Weston Ochse is the author of twenty books, most recently SEAL Team 666 and its sequel Age of Blood, which the New York Post called 'required reading' and USA Today placed on their 'New and Notable Lists.' His first novel, Scarecrow Gods, won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in First Novel and his short fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His work has appeared in comic books, and magazines such as Cemetery Dance and Soldier of Fortune. He lives in the Arizona desert within rock throwing distance of Mexico. He is a military veteran with 29 years of military service and currently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan. Please contact him through this site.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Paella, Paella, Paella and Elvira!

Little did I know that when I went to Valencia, Spain, that I'd be going to the place where Paella was born. I've had every kind of paella since I've been here. Paella Valencia is with vegetables, chicken and rabbit. Paella Negra is made from squid and squid ink. That's my favorite. There's even lobster paella. And it's all so damn good. The only problem is that the Spanish don't eat until about 10 PM so by the time I had paella, I was on carb overload and ready for bed. Next time I go to Spain I'm going to get on a regiment to prepare.

So for your viewing pleasure, I'm going to share some food pictures.

Cheese and Mushrooms in a Dill Sauce (Romania)

Elvira walking with me in Romania to eat

Sardines in Vinegar Tapas on the Beach

About to be Paella'd

Paella Negra and Sangria

More Sangria

Appetizers of whole fried prawns in salt and pepper

Before the Paella Fest



xxxx
xxxx
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Hand of the Martyr

When Willie Martinez showed up to the first day of this conference I'm attending in Valencia, Spain, talking about seeing the shriveled hand of an old Christian Martyr in a Cathedral, I knew I'd have to see it too. He said the veins popped out of it like and the skin was like jerky.

I know. I know. A little too descriptive. And I'd never use the word 'jerky' in the same sentence with 'Christian Martyr.' It seems damn sacrilegious and a little too profane even for my tastes. Still, I had to see it.

So the I ducked out of the last half hour of the conference, changed and began walking in the direction of the town I'd heard it was. Past the river park where they relocated an entire river and made a park the length of the city. Past an old castle entrance. I really didn't know where I was going, but I somehow unerringly arrived at the Plaza of the Sacred Virgin, then around the corner found the awe-inspiring and imposing 1270 edifice called Valencia Cathedral or The Cathedral of the Chalice.


Yeah. That Chalice. 1st Century gold cup that old Jesus shared with the people. And they refer to it as The Holy Grail. BONUS. I get to see a martyr's hand and the Holy Grail.

Check this out

The Holy Grail of Valencia

The most celebrated treasure in Valencia Cathedral is a chalice known as the Santo Caliz, which is said to be the famous Holy Grail. Whether or not this is so, it is certainly an intriguing artifact. It is of ancient date and was hidden in a monastery in northern Aragon throughout the Dark Ages, where it inspired many Grail legends. It has been enshrined in the cathedral since 1437, and can be seen in a dark, simple stone chapel in the corner of the cathedral.

The Santo Caliz is made of two parts: an ancient stone cup attached to a medieval stem and base. Fashioned out of dark brown agate, the main cup is 6.5 inches tall and 3.5 inches wide. Experts have dated it to the 1st century BC with a provenance of Antioch or Alexandria.3 The medieval stem and handles are made of gold; the alabaster base is decorated with pearls and precious stones.

Inside I took the audio walking tour. As you can see from the pictures here, it was just amazing. I kept wishing Yvonne was there because no matter how much I was enjoying it she would have loved it ten fold me.

Then I saw the hand of the Martyr. I gotta admit. I stopped breathing for a moment. It was a very eerie sight. And it was more than a hand. As you can see, it was the lower half of an arm. Wow. Just wow. Turns out it's from St. Vincent the Martyr. Also known as Vincent of Saragossa. Wikipedia says:

According to legend, after being martyred, ravens protected St. Vincent's body from being devoured by vultures, until his followers could recover the body. His body was taken to what is now known as Cape St. Vincent; a shrine was erected over his grave, which continued to be guarded by flocks of ravens. In the time of Muslim rule in the Iberian Peninsula, the Arab geographer Al-Idrisi noted this contant guard by ravens, for which the place was named by him كنيسة الغراب "Kanīsah al-Ghurāb" (Church of the Raven)
Here's the Valencia Cathedral Website

Afterward, I sat in the piazza and drank some water and had a sandwich. The sandwich was Spanish ham, some sort of semi-soft cheese on brioche. Are you kidding me? God that was good.

