Oktoberfest in NYC, Concord, and Salem; Halloween in T-town


NYC skyline from a top Green-Wood Cemetery.
NYC skyline from a top Green-Wood Cemetery.

October flew by faster than a mini-pumpkin in a cannon. My husband and I visited New York City to be with dear friends Nicole Caputo and Jonathan Campo, and we had a blast. Trying to account for all the places we dined and drank and reveled in is folly, but folly has never stopped me before. My friends live in Park Slope, and we are all die hard Jonathan Ames fans. So, natch, our sauntering would turn into inadvertent Bored to Death tours. We crossed the Gowanus river and took in a show at the Slipper Room, which we realized later was the scene where Jonathan is dumped by his hippie girlfriend. There was always the possibility of running into the man himself at one of the beer gardens, but alas our paths did not cross. Which is good, because I tend to melt in front of these gents.

The Slipper Room may have been my favorite happening of this trip because the performances were beyond any Burlesque stuff I’ve seen (not that I have seen much). Thursday nights are Glitter Gutter, and every act was really whimsical, funny, and kind of geeky. The M.C. was Walt Whitman (James Habacker) in a hobo-version of Oscar Wlide’s sunflower suit, and pretty much had me in stitches the whole time. The performers were great and added a lot of humor to their acts. One performer, Tiger Bay, did a Mallory Archer performance set to Danzig’s “Mother,” and it was….just…only the words “danger zone” come to me right now. EDIT: I just found out this is a phenomenon going on for a long while, under the hashtag “nerdlesque.”

I also had a really lovely cocktail called London After Dark at Analogue, while trying to get out of the rain on the west side.

J. Mascis continues to own.
J. Mascis continues to own.

There were also the quiet times that were the best. Like going on cheese runs at Fleisher’s, dining on Nicole’s heavenly meals, and having coffee with her in the morning–a tradition that spanned the four years of our college lives together–visiting Green-Wood cemetery, where apparently I missed visiting Rufus Griswold, and catching up with Diana over dosas, and talking about James Tiptree over burgers with Aleks and Pete. One major quiet highlight was getting to sit in on a recording for Jonathan’s sketch animations with Gravy Boat Regatta. I’ve always been fascinated by voice acting, so getting to see how weird it looks in person vs. what the final outcome of it becomes was really cool.

Oh, crap, right–and we saw J. Mascis at The Bowery!

After NYC, we drove to Concord, where we spent the next morning wandering Walden, then the afternoon and evening stomping around Salem. Salem ended up being a little bit of a professional excursion, as I am working on my She Walks In Shadows submission [which, hey, will be open to general submission Nov. 15th!], which deals with Eunice Babson from “The Thing On The Doorstep.” Arkham is based on Salem, and the Crowinsheild house is supposedly modeled on the same mansion found on Essex Street. Supposedly, Asanath and Derby did their expiraments on the third floor, but that floor does not look very conducive to alchemy….

The only way I’ve been able to describe Salem, during Halloween at least, is like New Orleans and St. Augustine had a baby that looked like Elizabeth Montgomery. It was beautiful and corny and borderline “in approps.” The weirdest thing was hearing a group of high school girls hunt down specific victims of the witch trials in the graveyard and get really giddy when they found them. Martha Corey fan clubs abound, evidently.

Where mysterious sobbing could be heard coming from the top floor.
Where mysterious sobbing could be heard coming from the top floor.

The night, and the whole trip, was topped off by burgers in the old Salem jail with friend and Poe scholar extraordinare, Rob Vellela, who told us all about the recent unveiling of the new Poe memorial in Boston. Alas, I did not get to see it. We were too citied out by the time we arrived in Massachusetts. Next time.

When we came back home, it was non-stop Halloween times. I attended a neat Fright Film Fest in Railroad Square, but on by the Cultural Alliance at Railroad Square, a new non-profit gallery and organization that has been putting on killer, free festivals and activities for the community. And because it was Halloween, some spooky love was given to “Dive In Me,” Jesse Bullington and my haunting story in The New Gothic. It was included in this awesome, best haunted houses list that ran over at Quirk Books. Many thanks to Carrie Jo Tucker for finding Suicide Sinks so creepy. I know I wouldn’t want to be caught diving around there.


THE NEW GOTHIC Giveaway: On Nirvana and the Gothic

THE NEW GOTHIC among all my Nirvana swag from the Tallahassee concert in 1993. Took those photos in the corner with a really crappy $10 camera from Kmart. Oh, the 90s.
THE NEW GOTHIC among all my Nirvana swag from the Tallahassee concert in 1993. Took those photos in the corner with a really crappy $10 camera from Kmart. Oh, the 90s.

