Anyone involved in indie press will tell you: Reviews and word of mouth are crucial to achieve even a modicum of success as an author or publisher. So, it always brightens our day to get a notable review. Christine Morgan, author of Murder Girls and Spermjackers from Hell, writes reviews for the long-running web zine THE HORROR FICTION REVIEW. She had this to say about Pint Bottle Press’ latest single-author collection, Teeth Marks by Matthew Weber
“Each of the twelve offerings in this collection is just knock-down drag-out crazydamn good. I was reminded in all the best ways of Bentley Little’s short stories, that relatable modern Americana feel, the kinds of things that could happen in anybody’s town … or neighborhood … or very own home.
This was another where trying to narrow it down to my favorites was a real challenge, because there are no duds in the bunch. But I’ll try…”
You know what I loved about Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon? Pretty much everything. I have only one complaint: That I will never achieve this measure of glory as a writer. In my view—and it may have a little something to do with me growing up in rural Alabama as an imaginative kid who loved monsters and wanted to be a writer, just like our main character Cory Mackenson – McCammon has created a perfect thing. This is a wonderful novel that truly earns that adjective, because it captures the genuine wonder of a young creative mind that’s pitted against the ugly realities of the adult world, resulting in an exciting, enthralling and emotionally bittersweet story that feels truly timeless in its themes. The book is a coming-of-age mystery/adventure with standout characters both hilarious and horrifying, with a richly detailed plot all set in a magical small town that is shrinking away with the changing times.
Throughout the overarching storyline of a mysterious murder witnessed by Cory and his father, McCammon tells his tale through a number of vignettes that read like standalone stories, each brimming with fascinating figures, thorny themes, and fantastical celebrations of what it feels like to be young and imaginative, before the rotten ol’ world beats the imagination out of so many of us. Through Cory’s adventures with various monsters (I won’t give away plot points), evil men, vengeful ghosts, youthful crushes, close friends and bitter enemies, McCammon has achieved the monumental task of time travel, taking me back to my youth for a nostalgic roller-coaster ride of fun, fright, heartache and victory.
If I’m not mistaken, Mr. McCammon still lives somewhere around Central Alabama. So do I. I met him once at a local book signing. Nice guy. We don’t hang out. I wish we did, because I know there’s a lot I could learn from him. So, until he and I become close friends, I’ll happily stick to my role as Big Fan. I’ve read a number of McCammon’s books, but none have connected with me with near the impact of Boy’s Life. In fact, very few books ever have, leading me to proclaim this publicly, here and now, as my favorite novel of all time.
Thanks for your work, Mr. McCammon. One day I’ll read this to my young, imaginative son, who is currently growing up in a small (magical) town in Alabama.
Some books lack creativity, and then there’s Mayan Blue, which is the wildly imaginative and gore-soaked debut horror novel from the “Sisters of Slaughter” Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason.
After sharing a couple of TOCs with the Sisters, I was lucky enough to rope them into contributing stories to the first Double Barrel Horror anthology before Mayan Blue received an official nomination for last year’s Bram Stoker Award in the First Novel category. The story begins with a few college kids on a research trip that soon becomes a sprawling, epic journey through magical realms and alternate worlds. The plot is fairly complicated, but suffice it to say this book is highly recommended if you’re into things like skin-wearing owl demons, walking corpses, skeleton armies, tribal spider monkeys, giant centipedes, zombie bats, forgotten gods, Mayan mysticism and fiend-filled visions of hell … you know, all the fun stuff!
A few months ago, I reviewed this title on Amazon, but then Amazon removed my review, presumably because I’m listed as one of the authors’ publishers and was viewed as somehow biased (even though Mayan Blue was released by Sinister Grin Press, so I don’t see the issue). Anyway, since I have my own platform here, I figured I’d give the ladies what little exposure I could offer.
“Sometimes a book comes along that really hits the mark.”
— Kirsten Kowalewski, The Monster Librarian
Last year, we released Pint Bottle Press’ only children’s book to date, I Want to Be a Monster When I Grow Up. This is a full-color story told in rhyme, aimed at kids in the 4-8 age range. I wrote this for, and about, and along with my oldest son, Hudson, who is now 6 years old. He sat alongside me as I worked on the illustrations, adding his two cents about the creature designs. I’m not much of an artist, but I can scratch out some simple cartoons. I then colorized the drawings in Photoshop. It’s not fine art, but the book is chock full of colorful, crazy monsters, and the story is funny and positive, so it’s been fairly well received by kids and their parents, too.
Through a recent web search, I stumbled upon a very nice review of the book that I somehow missed when it first posted a few months back. Kirsten Kowalewski at The Monster Librarian writes, “For any monster-loving mom who is raising a Monster Kid, or any Monster Kid with a monster-loving mom, regardless of age, you couldn’t choose a better book.” Check out the entire review HERE.
