Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 3, 2014 - 12:09pm

'After the People Lights Have Gone Off' by Stephen Graham Jones

Discussion has officially started!

Synopsis: The fifteen stories in After the People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones explore the horrors and fears of the supernatural and the everyday. Included are two original stories, several rarities and out of print narratives, as well as a few "best of the year" inclusions. In "Thirteen," horrors lurk behind the flickering images on the big screen. "Welcome to the Reptile House" reveals the secrets that hide in our flesh. In "The Black Sleeve of Destiny," a single sweatshirt leads to unexpectedly dark adventures. And the title story, "After the People Lights Have Gone Off," is anything but your typical haunted house story.

With an introduction by Edgar Award winner Joe R. Lansdale, and featuring fifteen full-page illustrations by Luke Spooner, After the People Lights Have Gone Off gets under your skin and stays there.

Author: Stephen Graham Jones is the author of fifteen novels and five collections, and has some two hundred stories published. Stephen's been an NEA Fellow and has won the Texas Institute of Letters Award for Fiction and the Independent Publishers Award for Multicultural fiction. He's forty-two, married with a couple of kids, and lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Discussion has officially started!

I'm a huge fan of Stephen Graham Jones' work. I'm have yet to find a book of his that didn't entertain the hell out of me. And some of them I've had to reread because I've enjoyed them so much. He's probably the most prolific author I know of. And he seemlessly writes in multiple genres. He's the real deal. I'm stoked to get my hands on this one and dig in, it's been a while since I've read something by him.

I can't wait to see what you guys think of this collection. Not only is it filled with awesome stories, it also has a beautiful design.

Purchase AFTER THE PEOPLE LIGHTS HAVE GONE OFF here.

Get to reading!

voodoo_em's picture
voodoo_em from England is reading Zombie Bake Off by Stephen Graham Jones November 3, 2014 - 2:21pm

I've read this, so I'll be here at the beginning of the month instead of turning up late or at the very end :)

Looking forward to discussing it.

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies November 4, 2014 - 10:26am

I hope you all have your copies and are digging in. Really, if you are writing dark fiction, I can't think of a better author to study. I can't tell you how much I LEARNED while editing this collection. Stephen is an innovative writer, who really gets under your skin. I'll also say that this book LOOKS great, if you get the print copy. The interior illustratrions are really nice. Hope to see you all here!

****************

"Stephen Graham Jones is a great devourer of stories, chewing up horror novels and detective stories and weird fiction, ingesting literature of every type and pedigree, high and low and everything in between. His stories betray his encyclopedic knowledge of genre and of storytelling, but what makes After the People Lights Have Gone Off unique is how Jones never rests among his influences, going beyond what other writers might dare to craft terrors and triumphs all his own."
—Matt Bell, In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods

"If I've read better horror writers than Jones, I've forgotten them. He's at the apex of his game. After the People Lights Have Gone Off is the kind of collection that lodges in your brain like a malignant grain of an evil dream. And it's just going to be there, forever."
—Laird Barron, author of The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All

“Stephen Graham Jones is a true master of the horror short story. Inventive, quirky, unexpected and masterful.”
—Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Fall of Night and Bad Blood

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies November 4, 2014 - 10:34am

also if you STILL AREN'T SOLD, head over to the Facebook page, where i've posted up SEVERAL reviews of the book. those should shed a little more light on the work. there are TWO ORIGINAL STORIES in this collection, thought i should mention that as well.

https://www.facebook.com/afterthepeoplelightshavegoneoff

GOODREADS: 39 reviews, with 13 5-star, 15 4-star, 4 3-star, 4 2-star, 3 1-star reviews

AMAZON: 8 reviews, with 6 5-star and 2 4-star reviews

Matt A.'s picture
Matt A. November 9, 2014 - 9:04am

Will SGJ be stopping in here at all?

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies November 9, 2014 - 8:51pm

YES, Stephen will be stopping by.

voodoo_em's picture
voodoo_em from England is reading Zombie Bake Off by Stephen Graham Jones November 10, 2014 - 3:07am

^ Whoop, whoop!! :)

I'd better think of some questions.

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies December 2, 2014 - 4:06pm

LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

SGJ's picture
SGJ from Midland, Texas (but in Boulder, Colorado, now) is reading weird fiction and horror fiction and science fiction and literary fiction and innovative fiction, or maybe a romance or a western or a magazine on bowhunting or show trucks or anthropology December 2, 2014 - 4:11pm

yep, I'm around.

