Throttling Up

Hard to believe the next collection is out in just over a month… my first true book of short stories since the one that kicked off my career, 20th Century Ghosts, which came out almost 15 years ago, in 2005. The book is available from all the usual suspects, online and off. Want it signed? Water Street Books, my local indie, is taking pre-orders on autographed copiesBarnes & Nobles has a pile of signed books as well and are ready to ship right to you. Waterstones in the U.K. will also have signed copies.

In the market for something a little more luxe? Subterranean Press has crafted a glorious limited edition, featuring the mind-blowing art of David McKean (and autographed by the both of us). Man, it looks good. Get an eyeful.

More of an audio guy? On the day of release, Full Throttle can be found wherever audiobooks are available. I was very pleased to see Full Throttle on Amazon’s fall preview of the most anticipated audiobooks (it was also a top pick on their “from an editor” section). And, hey, what a line-up of readers we got! The voices behind the audiobook include Zachary Quinto, Will Wheaton, Kate Mulgrew (wow I sound like a guy with a Star Trek fetish), Neil Gaiman (seriously!!), Ashleigh Cummings (Vic!), Laysla de Oliveira (Dodge!), Nate Corddry, Connor Jessup, Stephen Lang, George Guidall, and, uh, me.

Want to catch me on the road in support of the book? My full tour schedule is here on the blog (and I’ll update it when and if anything changes).

All Locked Down

But October is a busy month! It’s not just Full Throttle. Locke & Key is returning to stores with a standalone issue titled “Dog Days”, featuring two tales of Keyhouse… one set in the past, and one set in the here and now (the present day story was also published as an SDCC exclusive). Gabriel Rodriguez’s crazy-ass-brilliant cover only hints at how much fun we had banging out these new stories.

With the worldwide Netflix release of Locke & Key on the horizon, you can expect a bunch more stories of Keyhouse on the page as well. Over the last few years, Gabe and I have been telling stories about the children of Chamberlin Locke, in the years between 1910 – 1935. Already published titles include “Small World,” “Open The Moon,” and “Grindhouse.” “Dog Days” is another, and there are two more after that. I’m… pretty sure that one of those two upcoming stories is going to mess with some heads.

After that, we’re gonna take a deep breath and then dive into World War Key, a new six book cycle we’ve been kicking around for a couple years. Not too much longer now.

This is also out in October.

Might be the most full-on, no-nonsense, straight-ahead horror thing I’ve done since NOS4A2. Colorist Dave Stewart is going to use every shade of red in the book before we’re done.

My thanks to editor Ellen Datlow for including “You Are Released” in Best Horror of the Year, vol. 11. It’s always an honor.

Even if you’ve already read that story you have to pick this beast up — how else are you going to stay current on the most exciting, innovative, and refreshing fiction in the genre?

Boy oh Boy

I watched Amazon’s The Boys with my own boys, in a four-day rush, and it’s fair to say we dug every filthy minute. At some point, one of my kids mentioned that in an MCU movie, The Boys — Karl Urban and company — would be the villains. Really, do they operate any differently from Michael Keaton’s Vulture and his goons? Or Killmonger’s gang? So now I want someone to recut a few episodes of the show to create a version where The Seven (the show’s toxic remix of The Justice League) are the unambiguous heroes pushing back against Urban’s motley crew of hero-hating terrorists. Seriously: the protagonists of The Boys operate from exactly the same motive that drove the heavies in both Incredibles movies.

Even more than DeadpoolThe Boys is a jolting corrective to all the things we’ve been taught about superheroes in the MCU and DC-verse flicks. In some ways, it presents a world that just makes a lot more sense… and which is, as a result, a lot more terrifying. I’d add that The Boys‘ take on Superman, Homelander, miiiiiiight be the scariest bad guy to come to the screen in years. By the final episodes, my skin would crawl every time his eyes lit up.

It’s a great show and if superheroes matter in your life, probably essential. It gets right to the heart of the sickness embedded in the power fantasy of being super… the fantasy that Jack Kirby accurately identified as the driving force behind the whole genre. Think of it as the TV version of what David Grohl was singing about in “There Goes My Hero” and give it a shot.

NOW…
… watching: BARRY, SEASON TWO
… reading: THE NUTMEG OF CONSOLATION by Patrick O’ Brian
and FIGHTING AT SEA IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY: THE ART OF SAILING WARFARE by Sam Willis
and PRINCE VALIANT: VOL. 2 by Hal Foster
… listening: “LET’S ROCK” – Black Keys
and WEED GARDEN – Iron & Wine
and FATHER OF THE BRIDE – Vampire Weekend
Right now I’m carrying — this is not bullshit — five different comic book titles, which will begin to land in waves, starting with Basketful of Heads #1 and the Locke & Key: Dog Days special. Those will be followed by a crime comic I’m doing with IDW, Dying is Easy, and another Hill House story, Plunge, and finally an ongoing strip called Sea Dogs, which will run as a backup feature across all of the Hill House titles… not just the ones I’m writing.

I’ve always wondered if I could do it, y’know… work like a real, no-bullshit, full-time comic book writer, someone like Gail Simone or Brian K. Vaughan. When I was scripting the first six books of Locke & Key, I was usually doing it on the side, while I wrote novels. But I never risked trying to keep more than two storylines in my head at once, let alone five. This is a little like being one of those compulsive chess nuts who play five games at once. With the relentless deadlines, too, it’s also like running through a field of high grass with a tractor thrashing relentlessly through the stalks behind me. If I fall…

… but for now, I’m on my feet, and not I’m not just managing… I feel, actually, a kind of exhilaration. This afternoon I finished writing the first issue of Plunge, working longhand in a pigeon colored Leuchtturm1917 notebook. It was as happy a writing experience as I’ve had all year. I’ve got four issues scripted so far of Dying is Easy — and Martin Simmonds has only just finished illustrating the first, visually capturing a world of blurred neon lights and regrets and repressed violence. I’ve written five issues of Basketful of Heads, and just a little while ago, Leomacs presented me with the finished inks on issue two. The closing sequence, which lasts almost half the issue, is a blast of gonzo gore that tips over from horror to hilarity in the space of about four panels. I love it so much. The Locke & Key stuff is working on its own somewhat separate timeline, so that’s less of a worry (Dog Days is in the can, and it’ll be a few weeks before I have to start writing the next). And Sea Dogs is my chance to write something that has the feel of an old-timey color Sunday strip — think Prince Valiant — but which also lets me explore the 18th century naval story-scapes that I’ve come to love reading the Patrick O’Brian novels.

Agreeing to write all these stories in the same timeframe was obviously a form of madness, but in this case it seems to be a happy madness. We’ll see if I still feel that way a month from now.

That’s all I got this time out. Looks like we’ve slammed the door on the furnace of summer. Fall is the best season — it’s ghost story weather. Here’s hoping you’ve got a couple good shuddery reads lined up for the autumn. Be well and hang in there. Don’t let the world make you crazy.