Sunday, January 20, 2019

BODY OF CHRIST is on the Preliminary Ballot of the Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Awards.

Happy to announce that my novella
is on the Preliminary Ballot of the Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Awards.

Thanks to everyone who voted.

BODY OF CHRIST is the story of a young boy who secretly builds his own Jesus out of communion wavers and the flesh of his dead father. (Of course, his Jesus will rise, like Christ-figures tend to do. )

HWA members who want a copy (and of course you do) I've got PDF, Mobi, limited number of paperbacks and audio-book vouchers. Also look to this space for another amazon FREEBIE.

..or I'll simply read it to you bedside and you'll have a spiritual awakening.

Message me at:

Want to think some fine folks who helped with this piece, John FD Taff, Andi and Charlene, Julie Hutchings, and the gang of Corpus Press.

Many of my favorite titles on this list below, and I hope to read as many of those I haven't in the short window.

See y'all in Grand Rapids.

2018 Bram Stoker Awards® Preliminary Ballot

Superior Achievement in a Novel

del Toro, Guillermo and Kraus, Daniel – The Shape of Water (Feiwel & Friends)

Di Orazio, Paolo – Dark Mary (Independent Legions Publishing)

Katsu, Alma – The Hunger (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

King, Stephen – The Outsider (Scribner)

Maberry, Jonathan – Glimpse (St. Martin’s Press)

Malerman, Josh – Unbury Carol (Del Rey)

Manzetti, Alessandro – Naraka (Independent Legions Publishing)

Oates, Joyce Carol – Hazards of Time Travel (Ecco)

Reid, Iain – Foe (Gallery/Scout Press)

Saadawi, Ahmed – Frankenstein in Baghdad: A Novel (Penguin Books)

Stoker, Dacre and Barker, J.D. – Dracul (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

Tremblay, Paul – The Cabin at the End of the World (William Morrow)

Superior Achievement in a First Novel

Barsa, Michael – The Garden of Blue Roses (Underland Press)

Fine, Julia – What Should Be Wild (Harper)

Gordon, Jerry – Breaking the World (Apex Book Company)

Grau, T.E. – I Am the River (Lethe Press)

Kiste, Gwendolyn – The Rust Maidens (Trepidatio Publishing)

Lieske, Ryan – Fiction (Burning Willow Press, LLC)

Lye, Harriet Alida – The Honey Farm: A Novel (Liveright)

Setchfield, Nick – The War in the Dark (Titan Books)

Sorensen, Chris – The Nightmare Room (Harmful Monkey Press)

Stage, Zoje – Baby Teeth (St. Martin’s Press)

Tremblay, Tony – The Moore House (Twisted Publishing)

Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel

Alameda, Courtney – Pitch Dark (Feiwel & Friends)

Ernshaw, Shea – The Wicked Deep (Simon Pulse-Simon & Schuster)

Heidicker, Christian McKay – Attack of the 50 Foot Wallflower (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

Ireland, Justina – Dread Nation (Balzer + Bray)

Kane, Dani – Wormholes: Book One of Axles and Allies (Barking Deer Press)

Legrand, Claire – Sawkill Girls (Katherine Tegen Books)

Maberry, Jonathan – Broken Lands (Simon & Schuster)

Snyman, Monique – The Night Weaver (Gigi Publishing)

Watson, Mary – The Wren Hunt (Bloomsbury Publishing)

White, Kiersten – The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein (Delacorte Press)

Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel

Ahmed, Saladin – Abbott (BOOM! Studios)

Antone, Alex and Wielgosz, Dave James – Cursed Comics Cavalcade (DC Comics)

Azzarello, Brian – Moonshine Vol. 2: Misery Train (Image Comics)

Bellaire, Jordie – Redlands Volume 1: Sisters by Blood (Image Comics)

Bunn, Cullen – Bone Parish (BOOM! Studios)

Hammond, Warren and Viola, Joshua – Denver Moon: Metamorphosis (Hex Publishers LLC)

LaValle, Victor – Victor LaValle’sDestroyer (BOOM! Studios)

Lemire, Jeff – Gideon Falls Volume 1: The Black Barn (Image Comics)

Liu, Marjorie – Monstress Volume 3: Haven (Image Comics)

Pichetshote, Pornsak – Infidel (Image Comics)

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction

Bailey, Michael – Our Children, Our Teachers (Written Backwards)

Feldman, Stephanie – The Barrens (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, May/June 2018)

Fracassi, Philip – Shiloh (Lovecraft eZine Press)

Hill, Joe – You Are Released (Flight or Fright: 17 Turbulent Tales) (Scribner)