Back in 2014, we produced a short video book trailer for the story collection, A DARK & WINDING ROAD. It was fun to make, but after exerting the effort (if not much budget) to produce the video, the viewership numbers were not exactly impressive. Our little marketing experiment suggested that video trailers for Pint Bottle Press require too much effort for too little reward. We haven’t made any trailers since (although we did make one other fun video that I’ll include in a future post).
Anyway, the DARK & WINDING ROAD trailer is kinda neat, and it’s Halloween-themed, so around this time each year I drag it out for some fresh views. It only lasts 1 minute and 7 seconds, so check it out HERE.
The song “Gloomy Sunday” (nicknamed the “suicide song”) was composed by pianist and composer, Rezso Seress in 1933. According to legend, if you listen to it, you will soon after commit suicide. This legend gained attention when it began to be connected with a rash of suicides in Hungary. Supposedly, the composer himself, his wife, and hundreds of other people committed suicide soon after listening to this song. This ultimately led to its banning in 1936.
An English version of the song was recorded by Billie Holiday, and banned by the BBC for “being detrimental to wartime morale.”
That headline is a quote from writer and book reviewer Renier Palland of BloodyGoodHorrorBooks.com.
Palland writes, “Teeth Marks is an important literary anthology. In fact, I’d rate Teeth Marks as one of the best anthologies I’ve read this year and I read a lot (765 books since January the 1st and counting)… I can unequivocally say that yes, Teeth Marks belongs on the top ten list of best horror literature of 2017. It’s a ghastly fun ride.”
Don’t take my word for it.
Read the entire review of my latest horror fiction collection HERE!
I can’t rightly continue this post without acknowledging that some piece of human excrement shot a bunch of innocent civilians last night in Las Vegas. It is undeniably a horrible human tragedy committed by a man with black soul who will burn in eternal hellfire, if there’s any justice in the universe. We may not yet know his motive, but there’s no denying that this man was bent on destruction.
I don’t suppose there’s much that normal, rational people can do in response to the bloodshed, but I take comfort in the fact that most of us (the better of us) are more concerned with creation than destruction. Whether you make music, movies, food, clothes, quilts, paintings, woodcarvings, chainsaw sculptures, fine furniture or souped-up hot rods, I don’t care, but I’m glad you do, because the progression of human development rides on the dreams of the creators, not the destroyers. And I don’t intend to give the destroyers any sort of platform or recognition here at the Pint Bottle Press blog — those assholes don’t deserve it. So, I’m going to stop talking about the BAD and focus on the GOOD, because I will not let the evil in this world bring me down when I don’t have to.
Now, for the good stuff… I get to celebrate something I created — the release of my first audiobook! Produced by THE WICKED LIBRARY podcast, my short story “Louise, Your Shed’s on Fire” is now available for free streaming and download! From my third story collection TEETH MARKS, “Louise” is a darkly comic homage to alien invasion stories in which Meg Thatcher witnesses a mysterious object fall from the sky and crash into her neighbor’s shed… Then things get weird.
The production team did a spectacular job with their performance, and I couldn’t be happier with how things turned out. Please give it a listen, and if you dig it, consider buying the book it’s found in, available now for Kindle and very soon in paperback.
One of the Double Barrel Horror contributors, John Boden, released a coming-of-age novella last year that I don’t think you’ll want to miss. In fact, JEDI Summer with The Magnetic Kid is the book that convinced me to recruit him to write for our project.
Here’s the synopsis:
1983: A boy and his little brother wander through a loosely stitched summer. A summer full of sun and surrealism, Lessons of loss and love. Of growing up and figuring it out. Nestled in the mountains of Pennsylvania is a small town, it’s not like the others. Things are strange there — people die but hang around, pets too. Everyone knows your name and sometimes, a thing as simple as a movie coming to the local theatre, is all it takes to keep you going.
I’m the perfect target audience for this book: I’m a 41-year old horror fan who grew up the rural South. I spent a number of years living in a trailer and a lot of long, hot summers biking back and forth to the video store. This is a coming-of-age story set in the ‘80s that felt awfully familiar in a very genuine way. Boden is a talented storyteller who not only paints a moving portrait of the love/hate/headlock-and-noogie relationship of two young brothers, but he also delivers some great lines that you’ll try to memorize so you can use them later. I fell in lockstep with all the music/movie references of the era, and how these restless kids wrestle with small-town boredom. The story is set against the eerie peripheral backdrop of a strange little town, chock full of creepy lore, bizarre characters and unexplainable phenomena that really add an air of otherworldly mystique to the proceedings. Highly recommended.