Americantypo's picture
Americantypo from Philadelphia is reading The Bone Clocks December 2, 2014 - 9:16pm

SGJ,

My question is unrelated to the anthology, but more in regards to you as a writer. In other interviews I've read you talk about the pace you write and generally speaking, you write stories pretty fast. What do you think accounts for that kind of speed? Do you let the idea germate and then just shotgun it out? Have you ever taken a long time to finish a story?

PS- really dug The Least of my Scars. That read like it was written in one sitting. Really wild book.

-Bill

Jay.SJ's picture
Jay.SJ from London is reading Warmed and Bound December 2, 2014 - 9:21pm

Hey Stephen,

 

I'd like to say that I DUG this collection so much. Richard sent it to me and it was another ride of yours for sure. Love your horror work so much.

 

so two questions:

 

1.) Now that you've achieved your level of fame, you must get a lot of people soliciting you for submissions for books, how do you decide who to go with and who not? Especially when you have over 200+ stories in print, must be easy to give someone a collection if you're happy with it.

 

2.) Which of these stories scares you the most and why?

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies December 3, 2014 - 7:33am

i wanted to toss out two questions that are related.

1. what exactly is a STEPHEN GRAHAM JONES story? if King is known for his storytelling, Ketchum for his graphic horror, and Barker for the dark fantastic, what about you?

2. also, what are you drawn to in your stories, is there a theme you see popping up over and over again (loss, the unknown, man vs something, etc.)? are there certain genres or sub-genres that you come back to (horror, or psychological thrillers, for example)? certain characters, creatures, or settings (zombies, i'd guess, but werewolves, vampires, chupacabra, etc.)?

thanks! obviously, i loved this collection. i learned so much by editing it, reading it close and really absorbing all of the words.

voodoo_em's picture
voodoo_em from England is reading Zombie Bake Off by Stephen Graham Jones December 3, 2014 - 9:54am

Hey Stephen :)

I was wondering if you'd talk a little about how you write, as in: do you always know the end before you begin? And: do you plan much or let it develop as you write it?

I often hear people say you should just bang your first draft out real quick and then polish it up after, but this doesn't seam to work for me, I tend to edit as I go. In one of your blog posts you say you tend to write a couple of chapters and then rewrite them the next day before you move on. Is this how a first draft works for you? And how does it differ for short stories or novellas?

Thanks for taking time to join in the book club.

Emily

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon December 3, 2014 - 12:00pm

Ah yeah, sorry I was late updating this. Obviously discussion is now open. haha

SGJ's picture
SGJ from Midland, Texas (but in Boulder, Colorado, now) is reading weird fiction and horror fiction and science fiction and literary fiction and innovative fiction, or maybe a romance or a western or a magazine on bowhunting or show trucks or anthropology December 3, 2014 - 1:25pm

AmericanTypo—

I never figured out really why I seem to go faster on the page. low standards? fast fingers? I don't know, really. I mean, inhabiting the dreamspace of a story is never comfortable or easy, as I lose the lines between real and not pretty quickly, just b/c I commit all the way to the made-up, and that's maybe a reason every writing project is a race for me? or it could just be that I don't watch reality tv or play videogames, so that frees up like 18hrs a day. but, yes, ever since I started writing when I was twenty, a story for me's always been the work of an afternoon or two, if that, and the novels come fast as well. I know that I really, really resist the tragic pose of the writer, always publicly bemoaning how hard writing is, what a struggle getting words on the page is. pretty much makes me sick. we're getting to sit down and play with dragons that we can make do whatever we want, right? what could be better than that? and, I've done a lifetime of manual labor, I'd say, and I feel I have a pretty good handle on the difference in work and writing. just because something takes hours every days and then pays LIKE work doesn't mean it's the same as shoveling out a stall or slinging shingles. also, I guess I should say I hide from the world and responsibility and all of that IN writing. so, if it's time to mow the lawn? it's a pretty safe bet that that alone is going to spark a story idea for me, one I have to chase down all afternoon, while I pay other people to mow the lawn. I've worked enough that I hate work. I'd much rather play. with dragons.

thanks for giving SCARS a go, too. it wasn't quite a single sitting, but it was a singly, drippy mindspace, anyway.