Here are the rest of the pictures from Valencia, Spain. Enjoy.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Scary Rednecks and Appalachian Galapagos

Once upon the time there were two young writers who got together to make a chapbook. That chapbook exploded into 16 stories, a book that sold more books than any other Dark Tales titled, and spurred a sequel collection titled Appalachian Galapagos. These two books were collected into a very limited 26 copy Omnibus edition from Delirium that went for about a billion bucks. Scary Rednecks was reprinted by Delirium. Until now, Appalachian Galapagos has not been reprinted. That is until now.

Now both Scary Rednecks and Appalachian Galapagos are available for download in all e-formats.

Scary Rednecks
All Formats
Amazon

Appalachian Galapagos
All Formats -
Amazon (coming soon - the above link includes Kindle)

Appalachian Galapagos had an interesting evolution. It was supposed to come out in hardback by Imaginary Worlds. But Imaginary Worlds soon became Imaginary Books and folded having only published Brian Keene's No Rest for the Wicked in 2001. Here's the cover for the IW version of Appalachian Galapagos.

Then in 2002, John Turi of Medium Rare Books approached us. He soon published the book in a trade hardcover and released it on the main floor of the Book Expo of American. It was a big hit, but the publisher couldn't keep enough copies in stock for distribution.

Here's the Medium Rare version.

And since 2003, there haven't been any other copies in any other format available for sale.

That is until now.

I thought you all might appreciate this.

-Weston

Monday, May 16, 2011

Multiplex Fandango Up for Pre-order

Tomorrow is the BIG Day. Multiplex Fandango is up for pre-order at Dark Regions Press. Some of you may have heard about it, but this is my master work of short fiction. Please if you have a moment and an inclination, jump over to Dark Regions at this link and pre-order the book.

If you haven't yet heard about it. The cover art was done by Vince Chong. Joe Lansdale provided an introduction for the book. So far it's gotten some fantastic reviews. Surely, this collection has my very best work, encompassing 15 years of writing. I've written 6 original tales for this collection. Of my 100+ published short stories, I selected ten. So Multiplex Fandango has 16 stories for hours of fearful reading.

I could share the blurbs that have been coming in, but I won't inundate you. The  latest blurb came in just today, though, so let me share that. You all might not know Dani and Eytan Kollin, but they are the authors of The Unincorporated Man (Tor Books), which exploded onto the science fiction scene, winning the coveted Prometheus Award.  I read it with awe, amazed that such an original idea and a well-written book could be written by first time authors. Since then they've gone to write quite a bit more. Here's what Dani had to say about Multiplex Fandango


The Unincorporated Man"Weston Ochse is to horror what Bradbury is to science fiction -- an artist whose craft, stories and voice are so distinct and mesmerizing that you can't help but be enthralled. Multiplex Fandango is yet another in a long line of exclamation points that reminds us of that fact." -- Dani Kollin, Prometheus Award-winning author of The Unincorporated Man



That he compared me to Ray Bradbury is most humbling. I dedicated Multiplex Fandango to Messrs Bradbury and Lansdale. I think they are absolute masters of the craft. So to be compared with Mr. Bradbury is a lifelong dream.

So do me a favor and go over to Dark Regions Press, please.  I the meantime, you can check out my uber-cool trailer. Feel free to shoot me a comment now and then too.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Last Zombie Infects Me All Over Again

Nothing like hot sun, cool water, and a zombie comic. Nothing better unless it's from Brian Keene. He can tell a story and in the world of comics, I'm envious. I've recently been writing comic scripts so I'm becoming familiar with how the experts are doing it. From Steve Niles, to Chuck Dixon, to Jeff Marriotte, to Warren Ellis, I'm learning the art of taking my story and creating a visual and narrative symbiosis.

