2011 was something of a big year for me: I married the love of my life, published my first novel, and attended my first convention. So you might say that 2012 had its work cut out for it. And even if it didn't quite manage to match some of the highs of 2011, it still proved a splendid year all around, characterized by much writing, various travels near and far, and by a host of great, great books.
In 2012, my short fiction appeared in a variety of venues, including Aklonomicon (Aklo Press), Dadaoism (Chomu Press), The First Book of Classical Horror Stories (Megazanthus Press), Phantasmagorium (Gorgon Press), Black Static (TTA Press), A Season in Carcosa (Miskatonic River Press), Fungi (Innsmouth Free Press), and The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror (Robinson). Furthermore my poetry was published for the first time, appearing in both The Poetry Box and Sacrum Regnum I from newcomer Hieroglyphic Press.
Finally, DarkFuse released my novella Unhallowed Ground as an e-book in October, capping off a fairly productive year, writing-wise, which also saw my first author interview, conducted by Jason Rolfe for the (wonderful) Bibliomancy blog. Likewise I was absolutely delighted to speak with Andrew Liptak at Geek Mountain State concerning my background, influences, and the significance of Vermont as a setting in my work.
Speaking of Vermont: this past spring, my wife and I moved across the state from the Champlain Valley to the Connecticut River Valley, just north of Bellows Falls, to take jobs as innkeepers. While this was certainly the biggest life-change of the past year, the two-hour drive south from Burlington was only one among many trips we took this year. During the summer, we visited Maine and Marblehead, MA (the model for Lovecraft's Kingsport), while Thanksgiving Day saw us leave for Italy on our first ever international trip—a trip made possible by the flexibility afforded by our new position.
There were other unanticipated rewards to being an innkeeper, chief among them being a dramatic increase in reading time. Needless to add, I suppose, but I took full advantage of the situation, reading a great many books during the past year, many of which I feel are worthy of mention below.
Probably the biggest "discovery" for me of the past year was the fiction of Connie Willis. After years of hearing good things about To Say Nothing of the Dog, I finally sought out a copy. And though TSNotD was easily the most entertaining novel I'd read in years, it was surpassed in nearly every way by my reading of its predecessor Doomsday Book. Willis occasionally draws criticism for the manic and sometimes circular pacing of her books but in Doomsday Book the frantic pace lends urgency to an otherwise sober exploration of suffering and helplessness. Utterly mesmerizing. My favorite read of the past year.
Similarly I was entranced by Elizabeth Speller's 2006 memoir The Sunlight on the Garden, a compressed and lyrical meditation on family and memory spanning much of the 20th Century. Speller is probably best known as the author of the equally worthy The Return of Captain John Emmett—probably my favorite mystery novel I read this year—but Sunlight is an outright masterpiece of the memoir form, a stunning work that remains far too little known.
Looking only at works released during the past year, it seems likely to me that 2012 will be remembered as a landmark year for the literature of the weird, with the release of Laird Barron's novel The Croning and Richard Gavin's collection At Fear’s Altar as well as debut collections from talented newcomers Orrin Grey, Ian Rogers, and Molly Tanzer—and that's to say nothing of the many superb anthologies released during the last twelve months, including A Season in Carcosa and Fungi, mentioned above.
Other notable reads included Quentin S Crisp's Morbid Tales (opening novella "The Mermaid" alone is worth the price of admission), Simon Kurt Unsworth’s Quiet Houses (a much welcome re-imagining of the portmanteau novel form), Reggie Oliver's Mrs Midnight ("The Brighton Redemption" was easily the most impressive short story I read last year), and Mike O'Driscoll's Eyepennies, a deftly imagined and haunting tribute to the late Mark Linkous. Finally, I'll take a moment to mention Simon Strantzas' third collection Nightingale Songs. Just read this one. Seriously.
So what's coming up, looking ahead to 2013?
At this point, my short fiction is slated to appear in a variety of venues, including Supernatural Tales, Shadows & Tall Trees, Mighty in Sorrow, Shadows Edge, and The Grimscribe's Puppets. What’s more, I've spent the best part of the last four months working on another project, one I hope to be able to talk about soon.
In the meantime, here’s a little something to help ring in the New Year, courtesy of the Dismemberment Plan.
All the best for the year ahead --