Thursday, December 22, 2016

2016 The Year of Coming Out

2016, for all its faults, is looking like the Year of Coming Out, at least from where I see things. 

I say this because more friends than ever came out of the closet to me this year. 

One woman came out as bisexual. An affable and beautiful artist, she bravely came out to her parents as well. My partner, Anita Dolman and I, supported her wholeheartedly.

A close friend, but still a very valued one, came out at as bi as well to my partner and I. She has been divorced from a man for several years and we didn't know she was bi because she wasn't very vocal about her sexuality. To paraphrase Woody Allen, being bi does double your chances of meeting someone (He actually said "Bisexuality immediately doubles your chances for a date on Saturday night."). Joking aside, we feel that we have found another ally somehow.

A co-worker of mine, with his gelled-up hair dyed a different colour - or mix of colours - on a monthly basis, also came out to me as pansexual. I came out to him as being bi. Then I went home and asked my wife what pansexual was.

"It's what the younger generation is calling bi, only they don't make distinctions about who they love, whether another person is a man or woman, trans or queer."

"I'm already that, but we don't call it that."

"It's because we're old," she replied with more than a dollop of irony.

"If that's the case, then this means that in my twenties, I was pansexual before pansexual was pan!" I answered with a modicum of satisfaction. "I was sleeping with everybody, from drag queens to men to women."

"Yes, you did have a fondness for drag queens," she replied.

"Still do."

It should be noted that the adjective pansexual is defined as "not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity."  

As well, a transexual friend is realzing who they are. They have been out to one parent since they were a teenager and out to their longtime partner for decades. Still, they have discovered that, like declaring one's queer identity, you sometimes have to come out of the closet again and again. And often the closet is mistaken for just wanting your privace. As my friend puts it, there are "all sorts of closets of all sorts of shapes and sizes." 

I'm there for them in any way I can be because they have been there for me.

They are, as of yet, still staying quietly closeted, unsure of what friends will expect if they do come out. As well,this friend is still working through coming out to their parents. They're also working out how they want to express themselves as trans.

So that's why I'm calling 2016 the Year of Coming Out.

In fall 2014, a close friend of mine came out and told myself and my partner that he had been secretly seeing a man for about a year. Things were looking not so much serious as permanent, so he wanted to come out to everyone around him, one at a time. I admired his courage and his deliberatenss in doing so. He came out to me at Irene's Pub, a local drinking hole with cozy booths. I found out that he came out to my best friend in the same environs.

I had worried that he was lonely. So, after years of my worrying that he wasn't seeing anyone or doing any dating at all, it turned out that he had met someone online and that someone had turned into his boyfriend. At the same time, my friend had also been dating a woman - the rogue! - and made a decision about whether he would date the woman or the man. 

This news, and this secret, overjoyed me. It meant to me that he had a chance at happiness, and has taken it, instead of being the romantic recluse that I had though he was this past decade.

A few months back, I sat across from the aforementioned best friend at the pub, drinking and pontificating about how many people we know - or at least that my partner and I know - who came out of the closet this year. 

Ten years ago, my partner and I thought that everyone was queer until proven otherwise. Since then, our friends close and distant have slowly  but steadily revealed who they truly are or have realized who they are, at least partially. 

My pal, with whom I have been through nearly three decades of everything, sitting there with his pint of stout, mistook my comments for a prompt for him to come out. He looked up at the T.V. bolted to the wall of the bar. Two men were doing a competition whereby they took an axe to a tree and compete to see who could fell the trunk first. This event was followed by an archery competition.

"I'm as straight as that," my friend said, pointing at the archer letting loose an arrow at a target.

"Really?" I replied. "As straight as an arrow?" I rolled my eyes. "You couldn't have said it another way? Or some such statement.

Nevertheless, the realization that so many people I know are coming to grips with their own self-realization gives me great hope in a year that has been bereft of hope at times. 

I refer to the passing of artistic talent at the genius level. The passing of David Bowie. The passing of Prince, And, of course, the passing of Montreal's man, poet and singer Leonard Cohen. The prognosis of Tragically Hip leadsinger Gord Downie has also added to the terribleness of 2016.

This has been a rough year, ending on a particularly dark political note. 

But I digress. 

But hope is a rare and good and beautiful thing. It's a gift. And with each friend who told me who they are this year, I felt that much better about humanity. I'm not that kid in his twenties trying to figure it out, and feelng alone. Now I'm here for them. I also feel like I have bet on the right horses* and am lucky to have these friends still.

*= Blogger's Note: Please note that this expression was borrowed from Anita Dolman.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Year's Best Begins - Best Comeback goes to H. P. Lovecraft, Alan Moore's Providence

As 2016 hurtles to a close, I am starting my year's Best-Of-List. This will be piecemeal. This list will be sporadic, in both postings and lengths of posts. But, dammit, this list will be worthwhile and full of hypnotizing rabbit holes that one can explore. And I'm starting with H.P. Lovecraft.

