and you can always unsubscribe whenever you want, judgment free. Privacy is respected. Issues are sent just once every three-or-four months, so your inbox won’t suffocate…in fact, you’ll forget you’re signed up just around the time that a new issue sneaks up on you and pounces. Contact me by email or leave a comment here if you have any questions. — Michael A. Arnzen
This graphic header from the newsletter is also a desktop wallpaper I posted to Flickr for Halloween
Happy holiday hugs and kisses! All the New Year’s contests have ended now and the grand prize winner is announced below. THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO PARTICIPATED. Subscribe to the Goreletter (free) for future chances to win free books and more!
Aside from creeping you out with those uncanny body parts above, the best way I could think of to give you a holiday gift was to run random draw contests to finish out the year! There will be several rotating giveaways, so come back to this page routinely between now and New Year’s Eve.
For the first Xmas round of prizes, all you need to do is click the ‘follow’ button on my amazon profile page to be entered to win as I post contests. I will be offering new contests like this on different websites and using a variety of methods, and will keep cycling things so you’ll have new opportunities to win if you miss out. And see below about how to enter the grand prize finale! And hey, you ARE eligible for every contest, so come back again and again!
GIVEAWAY #1: GORELETS OMNIBUS (ended)
The FIRST PRIZE was a free HARDCOVER edition of The Gorelets Omnibus! This is the one with 50 pages of bonus features, including a “horror poetry writing workshop,” a copy of Michael Arnzen’s Dying, and currently the only print version of many of the prompts from Instigation!
AMAZON GIVEAWAY for The Gorelets Omnibus Hardcover Edition! GO TO: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/abeec98c38470389. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of Dec 31, 2015 11:59 PM PST, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules http://amzn.to/GArules.
The first winner was Andrew Vincent — congratulations!
GIVEAWAY #2: AUDIOVILE (ended)
The SECOND PRIZE was a free copy of my musically-enhanced spoken word cd, AUDIOVILE. This book is a sort of abridged audiobook version of my flash fiction collection from Raw Dog Screaming Press, 100 Jolts. In 2016, I hope to make this collection available for streaming online in an extended digital edition.
AMAZON GIVEAWAY contest for the Audiovile CD! GO TO: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/b9d3f687c1ac6004. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of Dec 31, 2015 11:59 PM PST, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules http://amzn.to/GArules.
The second winner was Lisa McGee — congratulations!
GIVEAWAY #3: INSTIGATION FOR CHRISTMAS! (ended)
Closing out Christmas night, I ran a quick draw for a free copy of my collection of writing prompts “on the dark side,” Instigation.
Send email@example.com an email by Midnight eastern on Christmas Day and he’ll reply with a free copy of Instigation: Creative Prompts on the Dark Side plus one mystery bonus within 24 hours. All you need to write is “send me a ____ for Xmas” (and fill in the blank with your choice of .mobi, .epub, or .pdf format). Offer ends strictly at midnight est, 12/25/15. ALL ENTRANTS WILL BE SUBSCRIBED TO THE GORELETTER but can unsubscribe anytime they wish. Have a merry one, no matter what your religion (or none)!
GIVEAWAY #4: PLAY DEAD (ended)
Leading up to new years, there was a chance to win a free paperback copy of my supernatural noir novel about murder, poker and fate, Play Dead…
See this Amazon Giveaway for a chance to win Play Dead: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/94f248da8f4cf840. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of Dec 31, 2015 11:59 PM PST, or when all prizes are awarded by random draw. See Official Rules http://amzn.to/GArules. Congratulations to Tricia.
GIVEAWAY #5: GRAVE MARKINGS (ended)
And we finally closed out with a chance to win a free paperback copy of my “tattoo artist turned serial killer artist” novel, Grave Markings: 20th Anniversary Edition…
Click on this Amazon Giveaway link for a chance to win Grave Markings: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/84bc51c0a9162c3e. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of Dec 31, 2015 11:59 PM PST, or when all prizes are awarded by random draw. See Official Rules http://amzn.to/GArules. Congrats to Brian Converse.
GIVEAWAY #6: THE GRAND PRIZE (ended)
PROVERBS FOR MONSTERS…IN LEATHER!
