Monday, July 31, 2023

The 40 But 10 Interview Series: Terese Svoboda


I had decided to retire the literary Would You Rather series, but didn't want to stop interviews on the site all together. Instead, I've pulled together 40ish questions - some bookish, some silly - and have asked authors to limit themselves to answering only 10 of them. That way, it keeps the interviews fresh and connectable for all of us!

Today, we are joined by Terese Svoboda. Terese is the author of 19 books of poetry, fiction, biography, memoir and translation, Terese has won the Guggenheim, the Bobst Prize in fiction, the Iowa Poetry Prize, an NEH translation grant, the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize, a Jerome Foundation video prize, the O. Henry Award for the short story, and a Pushcart Prize for the essay. Her opera WET premiered at L.A.'s Disney Hall. Her most recent book, Theatrix: Poetry Plays was named one of the best of 2021. Roxy and Coco, my 20th book, 8th novel, will be published in 2024. Dog on Fire is the fourth book she's published in five years in four genres.

Describe Dog on Fire in three words. 

Grief – laughter – grief.

What are some of your favorite books and/or authors? 

Karen Russell and Jennifer Egan write about seemingly imagined worlds with a kindness and generosity that's seldom found in mortals. Maybe they are immortals. The much less attractive Padgett Powell writes amazingly playful books. Have you read Ali Smith? What she can do with a sentence.

What is your favorite book from childhood? 

My childhood was too long ago. I set  out to write closer to my children's early years and was influenced by Tove Janssen's Moomin people, and William Steig's matter-of-fact fabulism.

What are you currently reading? 

I'm wallowing in New Directions, having just finished Bloater by Rosemary Tonks and Ferdinand Melchor's Hurricane Season. I also recommend Africa is Not A Country by Dipo Faloyin – such excellent essays, and Jim Ruland's novel Make It Stop about super-punks in rehab.

If you were stuck on a deserted island, what’s the one book you wish you had with you? 

I was stuck on Mangaia, a sort-of desert island, for three weeks several decades ago and had to escape by stowing away on a pineapple boat.. Because it was the Cooks, the only book available was the Bible. Nobody was going to let me go off and actually read it – they don't encourage such solitary endeavors, better I spend the day making leis or collecting snails off rocks. Of course I wrote a book about that, A Drink Called Paradise.

What is under your bed? 

I usually sleep on a Murphy bed, so there's just an expanse of relatively clean floor that I skate across in the morning to the shower, having stuffed the bedclothes and pillows into the wall willy-nilly. Oh, yes, there's usually a book cast over the side the night before, marooned and exposed by the bed's disappearance.

If you could spend the day with another author, who would you choose and why?

Jim Ruland, the punk critic. He's interested in everything, has done everything and had it tattooed everywhere. Well, I'm not sure about the last.

What is your favorite way to waste time? 

Dog training. Fred, the moth-eared papillon, who responds well to hot dogs.

Do you DNF books? 

I threw Donald  Antrim's first book against the wall because it was so frustratingly disgusting – and then of course I had to finish it. The key word is “so.” Excess is attractive, lack is less. Books that don't blossom or resonate won't get finished. I'll read anything as long as it retains a scrap of intensity.


Everyone likes ghost stories – except Dog on Fire isn't exactly that. Imagine a sad-funny elegy, Cather channeling Saunders, with infusions of sly wit. Imagine a sibling who is so inscrutable he seems to be from another family entirely, who dies before you get to know him. Of course the family in Dog on Fire's dysfunctional: an alcoholic mother who carves wax guns, a father whose passion is smoking anything vaguely edible, a sister who hears her dead brother in door molding. A dreadful dust storm gets the book off to a good start with the glimpse of the shovel-wielding ghost. What Dog on Fire does best is haunt, and its succinct almost-poetry seeks to enchant you.

"A contemporary “Dustbowl Gothic” novel.” – Rone Shavers, author of Silverfish
"Haunting and darkly witty reckoning.”-- Dawn Raffel, author of Boundless as the Sky
"Thrillingly alive to this bewildering moment."-- Rene Steinke, author of Friendswood

buy a copy here:

Monday, July 24, 2023

The 40 But 10 Interview Series: Leanne Radojkovich


 I had decided to retire the literary Would You Rather series, but didn't want to stop interviews on the site all together. Instead, I've pulled together 40ish questions - some bookish, some silly - and have asked authors to limit themselves to answering only 10 of them. That way, it keeps the interviews fresh and connectable for all of us!