Best Comeback for a Writer of Questionable World View:
H. P. Lovecraft

The amount of proliferating tributes to and controversy surrounding Howard Phillips Lovecraft is seemingly infinite. 

There are Lovecraft E-zine podcasts, for starters. Films about the author include the 2016 animated children's film, Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom and various documentaries. Comic books  from 2016 about the penner of cosmic horror fiction include Alan Moore’s reexamination, Providence and John Reilly's and Tom Rogers' upstart, Herald: Lovecraft and Tesla:History in the Making, not to mention the Cthulhu-themed issue of Afterlife with Archie (I kid you not).  Scooby Doo’s Mystery Incorporated, which ran from 2010-2013 and was yet another episodic iteration of the Mystery Gang, includes mythos references. One episode features a monster who is clearly identifiable as Cthulhu. Heated debates about Lovecraft's xenophobia and racism are regular occurrences at writers' conferences and awards juries. Enthusiasts, academics and aficionados attempt to reconcile the problematic author with his hugely influential opus. As well, plentiful other pop culture references abound across the board. 

However, if there was any doubt about the controversy and importance surrounding the author, in 2015, the World Fantasy Convention decided to stop using a bust of the author as its awards trophy, amid debate about Lovecraft's beliefs. 

All of these factors point to an obvious fact.

H.P. Lovecraft is back, and everywhere, and more in vogue than ever. Granted, the resurgence of interest in Lovecraft has been building for well near a decade now, and has had high and lows. This year, though, interest is clearly higher than ever. I detected the first rumblings while I was working in comic-book retail around 1999. At least, I first started noticing plush Cthulhu dolls appearing on retailers' shelves then.

Speculative fiction tributes to Lovecraft are so prevalent that Mike Davies of Lovecraft E-zine podcast runs an independent press of the same name that publishes weird fiction and cosmic horror. Publisher and editor Davies keeps up with the deluge of Lovecraft-related works on-air and in print. And thank gods, he does. Otherwise, I don't know how one would keep up with Lovecraftian works.

That said, I found two particularly notable speculative fiction works in 2016, Alan Moore’s and Jacen Burrows' Providence comic-book series and Victor LaValle’s novella The Ballad of Black Tom. Two documentaries, while not from 2016 but still relevant, are Frank H. Woodward's illuminating Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown and Shawn R. Owens'  The Eldritch Influence: The Life, Vision, and Phenomenon of H.P. Lovecraft. First up is Alan Moore's mind-bendingly good 12-issue series Providence (Avatar Press).
Cover of issue five. Art by Jacen Burrows.

I hit Alan Moore’s Providence pretty hard. Each issue features two-thirds comic book and one-third prose. In a lesser writer's hands, the prose wouldn't soar. But with Mr. Moore, he demonstrates the subtle differences between graphic novels and the written word, fortifying the journal entries of a Commonplace Book with the protagonist's observations and emotional state that may not have been readily apparent in the comic-book panels. Between Jacen Burrows' intricately (and beautifully) detailed artwork and Moore’s thoroughly and lovingly performed research and the infusion of a queer hero into the mythos, I was wooed. I'm on the home stretch of Avatar Press' 12-issue series - issue 10 - and still quite in love with it.

The last literary contribution in for 2016 appears to be Victor LaValle’s much-praised novella The Ballad of Black Tom from Tor. It's a response to Lovecraft's most overtly racist story "The Horror at Red Hook" and features a black protagonist hustling in Harlem in 1924. Ballad is at the top of my reading list for 2017.

(Editor's note of April 17, 2018: Read it in early 2017 and was swept away.  The Ballad of Black Tom is an admirable piece of work. It's weird fiction steeped in literary conceits, and a tribute yet a rejoinder to H.P. Lovecraft that is still, at times, minimalist.)

Director Shawn R. Owens' 2003 documentary, The Eldritch Influence: The Life, Vision, and Phenomenon of H.P. Lovecraft, while featuring amateurish camera work and bridging segments with actors portraying Lovecraft's characters in awkward-at-best portrayals, did cement this renewal of interest. The film also included articulate bits from Brian Lumley and Neil Gaiman, among others. But the piece felt part biography, part fanboy highlights, and part loose ride through the author's works with no real linear or logical course.

Frank H. Woodward's 2008 doc, Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown, while clearly borrowing the motif of portentous quotations from the author and discomfiting music, was superior. Fear offered insights in a slicker, prettier package, a clearer, lucid arc covering Lovecraft's life and influences, with glorious and frequent artwork, a more coherent focus, and an examination of Lovecraft's less-than-admirable qualities that is now all the rage. Illuminating interview subjects included the likes of the descendent master of weird fiction, Caitlin R. Kiernan,  as well as Peter Straub, Ramsey Campbell (again), and directors John Carpenter and Guillermo del Toro, Neil Gaiman (again) and director Stuart Goron (again).