Essential Defenders, Vol. 3 (Marvel Essentials) (v. 3)I'm a self-described Bronze Age comic book lover. For the uninitiated, this is roughly 1970 - 1985. Loved the Team Ups. Loved the What Ifs. LOVED the Defenders. In fact, my wife got me The Essential Defenders for Christmas, which saved me from going into my jacketed and boxed collection. There's a certain naivete with the Bronze Age. The characters aren't all knowing, rarely even know themselves, and make a lot of mistakes. I think that was a character of the time reflected in the comics. It probably represents me most accurately.

Desolation Jones
Take modern comics, for instance.Warren Ellis, whom I love, created Desolation Jones among many other great works. But representationally, I think Desolation shows a modernism in comics that is polar opposite of Bronze Age. The character seems to understand himself. He knows more. Not that he's smarter than his 1975 counterparts, but as a character, Desolation is representative of a society with instantaneous information, which includes self-reflection and self-knowledge. That said, modern comics are very aware of themselves and inculcate social issues to a much greater degree.

Back to Brian... what he's done with The Last Zombie, and earlier to a degree with Devils-Slayer, is merge modern and Bronze Age comic realities. The soldiers and characters retain much of the naivete, hoping the best in people, unsure what the right answer is, and relatively unaware of their own interior motives. Yet all the while Brian is able to weave social issues and a level of self-reflection not often found in Bronze Age.

And his soldiers are spot on. Brian's ability to represent the reality of brothers in arms, soldier on soldier dependancey and love is absolutely perfect. I saw many of my friends in the characters of The Last Zombie.

Yep. Brian did it to me. I'm infected all over again. For a long time I've had my desk covered with comic covers because it's who I am. I forgot that for awhile.  My desire has been rekindled. I need to read more comic books. I need to write comic books.

My goal for 2011 is to have a comic script accepted. So all you publishers out there, watch out for it. I'll be calling soon. Expect it. The stories are exploding out of me. Ideas are oozing from my skin. I have a story to tell. I have a comic to write.

Gotta go now. My panels are calling.


Weston Ochse
Tarantula Grotto
Sonoran Desert

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

John Horner Jacobs Creating New Southern Gods

Occasionally you meet someone at a convention that you just hit it off with. I'm not only a new friend of John's, but a considerable fan. He gave me a copy of Southern Gods, which is due to come out from Night Shade in August 2011. Let me say, I get handed lots of books. I try and read most of them. Some I comment on. Sometimes it feels like a chore, but I don't mind because I have an obligation to pay it back.

Cover Art for Southern Gods

Reading Southern Gods was no chore. It was a dark and dreamy delight. The plot rises from the mire of established Southern Gothic and Cthluhu fiction and is enlivened by the sort of characters only Elmore Leonard and Shirley Jackson could write. The narrative creeps on alligator feet through the swamps of Post WWII American South, where slavery is still fresh in the memory and Rock and Roll is being born. A detective noir cthulhu southern gothic mystery, Southern Gods held me fast until the end, leaving me wanting more, but satisfied that I had witnessed enough brilliantly rendered brutality and compassion for one sitting.

I'm sharing this from John's site. I thought it was funny -Oh! I keep forgetting stuff. I made the acquaintance of Weston Ochse (and his wife Yvonne Navarro) and we hit it off gangbusters. He gave me some invaluable advice that I won't share here because I don't want you to steal the new super-abilities that Wes' words of power gave me. But let me tell you what, friends and neighbors, Weston Ochse is a badass of monumental proportions. Do not fuck with Wes. He'll break you. I would be interested in seeing Wes face off with Paul Wilson in a verbal cage match. Too bad they're both too damned pleasant to do it.

The very idea of F. Paul Wilson and me going at it is utterly ridiculous. Besides the fact that he'd probably open up a Repairman Jack-sized can of whoopass, we all know that he'd have Tom Monteleone step in for him, and no one, I mean no one, wants to mess with the Borderlands Mafia.  

Plus. I love Paul. For that matter I love Tom too.

