Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Final Girls, Divas, and Nasty Nurses

So the Unspeakable Horror anthology has continued to garner good reviews – most notably from Fangoria (issue #283) and the online Horror Bound Magazine. I’m really thrilled that my first outing as an anthologist has been so well-received, the experience so positive. Honestly, I even enjoyed the submissions process – reading through the slush, responding with what I hope was constructive criticism. So many editors bellyache about this aspect – about how it’s laborious and tedious – but I found it to be equal parts challenging and rewarding. I loved discovering the new voices we selected for the project and thrilled at receiving submissions from writers I greatly admire. The Bram Stoker nomination was pure icing on the cake, and I’m excited to meet up with Chad Helder (co-editor on the project) and some of our contributors – Lisa Morton, Maria Alexander, Michael Hacker – for our group signing at the famed Dark Delicacies in Burbank on June 11th before the Stoker Awards Banquet that weekend.

I received my contributor copy of My Diva: 65 Gay Men and the Women Who Inspire Them a few weeks ago and have been reading through the other contributions with great interest. Editor Michael Montlack really did a stellar job putting this collection together, and the University of Wisconsin Press produced a gorgeous looking book. In a word, this collection is celebratory – a real salute to women of all shapes, sizes, and talents from (primarily) the entertainment industry who have inspired greatness in those who love them. The book is a real revelation, exposing fan worship in a positive light and articulating the gay man’s love of strong, opinionated, sexy – often tragic – female figures. So often fandom gets relegated to the preconceived ghetto of celebrity stalking. This book will smash those misconceptions and really demonstrate the genuine affection we have for our divas. Writing my own contribution on Jamie Lee Curtis – “When the Artist Met His Muse” – was a really cathartic in some ways, a chance to articulate something that’s been part of my persona since the age of ten.

I also received my contributor copy of Malpractice: An Anthology of Bedside Terror (Stygian Publications). This is one of those themed horror anthologies that can sound great in concept but bomb in execution. Since I’ve yet to delve into the book, I can’t yet state with any certainty into which category Malpractice falls. But the few reviews that have appeared online are favorable so prospects seem good. My contribution to the anthology is “The Night Nurse of Cobblestone” which tells the tale of a bedbound nursing home patient who is subjected to terror masquerading as medical care at the hands of his sadistic night nurse. Those who know that I’m a nursing home administrator by profession may be horrified at first by the brutality of the story and wonder aloud if this is based on some true experience. Truth is, this story is a response to the prevailing public image of nursing homes as being horrible places where people lay rotting in their beds amidst squalor and abuse. Having lived and breathed nursing homes for over two decades, nothing could be farther from the truth. So “Night Nurse” is an exaggeration of the public’s collective misconception, as well as an allegory for the internal horrors of growing older and becoming reliant upon the kindness of others.

Lastly, can I just share with you how much fun working on the Butcher Knives & Body Counts project continues to be? For a slasher queen like me, this has been a dream come true. Fun with a capital “T”. We’ve accepted just over 50 essays for the collection to date, and expect to add another 10-20 in the last four weeks of the open call for submissions. There are some truly spectacular essays coming in, really insightful pieces that really celebrate the slasher genre and demonstrate an as-yet-untapped depth. I’m delighted by Adam (Going to Pieces) Rockoff’s commitment to pen the Foreword and director Adam (Hatchet) Green’s introduction.

And I really love the eleventh hour stuff that happens on projects like this – folks who hear about it and want in, ideas that springboard into expansions of the project. Although not officially announced, I can share that we’ve got Don D’Auria (editor extraordinaire from Leisure Books) onboard, have added writers Scott Nicholson and Kim Paffenroth, and have gotten interest from a certain well-known horror entertainment magazine editor in contributing something – we’re hoping for an Afterword. But the best part (and this is a scoop for my loyal blog followers that has not been officially announced anywhere yet) is that we’ve decided to intersperse interviews in between the essays. And with whom might these interviews be? I know what you’re thinking: the usual convention circuit crowd – Savini and Palmer and Soles and Hodder and that sort, right?


No, for this project – the ultimate intellectual celebration of the slasher film – we’re digging much deeper than that. We’re tracking down those lost actors and actresses from the slasher films of yore, those victims and villains we loved but never saw again (or infrequently) after their 15 minutes of slasher movie fame. I’m talking about the obscure denizens of the slasher universe here, those whose time with us on the silver screen – brief as it was – nonetheless made an indelible mark. I can hear your frustrated screams: “Stop baiting us and spill already!”

Nope. Not just yet.

But, since I’m not a total tease, I’ll give you some hints. We’ve already chatted with a hapless ice skater, a terrified bride-to-be, a sexy sorority sister, a redhead who runs afoul of rednecks, and a killer who favors public transportation(!).

Caution. Fun stuff ahead...

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