Wednesday, February 22, 2012

2011

So: February 22nd. It's been about a year since my first novel REVENANTS was released by Chomu Press. I’ve been meaning to write up some kind of year in review for 2011 for a while now (and yes, I do realize we’re already well into 2012) and so this one year-ish anniversary seems as good an excuse as any for me to knuckle down and, well, get to it.

2011 was a year a replete with Big Events & Notable Firsts: my first novel, first convention experience, and so on. 2011 was also the year in which I married the love of my life at our favorite place in the world (the Old Meeting House in Rockingham, VT) and subsequently embarked on a “haunted honeymoon” tour of the Rhode Island coast with stopovers in Newport and Block Island and a tour of Lovecraft’s Providence. I won't say much more, but yes, it was amazing.

REVENANTS was released in February to generally positive reviews from critics & readers alike and received a modest second bump in readership in April when it made Booklist’s list of 2011’s Top 10 Historical novels. I wrote the early drafts of the novel in 2007 & 2008 and then spent the better part of two years looking for a publisher without success before Chomu came along.

My own work aside, Chomu Press is releasing some of the most consistently brilliant, innovative, and interesting fiction published in recent years – from the lyricism and poetic intensity of Quentin S Crisp’s “REMEMBER YOU’RE A ONE-BALL!” (there are scenes in that book that will haunt you) to the hip, ultra-stylized nihilism of Justin Isis’ short stories and the wickedly entertaining Gothic tableaux presented by Reggie Oliver’s THE DRACULA PAPERS (by turns terrifying, philosophical, and hilarious), Chomu has developed an eclectic publishing aesthetic defined by beautiful design, uninhibited experimentalism, and a uniform standard of literary excellence. Watch for their first anthology DADAOISM to land later this year.

In addition to those books mentioned above (all of which come highly recommended), I read a number of excellent short stories, novellas, and novels during the last year. I even got round to starting a Goodreads account where I do my best to track these things (http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3256820.Daniel_Mills), but off the top of my head, I remember being tremendously impressed by (or simply enjoying the heck out of) the following

Novels:
THUS WAS ADONIS MURDERED by Sarah Caudwell (1983)
THE DIVINITY STUDENT by Michael Cisco (1999)
THE MAGICIANS by Lev Grossman (2009)
THE NAME OF THE WIND by Patrick Rothfuss (2007)
THE FULLER MEMORANDUM by Charles Stross (2010)

Novellas & Short Stories:
“Old Virginia” by Laird Barron (The Imago Sequence & Other Stories, 2007)
“Suicide Watch” by Quentin S Crisp (All God’s Angels Beware!, 2009)
“A Ghost Story for Christmas” by Sam Dawson (Supernatural Tales, 2011)
“A Pallid Devil Bearing Cypress” by Richard Gavin (Delicate Toxins, 2011)
“The Mysterious Flame” by Orrin Grey (Dead Letter Press, 2009)
“The Solipsist” by Philbampus (Strange Tales III, 2009)
“Black Eyed Kids” by Ian Rogers (Burning Effigy, 2011)
“The Infernal History of the Ivybridge Twins” by Molly Tanzer (Historical Lovecraft, 2011)

I'll also mention “The Wrong Tracks” by Charles Palliser (Betrayals, 1994) and “Where Their Fire is Not Quenched” by May Sinclair (1922), two stories in the mystery and weird/horror genres, respectively, that I reread at least once a year and which never fail to move, challenge, and inspire me.

What else? Movies. After spending much of 2010 catching up on J-horror cinema, I realize I actually watched very few films (horror or otherwise) in 2011. Of these I was most impressed by Takashi Miike’s 13 ASSASSINS, which with its opening parade of horrors (“Total Massacre”), subtle supernatural touches, and exhausting climactic battle scene easily established itself (at least to my mind) as the finest among Miike’s films. Other movies I enjoyed: BLACK DEATH, WINTER'S BONE, A SERIOUS MAN, and others I'm sure I'm forgetting.

And then there was my first con. In July, I attended Readercon in Burlington, MA. I went in with no idea of what to expect but was fortunate enough to meet up with Messrs. Simon Strantzas and Ian Rogers, who kindly showed me the ropes, proving themselves to be not only fantastic writers but friends and gentlemen of the first water. There were more highlights than I can list here, but suffice it to say that it was a con characterized by many great conversations and a general sense of camaraderie. The dealer room, too, proved to be something like my dream bookshop, and I derived a certain nerdy thrill from pawing through 1940s Arkham House editions of HPL's work as well as a first edition / first printing of Chambers' THE KING IN YELLOW.

More importantly, though, the Readercon experience showed me that I was in fact a part of a larger community of like-minded writers rather than just some dude who lives in Vermont and likes ghost stories. With work on a new novel underway – and a number of short stories in the pipeline – I'm terrifically excited for the coming year. How to describe it...? Well, for the first time, I have the confidence to call myself a writer without feeling like this guy:



Somehow, that really says it all.