And now I'm finding myself loving John. I feel honored that I have an insight and a special look into the beginning of a young man's career. I've heard about his next book, and even talked to him about his next project. The horizon is deep and golden for John. I for one can't wait for the rest of the universe to discover exactly how good he is.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Demons Anthology Table of Contents and Cover

 DEMONS

Edited by John Skipp

Published by Black Dog Levinthall

650 Pages

Synopsis

This bone-chilling collection explores demons in many forms - from spirit possession of the human soul to fallen angels and the devil - through thirty-five stories from renowned and up-and-coming writers of horror and fantasy including Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Harlan Ellison, and many more. The next book in "Black Dog's" supernatural series, "Demons" presents thirty-five terrifying stories in which evil spirits wreak havoc on the world. Some of the tales included here are classics, the best that the genre has to offer, by authors such as Joe Hill, Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Mark Twain, and Harlan Ellison. Others come from the latest and most promising newcomers to the craft including Mike Resnick, Karen Joy Fowler, and Kij Johnson. John Skipp, editor of "Black Dog's" books "Zombies and Werewolves", provides fascinating insight into the history and details of demon lore, and its role in popular culture, through two nonfiction essays. Resources at the end of this book include lists of the best of long-form fiction, movies, websites, and writers.

Table of Contents

  1. "Cherub" by Adam-Troy Castro
  2. "The Devil" by Guy De Maupassant
  3. "The Book" by Margaret Irwin
  4. "The Monkey's Paw" by W.W. Jacobs
  5. "The Hound" by H.P. Lovecraft
  6. "The Black Cat" by Edgar Allan Poe
  7. "The Devil And Daniel Webster" by Stephen Vincent Benet
  8. "Nellthu" by Anthony Boucher
  9. "The Howling Man" by Charles Beaumont
  10. The Exorcist (excerpt) by William Peter Blatty
  11. "Hell" by Richard Christian Matheson
  12. "Visitation" by David J. Schow
  13. "Best Friends" by Robert R. McCammon
  14. "Into Whose Hands" by Karl Edward Wagner
  15. "Pilgrims To The Cathedral" by Mark Arnold
  16. "The Bespelled" by Kim Harrison
  17. "Non Quis, Sed Quid" by Maggie Stiefvater
  18. "Demon Girl" by Athena Villaverde
  19. "He Waits" by K.H. Koehler
  20. "Happy Hour" by Laura Lee Bahr
  21. "Staying The Night" by Amelia Beamer
  22. "Daisies And Demons" by Mercedes M. Yardley
  23. "And Love Shall Have No Dominion" by Livia Llewellyn
  24. "Mom" by Bentley Little
  25. "20th Level Chaotic Evil Rogue Seeks Whole Wide World To Conquer" by Weston Ochse
  26. "Consuela Hates A Vacuum" by Cody Goodfellow
  27. "Our Blood In Its Blind Circuit" by J. David Osborne
  28. "Empty Church" by James Steele
  29. Angelology (excerpt) by Danielle Trussoni
  30. "The Coda Of Solomon" by Nick Mamatas
  31. "John Skipp The Law Of Resonance" by Zak Jarvis
  32. "Stupid Fucking Reason To Sell Your Soul" by Carlton Mellick III
  33. "Halt And Catch Fire" by Violet LeVoit
  34. "Scars In Progress" by Brian Hodge
  35. "The Unicorn Hunter" by Alethea Kontis
  36. "Other People" by Neil Gaiman

Pretty psyched about this. My story was a long one and wasn't accepted until the very last moment.



Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Dead Dog Party

Rain Graves, myself and Yvonne Navarro
 There have been some great conventions over the years. There have been some whose moments shall live with me forever. Like the time Bill Mosely (House of 1000 Corpses) and I talked shop at WHC San Fran. Or when David Whitman, Wrath, Reggie Bannister (Phantasm), and Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead OG) ate crab cakes and drank wine at Horrorfind 1. Or sipping good scotch with Peter Straub into the wee hours of the morning at my first NECON. Or John Ringo pulling me from the room after I gave him a rousing military introduction that left him shaking with memories of basic training and satanic drill sergeants (TusCon 35). Or singing Flock of Seagulls songs with Mikey Huyck, Mike Arnsen and a dozen others, all of us surprised (except for Mike) that we knew all the words (WHC Phoenix). Or meeting improbably fans, like the Tennessee Knitting Circle (Horrorfinds 1 &2), The Mormon Hindi Hooker (WHC SLC), The Four Frat Guys from Florida (WHC Chicago), or Jorge who brought a note from my mother to WHC Kansas City.