SGJ's picture
SGJ from Midland, Texas (but in Boulder, Colorado, now) is reading weird fiction and horror fiction and science fiction and literary fiction and innovative fiction, or maybe a romance or a western or a magazine on bowhunting or show trucks or anthropology December 3, 2014 - 1:33pm

Jay.SJ—

thanks for reading PEOPLE LIGHTS. and, yeah, every week there's another story solicitation—a position I never honestly thought I'd be in. but of course I can't say yes to them all. and, they're usually themed, so I'm probably not going to have something already written that fits either. as to how to pick? it's A) whether I know the editor, and know they have a good record of actually getting TO print in a timely fashion (I despise when a book gets locked up in production), B) whether this an actual book I get paid for immediately or one I'm being asked to commit to so they can pitch it to a publisher (I haven't done one of those for a long time, now), C) if the pay is good enough, D) if this is an editor I've worked with before, and if that's someone who edits in a way that works for me, E) if I have the time, F) whether this story could eventually be snagged for inclusion in one of my own collections—which is the tricky one, I suppose. but, if you go too deep into themed-ness—"smart kitten mining the icy heart of Titan"—then that can be fun for a few thousand words, but what, aside from this anthology, do I ever do with this story AFTER the anthology? I mean, zombies and monstes and postapoc all plug in everywhere, but, I mean, I think I got hit up for KARATE KID antho. which I was kind of excited about, just to touch the grail, like. but then I figured this would keep me from writing something else, that could fill more than a single slot (and also I couldn't actually think of a Karate Kid story), so, you know.

as for which PEOPLE LIGHTS story scares me the most, I'd say either "Brushdogs" or the title story. but probably "Brushdogs." just because I'll be back in those exactly same woods again. I'll see that cairn again. makes me want to be really certain I wrote the story right.

SGJ's picture
SGJ from Midland, Texas (but in Boulder, Colorado, now) is reading weird fiction and horror fiction and science fiction and literary fiction and innovative fiction, or maybe a romance or a western or a magazine on bowhunting or show trucks or anthropology December 3, 2014 - 1:37pm

Richard—

man, I don't know if I'm the one to say what an SGJ story is. I do think my strength on the page is usually in moments, but I'm not sure how to translate that into a type or kind. I guess my goal is always to make the reader feel something they wouldn't have otherwise felt, and to do whatever gymnastics or appropriation or whatever on the page to make that happen. sincerity is what I'm always after. but I still don't think I can make any of that fit into something that defines me. probably because I'm not the one to define me.

as for what I return to over and over again, that's usually fathers and sons, and violence. doesn't have to be horror or any specific genre. but if there's not violence of some kind, then I'm going to have a hard time maintaining interest, I think. it's just how I understand the world to work. it's the way I was taught that it works. so it's the only way I know to write the world.

SGJ's picture
SGJ from Midland, Texas (but in Boulder, Colorado, now) is reading weird fiction and horror fiction and science fiction and literary fiction and innovative fiction, or maybe a romance or a western or a magazine on bowhunting or show trucks or anthropology December 3, 2014 - 1:44pm

Voodoo_em—

I never know how I'm going to come at a project, honestly. I mean, with a story, sometimes an editor'll call me last-minute, tell me the parameters of an anthology or issue or whatever, and I'll have 24hrs to crank something out. in which case, no, there's nothing at all planned. but then sometimes a story will live inside me for yrs, just as a line, as an image, and then one day I'll finally luck onto the voice to make it all real. with stories, anyway, I never plan, just follow. with novels . . . I've done it both ways. with LEDFEATHER and GROWING UP DEAD IN TEXAS, say, I had no idea where they were going or how they were going to get there. but with THE LAST FINAL GIRL and ZOMBIE BAKE-OFF and NOT FOR NOTHING, I had a pretty good idea, as the genre they were operating on required the laying down of clues and cues, which then grind the reader forward across a terrain she's halfway familiar with, just from having read other stuff from this shelf. but, DEMON THEORY? I had no idea how that was going to get anywhere. had no idea there was even going to be a 17 and 18 to it. and, MONGRELS, a werewolf novel, that began as a story I wrote last-minute for a friend's anthology, but then I found I wasn't done, so that story became chapter 1 instead. and, the novel I'm writing now . . . well, just read that post here, maybe. there was outlining/breakdown involved. there's that old pull from when Gaiman was interviewing Gene Wolfe, and he asked Wolfe, he said, you've done like a bazilloinjy books by now, you have to have it figured out, yes? Wolfe's answer: You only ever learn to write the book you're writing.  I haven't found just a lot of truisms that pertain to writing, but that's one of them (another: read outside your interest).

voodoo_em's picture
voodoo_em from England is reading Zombie Bake Off by Stephen Graham Jones December 4, 2014 - 7:05am

Thanks, that's really cool to know, I'm always interested in how other writers write :)

After the People Lights go Out is a great title, as are many of your titles. I took a class with Chuck Palahniuk a few months ago and he said it's common for writers have to fight to keep their titles these days, and that Monica Drake had a real battle to keep her title as The Stud Book. Have you ever had to fight for a title or comprises on one?