Monday, November 21, 2016

Town & Train: A Manly Book!

Had some hot sales at the recent Hintonburg Community Craft Sale. Sold some copies of Town & Train. Me fair wife sold some of her books too and our son stole the show selling out all of his handmade rainbow loom jewelry. I also donated a copy of Train to the silent auction. There was some debate among the organizers about the interesting-looking book, so they upgraded it and included the novel in a men's basket, which also included locally made men's health products and craft beer. So Town & Train is officially a men's gift that can accompany other manly things. So one can safely say—scrub up and moisturize yourself afterward, grab a craft brewsky and crack open yer copy of Town & Train. And feel very manly about it.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Naked Heart Festival: An LGBTQ Festival of Words

Friday, Nov 11 thru Saturday, Nov 13, 2016
Toronto, Various Venues

I'm proud to be part of Glad Day Bookshop's and Glad Day Lit's second annual NAKED HEART – An LGBTQ Festival of Words. 

Over 90 authors have confirmed for the stellar lineup, which includes Felice Picano
Hasan Namir, Farzana Doctor, Jeffrey Round, Liz Bugg, Francisco Ibanez-Carrasco and Rae Spoon. 

This festival in the Church and Wellesley neighbourhood of Toronto includes workshops, panels, performances & discussions for writers and lovers of words. 

The venues are Glad Day Bookshop (499 Church Street), Buddies In Bad Time Theatre (12 Alexander Street), the Xtra Lounge (2 Carlton) and The 519 (519 Church Street). All spaces are wheelchair accessible and ASL will be provided all day Saturday and Sunday in one venue.

Launched in 2015, Naked Heart is already the largest and most diverse LGBTQ literary festival in the world with over 2,000 attendees. In 2015, the festival had over 120 writers present at 47 events.

Speculative Brunch at Naked Heart Festival this Sat

Speculative Brunch reading at 
Naked Heart Festival: An LGBTQ Festival of Words
Wanna' hear some fine speculative fiction? I tell ya, we've got horror, fantasy, sci-fi and romance. I'll be reading from my new novel Monster Mansion (working title) at the Speculative Brunch on Sat, Nov12 at this year's Naked Heart Festival. We'll be at Glad Day Books' new digs at 499 Church St. Where are you gonna be? However, don't come just to hear me. I'm the company of Steven Bereznai, 'Nathan Burgoine, J. m. Frey, Michael Lyons, Stephen Graham King (the other Stephen King, as I call him) and the gracious David Demchuk.  
All author photos courtesy of the authors' websites.

The link to this fine Speculative Brunch is here. And if you're wondering about what to eat, I'd venture a guess that this rag-tag crew is so adorable you could just eat them up.

The full schedule is here.
As the little girl almost said in the film Poltergeist, "We're back!"
From left to right: J. M. Frey, Yours Truly, Michael "Mikey" Lyons snapping
the group selfie,'Nathan Burgoine and Stephen Graham King.
Photo from the 2015 Naked Heart courtesy of Mikey.

And check out these bios of these fine authors.

J. M. Frey
J. M. Frey’s debut novel Triptych  was nominated for two Lambda Literary Awards, won the San Francisco Book Festival award for SF/F, was nominated for a 2011 CBC Bookie,  was named one of The Advocate’s Best Overlooked Books of 2011 , and garnered both a starred review and a place among the Best Books of 2011 from Publishers Weekly. Her sophomore novel, an epic-length feminist meta-fantasy titled The Untold Tale, (book one of the Accidental Turn Series), debuted December 2015. The Skylark’s Song, book one of The Skylark’s Saga, a steampunk action novel about a girl vigilante and her mysterious rocketpack, soars into book stores in 2017.

Yours Truly: James K. Moran
James K. Moran’s fiction and poetry have appeared in various Canadian, American and British publications, including Bywords, Glitterwolf: Halloween, Empty Mirror Magazine, Icarus, On Spec, Postscripts to Darkness 3, and The Rolling Darkness Revue. A longtime contributor to Daily Xtra, Moran’s articles and reviews have also appeared in a wide variety of media, including Arc Poetry Magazine, Daily Xtra, Matrix Magazine, the Ottawa Citizen and Rue Morgue. He lives and dreams in Ottawa, Canada, blogging at His debut horror novel, Town & Train, is available from Lethe Press.

