Harlan County Horrors (Now with Reviews!)

The Harlan County Horrors anthology is out. Its line up includes:

“The Witch of Black Mountain” – Alethea Kontis

“The Power of Moonlight” – Debbie Kuhn
“Hiding Mountain: Our Future in Apples” – Earl Dean
“Psychomachia” – Geoffrey Girard
“Yellow Warbler” – Jason Sizemore
“Kingdom Come” – Jeremy C. Shipp
“Trouble Among the Yearlings” – Maurice Broaddus “Spirit Fire” – Robby Sparks
“The Thing at the Side of the Road” – Ronald Kelly
“Inheritance” – Stephanie Lenz
“Greater of Two Evils” – Steven Shrewsbury
“Harlan Moon” – TL Trevaskis

Afterword: Harlan County: A Short History by Preston Halcomb

Cover art by Billy Tackett

REVIEWS:

Bookgasms

Jeff Cutler

University Chronicle

Monster Librarian

Paladin Freelance

Amazon Reviews

Shroud Magazine

Reviews of Orgy of Souls

I know, I know … live by the review, die by the review. However, in case folks were interested in how our novella, Orgy of Souls, was being received, here’s a one-stop collection of all the reviews I’ve been able to find:

Horror*Web gave it four (out of five) stars.

Paul Jessup thought it was beautiful (and I must say, even if it wasn’t our novella, DE Christman’s cover IS breath-taking)

Nick Cato: an unlikely collaboration

Michele Lee of the Fix

HorrorWorld review (by JG Faherty)

Dark Scribe review (by Jeff Burk)

Amazon reviews

Dark Discoveries ran a review in issue 12

the APOOO book club chimed in

Nosse Morte review

-the Green Man review

-the Hellnotes review

-the Shroud Magazine review

-the Dark Discoveries review

Pamela Turner (with one of my favorite reviews)

Rue Morgue (Nov. 08, Issue 84) has this to say about Orgy of Souls:

“Like a twisted Gemini, two brothers – Samuel, a dying priest, and Samson, a superficial party boy – are seeking salvation. Samuel is hoping to live out his last days in service to God, while Samson collects souls to save him in an unearthly exchange. Featuring bloody, sexually charged violence that’ll give American Psycho a run for its money, this novella just might grope you into believing.”

And lastly, not only did Orgy of Souls make Horror Mall’s best seller list for December 2008, the first chapter is up on the apex website.

(plus there’s the ongoing discussion on my message board for folks to chime in with their opinions.)

Overall, I’ve been pretty pleased with the reviews. As always, let me know what you thought.

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Orgy of Souls: Making Gary Braunbeck’s Brain Melt

Some people have asked about what the thought process behind bringing Orgy of Souls to light. So I thought I would explore that for a bit.

At the World Horror Convention 2007, Wrath James White and I were telling award winning writer, Gary Braunbeck about our collaboration. If I could capture a facial expression of his reaction to just the IDEA of the two of us writing together, and use it as a blurb, I most certainly would have done so.

Wrath James White and I have very little in common beyond being bald, black horror writers. Our writing styles, our lifestyles, our politics, our worldviews, our spiritual perspectives – on paper, we shouldn’t even be friends. He writes for those with “a taste for the violent, the erotic, the blasphemous,” while I write introspective, atmospheric stories. He’s a hedonistic humanist and I’m a Christian, the facilitator (a nebulous title coming from the Greek meaning “we don’t want to keep explaining to the congregation that one of the church leaders is a horror writer”) at a church called The Dwelling Place.

Religion and horror are inextricably tied to one another, probably because both deal with the unknown and try to come to terms with the fear of it. Since spirituality is a fundamental part of the human experience, an examination of faith, especially against the backdrop of the horror genre is something that is near to my heart. Doing so with a voice diametrically opposed to mine, that’s a challenge that I’ve looked forward to.

The a “big idea” to Orgy of Souls is the examination of the idea of faith and in a lot of ways is a continuation of the kind of conversations (read: arguments) Wrath and I typically find ourselves in (in fact, my story recently published in Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest #12, “Broken Strand” is another story stemming from one of our arguments, that time on free will. Just like “Nurse’s Requiem”, in the Dark Dreams III anthology examined the idea of faith stemming from another argument; and my story “Rite of Passage”, in an upcoming issue of Space & Time Magazine stemmed from an argument we were having over the history of slavery. In other words, we do this a lot).

Seen as a crutch by some, faith is that sometimes tenuous, sometimes stronger-than-we-think thing that keeps our world in order. I believe that we’re all people of faith in our own way, it’s just a matter of what we choose to put that faith in, be it in ourselves, science, humanity, or in God. As such, we each are on our own spiritual journey.

I don’t know much for sure and I’m certainly not afraid of questioning or going through a period of doubt. Faith includes doubt. God is big enough for us to question, doubt, and wrestle with. In fact, I believe He expects us to. The opposite of faith isn’t doubt, it’s certainty. Finding faith is like falling in love: there is an element of mystery to both and let’s face it, there are times when we feel like we have been chosen and times when we choose to do it (which is what marriage has taught me).

As for “how can a Christian write horror?” (you can imagine the variations on this question I tend to field … and my sometimes less than helpful responses) or justify any story, much less one about faith, set against a backdrop of plenty of sex and violence and the occasional demon … the best answer I can offer is that sometimes exploring faith can be messy.