Redd Tramp's picture
Redd Tramp from Los Angeles, CA is reading Mongrels by SGJ; Sacred and Immoral: On the Writings of Chuck Palahniuk; The History of Sexuality by Michel Foucault December 5, 2014 - 10:50am

Wow. I just read Thirteen, and it blew me away. Stephen, you've got a real great way of capturing the...I don't know, the romance I guess of being young. The normal things like dog walking and hanging out in a cemetary on Halloween. Like in Monsters, what really pulled me in was how relatable the whole scenario leading up to the horror was. Just a guy and a girl who have nothing better to do one summer but fall in together and walk a dog around this beachtown. Sounds like almost every campy summer romance ever, but you used that to such great effect. It made what ended up happening so painful. And Thirteen was like that. Urban legends, movie theaters, sneaking cigarettes in the cemetary. Do you draw from your own teenage memories for stuff like that?  

You're a hell of a writer, and I really enjoy your work.

SGJ's picture
SGJ from Midland, Texas (but in Boulder, Colorado, now) is reading weird fiction and horror fiction and science fiction and literary fiction and innovative fiction, or maybe a romance or a western or a magazine on bowhunting or show trucks or anthropology December 9, 2014 - 4:38pm

Voodoo_em: nope, didn't have to fight for this title. really, I've only ever either bee lucky on titles—like, I luck onto one that'll work, and nobody takes it away—or else some editor or agent sees that my title sucks, so comes up with a better one for me. that's what happened with THE LAST FINAL GIRL (which I originally insisted on calling PART II, no matter what anybody was telling me). THE FAST RED ROAD and ALL THE BEAUTIFUL SINNERS were both called other stuff (it was me changing for FRR, but a publisher changing it for ATBS). but, yeah, I hear the horror stories about/with titles, definitely. and even more horror stories with covers. like, the bookstore kicking the one your publisher's already practically printing. again and still, though, man, I've been lucky as can be regarding covers.

SGJ's picture
SGJ from Midland, Texas (but in Boulder, Colorado, now) is reading weird fiction and horror fiction and science fiction and literary fiction and innovative fiction, or maybe a romance or a western or a magazine on bowhunting or show trucks or anthropology December 9, 2014 - 4:40pm

Redd Tramp: thanks so much. means a lot. and, man, I do love me a Sandy and Zuko story, most definitely. just, I like things to wash up on the shore as well.

voodoo_em's picture
voodoo_em from England is reading Zombie Bake Off by Stephen Graham Jones December 10, 2014 - 2:10pm

Ha ha, imagine the kind of movie Grease could have been if it started with something washing up...

Anyway, I've read that you make a specific playlist of music for each novel you write and only listen to that for the entire writing period. Because After the people lights is a collection of stories written at different time I can't ask what your playlist was, so instead: are there any stories in this collection that have a particular soundtrack or song from when you wrote them that fit the story/atmosphere really well?

 

Bonus question. What made you choose the name Slaney for the rabbit in Father son and holy rabbit? Slaney is my surname :)

Redd Tramp's picture
Redd Tramp from Los Angeles, CA is reading Mongrels by SGJ; Sacred and Immoral: On the Writings of Chuck Palahniuk; The History of Sexuality by Michel Foucault December 10, 2014 - 3:01pm

I vote for whatever Grease remake I'm sure is in the works to be written by Stephen. Haha 

Stephen, I accidently snuck a look at some of your comments in the back of the book, and I read what you said about spiders (The Spider Box) and how they're startling but not really scary, and it's funny because I'm absolutely, irrationally afraid of spiders. I can't even look at them without my heart tripping over itself. So I wondered, what scares the shit out of you? I mean, I get situational horror, but what just freaks you out on a surface level?

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon December 11, 2014 - 6:57am

I agree - Spiders are terrifying. I can barely stay in a room if I see that there is a spider hanging out somewhere.

Redd Tramp's picture
Redd Tramp from Los Angeles, CA is reading Mongrels by SGJ; Sacred and Immoral: On the Writings of Chuck Palahniuk; The History of Sexuality by Michel Foucault December 11, 2014 - 9:30am

It's the craziest thing. It's like...I don't think a spider is going to hurt me, I'm not afraid for my well-being, but just looking at a spider makes my heart race. If I'm flipping through an encyclopedia or scrolling through the internet and a picture of a spider pops up, I have to close the book or close the tab or whatever.

