Deeper Underground Album Review

Band: Kekal
Album: Deeper Underground
Country of Origin: Indonesia
Genre: Progressive black metal/avant-garde metal
Release Date: March 2018

That sinking feeling of guilt (and I get it disturbingly often) when you realize you’ve been missing out on an extraordinary band working in a genre you love isn’t fun. It’s even worse when you’ve heard the band mentioned a dozen times over the span of a decade, and still somehow failed to follow-up with an investigation. Kekal is this band, for me, and Deeper Underground is the sparkling catalyst of this realization.
Listening to Deeper Underground for the first time reawakened the edge-of-your-seat thrill I’ve only caught in glimpses since Emperor’s Prometheus: The Disciple of Fire and Demise. It’s the moment a riff or texture snags your attention and you stop what you’re doing, give yourself to the music, and realize “now here’s something I haven’t heard before.”
The comparison to Emperor doesn’t end there, and we could just as seamlessly add Enslaved to Kekal’s apparent bloodline as well. You’ll find Enslaved’s harsh, punching, and unusual black metal chord progressions in Deeper Underground, mixed with a healthy dose of electronic textures (increasingly and mysteriously called “dub” in the metal world), although these elements won’t strike you as pilfered. If anything, Kekal pushes the experimental envelope further than Enslaved, and to stunning results. Don’t let Kekal’s Bandcamp declaration of “punk roots” chase you away, metal heads; there’s no evidence of it in Deeper Underground.
Another fascinating claim this Indonesia-based collective makes on their Bandcamp site is that “Kekal has no official band members.” Be that as it may, Deeper Underground is consistently well-written, brilliantly executed, and a product of top-notch production that resists sounding excessively processed. Official band members or no, this album is clearly the result of careful composition, and this reviewer will certainly be visiting Kekal’s back-catalogue for more.

Rating: 5/5

-Justin A. Burnett

The Call of the Void

It has been quite a while now since I first began dissociating from my work. I have finally succumbed to the universal somnambulism. It’s a well-known fact that we anesthetize the domination of our lives by our jobs with sleep. Not literal sleep, of course. I now fall asleep with the optimistic electronic chirp of the timecard reader like everyone else, even though I work, laugh, and chat throughout my nine-hour day like any other normally functioning human. I remember a time when it was different. I remember when it was worse. Once, I wasn’t permitted the cold solace of sleep. Once, I had a job that forced me to face the specter of mortality in all its grandiose contradictions. Like any one of the paradoxical lines in the poetry of John Donne, my job forced me to remain alert.

I was a hospital phlebotomist at the time. I drew samples from patients in their sardine-can cells and took the blood downstairs to the lab in a soul-deadening daily exchange of elevator ascents and descents. This repetitive aspect should’ve kept me sleeping, since it was the same lullaby that you find evenly distributed in every occupational quarter like powdered pesticide. Only one force was strong enough to counter the anesthesia.
I discovered it one morning at about a quarter to twelve. I was on the cardiac floor. It was just before lunch and I was getting impatient. Not that the hospital food was any good—au contraire, it was damn awful (the chicken-gristle sandwich sans-condiments achieved legendary status). And it wasn’t that I was particularly interested in seeing my coworkers—all the same sleeping faces circulated both the cafeteria and the hospital floors with unsettling regularity. Lunch was, however, the only period in my twelve-hour workday during which I could read. Only one more patient lay between me and my book. Let’s just get it over with I encouraged myself as

I opened the door to a heavily curtained room.

“Hello, I’m from the lab,” I said, with as much zest as the situation could reasonably call for. “Your doctor wants me to draw a blood sample.”
The man on the bed was in his late fifties. Gray, unwashed hair curled above his pale temples. Beads of sweat sparkled under the fluorescent lights across the waxy surface of his forehead. The room simmered in the faintly repulsive redolence of unwashed and unmoved biology, the nauseating sweetness of bodily crevices hoarding soured perspiration.

I noted the smell with passive disinterest. Smell, after extended exposure in a hospital setting, only gives rise to the accompanying biological reactions (retching, nose-pinching, actual vomiting, in rare cases) when it is particularly vile—as in, for instance, the unforgettably infamous case of a certain legless prostitute’s infected colposcopy bag. What was more unusual about this patient was his stillness.