Michael Lyons
Michael Lyons is a queer-identified, chaotic neutral writer, activist, misanthrope, sapiosexual, and feline enthusiast. He is a columnist, blogger and regular contributor with Xtra and has contributed to Plenitude Magazine, KAPSULA Magazine, Crew Magazine, Memory Insufficient e-zine, The Ryersonian, Buddies Theatre blog, Toronto Is Awesome blog and Fab Magazine and more.

'Nathan Burgoine
'Nathan Burgoine grew up a reader and studied literature in university while making a living as a bookseller. His first published short story was "Heart" in the collection Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction. Since then, he has had over two dozen short stories published, and his first novel Light is now available in e-book and print from Bold Strokes Books. A cat lover, 'Nathan managed to fall in love and marry Daniel, who is a confirmed dog person. Their ongoing "cat or dog?" détente ended with the adoption of Coach, a six year-old husky. They live in Ottawa, Canada, where socialized health care and gay marriage have yet to cause the sky to cave in.
Stephen Graham King
Born on the prairies, Stephen Graham King has since traded the big sky for the big city and now lives in Toronto. His first book, Just Breathe, tells the blunt, funny, and uncompromising story of his three-year battle with metastatic synovial sarcoma. Since then, his short fiction has appeared in the anthologies North of Infinity II (“Pas de Deux”), Desolate Places (“Nor Winter’s Cold”) and Ruins Metropolis (“Burning Stone”). His first novel, Chasing Cold, was released in 2012. He is also an artist, working primarily in acrylics, but also dabbling in photography. He also loves to cook, so if you ask very, very nicely, he might make you dinner. More about his writing and art, as well as some of his favorite recipes, can be found on his website.

Steven Bereznai 
Steven Bereznai's newest book is I Want Superpowers, a dystopian YA novel, available for pre-order on Amazon (Kindle) and other online stores. Print orders available later in November, 2016. Bereznai's first book, Gay and Single...Forever, was released in 2006, followed by his novels Queeroes and Queeroes 2. His writing is also featured in the anthologies Second Person Queer, I Like It Like That, Singleism, The Lavender Menace, and Best Gay Romance 2010. Bereznai is a former editor-in-chief of fab magazine and FAB STYLE QUARTERLY. His articles have appeared in PAX, Passport, Instinct, The Toronto Star, VIA Destinations, Now, Xtra!, Icon, and of course, fab. Bereznai, a recreational water polo player and fan of science fiction, also loves travel writing and watches way too much T.V.

David Demchuk
A playwright, independent filmmaker, screenwriter, essayist, critic and journalist, and radio dramatist, David Demchuk has been writing for theatre, film, television, radio and other media for more than 30 years. In 2011, named him one of the top 25 most influential LGBT people on twitter worldwide.His debut horror novel, The Bone Mother, will be published by ChiZine Publications in Spring 2017. A staged version titled The Thimble Factory was presented at Videofag in Toronto in October 2015. Known primarily for his work in Canadian theatre, David’s plays have been produced in Toronto, New York, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Vancouver, Chicago, San Francisco, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and in London, England. His publications include the short-fiction cycle Seven Dreams and the collected Alice in Cyberspace episodes in book form, appearances in anthologies Making Out! (Touch), Outspoken (Rosalie Sings Alone) and Canadian Brash (If Betty Should Rise and Rosalie Sings Alone). His reviews, essays, interviews and columns in such magazines as Toronto Life, The Body Politic, Xtra!, What! Magazine,Cinema Canada and Prairie Fire, as well as the Toronto Star. Most recently, he has been a contributing writer at Torontoist. Demchuk was born and raised in Winnipeg and now lives in Toronto.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Had a Great OIW Panel with Robin Riopelle on Building Tension

Promo shot for our Building Tension panel. I like how
Robin and myself have our backs to each other.
To build tension.
Thanky you, Con Cú  and Benoit Chartier, for arranging the thoroughly enjoyable panel that Robin Riopelle  and I sat on for Ottawa Independent Writers last Thursday, Oct27. Despite the snowy and rainy weather, a fierce turnout of at least 40 attendees showed up at the Good Companions Seniors' Centre to hear Robin and I talk about building tension and suspense in our books. She read from her fabulous supernatural suspense novel Deadroads (that I kept gushing about) and I read from Town & Train. The room was great, and brought up great questions. Robin is always so gracious. All in all, we had a fantastic evening. And, because I don't have pics from the event, I will have to share this great promo shot again of Robin and myself and the railroad tracks. Trains and railroad tracks are the common elements in our first novels.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Horror Writers Association issues statement about keeping Halloween

So this what happens when you dislike Hallowe'en being called Character Day and Dance by your kid's public school. If you're a horror writer, and you're lucky, the worldwide Horror Writers Association (HWA) issues an official umbrella statement regarding their stance on keeping Hallowe'en Hallowe'en. My many thanks to HWA president Lisa Morton and the board in their speedy, timely assistance in my cause that I couldn't carry as much as I wanted to. This year.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Tree Seeds Workshop A Rewarding Success

