“Ring of Fire” by Richard Thomas—which tackles ‘lust’—is by far my favorite story in this collection and, in my opinion, the most skillfully rendered. First of all, like all the other stories, Thomas doesn’t give us a clichéd horror story about someone’s sexual urges leading them to a grisly death. However, this is Richard Thomas we’re talking about. I knew he wouldn’t lean on cliches going in.
Instead, he tackles the intersection of loneliness, guilt, shame, grief, the desire for companionship, and, yes—sexuality. But sexuality through the lens of longing for companionship, for physical comfort and belonging, for intimate connection. I’m not going to say anything else about this story, except that lots of folks claim to write “science fiction/horror” blends, but few get it right. Thomas gets it extremely right in this.
Excellent article on the slow burn of Hereditary.
WARNING: Full spoilers for Hereditary and graphic images are included in this article.
It takes a special type of fear to evoke laughter. This is a lesson that took time for me to learn. When I first saw Ari Aster’s magnificent, innards-shreddingly-frightening film Hereditary in theatres, I became increasingly annoyed by brief outbursts of laughter from audience members during the final twenty minutes of the film. As Annie’s headless body sailed up and into the glowing treehouse, gliding unhindered as if drawn by spectral wires, giggles erupted. It wasn’t until months later, on a second viewing, that I understood these reactions. There’s something about the way Hereditary handles its storytelling that, once tension explodes into action, incites a fear so intense, so discomforting, and so sinister in its unfamiliarity as to be inexpressible by a scream. We scream because fear has made silence impossible. We laugh because screaming no longer…
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As you may or may not know, Medallion Press went bankrupt. I bought the last 15 cases of Burnt Tongues, the anthology I edited with Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club, Choke, Survivor) and Dennis Widmyer (Starry Eyes, Pet Sematary). So it’s now out of print. I’m going to be selling signed copies for $10 + $3 shipping. USA only. Outside the USA shipping will be more. Sometimes MUCH more. But do inquire. It’s an edgy, dark, weird anthology. Transgressive fiction. If you have a book club and want to order multiple copies I can give you a greatly reduced cost (say 50% off). Email me at email@example.com if you have any interest.
Live This Down Neil Krolicki 11
Charlie Chris Lewis Carter 29
Paper Gayle Towell 41
Mating Calls Tony Liebhard 55
Melody Michael De Vito, Jr. 77
F for Fake Tyler Jones 89
Mind and Soldier Phil Jourdan 109
Ingredients Richard Lemmer 123
The Line Forms on the Right Amanda Gowin 141
A Vodka Kind of Girl Matt Egan 155
Gasoline Fred Venturini 163
Dietary Brandon Tietz 187
Invisible Graffiti Adam Skorupskas 207
Bike Bryan Howie 217
Heavier Petting Brien Piechos 225
Engines, O-rings, and Astronauts Jason M. Fylan 247
Lemming Terence James Eeles 255
The Routine Keith Buie 281
Survived Gus Moreno 293
Zombie Whorehouse Daniel W. Broallt 305
Out today! Pick up your copy now. Reviews have been great. And I think my novelette, “Ring of Fire” is one of the best stories I’ve ever written. Edited by Patrick Beltran and D. Alexander Ward, with an introduction by Mercedes M. Yardley.
Throughout history, there have been certain moral evils so entangling, so alluring, that they routinely give birth to countless other evils in the hearts of human beings. From antiquity, these “capital vices” have been known as the seven deadly sins.
Now, from the editors who brought you Cutting Block Single Slices and Shadows Over Main Street, comes an all-new novella anthology featuring seven dark fiction authors at the top of their games, each writing passionately about one of The Seven Deadliest sins. Inside these pages:
- John C. Foster spins “Gilda,” a yarn about Avarice;
- Bracken MacLeod takes us on the road to Wrath with “A Short Madness”;
- Kasey Lansdale’s “Cap Diamant” teaches us the steep cost of Pride;
- Brian Kirk lays bare the Jealousy hidden beneath affluence in “Chisel and Stone”;
- Rena Mason reveals a new and terrifying guise of Sloth in “Clevengers of the Carrion Sea”;
- Richard Thomas examines Lust in his dystopian “Ring of Fire”; and
- John F.D. Taff feeds us the darker aspects of Gluttony in “All You Care to Eat.”