Today we are joined by Leanne Radojkovich. Leanne is the author of short story collections Hailman and First Fox published by The Emma Press. She has been a finalist for the Anton Chekhov Prize for Very Short Fiction, longlisted for the Short Fiction/University of Essex Prize and shortlisted for the Sargeson Prize. Leanne has a master's degree in creative writing from AUT Auckland University of Technology. She has Dalmatian heritage and was born in Aotearoa New Zealand, where she works as a librarian. @linedealer

Why do you write?

I like growing things from words. I also like gardening, I find there’s a lot of crossover between gardening and storying – you never know if a seed or a sentence will take, or how it will grow.


What made you start writing?

I always felt happiest reading stories and poems; and one day it occurred to me that I could try making some, too.


What’s the best money you’ve ever spent as a writer?

Buying exercise books and coloured pens – I doodle and write at the same time, it helps me to focus, and sometimes the doodles turn into words.


Do you DNF books?

I read a book’s last page first. I like to know the ending before I start reading towards it. This helps reduce anxiety and means I can concentrate more deeply on how the story unfolds.


If you could spend the day with another author, who would you choose and why?

I would spend the day with Lucia Berlin, just to be in her company, not to ask for anything more than she has already given – stories as immersive as jumping into the sea; rips and tides, wildness, calm.


What are some of your favorite books and/or authors?

If I had to live with only one book it would be Derek Jarman’s Modern Nature, which I’ve read so often it feels like a companion and also a guide. It’s an hypnotic meditation on Jarman’s life, his art and politics, his celebration of gayness, and his diary of the garden he grew at his home in Dungeness – a shingle beach and England’s only desert – after discovering he was HIV positive.


What is your favorite book from childhood?

A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. How musical the language was when I read it aloud; and how magical these stories made from ordinary things were – your shadow, your bedspread. It helped me understand the importance of imagination to generate wonder, and populate loneliness.


Hailman is a collection of short stories by Leanne Radojkovich.

“All the rest home doors have name tags. Mum’s has a typo: Irina. Although Irena isn’t her born name – only she knows what that is, and she’s never told, never discussed the war. Says she was born the day she reached Wellington harbour with papers stating she was a ten-year-old Polish orphan. Dad said not to ask about the European years, and my brother and I never did. Now they’ve both died and there’s just me and Mum, and she’s in a rest home with a mis-spelled name on her door.”



buy a copy here:


Monday, July 17, 2023

The 40 But 10 Interview Series: Bill Neumire


I had decided to retire the literary Would You Rather series, but didn't want to stop interviews on the site all together. Instead, I've pulled together 40ish questions - some bookish, some silly - and have asked authors to limit themselves to answering only 10 of them. That way, it keeps the interviews fresh and connectable for all of us!

Joining us today is Bill Neumire. Bill is a poet, editor, and book reviewer living in Syracuse, New York. His most recent book is #TheNewCrusades, which was a finalist for the Barrow Street Prize and is available from Unsolicited Press (as well as Barnes and Noble and Amazon).His first book was Estrus, which was a semifinalist for the 42 Miles Press Award and is available from Kelsay Books.

Why do you write?

 The most honest but reductionist way I could answer this is to say I can’t not write. If all sense of “publication” evaporated, I’d still write out of compulsion, out of need to talk to myself, to respond to thought, feeling, reading–and ultimately I see writing, especially poetry, as a mode of reading. So the question goes hand-in-hand with the corollary: why do you read? For me, the answer involves conversation and examination (ah, that old chestnut about the unexamined life being not worth living).

 When I was young, a teenager, I remember wondering, genuinely, if adults still had passionate internal lives–if the apparent drudgery of adulthood, or just time itself, took that from everyone as they aged. It seems naive now, but I think it’s a thought some version of which many teens have. And, sadly, I think it’s sometimes, for some folks, all too accurate. I suppose, then, I write, like a sign over a door to a secret club, to say, “here I am– an adult who still has thoughts, feelings, ruminations, an internal struggle that is not connected to my world of earning a paycheck, doing chores, even conversing politely with other adults. And I read to see who else is in the club, and what their version looks like.



What’s something that’s true about you but no one believes?

