Just a reminder that I will be presenting the Hint Fiction anthology tomorrow night at McNally Jackson along with contributors Jenn Alandy, Randall Brown, Frank Byrns, Tara Deal, Bruce Harris, Donora Hillard, Jason Rice, Samuel Rippey, Jess Row, and Kathleen A. Ryan. It starts at 7 pm, and I promise this: if more than 100 people attend, I'll perform a rendition of "I'm A Little Teapot" right there in front of everyone. So come out and say hello and support an independent bookstore. Also, the anthology has gotten some more press: The Chronicle of Higher Education has a rather snarky outlook on the book, while the Tucson Citizen gives it a paragraph (scroll down to the midway point), and Associated Content gives the book (and me) a nice shout out.
Thanks to yesterday's New Yorker review, word of the anthology has started to really spread in the Webosphere. Hint Fiction got a mention over at Boing Boing and even NPR (where they, of course, spelled my name wrong). And late last night there was another review from WOW! Women on Writing. So now it's time for my obligatory reminder that you can still enter the Ultimate Flash Fiction Package giveaway, enter to win a free copy of the anthology from Goodreads, and of course there's still the chance to get your hands on a copy of Eight Hints. Sarah from Massachusetts did. Why not you?
What's a nice way to start the day? Waking up to see that your anthology has been reviewed (and reviewed positively) by The New Yorker. Here's the first paragraph from The Book Bench:
A couple of handy book rules normally hold true. Avoid gimmick books—holiday anthologies, blog-to-print money grabs, any deep dive into a flaky food subject like the kumquat or the persimmon. And, most of the time, avoid books that fit into your back pocket—slight often means slight. “Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer,” edited by Robert Swartwood, is on the wrong side of both of these rules, yet it’s an interesting, often thrilling collection, not because it rewards our shrinking attention spans, but because the best of these stories transcend the gimmick and are complete, elegant moments of fiction.
Also Aaron Polson has been using the anthology for teaching. I suggest all you teachers do the same!
A new review of the anthology has recently been posted over at Three Guys One Book. It's a pretty positive review, for the most. The exception being this little bit:
I found the title headings pointless and distracting. A case of over-contextualizing. After a while, I just started to ignore them. I focused on the stories and the names of the writers. I loved the writer’s names, like I love an unopened book that I’d like to figure out how to crack. As for the topical section headings like: “Life & Death” it was like knocking down a bug. I know you can do it but why bother? And man, “everything” is about life and death so you don’t have to say so.
As I noted here (which was in response to Ben White's eloquent post on the subject), a good Hint Fiction story needs a title. In fact, a story can be made or broken on the title alone. Just as with a novel or short story, the title is important, but even more so with Hint Fiction as it adds that extra layer. It just doesn't label the story; it is, in a sense, part of that story.
So is it a big deal that the reviewer found the story titles pointless and distracting? Not at all. That's the beauty of Hint Fiction -- every reader brings something different to the experience.
Anyway, be sure to check out the rest of the review, as the reviewer singles out ten contributors and talks in-depth about each of their stories. He even offers up this nice little nugget of blurbage:
Hint Fiction is a beautiful map of literature that I want you to explore.
So make sure you do!
Three of the four authors of the new gory horror novel Draculas -- Blake Crouch, Joe Konrath (Jack Kilborn), and F. Paul Wilson -- are all contributors to the Hint Fiction anthology, so I thought it would be more than fitting to let you know their new e-book has officially been released today.
If you're familiar at all with Konrath, you know he's somewhat become the king of e-book self-publishing, and this new experiment is no exception. Four major authors, one low price of $2.99. But you don't just get the novel. The e-book also contains deleted and alternate scenes, along with notes from the authors. Even better, at the very end is an "Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Making of Draculas" that contains a series of e-mails between the authors and how the idea came about and how they worked together to make the finished product.
I got an advanced copy of the e-book but haven't had that much time yet to really sink my teeth into it. (Like that vampire reference?) I'm only about a quarter of the way in, and as you would expect, it's gory. Really gory.
Because people's favorite and least favorite books and movies always intrigue me, I asked the authors what their favorite and least favorite vampire books and movies are. Here's what they said:
Joe Konrath: My fave vampire books are Vampires by John Steakly, They Thirst by Robert McCammon, Midnight Mass by F. Paul Wilson, and ’Salem's Lot by Stephen King. I also loved The Keep by that Wilson guy, though technically it only begins as a vampire book and then becomes something much bigger.
Near Dark blew me away when I first saw it in the theater. For sheer fun, you still can't beat Fright Night. Udo Kier is THE best Dracula in Andy Warhol's Dracula. And for flat-out scary, 30 Days of Night featured some really frightening bloodsuckers. And, of course, The Night Stalker. If we're talking old school, I enjoyed House of Dracula and the original Nosferatu, plus Last Man on Earth which was the inspiration for Night of the Living Dead which was the inspiration for Draculas.
The worst? I'm going to be criticized for saying so, but the original Dracula with Bela Lugosi is static, clunky, and overly melodramatic. Compare that with the Spanish version, shot at the same time, which is a much better movie. The "so bad it's good" category has Dracula vs. Frankenstein, with a silent Lon Chaney Jr. drinking his way through the role. Taste of Blood by Herschel Gordan Lewis is two hours long, with three minutes of entertainment value. It's a tie between The Hunger and A Vampire in Brooklyn for the most embarrassing big budget vampire flick.
As for vampire music, I recommend Night of the Vampire by Roky Erikson, Possum Kingdom by Toadies, and Bloodletting by Concrete Blonde.
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F. Paul Wilson: Christopher Lee's original Horror of Dracula from Hammer remains my favorite. Least fave: ignoring the ones that were supposed to be bad, a toss-up between the Palance and Langella versions because they managed to make Dracula dull, with the final nod going to Langella's Dracula. Yeah, book-wise, ’Salem's Lot is tops for me.
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Blake Crouch: Sleepwalkers, the film based on Stephen King’s unpublished novel, would have to be far and away my least favorite. I really wanted to like 30 Days of Night. The premise is just off-the-hook, but it rang hollow for me. In terms of favorite books, I loved The Keep and ’Salem's Lot.
My favorite vampire movie, hands down, is Let the Right One In. I also love The Lost Boys.
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Jeff Strand: I haven’t seen it in twenty years and am scared to watch it again for fear that I’ll be suddenly ashamed of my love for it ... but I’m going to go with The Lost Boys. Honorable mentions to George Romero’s Martin, even though Martin may or may not be a real vampire, and Shadow of the Vampire.
I hate to repeat somebody else’s answer, but if you exclude cheesy micro-budget flicks, there’s really no worse vampire movie than A Vampire in Brooklyn.
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Now what about you, faithful blog readers? Tell us what your favorite or least favorite vampire book or movie is in the comments section. At midnight tonight I'll pick a random winner to receive a free PDF of Draculas. Have at it!