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The last ten years have seen some of the most exciting developments in my career as a writer including the publication of Talismanic, my first horror novel; Different Futures, my second collection of science fiction stories; upcoming publication of the first two volumes in a projected three volume science fiction series, and most recently, publication of Autumnal Tales, the long awaited collection of my best horror and weird stories! Those triumphs follow on my very first book to see print, Marvel Comics in the 1960s: An Issue by Issue Field Guide to a Pop Culture Phenomenon, which came out in 2009 and was quickly followed by its two blockbuster sequels dealing with the 1970s and 1980s respectively.
But before getting into more detail about Talismanic, Different Futures, Autumnal Tales, and the Science Agents trilogy, I want you to learn a bit more about me and what I’ve been up to over the years.
Born in Lowell, Massachusetts, I grew up in the 1960s a fan of Marvel Comics, a voracious reader of science fiction and fantasy, a lover of non-fiction and history, a connoisseur of such TV shows as the Outer Limits, Thriller, Twilight Zone, and anything produced by Irwin Allen, as well as a dedicated viewer of 1950s era sci-fi movies (especially those films by director Jack Arnold).
It proved to be a toxic mix that soon yielded early attempts at writing my own tales and entertaining the dream of some day becoming a professional storyteller. But with enthusiasm running ahead of experience, that dream ended up being deferred for some time as I was forced to learn the actual craft of writing.
Along the way, my literary interests began to fan out with new discoveries such as Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan and John Carter, H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu, and Walter Gibson’s Shadow. Later, the fantasies of William Morris, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord Dunsany, E.R. Eddison, William Hope Hodgson, Robert W. Chambers, Clark Ashton Smith, Mervyn Peake, James Branch Cabell, and Katherine Kurtz also captured my imagination.
Then came four years at Salem State College where I became an editor of the student newspaper and eventually received a BA in English and Communications. From there, it was the dull routine of a local reporter’s life punctuated here and there with continued efforts at fiction writing.
Unfortunately, by the early 1980s the market for short stories had almost completely dried up and I was forced to the conclusion that if my stories were to see print, I’d have to publish them myself. Thus, Fungi, “the magazine of fantasy and weird fiction” was born. I published Fungi with the help of friends (some of whose art can be seen elsewhere on this site) off and on for over two decades (along with companion ‘zine The Cthulhu Codex) which indirectly offered me entrée into the larger world of small press publishing.
With my discovery of the small press, I began to submit selections from my backlog of short stories and slowly began to have them published. Small press magazines with such titles as Crypt of Cthulhu, Haunts, Nocturne, Vortex, Astro Adventures, and The Horror Show were regular venues and my name slowly became infamous in the fan community. My notoriety was such that I began to receive offers to write stories specifically for anthologies resulting in celebrated appearances in such collections as The Ithaqua Cycle, The Cthulhu Cycle, Tales Out of Innsmouth, Eldritch Blue, and Anton Zarnak: Supernatural Sleuth. Finally came the crowning achievement for any fantasy writer, inclusion in a book released by fantasy publisher Arkham House; in my case it was an interview segment in a book celebrating the life and career of writer E. Hoffman Price called The Book of the Dead.
Thus emboldened, I decided to branch out to paying gigs by indulging in my other interest: non-fiction. Successful from the very start with an article sold to Military History Magazine, I was soon cranking out full length features for such publications as World War II Magazine, Wild West, and America’s Civil War.
When I had a few minutes to spare between short stories and articles, I began to dash off other articles to various comic book magazines as well including Comic Book Marketplace, Comics Source, and The Jack Kirby Collector. It was the article I wrote for CBA though, that eventually evolved into my book on Marvel Comics in the silver age entitled Marvel Comics in the 1960s: An Issue by Issue Field Guide to a Pop Culture Phenomenon, which was released in July, 2009 and its sequels Marvel Comics in the 1970s in 2011, and Marvel Comics in the 1980s in 2014.
Those books, however, were preceded by The Way the Future Was: An Anthology of Science Fiction Fables released in October, 2008 and Our Lives, Our Fortunes, Our Sacred Honor: Capsule Portraits of Figures from the American Revolution released in March, 2009.
Later in the spring of 2009 came the release of my novel Strange Company: An Untold Story of the American Revolution as well as a young adult novel entitled Sometimes A Warm Rain Falls.