SGJ's picture
SGJ from Midland, Texas (but in Boulder, Colorado, now) is reading weird fiction and horror fiction and science fiction and literary fiction and innovative fiction, or maybe a romance or a western or a magazine on bowhunting or show trucks or anthropology December 12, 2014 - 5:49pm

Voodoo_em: I should have this answer in my hip-pocket, I know—what music works well witheach story—but I just dwelt on that TOC for a basically unhealthy amount of time waiting for a specific song to pop, and none ever did. probably b/c, as you say, I don't rig a playlist for stories, just novels. but, I do know that, for stories, I often re-use the front of novel playlists, and always come back to two in particular. the first four of each of them are:

From The Gospel of Z:

—"Trudy," CDB

—"Fresh Feeling," Eels

—"Everything I Own," Bread

—"Joe's Garage," Zappa

 

From Lake Access Only:

—"Time off for Bad Behavoir," DAC

—"Turn it Up," THC

—"Who Knew," Pink

—"Thunder Road," Bossman

 

and, seriously, you're a Slaney? had no idea it was even a real name—why I chose it, because I wanted it to not associate with anything people knew. but that's a trick to do, too. supercool that the name's real. AND that's you've got it. thanks for letting me know.

 

SGJ's picture
SGJ from Midland, Texas (but in Boulder, Colorado, now) is reading weird fiction and horror fiction and science fiction and literary fiction and innovative fiction, or maybe a romance or a western or a magazine on bowhunting or show trucks or anthropology December 12, 2014 - 5:51pm

Redd Tramp—

What terrifies me senseless (for more on this, listen here, not sure at what minute) is a person with a dog head. even thinking about it kind of freaks me out. it's probably why I'm so into werewoves.

voodoo_em's picture
voodoo_em from England is reading Zombie Bake Off by Stephen Graham Jones December 13, 2014 - 2:55pm

Yep, I'm a Slaney (by marriage) and I did think it pretty cool to see it as the name of that magic rabbit :) 

I notice that some of your books are dedicated to two people, one of which is a character from one of your other books (which is a really cool thing to do by the way) how do you choose which characters to dedicate to? Do you have favourite characters or which were the most fun/hardest to write? And are you ever tempted to cross characters over into other stories in little subtle cameo roles?

Redd Tramp's picture
Redd Tramp from Los Angeles, CA is reading Mongrels by SGJ; Sacred and Immoral: On the Writings of Chuck Palahniuk; The History of Sexuality by Michel Foucault December 13, 2014 - 5:37pm

That is so bizarre. It's usually weird stuff like that that has a strange, subconscious effect on people. My friend is insanely afraid of outer space, really even just the notion of nothingness. Sleep freaks him out because of how you have to surrender to all that blackness. I just read The Spider Box today, by the way, and it was beyond crazy. Scared the crap out of me, the spiders in particular. It's weird, but an idea I had a few years ago--in an attempt to incorporate my wildest nightmare, the worst way to die possible, in my brain--involved a man with a box that is chock full of spiders. Mine was more of a weapon, but I just thought that was so strange. Of all the things. A spider-box. 

Also, I was so surprised to read how you're into hair metal. I was in a kind-of Glam Punk band, so from 17-21 my life was all about that kind of stuff. Leather pants, teased-out hair, makeup. I had a padlock with no key locked around my neck for like two years in some stupid attempt to copy Sid Vicious and Duff McKagan. I also had a chain I wore that went from my nose piercing to my ear. Anyways, I'm just amazed you even know who Kix is! They're a more obscure '80s band.

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies December 14, 2014 - 9:41am

Stephen, I'll toss a few questions out here.

1. Did you do much research for this collection of short stories? Some of the tales in here have a very specific world that they live in, be it the science lab in "Second Chances" or the mathematical equations for "Solve for X." How do you get that voice of authority?

2. What's the one novel you've always wanted to write, but has still eluded you to this date? Is it a topic, a plot, a particular story or perhaps a genre or sub-genre?

3. Do you know how many stories you've written and/or published so far? I thought I read you were over 200, but not sure if that was original stories, or total published (including reprints).

THANKS! Great answers in here.