Plaid aplenty!Yours truly with workshop coordinator,
the gracious and charming Chris Johnson.
Thank you, workshop coordinator Chris Johnson and co-directors Colin Morton and Pearl Pirie for lettin' me do a Tree Reading Series Seeds Workshop on Oct 25 about Speculative Fiction and Place at Gallery 101. On the gloomy October evening, my workshop folks brightened my spirits, asking such thoughtful questions that I learned a few things. The reading afterward by D.S. Stymeist and Richard Harrison played to a good house of about 50 people. Harrison's selections, about father-son relationships in early life and end of life, nearly moved me to tears several times.  Photos courtesy of Archibald Lampman winner, Pearl Pirie.
The author menacing workshop attendeees,

Monday, October 3, 2016

Best Halloween Movie Picks

I always think up great Hallowe'en viewing recommendations. Unfortunately, I never post these recommendations until about the last week of October. So, this year, I have come up with a list a few weeks early. I may add or alter or edit this list in the coming weeks. However, I stand by this list.

So, ya like scary flicks? Do you like them with a Hallowe'en bent? An autumnal setting, with the leaf-stripped trees and dusk-light of October? Well, then look no further. Here are my picks of movies, some scary goodies and spooky laughs, that I’ve watched a few times, and plan to again. Any great piece of cinema is worth re-watching. These are my re-watchable gems.

Scary Goodies

It Follows
It’s no secret that I liked this flick quite a lot, as I reviewed it here on Oct. 25, 2015. In a sense, It Follows is John Carpenter's Halloween 38 years later. There's a new monster. The setting is a dilapidated suburb outside of Detroit that could very well be the same 'burb from HalloweenThis timeless setting could be in the 1970’s, 1980’s or 1990’s. Here, a sexually-transmitted monster stalks its young victims. Having sex with a new person is the only way to rid yourself of the monster so that it kills someone else. The film is a heady mix of symbolism and discomfiting sexual metaphors. The heroine possesses an intimate connection to nature. The cast of unknowns delivers elevating performances in a film that doesn't have clear rules of engagement with the supernatural.
The Monster Squad
Mock all you want, but this little 1987 B-movie pits young teens against monsters in Small Town, America. Sound a little like Stranger Things? Certainly, it's shorter and less subtle and not intentionally nostalgia-drenched, but there are parallels between Monster Squad and Stranger Things. However, the monsters are of the classic Universal Studios variety or Universal Monsters as they used to call 'em. Dracula is getting the band back together, including the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Mummy, The Wolfman and Frankenstein’s monster. There are consequences. People get hurt. There’s even a bit of a Ray Bradbury feel with characters befriending the monster.  Stephen King references lurk, even on a main character's cheap T-shirt. To top it all off, each character gets their own development. So what if the film clutches the tradition of the 1980's montage a little too close to its heart? And so what if everyone talks in a rapport reminiscent of many other films of the era? The picture is great fun and still good, years later. Monster Squad even warranted a twentieth anniversary edition that is a rare find for any horror film collector.

This was the coolest poster ever, back in
'87. It's aged fairly well, all things
The Lost Boys
Speaking of 1980’s fare, The Lost Boys hit all the right notes in the summer of 1987, despite Joel Schumacher’s attempt to make a piece of simple summer popcorn entertainment. The acting, the music, the mise-en-scene, all added up to more than the sum of its parts. Thanks to Schumacher, vampires were cool and sexy again. Teenagers having breathless first dates could get their fix of new Gothic cinema. The cast also did a great job. Canadian actor Kiefer Sutherland is charismatic and beguiling as the leader of the pack of teenaged vampires. Jason Patric is engrossing as the brooding Jim Morrison avator in a film laden with Doors references. Jami Gertz is lovely and a young adolescent’s sacred Madonna. The Coreys, Corey Haim and Feldman, perform their teen antics well. Now when I re-watch this flick I relate more to Dianne Wiest, the mother of the two Coreys and Jason, than I do the teens because, well, I’m more of a parent now than a teen. And the soundtrack, anthem rock, raised to a religious height in spots, simply soars. Check out the boys again. You won’t be sorry.