 I can never be sure what others believe, but I can say that I never read for “pleasure,” and that often surprises people. I don’t do “beach reading” or any version of it. I find reading difficult, and if I’m going to relax, it will be in some other way–bodily, through television or gaming or socialization. But I read a lot, all of it out of a compulsion to search and learn. The capacity to be surprised by knowledge, to absorb some new information or experience that makes me rethink my take on meaning, life, death–that possibility keeps me reading. I want to think with thinkers and feel with feelers in hopes that I move closer to the readiness Hamlet speaks of when he’s confronted with death and responds, seemingly at peace, by saying, “the readiness is all.”



What’s your kryptonite as a writer?

 Well, I don’t tend to work in projects. Maybe this is a natural outcome of living a frenetic schedule in which I just don’t have long stretches of uninterrupted time to write, or maybe it’s just my nature. But I think there’s a disadvantage to not thinking and writing in book-length or chapbook-length projects, as opposed to working at the level of the individual poem. If not for this, I would have written more than two books over the last 25 years.



If you could spend the day with another author, who would you choose and why?

Carlo Rovelli. He’s a very literary physicist who writes about his obsession with understanding time, at the level of physics. Time is an obsession for everyone, but I think my writing confronts time in ways that make me really interested in talking to someone who has studied it as a physical phenomenon the way Rovelli has.


 What is your favorite way to waste time?

 When I was really young–elementary school– I would come home and see my dad, still in his work clothes from throwing bags of salt at the plant, lying on his back on the living floor with his eyes closed listening to Bruce Springsteen records. I’m not sure I believe in the idea of anything truly being “a waste of time” (see Rovelli), but that use of time is so separate, an antidotal, to the capitalist ideas of efficient time use, that I love it. And him.


 What’s on your literary bucket list?

 I would love to turn my home into a Gertrude-Stein-esque salon for conversation with poets, artists, and thinkers. Ultimately, it would probably have to be a separate space than my home (my wife prefers more solitude), but if we’re talking non-pragmatic aspirations, there you have it. I like that poetry already exists on the fringes of any kind of “market,” and even in that space, I rarely think of money or audience when it comes to my writing. It gives me a kind of freedom, I think, to target what I really value about it: conversation and proximity with creative minds. The salon would be an ultimate realization of this.


What would you do if you could live forever?

 Learn all of the extant languages and try to press rewind on the whole Tower of Babel situation. I’d also live in every part of the world for at least a year (all of the potential seasons) and try to have a meaningful series of conversations with every person I met.


What is under your bed?



What’s the one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

 I worried a lot when I was younger, mostly about some version of the future. I still do, I suppose, but it feels different–more subdued and informed–now. I wish I knew, in a way talking can never convey, that everything was going to be just fine.


What scares you the most?

 The non-literary answer that is most true is that something terrible will happen to my children. On a more writerly level, the idea of losing all of my interlocutors; aging is a wild path of loss in many ways, and I’ve never been more vicariously sad than being in the presence of someone older than me who says they’ve lost all of the people closest to them. In some ways, I guess, living a literary life is a force field against that kind of loneliness: if you are in a large conversation with other writers, with books, with friends and family, it’s less likely you ever have no one left to talk to.


The news in #TheNewCrusades is professed through protests, graffiti, broken mirrors, ambient radio, synchronized fires, and all-night newsfeeds--all of it projecting a cryptic and indefinable set of rules that churn about as permutations of some lost algorithm. These poems address a tamed violence held barely in check, examining masculinity and fatherhood and the undercurrents of suburban domesticity. In the end, they are a barrage of cries at breaking the boundary between you and I, questions rising into prayers that ask, are we closed or open systems? Can we really know each other at all?

buy a copy here: 

Thursday, July 13, 2023

The 40 But 10 Interview Series: luna rey hall


I had decided to retire the literary Would You Rather series, but didn't want to stop interviews on the site all together. Instead, I've pulled together 40ish questions - some bookish, some silly - and have asked authors to limit themselves to answering only 10 of them. That way, it keeps the interviews fresh and connectable for all of us!

Today we are joined by luna rey hall. luna is a queer trans non-binary writer. she is the author of space neon neon space (Variant Lit, 2022), no matter the diagnosis (Game Over Books, 2023), the patient routine (Brigids Gate Press, 2023), and loudest when startled (YesYes Books, 2020), longlisted for the 2020 Julie Suk Award. they are the winner of the 2013 Patsy Lea Core in Memorial Award for Poetry. her poems have appeared in The Florida Review, The Rumpus & Raleigh Review, among others. they live in St. Paul, MN.

