Please buy Black Candies or my entire life will turn out to be a sham

bcseethroughcoverI’ve been working on this anthology—Black Candies: See Through—for the better half of 2013. Really proud of it. Feels like a lot of blood has gone into it.

It’s weird because, even though I don’t have any writing in this one, it feels very personal. I will call myself a horror fan, but I find the “horror” tag pretty reductive in general. When people think of “horror” they think genre, blood and guts, vampires, monsters, whatever. The stories in “See Through” represent my favorite kind of writing—haunting, funny, weird, dark, lyrical. One of my favorite things about editing these books is soliciting writers who aren’t necessarily known for dark writing and letting them loose. We all have it in us, and those that can indulge in “genre” (even though that’s not really as defined or stigmatized anymore) are my kind of people.

(Click here for list of contributors)

Also, this year marks a turn in Black Candies that I’m particularly proud of: we have more women writers than men. As I’ve said before, I don’t want that to a point of diplomacy or a shallow attempt at political correctness, but more of a correction to my personal reading habits. I would love for Black Candies to correct the trajectory of male-dominated lit journals, and that we’re a horror anthology—a genre where women are notoriously underrepresented—that’s incredibly exciting. I have to give a big shout-out to Roxane Gay, who helped me get some really great women writers, writers that I can now count among my favorites.

Finally, I would love to give a shout out to Justin Hudnall and So Say We All, the literary organization here in San Diego that I’ve been involved with for the past three years. I’m proud of what organizations like ours do for the quality and demographic inclusiveness of our art in contrast to profit-minded publishers. And with these Black Candies books, Justin provides unquestioning support. Not everyone can publish books without having to resort to Kickstarter or Indiegogo (which is not meant as a dig at crowd-funding or anyone who uses it—I just feel they create a lot of extra work)—I feel lucky to have the circumstances where we can create and produce without having to rely on too much outside assistance. Thank you, Justin.

Other thanks: all the writers and artists who donated their work. It’s always difficult to ask for writing without offering pay, and I completely understand those who didn’t submit stories due to that fact. But those who did: you’re making my dreams come true.

Thank you Jay Wertzler: my writing partner and co-editor. I’ve never worked so well with anyone before. If you don’t have someone who will read your stuff and provide as much quality feedback as Jay, I’m sorry.

And of course, Adam Vieyra. He creates and designs beautiful books. I would be stuck in zine land, probably still using Chiller font, if it wasn’t for him. He did the majority of “See Through” in one day—I was there. Watching him work is like watching a beautiful time-lapse.

blackcandiesprogression(Progression from stapled zine to current issue)

Anyway, enough of the sentimental stuff. I hope you enjoy it!

And please add on Goodreads.


UPDATE: Black Candies line-up announced (meet the new ladies)


Update: Damn. This has truly been a humbling and exciting (if slightly overwhelming) experience. I received so many good submissions from women horror authors that I felt I had to be extra critical of what would fit best with the theme/other stories, or else it’d turn into a behemoth that neither time, budget, nor space would allow. 

Super big thanks to Roxane Gay, Natanya Pulley, and anyone else who tweeted/facebook’d it. 

Meet the new ladies of Black Candies (in bold)

Black Candies – “See Through”


Sarah Jean Alexander
Ken Baumann
Aaron Burch
Juliet Escoria
Sarah Rose Etter
Julia Evans
Lindsay Hunter
Jac Jemc
Rory Kelly
Cameron Pierce
Anna Prushinskaya
Natanya Ann Pulley
Jim Ruland
Camie Schaefer
Joshua Emerson Smith
Zack Wentz
Jay Wertzler
Adrian Van Young

Plus a couple more writers who don’t think deadlines apply to them (still love you!)

(old plea):

But here’s the thing: I want more ladies. Lindsay Hunter, Juliet Escoria, Jac Jemc and Natanya Ann-Pulley are among my favorite writers right now, and I couldn’t be more honored and excited to include them in this issue, but the scales are still imbalanced. I would hate for the rag I founded to be known as a boys’ club—I don’t want pull a New York Review of Books here—but I also don’t want this to be a diplomacy thing. I want this to be a remedy. I feel there’s a large hole in my education, and that I haven’t been as active in seeking female voices in the alt-horror/speculative/dark fiction realms as I should. I know it’s out there.

So if you’re a lady, and you think your writing would make anyone feel weird or uncomfortable, I want to read it. If you have something that you haven’t had luck at submitting (because we all know finding a home for this dark shit can be difficult) send it to me.

Reminders: theme is “See Through”. Interpret that how you want. No real word limit, but 1,500—6,000 words is ideal. Send to

Extended deadline: Aug. 15 (no boys allowed)

Horror Business finds a home


I sold a book!


Got the call on the morning of July 25th from my agent Rebecca Podos, telling me that she sold my novel Horror Business to a newish YA publisher Month9Books.

If you’ve had any sort of contact with me in the last— about 5 years?— you’re probably at least marginally aware of Horror Biz. It was written during a three-month period of unemployment at the end of 2007, and then I self-published it through Lulu in 2009, mostly because I needed to make some quick cash to make rent. It’s gone through a couple revisions since then, but it’s always occupied a large space in my heart.

