Happy World Book Day!
In the words of our own Axel Howerton: “Buy a book. Read a story. Do unspeakable things with an author…”
Or hang out here and check out some treats from TALL TALES OF THE WEIRD WEST like this introduction from the one and only El Cuchillo:
Then check out these liner notes from the book and learn a little bit more about our author pals, maybe visit their sites and pick up some hot fiction!
Hey! Thanks for dropping by and hanging out with us on the wild frontier of the weird west. I know there seems to be a small underground surge of these kinds of books these days but, hell, we’ve been working on this thing for a couple of years now. Deadlines came and went, stories fell hither and yon, writers joined up and writers got gunned down in the street after being called out as yellow-bellied sonsawhores. We continued on, struggled through that remote pass, persevered through the long winter months of the in-between-times, and we came out on the other side of these mountains with only a few lost fingers and toes, and at least three pounds of frozen writer meat left to feed us. We’ve all agreed not to talk about it. What happens on Cannibal Mountain stays on Cannibal Mountain.
So first off, let me offer up my own thanks and a little round of applause for all of the writers involved, and give you a little rundown on their whys and wherefores and whathaveyous.
Jackson Lowry just happens to be the pen name of a prolific sumbitch who was born in Texas, raised in The West, and now wrangles words in the deserts of New Mexico. If we told you his real name, we’d have to scrape you up off of the floor before we killed you. Some say that The First Rodeo is based on unsubstantiated truth. Rumor has it that ol’ Jacks has been seen gnawing on his share of pretty big damn steaks down there by Los Alamos. Whether that’s one of those Godzilla-type nuclear accident kind-of situations, or prehistoric bronto burgers… who’s to say? In any case, Lowry has no less than fifteen stories and novels out there under his brim, including the novel Great West Detective Agency and a new adult western in the Blaze! Series called Six-Gun Wedding. Jackson is also continuing his weird west ways in an upcoming trilogy with Western Trail Blazers, starting with the first book Undead. You can wander on down to www.jacksonlowry.com to find out more.
Bloodhound. Holy hairy hell in a handbasket. C. Courtney Joyner certainly knows how to bring the chills and thrills to the western setting. Ol’ Court’s widely known to be an expert on the Spaghetti Western, and has served as the movie editor for True West Magazine, as well as contributing to Round-Up, Famous Monsters of Filmland and Fangoria. He can even be heard offering audio commentary on rereleased classics like The Comancheros, The Grand Duel, and The Big Gundown, some of the greatest non-Eastwood films in the genre. Mr. Joyner is a well-known screenwriter, including some of the great cult classics of the 80’s and 90’s, including work on the Trancers and Puppet Master series, as well as William Shatner’s Fright Night. He is also the author of a multitude of horror, western and crime stories, that have appeared in award winning anthologies like Law of the Gun, Hell Comes to Hollywood and Six Guns and Slay Bells. His hellacious genre-blasting novel Shotgun was nominated for a Peacemaker Award by the Western Fictioneers, and the follow-up, Shotgun 2: The Bleeding Ground is scheduled for October 2016. He’s also working on a new adventure series for the good folks at Tor. What the hell he’s doing hanging around here, we have no idea, but we sure are glad to have him. You can find Court at www.ccourtneyjoyner.com
El Cuchillo, the masked madman of the Pecos Andes. Or so he says. We aren’t even sure that’s a place… or a thing… “The Knife” cuts deep with his quick and dirty tale of bloodthirsty beasts on the range. His is also a pen name, obviously, but his real identity is just as vague and imperceptible. His history is as mysterious as his name. All I can tell you is that he delivered the groceries. The term “sloppy meat piñata” alone is destined to haunt your cerebellum for the foreseeable future. I liked this wily bastard, and Rosie’s Chicken & Biscuits so much, I let him write the introduction as well. And he assures me that he will return my grandmother and her dog, unharmed, once that introduction sees print. He doesn’t have a website, or a place of residence. If you want to get in contact, just call up the Circle-K on the corner of 9th and Hennepin and ask for Nacho Laredo. He’ll give you the number of a payphone somewhere in the vicinity of Chinatown, then you… well, let’s just say that it goes on from there.