Trick 'r Treat
A newer film, surely, this is an American-Canadian anthology horror anthology film (think Tales from the Crypt) tying together interlocking stories on Halloween night. The movie is downright shameless in its drenching of every scene in iconic Halloween atmosphere and accoutrements. Director/writer Michael Dougherty took his animated short of the same name and stretched its legs to make Trick 'r Treat, which he shot in Vancouver. The cast is generally less known. Brian Cox, as a reclusive, is adept. Anna Paquin, in her pre-True Blood days, is a fine babe in the woods. Dylan Baker is a simmering pot of murderous intent. The studio thought this movie would bust at the box office, so after a limited screening at film festivals in late 2007 and in 2008 as well as a delayed promise for a wider theatrical releaseTrick 'r Treat went direct-to-DVD in October 2009. And thank gods for that. Werewolves, serial killers, ghosts and a demonic pumpkin-headed killer deliver tricks in this treat that we can all enjoy now.

Near Dark
Director Kathryn Bigelow's Near Dark (Bigelow of The Hurt Locker and Blue Steel fame) came out in October 1987, only two months after The Lost Boys. But hers was no romp but grit, a noir revisioning of the whole vampire genre. Featuring a cast of mainly unknowns, save for a young Bill Paxton as Severin and Lance Henriksen as Jesse Hooker, Near Dark follows a wandering brood of vampires who wreak havoc wherever they go. Caleb Colton (Adrian Pasdar), a young cowboy, meets the attractive Mae (Jenny Wright) at a bar. The only catch is that she is one of the undead. This fact adds a tragic, day-and-night fatalist twist to their doomed love affair. What also sets this influential and creepy tale apart from any such horror films of the era is that the vampires have no fangs. That, and the fact that Bigelow's modern masterpiece is set somewhere in the MidWest. This is a vampire western, kiddies, and only a director as talented as Bigelow could have pulled it off. While weird western horror has been popular in speculative fiction, stretching as far back as the early days of Weird Tales magazine, cinematic treatments were rare in the late 1980's. This marked a seismic change from vampire films that either occurred in the remote countryside in classic Horror films, or generally in urban settings. An unforgiving sense of consequence and nihilism also pervade the film. Watch for Bill Paxton complaining, "I hate it when they don't  shave!" Athough I'll doubt you'll miss that.

Some Spooky Laughs for Hallowe'en Viewing

Young Frankenstein
Director Mel Brooks' 1973 film is a wonderful, ingenius, senseless send-up of the 1931 Frankenstein film and later Universal films of the genre.Gene Wilder is masterful as Dr. Frederick Frankenstien and Marty Feldman plays a great straight Igor to his lunatic. A young and sexy Teri Garr play Inga and Cloris Leachman is riotous as Frau Blücher. 

What We Do In the Shadows
Directors Jemaine Clement's and Taika Waitit's 2014 New Zealand mockumentary horror comedy wooed me during the opening credits. In fact, if you are not laughing during the opening montage sequence, which gleefully portrays the histories of various vampires, you may not have a pulse yourself. The premise is simple, as a in reality-television simple. A documentary crew is granted permission to film four vampires who are flatmates. Everything in this loving mockery of vampire lore is hilarious. Even so, the special effects are believable and this story has heart, albeit an undead one that doesn't beat. This is easily the funniest piece of horror I have seen in a decade.

Dracula: Dead and Loving It
Mel Brook's 1995 satire sends up Dracula films from the early 1930's to the then-present day. Leslie Neilsen stars as the bloodsucking fiend and hams up his reliable straight man schtick with aplomb. Adopting the same tone as the Naked Gun and Airplane! flicks to great effect, Dead and Loving It is meant to be enjoyed as cheese on a grand scale. Like cheese on cheese platter scale. Pass the fanged Gouda, please.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Steampunk Jewelry!

Wanna get your steampunk on in time for Halloween?

Ottawa author Anita Dolman has started up a business making fantastic steampunk jewelry. The best way to contact her is at or through her contact page at her blog, Anita Dolman: Writing and Editing, if you are interested.

Check out these beauties. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

SASE Blues: A Comment

Sending off a Self-Addressed, Stamped Envelope (SASE for those in the writin' business, pronounced "Sayse") feels so strange. I have seen my own name that I have written in my own penship on business envelopes come back so many times with bad news that I have trouble trusting my own handwriting, postage paid or not.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

CanCon this Weekend

I’m excited to be part of this weekend's Conference on Canadian Content in Speculative Arts andLiterature, featuring guest of honour, Tanya Huff. 

At 4pm this Saturday, I will be weighing in on, Want to Dominate the World, but Don't Have a Writers' Group? My partners in crime are Maaja Wentz, Mike Rimar, Su Sokol, and Ryan McFadden (moderator).

On Sunday at 10am, I will be on the Horror and Weird Fiction: A Reader’s Panel. Our panelists discuss the most disturbing, lyrical, and scary horror out there. If you want to not sleep for weeks, make yourself a reading list at this panel! My co-panellists are Brett Savory, Sean Moreland, JRebecca Simkin, and Sandra Kasturi.

