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The Ghoulish Times | 9/18/21
Dogs - Folk Horror - Filmmaking Podcasts
Hello and welcome to the first issue of The Ghoulish Times. My name is Max Booth III. I am a writer, publisher, editor, podcaster, and egg-eater. This is a newsletter dedicated to covering anything related to Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, Dark Moon Digest, the GHOULISH podcast, my own writing, and anything else I deem fun and spooky.
If you’re unsure why you’re receiving this newsletter, please allow me to explain before you try to SWAT my house. You probably used to receive our newsletter via Mailchimp, but I decided to switch over to Substack due to the simple fact that I can no longer afford to pay $50+ a month for Mailchimp. As far as I can tell, Substack is free, which—if my math is correct—means I have to pay far less $$$ than I was back when we used Mailchimp. If you don’t remember subscribing to any newsletter, you probably submitted fiction to our horror magazine and opted in for our weekly newsletter by clicking a “sign me up!” box. In which case, hello! Thank you for submitting and subscribing.
I guess this can be considered a “reboot” of the newsletter. Previously it was never very consistent. Sometimes I would send one every three months. Sometimes I would send three in one week. With The Ghoulish Times, I am aiming to send exactly one newsletter out every Saturday morning. These newsletters will contain the aforementioned “news” about things related to the various creative projects I am involved in, such as my small press and my podcast and my own writing. I will also talk about books and movies I’ve been enjoying lately. Additionally, each newsletter will contain a brief essay about something…spooky.
Which leads me into this week’s topic:
If you write fiction long enough, you will eventually be asked in an interview what inspired you to start writing in the first place. And once you’re asked it the first time, you will start hearing it over and over. It’s easily the most common question interviewers ask writers, because it requires zero research and serves as a decent ice-breaker. For the longest time, I struggled with how to answer this question. Most writers will say something vague and boring, like, “Oh, you know, I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember,” and leave it at that. Personally, I think writers should strive to be more exciting with how they answer questions, regardless of how unoriginal the question might be. The goal of any interview, after all, is to persuade potential readers into giving your work a shot.
The go-to answer to this question I eventually settled on involves a dog. Specifically, a weird chihuahua rat terrier mutt named Penny. To the best of my recollection, I had her when I was six, maybe seven. We did everything together. She would sleep on my chest. Anywhere I went, she went. Warning: the rest of this story is about to get incredibly sad. Anyway, like all childhood dogs, things ended tragically. It was winter. My older brother walked outside to get the mail. The moment he opened the door, Penny bolted out of the house and into the street, exactly where a snow plow was heading. You can guess what happened next. Obviously the incident traumatized me. To deal with it, I started forming these adventures about my dog and I, which allowed Penny to live on beyond her death. Before then, I was interested in writing, but it wasn’t until my dog passed away that I truly understood how magical the act of storytelling can actually be. The fact that I could make something that no longer existed somehow still exist completely blew my mind.
Throughout my childhood, I had several dogs. Penny was the only one who officially died while under my ownership. The rest ran away. As an adult, I moved in with a woman named Lori Michelle. She’s the co-runner of Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing and the Editor-in-Chief of Dark Moon Digest. She’s also the love of my life. Anyway, when I moved in, she had a dachshund named Jack. I was actually with her when she first adopted him, but I didn’t live with her yet. Over the next ten years, Jack and I formed a close bond. I sometimes joked that he was my literary agent. Warning: Shit’s about to get even sadder. Earlier this summer, Jack got sick. It took a while for us to figure out what was going on, but eventually our vet concluded he had lymphoma. We had to put him down in the beginning of August and it fucking sucked. Evidently, the pain of losing a pet is somehow significantly stronger as an adult than when you are a child. Maybe it’s because you’ve developed a greater sense of empathy. I don’t know. But it was terrible. I do not recommend it. I vowed to never get another dog.
I lasted an entire 25 days, and then came home with a dachshund puppy named Slinky. Except Slinky was a terrible name, so I renamed him Frank Booth (shoutout to Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet).
Here is Frank:
As I’m typing this newsletter, Frank is sleeping next to my leg on the couch. I do not quite know how it happened, but Frank has acquired a rather strong attachment to me, very quickly. He freaks out if I’m away from him for even a second. When I use the bathroom, he has to join me. Needless to say, I already love him to death, and nothing bad will ever happen to him. He is very smart when it comes to certain things. For example, it took him only a day to learn to ring a bell at our back door whenever he needs to use the bathroom. But he’s also incredibly clumsy and doesn’t quite understand physics, although I’m not much to talk, as “incredibly clumsy and doesn’t quite understand physics” also perfectly describes myself.
Since this is a newsletter, I guess I thought it was appropriate to introduce you to our new puppy. I look forward to having many adventures with him, both in real life and in fantasy. I imagine Frank will maintain a consistent presence in this newsletter via a section I’m calling “Frank Updates”. He is a good boy and in a couple weeks a vet is going to cut off his balls. Please do not say anything in front of him. I haven’t broken the news yet. Oh shit I hope he isn’t subscribed to this newsletter.
