In the future, when we look back at 2012, what will we remember? The answer is obviously Taco Bell’s Dorito taco. But what else? Well, let us tell you! Presented below is what the PMMP staff has decided is the best of 2012. The categories are, of course, related to the writing industry. Obviously these are the only issues we are qualified to handle.
This is a tough call. I read a lot for reviews and I beta read for other authors on works in progress. I’m going to give my nod to a work that is soon to be published with Post Mortem Press. Chris Larsen’s first novel Losing Touch is the best work I’ve read this year. It is a bit of a meta-human story and a personal struggle with family drama. I look forward to seeing the final product soon. I know this is technically a 2013 release, but I read it this year and the point of these lists is to give you something to check out in the coming year. This novel will be worth your time.
Shoegazer by Ronald DeStefano. Was supposed to be released in 2012, but due to some complications, it will be out within a week or two. I don’t have a lot of time to read novels, but I managed to get a couple of them in (one of them being Max Booth III’s and that doesn’t count). This novel left me with a sense of wanting more after I was done reading it, and to this day, I still want to read it again. Make sure to be on the lookout for it.
My favorite novel of all time would probably have to be David Wong’s John Dies at the End, so obviously my most anticipated book of 2012 was its sequel, This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It. I was looking forward to it so much, in fact, that I was sure it would disappoint me, just because it could never live up to my insane expectations. However, it turned out to be better than what I imagined. Wong took the whole zombie phenomena everyone has been obsessed over the last few years and made it his bitch. If you ever want to read a book that actually describes the Internet’s mentality in the year 2012, then I can’t think of a better work.
I love anthologies. I love reading them. I love having pieces in them. I have reviewed some great anthologies and collections this year. My pick for best of the year goes to Zombie Jesus and Other True Stories with Dark Moon Books. I hate to feed the monster that is the ego of editor Max Booth III, but this is a solid anthology full of all great stories. You can read my detailed review of it here. It will satisfy horror fans and alternate history fans.
I know I am not supposed to vote for my own thing, but I was just a small cog in this big wheel. Slices of Flesh from Dark Moon Books is my choice this year. Each of the stories is masterfully crafted to give you a complete story in 1500 words or less. With authors such as Jack Ketchum, Joe McKinney, William Nolan and fabulous cover artwork by Mike Mignola of Hellboy fame, you can’t go wrong.
2012 was a year for amazing anthologies. I could spend this whole article listing them all, but none of them had such an impact as did Horror for Good, edited by RJ Cavender, Robert S. Wilson and Mark C Scioneaux. In case you only just now stepped out of that rock you call a home, Horror for Good is a charity anthology of horror short stories, with contributions from many outstanding authors in the field, such as Jack Ketchum and Ray Garton, along with many other excellent authors at the top of their game. Not only was this a spectacular work, but the marketing done on this book matched no other anthology this year. If you were in the horror writing industry early 2012, you simply did not mention upcoming anthologies without talking about Horror for Good. Coincidentally, at the same time I also worked with Dark Moon Books on a similar charity anthology called Slices of Flesh. Despite having scored Mike Mignola for Slices’s cover art, the powerful force of Cavender, Wilson and Scioneaux pushed that book from the spotlight, as well as any other new releases. It was the anthology of 2012. It also sparked one of the best small presses of the year, which I’ll get to in just a few minutes.
BEST SHORT STORY
This has been the year for short stories. I believe we are in a golden age for speculative fiction short stories. Many of my favorite short stories of all time were published this year. I’m giving my nod to “The Chopping Block” by Doug Murano. I am passing over many great stories to give this story a bump. This story appears in West Pigeon Press’s anthology For When the Veil Drops. This is another anthology of great, genre defying stories. Read my detailed review here. This dystopian, post apocalyptic tale by Murano made me want to write better once I read it. It is that good.
This is a totally unfair category to ask me. I must read 100 short story submissions a week. I read a lot of GOOD short stories. So to make me pick one is very difficult. But since Max is threatening me, I will choose “Ghost Town” by Joe McKinney. Appearing in Dark Moon Digest 8, it’s slightly longer than your average short story. Like anything else McKinney writes, it haunts even after you finish reading it. Since he is a San Antonio boy, and I happen to also live in the San Antonio area, it intrigues me that he uses places and streets that I am familiar with and I can close my eyes and actually envision what Joe writes.
