Brian Keene’s END OF THE ROAD

EndofRoad-web

What is END OF THE ROAD? Well, let me tell you a story…

This weekend, I was in Utah for the annual World Horror Convention, which is a trade show for horror and dark fantasy writers, publishers, artists, etc. I’ve been writing professionally for over twenty years now, and have been attending WHC for nearly as long. Both have changed quite a bit in that time. Publishing. Writing. Fandom. Conventions. Genre. Myself. All have changed. So, that’s thing number 1 — CHANGE.

Me, Richard Laymon, and Kelly Laymon (photo copyright Michael Bailey 2016)

Me, Richard Laymon, and Kelly Laymon (photo copyright Michael Bailey 2016)

I ran into a lot of people at WHC, but one person I hadn’t planned on bumping into was Richard Laymon. Richard Laymon is one of my favorite authors of all time. He was also one of many mentors I had coming up. Without the efforts of Richard Laymon and Jack Ketchum, I would have never sold THE RISING, and I’d probably still be working on a loading dock somewhere. Or a foundry. Or driving truck. Or in jail again.

Dick Laymon died back in 2001. I often like to picture a hotel convention bar in the afterlife, and pretend that him, J.F. Gonzalez, Tom Piccirilli, Graham Joyce, Rick Hautala, Phil Nutman, Buddy Martinez, Charles Grant, Gary Brandner, and everybody else this genre has lost are hanging out there, getting sloshed on whatever whiskey exists in the afterlife, and waiting for the rest of us to show up.

So, this weekend in Utah, when Kelly Laymon asked me if I’d “like to say hi to Dad”, I thought at first that perhaps I’d died, and Kelly was helping me along to that big hotel bar in the sky. Turns out she wasn’t. But she was in the process of moving, and all of her stuff was packed in the car, including her father’s ashes. So myself, Kelly, Jeff Strand, and Michael Bailey went and said hello. Michael commented on connections and the Butterfly Effect and how one things leads to another, and how a last-minute, impulsive decision by him to attend WHC had allowed him to share in that moment. I firmly believe that everything is connected, like a road map. So, that’s thing number 2 — CONNECTIONS.

Me, Stephen Kozeniewski, and Jack Ketchum (photo copyright Bryan Killian 2016)

Me, Stephen Kozeniewski, and Jack Ketchum (photo copyright Bryan Killian 2016)

I mentioned above that THE RISING would have never sold without the help of Richard Laymon and Jack Ketchum. I’ve been lucky enough to have many mentors over the last twenty years. And when we look at those connections Michael Bailey mentioned, pause and consider this: HP Lovecraft mentored many young authors, including Robert Bloch. Robert Bloch mentored many young authors, including Jack Ketchum. Jack Ketchum mentored many young authors, including myself. I’m mentoring many young authors, including Stephen Kozeniewski, Bryan Killian (who took this picture), and Rachel Autumn Deering (not pictured but in the room). So, that’s thing number 3 — HISTORY.

Me and DungeonMaster77.1 (photo copyright Brian Keene 2014)

Me and DungeonMaster77.1 (photo copyright Brian Keene 2014)

This weekend marked the start of my 2016 FAREWELL (BUT NOT REALLY) TOUR. That’s nine months on the road. Nine months of promoting new novels THE COMPLEX and PRESSURE. Nine months of flying and driving and writing in hotel rooms. Nine months of getting back home when I can, and falling behind on everything when I do, because I’ll be spending those stolen moments at home with my son (known to listeners of my podcast, THE HORROR SHOW WITH BRIAN KEENE, as DungeonMaster77.1).

I’m doing this tour so that I never have to do another one like it. He understands that, but he’s also eight, and I’m worried about what it might do. I’m lucky enough to have a job that has allowed me to be there for him all the time, every minute of every day, since he’s been born. We’re inseparable, the two of us, and though we’ve spent an occasional weekend away from each other, we’ve never had this extensive an amount of time apart. I worry about the repercussions. And though I’m doing this at least in part for him, I worry about the costs. So, that’s thing number 4 — TOLLS.