Kelley, Brent Michael – Cruce Roosters (Omnium Gatherum)

Kurtz, Ed – Black’s Red Gold (At the Mercy of Beasts) (JournalStone)

Malik, Usman T. – Dead Lovers on Each Blade, Hung (Nightmare Magazine Issue #74)

Mason, Rena – The Devil’s Throat (Hellhole: An Anthology of Subterranean Terror) (Adrenaline Press)

Matthews, Mark – Body of Christ (Wicked Run Press)

Smith, Angela Yuriko – Bitter Suites (Createspace)

Sullivan, Todd – Shape Shifting Priestess of the 1,000 Year War (Schlock! Horror!) (HellBound Books Publishing LLC)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction

Deady, Tom – “All Summers End” (Unnerving Magazine, Issue #8) (Unnerving)

Eldridge, Tori – “Life After Breath”(Running Wild Anthology of Stories Volume 2) (Running Wild Press)

English, Kary – “Cold, Silent, and Dark” (Undercurrents: An Anthology of What Lies Beneath) (WordFire Press)

Fawver, Kurt – “The Gods in Their Seats, Unblinking” (The Dissolution of Small Worlds) (Lethe Press)

Herrman, Heather – “The Woman in the Blue Dress” (Dark Screams: Volume Ten) (Hydra)

Landry, Jess – “Mutter” (Fantastic Tales of Terror) (Crystal Lake Publishing)

Murray, Lee – “Dead End Town”(Cthulhu Deep Down Under Volume 2) (IFWG Publishing International)

Neugebauer, Annie – “Glove Box” (The Dark City Crime & Mystery Magazine Volume 3, Issue 4-July 2018)

Power, Kit – “Fish Hooks” (New Fears 2) (Titan Books)

Robertson, Andrew – “Her Royal Counsel”(Alice Unbound: Beyond Wonderland) (Exile Editions)

Taff, John F.D. – “A Winter’s Tale” (Little Black Spots) (Grey Matter Press)

Ward, Kyla Lee – “And in Her Eyes the City Drowned” (Weirdbook #39) (Wildside Press)

Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection

Carmen, Christa – Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked (Unnerving)

Files, Gemma – Spectral Evidence (Trepidatio Publishing)

Guignard, Eric J. – That Which Grows Wild (Cemetery Dance Publications)

Iglesias, Gabino – Coyote Songs (Broken River Books)

Niveau, Thana – Octoberland (PS Publishing Ltd)

O’Neill, Gene – Frozen Shadows: And Other Chilling Stories (Crystal Lake Publishing)

Paramaditha, Intan – Apple and Knife (Brow Books)

Smith, John Claude – Occasional Beasts: Tales (Omnium Gatherum)

Snyder, Lucy A. – Garden of Eldritch Delights (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

Taff, John F.D. – Little Black Spots (Grey Matter Press)

Waggoner, Tim – Dark and Distant Voices: A Story Collection (Nightscape Press)

Superior Achievement in a Screenplay

Aster, Ari – Hereditary (PalmStar Media)

Averill, Meredith – The Haunting of Hill House: The Bent-Neck Lady, Episode 01:05 (Amblin Television, FlanaganFilm, Paramount Television)

Averill, Meredith – The Haunting of Hill House: Screaming Meemies, Episode 01:09 (Amblin Television, FlanaganFilm, Paramount Television)

Cosmatos, Panos and Stewart-Ahn, Aaron – Mandy (SpectreVision)

Dyson, Jeremy and Nyman, Andy – Ghost Stories (Warp Films, Altitude Film Entertainment, Catalyst Global Media in association with Lionsgate)

Fradley, Jeff, McBride, Danny and Green, David Gordon – Halloween (Blumhouse Productions, Miramax, Night Blade Holdings, Rough House Pictures, Trancas International Films, Universal Pictures)

Garland, Alex – Annihilation (DNA Films, Paramount Pictures, Scott Rudin Productions, Skydance Media)

Heisserer, Eric – Bird Box (Bluegrass Films, Chris Morgan Productions, Universal Pictures)

Ray, Billy and Smith, Mark L. – Overlord (Bad Robot, Paramount Pictures)

Woods, Bryan, Beck, Scott, and Krasinski, John – A Quiet Place (Platinum Dunes, Sunday Night)

Superior Achievement in an Anthology

Chambers, James, Grey, April, and Masterson, Robert – A New York State of Fright: Horror Stories from the Empire State (Hippocampus Press)

Datlow, Ellen – The Devil and the Deep: Horror Stories of the Sea (Night Shade Books)