These dark tales from a cabal of highly regarded and award-winning authors hold nothing back, so turn the pages and feast your eyes. The Seven Deadliest sins await you.
REVIEWS FOR RING OF FIRE
Ink Heist: “There are two things in this overview of his story “Ring of Fire” that should make you sit up and take notice. One of them is making a reader like a bad person, and the other is magical realism. As to the first, he’s a fucking master of it. His protagonist in Disintegration was a very bad man who commits some heinous and horrific acts throughout the book, yet all the same, I loved the hell out of him. I think that was because of Richard’s authorial voice and his alacrity with backstory, but I don’t know. Read it and see for yourself. And when I think of magical realism and the movement we call neo-noir, his is a name that pops instantly, unbidden, into my mind. The man has a marvelous eye for curating such material and a fucking exemplary ability to write it. So yes. If you aren’t yet excited about Richard’s inclusion in a book about the Seven Deadly Sins, get that way. When Mr. Thomas is in the mix, it’s always a good indicator that you’re in for one hell of an unexpected venture of discovery.”
Mother of Horror, Sadie Hartmann: “Lust was the next sin represented in the story, RING OF FIRE by Richard Thomas. I very much enjoyed how the author chose to unpack this story’s secrets slowly and methodically. It was fun for the reader to guess at what was going on and to have some theories as to who the protagonist was in the context of the world at large as well as his object of lust, Rebecca. I admit, my theory was correct. I loved the ending/epilogue of this one—great dystopian/sci-fi story that reminded me of a Black Mirror episode.”
AE Siraki: “Richard Thomas deals with Lust in “Ring of Fire,” in which the protagonist is obsessed with a woman, Rebecca. It’s a very trippy story and at first I thought that one or both of the characters were [redacted] meant to look like [redacted], but let’s just say things took a turn in a much more Alien-like direction and that fans of sci-fi horror will really get a kick out of this one. Thomas explains in his afterword that he wanted to do something different with his pairing of lust and horror, and rest assured, he has pulled that off.”
MORE TO COME.
I’m interviewed about my novelette, “Ring of Fire,” some of my best work to date, IMO. Out soon in The Seven Deadliest anthology.
Because of the way Rich Duncan and I divided the intros to these posts completely randomly and with little thought, I’m delighted that one of mine turned to be this author. Richard Thomas is a guy whose work I’ve been covering literally since the beginning, and he’s been a dedicated supporter, helping me to gain access to books that I didn’t then have the “street cred” to have earned yet. But Richard apparently had some faith in me and lent me a hand that helped me to get the ball rolling. There are two things in this overview of his story “Ring of Fire” that should make you sit up and take notice. One of them is making a reader like a bad person, and the other is magical realism. As to the first, he’s a fucking master of it. His protagonist in Disintegration was a very bad man who…
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Brian Kirk’s “Picking Splinters from a Sex Slave” was a brutal story, one that really pushed my buttons. I can’t wait to see what he did here with “Envy.”
We’re at the halfway point in our ongoing series chronicling the stories in Cutting Block Books’ upcoming anthology, The Seven Deadliest. So far we’ve been lucky enough to host John C. Foster, Bracken MacLeod, and Kasey Lansdale and share their insights into what inspired their stories. Today we welcome Brian Kirk to Ink Heist and he talks about the way he uses Envy in his story, “Chisel and Stone”. If you’re unfamiliar with Brian’s work, definitely seek out his two novels We are Monsters and Will Haunt You. He has a bold, imaginative writing style and utilizes psychological horror to stretch the boundaries of what we come to expect from horror fiction. In his article, Brian talks about the different facets of envy and what can happen when a good deed is born out of something sinister. Be sure to keep coming back to Ink Heist in the coming weeks…
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Awesome comments from Kasey Lansdale. Her “Pride” story sounds great.
