It's out in its cheapest—and I think, best and most appropriate—version. I mean, the pulpy horror of The Troop available for seven bucks! Or nine, in Canada! But still!
Great googly moogly. It's actually the first book I've ever had released as a mass market paperback. And really, most of the horror books I've read have been MMPBs. There's just something about reading a horror book that way that fits, right? I mean, my folks used to buy me the Stephen King hardcovers when I was a teenager, for my birthday or Christmas (sometimes both; that King fellow is hella prolific!) and I loved them and appreciated them, but really, when it came to my own buying, it was mass market paperbacks all the way.
So if you've been holding off, what's your excuse now? You have none—NONE, I tell you! Go forth and purchase.
You can find links to your online bookseller of choice here:
Went to New York this weekend to meet with the folks at Simon and Shuster/Gallery Books and ended up snagging a copy of The Troop as a massmarket paperback. Coming your way in a few weeks for, like, seven bucks! Plus review copies of the new book, The Deep, are ready to go, too. That's out next January. I stuck a copy of The Troop's review copy in there, too, just for scale. So sue me!
Oh Hellllll-ooooo, Well, I don't imagine this blog will ever turn into one of those "Daddy Blogs" where I recount the minutae of the parental life. Not that I have any issues with blogs of that nature—and not that my role as a father hasn't already crept into my fictional output—but I guess I'm not always as attuned to the day-to-day oddities of fatherhood as others.
But we've been trying to toilet train our son recently. It's an interesting experience. Apparently it's instuctive for Nicholas to watch people ... well, peeing. Guys especially, because the plumbing's the same. He won't be standing up to pee for quite some time—that's high-level-of-difficulty stuff for a toddler. And it's not like I'm taking him to public urinals and saying:
"Now watch this guy's technique—it's stellar! That's some great, great pissing on display there! Good shaking off, too, after the deed: not too showy, just enough to get the job done and get the tool back into the toolshed with no wetting."
No, no, there's none of that. I'm not saying it would scar him, I'm not saying it would not. Just doesn't seem the thing to be done.
But that means it falls to me. So now any time I feel the urge I announce with great fanfare:
"Time for Daddy to go pee-pee!"
Nicholas is greatly enthused by this. He puts down whatever he was doing and toddles on into the bathroom to watch. Now it's a weird sensation to pee in front of someone else—I recognize certain fetishists pay a pricey penny for the thrill, but for me, aside from standing beside dudes at the public urinals, it's not my thing. But now I've got this pint-sized gawker watching me pee. He's very intent, too, his eyes burning practically a hole in the toilet. He looks at my ... uh, thingie as I suppose I might refer to it for him, then into the toilet with the splashing and whatnot, then back up, then down, then up again and down like he's watching a ping-pong match. It's all very strange but hey, the boy's gotta learn somehow.
But then yesterday I announce it's pee-pee time and Nick follows me in and I'm halfway done and he kind of sighs and wanders back into the main room to play with his train set. I don't know if it was simply a weak showing on my part or, more likely, that he's like: I got it, Dad. Pee goes in the big white bowl. Check. Not to be a jerk about it, but it's kind of passe now. Booooooring. I felt just a little hurt. Stung. I finished with a sad trickle and zipped up and looked in the mirror and said: "You still got it, baby" just to buck myself up after this ego-sapping blow.
So I guess my job is done on that front. I can check it off on the list. I'm sure I'll be doing something weird in the service of fatherhood again soon, however.
... for $3.99. That's a load of words for such a cheap price! That's like, 1/16th of a cent per word, or less! You really won't find a better deal than that, folks, nosirree bob! So go grab a copy wherever fine book are e-vended!
Big thanks to Matt Staggs, who put my book into the hands of Joe Rogan, which led to an appearance on his podcast. It was a marathon 3 hours, a marathon Joe has run nearly 500 times now but which was a new experience for me; my own interviews, the few times they they occur, usually run a modest 2-15 minutes. So I'm not sure how I did, really, but Joe was very gracious about maneuvering me through my first longform podcast experience. Really a cool guy, very thankful to have had the opportunity.
It's been awhile since I've posted. My bad. There was a little tour here in Canada (which was a really good time), and then I got sick as a dog when I got back. Real sick. My body was ejecting substances that held shades and textures as I've not heretofore encountered. But now I'm better. My bodily emissions have returned to their regular, humdrum shades. You probably didn't want to know that. Well, you do now regardless. You're welcome.
