Lisa's May 2018 Newsletter (#17)
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Hi Gang!

I hope your spring has thus far been full of the promise of renewal. Isn't that one of the things that makes this season so special?

I'd hoped my own spring renewal would be the leap into a new novel. Unfortunately that still didn't happen, thanks to a confluence of other deadlines and a large issue requiring me to wear my Horror Writers Association President's cap throughout most of April. For now, the novel continues to loom.

In the meantime, there are some fun things to chatter about in the newsletter (a Suspiria remake! Halloween postcards! a crazy contest!), so let's get to it. Happy Spring, all!

Lisa
Still Life
In which I rhapsodize about favorite movie photos from my collection
I just heard there's a Suspiria remake.

I have pretty mixed feelings about that, because Dario Argento's 1977 original is one of my favorite movies. It's easily one of the most demented horror films ever made, and (for me) the ultimate example of Argento's unique style, mixing Art Deco production design, gruesome (and looooong) murder scenes, some delicious camp, and a soundtrack (by the Italian prog-rock group Goblin) that makes your ears scream back, "WTF is that?"

It also boasts an incredible cast: great Italian actress Alida Valli, Andy Warhol's own Dracula Udo Kier, Hollywood legend Joan Bennett, and one of my favorite actresses from the '70s and '80s, Jessica Harper (The Phantom of the Paradise, Shock Treatment). It's a movie that tells you right up front that it's going to throw storytelling conventions violently out the window, as an explanatory narration simply fades out in mid-sentence. 

The remake also promises a fine cast, backing up lead Dakota Johnson with Tilda Swinton (could there be a more perfect choice to play the head of a German dance academy that's actually a witches' coven?) and Chloe Grace Moretz. It's directed by Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name), and has a score by Radiohead's Thom Yorke (okay, that is AWESOME). It's also reportedly very gory, so approach with caution. 

Or just stay home and re-watch Argento's original. It's a masterpiece that only gets better with repeated viewings.

About the still: this is card #7 from the original American 8"x10" lobby card set. 

The image below is the teaser poster for the remake.
The Halloween Spirit
Tips for keeping it going all year 'round
I love Halloween postcards.

That will surprise exactly no one, but what might surprise you is how many of these vintage cards were produced, and how many people now collect them. 

Halloween postcards were produced mainly from about 1905 to 1920, when the telephone replaced postcards as the most popular way to communicate easily. Over 3,000 of these cards were produced, and many now bring high prices. 

I originally got interested in collecting these cards when I had to provide illustrations for my book The Halloween Encyclopedia; now I'm hooked, and I add a few more to my collection throughout the year. I'm up to about 70 now - which is a very low number in comparison to many collectors!

There's even been a book produced that catalogs and offers price estimates on Halloween postcards (see below). Unfortunately this incredible resource - which runs 338 pages and includes small color reproductions of all the cards - went out of print in 2003 and is now a rare collectible itself. 
See Lisa's Halloween postcard collection
Strange Fruit
The weirdest thing I've recently uncovered in my research
I'm lucky enough to have a day job that I love, and one of the reasons is that I get to catalog some amazing rare books. Case in point: An Historical Essay Concerning Witchcraft, from 1720. 

This is another one of those situations where writing research goes in reverse: instead of having an existing work that I'm researching, this is something I stumble on that inspires me to write something. 

I've already co-written (with Rocky Wood) a non-fiction graphic novel about the history of witch persecutions (Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times), but just casually flipping through the pages of this extraordinary book turned up facts I'd never heard of, like this description of witch trials: "...they were to be tried by Swimming, with their Thumbs and Toes tied cross one another." 

Although I can't afford to buy this copy (it's priced at a mere $750!), the text of the book is available for free download via Archive.org . I may just need to think about writing another witch-related book...
Read An Historical Essay Concerning Witchcraft
Behind the Screams
About a Story
"Poppi's Monster" (first published in The Mammoth Book of Frankenstein)
 
I thought I'd talk about this oldie-but-goodie (first published in 1994) since 2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein.

This was my second short story sale, following "Sane Reaction" the year before. On the basis of that story, editor Stephen Jones invited me to submit to The Mammoth Book of Frankenstein

Because I grew up loving Frankenstein's monster from the early Universal horror films - he really was the most sympathetic of the monsters for me - I knew I wanted to write a story about the monster being an imaginary friend to a child. To give the story conflict and passion, I chose to make the child a victim of abuse. 

I also was very aware of the magnificent 1973 Spanish film The Spirit of the Beehive, which is about a six-year-old girl who imagines Frankenstein's monster as an imaginary friend, and I tried consciously to avoid using anything reminiscent of that film. I think I was successful, because while the story was compared in at least one review to that film, the comparison was favorable and complimentary.

The use of "Poppi" instead of the more common "Papa" or "Daddy" was because I was working with an Italian gentleman at the time whose young children called him "Poppi"; although he most definitely did not abuse his children (he doted on them!), I thought "Poppi" was a lovely word for a parent.

I was recently honored when editor John Joseph Adams reprinted the story at Nightmare Magazine. It's now available for all to read via that excellent publication's website (link below).
Read "Poppi's Monster"
WIP It
My current works-in-progress
One of the things I worked on in April was a little clean-up of my website, and I also revised my bio. 

For a long time, I've used a very simple bio; but upon recently comparing that bio to other authors' in an anthology, I felt like it wasn't the best introduction to me. Although my natural tendency is to present myself in a modest way, it was time to brag a little, so here's the new bio:

"Lisa Morton is a screenwriter, author of non-fiction books, and award-winning prose writer whose work was described by the American Library Association’s Readers' Advisory Guide to Horror as “consistently dark, unsettling, and frightening”.  She is the author of four novels and more than 130 short stories, a six-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award®, and a world-class Halloween expert. She co-edited (with Ellen Datlow) the anthology Haunted Nights; other recent releases include Ghosts: A Haunted History and the collection The Samhanach and Other Halloween Treats. Lisa lives in Los Angeles."
Visit Lisa's website

The Samhanach and Other Halloween Treats

The Samhanach and Other Halloween Treats is now available in e-book and print from JournalStone. It collects four novellas, ten short stories, a new introduction by Nancy Holder, and new notes about the stories from me.
Keep Halloween Going!
Ghosts: A Haunted History
My acclaimed book Ghosts: A Haunted History is now available in an affordable trade paperback.
Haunt Yourself
CD Select: Lisa Morton
CD Select: Lisa Morton is a mini-collection gathering together four tales chosen by me, with accompanying notes. Available in either e-book or signed & limited hardcover edition.
Reserve Yours Now!
Scream and Scream Again!
Includes my YA story "Summer of Sharks". Coming in July 2018. 
Start Screaming!

Haunted Nights

This anthology of all-new Halloween (and Dia de los Muertos/Devil's Night/All Souls' Eve) fiction features sixteen stories by some of the genre's hottest authors. The anthology received a starred and boxed review in Publishers Weekly, as well as raves from Rue Morgue, Locus, and many others.
Haunt Your Nights!
The Lovecraft Squad: Dreaming
This volume in Stephen Jones's "mosaic novel" includes two chapters by me. Coming in November 2018.
Pre-order Now
Unspeakable Horror 2
Unspeakable Horror 2: Abominations of Desire is the long-awaited follow-up to the Bram Stoker Award-winning first book. Includes my story "Ofrenda".
Get Unspeakable
The Mammoth Book of Halloween Stories