Even though I noticed the man’s stillness, nothing could have prepared me for his coldness.

I was already wearing nitrile gloves. Dealing with patients housing colonies of scabies had already instilled an automatic glove habit at this point. Typically, it’s difficult to get a sense of a patient’s body temperature through the coarse grip texture capping each nitrile fingertip. I glanced at the Post-It sized lab order and said the guy’s name out loud before reaching over to his arm, which was so cold I recoiled in surprise.

For a short moment, I stared at what was, for all intents and purposes, a corpse.

The nurse happened to walk in to change an IV bag. She greeted me with a good-natured smile. I pointed at the man on the bed. “I think your patient is… um… dead.”

That wasn’t the first time I had seen a corpse (although I’m not sure to what extent the man could qualify as a corpse, since he was revived only a few minutes after I pointed out his apparently quiet demise. For hospital employees, death and life are often fuzzy distinctions, blending and crossing opaquely at unexpected points, hinging on the judgment of an impatient physician who can’t stop thinking about their next coffee break). But it was certainly the first time I had personally come across a patient reposing gracefully on the brink of the endless dark. What is it like? I asked myself obsessively over the next few years.

It’s possible to feel two ways at once about something. I hesitate to call this feeling “ambivalence” given the term’s connotation with confusion and uncertainty. It’s possible to feel incontrovertibly two distinct and contradictory ways about a given person, place, or event.

For instance, I am deathly afraid of heights. One year, when I was eleven, my grandparents took me to the Grand Canyon. We drove the whole way in my grandparent’s van, a blue and silver affair with curtains, loaded with Dallas Cowboys curiosities and bumper stickers. I left the vehicle to stand a good distance away from the edge of the sublime and misty void before going weak in the knees. I retreated to the van, fleeing the l’appel du vide in fear of my life.

The Daryal Canyon by Ivan Aivazovsky, 1862

L’appel du vide is a French phrase for the strange inexplicable attraction that death holds over us. Freud called its more strictly unconscious and biological equivalent the Death Drive in Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Edgar Allen Poe called it the “Imp of the Perverse.” At the yawning maw of the Grand Canyon, I felt a particular affinity with the French phrase, translated to English as “The Call of the Void.”

It is a strange and unexplainable feeling. For the most part, it is distinctly unpleasant. I am afraid of heights, after all, not attracted to them. The sour aspects of the feeling are what is typically associated with vertigo–dizziness, nausea, and the unshakable sense of falling. But there is distinctly a pull, a sense that you are powerless against the depth at your feet, that your frail, biological form is merely a subject to the whims of a cosmos that wouldn’t bother to ask once before swallowing you whole, bones and all, and there’s a vaguely thrilling shimmer on the belly of this beast.

“Code 99” is hospital lingo for a loss of vital signs. First responders in a fairly sizable hospital—which includes phlebotomists, x-ray technicians, respiratory therapists, as well as a team of nurses, doctors etc.–get these ‘codes’ more often than patients would be comfortable knowing.
On TV, we often see doctors and nurses responding to codes. Everyone moves quickly, wearing concerned expressions. On TV, first responders panic. They, by all indications, are personally invested in the success or failure of the appeal they submit to fate. The actors on TV, consequently, are deflated and burdened with a personal sense of responsibility when a patient dies. The doctor looks morosely at the ground. Someone mutters “we lost him,” and the nurses depart in silence.

This is utter bullshit.

In real life, a code is a commonplace affair. More often than not, hospital employees are happy to hear their pagers go off. A code is a break from the routine, a chance to get in on some action. It is a rare moment of awakening in an otherwise sleep-filled day. Nurses laugh casually as they grab one of the dozens of “crash carts” that sit patiently around every corner, stocked to the teeth with life-or-death emergency medications and equipment. Phlebotomist, respiratory therapists, doctors, and x-ray technicians bound happily in the overcrowded room, greeting each other with smiles, jokes, and handshakes as a single nurse looms over the crowd, heaving up and down over the patient with the thrust CPR compressions. Everyone happily falls into their respective duties.

