Lisa's March 2017 Newsletter (#3)
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In this issue:

Hi Gang!

How's your year so far? Mine started slow, but just when I thought I'd maybe get caught up...BAM. You know how that goes, right?

Fortunately, the news has almost all been good, so I'll have lots of cool stuff to talk about here. I hope you'll come along because this'd be boring without you!

Still Life
In which I rhapsodize about favorite movie photos from my collection
It sometimes seems to me that people forget that John Carpenter did not start his career with Assault on Precinct 13. Before that (and about four years before he'd do a little movie called Halloween), he had co-written, directed, produced and scored a microbudget science fiction/comedy called Dark Star.

Even better is his co-writer, star, and visual effects supervisor: Dan O'Bannon, who would go on to co-create Alien and write and direct Return of the Living Dead.

I saw Dark Star in the '70s, although I think I saw it a year or two after it's initial release, probably as the second half of a double feature (remember those? It's okay if you don't, but they were a great way to blow most of a day). I immediately loved it. It was inventive, copped a bit from the works of Philip K. Dick, and was funny as hell. O'Bannon plays Pinback, a hapless astronaut tasked with caring for an alien the crew has acquired. The alien is a beachball with claws. It sounds ridiculous, and it is...and it remains one of the best comedic characters to ever appear in a scifi film.

I haven't seen Dark Star in decades. I keep meaning to pick up one of the new DVD or Blu Ray releases and watch it again. If any of you have done that, tell us how it holds up.

BTW, there's a fun story over how I acquired a complete set of Dark Star lobby cards: In 1981, I was visiting an actor I was dating at the time who was shooting on location in Jackson, Mississippi. One night we went to a local theater to see The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. We were the only ones in the audience. The theater manager didn't recognize us as regulars (yes, really!) and started up a conversation. When he found out we were with a Hollywood film crew, he went nuts. He invited us up to a large storage room above the theater that was packed to the rafters with posters and lobby cards, and told us to take whatever we liked. I think I walked out with this Dark Star set, a Rock and Roll High School poster, and a few other odds and ends.
The Halloween Spirit
Tips for keeping it going all year 'round
If you're reading my newsletter, chances are you love horror. You probably read horror novels, watch horror movies, play horror games, or even write horror yourself.

Halloween has become so intricately entwined with horror that indulging your horror jones is one way to keep that Halloween spirit going year 'round.

But when was the last time you revisited one of the three great literary classics of Halloween?

Yes, there are three. My own theory is that these three nineteenth-century short stories played a large part in creating the holiday's three most important icons: the jack-o'-lantern, the witch, and the black cat.

The three stories?
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
  • Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe
Here's an interesting piece of trivia: only one of these - "Young Goodman Brown" - mentions the holiday, and even that one is a somewhat oblique reference (meaning the name "Halloween" appears nowhere in any of these stories). If you've seen Disney's delightful adaptation of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" (which appeared in their 1949 feature The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad), you may be thinking you remember lots of specific mentions of Halloween, and you'd be right...but that was all added by Disney as the holiday was growing in popularity at the time.

Re-read these three classics now, think about how they may have influenced the holiday (and how their popularity as Halloween readings kept them alive and fresh!), and you can recapture that autumnal feel any time.

To help with that, head down to this month's giveaway!
The Halloween Big 3!
Strange Fruit
The weirdest thing I've recently uncovered in my research
So yeah, I'm working on a non-fiction vampire book. And when I wondered about very early vampire reports, my research led me to a gentleman named William of Newburgh.

William was a twelfth-century historian who recorded a veritable rash of vampire sightings around medieval Britain. In his chronicles, he describes one particularly arresting incident surrounding a nobleman who died after falling from a beam while observing his wife with another man. This fellow returned from the grave a day later to lay waste to the countryside, until he was tracked down by two brothers whose father had been a victim. Here's the description of what the brothers find when they open the nobleman's grave:

Thereupon snatching up a spade of but indifferent sharpness of edge, and hastening to the cemetery, they began to dig; and whilst they were thinking that they would have to dig to a greater depth, they suddenly, before much of the earth had been removed, laid bare the corpse, swollen to an enormous corpulence, with its countenance beyond measure turgid and suffused with blood...

Sounds like a scene from any modern vampire movie, doesn't it?

William's account never uses the word "vampire"...but that's because it wasn't yet a part of the English language! Otherwise, there's no question that William has given us one of the earliest vampire stories, and remarkably little has changed in the nine centuries that have passed since (except that we now place our bloodsuckers firmly in the realm of fiction).
Read more about William's vampires
My current works-in-progress
The next short story due out will be in Dark Screams Vol. 6, coming in April from Random House/Hydra. It will include my story "The Rich are Different" (the same story appears in Cemetery Dance 74/75).

Later this year, my story "Summer of Sharks" will be in the MWA anthology Scream and Scream Again, edited by R. L. Stine (Mr. Goosebumps himself!).

The forthcoming Dark Regions anthology Adam's Ladder includes my story "Eyes of the Beholders".

The anthology I co-edited with Ellen Datlow (to be published this fall by the Blumhouse Books imprint of Anchor/Doubleday) has undergone a title change: it will now be Haunted Nights (the former title was Hallows' Eve). We'll hopefully have cover art to share soon!

And I'll also have cover art to share soon from my major 2017 project, something I'm very excited about, so stay tuned!

CD Select: Lisa Morton

Cemetery Dance is now offering my short story mini-collection in an affordable signed and limited print edition. The four stories included are "Joe and Abel in the Field of Rest", "Pound Rots in Fragrant Harbour", "Black Mill Cove", and the Bram Stoker Award-winning "Tested". Also available in e-book form.
Reserve Your Copy NOW!
New cover for Dark Screams Vol. 4, which includes my story "The New War".
Scream x 4


My third novel, the Bram Stoker Award-nominated Malediction, is now available in an affordable e-book from Cemetery Dance. Malediction is about the cursed history of Los Angeles, the dangers of folklore, and the intersection between healing and hurting. Also available in ePub format from Mysterious Galaxy.
Come to haunted L.A.!
Dark Screams Vol. 6 includes my story "The Rich are Different". Coming in April.
Scream x 6!
This month's giveaway is all about keeping you in that Halloween spirit.

I've assembled a little e-book I'm calling A Halloween Trilogy, that includes the three great short classics - "The Black Cat", "Young Goodman Brown", and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" - with a little introduction by me. Free throughout February in a .MOBI format suitable for reading on your Kindle or Kindle app. Enjoy!
Sorry - this giveaway has ended
Copyright © 2017 Lisa Morton All rights reserved.

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