First Sighting of Multiplex Fandango

There have been some great conventions. Until now I thought WHC Denver 2000 was the best convention. I met my wife there. I met most of my friends, to include the Cabal there. We almost burned down the Tor Party, when Geoff Cooper lit the pentacle on the floor. Dick Laymon and I giggled all over it. Feo Amante leapt atop the great bronze horse and almost made it gallop away. I established very close relationships in a small amount of time that have lasted to this very day.

At this point I’m not sure if WHC Austin 2011 was better than Denver, but I know for a fact it was its equal, at least in my eyes.  

Peter Straub and Me
A lot of a convention’s success has to do with the people. Those running it have to have a certain mentality and ability to multitask under intense strain and external pressure. I’m not sure who ran Denver, but the Austin crew had that in spades. Never once did I see them blow their tops, or freak out, or bat at invisible demons circling their hair, all of which I’ve seen happen before. Nate Southard and Lee Thomas and their crew were consummate pros and we were the better for it.

Another important aspect of a convention is location. Location. Location. Location. Just as in real estate and retail, location means everything in the tourist industry, and let’s face it, conventioneers are tourists. WHC Kansas city was out in the middle of the edge of forever. When the thunderstorms hit we felt displaced and in another galaxy, and were waiting for the Elder Gods to spread us on Ritz crackers. NECON convention center is a poor shadow of what the dorms and the campus provide. WHC San Fran and WHC NYC has pretty good spaces, but because they were downtown in big cities, everything was squished a little. Then of course there was the bar at NYC that shut down before midnight, leaving us wondering what to do until my Army Sergeant kicked in, and next thing you knew we had three dollies of alcohol delivering booze to the grand downstairs area that was the perfect scene for a bacchanalian extravaganza—which we had.
The Drake Hotel in Denver was an awesome place. It had convention spaces, great rooms, nice party rooms, a good bar, and was near lots of restaurants. Like the Drake, The Doubletree North in Austin had all of these elements. The bar was smaller, but the centrality of the convention spaces promoted the idea of unity.
Perhaps I don’t need to figure out which one was better. Perhaps I can just say that WHC Austin was equal to the best convention I’ve ever attended. By default, that makes it the best, right? Damn Right.
So many things happened on the way to the Dead Dog Party.

