On my First Author Event at OTHER SKIES, A Weird Fiction Bookstore.

            It is snowing.

            It is supposed to snow for the next three days, ushering in Wisconsin’s winter season. Although Christmas displays have already been set up in retail stores, and families are eagerly making Thanksgiving plans, my mind is elsewhere.

            Away from strings of multicolored lights and grinning snowmen.

            Away from plastic trees stuffed into living rooms, gleaming gleeful and garish with bulbs and angels and candy canes.

            I am thinking of November 6th, when I had my very first author event at Other Skies, a new weird fiction bookstore located on Dodd Street in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

            On that day, the wind howled.

            On that day, dead leaves blew upward into crazy cyclones.

            It was not yet snowing. The dry carapace-leaves still crunched wonderfully beneath one’s shoes. Faces of leering jack o’ lanterns peered out from porches, driveways, and stoops—now beginning to rot and puddle into a soft, orange rind.

            I got dressed.

            I drove for an hour and crossed the Wisconsin-Minnesota border, navigated the wild freeway traffic, and, at long last, arrived at Other Skies.

            A change in atmosphere.

The street is a long black ribbon. The buildings are old-fashioned; brown brick facades built in the early twentieth century. Their large front windows serve as mirrors, reflecting yourself as you walk past and wonder briefly at the mystery of who you are.

Harkening back to an earlier era, Other Skies is a building one enters with a peculiar sense of wonder and unease.

One feels as if they’re entering a book shop from long, long ago. As if the years have obscured this place from the world, and yet now, here you are, looking up at the ancient brick frontage, wondering at the strange decals upon the window (is that a tentacle?) and now, you open the black screen door, your hand is on the doorknob, and its cold brass feels strangely good beneath your palm, and then you step inside.

From here on, it’s all over.

No turning back.

How can you? Look at all these rare, wonderful books lining the walls! And the tall, stately clock standing sentinel in the corner, with skeletal black hands whirling about the clockface! And the cozy couch beneath the window! And the . . . casket?

Yes. A casket.

And it’s open.

Thankfully (or not thankfully, depending on the sort of person you are), a dead body isn’t lying in wait. No pale moon flesh, closed eyes, purple lips. Rather, the cushiony interior of the long grey casket serves as a display for especially rare books and items—including what appears to be a First Edition of The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson.  

Right about this time, the proprietors of this fine establishment, Josh Hames and Becca Olene, will warmly welcome you. They are here if you’ve any questions, or if you need help finding anything. For their knowledge regarding books verges on encyclopedic, and their manners are polite and genial.  

Other Skies, you see, deals in used and rare books—especially those relating to horror, fantasy, science-fiction, and the occult.

            Because I am a writer of strange tales, of macabre fantasies, of horror tales—whatever you wish to call them—it seems there is no better place than Other Skies to host my first author event.

            I was given a nice tall chair, and a podium, and something to drink.

            I set out my books for display. Mr. Hames decided the prices for them (I’m grateful he did, as I have a habit of underpricing my years’ worth of hard work). About ten minutes before the event was supposed to start, people began wandering in.

            I had expected a total of, perhaps, two or three folks to show up. I have heard and seen nightmares of scarcely attended author events before. I’d fully intended to remain stoic about the evening.

            Instead, we got a full room.

            After Josh’s formal introduction, I delivered a small speech about being a writer, the sort of stories I tell, and why I tell them. After this, I gave a short reading of Night of the Child, a Halloween tale from my latest book, Beneath the Jack O’ Lantern Sky.

            Next came an in-depth discussion regarding all things weird fiction, creativity, and storytelling. Josh, quite thankfully, had a great deal of thoughtful questions to ask me, and thus the evening was saved from languishing into awkward silence. We found, in the course of this discussion, the surprising fact that nobody seemed to have an exact, or perfectly adequate definition of ‘weird fiction’—which is probably all the better.

            It took some time, but eventually audience members began to engage, and soon a dialogue between author, bookstore owner, and audience was underway.

            I gave one last reading. The lights were turned low and dim. A soft yellow light provided just enough illumination for me to see my papers.

Using a voice that may well belong to the nineteenth century, I performed a reading of The Tower: A Tale in Ten Sonnets. This piece is a hybrid of tale and poem, telling the tale of a reclusive man who resides in a great tower in the country. Soon, he is besieged by strange, fish-like creatures with sharp teeth, thick lips, barbel-like whiskers, and fierce claws which infect one with a mysterious, green-glowing plague, should they find purchase in one’s flesh.

The performance went over very well.

Books were purchased.

Books were signed.

And the evening, for myself, as well as for Josh and Becca, proved a resounding success.