Huge thanks to Eric Volmers, tireless (and very thorough!) reporter for the Calgary Herald for taking the time to record and later coalesce my rambling, nonsensical diatribe into a very nice interview. He also unearthed one of my ancient pen names! I'll be reading in Calgary this coming Tuesday the 18th as part of the Dark Side Tour, with some other really great writers. Check the link out for more info!
Also, an interview with the Ottawa Citizen. I think this is the first interview I've ever done where at least one of my answers might be termed "snippy." I hope not, I am always grateful to anyone for taking the time to ask questions and I always try to give interesting answers—but not pissy ones. Maybe I did so, just this once. I won't make a habit of it.
Like a lot of people, I like music! And, like those same people, I especially enjoy listening to it on YouTube, thus depriving those hardworking artists of their royalties!
No, most times those videos are posted by the bands or singers themselves, or by their "people" at least, so I don't feel so bad.
So! I figured it'd be a real gas to post a songlist—the songs I listened to while writing The Troop. Now some of you, perhaps having read the book by now, might figure that I listened to death metal stuff, Cannibal Corpse and the like, or else maybe haunted house music, rattling chains and growling chainsaws and ghosts going "BoooOOOOOoooooOOOOOooo!" in that ululating way that ghosts tend to have.
Now okay, I wasn't listening to super sunny stuff, either. I wasn't putting on KC and the Sunshine Band. I wasn't grooving to Walking on Sunshine, Christopher Cross's Sailing, or the soundtrack to Happy Feet. I'd say my tastes run somewhere between those two poles, Death Metal and overbright/saccharine tune-age ... which is where 99% of us probably wind up.
Without any further ado, here are some of the tunes that I, a horror novelist, listened to while writing my horror novel.
1. City and Color, Sleeping Sickness. This band (not really a band, just one dude) is fronted by Dallas Green, who is awesome and hails from my hometown of Saint Catharines, Ontario. Here he shares vocal duties with Gord Downey of The Tragically Hip, who was the band I loved most growing up. Could it be any better? No.
2. Sigar Ros, Saeglopur. This band is wonderful, trippy, the best. I have no clue what's being sung but it matters not a whit. Just put this tune on, trip out, and write about Boy Scouts hiking in the great wide open (and about the terrible things that eventually happen to them ...)
3. Bon Ivor, Holocene. I first heard of this band because of Rust and Bone (the film; the book sucks); one of their songs plays over that movie's trailer. My fave of theirs is Holocene. Lookit that boy out having fun on the cliffs of Norway or wherever! He looks just like a Scout.
4. The National, About Today. Really loved this when it played over the final scene of Warrior, a kickass movie that came out a few years ago.
5. Peter Murphy, I'll Fall With Your Knife. Played over the final scene of The Trojan War, that brilliant film about a horny highschooler chasing a condom all over the city for 90 minutes ... I think that was what it was about, anyway. It's been awhile. I don't know. This song works for me. Screw off if you don't agree!
So now you know. I'm sure you can sleep better knowing, too.
I'm not a crazyperson. I've never killed anyone and I habour no desire to do so in the future. I love animals and grew up in a home where they were always around and well-treated. I do not live in a dark, ill-lit basement surrounded by terrariums full of tarantulas and scorpions. I have never read the Necronomicon and I don't participate in pagan rites.
I only say so because I, along with plenty of other horror writers, have had to deal with the "you must be a real sicko" question from time to time. The implicit part of that being: I've got to be a sociopath to write the things I write. The deeper implicitness being: if I weren't writing this stuff, I'd probably be out killing people in order to realease those terrible urges.
Now let me make one thing perfectly clear—I live my life the way I want to live it. And if I wanted to kill people, you can bet your ass I'd've been doing it by now. My basement would be full of corpses dissolving under a soothing layer of quicklime. There would be APBs out for me all over, with photos of big-chinned, red-haired face plastered all over the wanted poster. I am a finisher, damn it, so I do what I like and I get things DONE!