This will be a speculative blast. More about CanCon here.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Support Lethe Press

My fine pubilsher, Lethe Press, also needs your help. Publisher Steve Berman was brave enough to take a chance on my novel Town & Train, so I'm very proud to be part of their speculative fiction that "is imaginative and strange and wondrous." 

In their own words:
Lethe Press began in 2001 as a home for queer and speculative fiction. Since then we have won numerous awards and acclaim for our books. Many readers feel like outsiders because of the sexual identity--our books are welcome reliefs to this problem; the gay and lesbian protagonists in our books have adventures, chase danger, fall in love, lead rich lives, and overcome the taint of homophobia. Our speculative fiction is imaginative and strange and wondrous. 

As 'Nathan Burgoine says, this is more of a a fundraising process that is more of a subscription and monthly investment. Lethe gets voices out there that readers might never otherwise discover, including Lee Thomas and Dayna Ingram and many others that I am very grateful to have discovered.

Lethe's Patreon is here.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Giving Back to Stonewall Gallery

As 'Nathan Smith intimates here on his blog, we have to fight for what we love. Stonewall Gallery (fomerly After Stonewall Books) is merging with Wilde's in order to survive, and they need the community's help. With bookstores under siege on all sides, this a shot to save a business that is a staple in Ottawa's queer community. 

I should add that David Rimmer opened After Stonewall Books in 1990. 

Their Indiegogo campaign is here

I had the honour of reading there for the first time on August 18 2016 at  "Meet the Authors", an event that as was part of Ottawa Capital Pride. My fine company included 'Nathan Burgoine, Stevie Mikayne and Christian Baines.
Meet the Authors!
'Nathan Burgione, Christian Baines, Stevie Mikayne,
James K. Moran and owner Michael Deyell.
Myself reading an exceprt from Town & Train
at Stonewall Gallery on August 16, 2016.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Happy Ottawa Capital Pride

Happy Ottawa Capital Pride, Ottawa. I'll be at work in my writin' workshop for this one, though. Cue a very butch and MacGyvery montage of blowtorches, saws, and power drills at work, along with a lush soundtrack of high-energy rock n' roll. The author at work is wearing red-and-blue-and-black plaid and Kerouacing his way through his narrative.

Monday, August 15, 2016

August 18 “Show Your Pride” at Stonewall Gallery: Meet The Authors

(Disclaimer: 'Nathan Burgoine so inspired me with his blog post about our upcoming reading that I cribbed from him for my post.) 

This Thursday night (August 18), Christian Baines, Stevie Mikayne, 'Nathan Burgoine, and myself have a reading event at Stonewall Gallery, starting at 6:00pm. Please RSVP here (the Facebook event page) if you are interested, so the owner knows how many fans are going.

This is my first reading at Stonewall Gallery and Bookstore. Originally called After Stonewall, this establishment has been Ottawa's legendary gay bookstore since David Rimmer opened the business in 1990. Philadelphia had Giovanni's Room Bookstore from 1973 until 2014. Ottawa is fortunate to still have Stonewall Gallery (now also an art gallery, hence the new name).

This event is also my first reading during Ottawa's Pride Week, so I'm doubly honoured. And you can't go wrong with this mix of literary, horror, sci-fi and fantasy from local talents. 
SYP - Orchard
Christian Baines will be down from Montreal and if word from 'Nathan Burgoine is any indication, Baines' new novel, The Orchard of Flesh, is a creepy urban paranormal smash.
Reylan’s last assignment for The Arcadia Trust brought a rebellious human servant under his roof, and a volatile werewolf lover named Jorgas into his bed, leaving the self-reliant Blood Shade–known to the outside world as vampires–in no hurry to risk his immortality for them again. But when a new terror starts disappearing humans from a bad part of town, Reylan must do everything in his power to keep Sydney’s supernatural factions from the brink of war. Having an ambitious, meddlesome human in the mix is only going to make things worse…especially when that human is Jorgas’s father. Reylan will need all his determination and cunning to keep the peace under his roof, between the night’s power brokers, and in his lover’s troubled heart.

Christian Baines was born in Toowoomba, Australia. He has since lived in Brisbane, Sydney, and Toronto, earning an MA in creative writing at University of Technology, Sydney along the way. His musings on travel, theatre, and gay life have appeared in numerous publications in both Australia and Canada.
Dual passions for travel and mythology (both of which he attributes to growing up in Australia’s bible belt) have sent him chasing some of the world’s most feared monsters, including vampires in New Orleans, asuras in Bangkok, and theatre critics in New York. His first novel, The Beast Without, was released in 2013, followed by his erotic short story, “The Prince and the Practitioner.”