At the center of the tumult is an unquiet calm. Somehow, the eerie stillness is not simple monotony. Monotony is not calm. It is an unnoticed absence, rather, a magician’s sleight-of-hand, wherein the elements that accumulate into what we may call “lived experience” vanish behind a bland curtain of sameness, effacing the parity of days in an act of economy for the benefit of an overburdened memory. If codes were truly monotonous, we wouldn’t remember them.

At the Grand Canyon, at the center of my horror bloomed a similar calm—it was the Call of the Void, the hushed lullaby whispered by all unthinkable expanses. Hearing the calm was much like going into shock—it was like falling backwards into uterine darkness because daylight had become unendurable.

Two weary years after I had tried to awaken the dead man, I walked into another dead man’s hospital room. This man, however, was a boy. He was sixteen and had donated his organs via the Life Gift program to recipients on inordinately long waiting lists. I was drawing his blood every four hours only to ensure that the artificial circulation was keeping his organs “alive” enough for successful harvesting.

The boy had stuck a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. Porcelain-colored cloths disguised the cavity representing what had once been the back of his head. Tiny black rivulets shimmered in the corners of his closed eyes and ambled down his angular cheeks. His jaundiced face, tilted up, gazed dumbly slack-jawed at the glaring overhead examination light. The hospital bed, the epicenter of a complex network of tubes, wires and monitors, supported his uplifted, cardinal corpse in such a way as to allow his hands to fall casually palm up and slightly apart from his body in the well-recognized pose of the stigmata.

Condensed, somehow, in the cramped ICU room and emanating from the sepulchral corpse in the hard flood of the light was the silence. It was not a silence of absence, but the obverse—the silence was a womb into which flowed the voiceless murmurs of the dead, the inarticulate spasms accumulated over a thousand codes beckoning to the living who stand tentatively at the mouth of the void.

I was afraid.

It was the first body in two years I had been truly afraid of.
And yet, it called me, the same ethereal calm, the same meditative heart of each coded life, each failing organism. This is the truth, the boy said to me, in spite of his inarticulate biology. This stillness which lies between each heartbeat, he says with his unseeing eyes, blind under the hot glare of the prosthetic spotlight, not hearing the drone of machinery humming insidiously to a lost cause. This is the darkness that abideth in thee. This is the rest that is final.

I glanced at the boy’s mother, sitting quietly in the corner.

This silence between madnesses,

A universe residing in each ignored exhalation.

This seed of silence is growing inside you.

You nurture it with each movement.

It will one day bloom

And smother the sun.

She smiled at me. I slowly nodded in return.
After I left the room I went outside to find a quiet corner behind an old elm and cried. I cried as I have never cried since.

By Justin A. Burnett

Biological Determinism by S.E. Casey

He frowned.

The class shuffled in. Despite the lack of years, the third period children were lumpy, bloated, and stuffed into ill-fitting clothes. They were a dim bunch. They had little interest in learning, with even less aptitude. He had made multiple requests not to teach this particular class, but to no avail.

Since his biology lessons were beyond their grasp, he gave in and allowed them to talk during class. Most days, he passed the time until fourth period listening. Unfortunately, they hardly said anything interesting, mostly inane banter about the funny man they passed on the way to school.

The children didn’t know his name or where he lived. But they probably didn’t care; they were only interested in him because he made them laugh.

Yes, he made them laugh. Sometimes he would talk to them, telling jokes. While the children never repeated the jokes, he made them laugh. Sometimes, on what they called sausage days, the man cried. This too made the near-useless children laugh.

Maybe there was no man. Third period were an unreliable bunch, their stories rehashed rubbish of rainbows, black rivers, and glass abattoirs.

The mention of the last was disturbing. The dullards were far too dim for such a word.

One spring day, the third period class didn’t show.

Not a one.

Feigning an ulcer flare-up, he excused himself for the rest of the day.

Unfortunately, it was raining. A downpour seemed to follow him home. Through the laboring of his windshield wipers, he came upon a funny-looking man wearing a rainbow patterned butcher’s apron. The odd man stood knee-deep in muddy water, the downpour’s runoff filling the roadside ditch where he stood. Reflecting the dark clouds above, the rushing water appeared black.