What can I say about Scott S. Phillips that I haven’t said every damn time his name gets mentioned. I love this dude. He is the big brother I never knew I wanted, and he has been everywhere and done everything, man. He’s been a screenwriter, a filmmaker, a movie critic, a librarian, a long-haired lothario, a Shakespearean hobo, a drive-thru connoisseur, a comic-book scribe, a purveyor of fine films, a mage, a sage, a pauper, a poet, a pawn and a king. You can find him hiding in the background of the original Red Dawn. He wrote the underground cult classics Drive (greatest American martial arts movie you’ve never seen) and Stink of Flesh (Best non-Romero zombie flick that you’d better go see right NOW, which Scott also directed). He wrote an official Friday the 13th tie-in novel. He once shared an apartment with Scream Queen Linnea Quigley. He wrote a comic book with Dirk Benedict, the Faceman himself! He once worked as a stand-in on a Motorhead video. For Lemmy. Fucking Lemmy. Scott S. Phillips is the coolest cat I know, and my A-#1 personal favorite wordsmith. I sure as hell was not going to put this book together without one of his tales of crime and self-destruction. The Gifts Of A Folding Girl delivers in spades, and bullets, and the best monkey-paw screw job in eons. Go find Scotty’s fine tales of woe and whimsy, including Squirrel Eyes, Tales of Misery and Imagination, and Pete, Drinker of Blood. You should also check out his hilarious series of Boone Butters shorts on Amazon, and then get ready for Pete Has Risen From The Grave coming soon!
Grady Cole is another damned pen name. What is it with these dudes? Grady Cole is named for two young fellas who were somehow themselves unknowingly named for the Cormac McCarthy character. All four – the writer, the boys and the runaway Texas farm boy-turned-ranchero – prefer their whiskey straight, and their tales terrifying. You Are The Blood takes the old vampire standby, turns it on its head, grabs itself a real solid switch (probably a stripling of birch or poplar) and lays into that toothy sumbitch to show it who’s boss. Grady Cole is currently under extreme pressure to do more work for Coffin Hop Press but, so far, he just wants to sit in the back of our office, drinking coffee out of the pot, reading Clive Barker and intermittently staring at a worn picture of naked Penelope Cruz. I can’t really blame him.
Dinner at Carcosa, by Allan Williams, better known around Cowtown as Bassano del Grappa, auctioneer and raconteur at the former Gorilla House Art Gallery. We’re not sure which of these names is his real one, but wherever he goes tall tales follow. Allan is new to short fiction, but long to the art of writing. A fine, well-seasoned journalist with his notepad pulled close to his snarling grizzled face, he’s whispered to have written campaign speeches for cabinet ministers and once turned down work as a spy. I mean, what do you say to that? You say, “Give us the story and you can have the notepad back!” Why is he here – slumming for kicks, or angling for a story? Maybe it was all the whiskey we poured down his gullet in the name of Fiction. He loves his grandma’s lavender tea. Check him out at www.CoffeeAndBlarney.com.
Rick Overwater is a wildly talented sonofagun. Rocker. Roller. Wordslinger. Another former journalisto turned slovenly fiction hack. Rick is the co-creator/writer of the comic book Futility, and singer/songwriter/guitar-basher in The County Reeves. If he ain’t rockin’, he’s writing. He is currently working on some very cool stuff, including some steampunkish badassery involving Harry Houdini and the early days of deep sea diving. Cold Eggs and Whiskey is his first published short story, but you wouldn’t know it by the taste. Dark, twisted and full of twang, this story was the impetus for the whole dang project. Rick was also conscripted as the resident copy editor and all-around asskicker for Coffin Hop Press. This book has his stink all over it, and damn if it don’t smell like excellence. Rick is frequently found imbibing – and surviving – at www.overwater.ca
Craig Garrett is a beautiful Southern Gentleman who is most certainly too good for the likes of this book. His story Death Is Daily is a heartbreaking chunk of raw fiction gold. Fantasy and Western rarely meet so tenderly, or with such brutal sincerity. Craig is a former Professor of English and death row prison guard. I once watched him wrassle a bear. His beard is glorious. His fiction has been published in The Brooklyn Rail, Shotgun Honey, Fires on the Plain and Dark Moon Digest. He is the writer of the exceptional webcomic Robot Lincoln and Zombie Jackson. You can find him at @craiggarrett and ask him why he’d want to get mixed up with a bunch of yahoos like us.And check out his Half-Assed Horrorcast