I’ve been invited back for another author event come October 2023.

If you missed this one, you’ll won’t want to miss the next.

Things are only bound to get more, shall we say . . . weird.

Best,

Tylor James.

One may purchase a signed & limited edition of Beneath the Jack O’ Lantern Sky: Tales of Sweet Hollow here: https://www.weirdhousepress.com/product/beneath-the-jack-o-lantern-sky/

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Edgar Allan Poe Reviews “Beneath the Jack-O-Lantern Sky” (BOOK TRAILER)

My brother and I put together this silly little 2 1/2 minute film, wherein I perform as Edgar Allan Poe—who, apparently, has gone rather mad over my new book!

You can view the trailer, if you so choose, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_35r1PhfX8

Now, as for the book itself, allow me to expound . . .

You’ve just entered Sweet Hollow, where everyone has a horror tale to tell…

Strange are the secrets harbored in Sweet Hollow… A Midwest town luminous with legends, morbid with monsters, and crazed with killers. Its hills and houses are haunted, its graveyard gales are billowed by bats, its citizens creeped upon by cemetery skeletons. Encompassing all—a hallowed, Jack O’ Lantern sky serves as the backdrop for the terrifying tales within this harrowing horror-collection.

In the town of Sweet Hollow, one must prepare themselves to encounter:

  • A Cult of Immortals Eager for Human Sacrifice.
  • A Haunted “Manor” That Is Not What It Appears.
  • A Fisherman Reincarnated into His Prized Catch.
  • Giant Mosquitos!
  • The Formative Years of a Serial Killer.
  • An Old Dance Hall Waltzing with Corpses.
  • A Haunted House Mystery Bank (Coin-Operated).

And that’s only a few of the curiosities one may discover in the shops, streets, houses, and cemeteries of Sweet Hollow. If you long for a scare, then open your mind, and prepare yourself for a dark descent into madness and horror.

Interested? You may purchase it through WEIRD HOUSE PRESS in trade paperback here: https://www.weirdhousepress.com/product/beneath-the-jack-o-lantern-sky/

OR, in ebook/paperback on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Beneath-Jack-Lantern-Sky-Hollow/dp/1957121246

Wishing everyone an auspicious autumn, and a Happy Halloween!

Best,

Tylor James

It’s Book Release Day for “BENEATH THE JACK O’ LANTERN SKY”

Fellow Friends of the Macabre,

I’m happy to say my latest collection of thirteen tales, Beneath the Jack O’ Lantern Sky: Tales of Sweet Hollow, is available in ebook and paperback as of today!

This is a damn fine book. I’m very glad to have written it, and even more proud that Weird House Press has published it. I hope you’ll consider picking up a copy:

https://www.amazon.com/Beneath-Jack-Lantern-Sky-Hollow-ebook/dp/B0BCVS222H/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

You’ve just entered Sweet Hollow, where everyone has a horror tale to tell…

Strange are the secrets harbored in Sweet Hollow … A Midwest town luminous with legends, morbid with monsters, and crazed with killers. Its hills and houses are haunted, its graveyard gales are billowed by bats, its citizens creeped upon by cemetery skeletons. Encompassing all—a hallowed, Jack O’ Lantern sky serves as the backdrop for the terrifying tales within this harrowing horror-collection.

In the town of Sweet Hollow, one must prepare themselves to encounter:

  • A Cult of Immortals Eager for Human Sacrifice.
  • A Haunted “Manor” That Is Not What It Appears.
  • A Fisherman Reincarnated into His Prized Catch.
  • Giant Mosquitos!
  • The Formative Years of a Serial Killer.
  • An Old Dance Hall Waltzing with Corpses.
  • A Haunted House Mystery Bank (Coin-Operated).

And that’s only a few of the curiosities one may discover in the shops, streets, houses, and cemeteries of Sweet Hollow. If you long for a scare, then open your mind, and prepare yourself for a dark descent into madness and horror.

An old fantastic stone castle with a church in the sunset orange light of the sun. There are thick clouds in the sky, and sparks are flying. in the foreground is a frozen, icy, snow-covered lake. Cover art by Cyrus Wraith Walker.

BENEATH THE JACK-O-LANTERN SKY

Friends of the Macabre,

I’m rather proud to announce my new book, BENEATH THE JACK O’ LANTERN SKY: TALES OF SWEET HOLLOW, will be available for pre-order from Weird House Press this September!

“Strange are the secrets harbored in Sweet Hollow, a town luminous with legends, morbid with monsters, and crazed with killers . . . “

Once upon a time, I thought MATTERS MOST MACABRE was the best thing I’ve done, but I think this new book tops it handily. Its been a pleasure writing this collection of twelve tales and one novelette, and cannot wait to behold it in print.