The man was crying, the kind of disconsolate sobs reserved for the loss of a loved one. Bloated and lumpy sausages slipped from his arms. There were too many for him to handle. The sickly grey casings stuffed with ends, gristle, and otherwise useless trimmings escaped downstream.

The wipers slashed across the windshield. The rain was coming down especially hard. It beaded up on the glass too fast, briefly obscuring everything from view. But with each pass of the wipers, the world was made new again. However, it was all different, everything a replacement—a near perfect reproduction of what had been just before.
It was all a trick, a ruse, a flipbook illusion. The fleeing sausages were the only real things in this absurd contrivance.

Sausage days—those bloated and lumpy gross foodstuffs. But behind the safety of the windshield glass, he couldn’t help it…

He laughed.

S.E. Casey grew up near a lighthouse. He always dreamed of smashing the lighthouse and building something grotesque with the rubble. This is the writing method for his broken down and rebuilt stories published in many horror magazines and anthologies that can be found on his website. You can also follow him on Twitter.

©2018 Silent Motorist Media

Beholding the Void: An Interview with Philip Fracassi

It’s an absolute honor to announce that Philip Fracassi, author of the widely esteemed collection Behold the Void, declared “Short Story Collection of the Year” by This Is Horror UK, as well as the novellas Fragile Dreams, Sacculina, and the eagerly-anticipated Shiloh, is gracing the ranks of our ever-growing author interview series. Be sure to visit Fracassi’s beautiful website, and join the newsletter for updates on the slew of upcoming releases mentioned at the end of this interview. If you’ve enjoyed the writers featured here so far, then you certainly don’t want to miss out on Fracassi. Enjoy.

“I want readers to be entertained, and I want them to be moved. While it’s great to have my stuff bought and read, what really makes it worthwhile is hearing feedback from readers about how a story impacted them in a bigger way […] I want the story to be an experience remembered, not just empty calories.”

-Philip Fracassi

Justin A. Burnett: You recently released Shiloh, a work set during one of the most famous battles of the Civil War. I think readers may find themselves happily surprised by this unusual setting (both unusual for you, and the horror/weird community in general, as far as I can tell). What inspired you to locate your story here?

Philip Fracassi: I was inspired not so much by the locale or the war itself as I was by a little-known anecdote about the battle of Shiloh. Apparently, during one of the nights of the battle a few of the soldiers who were wounded started to GLOW. Specifically, their wounds were glowing a bright, luminescent green color. Not only that, but the soldiers who were glowing were healing faster than was considered normal. They nicknamed the phenomenon “Angel Glow” for its healing properties and strange lighting effect. This is factual record, mind you. Anyway, about a hundred years later some high school kids did a science project about it and discovered the glow was caused by a bacterium carried by insects. Regardless, I’d always been fascinated by the legend and decided to run with it. It’s only a part of what happens in the story, but it got my mind going on the “how’s” and “why’s” of that battle. Then, the more I read up on the battle and its horrors and the degree to which it was a blood-bath, I became more and more fascinated and eager to work in that sandbox. I did an absolute ton of research, read a few first-hand accounts, and hopefully got most of the facts right, from the weapons used to the battle formations to the overall strategy of the armies. It was fun but exhausting and it’ll be a while before I do another period piece, but I’m happy with the way this one turned out.

Burnett: You anticipated my next question. My brother is an absolute civil war expert, and I picked up a little of this merely by proximity. I think you succeeded wonderfully on recapturing the intensity of battle. I think a lot of people watch the reenactments without getting a sense of what it must’ve been like to be there in the midst of it. Was this your first research-intensive writing project?

Fracassi: Oh no—not by a long shot. All my stories are exhaustively researched. I think stories like “The Baby Farmer” and Sacculina come to mind as ones that were especially heavy on the research front. “The Horse Thief” as well. Any time I step into a world or write about a topic I’m not definitively familiar with, I always spend days or weeks researching the details I’m writing about for accuracy. It’s actually a really fun part of the process. With Shiloh, I think it just became a lot more than I’d bargained for—there are so many details that need to be verified for a period war piece. Everything from the formations of the troops to the vernacular of that time to the guns and ammunition to the types of underwear the soldiers wore. It’s one thing to write about parasitic barnacles, it’s quite another to realistically recreate a battle that took place over a hundred years ago.