Let’s address that elephant in the corner. You see him. Right over there. Shifty eyes, trunk scarred with a lifetime of misery. Eating all the cheese puffs. He asks me “How did you get away with putting your own damn story in this book? What kind of self-serving, masturbatory, ego-driven bullshit is that?” Well, I’ll tell you. I am the worst. Just the absolute worst. And also, we ran short on finished stories. This is the kind of thing that happens when you make anthologies. It’s like a marathon. At the beginning, everybody’s mom throws on her spanks, her spandex tights, her Juicy Couture and her brand-new neon pink Nike trainers with the filtered aeration system and the micro-pump actuators with the quadroponic blaupunkt. Whatever the fuck that might be. By the time you get to the finish line? Mrs. Delvecchio, with the tight abs and the pneumatic floatation devices; and Toby’s scrawny mom who only eats Kale and farts like a wind farm. They’re the only two who make it to the end. Everybody else goes home to rub lavender oil on their calves and call in to book a pedi. Such is Life. So. It. Goes. As such, I threw a little something into the mix to help us make weight. I think it turned out alright. The Horse Always Gets It First kinda feels like a Twilight Zone version of Sergio Corbucci. Scotty liked it. Blame him. If you do like it, go check out some of my other stuff, like the Arthur Ellis Award nominated Hot Sinatra, once described as the Robert Rodriguez version of an Elmore Leonard book. I’ll take it. Or check out the Manlove & Kickerdick Tricks, a bunch of short stories featuring two hired thugs who happen to also be a gender-specific couple, and underground sex performers, and really terrible at crime. Find it all at www.axelhow.com
Each and every one of us is a fan of the weird, a denizen of the outlands, and a lover of the hard-scrabble, do-or-die, six-guns and knife fights, horse-always-gets-it-first Wild West. Ain’t we all? I know I’ve been a fan since as long as I can remember. Possibly even before my ol’ Granddaddy told me tales of how I was distantly related to the Younger side of the James-Younger gang, how his own Grandpappy was run out of Missourah on a rail, how we came from cattle rustler and horse thieves before the good name of Howerton wandered on up north of the whiskey trail and settled down to ranch and farm in Southern Alberta, which is basically the Texas panhandle of the Great White North. I’m sure it was 98% bullshit, but it still gives me gumption. I grew up with cowboys, ranchers, farmers and oilmen. My cousins were chuck wagon racers and rodeo riders. My Granddad wore boots every day of his life, and if he wasn’t wearing his Stetson, he was wearing that green John Deere trucker cap. And when he wasn’t wearing the Stetson, I was drowning myself in its ten gallon cavern. When I was ten, I stayed up all night watching Sergio Leone flicks, spent all my summer afternoons slinging hot plastic from the hip and watching Wanted: Dead or Alive reruns on the UHF channels. I may have been a kid through the 70’s and 80’s, and been obsessed with sci-fi TV shows, horror movies, Harryhausen monster flicks, Ray Bradbury books, the glory of Forrest J. Ackerman’s Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, and the mind-altering curves on Pam Grier, but underneath it all I was still that little rugrat with his Granddad’s straw cattleman floating around his cheeks. Eventually all of those interests flow together, meld and merge, and become a mighty cheese monster, a veritable Horta spiced liberally with hickory and left on the front porch of the nearest farmhouse. Your twisted, abnormal writer-brain starts thinking “vampire showdown at high noon”, or “psycho killer on the plains”, or “James Bond and Indiana Jones meet ID4”.
Wait. What? Well, at least two of those tales turned out pretty goddamn slick. In any case, I’m positive that if you asked any of these other guys, they’d tell you a similar story. Some of those stories I’m already privy to. Rick was an Alberta farm boy, still is, now he writes a comic about a farmer being molested by a nympho space slug. Jackson is Lone Star born and bred and dreaming up sexy school marms and undead gunslingers. Craig moved onto his own grandparents’ farm and lives there to this day, spinning yarns and raising barns. Scotty occasionally wears chaps to breakfast. Ol’ Court, hell, he’s teaching the master class on Old West in modern pop culture. And Cuchillo? That mean old bastard eats rattlesnake with his beans and then scratches his stories out in the dust with their backbones. Each and every one of us has some touchstone connection to the myths and melodies of the Wild West and now we’ve birthed our mutant hybrid half-calf alien symbiote upon you all.
I, for one, welcome our new alien trail bosses.
Adios, muchachos and muchachas.
Sleep tight, don’t let the Chupacabras bite