But since I have no desire to kill anyone at all, and since I'm a well-adjusted individual free or rage and persecution issues, I just felt that I'd post a few photos of myself and my family to kind of nip those sentiments ("You're a raving lunatic! You're the sickest of all sickos and you ought to be locked up in the bughouse, where you can write your trash on the rubber walls with your own filth!) in the bud.
Now of course, you could see these photos and say to yourself, "Well, what else would a cunning psycho do? Build a family life. Impart that veneer of normalcy. What better smokescreen to shield his heinous deeds?" To which I'd say: there are some people you'll never convince ...
MY SON AND I (TO BE TOTALLY HONEST, I'M WATCHING "HELLRAISER" ON NETFLIX HERE, BUT HE'S ASLEEP, DREAMING OF SUGARPLUM FAIRIES OR WHATEVER BABIES DREAM ABOUT, SO REALLY, I'M SURE THE SHRIEKS OF THE MUTILATED AND OTHER CARNAGE DIDN'T BOTHER HIM AT ALL).
ANOTHER PHOTO OF MY SON AND I (GRANTED, I'M WHISPERING AN ANCIENT DRUIDIC CURSE INTO HIS EAR, BUT HE SEEMS TO LIKE IT ...)
MY FIANCEE WITH OUR SON (AND OKAY, YEAH, SHE'S A SATANIST BUT SO AM I SO THAT WORKS OUT WELL AND WE GET A FAMILY DISCOUNT ON SHEEP'S BLOOD AT THE BUTCHER SHOP).
Hello All Good Men and Women and Bloggerland (who've stumbled across this blog, anyway),
Perhaps you'd like to read another few reviews of The Troop? Well, then, have at thee! My huge thanks to Claire Cameron and Joe Hartlaub for taking the time to read the book and give offer impressions.
So, Body Horror. I talked about it a little bit in my first post on this blog, about how it was the aesthetic or subset of horror that I was playing with in The Troop. Simply stated, it's horror about bodies changing. The breakdown of the body or the alteration of the body, usually without the consent of that body's owner—or maybe their consent at first, but then, as things go steadily more haywire, that character comes to deeply regret his or her decision.
Of course, as a Canadian, my first exposure to this style of horror was through David Cronenberg. For my money, in a modern-day sense anyway, he's The Man. I mean, just look at a few indelible clips to get a sense of what I'm talking about.
... I don't know what kind of bullets James Woods was using in that pistol, but they were some kinda nasty!
Two other fellows who were, to me, real body horror genuises—producer Brian Yunza and director Stuart Gordon. Two of their films, From Beyond and Society, are real body horror gems. You could throw The Reanimator movies in there, too.
Here's the "Shunting" scene from the end of Society. Beware: gross if you're not properly prepared ... or even if you are, I guess.
... anyway, this is a lot of the ideas I was working with in The Troop. Bodies beset from within. As I've said before in other places, it's one thing to be chased/beset by an external evil, a zombie or werewolf or vampire. But it's another thing entirely when that evil is inside of you, under your skin. You can't outrun your own skin, right?
Here's a Buzzfeed list of Body Horror books ... and yeah, mine is there but there are plenty of incredible books on that list that'll provide a great inroads to the subgenre. Give 'er a read, and surf around YouTube for some more of the "good stuff" in body horror!
PS: In case it isn't clear from the tone of the article, I wasn't really comfortable putting my own book on this list. But it wasn't an opportunity I set up; that was done by the my publicist, and I'm grateful to her for doing so. I don't know a soul at the Huffington Post. When I initially sent back my list of Top 10 books, my publicist gently emailed me to say, Y'know, Nick, part of my job is to drum up notice for your book and this ... this isn't helping the cause. So could you please put your own book on the list? So I did, and I felt uncomfortable about it, but I've been writing awhile and realize that my comfort level has to be balanced against the needs of my publisher; I also have to take into account the legwork my publicist does in setting things like this up.
I only mention it because I awoke this morning to an email from an aquaintance pointing me towards a Facebook post where I am more or less taken to task for putting my own book on this list. I don't know any of the people in this string, and in a way I don't blame them for their opinions—although I think, Internet culture being what it is, it's always the default position to hold a critical/caustic outlook upon the intents of a given individual, rather than to have a considerate outlook as to why they may have made whatever choice they made.