Burnett: I can definitely appreciate the sheer volume of material out there one would have to sift through to recreate the battle of Shiloh. I applaud you for it. I think lot of writers in the horror community would just toss it together. But your level of detail is not at all surprising to me, since one of my favorite aspects of your work is the obvious level of care you put into the craft. This extends to what I would call the “classic” Fracassi story, “The Soda Jerk,” featured in Shiloh. It’s an absolutely gorgeous piece. Did anything in particular inspire this one?

Fracassi: Oh, well thanks very much. The idea of “Soda Jerk” stemmed from the idea of creating a larger world of fiction to play within. I had the idea of doing a series of stories about a small, nondescript, mid-century American town called Sabbath. The plan was to do a series of novellas that would ultimately culminate in one large book—a serial, to be precise. While the serial may or may not come to fruition, I have begun work on additional stories and characters, along with a plot arc, for that world. “Soda Jerk” is a sort of preface to that longer story arc, ergo the “A Sabbath Story” tag. There’s also a story in my collection called “Soft Construction of a Sunset” that takes place in the same small town. The idea of Sabbath is that it’s a place where strange and supernatural things occur due to the infestation of cosmic creatures that harbor there. Hopefully, the full story will come to light one day, possibly as a novel or the aforementioned serial project.

Burnett: That would be fantastic. You submerge the reader into the little town of Sabbath quite nicely, and it feels like a world rich for exploration, like Welcome to Night Vale, except richer and more serious. I called “The Soda Jerk” classic Fracassi because it establishes a relatively normal setting which gets ripped out from under the protagonist’s feet. You have a serious ability to suck the reader into a pretty straightforward plot before pummeling them with something horrific. Shiloh seems to depart from this model in that the “action” is intense from the beginning. The “horror” doesn’t come exclusively from “outside” the normal world but is very much part of both the supernatural and realistic element alike. Was this a conscious departure on your behalf? Did writing it feel different to you?

Fracassi: I do have a tendency to engage readers in an “everyday” scenario with characters that readers can hopefully empathize with or relate to in some fashion, and then, yeah, sorta infuse the story with horror and/or the supernatural. I don’t know why I do this, but I don’t think it’s conscious. Even stories I’ve written that have not been released yet—a couple on a Ferris Wheel, a cornfield church wedding—tend to take common, or “normal” situations and turn them upside down. I certainly wasn’t thinking about Shiloh being a departure from this, but in a way I’d say it’s similar because while the battle is certainly bloody and horrible, it’s still very “real”… at least until the supernatural stuff shows up and takes the story in a very different direction. On one hand I certainly don’t want to be pigeon-holed into this kind of setup, but on the other hand it’s a lot of fun and I think creates a nice impact for the reader. That said, I’ll likely try to shake things up a bit moving forward. Don’t want to telegraph my punches too much.

Burnett: I feel less like it’s a pigeonhole and more like it, as you say, “creates a nice impact.” I still never know what I’m getting into with one of your releases. I remember being blown away by Altar, which is kind of the pinnacle of that setup.

If you were to sum up your artistic goal as a writer, what would that look like? What are you trying to do with your unique and thoughtful version of cosmic horror?

Fracassi: In regards to goals, I think that’s a still-developing target. A couple years ago, my goal was simply to get something—anything—published. Then my goal was to build on that and get more out there and build a readership base. Then it was to have a collection. So, it’s hard to say what the endgame is, because I’m always looking at the next rung on that ladder and striving to reach it. Right now, I’d say my goal as an artist is to get a novel out into the world. I’m still writing screenplays and short stories, however, so a novel is a big undertaking and would mean putting the other stuff on hold. But I have one that’s being shopped around, and I’m hoping that in the next 12-18 months I’ll be able to announce a novel and a 2nd story collection release. But, as I said, I’m also working on multiple screen projects, so it’s really hard to prioritize. It’ll be interesting to see what the next year brings. In the meantime, I’m gonna keep my nose down and work my ass off.