SYP - Jellicle GirlWe are vey lucky to be reading with Stevie Mikayne who can give audiences the literary goods with Jellicle Girl.
When Beth met Jackie, she was fifteen and shy, living in the shadow of her mother: talented artist Heather Sarandon. Jackie—wilful, cheeky and confident, made Beth see things in herself that she’d never imagined, and do things she never thought she would. As memories of Beth’s last night with Jackie grow more like waking nightmares, Beth does everything she can to forget the girl who was so much more than a friend.

Beth has a self-destructive ritual she swears she’ll keep secret, even from the psychologist trying to help her. But Dr. Nancy Sullivan doesn’t have time for secrets. In fact, she doesn’t have much time at all. She’s been charged with helping Beth break through the barriers of her past, knowing very well that her own demons might end her career before she can get through to the stubborn young woman.
Meanwhile, a young foster child with a wicked sense of humour, and a devastating past, reminds Beth that secrets seem powerful, but can destroy the person who holds them too close. A haunting and evocative story about redemption, identity, and learning to let go of secrets that scar.
Stevie Mikayne writes fiction with a literary edge, combining her obsession with traditional literature with a love of dynamic characters and strong language. She graduated with an MA in creative writing from Lancaster University in the UK, and published her first two books, Jellicle Girl and Weight of Earth, shortly after.
When she met a woman who could make the perfect cup of tea, create a window seat under the stairs, and build a library with a ladder, she knew she’d better marry her before someone else did. They live in Ottawa, Canada, with their young daughter.

'Nathan Burgoine's first novel, Light, was a crackling debut (as anyone who reads my blog knows), in which I praised the author for having a "charming, witty narrative voice." So, I have great expectations from his follow-up, Triad Blood. I look forward to reading with him again, (He's fine gentleman), as well as reading Triad Blood.
The law of three is unbroken: three vampires form a coterie, three demons make a pack, and three wizards are a coven. That is how it has always been, and how it was always to be.
But Luc, Anders, and Curtis—vampire, demon, and wizard—have cheated tradition. Their bond is not coterie, pack, or coven, but something else. Thrust into the supernatural politics ruling Ottawa from behind the shadows, they face Renard, a powerful vampire who harbors deadly secrets of his own and wishes to end their threat. The enemy they know conjures fire and death at every turn. The enemies they don’t know are worse.
Blood, soul, and magic gave them freedom. Now they need to survive it.
‘Nathan Burgoine grew up a reader and studied literature in university while making a living as a bookseller. His first published short story was Heart in the collection Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction. Since then, he has had dozens of short stories published, including Bold Strokes titles Men of the Mean StreetsBoys of Summer, and Night Shadowsas well as This is How You Die (the second Machine of Death anthology). ‘Nathan also has a series of paranormal erotic short stories that begins in the Bold Strokes anthology Blood Sacraments, and continues with further instalments inWingsErotica Exotica, and Raising Hell. His standalone short erotic fiction pieces can be found in the Lambda Literary Award finalist TentedTales from the Den, and Afternoon Pleasures. ‘Nathan’s nonfiction pieces have appeared in I Like it Like That and 5×5 Literary Magazine. Nathan’s first novel,Light, was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award.
A cat lover, ‘Nathan managed to fall in love and marry Daniel, who is a confirmed dog person. Their ongoing “cat or dog” détente ended with the rescue of a six year old husky named Coach. They live in Ottawa, Canada, where socialized health care and gay marriage have yet to cause the sky to cave in.

And let's not forget me. I'll be reading from Town & Train, of which Publishers Weekly said "Moran does an excellent job of conveying the desparation that drives people to seek salvation in the supernatural...".
SYP - Town and Train
In a small Ontario town, seventeen-year-old John Daniel wakes by the railroad tracks with no recollection of how he got there. Something called him from his bed. Officer David Forester, a recent transfer from Toronto, struggles to fit into the local police force, despite resistance from established circles. Both soon suspect a more pervasive and menacing collusion occurring in town when an antique steam train arrives late in the night. At the phantasmal engine, a conductor promises the desperate locals escape from their town dying with so many closed stores and shattered dreams–but there is no denying what the stranger really brings is the stuff of nightmares.
James K. Moran’s fiction and poetry have appeared in various Canadian, American and British publications, including Bywords, Glitterwolf: Halloween, Empty Mirror Magazine, Icarus, On Spec, Postscripts to Darkness 3, and The Rolling Darkness Revue. His debut horror novel, Town & Train, is available from Lethe Press. A longtime contributor to Daily Xtra, Moran’s articles and reviews have also appeared in a wide variety of media, including Arc Poetry Magazine, Daily Xtra, Matrix Magazine, the Ottawa Citizen and Rue Morgue. He lives and dreams in Ottawa, Canada.

With such fine company, I feel very humbled and honoured to part of this Ottawa Pride event. So if anyone in the Ottawa area wants to come out for a great literary evening, we have something for everyone.