Dewar, Simon – Suspended in Dusk II (Grey Matter Press)

Guignard, Eric J. – A World of Horror (Dark Moon Books)

Murano, Doug – Welcome to the Show (Crystal Lake Publishing)

Murray, Lee – Hellhole: An Anthology of Subterranean Terror (Adrenaline Press)

Neal, David T. and Scott, Christine M. – The Fiends in the Furrows: An Anthology of Folk Horror (Nosetouch Press)

O’Regan, Marie – Phantoms: Haunting Tales from Masters of the Genre (Titan Books)

Ward, D. Alexander – Lost Highways: Dark Fictions from the Road (Crystal Lake Publishing)

Worthen, Lyn – Quoth the Raven (Camden Park Press)

Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction

Connolly, John – Horror Express (PS Publishing)

Cutchins, Dennis R. and Perry, Dennis R. – Adapting Frankenstein: The Monster’s Eternal Lives in Popular Culture (Manchester University Press)

Gambin, Lee – The Howling: Studies in the Horror Film (Centipede Press)

Hopton, Sarah Beth – Woman at the Devil’s Door: The Untold True Story of the Hampstead Murderess (Red Lightning Books)

Ingham, Howard David – We Don’t Go Back: A Watcher’s Guide to Folk Horror (Room 207 Press)

Jones, Darryl – Sleeping with the Lights On: The Unsettling Story of Horror (Oxford University Press)

Mynhardt, Joe and Johnson, Eugene – It’s Alive: Bringing Your Nightmares to Life (Crystal Lake Publishing)

Phillips, Kendall R. – A Place of Darkness: The Rhetoric of Horror in Early American Cinema (University of Texas Press)

Poole, W. Scott – Wasteland: The Great Ward and the Origins of Modern Horror(Counterpoint)

Wetmore Jr., Kevin J. – Uncovering Stranger Things: Essays on Eighties Nostalgia, Cynicism and Innocence in the Series (McFarland)

Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection

Boston, Bruce – Artifacts (Independent Legions Publishing)

Clark, G.O. – The Comfort of Screams (Alban Lake Publishing)

Cowen, David E. – Bleeding Saffron (Weasel Press)

Fletcher, Joe – The Hatch (Brooklyn Arts Press)

Lynch, Donna – Witches (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

Shepard, Oliver – Thirteen Nocturnes (Ikonograph Press)

Simon, Marge and Manzetti, Alessandro – War (Independent Legions Publishing)

Tantlinger, Sara – The Devil’s Dreamland (Strangehouse Books)

West, Jacqueline – Candle and Pins: Poems on Superstitions (Alban Lake Publishing)

Wren, Twyla – Gwendolyn Witch and Other Macabria (Independently Published)

Saturday, December 29, 2018


*First off, Trigger Warning, particularly related to issues surrounding suicide*

“When people are suicidal, their thinking is paralyzed, their options appear spare or nonexistent, their mood is despairing, and hopelessness permeates their entire mental domain.”
― Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide

In Bird Box, the apocalypse is caused by mass suicide. The only way to prevent being a victim is to avoid, at all costs, looking into the outside world, for if you do, there's something you will see that compels you to take your own life. Suicide comes both immediate and by an any means necessary.

Bird Box has taken the world by storm, and has broken Netflix records for number of times viewed within first week of its release. 

Build a better monster, and the world comes knocking at your door.

Bird Box is its own type of choose your own adventure. Each of us imagines what 'monsters' the characters see that compels them to suicide. In my view of the BB universe, each character sees something unique and personal to their deepest fears, their own life experiences. Something so primal it overrides every bit of life instinct for survival. It's as much a hallucination in the mind's eye of the viewer rather than something that tangibly exists. In this way, we are all like a character in the book, no two of us imagine the same thing. Had the book or film shown us the monster and denied us this ability to imagine what each character sees, it would have robbed us the opportunity to create our own private monster. 

“Each way to suicide is its own: intensely private, unknowable, and terrible. Suicide will have seemed to its perpetrator the last and best of bad possibilities, and any attempt by the living to chart this final terrain of life can be only a sketch, maddeningly incomplete.”

― Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide

"What do you think they see?" isn't the question. The question is; "What might we see that would compel us to need an immediate end to our existence?"

"There's nothing that would make me do such a thing," is not an acceptable answer in the land of BB, for there is something that is so terrifying and deeply despairing that it shatters all firmly cemented notions that suicide is not an option to even comprehend. Suicide suddenly makes perfect sense, and must be sought out as immediate as possible. 
Imagine, if for a second we could all really relate to those who feel a desire to take their own life? The world in which you are reading this sentence, not the BB world, but the street you live on, has someone living on it who wants to kill themselves. Right now. Maybe three doors down, maybe half a mile, but the radius does not have to be too large to encompass someone who see suicide as their only option. They are fighting what they feel, what they see, right now.  