Here is the book’s full back cover description:

Strange are the secrets harbored in Sweet Hollow… A Midwest town luminous with legends, morbid with monsters, and crazed with killers. Its hills and houses are haunted, its graveyard gales are billowed by bats, its citizens creeped upon by cemetery skeletons. Encompassing all—a hallowed, Jack O’ Lantern sky serves as the backdrop for the terrifying tales within this harrowing horror-collection.

In the town of Sweet Hollow, one must prepare themselves to encounter:

A Cult of Immortals Eager for Human Sacrifice.
A Haunted “Manor” That Is Not What It Appears.
A Fisherman Reincarnated into His Prized Catch.
Giant Mosquitos!
The Formative Years of a Serial Killer.
An Old Dance Hall Waltzing with Corpses.
A Haunted House Mystery Bank (Coin-Operated).
And that’s only a few of the curiosities one may discover in the shops, streets, houses, and cemeteries of Sweet Hollow. If you long for a scare, then open your mind, and prepare yourself for a dark descent into madness and horror.

Sound like this book might be to your taste? Please consider ordering a copy this September! You can order it here, on the Weird House Press website: https://www.weirdhousepress.com/product/beneath-the-jack-o-lantern-sky/

In the meantime, I’m currently finishing up what may be a debut novel for next year (2023), working on a poetry book, and planning a month long retreat merely to catch up on reading and re-filling my inner well of ideas.

Wishing you the best this late summer and harvest season.

Morose, macabre, and maniacally yours,

Tylor James.

Book Review – Matters Most Macabre by Tylor James

Usually, when reading a collection of short stories, you know you’re going to be taking the good with the bad. Not so with this collection.

They’re all good.

I’m sure each person who reads this book will have their favorite (or two), but I doubt there will be anyone who actually dislikes any of the tales.

Come here for creepy towns in the desert, cursed objects, werewolves, mysterious shapes, glowing doorways, and a story which will remind you just how much you hate Hitler (I’ll say no more, you’ll just have to read it).

From the philosophical horror of a world without stories in ‘The Day the Stories Died’, to to blood and guts (literally) of ‘Godly Business’, to some justifiable but thoroughly horrific retribution in ‘Helga’s Helping Hands’ and ‘The Thing in Gregory Thornton’s Basement’, Tylor James takes his readers on a sometimes terrible, sometimes disgusting, and sometimes darkly…

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2021: A MACABRE YEAR IN REVIEW, IN LOVE AND IN WRITING.

It’s difficult for me to recall what I’ve done in the previous week, not to mention an entire year. Thankfully, I’ve got many documents and journal entries to remind me just what the hell happened in 2021. One is tempted to speak only on one’s victories, to cherry-pick only the bright spots in one’s life. But of course, isn’t it better to include the panoply of human experience? With every joy and victory there is despair and failure!

I’ll start with the failures, but shall end on only positive notes:

I received around 40 rejections from publishers regarding short stories, poems, and essays. I wrote a 114,000 word-length novel, and in the end, didn’t much like it. I began writing another novel, got 20,000 words in, then didn’t have enough inspiration to complete it. I struggled for months over short stories. What was once a joy and release had become a chore. I was writing every day, yes, but the stories were no good. I became frustrated and slightly depressed. I got restless. Drank a bit too much.

Now, onto the positives, which I believe will vastly outweigh what I’ve shared thus far:

All in all, I wrote 29 short stories, 1 short screenplay, 1 giant novel, 3 personal essays, 83 poems, and 3 journal books. I pat myself on the back and say, “Not bad, kid.” All the while, I’m hoping to do even better in the upcoming year.

When I fell into that uninspired slump with my stories, I counteracted by drastically changing my routine. Instead of writing a short story every week, as I’d been doing the past two years, I decided to write one poem a day for an entire month! This resulted in a full-length poetry book, titled, “I Grew Up in a Haunted House”, which I aim to edit and publish. After that, I wrote a personal essay every week, and came up with some decent pieces that way.

Along with 40 story rejections, and many “non-responses” (or, at the very least, eternally pending responses . . . ) from publishers, I was able to sell three stories I’d written. Here they are:

“If Fish Could Scream” was sold to Forlorn-The Periodical.

“Out Beneath the Jack O’ Lantern Sky” was sold to Hellbound Books for their Madame Gray’s Vault of Gore anthology.

“Billy’s First Haircut” was sold and will appear in an upcoming issue of Cosmic Horrror Monthly — which I’m incredibly excited about.