So, this week is a big week for Nirvana fans. Today marks the 20th anniversary of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain’s death and on April 10, the band will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

I don’t know if y’all realize, but I’m really into Nirvana. IN UTERO came out just in time for me to throw my twelfth birthday money at it. It, along with BABES IN TOYLAND’s PAINKILLERS and Hole’s PRETTY ON THE INSIDE and later LIVE THROUGH THIS, was one of those albums that changed my life in the way that only music and books and arts can do. Nirvana even came to my town with the Breeders in December ’93, and being at that concert is pretty much on my list of life achievements.

Anyway, as has been mentioned here before, I wrote a short story with my inimitable friend Jesse Bullington that is in Stone Skin Press’ THE NEW GOTHIC: DON’T EMBRACE THE DARKNESS. FEAR IT.  Edited by Beth Lewis, this anthology reassess the Gothic legacy, and as critic Ed Grabianowski put it in a glowing review over at i09:

“I’m not too worried about whether this collection redefines the field. What I can tell you is that editor Beth K. Lewis and the team at Stone Skin Press have selected a terrific set of stories. They hang together, despite disparate elements; each tale hints at the darkness lurking in urban neighborhoods, in old houses, on desolate roads, and in our hearts. Cue Vincent Price’s menacing laugh echoing down a black corridor. There are no castles here, but there’s no sympathy for the devil either.”

Sounds pretty hardcore, right?

The story Jesse and I wrote is called “Dive In Me,” and is about three adolescent girls in the early 90s and their friendship that leads to staring into atramedous pits of both the literal and figurative senses.  Jesse has described it as “Daria goes to Hell,” and I’ve called it a “grunge-nightmare.” It is definitely a period piece, and that hasn’t been more apparent to me than today, on the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s suicide, in which I am definitely feeling kind of bored and old.

The title, of course, refers to my personal favorite Nirvana song “Dive,” which is on Incesticide, and provides something of the “soundtrack” to the ramblings, froggings, and chain smoking antics of the girls in this story.  As a Nirvana fan, I didn’t really want to do anything celebrating death or hype or whatever, I kind of wanted to celebrate how expression can lead to other forms of expression, and so because of the connection with “Dive In Me,” I thought it’d be fun to do a THE NEW GOTHIC giveaway during this big   Nirvana week.

Stone Skin Press is throwing in two copies to my one for a three book giveaway! Deets below.

THE RULES:  All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post about either Nirvana or the Gothic–it is entirely up to you. Comments will be open from now until April 10 at 12 EST.  I will choose the best three comments and announce the winners Friday, April 11th at 8 am EST.

I do have one tiny request. The kind i09 review aside, THE NEW GOTHIC hasn’t had many reviews on Amazon, GoodReads, etc.  Obviously, it’s a free country, but if the winners of this contest would be so kind as to give their thoughts, even if you hate it, at some bookish reviewer thing, even if it is your blog, that would be lovely.

Alright. Well, let’s dive in then….

io9 reviews THE NEW GOTHIC

io9 reviews THE NEW GOTHIC

io9 ran a great review of Stone Skin Press’ THE NEW GOTHIC, edited by Beth Lewis, and features a grunge-nightmare by Jesse Bullington and me called “Dive In Me.”  The reviewer Ed Grabianowski said this about our tale:

“Things get off to a terrifying start with Jesse Bullington and S.J. Chambers’ “Dive in Me.” It pushes so many horror buttons, from the crushing insecurity of youth to the simple fear of drowning, and it builds to a stunning climax, the kind where you’re sort of breathlessly turning each page as your eyes gradually get wider and wider. This one will stick in my head for a long time.

It’s no insult to say that no other story in the book quite reaches the heights of “Dive in Me,” because it’s that good.”


Dive by Post: Feature on Stone Skin Press for THE NEW GOTHIC

Sleepy Selena wants to share a thing before she slips off to miscount sheep.

Stone Skin Press is excerpting “Dive In Me,” a story Jesse Bullington and I wrote about growing up SO(thern) GOTH and grunge in the 90s. It is the opener to THE NEW GOTHIC, edited by the awesome Beth Lewis, and is on sale now.

Jesse and I actually grew up in the same small times town in Northern Florida, and shared a similar taste in flannel, boots, and mischief, if I recall. This story encapsulates a bit of that along with a composite of the adolescent girls we once knew.  The title, for reasons that will be seen in the story, was inspired by Nirvana’s “Dive.”

There are plenty of awesome authors in this collection like Ramsey Campbell, Damien Kelley, Lauren Ellen Joyce, Richard Dansky, and more.  I, personally, can’t wait to check out everyone else’s contribution.

Woo-boy. Neuron switches are being flipped one by one. Thanks for shutting the place down with me. I’m diving in and out. Good night, folks!