|It’s that lovely time of year ago when thoughts turn to scaring the hell out of little kids. Halloween!
For my newer subscribers, you should know I’m kinda into this holiday. I remember, when I was a little kid, there would always be that ONE HOUSE that was the crazy Halloween house. And I remember thinking to myself, someday I’m gonna be that house. Well, I’ve been living that dream for about 20 years now, going all out with my Halloween decorations and curating a unique theme every year. And it pays off! I have a big party and, on the special night itself, my Victorian-styled neighborhood usually sees 300-400 trick or treaters.
Most years I’ve wrapped my front porch in burlap and built the set out there. In 2019, I moved it to my garage and spent the better part of a month constructing a Stranger Things motif. It was goddamn rad.
The last couple of years have been back to the porch, but this year it’s once again in the garage and the theme is:
Yeah, I know. Kind of weird. I get it. I actually think I came up with this idea during a fever dream. But I’m committed, and it’s going to be lovely.
I’m essentially turning my garage in a 70’s disco club that exists in the fiery depths of hell. I’ve built a bar (666 Spirits) staffed by sequined demons. I’ve handcrafted dayglo, resin cocktails. There will be an animatronic leaping Satan. A spinning disco ball and a million lights. Horrendous disco music blaring. Fog filling the space. And I might just be lurking about in my 3-piece red suit and demon eyes, waiting to provide a few extra scares.
Check out the walk-through video below, and stay tuned for next month when I’ll share my Halloween scream reel. Happy haunting, friends!
|“Gritty, unflinching, and sometimes violent, this thriller is reminiscent of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and the television series The Equalizer.”
—Library Journal (Starred Review) on The Comfort of Black
|Making It Up
Newly added episodes of my conversation series Making It Up are out!
This month I chatted with New York Times bestselling mystery author Laurie R. King (Back to the Garden), lawyer-turned-crime writer Leanne Kale Sparks (The Wrong Woman), award-winning novelist and James Patterson co-author David Ellis (Looks Closer), and horror novelist Russell James (Dark Inspiration).
All episodes are available on my website, my YouTube channel, and wherever you get your favorite podcasts.
|What I’m Watching
Santo, (Netflix, 2022)
Ugh, okay. I really wanted to like this (and how I fucking hate reviews of my books that begin like that…) This show grabbed my attention because it seemed to have a Narcos vibe about it, and I loved that show.
From Netflix: “Two cops on opposite sides of the Atlantic engage in a desperate hunt for a vicious international drug dealer whose face has never been revealed.”
I love vicious international drug dealers! Especially faceless ones! The setting alternates between Brazil and Spain (apparently massive Netflix subscriber bases), and the dialogue similarly alternates between Spanish and Portuguese. Not a problem. Beautiful languages, and of course I used subtitles. Shot on location in each country, and the cinematography is lovely. The acting? Decent! Raúl Arévalo is particularly good.
So what’s my problem with this show? Well, I can encapsulate the issue using the words I muttered to myself while watching the complete first season. I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT’S GOING ON.
Now, look, I’m not claiming to have a steel-trap mind when it comes to TV shows. Jessica will attest to the many nights on the couch where I pause a show, turn to her, and ask, “Who’s that guy again?” But with Santo, it’s almost like they tried very hard to insert ambiguity to cover massive plot holes. Like the executives at Netflix decided a confusing show was more acceptable than an outright bad one. The show jumps location and time periods frequently, never quite giving enough clues to fully understand any character’s motivations or actions. And after reading some other critical reviews of the series, it looks like I’m not alone in this assessment. As a writer, I’ve learned from experience the importance of telling a complex tale as simply as possible, and Santo, unfortunately, does not do that.
On the plus side, there were some scenes where characters had the letter X carved into their eyelids, and that was kinda neat.
|What I’m Reading
Man, I’m really struggling to get books read. Maybe it’s because I have a whole stack of them on my nightstand. Maybe it’s because many of them are mystery/thrillers, and sometimes those are hard to read when I’m in the middle of my own novel. Maybe it’s because I never read during the day, figuring I should be writing instead.
But I think it’s mostly because I watch dumb shows like Santo too late in the evening, and when I crawl into bed I’m too tired to make it past three of four pages.
All that being said, I am about 100 pages into my buddy Shawn Cosby’s novel Razorblade Tears and am very much enjoying. Gritty and unapologetic, which is how the best writing always is. This book is a massive hit and has won more awards than I can count, and all that success could not have happened to a nicer guy. Side note: Obama gave a shout out to this book on Twitter, and Shawn told me the moment he heard about it he was eating a bowl of Froot Loops. I just love that.
|Photo of the Month
We went to Europe! It had been three years since my last international trip, and Jessica and I were able to go to Prague and Vienna last month. This is a shot of beautiful Prague from the top of the Old Town Hall.
|Update from My Kids
Flashback to two years ago, and my kids had just harvested our backyard pumpkin patch. God, I love October.
|Update from My Cat
Guess who wasn’t happy about my trip to Europe? The cat, of course. Here he is trying to rip the foot off my petsitter.
|Humor of the Month, sent to me by a friend
|Book-Love Instagram Post of the Month
|Thank you @cbrygida_czyta, for reading the Polish edition of The Comfort of Black! Hope you enjoyed it…
That’s it for now! Until next month…