IT’S ACTUALLY New Year’s Eve as I write this on my laptop on the couch, watching the “return of Dick Clark” New Year’s Eve countdown show (there’s a zombie movie inherent in Clark’s return, isn’t there?) As I watched all the “top moments of the past year and the past decade” shows tonight, I had to reflect back on my own experiences over the past 12 months. And 2005 was a year of amazing personal highs for me. Of course, at the top of the list was the birth of my son Shaun, in July. Taking care of that tiny life from his first moments to today, almost six months later, has been the best, most fulfilling time of my life. There is nothing more gratifying in life than to see that little face break into a giant grin just because he’s happy to see you walk into the room.
Ironically, just three weeks before Shaun was born, I had the biggest success so far in my fiction career as well, when my novel Covenant won a Bram Stoker award for first novel. Attending the award ceremony weekend in California was an exciting thing all by itself even without coming home with the award; I was able to talk there with Clive Barker, David Morrell and had Chuck Palahniuk sit in during my reading from the opening chapters of Covenant. Chuck’s live reading of his story “Guts” was one of the highlights of the weekend.
After winning the Stoker award, I experienced what it’s like to be on the other side of the reporter’s notebook for the next few weeks. I was a journalism major in college, and have done countless interviews for various newspapers and magazines over the past 20 years with everyone from schoolboard presidents and municipal mayors to entertainment personalities like Jay Leno and Gwen Stefani. But until this summer, I had never been the subject of an interview. I got some great writeups in the Chicago Tribune, Southtown Economist and other papers, and even went down to a Chicago studio for an Internet radio interview, but I must admit I found that I prefer being the interviewer, rather than the interviewee!
Over the summer, the 18th annual YEAR’S BEST FANTASY AND HORROR anthology appeared in bookstores, and I was honored to have “The Beginning Was the End,” one of my stories that appeared in Black October magazine in 2004, noted in the book’s “honorable mention” list.
Aside from attending the Stoker Awards weekend last year, I spent a media overload week at the South By Southwest Music and Film convention in Austin, TX in March (which I covered for The Star Newspapers) and also attended the World Horror Convention in New York in April, and the World Fantasy Convention in Madison, WI, in November.
At the World Fantasy Convention, a book that I designed and laid out for Twilight Tales Books — Robert Weinberg’s The Occult Detective — was debuted. It features one of the best covers and layouts I’ve done, and it was great to see it hit the stands. Shortly after WFC, I turned my design sights in early December on a revamped web site for author Brian Keene, which you can see at www.briankeene.com.
With all the things that happened, I’m a little sad to see 2005 close. As 2006 begins, it will be mighty tough to top 2005 for me! But I am starting the year out with a bang. I’m currently in the midst of doing some major rewrite work on a young adult book about goblins that I originally wrote several years ago, in hopes that it will finally find a home this year. And then I’ve got a couple new adult novel ideas I’d like to begin developing.
In just a week or two, my novella Failure will hit the shelves from Delirium Books. And a short story I wrote for the Delirium Books tribute anthology edited by Brian Keene will finally hit the shelves as a part of In Delirium. However, the anthology sold out on pre-orders, so if you didn’t order a copy in 2005, it will be tough to put your hands on one!
I’m also hoping to be able to announce news about the future of Covenant ‘s sequel soon. The novel is called Sacrifice, and is a different kind of book than its predecessor, taking Covenant ‘s lead character on a dangerous roadtrip on the heels of a sexual serial killer. It was great fun to write and allowed me to re-visit some of my favorite cities (at least in my head!).
Back in the fall, I was asked by editor Mort Castle to write a chapter covering the current state of the small press for an update of the HWA / Writer’s Digest book Writing Horror. I wrote that piece in October, and t he book will be out later in 2006. Over the past few weeks I’ve also been asked to contribute stories to a handful of anthologies that will appear in 2006 , and I also wrote a short essay on Shaun’s birth for the next issue of Morbid Curiousity magazine. So I’ll be updating you on those and other projects in the coming weeks.
It’s now nearing midnight, and I’m going to close the lid on this note and pour one more drink for the countdown. Thanks to all of you for your support and friendship over the past year. Here’s to 2006!