The Ghoulish Times | 11/16/21

Could you identify a loved one by their whisper?

Hello and welcome to the 8th issue of The Ghoulish Times. The latest release from Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing is officially out today: Michael Paul Gonzalez’s Beneath the Salton Sea.

Every memory is a recording.

Nothing about the Salton Sea is normal. The sand isn’t sand. Just piles and piles of desiccated bones. There are little pockets where life clings on, birds, reptiles, people. It’s an ecosystem of living things that rely on other living things too stubborn to leave. Life forcing itself on death, or maybe the other way around.

Dee and her wife Sharon find this out the hard way after making a quick stop at Salvation Mountain to film some b-roll and see the sights out in the middle of the vast nothing. A bizarre rumor of a “crack in the sky” from one of the locals sends them on the hunt for an abandoned yacht club— where they make a discovery that changes their lives forever, and those close to them as well.

Could you identify a loved one by their whisper?

Beneath the Salton Sea is a cosmic horror technological nightmare transcribing the raw honesty of what makes a family, what breaks them, the difficulties of communication, and the painful joy of memories.

If you knew this was the last thing I’d ever tell you, what would you want me to say?

First, if you haven’t seen the magnificent trailer Michael made, you really gotta:

I’ve watched it probably a dozen times by now and I still love it. Personally, I’ve never visited the Salton Sea, but I hope to the next time we make it out to California. It looks like a fascinating place. Seriously, look up videos of people exploring it on YouTube. I can’t believe something like it actually exists still.

The book jacket (photo by Aleks Bieńkowska) is another example of the sea’s surreal geography:

For a deeper insight into how this book was created, go over to Michael’s website, where he’s posted about the music he listened to while writing it.

Additionally, Michael and I dug deep into the genesis of Beneath the Salton Sea in the latest episode of GHOULISH. Ever wondered what, exactly, the Salton Sea is? And how it became what it is today? This is the podcast for you. Listen HERE.

You should also listen to the latest episode of My Horror Confessional, where Michael talked about the book and also confessed to the great sin of never having seen The Evil Dead (until now). Listen HERE.

Not convinced yet? Weird! Trust me. This book rules. It originally started as a short story titled “How the Light Gets In”, which I published in my anthology Lost Signals back in 2016. It became very clear to both of us that the story there wasn’t quite complete, that there was more to explore in this fun cosmic horror universe. So he expanded it into what would eventually become Beneath the Salton Sea. Listen to the GHOULISH episode linked above for a deeper breakdown.

This book has been a long time in the making, and I am stoked to finally release it to the world. I adore it to pieces.

Here are a bunch of very talented people agreeing with me:

Beneath the Salton Sea is a mesmerizing trip into the strange, uncanny places of the world. The setting lurches to horrific life in Gonzalez’s deft prose, inviting us all to explore the otherworldly decay that permeates this place. This is a haunting story—I won’t be able to forget the visceral images that these characters encounter any time soon…” — Jo Kaplan, author of It Will Just Be Us

Beneath the Salton Sea is a hallucinatory wonder. A lyrical exploration of emotional trauma and the timelessness of grief. Gonzalez’s words draw you in, sentences washing over you in waves, before the story pulls you under completely.” — Joshua Chaplinsky, author of The Paradox Twins

“I loved every word of this startlingly visionary novel. A bizarro blend of The Twilight Zone meets Emily Dickinson, Beneath the Salton Sea is a lyrical and dark exploration of the impossible, of grief, and of longing. This is what loss looks like.” — Lee Murray, double Bram Stoker Award®-winner and author of Grotesque: Monster Stories

“Michael Gonzalez’s writing is as bright and hot as his setting, and every bit as sinister. This book will make you afraid of the light.” — Sarah Read, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Bone Weaver’s Orchard

“Beneath and above the ever-mysterious Salton Sea, Gonzalez’s new novel instantly pulls you into its watery depths with its rich language, where it blows your mind, and then quietly breaks your heart.” — Kate Maruyama, author of Harrowgate and Family Solstice

By the way, you know that line in the plot marketing copy about the sand not being sand? About it just being piles and piles of desiccated bones? That isn’t an exaggeration. Here’s a photo of the beach Michael took on a recent trip to the Salton Sea:

Purchase Beneath the Salton Sea via our webstore, Bookshop.org, Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. Books ordered through our webstore will receive a signed author bookplate while supplies last.


Okay, that’s it for this week. You can support us on Patreon, browse the books in our webstore, and follow us on Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter (PMMP | DMD | Ghoulish | personal). You can also join us on the Ghoulish Discord.

See you next Saturday, ghouls.