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Tales for October – Boogieman in Lavender

This will be a Halloween season like no other. Fears are real. Trick-Or-Treat may be cancelled. Costume shops are devoid of costumes. Wearing masks has taken on a new meaning.

With more time to read, the escape of good horror fiction has never been more needed.

The fine writer Greg Herren has released a collection of mystery and suspense stories; “Survivor’s Guilt and Other Stories.” (Bold Strokes Books.) Including such fine tales as “Annunciation Shotgun” and the title story blending gripping plotting with fine character studies. Many of Herren’s stories have the feel of episodes of the old “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” series, as characters bad decisions lead inexorably to disaster and sometimes death. It is far safer to read these stories than to actually be in them: If you find yourself a character in a Greg Herren story it is probably too late for you.

Edgar Allan Poe needs little introduction, but the anthology “Where Thy Dark Eye Glances”(Lethe Press) offers Queer takes on Poe’s themes, as well as Poe himself. Lethe Press also put out “Suffered From the Night,” Queer variations on Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Both anthologies hold up very well.

I’ve been winding down some of my evenings reading some of Robert E. Howard’s horror stories. He’s best known for creating Conan the Barbarian, but his masterful evocation of West Texas (where he spent his life) in stories like “Old Garfield’s Heart,” and “The Dead Remember,” as well as other locales like the Bayou in “Pigeons From Hell.” The book I’m reading from is the 2008 Del Rey edition of  “The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard.”

A recent non-fiction book, “Horror Fiction in the 20th Century” (Prager) by Jess Nevins, discusses the usual raft of macabre authors but also goes in-depth on POC authors and LGBT writers as well. Including the gay pulp novel “Three on a Broomstick” (1967) by Victor J. Banis (writing as Don Holliday.) A book described as “the first gay supernatural novel.”

About Mr. Banis, more later.

Happy Halloween and Happy Reading!

Jeff Baker blogs about reading and writing Sci-fi, Fantasy and Horror on or around the Thirteenth of each month. His recent fiction has appeared in the QSF anthology “Innovation” (as by Skip Hanford.)Under his own name his non-fiction has appeared on the “Amazing Stories” website and he posts fiction on his blog: He lives and writes in Wichita, Kansas. He and his husband Darryl wish you a happy Halloween and hope you wear your masks right. Jeff is on Facebook at Jeff Baker, Author.

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