What’s your kryptonite as a writer?

time management— i either write way too often or not at all.

Describe your book in three words.

[the patient routine]: too anxious, help.

What are some of your favorite websites or social media platforms?

really only like using Twitter and Instagram. both have easy access to thoughts and art.

What are some of your favorite books and/or authors?

my favorite book is Blood Dazzler by Patricia Smith.

What are you currently reading?

right now, i’m reading Devilman by Go Nagai and rereading The Troop by Nick Cutter.

What’s the one book someone else wrote that you wish you had written?

Black Aperture (Matt Rasmussen). it’s so unfair how good that book is and it’s such a perfect encapsulation of the grieving process.

Do you think you’d live long in a zombie apocalypse?

i’ve said it before and i will say it a thousand more times: i do not want to try to survive, so, no, i think i would be an easy target for any type of zombie.

What is under your bed?

nothing; empty space.

Do you DNF books?

yes. if i know i won’t like something after a few pages, a few chapters, then i don’t see the point in wasting my time to finish it.

What scares you the most?

the most terrifying thing to me is the impossibility of the human body— which is why body horror appeals to me so much— just the way that our bodies can be manipulated, changed, warped in ways that shouldn’t be possible. the disconnect between our idea of what a human is and what we can become.


Monday, July 10, 2023

The 40 But 10 Interview Series: Miriam O'Neal


I had decided to retire the literary Would You Rather series, but didn't want to stop interviews on the site all together. Instead, I've pulled together 40ish questions - some bookish, some silly - and have asked authors to limit themselves to answering only 10 of them. That way, it keeps the interviews fresh and connectable for all of us!

Joining us today is Miriam O'Neal. Miriam’s work has appeared in LA Review of Books, The Galway Review, North Dakota Quarterly, The Waxed Lemon, and elsewhere. The Body Dialogues (Lily Poetry Review Books, 2020), was nominated for a Massachusetts Center for the Book Award. Her first collection, We Start With What We’re Given, (Kelsay Press) came out in 2018. She also is a 2019 Pushcart nominee was a finalist for the 2019 Disquiet International Poetry Prize, and the 2020 Princemere Poetry Prize. A portion of her translation of Italian poet, Alda Merini’s, Rose Volanti appeared in On The Seawall. She hosts a monthly reading series, Poetry the Art of Words, in Plymouth, MA for poetry, flash, and short prose. Her current writing projects include translating a literary guide to Venice (In the Footsteps of Writers), a long essay on the life of British artist, Elizabeth Rivers and her time on the Aran Islands in Galway, and a new collection of poems in the voice of Lot’s wife. Her most recent collection, The Half-Said Things was published by Nixes Mate in April, 2022. See more at



Why do you write?  

 Writing is a way of being for me. So, I’d say, when I write I know I exist.

What’s something that’s true about you but no one believes it?

I am not afraid of the dark, nor was I as a child.

What’s your kryptonite as a writer? 

There’s a committee in my head that still doesn’t get that I am a writer. They took up residence during my adolescence and have refused to move on. Eviction hasn’t been entirely successful. They move on for a while but circle back now and then. Sometimes, when they show up, I kick them into the basement and lock the door to get things on paper.

What’s the best money you ever spent as a writer?   

Any time I can spend $ on travel, I will. My first trip to Italy changed my perspective on both myself and how I wrote, because I found myself writing to describe and to connect rather than only introspectively. I had always thought I wanted to go to Poet’s Bay on the west coast of Italy, do the whole Byron/Shelley tour, but ended up choosing Puglia, the heel of the boot on a flight of fancy (I wanted to sleep in a Trullo!). It turned out to be the best choice for me and I’ve returned there many times. Virgil had a farm in Puglia and his ‘Georgics’ are based, in part, on the farming life (and the farming gods of course) of that region. So many lovely rabbit holes to fall down there! I completed a manuscript of poems that are in conversation with Linda Gregg’s beautiful book, In the Middle Distance, during my last, pre-pandemic visit to Puglia.

If you could spend the day with another author, who would you choose and why?

What on earth would they do with me? If I could spend part of a day with the poets, Linda Gregg, James Wright, or Virgil and just compare notes on our impressions of various kinds light on the Adriatic, and then pick capers from the caper bush beside the trullo I stay in when I go to Puglia and watch the sun disappear behind the hill, that would be nice. I blame the aforementioned committee for my hesitance to take the whole day.