Do I think my book belongs on a list with Pet Semetary, The Exorcist, Blood Meridian, The Haunting of Hill House, The Books of Blood, House of Leaves, and so on? Those classics versus a book that's been out, what, 3 days? I mean, come on. But I had a job to do, and I try to be professional. That means having no ego sometimes—even though the act of putting my book on the list may seem wildly egotistical, and I can understand that viewpoint.
I have a mortgage, my fiancee and I have a 2-year old boy and the last two years the woman I love has been on maternity leave followed by a 1-year school term to get her Master's of Social Work so she can get out of Child Services work, which is eating her soul. So for the past 2 years I've carried all the household payments—as a writer, this is a daunting prospect. But I love my family, so I do what I'm asked when my publisher asks me. Would it be nice not to have to do every little obligation? Maybe, although I'm fine with it and also deeply appreciative of my publisher's efforts on my behalf. But it's not a choice I have right now, and I'm not sure I'll ever have that choice. I'm a writer right now. I have other skills, but this is how I pay my bills. So I have to do things like this. I think other writers have different lives. They have a day job, or have a trust fund, or live on a bohemian kibbutz where they barter short stories for clothes, maybe. If so, that's awesome. I get it, and I respect the way you handle your business. Or perhaps they're just super-successful and have a huge readership and can say "no" when they get approached with such offers—if so, I'm respectfully jealous. But I have a family who I love and I'm not precious about things and so this is how I have to handle my business right now.
Lookit all them Troops! Copies and copies and copies and copies, I tells ya! They're all sitting pretty in the front offices of big ole publisher, Simon and Schuster, in Neeeew York City!
They look mighty purty to me—I'm sure they do to you, too. So why not steal one? Just head down to the Simon and Shuster headquarters and ask for one real nicelike. It'd be Got-damned greedy of them not to hand one over, wouldn't ya say? Them having so many copies, and you havin' traveled all that way? So if'n they don't give it t'ya, just smash that weak ole winda-glass and go on steal y'self one or two! It's easy and fun. I'm pretty sure I gets my royalties either way, so why not just take what ya like?
Well, the book's out. Go forth, all ye, and purchase or steal a copy! If you'd like to watch a video of my alter ego talking about the book on a Canadian morning show, with plenty of "aboots" and "oh yeah, eh"s, then you should follow this link:
Here's a post I wrote for Headline Books, The Troop's UK publisher, about my horror influences while writing the book. Kind of re-emphasizes some points I made in my maiden post on this blog, but read it if you'd like!
All you Canadians, or those of you who'd like to barge into the country for the purposes of watching writers read from their books (is there any interest in that ... at all?)—anyway, there's a tour coming up next month. The Dark Side Tour. Myself, and a bunch of really awesome writers. So check out the tour page and see if we're making a stop in or near your town or city!
It is I, Nick Cutter. I can only imagine that you're super-impressed to make my e-acquaintance, as I'm the supercool, uber-badass writer of The Troop—the book!
Anyhoo, I figured I might give protential readers a little bit of a heads up about the book. Because all horror ain't built equal—or, to be more accurate, different types of horror hit a given reader's sweet spot, while others do not. Many horror readers (or moviewatchers) are omnivorous, happy to gobble up a gothic ghost story, a J-horror shocker, a serial killer or demonic killer or slasher flick with gusto. Some, however, have a certain threshhold that they don't want to see tested—some want to be scared but not disturbed. Some want to be chilled but not grossed out. Some want to be grossed out, and the gooier the better.
Suffice it to say, there are many savors and textures to horror. Some tastes are a little too ... well, bracing for a given readership or viewership. And I suppose it's hard, just judging by a snyopsis or a cover or a few reviews, what a person really has in store for themselves with some works of horror. Which may ultimately lead to an unhappy reading experience, which is hurtful to the reader—and a little bit saddening to the writer, who, while they may've made a sale, also may've earned a mortal enemy in the process.
So, with that said—and to ease my introduction to you, dear blog reader—I thought I'd outline my, hmmm, I guess you'd call it writerly aesthetic (which is a hoity-toity term, so please forgive me) in regards the The Troop, so you know what you're getting into if you decide to read it.