Speaking of news, let’s get to some news…
It’s been a long time coming, but we are stoked to finally reveal the table of contents and cover art for our next anthology. You can also pre-order it here ahead of its November 30th release.
First, the cover art, designed by the talented George Cotronis.
From the editors of Lost Signals and Lost Films comes the final installment in Perpetual Motion Machine’s technological horror trilogy. Nineteen authors in the genre team up to deliver a collection of spooky delights. In Lost Contact, stalkers, hackers, grieving families, social misfits, abandoned children, and other unhinged characters explore bizarre, unexpected horrors along creepy weather stations, playgrounds, rundown shopping malls, interstates, deserts, bogs, mountaintops, farms, and—of course—the deep, dark woods. Featuring Michael Paul Gonzalez, E.F. Schraeder, Jessica Leonard, Joshua Chaplinsky, Hailey Piper, Rebecca Jones-Howe, Muhammed Awal Ahmed, Betty Rocksteady, Michael Wehunt, Sofia Ajram, Jonathan Raab, Nicola Kapron, Nathan Carson, Anthony Wayne Hepp, Dustin Katz, Adam Franti, Douglas Wynne, Rachel Cassidy, and Victorya Chase.
We are very excited to finally share with you the front cover of Lisa Quigley’s The Forest. Matthew Revert is the artist and he nailed it, we think. But first, a little about the book:
Everyone in Edgewood believes their annual tithes at the fall festival are what purchase Edgewood’s safety, but as Faye and her husband prepare to take over as town stewards—a long tradition carried out by her family for generations—they learn the terrible truth: in order to guarantee the town’s safety, the forest demands an unthinkable sacrifice.
In the midst of everything, Faye is secretly battling debilitating postpartum anxiety that makes her all the more terrified to leave the safe cocoon of her enchanted town.
When everyone turns against her—including her own husband—Faye is forced to flee with her infant son into the forest. She must face whatever lurks there and, perhaps most frightening of all, the dark torments of her own mind.
The Forest is an adult folk horror novel appealing to fans of The Lottery by Shirley Jackson and Bird Box by Josh Malerman, with a hint of The Changeling by Victor LaValle. It is Quigley’s debut novel.
Sound good? You better believe it. Now let’s check out Revert’s cover art:
Order The Forest directly through our webstore and receive a signed bookplate from the author.
New WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING Paperback
The first batch of the new paperback edition of We Need to Do Something finally arrived last night. It includes an introduction from Sean King O’Grady (director of the film adaptation) and an afterword from myself. I’ll be signing copies throughout the weekend and mailing them on Monday. Not every copy is spoken for yet, so if you want to snag one, now’s the perfect time. Order here.
Recent GHOULISH Episodes
To celebrate the release of the We Need to Do Something film adaptation, I’ve been interviewing several cast and crew members on my GHOULISH podcast. ICYMI, here are the current film-related episodes currently available (with more to come!):
GHOULISH Discord Channel
I recently launched a Discord channel for the GHOULISH podcast. We discuss the podcast in it, yes, but we also talk about anything else spooky. It’s already far more popular than I imagined it would be, so if you’re interested in joining us, here’s an invite link. Come say hi! (The invite link will expire in 7 days, but I’ll try to remember to regularly include new links in future newsletters.)
The Other Two - one of the funniest shows on television right now that nobody seems to be talking about. It’s on HBO Max and, essentially, it’s about two adult siblings who are mostly failures in life. Their younger teen brother becomes an overnight sensation (think Justin Bieber) and things just continue to get worse for them from there.
The X-Files - I’ve weirdly never seen beyond season two of this show, despite loving what I’ve seen previously. Recently I started a rewatch from the beginning with Lori’s son, who had never seen any episode until now. We are halfway through the second season right now and goddamn this show rules. It rules so hard. I love it and he loves it and it’s just amazing.
True Story by Kate Reed Petty - this is one of my “sleep” books, meaning it’s on my e-reading device so it’s easier to read while tossing and turning in bed unable to sleep. I’m about 30% into it right now and I think it’s excellent. There’s some experimental, unreliable narrator stuff going on in it that I find truly admirable. I recommend going into it as blind as you can.
Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder - this is a book about a woman who believes she’s turning into a dog. I love it so far.
Queen of Teeth by Hailey Piper - truly the champion of body horror.
The only album I listen to now is Halsey’s newest, titled If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross produced it. Nobody should even bother making new music now. The best album has officially been released.
Okay, I think that’s about it for this week’s newsletter. Sorry it was a little long. I had a lot of news to catch up on, evidently. Let me know what you thought of the first Ghoulish Times. Is there anything you want to see more of? I’m all ears.
See you next Saturday, ghouls.