In regards to the art of creating stories, my goals are very simple. I want readers to be entertained, and I want them to be moved. While it’s great to have my stuff bought and read, what really makes it worthwhile is hearing feedback from readers about how a story impacted them in a bigger way, created a new memory that is forever lodged in their brain. That’s why I always try to make my characters memorable and three-dimensional, and why my prose is probably a bit more dense or poetic than a lot of horror writers, because I want the story to be an experience remembered, not just empty calories. At least in a best-case scenario.

Burnett: I personally think you absolutely achieve this, at least given the way your work has stood out to me over these relatively few years. Regarding your initial goal, were you surprised by how quickly your initial publications found an audience?

Fracassi: I was! I mean, you’re talking to a guy who has been writing his whole life. I’ve written three novels and over a hundred short stories–all literary—and tried for YEARS to get published or find an agent, etc. Bupkus. So, to dip my toe in the horror genre (with my short story “Mother”) and get accepted to the first publisher I sent it to was mind-blowing. And then to get mentored by Laird Barron—one of my literary heroes—and get the early support of folks like Paul Tremblay, Adam Nevill, Ted Grau… I mean, it boggled my mind. Totally surreal. And I was pleased that reviewers enjoyed the story, and it got a small readership which was amazing to me. But then Altar came out and the whole thing sort of exploded. Suddenly, all these people were reading my work and seemed to actually ENJOY the work… it was crazy. So since then I’ve just worked hard to keep putting stuff out and doing my best to create the stories I’ve fallen in love with and just hope that people like them. The reality is that when you get to a certain “level” (I hate that word but it’s the only one that fits), you get hit with a dose of reality—you realize that there’s a big, bad world out there that doesn’t care about your hundreds or even thousands of readers, and that if you want to make an honest-to-goodness living doing this sort of thing, you need to adjust your sights and aim a LOT higher, which is sad and daunting at the same time. I miss the early epiphanies of getting published and having my stories chatted about on social media… and while it’s still incredibly fun to achieve those things, I’ve had to adjust my expectations and my goals, and in some ways the work itself. It’s a big-time reality check. I think a lot of writers hit this same wall… I mean, you’re kind of like walking down this golden road, laughing and singing just as—BAM—this looming black wall slams down in your path and you’re like “oh shit!” So you can either start climbing that sucker or you can stay on the road you’ve been on… and it’s not an easy decision to make. Me? I’m climbing. I don’t know if I’ll get to what’s behind it, but I’m gonna try. I know that’s a long-winded answer, but I hope it reflects how a writing career can quickly evolve. It’s incredibly taxing mentally and emotionally, but you just keep doing your best to find readers and publishers who want your work and try to keep building on that.

Burnett: I seem to gravitate towards writers with one foot in horror and another in literary fiction. Is there a chance of your older literary work surfacing now that you find yourself accepted in the horror world?

Fracassi: I think whatever “training” I had writing lit fiction was evident from my first story. I take pride in the prose as much as I do the story. Not that it always succeeds (ditto for the stories), but the effort is there to make the words count for something other than relaying the plot. But it has to contribute. No purple prose, etc. Sometimes, though, it really helps create a sensation or help attain an emotional or visceral response from a reader to write a certain way—using certain words, or phrases… you can create a lot of dread without actually having anything dreadful necessarily happening. This has been fairly effective for me based on some of the reader response I’ve received. Altar is a great example where nothing bad is happening—just a family going to the community pool on a sunny afternoon—but the reader still gets a strong sense of dread or fear simply by the way I describe things. Folks like Laird Barron are pros at this sort of thing, and Brian Evenson, who creates a wonderful sense of detachment, or a better word might be “incertitude,” at what’s occurring. These can be just effective as a scary plot at disturbing and disorienting a reader

Burnett: You mentioned Barron and Evenson, two writers who also add a strong literary twist to the horror genre. Are there any more like them you feel you share a particular affinity with?