SGJ's picture
SGJ from Midland, Texas (but in Boulder, Colorado, now) is reading weird fiction and horror fiction and science fiction and literary fiction and innovative fiction, or maybe a romance or a western or a magazine on bowhunting or show trucks or anthropology December 14, 2014 - 9:55am

Voodoo_em: when the publisher'll let me get away with it, yeah, I like to dedicate the book to one meat person, one paper person. but, really, that's just my way of saying that there's no difference to me. I've lived with these people in the book for so long that, to me, they are real. and, at first I think I was doing that for characters I wasn't sure would ever get to see the light of publication. but then I started going back to old characters too, I think. anyway, e-booking has complicated it significantly, as the spacing us usually a fail, going digital. may have to abandon it altogether, not sure.

SGJ's picture
SGJ from Midland, Texas (but in Boulder, Colorado, now) is reading weird fiction and horror fiction and science fiction and literary fiction and innovative fiction, or maybe a romance or a western or a magazine on bowhunting or show trucks or anthropology December 14, 2014 - 3:37pm

Redd Tramp: I hope to never forget Kix. a lot of stuff's been shaken from my head, but never them.

SGJ's picture
SGJ from Midland, Texas (but in Boulder, Colorado, now) is reading weird fiction and horror fiction and science fiction and literary fiction and innovative fiction, or maybe a romance or a western or a magazine on bowhunting or show trucks or anthropology December 14, 2014 - 3:42pm

Richard:

1) no, no research. but I'm always reading science stuff, which sometimes entails math stuff, so I guess the junk's always cycling through my head in some way or another. for "Doc's Story," I suppose I was coming off a month of solid werewolf reading, just trying to inhale all the fiction and film and lore, but it wasn't FOR this story. this story just happened when the info hit a critical level in my head, I guess?

2) I haven't done a real western yet. I cut my teeth on L'Amour, and dig McMurtry, so it makes sense I'd kick out something playing in that genre, but DEL RIO's probably as close as I've got so far. the holdback, I suppose, had been How to write a western, that is, how to valorize the cowboy way, as it were, and still not erase the Indian from the page, from history? L'Amour had SHALAKO, of course, but I'd want to do something more like Coover's GHOST TOWN, I suspect, or Everett's GOD'S COUNTRY. which is completely possible (for me to try). even likely. 

3) I'm thinking, counting reprints, I'm probably up around 220, 230? haven't counted for a while now. which I'm thinking would put the originals at around 200. 

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies December 14, 2014 - 7:46pm

great answers, stephen, thanks for keeping up with the questions. fascinating stuff.

Redd Tramp's picture
Redd Tramp from Los Angeles, CA is reading Mongrels by SGJ; Sacred and Immoral: On the Writings of Chuck Palahniuk; The History of Sexuality by Michel Foucault December 15, 2014 - 11:06am

If you like Kix, you might like this band called Cats in Boots. Pretty good.

This was awesome, I'm going to keep up with these book clubs more often.

Daniel W Broallt's picture
Daniel W Broallt from Texas is reading The Emerald Mile December 15, 2014 - 1:29pm

So in The Dead Are Not, did anyone else love the idea that your local priest was actual tapped into some crazy Men In Black knowledge? That he can give a couple different quality answers for the meaning behind dying (eloquent stuff you could imagine), but that he also could you tell you secrets you'd never expect? I like that idea that the nature of your job might put you in tune to a world others overlook. Priests are obvious choices for secret knowledge, but I suspect any profession would have its own secrets. Or any group of hobbyists. Or horror fans. So that when you get to the final sentence of this story and it goes, "This is how it started," it's a simple sentence, could mean anything, but because of the audience for this type of story, you know without needing "this" to be defined, you're shocked and pleased to discover that wow, this story about aliens is actually a zombie story! And that, wow, by being a prequel, it makes every zombie apocolypse story a love story!?!?! Pretty cool. 

1. Is this structure - a compelling self-contained story, revealed at the end to affect some other seemingly unconnected but widely-shared story, whose connection ends up enhancing both stories, is this structure common in horror? Any good examples? Because I really liked it. 

I'm assuming, of course, that's what everyone else read in that last line, "This is how it started," and that's what SGJ intended. If not, then, what a great example of how one's expectations when reading a horror short-story collection affects one's reading of those closing zingers. 

At any rate, I enjoyed this collection and look forward to your Werewolf novel. 