I can’t thank Rebecca and Nicole Labombard at Rees Agency enough for their diligence. It wasn’t an easy sell, and I’m afraid to ask how many rejections it received (I’m guessing over 20), so their persistence and belief in the story is heartening. And I’m incredibly grateful to Georgia McBride, Courtney Koschel and Month9Books for taking a chance on a book about punk rock and B-grade horror movies.

Thank you to everyone who read, gave feedback, and reviewed it. You know who you are. I know who you are.

Coming 2015. I’ll keep you posted.


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Liveblogging Deafheaven’s “Dream House”


00.01 – 00.25: Place frozen burrito in the microwave. Directions say “heat for 2.30, flip over, continue to heat for another 2”. You place it in for 4:15, with no intention of “the flip”.

00.25 – 00.48: “Blast beats”, you say in an unintentional Keanu Reeves voice. Wiki “Blast beats.” “Blast beats” leads to “Black Metal” leads to Varg Vikernes. Not even a minute in and you’re learning about murder. But: tl;dr, man. Check facebook.

00.48 – 01.09: That screaming makes you remember of the time you tried to play a metal album on the big stereo in the living room. 10 years old, and you don’t remember what album it was, or even if it was metal—just had the explicit sticker on it. Seemed dangerous at the time. You got two songs in before your parents said that that was enough and ask where you got such an album. You never answered. You transport the CD back to your room, explicit sticker against your chest, and hide it. Thank god for Columbia House.

01:09 – 01:34: Be thankful they lay off the blast beats. Feels cathartic. Feels like you can air drum to this part. You can’t air drum. You never could. Remember all those times you air-drummed in front of a girl and consider that none of them are around anymore. Look down and you’re wearing basketball pants and flip-flops.

01:34 – 02:24: Favorite part of the song so far. But also recognize that it’s the saddest. You wonder if that signifies something bigger. You scour the lineage of mental health issues in your family, but give up quickly because memories are tl;dr. Headbang.

02.24 – 0.2.40: Headbanging always gives you a headache, so that, in addition to the three cups of coffee that you’ve had for breakfast/lunch, makes your head sore. Stare. Just stare like your face is full of cement. Bring up your webcam, look at yourself. This is all your computer ever sees.

02.40 – 3:45: Check facebook, email, twitter, reddit, your other email, first email again, refresh, hope for a (1).

03.45 – 03:48: Okay, we get it.

03.49: Oh. Cool.

03.49 – 05.02: Feel things. Revere the dynamics of the shimmering guitars that float above the sludgy, crawling beat. Analyze that, marvel at the contrast—pretend you’re a rock critic. Anyone can do it! Don’t give the song a perfect score, make your analysis nuanced and informed, but still be affected by the emotional releases that, well, sound revelatory right now. Don’t limit yourself to just music, apply your appreciation of beauty to the entire human condition. Close your eyes. Pretend you’re floating up into a white pillar—endless, blinding, sublime.

05.02: Oh shit, your burrito!

05.02 – 5.51: Burrito’s frozen in the middle. Should’ve listened to the packaging. Why do you think you’re better than directions? You’ve already come upstairs, though; reheating would mean going downstairs again. And it doesn’t really taste that bad, you tell yourself.

5:51 – 7:24: Look to the side and there’s a mirror. Catch the reflection of you eating this burrito in front of your computer, hunched and garbage-y. The song builds. You close your eyes and push the burrito away. Stand up. Walk to the mirror. Take your shirt off. Flex. Not bad. It just looks weird when you’re sitting down.

7.24 – 7.30: Dude screams for like six seconds here.

7:30 – END. Remain at the mirror. Get so close that you touch your nose to your reflection’s. Your breath fogs up the glass. This close you notice blood at the side of your mouth. Actually, no: it’s a refried bean. Shower.

The Next Big Thing

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THE NEXT BIG THING is a self-interview where writers answer a series of pre-determined questions about forthcoming/recent books,projects, etc. Matt Lewis tagged me.

1. What is the working title of the book? 


2. Where did the idea come from for the book? 

Can’t remember. It’s been in my head for a long time. How long has youtube been around? I remember searching “Uncanny Valley” fairly early after I learned about youtube.

3. What genre does your book fall under? 

Dark E-bot-ica

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? 

Harry Dean Stanton would play every part, Klumps-style.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 

“In the future, there will be robots.”

6. How long did it take you to write the first draft?

Probably a year. 10,000 words a month, aiming for 7-8K.

7. What inspired you to write this book? 

The New Sincerity.

8. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s going to be filthy.



Last Night on Earth Book trailer

Last Night on Earth, a book I co-edited along with Justin Hudnall and Jay Wertzler, is


Here is the book trailer for it. A lot of love went into it. Please read it.

Starring LNOE contributor Sunny Katz
Shot with a Rebel T2i
Edited on Adobe Premier Pro CS6

Directed/edited by Ryan Bradford
Shot by Ryan Bradford and Justin Hudnall.

