This was going to be THE year, man. First, Halloween 2020 falls on a Saturday, Second, that’s also the night the clocks get set back an hour in the U.S.. Finally, there will be a full moon that night (a blue moon, actually). Do you know the last time a full moon was visible in all U.S. time zones on Halloween? 1944! That’s right, way back at the end of WWII. (Side note: according to The Daily Meal, the 1940’s was the decade that first introduced the idea of a sexy Halloween costume. Thanks, Eleanor Roosevelt!)
In a normal year, a Saturday-night, daylight-savings, full-moon Halloween could have brought my trick-or-treating traffic to over 400 kids. Do you realize how many nightmares and lifelong phobias I could have induced? But then along came coronavirus. I’m guessing the numbers will be down at least 75% from a normal year. Goddamnit.
Last year I converted my entire garage into the Upside Down world from Stranger Things. Kids packed to get inside and walk through heavy fog, flashing lights, blaring music and lots of screaming. It was wonderful. Do you know what that same idea would be called this year? A SUPER-SPREADER EVENT. I don’t want to be singled out on the national news like a reckless bar owner from Lake of the Ozarks, so I am having to scale things back this year. I created the wholly random theme of The Washburn Toxic Waste and Candy Company, I’m building some props to go out on the lawn, and I’ll be out there in a haz-mat suit flinging candy at the little ones. Everything will be outside and it’ll be safe. Sure, it’ll be fun, but it won’t be the same. *sigh*
P.S. Fuck you, 2020.
P.P.S. Wear your mask.
We’re seven months out from the launch of The Dead Husband but a few readers now have access to advance-reader copies of the book. That means the reviews on Goodreads start. It’s always a little nerve-wracking to start getting those early reviews, but I was quite happy to see this very first one posted.
Well, I wouldn’t call it a crappy ending, but I know what you mean.
What I’m Reading
If It Bleeds, Stephen King, (Scribner, 2020) This is how stupid I am: I thought this was a novel when it’s actually a collection of four novellas. I got this book as a gift and I didn’t want to know anything about it before reading, so I hadn’t even glanced the dust jacket for the description. So I read the intriguing and nicely creepy first novella “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone”, and then moved onto the next story (which I thought was merely a new chapter name) “The Life of Chuck”, and of course I couldn’t understand why the plot took such an abrupt and jarring turn (new characters, new setting, etc). But “The Life of Chuck” was so damn interesting (the best story in the book) that I gave King some leeway and was willing to patiently wait and see how everything tied together. It wasn’t until I was halfway through the book’s third and eponymous story that I smacked myself in the head and realized all the stories were self-contained. My application to the Mensa Society has since been denied.
The novella “If It Bleeds” is both the longest and the weakest in the collection. It’s a fascinating premise about an ageless shape-shifting news reporter who covers only tragedies because he feasts on pain and anguish. However, King places his minor character Holly Gibney from a previous trilogy in the center of the story, and because I never found her interesting in even her small roles in the other books, this becomes problematic when she serves as a central figure in this story. (King, in this author’s note, confesses that he adores her). In addition to the mesmerizing “The Life of Chuck” (about how we all contain multitudes), the collection’s final story “Rat” is classic King and perhaps the closest the book dances toward psychological horror. A struggling writer is suddenly overcome with an idea for a novel, then leaves his family to go write in a cabin in the woods. He develops a nasty fever (coronavirus?) and hallucinates a rat who offers the writer a Faustian bargain.
A tight collection of stories overall and well worth reading. And, I have to say, it does make for more interesting reading if you are trying to figure out how all the stories relate to one another, when, in fact, they don’t.
What I’m Listening To
Smartless Podcast Actors Jason Bateman (Ozark), Will Arnett (Arrested Development) and Sean Hayes (Will and Grace) are all friends and decided to create a podcast where they take turns bringing in a surprise guest to interview. And what a guest list they’ve achieved to date, with names like Will Farrell, Seth Rogan, Robert Downey Jr., Jimmy Kimmel, and even Senator Kamala Harris.
But what makes this a stand-out podcast is how organically funny the three of them are. They alternate between asking the subject serious questions and delivering brutal takedowns of one another. Nor do they shy away from taking shots at their guests. (In one instance, Robert Downey Jr. starts answering a question in a slow and plodding professorial tone when Sean Hayes cuts him off, saying “Can you talk slower? I’m having a hard time keeping up with you.”)
If you’re looking for some serious laughs while still wanting a meaningful interview with a subject who interests you, this podcast is what you need.
Bits of The Dead Husband
Up until my book launch next May, I’ll be sharing snippets of The Dead Husband in this space. This month’s passage:
I just love this girl. (all photos credit to Bertarelli Photography
Big ol’ eyes.
What happens to The Dead Husband between now and May 2021?
A lot! In the six-to-eight months prior to a book launch many things happen behind the scenes. The publisher prints hundreds of advance-review copies to send to media outlets (trade publications, national and major-market outlets, bookstagrammers, popular bloggers & celebrity book clubs) in order to get early reviews in and help build the hype. The sales team starts reaching out to their accounts (Barnes and Noble, Target, Walmart, Hudsons, indie bookstores, etc.) to get orders placed for them to (hopefully) all carry the title. We reach out to other authors for potential blurbs that would be placed on the book, and my PR team gets to work and coordinates with the publisher’s PR team on a launch plan. The launch plan is highly detailed and includes eblast announcements, pre-order contests, giveaways, and heavy email and social media marketing. Finally, as we get closer to launch, we start booking live events and interviews for the first few weeks post-launch (though those may still all be virtual by May of next year).
My publisher, Sourcebooks/Poisoned Pen Press and my PR team, Kaye Publicity, do a fantastic job coordinating and executing all the thousands of tasks that need to be done in order to successfully launch a title. As you can see, it’s a lot of work!