True story: When I was a little kid, I was growling around my grandmother, and she pulled me aside and said, "You're doing it wrong. You're growling from the nose, you need to growl from deeper down, so it's coming up from the bottom of the throat." Which is a weird thing to teach a kid. And then I saw TeenWolf. And it was awesome, and I made a deal with some guy in the bathroom mirror that I could handle the responsibility, that I could be a werewolf. Then I got older. And I learned the stories (from Scooby-Doo probably) that werewolves weren't supposed to be able to control themselves in wolf form, and ate other people, or at least the neighbor's chickens, and I got terrified that I had made a horrible mistake. Then my adult canine teeth came in and they were too long so the dentist filed them down to be even with my incisors. Playing capture the flag at a Boy Scout camp and I thrilled to run in the woods at night, hopping through briars and over creeks. And I could lose my temper easily, and I saw the rage in my father, and my brother, and my sister, how we could all just snap. And I began to grow hair in places there hadn't been hair before. My voice did get more gutteral and it was easier to growl from the back of the throat, if I wanted. (I didn't). When certain girls passed by me, I felt like I could smell their perfume more acutely, hear their voices more sharply, sense their arms brush my arms more sensitively. And I knew. So with each full moon, I was nervous of what would happen. I waited. Turns out, it was just puberty. Who could have known? 

But I've always felt a connection to werewolves over all the other monsters. However, I don't know if any werewolf story has ever resonated the way TeenWolf did. (Don't get me wrong, I liked Doc's Story!)

2. So what's your favorite werewolf story? 

 

Redd Tramp's picture
Redd Tramp from Los Angeles, CA is reading Mongrels by SGJ; Sacred and Immoral: On the Writings of Chuck Palahniuk; The History of Sexuality by Michel Foucault December 15, 2014 - 3:05pm

I thought the same thing from the end of The Dead Are Not. 

The Spider Box did the same sort of thing, no? And what a crazy fucking way for a zombie outbreak to start! 

Not that it matters, now that death’s become an infection.
To be continued.
But I guess that’s a lie.

Holy shit, I love when a story takes a hard left turn.

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon December 16, 2014 - 2:56pm

I know that's right, ziuziu. I can comment, but interesting, words are not... :(

edit - this comment no longer makes sense now that the spam was deleted...

voodoo_em's picture
voodoo_em from England is reading Zombie Bake Off by Stephen Graham Jones December 16, 2014 - 9:15am

@Daniel ~ that's an awesome werewolf/puberty story :)

SGJ's picture
SGJ from Midland, Texas (but in Boulder, Colorado, now) is reading weird fiction and horror fiction and science fiction and literary fiction and innovative fiction, or maybe a romance or a western or a magazine on bowhunting or show trucks or anthropology December 17, 2014 - 9:08am

Redd Tramp: hadn't heard of Cats in Boots, thanks. will youtube them up. I always think I know hair metal,but then I'll run into somebody from a different part of the country who was plugged into a completely different set of music. and it's cool.

Daniel: I hadn't considered it, but, without paging through a stack of TOCs, I can't remember any other stories that end this way you're talking about, like "The Dead Are Not." I guess if I were to try to blame any story for this story—I would say 'ally,' but that'd be presumptous—it might would be PKD's "Beyond Lies the Wub," I think it's called. which I always remember as his first published story, whether it really is or not. now I'll be watching closer, though. 

and, my favorite werewolf story is James Blish's "There Shall Be No Darkness." from the fifties. both for the story and just for how exquisitely it's written. dude had it.

and, Redd Tramp: yep, that "The Spider Box" end—it's why I had to keep it a few stories away from "The Dead Are Not." it was like every place I stepped, the zombie apocalypse was trying to come alive.

Redd Tramp's picture
Redd Tramp from Los Angeles, CA is reading Mongrels by SGJ; Sacred and Immoral: On the Writings of Chuck Palahniuk; The History of Sexuality by Michel Foucault December 17, 2014 - 9:37am

Cool. Yeah there are a lot of buried glam gems, especially around LA. A lot of terrible bands, but plenty of really cool ones too. If you want a groovy kind of hair metal, not as stadium-sounding, check out Swingin Thing. I Want Your Body is a good one by them.

That's rad though, to find so many ways to end the world. I love a good apocalypse. 'Obsolete' by Palahniuk is one of the first end of the world stories that blew my mind. But 'The Spider Box' and 'The Dead Are Not' take such a hard left turn, it's friggin awesome. Lots of your stuff's like that though: Zombie Sharks, Welcome to the Reptile House, I Was a Teenage Slasher Victim. You've got this cool way of misdirecting the reader. 

voodoo_em's picture
voodoo_em from England is reading Zombie Bake Off by Stephen Graham Jones December 17, 2014 - 2:19pm

I remember quite liking Ginger Snaps for it's snarky teenage girl angst take on the werewolf genre. Mind I haven't seen it for years so have no idea if it has aged well.

In this collection we get vampires, zombies, aliens, werewolves to name a few, are there any classic monsters you haven't done yet that you'd really like to?