(Add on Goodreads if that’s your thing)

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The first book I ever wrote

Recently came across this book I wrote in 2nd grade. It’s called Oscar and Alphonse (misspelled on the cover). About caterpillars with a lot of attitude.

The thing about this book is that I it’s hardcover and very nicely put-together. I don’t really remember writing it, but the process of hole-punching, sewing the pages together, wrapping the book board and gluing it all together is still very fresh in my mind. I think it took about two weeks to complete (it was a class project) and remember feeling very proud of the final product (which maybe accounts for the hubris in the “About the Author”)

Hope you enjoy!


What makes a ‘hipster’ movie?


May contain spoilers. 

After a recent viewing of Destin Cretton’s I Am Not a Hipster, a couple friends and I agreed that it was a good movie. We all enjoyed it, but they hated the title. “Seems like a cash grab,” they said. “What part of that movie had anything to do with quote unquote [because no one likes to commit to a definition, even in IRL conversation] ‘hipsters'” And thus started the discussion that the Internet has been having for four years.

So, nu uh. No. I’m not going to touch that subject here. Too much bandwidth has already been devoted to what is or what isn’t a hipster. Besides, it’s a stale conversation. Could you even start a blog like “Look at this Fucking Hipster” now? Are people still looking for good bands to come out of Brooklyn? Obviously, the answer is yes, but it’s nothing like insurmountable trend that poured out of the late 2000s.

I think the “hipster” conversation, though, has been useful in addressing a deeper issue of the predominately-male inability to communicate intimacy or simply, connect, which (as opposed to the man’s man/Men are from Mars) now translates into the self-doubt, self-destruction, passive-aggression, isolation and substance abuse that anyone who knows the tone of the Internet can recognize.

Both I Am Not a Hipster and Rick Alverson’s The Comedyperhaps the most scathing and indicting representation of hipster culture I’ve ever seen—utilize these characteristics. The two movies share vague characteristics: IANaH‘s Dominic Bogart has cut off communication with his father; The Comedy‘s Tim Heidecker’s father is comatose. Both characters have the capacity for charm, but usually while drunk. Bogart isolates himself in his room/recording studio; Heidecker spends a lot of time floating in a boat in the middle of the East River. So yeah, plot-wise, there are enough threads that a smarter person could write that kind of analysis.

But while I Am Not a Hipster uses Bogart’s search for meaningful connection to repudiate the facets of hipsterdom (hence the appropriate title, was my argument), The Comedy relishes in it. I like IANaH because it’s well-shot, well-acted and is based in San Diego (me likes when I can recognize things!), but ultimately, it’s a safe movie. The ending shows redemption that a relatively unknown filmmaker should utilize to make himself and the picture palatable to a wide audience.

The Comedy, on the other hand, is a dangerous movie. To Heidecker’s acting credit, he’s created the most unlikeable character in recent years, yet it’s a character that I can relate to, and who I recognize in too many acquaintances. He strives for connection but settles for provocation. He drinks too much. He’s offensive for the lulz. He wants to keep the party going, even at 35.

To be sure, Heidecker can be charming. A lot has been said about the scene where he defends Hitler to a woman during a drunken flirting session. This is, I would argue, the one spot where we see his success at connection: they’re both drunk and the conversation is offensive and, in a sick way, pretty funny. To even consider his sincerity about the subject would discredit the woman’s intelligence.

However, we never see Heidecker intimate with a woman. After the successful Hitler flirtation, it cuts to the aftermath of the woman lying naked on the bed and he’s staring at her. He pokes her face to wake her up. This negates whatever courting efforts from the previous scene and relegates her to a prop to be prodded. This also mirrors the physical contact he has with his comatose father: poking. I’m not going to pretend to be knowledgeable about the current hook-up culture, or even subscribe to that generalizing NYTimes article about it, but Heidecker’s emotionally defunct and patronizing reaction seems to meet the criteria of Hipster Misogyny (google it).

In fact, the only intimacy that we see is a slow-motion montage during the credits with Heidecker and his friends partying naked and spilling beer in each other’s underwear. Same goes for a make-shift baseball game. Always with the guys, always drinking.

Again, none of this is new. The male’s inability to connect on with anything emotionally is the source of too much comedy and too many stereotypes. And  the subject of detachment/searching for connection is nothing new in Art—I could pick out a lot of parallels between The Comedy and Bret Easton Ellis’ Less Than Zero, down to the respective pornographic slideshow/snuff film.

However, this new form of disconnection is entirely the product of the internet which, I would argue, is intrinsic with anything Hipster. It’s contradictory, modular and self-aware. It’s not the oft-misappropriated “irony”, but sarcasm, snark and inability to speak without quipping. It masks itself as the victim but has the capacity for lashing out. It’s entitlement without the drive (like Heidecker accepting a $7.50 per hour job despite expecting $10). It’s hanging instead of dating. It’s texting instead of calling. It’s about thinking and feeling instead of knowing. And, at the same time, hating how it has to be like that.

Ugh. I started this off by not wanting to have this conversation.

(NSFW clip)