All of that led to the revival (after a 10 year hiatus) of Fungi, my aforementioned magazine of weird fiction. Issue #20 appeared in 2010 with issues 21-22 in 2013 and 2015 respectively. Meanwhile, publication of Real Heroes, Real Battles, a book from Sons of Liberty Press collecting all of my non-fiction articles dealing with the American Revolution, the Civil War, and World War II was published in 2011.
About the same time, Sons of Liberty also released an anthology featuring stories and articles dealing with my home town of Lowell, Massachusetts. River Muse: Tales of Lowell and the Merrimack Valley includes a lengthy piece by yours truly on my experiences as a committed bibliophile growing up in the city during the 1960s. (Titled “I Was a Teenaged Bibliophile,” you can read it elsewhere on this website). The volume also features a stellar list of other contributors as well as never before published material by that other Lowell native son, Jack Kerouac.
Next, a strange thing happened in 2015: a long planned anthology collecting all of my best weird fiction to be called Autumnal Tales was bifurcated with half of its contents ending up being published by Chaosium Books Inc. (the makers of popular role playing games), under the title of Goat Mother and Others. This fat collection gathered all of my horror stories that were written within H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos cycle. This turned out to be an incredible package that no self respecting library of the weird should be without!
But what about the other half of Autumnal Tales? Well, that part of the project is currently seeking a publisher. But I have no doubt that a future update of this column will make the announcement of its imminent publication some time soon!
Sharp eyed fans of fantastic literature were also sure to have spotted any number of my short fiction that has appeared in several places over the last few years including a sequel to H.P. Lovecraft’s classic tale “At the Mountains of Madness” entitled “Second Death” in a collection called Beyond the Mountains of Madness, edited by Robert M. Price and published by Celaeno Press. “A Question of Meaning” appeared in Sargasso Magazine in 2013. A science fiction tale, “Beachhead” and a crime suspense story “Fatal Error” appeared in chapbooks by Rainfall Books. Finally, an SF novelet entitled Collision Course was also published by Rainfall in 2014.
The big news of 2016 was the appearance of my first full length science fiction novel, A Well Ordered Universe, which saw publication by the good folks at Desert Breeze Publishers! That book is currently available under a number of different electronic platforms as well as in hardcopy.
For more information on each of these projects, keep checking back here or click the appropriate links elsewhere on this page. And don’t be shy about letting me know what you think by using the comment links provided.
Meanwhile, 2017 has shaped up to be one of my biggest years yet beginning with the release of Hazardous History: Real People, Real Events During the Heroic Ages of the United States and Britain. This book is an anthology collecting for the first time anywhere, all of my non-fiction articles that had appeared in magazines such as Military History and Wild West. Next, there was Movies Worth Watching: The Top Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy Films of All Time. This lavishly illustrated volume contains over 130 separate capsule reviews of genre films no fan should miss. Finally, the year closed out with a bang, namely the publication of my second SF novel, Scheduled for Extinction, again by the good folks at Desert Breeze.
Which brings us to the big news I promised at the very start of this column: The release in the spring of 2018 of my first full length horror novel, Talismanic, by Rogue Phoenix Press!
And that’s not all! Later in 2018 or early 2019 Rogue Phoenix will publish the first entry in a projected trilogy of science fiction novels dealing with the adventures of Science Division Agents Jules Santros and ‘Manda Mooney as they battle to keep the galaxy safe from invading aliens, rogue artificial intelligences, and mad scientists! So be on the lookout for Science Agents #1: Extra Galaxia and later Science Agents #2: Novus Intelligens!
And while you’re waiting for that, check out my penultimate triumph, Different Futures: A Collection of Science Fiction Fables. This book, available from Amazon.com in both print and Kindle formats, forms a second volume of sorts containing my latest short stories about the way the future used to be. The first volume, The Way the Future Was, is still available in print and soon to be available digitally as well.
Finally, run, don’t walk, to check out my very latest release, Autumnal Tales, an anthology containing my very best horror and weird stories. Long promised and at last available in both print and kindle formats!
Stay tuned for more developments in the coming year as I continue to transition my print books into the Kindle format. In the meantime, I hope you’ll decide to share in the excitement through any of the different access points my career offers to the interested reader: history, science fiction, horror, fantasy, mystery, movies, or comics.