Daniel W Broallt's picture
Daniel W Broallt from Texas is reading The Emerald Mile December 18, 2014 - 9:22am

I also thought Welcome to the Reptile House had a nice left turn in iit. A couple unexpected moves, actually. I began the story assuming one of the tattoos is going to come alive. So the introduction of the vampire was a surprise. And then, how the narrator outdoes the vampire. Also cool. Unexpected, but totally consistent and obvious after it happens. 

Redd Tramp's picture
Redd Tramp from Los Angeles, CA is reading Mongrels by SGJ; Sacred and Immoral: On the Writings of Chuck Palahniuk; The History of Sexuality by Michel Foucault December 18, 2014 - 9:37am

Haha, that really got me. I was not expecting a vampire. And using the blood from the tattoo gun, so perfect.

Daniel, I thought your name looked familiar! I really, really dug Zombie Whorehouse, I think it was one of my favorites in Burnt Tongues. I know this isn't exactly the place to mention it, but just thought I'd tell you.

voodoo_em's picture
voodoo_em from England is reading Zombie Bake Off by Stephen Graham Jones December 18, 2014 - 9:41am

Zombie Whorehouse was also my favorite story in burnt tongues. Very cool :)

Daniel W Broallt's picture
Daniel W Broallt from Texas is reading The Emerald Mile December 19, 2014 - 10:18am

Thanks Redd, Voodoo, much appreciated. 

To everyone, what was your favorite story in this collection and why? I've already mentioned mine - The Dead Are Not, because I wish I had a friend like the priest character and I really liked the opening up of the story at the end. And Welcome to the Reptile House because I read it aloud to my wife before bed and the next night I asked if she wanted another story and she yelled at me and said that one had scared her and why would I think she wanted those images and scenes in her head and I realized that her experience in hearing it was so different than mine. 

But I also really liked This Is Love. Again, there's the element of unexpectedness, and the appreciation of learning about something I'm not familiar about (being a gay man at a rest stop filled with families that stare and suspect) with something I am familiar with (jealousy, doubt, fights in public with someone you love, the creepiness inherent in rest stops), and the reinforcement of that idea of life's too short to sit on a table in a pose of anguish to prove a point of who's more hurt. 

Daniel W Broallt's picture
Daniel W Broallt from Texas is reading The Emerald Mile December 19, 2014 - 10:22am

Follow-up to my comments on This Is Love - Stephen, in the comments on each story in the back (which I love that you do), you say you once walked into a rest-stop full of blood. How long until you were able to go into a deserted looking rest stop again? Or do you just walk into the woods now? (or a Starbucks, some other roadside place). 

 

Redd Tramp's picture
Redd Tramp from Los Angeles, CA is reading Mongrels by SGJ; Sacred and Immoral: On the Writings of Chuck Palahniuk; The History of Sexuality by Michel Foucault December 19, 2014 - 10:49am

I think my favorite was maybe Welcome to the Reptile House, because of how much I wasn't expecting what happened, because of the tattoo stuff (I love tattoos), and because of the Gaimen Sandman reference (I love the Sandman series). Also, the ending was ace. After I read it, I read it again, out loud to my sisters, neice and mom, and it was cool how each had their own reaction.

Or, The Spider Box, because the fucking spiders made me cringe. It was so disturbing, that box. We've all messed around with boxes as kids, pretending they're something else, breaking them, putting em back together. I was horrified to think of all those spiders swarming over the box, attracted to it somehow rather than stripping it down. And then when it was tarantulas the next time? I almost cried and stopped reading. And it all built up to such an unsettling place, the horse and the refrigerator, the dog being backed over and brought back, the narrator growing up, haunted but determined to recreate an impossibility from his youth. And at the end of it all...boom. Zombie apocalypse. What????? I mean, come on. Who thinks up something like that?

Also, I have to admit I haven't finished the whole thing yet. I'm snapping it up bit by bit.

voodoo_em's picture
voodoo_em from England is reading Zombie Bake Off by Stephen Graham Jones December 19, 2014 - 2:33pm

I'd say my favorite's are After the People Lights go Out, Uncle, Solve for X, and Snow Monsters. They are the stories in this collection I find the creepiest, but also they create great empathy between the reader and narrator. 

And there is no, NO way I will ever buy a pistol grip thermometer. Ever.

Also to agree with Daniel, I love the after story notes too :)

 

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies December 20, 2014 - 2:03pm

I really love them all, and in fact, can't remember the last time I read a collection that was SO solid, all the way through, but my two favorites are probably Solve for X and Snow Monsters, too.