The Dark Region Writers Union
  • The First Meeting of Friends at the Convention, where although we hadn’t seen each other in many months, sometimes years, we fell into an easy chatter.
  • Lincoln Crisler introducing me at my reading like it was a boxing match at Ceasar’s Palace. (Thanks Linc)
  • Meeting Joe Morey from Dark Regions for the first time, seeing Multiplex Fandango ARCs and sitting down for a few hours signing them to fans. Joe brought 40 and left with none.
  • Having Dinner with Rocky Wood at the Bikini Bar- perfect convergence of the NFL Draft, bikinis, burgers, bikinis, beer, bikinis, fried pickles, bikinis, and friends.
  • Dinner with Yvonne Navarro at Pappadeaux (with Chris Marrs and Richard Payne)and Taj Mahal (with ourselves).
  • The artist reception and chatting with my agent (Bob Fleck) and my publisher (Jon Oliver), as well as a host of other writers and friends and fans.
  • Having Joe Lansdale tell me "That Book is F#ucking Good," meaning MULTIPLEX FANDANGO, and wishing I could use it as a blurb for the cover of the book.
  • The Weather in Horror Panel, which I’d made fun of up until we actually began, then realized that all my favorite stories were predicated on changes in the weather.
  • The Martial Arts Panel, where Joe Lansdale and Wrath White held court while Brian Keene and I fired quick 9mm shots in between expert thesis statements on the art of pain delivery mechanisms.
  • The Mass Autographing where I was allowed to unveil my Steaks and Bitches T-Shirt, sign books, chat words, and sit down for a few stolen minutes with Joe Hill.
  • Late night pizza, great beer, Deadites and Erasureheads, Peter Straub martinis, talking books not politics, and Brian Keene and Mary Sangiovani becoming perfect bookends to Yvonne and Me.
  • All my new friends and fans, including…
  • Talking projects with Russ Dickerson and Gard Goldsmith.
  • Eating awesome Mexican in downtown Austin, entertained by the vodka-stuffed thirty-something wedged into a twenty-something slip of a dress, who could barely walk, and not seeing the bats with Scott Edelman, Eunice Magill, Scott Brown, Kelly and Ann Laymon, Chris Marrs, Angel Leigh McCoy, Rain Graves, John Tomaszewski, and others.
  • Meeting Victoria Blake from Underland Press, who I’d talked to so many times on the phone.
  • Chatting with Steve Niles and watching the evil grin take over his face.
  • Sitting in the wonderful foyer on the gigantic couches, chatting with John Jacob Horner, about his new books (Southern Gods—which is amazing) and life in general. John’s a new great friend.
  • And last but not least, the Dead Dog Party, where Bob Ford, Kelli Owen, Jack Ketchum, Christopher Teague, Gard Goldsmith, Simon Clark and several others toasted the end of the con, only to discover that there was one other reason to toast when President Obama came on the television and announced the death of UBL.
  • And the dénouement came on the bus ride to the airport with Chad Savage and Simon Clark, tales of dubstepping, Family Guy and improbably friends meeting in a solitary van, headed to the airport that would see us all to our homes.
Yeah. WHC Austin was pretty incredible. I made some deals. I have a lot of work to do before the next convention. I have some serious deliverables that could make or break me. We’ll have to see how they turn out.  What helped were the three things that hit me right before the convention.
Some guy at the Mass Autographing
  • My original story “Driving the Milky Way” was accepted to the mass market anthology House of Fear from Solaris Books. Thanks Jon Oliver!
  • My original story “20th Level Chaotic Evil Rogue Seeks Whole Wide World to Conquer” was a last minute add to the mass market anthology Demons from Black Dog & Levinthal Press. Thanks John Skipp!
  • Bad Moon Books asked me to write the introduction to Clive Barker’s next book with them, Candle in the Clouds. Thanks Roy Robbins!
  •  
But a funny thing happened on the way to the Dead Dog Party. 

I discovered that my mind was in a different place than all of the other conventions. Both emotionally and intellectually, I approached this convention differently. In Denver, I didn’t know what to expect, so I was very open to everything. But then after Denver, I came to expect certain things. Whether it was that things be like they’d been in Denver, or whether the people I’d met should act the same way, or that my increasing levels of success dictated that I should be treated a certain way,  or what, I don’t know. But I realized at WHC Austin that I’d previously had a certain amount of expectation when I attended conventions. And to the glory of everything right in the world, this convention I somehow misplaced that expectation. I approached it openly, as an opportunity to meet new friends and new fans. As a chance to introduce myself to people who either knew me or didn’t know me. I felt new. I felt original. And I think people could tell. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to figure this out. What, ten years? Probably because I was thinking too much about me than about everyone else.

So perhaps it’s a mindset too.

I’ll have to remember that for my next convention. 

And the one after that. 

And so on.

It was an awesome time, whose energy will live on within me for months to come, fueling my creativity, and focusing my drive.

Might as well be the start of a whole new year.

Yvonne Navarro and Rocky Wood

Jalani Sims from the University of Oklahoma MFA Program

Ashley Balantine (aka Tattoo Girl)

Guru Mike Castro

Nicole Castle-Kelly (Warren, MI)

Joe McKinney

Rhodi Hawk and Mary Sangiovani

The British Invasion singing "Hunka Hunka Burning Love"

Rain Graves and John Tomaszewski

Eunice McGill Trying to Act Sneaky with the Camera
Pre-Bat Fiasco Meal

Yvonne can find a dog anywhere

You can find the rest (many many more) of the pictures HERE