I’ve also compiled a NEW short story collection (I’ll be editing this and sending it off to publishers soon, hoping to publish traditionally as opposed to self-publishing, as I’ve done with all of my books thus far).

TWO of my stories were also featured in WEIRDSMITH: Number One, from Too Much Weird press. I also independently published MATTERS MOST MACABRE, my proudest work to date (which has also collected many excellent reviews), as well as published GATOR HOUSE, a novelette, which has received mostly good, yet mixed reviews.

Today is January 1st of 2022, and I’ve began it by pounding out 4000+ words and finishing a new short story, “An Obsolete Art”, which I believe readers are truly going to enjoy. It’s a slow build of a story, yet with an utterly macabre pay-off!

As for my next creative project, I’ll be directing a debut film, a fifteen minute black-and-white supernatural feature called, “A Bell-Tierney Christmas Mystery”, which is currently in pre-production and will be shot in early February. I’ve got some great actor-friends tagged to this film. I’m incredibly nervous and excited to make it.

Best of all, above even writing and art, 2021 is the year I married the love of my life, Tessandra. We are closer, and happier, than we’ve ever been in our six years together. I’m grateful for what will be, if I’m fortunate, many more years with this excellent (and patient) human being. She doesn’t merely put up with my idiosyncrasies and my ego, but rather accepts me as I am — and that is love.

In addition, I’ve had the honor and pleasure of being interviewed by the talented Candace Nola, for her website, Uncomfortably Dark. (See here, though you’ll have to scroll a bit: https://www.uncomfortablydark.com/blank-page-5). I also did an interview with Curtis Lawson, for his WYRD TRANSMISSIONS podcast. Admittedly, I was quite nervous for this interview, and could hardly be myself. Still, it was an honor.

I also lost a job this year (at the ‘haunted factory’, where I was a security guard working the graveyard shift — the best writing job one could imagine), as well as quit one of the worst factory jobs I’ve ever had, and am now quite content and grateful to work as a full-time bookseller at a Half-Price Books store in Minnesota.

A week ago, I (stupidly) crashed my car and wound up having to take out a loan to buy a another vehicle, but at least I have reliable transportation once again.

I am wishing friends, family, and fellow readers and writers much fulfillment in the New Year. I’ve included, in addition, my favorite books and films I’ve come across in 2021.

Best,

Tylor James.

Top 10 books I’ve Read in 2021:

The Complete Stories of Robert Bloch, Vol. 1

Age of American Unreason – Susan Jacoby

Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque – Joyce Carol Oates

How to Read and Why – Harold Bloom

STIFF: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers – Mary Roach

Shatterday – Harlan Ellison

Dandelion Wine – Ray Bradbury

The House on the Borderland – William Hope Hodgson

Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween – Lisa Morton

Top 10 Films Seen in 2021:

The Lighthouse (this has become one of my very favorite films!)

A Streetcar Named Desire

Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive (2017 documentary)

Strangers on a Train

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?

American Movie

Waking Life

Get Out

Vertigo

I’m Thinking of Ending Things

MATTERS MOST MACABRE, available in kindle, paperback, hardcover: https://www.amazon.com/Matters-Most-Macabre-Tylor-James-ebook/dp/B08Z7LM8TZ#:~:text=Matters%20Most%20Macabre%20is%20a,just%20plain%20weird%20you%20out!

What This Maliciously Macabre Writer Has Been Up To . . .

Fellow readers, writers, and friends,

I’ve been quiet lately, but I assure you it’s only because I’ve been up to no good.

First, a few successes I’d like to share:

My utterly strange and fun tale, “Billy’s First Haircut”, will appear in the June 2022 issue of COSMIC HORROR MONTHLY. In addition, my tale, “Out Beneath the Jack O’ Lantern Sky” has now been published in the gruesome new anthology book from Hellbound Books, titled, Madame Gray’s Vault of Gore. Many more short story publications are on the horizon as well, I hope.

Now, as to why I’ve been silent — All through October and November, I’d written a gigantic gothic novel of 114,000 words. I’d never written a novel before, only stories, poems and essays. Is my first novel any good? I’m honestly uncertain, although it served as excellent writing practice. Now, I know better than ever what it takes to write an epic novel.

However, as soon as I completed that first draft, an entirely new novel-idea emerged, as they do, from the recesses of my subconscious. I’ve now begun writing it, believing this novel will be shorter, tighter, and better. I won’t give anything away, save to say that it’s a Halloween-themed novel that takes place in the very strange Midwest town of Sweet Hollow.