What are some of your favorite books and/or authors?   

For that old time religion, Virgil and Ovid; the former’s Georgics, the latter’s poems in exile. Poet Linda Gregg is a touchstone for me. Her gaze is direct and her heart is forgiving. Her images arrest the eye. I love Joy Harjo’s clear and encouraging voice. Ross Gay’s intelligent joy. Natalia Ginzberg’s sorting of rich, tiny details. Italo Calvino’s stories always convince me to suspend my disbelief. Poet, Alda Merini’s surrealness wakes me up.

What are you currently reading?    

I’m reading one hundred visions of war, by French writer, Julien Vocance, translated by Alfred Nicol (Wiseblood Books, 2022). It’s a collection of haiku Vocance wrote in response to his experiences in World War I. So, a Japanese form in the French language translated into English, expressing a universal horror. Also a collection of translated Italian short stories edited by Jhumpa Lahiri. In different rooms at different times of day.

What’s the single best line you’ve ever read?  

So far it’s one from Ranier Maria Rilke: “This is the crux of all that once existed/ that it does not remain with all its weight,/ that to our being it returns instead,/ woven into us, deep and magical:”(Edward Snow, trans.).  I know that’s 4 lines, but it’s one sentence that invites us to imagine how to live with what we’re given in life.

Do you read the reviews of your books or do you stay far far away from them, and why?

Few reviewers review small press collections of poetry, so I don’t have much to stay away from. So far, my few reviewers have been complimentary.

Are you a book hoarder or a book unhauler?

If you saw my study today, you’d say I am a book hoarder. But that’s because you didn’t see my study 6 months ago. It’s a cyclic process for me.



Miriam O’Neal’s The Half-Said Things is a book both meditatively considerate and bitingly eloquent. These are domestic poems on the of wilderness, poems from empty rooms in crowded houses, poems delighting in language and ripe with depth. “So I take my missing with like a parting/ gift of roses” she writes, reflecting lyrically on life and death from a calm, wisely wary place of earned experience, strength and knowing acceptance.

                                        —Stephan Delbos, Poet Laureate of Plymouth, Massachusetts


buy a copy here

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Where Writers Write: Kelcey Ervick

 Welcome to another installment of TNBBC's Where Writers Write!

Where Writers Write is a series in which authors showcase their writing spaces using short form essay, photos, and/or video. As a lover of books and all of the hard work that goes into creating them, I thought it would be fun to see where the authors roll up their sleeves and make the magic happen. 

This is Kelcey Ervick.

She is the author of the graphic memoir, The Keeper (Avery Books/Penguin).  Her three previous award-winning books of fiction and nonfiction are The Bitter Life of Božena NěmcováLiliane's Balcony, and For Sale By Owner. Her stories, essays, and comics have appeared in The RumpusThe BelieverWashington PostLit HubColorado ReviewPassages NorthQuarterly WestBoothNotre Dame Review, and elsewhere. She has a Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati and is a professor of English and creative writing at Indiana University South Bend.  Her latest, The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Graphic Literature, releases this month. 

Where Kelcey Ervick Writes

Monday, July 3, 2023

The 40 But 10 Interview Series: Dave O'Leary


I had decided to retire the literary Would You Rather series, but didn't want to stop interviews on the site all together. Instead, I've pulled together 40ish questions - some bookish, some silly - and have asked authors to limit themselves to answering only 10 of them. That way, it keeps the interviews fresh and connectable for all of us!

Joining us today is Dave O'Leary. Dave is a writer and musician in Seattle. He's published two novels and has had work featured in, among others, the Daily Drunk, Door is a Jar Magazine, Flash Fiction Magazine, and Reflex Fiction. His collection of poetry and short prose—I Hear Your Music Playing Night and Day—was published in May 2021 by Cajun Mutt Press.

 Social Media: Twitter: @dolearyauthor  |  Instagram: @d_o_leary  | Website:

What made you start writing?

I‘m not a good speaker. Never have been. When I tell a story I start and stop and remember something I left out and so then I have to go back and start again and so on. I’ve always loved to read and so I thought the only way to tell the stories I want to tell is to write them down. A couple years ago I went to a live taping of The Moth story hour and signed up but was told no notes were allowed. I considered briefly going up on stage to wing it, but in the end I just had a couple beers and left. The story I was going to tell that night will end up in written form sometime, just not improvised from the stage.


What do you do when you’re not writing?

