Monday, March 13, 2023

Chaudiere Books Interviews Yours Truly

So if you are curious about how I got into writing (an early affliction) and influences and my ties to Ottawa’s CanLit and reading-series community, my pal poet/publisher/editor/writer/event organizer rob mclennan posted a Six Questions Interview: Chaudiere Books with me.

It was a long time coming. Early on in the pandemic, I wasn’t in the right headspace to do the interview, plagued by lack of focus and self-doubt and capricious mood shifts. But things shifted. I moved through many troubled times, including loss. These past three years, I moved from federal-government contract work to editing for Steve Berman of Lethe Press and, eventually, landed a day job I love involving books. I continually revised my second horror novel. Spurred on by interest from Steve, ultimately, I revised my spec-fic short-story collection, Fear Itself, now out from Lethe.

It’s been a long road, but I kept going. I was ready for the interview. I owe a thanks to rob for this piece.
And, I am grateful to Steve, hailing from the thriving metropolis of Greenfield, Massachusetts, for his interest.

Six Questions Interview: Chaudiere Books

Monday, January 30, 2023

Fear Itself Ebook for only 99 cents

Shameless sales pitch:
Fear Itself for only 99 cents! The first 99 people using coupon code CJ75N can get my debut horror, sci-fi and fantasy collection from Lethe Press for a great price.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

My short-story collection Fear itself is out, at last!

Psst! I'm beyond excited to announce that my short-story collection Fear itself is out, at last! You can find it available on amazon and from ordering through indie bookstores and on the Lethe Press website. 

Fear Itself is a special blend of mainly horror, with a soupçon of fantasy and sci-fi. It includes nine stories in all, a ghost novelette, and story notes. Many of the stories are near and dear to me, written over the years, with some, such as the novelette, "A Canadian Ghost in London", first drafted whilst I lived in London, England back in 1998.

I am grateful to the fine work of U.S. publisher Lethe Press, which really is veteran accomplished writer and editor Steve Berman.

I have included some story descriptions on my blog somewhat recently, but this more-than-generous advance review from Publishers Weekly does a great job of describing it.

“The ten unsettling tales of Moran’s debut collection ably live up to the title, featuring monsters that will haunt nightmares. In “Glimpses Through the Trees,” a creature visible only out of the corner of one’s eye chases a couple as they desperately drive away. Terrifying whispers come from a couple’s baby monitor as they adjust to new parenthood in “Monitored.” Technology again serves as a vehicle for fright in “Burned,” in which an entity murders through digital video. Some of the stories are less immediately scary, including “Carl and Monty’s Prairie Wager,” a voicey take on a classic zombie story, and “Living Under the Conditions,” which presents a not quite apocalyptic scenario in which gravity and time fluctuate wildly. The collection ends on a high note, with the moving ghost story “A Canadian Ghost in London,” which explores love, loss, grief, and letting go. Incorporating cosmic horror, Indigenous legend, and B-movie monsters, there’s something here to please any horror fan. Incorporating cosmic horror, Indigenous legend, and B-movie monsters, there’s something here to please any horror fan.”
Publishers Weekly

Can't afford it? Suggest your local library purchase it so you can borrow it.

Want to review it? Let me or my publisher know, depending which side of the Canada/U.S. border you're on. ( ( (Lethe site)

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Happy Hallowe'en

Well ... got so busy, that I didn't post this Hallowe'en post recently. 

Happy Hallowe'en (All Hallows' Eve) and Samhain, all (pronounced "Sow-wen"). Some believe the veil betweenI didn't post this Halllowe the living and the dead is thinning. I'm anxious and in possession of various desires and energies-some practical, some not. Here are some of Ray Bradbury's autumn-empty trees to contemplate from a recent hike.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Halloween reading and viewing recommendations

Having a very busy fall, so I am reposting the following.

For me, inspiration runs to a fever pitch even as the leaves turn, fall, and  the, heady wine-like smell seems to pervade the world. I used to always pen a Halloween story, from grade six or so onward, up through university, and afterward. It is no coincidence that my first novel, Town & Train, was literary horror. So, I am always seeking out Halloween viewing and reading. 

Over the years, on this blog, I have made the strong case for Hallowe'en films and comics and books. You can find links to all of these posts below:  

- From 2015: Scary Halloween readingLisa Morton, Halloween aficionado extraordinaire 
Town & Train: A Good, Spooky Halloween Read
                      It Follows is Astonishing and Creepy: A Film Review

Two more days til' Halloween: My October reading and viewing

Two more days 'til Hallowe'en, Hallowe'en, Hallowe'en ....

It being so close to October 31, I thought I would share my good and interesting October journey.

Let's talk October reads first. 

Just finished Renn Graham and Jeannette Arroyo's Blackwater. Originally a web comic, it is a YA queer romance horror, sort of a mash-up of Stranger Things (though not retro), Heartstopper and Teen Wolf with alternating art styles! Crushing on supporting goth character Marcia, a slightly under-realized young black woman of size. Perhaps another story with more of her, and protags, jock Tony Price and German kid, Eli Hirsch? There's room for all that, and I'd read it.