First of all, I was a child of the 80s. Aaaaah, those halcyon days! Mili Vanilli was at the top of the charts! Everyone was wearing piano key ties! The Reaganauts ruled! Gas cost a nickel a gallon or so I'm told! Anyhoo, it was an interesting time for horror. Of course Stephen King was at his apex—an apex that, for my money, he's managed to maintain in the decades since—but Clive Barker was coming on, too, and Dean Koontz was ripping it up as well. You also had Robert R McCammon and Peter Straub and a host of other really great horror writers. The drug store spinning racks were full of horror; King unshered in a run on paperback horror that hasn't been seen since. It wasn't all good, because that's the nature of booms—the market gets saturated, then oversaturated, and then it pops.
But man, I loved me that 80s horror. 80s, early-to-mid 90s. Don't get me wrong: I don't love it exclusively; I liked work that came before that boom, and I've loved books and authors who've come along since then. But there was something about that time, about the pulpy, crazy, gleefully-go-to-far books that came out of that time period, that kindles a wonderful nostralgia in me.
Puberty, man. What a weird time in life!
Part of the allure was how illicit it all was. Transgressive. You had writers back then who were rebelling against the (as they saw it) stodgy old ghost stories and mimsy horror of their forefathers. These writers wanted to push the envelope, and they had a supportive publishing environment where editors and publishing houses were more willing to put that stuff out. And around that time horror movies were pretty raunchy too—for the time, anyway. And it wasn't like today, when you can get anything off the Internet.
OLD MAN VOICE: Back when I was a wee lad, if you wanted to sneak into an R-rated horror movie, you had to buy a ticket to the PG flick and sneak past the usher into the theatre! If you wanted to rent one, you had to paste on a fake mustache or else try to pay an old rummy to rent one for you!
So when me and my buddies did manage to get our hands on a Friday the 13th or a Nightmare on Elm Street or a Dawn of the Dead or Videodrome or even a lesser film in the horror pantheon, well, it was a very good day. We'd secret ourselves away in the basement at someone's house, drink rootbeer and eat bags of no-name 99-cent barbecue chips and get gory.
I mean, let's face it—we weren't renting these flicks for the deathless dialogue or the stellar acting or the intricate plotlines. No, we were renting it for this, pretty much:
... or this:
Oh, hey! By the way, those are prrrreeeeeeetty gory (delayed spoiler alert!)
Anyhoo, that was what we dug. We'd wade through an hour of hackneyed dialogue and bad edting to see the makeup artists ply their trade—exploding heads, guts ripped open, limbs catapulted into the sky. And we'd know which videotapes (remember those?) had been rented and obsessed over by other gorehound teenagers, too—the gory bits would be grainy and static-y, because they'd been rewound over and paused and watched so much more than the rest of the tape.
So this was how I grew up. That was what intrigued me and what spurred the aesthetic I wanted to bring to The Troop.
Beyond that, I was really into a certain subset of horror called "body horror"—pretty simply, this is horror having to do with the ruin of the human body. Bodies changing, mutating, morphing against the wishes of their owners. My fellow countryman David Cronenberg is perhaps the grandfather of this style. You've got Videodrome and Rabid and Shivers and of course The Fly—which, while a remake of an older movie, really got the gooey, gross treatment from Cronenberg. Poor old Seth Brundle turning into Bundlefly slowly, sadly, bit by tortuous bit.
So these were the two large-scale elements I slapped togther while working on The Troop.
#1: The crazy, gleefully excessive aesthetic of 80s horror flicks and books. Blood by the bucketful. Limbs a-flying. And most importantly, it was fun—at least to a certain type of viewer or reader it was. There were moments when your skull would rock back from the page or the TV screen and you'd just be flabberghasted that someone had gone there—and you got the sense that the writer or the director, wherever s/he was, was delighted to have gone there and was even more delighted to have gotten that reaction from you. There was a real element of fun to those books and movies, and to be truthful I had a blast writing The Troop for the same reason.
#2: The body horror movement. Which is a movement based on pretty gross, terrible things happening to human bodies. I love it. Others hate it.
I'm not saying every book I write will follow this aesthetic. But The Troop certainly does. That's it's DNA.
So now you know. If you've read this and were on the fence about whether or not to pick up the book, this should hopefully crystalize your choice one way or the other.
At least now it has been written. A record exists. And anyone who is bushwhacked by the contents of The Troop in the future will have to reckon with the fact that, if they'd only done a little bit of digging, they could have come across this post first.