Fracassi: That’s an interesting question, and one I’ve given a lot of thought to. It’s always a warm fuzzy feeling to have comparable writers you can associate with in order to help readers get a grasp on what you’re giving them… but honestly, I’ve had a hard time. There is a large quadrant of “new weird” writers out there really tearing things up—guys like Michael Wehunt and Kristi DeMeester and Nadia Bulkin. And then there are folks doing things completely original, like Jon Padgett and Matthew Bartlett. I think Brian Evenson stands pretty outside the box as a “weird” horror writer who is able to create things with language not many writers can accomplish. I suppose he’s akin somewhat to Robert Aickman? And then Barron is a force on his own, and is really not comparable to any other modern writer, although he came up with other greats like Paul Tremblay, S.P. Miskowski, John Langan and Stephen Graham Jones. Then there’s the old-school guys—Straub, McCammon, King, Koontz, Laymon, Ketchum—who all had their unique styles but are still definitively of a period… but still it’s not a perfect fit. I think if I had to pick a couple modern writers to associate with, it’d be folks like Josh Malerman, Nathan Ballingrud, Jeffrey Ford. But I really can’t say with any certainty because, frankly, I haven’t done enough! I don’t even have a novel out there yet! To answer a slightly different way, I would say that there are writers whose careers I’d like to emulate—authors like Adam Nevill, Ronald Malfi, Malerman,Tremblay… guys who are pumping out a horror novel every year, just like they used to do with King, Laymon, John Farris, Bentley Little and Koontz. So, to answer your question, I don’t feel like I’m part of any current group of modern horror writers. I think I’m sorta doing my own thing, which is a little lonely! I don’t get into a lot of anthologies, and don’t make many of the award lists… but if the readers are there? That’s all that matters.

Burnett: You mentioned shopping around a possible new collection and a novel earlier. Are there any details you want your readers to know about these?

Fracassi: There aren’t a ton of details at this time regarding the novel or the 2nd collection, other than to say the novel is “throwback” horror with all the tropes sort of tossed together and pushed into a new direction, and the collection will likely consist of at least 1-2 of my current novellas plus the stories I’ve published over the last year in places like Dark Discoveries Magazine and anthologies like Test Patterns and A Walk on the Weird Side. Plus 1-2 new things, I’m sure.

As far as my current slate, I’ll have a reprint in Best Horror of the Year Vol. 10 coming in June, then an original novella called Overnight coming from Unnerving Press in July, then I’ll appear in a couple unannounced anthologies, and finally another new novella called The Wheel from Cemetery Dances in early 2019. My collection, Behold the Void, will also be translated into a Spanish edition coming in October of this year, and a Czech edition coming late this year or early 2019. So lot’s going on. Fingers crossed that I’ll have news on the collection and/or the novel by the end of the year. I have a newsletter folks can subscribe to, or you can follow my blog. All of it is available at my author site.

Four Ways to Get Active in the Silent Motorist Media Community

We’re about to hit you with another solid round of Silent Motorist Media excellence, beginning at 1:00 pm CST today and lasting through the rest of the week. In the meantime, here’s a short list of things you can do get the most out of your SMM experience.

  • Friend Silent Motorist Media on Goodreads. Here, you will find extra content, including lists and exclusive Goodreads book reviews. You may have noticed we don’t reveal who we’re in the process of interviewing. On Goodreads, however, you can see what we’re reading. This is usually a pretty solid indication of what may happen next on SMM.
  • Submit to SMM! Yes, we’re currently open to submissions. Our current payout for submissions is a flat rate of half a cent per word. Check out our submissions page for further guidelines, and join the growing ranks of esteemed writers appearing here.
  • Friend the editor on Facebook. I’ve been asking daily questions on Facebook lately, the responses to which will play a part of future SMM posts. You can also message me for any comments, proposals, or suggestions. On Facebook, you can play an active role in influencing the content we’re having so much damn fun creating.
  • You can directly support SMM by visiting our store and services pages. 100% of our site revunue goes back into the SMM machine. We are dedicated to paying our contributors, and maintaining the high level of quality our readers deserve.

Much more is on the way. We hope you will enjoy the wonderful week we have planned.

-Justin A. Burnett