Also Adam Cesare's Clown In A Cornfield, which marries old-and-new-school slashers, moving at a good clip. As it is YA horror (which I only discovered after reading the novel), Cesare is often borderline satirical in depicting townies, and any grown-ups, who are alternately inept or menacing for the most part. But this view of townies grows more sympathetic as protagonist Quinn widens her view of Small Town, Missouri. She and her dad Dr. Glenn Maybrook have a shared requisite tragic backstory. Their sudden relocation from Philadelphia to Kettle Springs allows for new-school/old-school, big-city/small-town comparisons and juxtapositions, granting Cesare the ability to tell the story like an old-school slasher in a contemporary setting. Jock Cole Hill, her romantic interest, also grapples with grief, but his story of loss is shown instead of told. It is a curious choice, considering that whole Cole character is a means to digging into the town's quandaries and past. Quinn, on the other hand, remains the main character and should have agency or at least a background deserving of equal attention.

In some ways, Clown is a variation on the Scream franchise themes, but with compelling characters, action and small-town spicing, courtesy of Kettle Springs, Missouri. Only recently did I learn it is YA. With its level of gore and dismemberment, though, it is a closer descendant of the Netflix Fear Street trilogy than Stranger Things.

For a good laugh, I am slowly working through Grady Hendrix and Will Erickson's riotously funny Paperbacks From Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction. It remains a mood up-lifter of the most ridiculous sort.

I realized I never saw all of John Carpenter’s 1981 effort, The Fog, and rented it. It remains immersive 1980's horror, with tough-sensitive guy Tom Atkins, Curtis shimmering as free-wheeling hitchhiker Elizabeth Solley. Loved Janet Leigh, saucy 1978 Halloween alumni Nancy Kyes, cool lighthouse deejay Adrienne Barbeau. All that said, some shots, in fact many, and the music remind me of Halloween. In fact, director Carpenter is really cribbing himself for much of the tense scenes, when he isn’t busy showing the beautiful seaside before the fog rolls in in and the fog machine really starts gunning in-town. The '76 Ford LTD Country Squire is also a close cousin to Michael Myers' ride, the '78 Ford LTD Station Wagon in Halloween. Perhaps Carpenter got a deal on these station wagons, or simply owned one?

Also viddied queer director James Whale’s The Invisible Man (1933); The Old Dark House (1932, also a Whale film). The first is mercilessly dark and twisted, and campy and the second, well, the second is the same, sans a Universal Studios monster. In House, Whale also nods, winks and leers at the queer viewer, passing off strikes as balls, or queer jokes as straight clap-trap, and they’re a joy to detect, each and every one of them.

As well, I quite enjoyed Tom Seeley and Michael Moreci's Revealer, pairing a stripper and religious zealot in Chicago during the rapture. This impressive cosmic-horror endeavour works hard, delivering a great story and performances despite Covid shooting limitations.

Watched Dave Grohl's Studio 666, a predictable but loving tribute to horror cinema. Like seeing Kiss in the classic 1979 rock-cheese feature Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Parkone must appreciate the rock band the Foo Fighters hamming up every scene to a rather kick-ass soundtrack and crop of cameos including ... Lionel Ritchie?

Blade from 1988 still remains kinetic. Wesley Snipes kicks fanged-fiend butt, but with some power-level discrepancies and Stephen Dorff remains a fine Jack Nicholsonesque antagonist. Kris Kristofferson as cranky old Whistler is still as endearingly irascible as ever.

George A. Romero's 1968 Night of the Living Dead still wields power over the viewer, as does John Landis’ 1981 An American Werewolf in London, although I still maintain it suffers from a simplistic and fatalistic third act. While Night’s ending is a kick to the stomach, American Werewolf’s remains abrupt and unsympathetic to the point of sarcasm.

The last two are revisits. Still hankering to revisit It Follows, one of my all-time contemporary favourites. My case for It Follows is here in previous blog post.

Also watching Shudder’s Queer For Fear. The documentary series traces the lineage of queer or LGBTQ1+ influence on horror and gothic literature and cinema from its earliest days, from Mary Shelley penning A Modern Prometheus and kickstarting the gothic and horror genre and onward. While it features an uneven third episode, Queer is at its best when focusing on a particular actor, a film or film series (Anthony Perkins in Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock’s portrayal of gay men) or a particular genre trend (the endless list of exploitative lesbian vampire films in the 1970’s) or juxtaposing overtly campy or sexual sound bites into the thesis breakdown.

In between all that, trying to finish a review of a sci-fi collection for U.S. magazine and trying to revise an autumnal story about a traveling roadshow of horror writers who are down on their luck, and turning to dark means in their desperation. 

Friday, October 7, 2022

Description of Fear Itself short-story collection

Lots of people (okay, a few) ask what Fear Itself, my debut Lethe Press collection, coming Dec. 5, is about.

Here's what my ten stories are about.

"Canadian author James K. Moran's debut collection of dark fiction offers fantasy, sci-fi and horror shot through with hope and friendship. Inside, readers will discover sea serpents among the roiling waters of the St. Lawrence River under a dilapidated international bridge; a misguided bi mage negotiating with a demon he accidentally summoned into his dorm; a baby monitor issuing the voice of an intradimensional dark god; a couple in Picton County fleeing an ancient entity they cannot see directly that demands a blood sacrifice; queer ghosts haunting a British nightclub; two salty old ranch hands outside Lethbridge, Alberta, betting on who is a better shot in what may be the apocalypse; a shape-changing huckster seducing apathetic suburbanites; a gay rare-collectibles hunter hunted by a being moving between the Internet, film and fact; a cat-fished giant marauding the backroads of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry counties; a gay wine shop manager discovering more than a dusty Moscato lurking in the musty basement; and a pterodactyl loose downtown."

Now with a new cover!

Cover and interior design by Ryan Vance.

Pre-orderable at