I play guitar and bass and have been in bands of one sort or another for much of my adult life. I’m currently in two bands, one a cover band and one writing original music. We’re recording now actually and hope to have music available in the late spring. Beyond that I read books, of course, and there’s our regular pub where my wife and I watch Arsenal in the Premier League. Oh, cats too. The cats are a big focus of our free time.


What are you currently reading?

The 1619 Project, The Office of Historical Corrections (Danielle Evans is awesome), and Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s The Ones Who Don’t Say they Love You. My reading these days is mostly focused on short stories as I’m working on a collection of them.


What’s something that’s true about you but no one believes?

Despite my name and the way I look, I have a greater percentage of Mexican heritage (50%) than Irish (25%). People do generally believe me when I tell them but on forms and applications and such I always just check Caucasian/White since I was essentially raised that way and it never felt quite right selecting Hispanic. It always felt like I might be taking opportunities from others.


If you could cast your characters in a movie, which actors would play them and why?

For the lead in The Music Book, I would select Joseph Gordon-Levitt because I like a lot of the things he’s done and he can actually play guitar. He was in Seattle for an event a number of years ago and he played Lithium by Nirvana because he couldn’t come to Seattle and not play oa Nirvana song. It seems he would understand a character trying to determine what music really means to us and how it affects the course of our lives. Here he is in Seattle:


If you could spend the day with another author, who would you choose and why?

Haruki Murakami. I love his work and he seems like he’d be up for a beer and a good talk about music. I’ve made references to his writing in The Music Book and a couple short stories and even borrowed a few lines of his for a poem which came out last year in Sledgehammer Lit.


If you could go back and rewrite one of your books or stories, which would it be and why?

My first novel Horse Bite just because I’m a better writer now and I’d do some things a little differently. Not sure, though, if I’d ever want to rewrite one of my books because in the end they are the only books I could write at that time and thus they came out the way they did. The only way to make it differently would have been to shelve the manuscript for a year or so before publication and then come back to it with a different perspective. Maybe I’ll try that with the next one.


What songs would be on the soundtrack of your life?

The Music Book had an accompanying CD ( and since that book was based around the music of real bands here in Seattle that I had written about it was essentially the soundtrack of my life at that time.  All that music deserves to be heard too. It’s great stuff and shold be more well known.  These days, as ever, the music varies. I’m listening to a lot of Beatles and Pink Floyd since we bought a record player for ourselves for Christmas and I can finally play the old records I’ve been carting around for years.


What is your favorite book from childhood?

Rascal by Sterling North. It was the first book that I didn’t want to end, the first book with an ending that stuck with me far beyond the page. It was heartbreaking and yet it made sense and I hadn’t realized until then that stories could do that, that they really could stick with us so much that something changes, tjhat a light will click and you’ll say, “I get it.” After that I read Old Yeller and then The Hobbit and ever since reading and writing have been a huge part of my life.


What is under your bed?

The cats (Nigel and Eleanor) and/or an assortment of their toys. There’s also a baseball bat which is essentially our home security system but also a Cat Toy Retrieval Tool.


What does music mean? Can it be more than the sum of its notes and melodies? Can it truly change you? Rob, a musician turned reluctant music critic, poses these questions as everything important in his life appears to be fading—memories of lost love, songs from his old bands, even his hearing. He delves into the music of others to find solace and purpose, and discovers that the chords and repeated phrases echo themes that have emerged in his own life. The music sustains him, but can it revive him?

 The Music Book is a story of loss, of fear and loneliness, of a mutable past. But most of all it’s about music as a force, as energy, as a creator of possibility. What might come from the sound of an A chord played just so? Rob listens. And among other things, he finds surprising companionship with a cat; another chance at love; and the courage to step on a stage again and finally, fully comprehend the power of sound.


 buy the book here: 

Amazon -

Barnes & Noble -

The Music Book CD:

Bandcamp –

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Books I Read in June

It's July already, the half way mark. How is 2023 half in the bag already?!

Looking back at what I managed to read last month, I clocked in a total of 8, (with one book that I read for publicity purposes which I will not list below). Clearly not the best I've done, but it was a pretty month so I'm cutting myself some slack!

Let's see what I read, shall we? 

Fever House by Keith Rosson

When you pick up a Keith Rosson book, you know you're guaranteed a good time. And Fever House is no exception. This one took me by surprise, and took me places I hadn't expected.