Orgy of Souls is as much about the collaboration as anything else. It’s important to choose wisely in your collaboration partners because it’s a lot like entering into a marriage (and divorce can be just as messy). The idea is to come together without losing the distinction of your individual voices. The way we looked at it was that I do what I do. Wrath does what Wrath does. I get to play in Wrath’s sandbox (though I swear, he wrote all the naughty bits. Absolutely. He’s solely to blame. I definitely had no role in any of that. For sure.) Wrath gets to play in mine. It was every bit as much two friends coming together to do what we love, writing, just to enjoy the give and take and learning from each other. And have a ball doing it.

Then we invite the reader to join in our fun. You can’t ask for much more than that.

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MB: Marketing Genius

I’ve been trying to think of ways to market my upcoming novella, Orgy of Souls. I thought about starting a book group. Apparently, however, my publisher thought the North American Maurice Broaddus Literary Association was a bad idea. Back to the drawing board.

Now what to do with all of these T-shirts …

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DON’T BUY THIS BOOK!!!

Orgy of Souls: A Deadly Seduction

New Novella by Maurice Broaddus and Wrath James White offers sex, gore, blasphemy…and the unrivaled power of brotherly love
March 15, 2008 — Apex Publications announces the upcoming release of “Orgy of Souls,” a new novella by Maurice Broaddus and Wrath James White, on June 14, 2008 (just in time for Mo*Con III). Pre-orders begin March 23.

How pretty would a man have to be for you to sign over to him your immortal soul? If you’ve never asked yourself that question, it’s only because you’ve never read “Orgy of Souls.”

A thoughtful look at the role of God in the tragedies of the world might not automatically bring to mind visions of beautiful party boys and orgiastic bloodbaths, but in the hands of Maurice Broaddus and Wrath James White, the melding of such opposites is the perfect backdrop for the story of two brothers, each trying to save the other from what he has become.

Samuel, a priest who questions his faith as he fights a losing battle with AIDS, struggles to retain his dignity and hide his doubts from those around him. His brother, Samson, a high-end fashion model who indulges in every excess and finds each one lacking, loves nothing in the world except for Samuel. As Samson sinks deeper into the darkness of violent rituals intended to barter for his brother’s life, Samuel must face up to his own doubts and fears in order to stop Samson’s growing lust for blood and souls.

Blood, sex, rage, repentance and otherworldly horror…all are invited to the “Orgy of Souls.”

Better your blasphemy and preorder “Orgy of Souls” on Easter Sunday: March 23, 2008. For details and updates visit www.apexbookcompany.com. Available in signed, limited edition hardcover (350 copies, bound tip-in signature sheet) and trade paperback (released in Sept. 08) from Apex Publications.

About the Authors
Maurice Broaddus’s work has appeared in Weird Tales, Horror Literature Quarterly, and a wide variety of anthologies. His story “Family Business” won first prize at the World Horror Convention Story Competition in 2003. Often known as the Sinister Minister, Broaddus says of the religious aspects of his writing: “As writers, our worldviews–from nihilistic to religious–are a part of us and thus a part of our writing. What we believe, why we believe, it’s all in there.”

Wrath James White is a professional fighter and writer, two pursuits that blend together to create unrelenting prose. His novels include Teratologist (co-written with Edward Lee), Poisoning Eros (co-written with Monica O-Rourke), and Succulent Prey. “If you have a weak stomach, a closed mind, rigid morals, and Victorian sexual ethics, then avoid my writing like the plague,” says Wrath. If, on the other hand, you want hard-hitting fiction where nothing is taboo, you’ve found the right author.

About Apex Publications
Apex Publications is a small press dedicated to publishing exemplary works of dark science fiction and horror. Owned and operated by Jason B. Sizemore, Apex publishes the critically acclaimed Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest. In 2006, Apex Publishing branched into producing novellas, collections, and anthologies, earning a Bram Stoker Award nomination for the Aegri Somnia anthology in 2007.

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How could you not see this coming? Wrath James White has guest blogged for me, I reviewed his Book of a Thousand Sins and I interviewed him (part I and II)

I already know that I’m going to get letters. You know it’s a bad sign when Wrath drops me a note saying “you may want to have a blog handy about how you can write horror and work in a church.” Luckily, I do.

Of course, I’m in a no lose situation:

Dear Mr. Broaddus, How can you call yourself a Christian and write … that “covenant” scene, to say the least? Sincerely, Pissed off, though well-intentioned, judgmental guy

Now, the simple response could go along the lines of

Dear fellow traveler, Wrath wrote that. In fact, he wrote every objectionable scene in the novella. Did you read Book of a Thousand Sins?!? Sincerely, Perfectly innocent co-writer

For those looking for my usual fare, save me the headache. Save yourself the headache. There are scenes where you can almost picture Wrath behind the keyboard trying to get me fired. Did I mention that I wrote none of those scenes? (Though Apex Publications does seem to draw out my darker, darker side. It should be noted, however, that my story appearing in Apex Digest #12 was written while under the influence of my collaboration with Wrath.)

I may have my church boycott the book.

Ignore Mark Rainey, too:

“ORGY OF SOULS is a gripping tale of two brothers whose lives have taken radically different paths — but those paths intersect via some surprising twists and turns. With raw prose, vividly drawn characters, and a chilling touch of the occult, Broaddus and White draw you in and belt you right in your emotional gut.” –Stephen Mark Rainey, author of BLUE DEVIL ISLAND and THE LEBO COVEN.

“Better your blasphemy”?!? Not helping, Mr. Sizemore. I’m REALLY going to get letters.

Also available on Horror Mall.

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