We’re excited to continue our ongoing coverage of The Seven Deadliest by welcoming Kasey Lansdale to Ink Heist! Kasey is a multi-talented creative who has achieved success in just about every artistic medium you can think of. She’s an accomplished recording artist, author, editor, and actress. “The Companion – the story she co-wrote with her father and brother – is also set to be adapted for the upcoming season of Creepshow. In addition to all of that, she also started The East Texas Songwriter’s Workshop, which she still hosts. Simply put, Kasey has a superhuman work ethic and if you aren’t following her various projects already, you’re missing out. In her article, Kasey talks about the urban legend that inspired her story and also the way women are perceived and how that shaped the tone of “Cap Diamant.” Be sure to keep coming back to Ink Heist in the coming…
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Giveaway for The Seven Deadliest, which includes my novelette, “Ring of Fire.” I got lust. One of the hardest stories I’ve ever written, but some of my best work, too.
Ink Heist is hosting a giveaway over on Twitter that you’re going to want to get in on. In partnership with the Cutting Block Books imprint from Farolight Publishing, we’re happy to offer you the chance to win one of two copies of the new anthology, The Seven Deadliest, coming May 7th and featuring sins from John C. Foster, Bracken MacLeod, Kasey Lansdale, Brian Kirk, Rena Mason, Richard Thomas, and John F.D. Taff. These fantastic authors were tasked with writing stories to the prompts of the biblical 7 Deadly Sins and they came through in spades.
Head on over to the Ink Heist Twitter feed to enter now, and tell all your friends about it too!
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I love hearing Bracken’s thoughts here. Mine will be up at some point, soon.
We’re excited to continue our ongoing coverage of The Seven Deadliest by welcoming Bracken MacLeod to Ink Heist! Bracken is one of our favorite authors and chances are if you’re a fan of dark fiction, you’re already well acquainted with his work as well. His work is atmospheric and character-driven, which makes for potent stories that are likely to stick with you long after you reach the end. Bracken has written stories dealing with anger before and just so happened to be given wrath as his sin. In his article, he talks about the creation of his story, how he became involved in The Seven Deadliest project, and how he decided to put his own unique stamp on dealing with a familiar theme. Be sure to keep coming back to Ink Heist in the coming weeks as we plan to feature guest articles from the authors involved with The Seven Deadliest
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Shallow Creek (STORGY) is a shared world anthology that is going to blow you away. I was lucky enough to get Krinkles the Clown, which ended up being a pretty weird story told in four acts—with some shifting POVs. It’s part It part Twilight Zone with a smattering of Black Mirror. “The Caged Bird Sings in a Darkness of Its Own Creation” is one of eight stories I have coming out this year and I think it’s some of my best work to date. Ross Jeffery is doing some great work over at STORGY, so be sure to pick this one up.
Full list list of stories and authors:
DAVE DANVERS’ LAST FORAY INTO ALL THINGS WOO WOO
by J. Stuart Croskell
BEHIND THESE EYES
by Alice Noel
by Daniel Carpenter
THE SOIL OF STONIER HEARTS
by Erik Bergstrom
JANET’S VISION OF LOVE
by Tom Heaton
by Marion Coleman
by Adrian J Walker
by Heather Cuthbertson
by Brian Wilson
AND THE WORLD FADES TO BLACK
by Adam Lock
THE LURID TRANCE
by Gregg Williard
WE LIVE IN DIRT
by Ian Steadman
KNOCK, KNOCK, KNUCKLE BONE
by Allyson Kersel
by David Hartley
BLOOD MOON BOB
by Simon Billinton
THE EYES HAVE IT
by Sarah Lotz
by Aliya Whiteley
by Nick Adams
THE FULMAR’S CRY
by Andrea Hardaker
by Eleanor Hickey
THE CAGED BIRD SINGS IN A DARKNESS OF ITS OWN CREATION
by Richard Thomas
With accompanying artwork by Michael To.