It starts off simply enough - Hutch and Tim are out on the hunt for people who owe their boss Peach drug money. But after kicking the door in at one particular junkie's place, they discover more than they bargained for. The dude had a severed hand hidden in the freezer. And not just any severed hand, mind you. This one starts messing with your head. The closer in proximity you are to it, the darker and more violent your thoughts turn.

Scared of the thing, and desperate to get rid of it, Hutch calls his buddy Nick, a man who makes his living locating rare items for clients. Meanwhile, dark goverment agents are employing the remote viewing skills of a "subject" by the name of Saint Michael to narrow down its whereabouts, hot on the hand's trail. We learn that it once belonged to them and they are not going to stop until its back in their possession.

Hutch, Nick, and everyone else who crosses paths with this cursed thing are now running for their lives. A strange hell is about to be unleashed in Portland, and they are going to have front row seats when the madness begins.

Rosson seamlessly weaves multiple narrative threads together throughout the book, building character backstories that just continue adding layer upon layer to the main storyline, culminating in one big spider's web of death, deception, and destruction.

Be warned: there are some intentional loose ends here, as this book is part of at least a two-book series. You won't find a fully realized end, but the one we were served up should hold us over nicely until the next book drops.

House of Rot by Danger Slater

Danger Slater does it again! Body horror and fungal fiction for the win!

In House of Rot, we meet newlyweds Eleyna and Myles. They are happy, and in love, and moving into their first apartment together. It really feels like it's too good to be true, and well, that's probably because it is. Eleyna wakes up in the middle of their first night in their new place to the sound of footsteps moving through the rooms. Doorknobs being jiggled. Cabinets being opened. A toilet flushing. She wakes Myles up but after a thorough check, they find nothing. Noone. They try to explain it away and salavage what sleep they can before dawn breaks.

In the morning, they wake up and find the house is being overtaken by mold. Filaments have sealed the door and windows, snuck up through the floorboards, and no amount of disinfectant or posion seems to affect it. In fact, it appears to be regenerating faster than they can kill it. And to make matters worse, their strange next door neighbor seems content talking his face off at them through their front window, rather than come to their rescue.

Before long, Eleyna and Myles begin to change. The fungus is inflitrating everything, including their bodies. There seems to be no way out of this mess. Until there is. It's a path they are not sure they want to travel down. But really, what choice do they have?

I read this book cover to cover in nearly one sitting. I had to know what was happening and couldn't put it down until I did. It's a story of not losing hope, of still finding beauty in one another no matter the circumstances or conditions, and of determining whether you have what it takes to face your fears when that means leaving what you know behind - do you hang on to the cards you were dealt, or risk it for what's behind door number one?

And oh lordy, you guys... that ending!!

Nineteen Claws and a Black Bird by Agustina Bazterrica

I am a huge fan of TitF so I could not wait to get my hands on this one. I listened it on audio. The collection is made up of mostly very short stories so it ran a total of 3 hours at 1.5x, omg that's blink-and-you-miss-it short! And the narrators they chose were paired up sooo well. Each one is such a mood! Dark, speculative, and ewwww why does she like referring to spiders so much?! Arachnids aside, I really enjoyed where these stories took me.

Is this one on your radar? If it's not, it really should be.

Song of the Sandman by JF Dubeau

Song of the Sandman is the second book in the 'A God in the Shed' series. So of course I ordered it, used online, the moment I finished God / Shed because I didn't want to waste any time in between... my memory isn't what it used to be and if I read too many books in between these, I knew I'd forget half of what happened and would feel compelled to reread the first book again to make sure I clearly remember everything that happened before cracking open the new one and who the hell has time for that when your TBR pile is longer than the days you might have left on this planet? Huh? Tell me. Who?

But guess what? Now I'm done reading Song/ Sandman and just fml because the third book isn't even ANNOUNCED yet so with my luck it could be YEARS before I can finish this thing and now I'm sad. Because the second book was JUST AS GOOD as the first. JF Dubeau isn't messing around, and I'm hooked!

The god is no longer in the shed, and the two cults are still killing one another trying to get their hands on it, for two completely different reasons, while Venus and the gang, still battling their own demons and licking their initial wounds, are searching for a way to kill it once and for all.

There are just as many deaths, just as many wtf moments, and just as much blood and gore. I can't wait to see where he takes the god of death and hate next.

Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry

This was my first Kevin Barry and it was hand selected for me by a very wonderful fellow book reviewer, @drewsof who I've known for a crazy amount of years. And I can see why he chose it.