In the meantime, what might readers expect of me? Fans of my story collection, MATTERS MOST MACABRE, will be pleased to know I’ve compiled an entirely new book of short stories featuring a strange, eclectic nature — to be published, I hope, sometime late next year (2022). I also have a marvelous book of dark poetry and essays in the works, as well as this novel I’m just now delving into.

Before these exciting books will hit the shelves, however, my books MATTERS MOST MACABRE, and two novelette-length works, GATOR HOUSE, and WEIRDSMITH: NUMBER ONE, are all available for purchase on Amazon in paperback/hardcover/kindle.

Wishing everyone a merry, and most macabre, holiday.

Best,

Tylor James.

GATOR HOUSE by Tylor James

Fellow Friends of the Macabre,

Might you enjoy an appetizer for the upcoming spooky season? Consider GATOR HOUSE, my new terrifying novelette, now available in kindle/paperback on Amazon. Beware, this tale of just eighty pages has teeth — sharp ones!

I had a great deal of fun writing his tale of beasts and men (which are worse? I cannot truly say), and can only hope my readers will have just as good a time reading it.

A link to the kindle ($2.99) and paperback ($6.99): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09F71Q9BR/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

Wishing you a most enjoyable spooky season,

Tylor James.

PS: If a short novelette isn’t what you’re looking for, I understand. You need something more to sink your teeth into, eh? In which case consider MATTERS MOST MACABRE, my highly-acclaimed, full-length collection of short stories. You can find that here in kindle/paperback, even hardcover: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08Z7LM8TZ/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i2

The New Tylor James Book: GATOR HOUSE, TBR on October 1st!

Fellow Friends of the Macabre,

The temperature is dropping, leaves are changing color, and before we know it, it will be Halloween night. In honor of the ‘spooky season’, many people enjoy reading horror books — either re-visiting classics they know and love, or reading something entirely new. I’m delighted to bring to your attention something of the latter: my novelette, GATOR HOUSE, will be published on October 1st in celebration of Halloween. At only 80 pages, it will provide you a tasty treat which you may consider an ‘appetizer’, before moving on to the delicious brain-meals that are Bram Stoker’s Dracula or Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House.

If you enjoy reading about characters you can root for, and if you enjoy monsters, GATOR HOUSE is for you. For a better idea as to what you may be getting yourself into, here’s the backcover blurb:

Samantha and Amy are a happy couple on a honeymoon road trip. They can hardly wait to arrive at the Gulf of Mexico and dive into the sea for a refreshing moonlight swim.

Their rosy ideals are crushed when an unexpected detour in South Texas leads them to the GATOR HOUSE: an ancient, decaying farmhouse converted into a bar & restaurant. Strange, backwoods characters work and drink at the establishment. Muddy, sticky, mosquito-infested swampland surround the old house on all sides. Enormous alligators lurk in the dark with red eyes, waiting for the perfect moment to strike . . .

Will Samantha and Amy escape the threatening patrons of GATOR HOUSE? And if so, how will they defend themselves against the hungry alligators who have not tasted human flesh for nearly a month?

Time for the gators to feed.
Time for Amy and Samantha to find out what they are truly made of.

If this sounds like a good time to you, feel free to hit the pre-order link below for the kindle version, or eagerly await the October 1st release of the paperback.

Wishing you a most happy October season,

Tylor James.

PS: The incredibly talented writer/artist, Terry M. West (author of The Devil’s List, What Price Gory, among many other excellent horror books) designed the utterly wild cover art for GATOR HOUSE.

https://www.amazon.com/Gator-House-Tylor-James-ebook/dp/B09F71Q9BR/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&qid=1630936775&refinements=p_27%3ATylor+James&s=books&sr=1-1
Terry M. West’s cover design for GATOR HOUSE.

Uncomfortably Dark: My Interview with Candace Nola

Fellow readers, writers, and Friends of the Macabre,

Consider the following an informal newsletter as to what I’ve been up to, writing/publishing-wise.

The very first review for my new book, MATTERS MOST MACABRE, is now in and it’s overwhelmingly positive. Talented writer/reviewer, Candace Nola, has awarded it a full five stars, as well as interviewed me for her excellent website, Uncomfortably Dark. We talk about writing, creative influences, horror fiction, and more.

Feel free to check out that interview/review here: https://www.uncomfortablydark.com/blank-page-5

Thank you, Candace!

For my fellow readers, if you’d like to purchase my latest book in kindle, or paperback, or hardcover, I would be immensely grateful! Matters Most Macabre can be purchased here: https://www.amazon.com/Matters-Most-Macabre-Tylor-James-ebook/dp/B08Z7LM8TZ

Best,

Tylor James.