Archive for August, 2013

rejection-300x200“Good horror fiction deals with taboos. It must always go to the limits of what is acceptable. To that extent, paradoxically, you should be prepared to be rejected as an artist, because you’re dealing with areas that people don’t often admit to, and at the same time you have to be aware that you have to use your skills as an artist in order to wrench from material which is graphic, or brutal, or stomach-churning, subtext and resonance which is subtle and – I hope – optimistic.” 

So says Clive Barker, whose words showed up on my Facebook feed yesterday. The timing could not have been better, and as I let the words sink in, I began to see the absolute truth in what he had to say. Barker has created entire worlds of weirdness, and a style of horror that, to me, harkens back to Lovecraft. Yes, they’re different; Lovecraft would expend energy into vague descriptions of the indescribable, while Barker never shies away from the glistening awfulness of his creations. Anyway, all that to say that Mr Barker must have had his fair share of rejection letters.

Thus far, I’ve had four. Two were likely professional copy/paste, one was arrogant, and one was just awesome. The good one was from an agent in London, who remarked, “I thought this was really promising, but I do think you’d be better off with a US agent in the first instance – I’m sure someone will snap you up.”

How bloody wonderful was that? How much more time did it take to draft a rejection steeped in human decency?

I’m not whining. I knew that when I decided to take this approach that there would be rejections, and that what matters isn’t how many have said no, but rather it’s the one who says yes. My story is nowhere near what Barker puts out; mine is a fairly simple, straightforward story, rooted right here in the US, and its varied elements make it a uniquely American story. I do believe that I have wrenched a series of brutal truths from our collective human experience, with a lingering subtext and yes, there is an underlying optimism that will hopefully resonate with the reader. A trusted colleague has read the manuscript, and had this to say:

“The amalgamation of Southern Gothic and stark contemporary horror was fascinating and beautiful. Pathos and sympathy are tools with which you masterfully change alliances and favours; with the aggressors becoming victims, and victims becoming aggressors. 

It’s a fabulous three act novel, with a flow and structure so flawless, that it serves to highlight the vast quantities of time, thought and effort which have gone into it. It’s brutal, it’s moving and it’s superbly imaginative. Each character is as vital to the plot as the next, all of them incredibly well thought out, believable and varied.”
So, there’s that. I reflect on the above comments daily; they give me hope, and remind me that the harder road can also be the most rewarding. Were it not for the unwavering support and enthusiasm of friends and family, this endeavor would be unbelievably difficult, if not well nigh impossible.
Here’s to another day spent in pursuit of representation, and that most elusive of the holiest of grails, a paycheck.


I recently viewed Lotte Reiniger’s 1926 film The Adventures of Prince Achmed (soon to be released on DVD by the British Film Institute) for the first time recently, and was completely taken by surprise. It was one of those rare events in which an animated feature thoroughly engaged my attention and imagination, and the result was, frankly, enchanting. This is not a film to be missed.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed at Zombie Hamster

Films like this are why I love movies; in the right hands, we can be whisked away to new and different worlds, given a fresh perspective, and stare in wonder at the work of true visionaries.

wickerman_burnsI’ve got a new essay over at Zombie Hamster, after a brief hiatus. This time, I took a look at what is considered by many to be the greatest of all British horror films, The Wicker Man (1973). This was a perennial favorite at the local repertory movie house in the town where I grew up, playing several times a year in the 1970s and 1980s, before the theatre changed into an independent / art house cinema. Being a natural-born horror geek, it intrigued me, but was one of those few films that I wasn’t allowed to see just yet.

Anyway, I eventually saw it in my late teens, and just didn’t get it. Most of the film takes place in broad daylight, there are no obvious monsters, no blood, none of the traditional earmarks of what most of us consider horror. Fast forward to now, and I got my hands on the out-of-print director’s cut, which restored around eleven minutes from the theatrical release.

This time, I got it. Now, I count this amazing film as one of my personal favorites. Check it out:

The Wicker Man at Zombie Hamster

midvaleIt’s been a few weeks since the first round of submissions to agents. I’ve received two rejections but other than that, nothing. Nada. Every agency and publisher I wrote to stated very clearly that it will take at least four to six weeks for a response.

I am aware of this.

And yet, I’m stuck in limbo and it sucks. Because of a number of things in the last month or so, I’m feeling stuck in a rut of non-creativity, and while there are things that need doing, I can’t seem to do them. I have a new review to post for Zombie Hamster, but thus far lack the skills to successfully upload it myself. I have a film to watch and review, but can’t seem to find a way to watch Region 2 dvds on my computer. Everyone says it’s easy, but it’s just not happening.

Treading water is not good, and the frustration is mounting. I can’t focus on new stories, I desperately want an agent to simply take a chance with me, and get this thing on track.

I’ve never been good with patience.

On a more personal note, I lost a friend and co-worker this week. We’ve all been dealing with the shock and sorrow of it, and I think the cracks are beginning to show. I’m definitely feeling rushed, because this big life thing happened, and it reminds me that this time we have is short, which fuels the fire to get my book out there, and adds to the frustration over the process that I know, I know, takes time. My friend, the one who passed on, commented in this blog that she couldn’t wait to read my story, and now she’s gone. 

It’s not about my story. It’s about the clock ticking for all of us, and the need to realize this dream before it’s too late, to make the most of whatever time is allotted, to not waste any more time.