I love stories that don't follow the traditional he said/she said "quotations around conversations" kind of writing and this is sooo much that!

Here we have two aging Irishmen, Charlie and Maurice, sitting around a boat terminal one evening, waiting for a glimpse of Maurice's estranged daughter. They are crotchey, and assumptious, and gently terrorize disembarking boat terrorists. While the men don't really move from the bench, besides occasionally asking the desk clerk about the next boat due in or grabbing themselves a drink, the story swings from past to present and through it, we uncover thier dark history, and learn why it is they find themselves sitting, waiting, and hoping.


I was really really hoping that this was a kind of pergatory for Charlie and Maurice, a way for them to make amends in the afterlife sort of thing, but it turns out it wasn't. And so I was a tad disappointed because, c'mon, how great would that have been??

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I found it to be kind of similar in style to Cynan Jones and a bit Per Petterson-ish.... both writers I absolutely adore. If you like them, you'll really like this!!

Knock Knock Open Wide by Neil Sharpson

Aw man. I wanted to like this one more than I actually did. It sounded so good, too.

There's a popular and super creepy children's program threaded throughout the book that teaches kids to be afraid of misbehaving or else Puckeen, an unseen entity that hides in a black box on the set of the show, will come out and get them.

There's a young woman named Etain who, on her way home from a party, comes across a dead man in the middle of the street being eaten by a stray dog and decides to drive the body to a nearby farmhouse, where she ends up being held for days before somehow making her way back home to her mother and fiance, forever changed by the trauma of it but unable or unwilling to discuss what took place there.

And then there's Etain's daughter Ashling, 20 years later, who struggles to understand and undo the strange curse that's been haunting her family ever since that night.

Sounds wild, right?! While the book definitely has its moments - creatively blending the Irish forklore and horror aspects - it bounced too frequently between Etain's storyline and Ashlings, sometimes going a little too heavy on Ashling's relationship with her girlfriend, which frequently interrupted the flow and had me questioning why so much time was being spent on it when it didn't appear to be immediately connected to the spookier parts of the storyline.

I'm so disappointed. Usually I end up loving Tor books. But this one really dragged for me. So much so that I nearly DNFd it three times. While I don't regret sticking it out and seeing it through to the end, it's not one that will linger with me. There weren't any 'gasp' moments that shocked or wowed me. Honestly, looking back, DNFing wouldn't have necessarily been a bad thing.

Weft by Kevin Allardice

Weft is Madrona Book's debut release, hitting shelves this August. Nostalgically set in the 90's, it involves a con artist named Bridget who bounces around from motel to motel with her teenaged son. They haunt malls and small town festivals pretending they are casting directors for the upcoming star wars prequels, looking to squeeze some fast cash out of unwitting parents before moving on to a new town, for a new sucker.

The scam life seems to be working out pretty ok for them. That is, until her son Jake gets bored with his role and strikes out on his own, sinking his con claws into a kid named Caleb. Going along with it, even though she's not thrilled with the deviation from the plan, they arrive at Caleb's home to record him reading from the fake script. Only, Caleb and his family are in the midst of turing the entire place into a haunted house for halloween.

Bridget finds herself stuck there, quite literally, and is forced to come to terms with her poor decisions. Has she finally gotten in over her head? Will she make it out of the creepy house of horrors alive? And where the fuck did Jake disappear to?

Don't mistake this book for horror. The only scary things you'll find in these pages are the gross advances some of the men make on Bridget, lol. But the deeper we get into the book, the longer the latest scam plays out, the more we're asked to suspend our belief, and the more interesting things get for our con lady!

I thoroughly enjoyed this one and I think you will too!

Consumption and Other Vices by Tyler Dempsey

Naughty girls go to Papa's house down roads made of dirt that curl like curliques. A pen is where he hid the thing naughty girls like best. He asked do they want to get down. Fuck yeah, they are going to get down. They are going to get in trouble.

Tyler's latest, a novelette clocking in at just under 70 pages, is some of the tightest, darkest noir I've ever read. Two detectives find themselves in a small town investigating the strange deaths of two girls. The townsfolk might know more than they are letting on, but that doesn't stop our guys from digging through the detritus to uncover the mystery and identify who's behind the murders.

I mean fuuuuck, even the writing's hiding something! I love its twisted, sing-song style. This is what stands out. (If you read it, you'll know, and you should totally read it!)