So often we tell such people to try 'taking a walk', that 'there are those who have it worse', that 'it will pass'. Can you imagine walking up to someone with that Bird Box suicidal look in their eye and suggesting such things? Of course not, for see the conviction in the eyes of those who are seeking to jump from a window or stab themselves with scissors. 

But such are the words and lack of understanding we treat those suffering from such mental illness. We need to do better. 

In Bird Box, we are all in their world with them, and the only way to survive is to set up barriers to keep the horrors out through voluntary blindness. Only an artificial construct such as a blindfold can keep the horrors away. 

“We all build internal sea walls to keep at bay the sadnesses of life and the often overwhelming forces within our minds. In whatever way we do this—through love, work, family, faith, friends, denial, alcohol, drugs, or medication—we build these walls, stone by stone, over a lifetime." ― Kay Redfield Jamison

  There are some in Bird Box who escape this fate. Those who are already severely mentally ill can keep their eyes wide open. In the BB universe, if you have this sort of power, then your charge is to force others to take off their blindfold, sometimes prying their eyes open with your fingers and making them see what you already do, knowing that they can't handle the result and will succumb to suicide.  (I don't believe the BB universe suggests that those with such affliction have this inclination, but rather that this is part of the malevolent phenomena of whatever is in the air.)  

In the movie, those who can view the world with impunity take a sort of satisfaction in their abilities where the power structure is flipped.  Those who are deemed insane are the ones who can easily navigate the world, drive with full sight, celebrating in their power by doing donuts in the driveway, while the mentally healthy are now crippled by fear.

Once again, an empathy to those who must bear the burden of abject depression and despair.

Towards the end of the film, Mallory experiences intense audio hallucinations from the voices most dear to her, begging her to take off her blindfold. The voices are seductive, and I think the audio is just a hint into what the visual might be, something seductive, personal. Severe depression becomes something more sinister, and that is severe psychosis. 

Being psychotic is so often misunderstood and used with cliche, but the psychotic walk among us and suffer with hallucinations nearly identical. This is not fantasy.  Those with psychosis often experience hallucinations as Mallory did, and hear the voices of deceased loved ones. Command hallucinations, they are called, asking us to do something harmful, to hurt ourselves, often times in voices personal to us.  Somewhere nearby you someone is fighting these off, right now. 

Mallory's fight in the forest isn't only the screen, it's also down the road.

I can't help but extrapolate this to other diagnoses, especially addiction. Imagine if you were forced to feel the urge to get high and do everything in your power to use some form of drug; vicodin, heroin, cocaine. The urge to use the substance was felt with the same urgency as a drowning man seeks to breathe. Something a non addict doesn't comprehend, but right now soon as someone opens their eyes, there is a similar intensity of compulsion and obsessions. 

Compulsions to destroy ourselves. Perhaps we don't realize how fragile our sanity is. That there is something in the air that can tap into the part of us that goes so incredibly mad it must end all consciousness.  The monsters inside us can be awoken by our senses, and it is our senses that sometimes must be denied for a higher good.  We can only make our way through this world through forced blindness of certain horrors. But when we do, we can live within glory upon the tree tops, among the most noble of birds. 

The hope at the end of BB does not feel contrived, but a celebration of the human spirit. We can ignore the constant voices and whispers, shut off the horrors of the world, as long as we are guided by love. We can't live in fear, we can't give up hope. We must work together and be persistent.  We can climb that oak tree, and it's no coincidence that Tom's story is one of sight and his vision at the top. It's a story that ends with glory, not gloom.

Lastly, how cool is it the Horror Writer's Association is converging on Michigan for its next convention, home of the BB creator and guest of honor, Josh Malerman.  One only need to share space with him for a moment to feel his incredible zest for art. He fully understands the potential for horror to makes us feel the full range of human emotions. 

Malerman has built a better monster, one that is uniquely ours. And he's just getting started. 

Monday, September 3, 2018


On the Lips of Children is on sale this week for .99 Cents.  It will be a Bookbub deal this Saturday, and peeping its ugly head a few other places. If you haven't read it yet, check it out. 

On the Lips of Children on Amazon 

Friday, June 8, 2018

Free MILK-BLOOD For Your Kindle

MILK-BLOOD is FREE on kindle! For today and a long time coming.