I was originally going to take this category to write about the genius of Richard Thomas’s “Twenty Reasons to Stay and One to Leave”, but I just discovered that it was published in 2011, SO NEVER MIND THEN. So now I am going to pick a story published in Zombie Jesus and Other True Stories, an anthology I edited for Dark Moon Books. The story in question is “Culture Sculptor” by the always talented Charlie Fish. He took my anthology’s theme and twisted it in a way that no one would dare approach, and oh man, did it rock. The longest story in the book, it had me sucked in from the very beginning, and it didn’t let go until the final sentence. It manages to take every conspiracy theory involving a famous person, and comes up with an answer that is both crazy, believable, and entertaining as hell. Told in a noir voice, “Culture Sculptor” completely blew me away.
AUTHORS TO WATCH
I’m going to give you a few to watch here. I like up-and-coming authors. I read and reviewed the novel The Haunted House Wives of Allister, Alabama by Susan Able Sullivan. She has a quirky, Southern style and is an excellent author on the rise. Chris Larsen and T. Fox Dunham have never disappointed me with their work. Derek Deremer has entered the world of self-publishing with a new series Humanity Gone, Book 1: After the Plague. It is roughly in the style of the Hunger Games. I believe he has a future publishing career worth watching. Rob Smales is a talented short story writer. He is featured in the anthology The Ghost IS the Machine and has published with Dark Moon Digest among other publications. Watch for big things coming from him soon. Armand Rosamilia is a prolific short story author and publisher. His catalog of work is expansive. His Dying Days series of zombie novels are raw, visceral, and have some unique twists. I have left out many great authors, but will give credit in future reviews here on the pmmp blog and @AmongTheZombies on Twitter.
Again, I work with a LOT of authors and read things they send me on a daily basis. So thanks a lot Max. But authors to look out for, hmmm…Christian Larsen is one that comes to mind. He seems to be in a lot of anthologies and I believe he is publishing a novel soon. Other good authors to look for are Gerry Griffiths, Steven Jenkins, and even though I am not supposed to mention him, our very own Jay Wilburn. Also, that Max Booth III guy isn’t too shabby.
2012 introduced me to over a hundred fantastic new authors. It would take a novel the size of East of Eden to write about them all, but I’ve managed to narrow the list down to the two most prominent authors who stood out to me this year. The first would be, whom I’ve dubbed the new king of neo-noir, Richard Thomas. I managed to get a copy of his debut book, Transubstantiate, and have been following his short stories ever since. I anxiously await his presently unpublished novel, Disintegration, which has been described as Dexter meets Falling Down. He belongs in the same Velvet fanbase as Stephen Graham Jones, Will Christopher Baer and Craig Clevenger.
Author #2 for me would have to be PMMP columnist, Jay Wilburn, who I think has just decided that he is going to be in everything, ever, from now on. The man writes faster than I’ve ever seen, and the amazing part is, his work is always fantastic. His debut novel, Loose Ends, was great, and I am looking forward to seeing how his career advances.
BEST SMALL PRESS
I am tortured by this category. I have had great experiences with many presses both as an author and a reviewer. This includes here at PMMP, Dark Moon, Hazardous Press, Cruentus Libri, May December, Rainstorm, Untold, Post Mortem, Angelic Knight, West Pigeon, and many other impressive medium, small, and fledgling presses. I’m going to give this year’s nod to World Weaver Press. They have an unmatched promotion machine for the size press they are. Their catalog this year was carefully selected and presented novels that were unique and of high quality. I submit to all their calls. Authors and readers will be well served by their work.
Well this coming up year it is sure to be Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, but since we are reflecting on 2012…The market is flooded with small presses. Some author gets the idea that anyone can publish anything, and that simply isn’t the case. Publishing is hard work and only those truly committed will shine. In 2012, Rainstorm Press was one of those publishers that stood out from the crowd. Lyle Perez, editor in chief, has an eye for a good story and formats his books with great attention to detail. I look forward to anything Lyle and his crew publishes.
This was a hard choice. But in the end, I can’t think of a better small press than Nightscape Press that has skyrocketed to success so quickly. After creating Horror for Good, the editors decided to launch their own publishing company soon thereafter, and it has quickly gone on to publish such authors as Benjamin Kane Ethridge, Stephen Graham Jones, Trent Zelazny, and Peter Giglio. Their marketing team is just incomparable when it comes to small presses (except for maybe Permuted), and it is now my goal to get one of my own titles under their belt. Here’s to the new year, people.