And last but not least, the GRAND PRIZE will be a signed, limited leatherbound copy of the Bram Stoker Award-winning collection of my best horror fiction and poetry, Proverbs for Monsters! Only 26 of these are in existence… and they listed at $125 on release. ALL SUBSCRIBERS TO THE GORELETTER ARE AUTOMATICALLY ELIGIBLE FOR THIS PRIZE, which will be randomly drawn after New Year’s Eve. The grand prize winners will be contacted via email and must respond to my query within 24 hours to win.SIGN UP FOR THE GORELETTER BEFORE MIDNIGHT EASTERN ON 12.31.15 and this book could be yours!
CONGRATULATIONS TO GRAND PRIZE WINNER & SUBSCRIBER STEFAN ANDREW!
If you entered but didn’t win, stay subscribed… never know when another contest or giveaway might occur!
Subscribe by Midnight est on New Year’s Eve 2015 and you could win this book!
Proverbs for Monsters is bound in dark red leather (like a bible or hymnbook), comes in a slipcase, has ribbon sewn in, is lettered C and signed by me and artist Matt Schuster (who added a unique doodle). It is spectacular. It won a Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection in 2007.
It’s been a great year but I’m looking forward to 2016 even more… it promises to be the most uncanny year yet! Make sure you keep up with me by subscribing to The Goreletter — a new one should be out before the end of the year, and again: it will feature the top prize!
Mailings now go out roughly every 1-2 months. Privacy is tight and well-respected. In 2013, I adopted a new email system that has greater security and allows for high-quality HTML-based design, but a plain text version is still also available. Browse the back issues to see the newsletter’s decade-plus history.
I dig Raw Dog Screaming Press! @rdspress I present an ugly glasses case transformed into something awesome with a sticker from one of my favorite publishing houses. Doubles as a table stand! https://www.instagram.com/p/BE_xu_Mjqkw/
If you're at World Horror Con this weekend, don't forget to get the free souvenir book signed. Bailey Hunter did a great job on production and the art is amazing! #whc2016 https://www.instagram.com/p/BEwm2zFDqms/
MÜTTERVERSE -- my guest presentation at World Horror Convention 2016 will be a poetic tour of an imaginary Mütter Museum w/slide show, followed by a reading of various works in progress, including excerpts from "55 Ways I'd Prefer Not to Die" and "Alternative Headstones." Friday 12:45 at Provo Marriott in Utah! http://gorelets.com/events/whc-2016-provo-ut/
Hilarious Mike Arnzen portrait by @brucethen /@BruceSiskawicz. 4/2016. Poe's Lighthouse is a collection of stories (ed by Chris Conlon) by authors who riff on a discovered unfinished fragment by #edgarallanpoe. https://www.instagram.com/p/BEquWH0Dqh3/
"It's something that happens constantly. Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is an interest in that which is hidden and which the visible does not show us. This interest can take the form of a quite intense feeling, a sort of conflict, one might say, between the visible that is hidden and the visible that is present." -- Magritte
I love this book cover for 555 vol 1 - a massive collection of bizarro experiments and dangerous numerology (55 stories by 11 authors - all 55 words long) from Carrion Blue 555. Someone I know is briskly working on his contribution for the next volume! #5 #five #fivefivefive #555 #55555 #flashfiction https://www.instagram.com/p/BD8baWMDql-/
Publicity shot of Play Dead and The Fridge of the Damned (pub. by @rdspress) from my 8000 twitter follower giveaway. Follow me on twitter or subscribe to The Goreletter for random things like this, horror fans and freebie obsessed weirdos! https://www.instagram.com/p/BD3dS0qjqjY/
WIN THIS BOOK. Proverbs for Monsters is bound in dark red leather (like a bible or hymnbook), comes in a slipcase, has ribbon sewn in, is lettered C and signed by me and artist Matt Schuster (who added a unique doodle). It is spectacular. It won a Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Fiction Colleciton in 2007. You should own it, but only 26 exist. Now is your chance to join that small club. All you have to do is subscribe to my newsletter (right here on facebook by clicking on the "email signup" link up top -- or visit http://gorelets.com ) before Midnight (eastern) New Year's Eve!
And don't forget the other giveaways that are ongoing on http://gorelets.com/blog/arnzen-news/holiday-hugs-kisses-from-gorelets-com/ till the ball drops! A final amazon giveaway will be posted later this afternoon (though newsletter subscribers know all about it already -- subscribe!)