MILK-BLOOD on Amazon

Check Out What Readers Are Saying: 

"A helluva story. Very much recommended."
~JOHN F.D. TAFF, Bram Stoker Award Finalist

"A tight, brisk read, that does not let up until the final word."

"Brilliantly Clever Book!" 

"Matthews takes us to the heart of desolation and makes us care. Five Stars."
~J.D. BARKER, Bram Stoker Award Finalist

"The originality and tension is evident on every page. A rollercoaster ride from start to finish" 
~RICHARD THOMAS, Bram Stoker Nominated Editor 

"An urban legend in the making. You will not be disappointed."

"This is a serious as shit, no holds barred, urban horror story."

"Few new writers are doing horror with such intensity. Inject it into your mind and you'll see what I mean." 
~MICHAEL A. ARZNEN, Four Time Bram Stoker Award Winning Author

FREE on Amazon

Thursday, May 24, 2018

A Review of THE CABIN AT THE END OF THE WORLD, by Paul Tremblay

I was graced with an advance review copy of this book from the publisher, and so grateful I was. I loved this book, and spoiler free demands require some essential elements to be left out. Some things are easy to scream out loud and proud about, however, and that is Paul Tremblay is a fantastic writer. He writes about families so well, in all three of his novels I've read, it is the family dynamics, where we figure out who we are and how and who we love. In the case of Cabin, it is a same sex couple who has adopted a child from China. He portrays them so well, and I find that the nature of this family: same sex couple raising a daughter of a different race is already starting on precarious footing, and these circumstance demand a special kind of love and strong dedication to stay together. Especially when the world crashes in to their secluded cabin home, and this becomes a home invasion story, where the intruders have this cold sense of politeness, a unique set of weapons, and you find yourself trapped inside with them.

A taut suspense story beings.

I can't help but read this in context of his previous two works where Tremblay teases the reader, leaving clues, making head fakes, popcorn trails and easter eggs, all to make us wonder if a supernatural force is indeed present, begging us to decide if indeed a paranormal force is having an influence or if it is just the flaws of humanity at play. Same way his characters must decide. In this way, we are all a character.

After reading this, or while reading this in my case, you'll pay attention to natural disasters, (volcano eruptions in Hawaii, for example) and wonder if you should take a garden tool to someone's head to save lives or not. Thats the beauty to this: it plays out in a tiny secluded cabin, but has cosmic implications, including the existence of God, and if a loving God would indeed demand a sacrifice. Can we, or should we, maintain faith in a cause that may not be as noble as we first believed?

There are tiny little nuggets in this book you'll need to pay attention to (count the grasshoppers, count the people, count the letters, and the 4 folks bringing in the apocalypse are only missing their horses. There's even a little self-deprecating humor about Tremblay's previous book).

Cabin is a 'Book Club' kind of book, the kind you want to talk about with others when you are finished. In fact, if you are reading this, message me, since I want to talk to you about it, but only when you're done reading.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Rest In Peace Jack Ketchum

Shocked to hear the news.

It seems like every horror writer has a "When I met Dallas (his true name) story." That's because you can't forget the way he made you feel. I was standing there in a circle of folks, the discussion was "Favorite Stephen King Book" and out of the blue he pointed to me and asked which was my favorite. (I chose The Long Walk). He had a charm about him, a quietness, but still waters run deep, and his books. Oh, his books. "Who is the scariest guy in America? Probably Jack Ketchum," Stephen King so aptly said. 

There was little supernatural horrors to be found in his stories, there was only true horrors. The darkness that humans are capable of. And it is my belief that he wrote these not because he had a darkness to him, but a softness, or at least a sensitivity, that made him feel these horrors deeper.  Of course, the content would be nothing without his craft, which is what truly set him apart. The Girl Next Door should not be confused with shock horror, for its detachment, its point of view, and the fact it is based on a true story is what is the real takeaway. While reading Peaceable Kingdom I wrote Dallas with questions or comments about the stories, and he responded in kind. It made for an incredible reading experience. His last book with Lucky Mckee, Secret Life of Souls, had his signature dark sweetness (and a love for pets).

Jack gave me an author blurb that I cling to pretty hard.  He submitted one of his stories to Garden of Fiends . These are just two small ways he has touched me. There are hundreds of writers out there feeling the same, all one collective sigh of grief.  Dallas is who I point to as an example that the darkest of writers have the finest of hearts.

Rest in Peace. Although it feels like you are watching me now. 

BODY OF CHRIST is on the Preliminary Ballot of the Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Awards.

Happy to announce that my novella BODY OF CHRIST is on the Preliminary Ballot of the Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Awards. ...