So, let’s add those things up: CHANGE, CONNECTIONS, HISTORY, and TOLLS.

That’s what I’m going to be writing about weekly for the next nine months for Cemetery Dance Online. For those of you who have been pleading with me to Blog more regularly, this is it. Brian Keene’s END OF THE ROAD — a weekly column, brought to you by Cemetery Dance, written while criss-crossing the United States, looking at the horror genre, and writing, and myself, and pondering how all of those things have changed over the last twenty years, and where they all might possibly be heading.

First column goes live later this week. I hope you will enjoy it.

“My name is Brian Keene. I’m a writer by trade and a road warrior by heart. Neither of these things are wise career or life choices. The tolls add up. I rode into town twenty years ago. Now I’m riding out. You’re all coming with me…”

(Thanks to Michael Bailey and Bryan Killian for the photos above).

NEW AUDIOBOOKS

For a long time, the only audiobook versions of my work that have been available are THE RISING, CITY OF THE DEAD, CASTAWAYS, URBAN GOTHIC, DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN, and A GATHERING OF CROWS.

I am happy to announce that I have signed a deal with Crossroads Press, who will be releasing the following titles in audiobook format over the coming year: THE COMPLEX, DEAD SEA, ENTOMBED, EARTHWORM GODS, EARTHWORM GODS II: DELUGE, EARTHWORM GODS: SELECTED SCENES FROM THE END OF THE WORLD, DARK HOLLOW, GHOST WALK, LAST OF THE ALBATWITCHES, ALONE, THE GIRL ON THE GLIDER, SCRATCH, AN OCCURRENCE IN CRAZY BEAR VALLEY, THE RISING: SELECTED SCENES FROM THE END OF THE WORLD, and THE RISING: DELIVERANCE. Voice talents will include Chet Williamson and Scott Weinberg.

Releases will kick off with the audiobook adaptation of THE COMPLEX, currently in production.

FAREWELL (BUT NOT REALLY)

This week kicks off the start of what I’m calling the 2016 FAREWELL (BUT NOT REALLY) TOUR, promoting new novels THE COMPLEX and PRESSURE. We begin this weekend in Provo, Utah and we end on December 31st in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

You can find a list of cities and states here. There are still more appearances to be added to that list (Texas, Ohio and Illinois for example). There will also be surprise, unscheduled pop-up signings across the country. These will be announced via Twitter and Facebook. (For example, let’s say I pass a bookstore in Kansas or stop at a Starbucks in Nebraska, and I’ve got two hours to kill, I’ll Tweet the location and invite folks to show up for the next two hours).

Oh, and tour t-shirts should be available from Skurvy Ink very soon. Meanwhile, check out some of their other Brian Keene t-shirts.

Why is it called the FAREWELL (BUT NOT REALLY) TOUR? Because this is the last time I’ll ever embark on an extensive signing tour like this. I used to do them all the time. That became harder, as years passed and I grew older and health problems became a concern. To be blunt, health problems are a concern heading into this, and I’m already anticipating the toll it will take on me, but I’m determined to do it anyway, because I miss you guys, and it will be nice to see all of you one more time. In the words of Prince, “we could all die any day…”

Now, I’ve no plans to die. There are some things I’d like to finish first. But when it seems like your friends keep dying, and your pop culture icons keep dying, and your own health problems are becoming more and more of a daily concern… you gotta suck it up and be a realist. And realistically, this may be your last chance to get a book signed by me. It probably won’t be. But it could be. And regardless, I won’t be out on the road this long ever again. That’s not fair to my sons, or to me.

So… farewell, but not really. But just in case, farewell. Hope to see you on the road this year.

My Name Is Brian Keene And I Was Sexually Assaulted

I talk about it on tonight’s episode of THE HORROR SHOW WITH BRIAN KEENE. (We also talk about the good and the bad when it comes to HWA, and why I have been so late with manuscript reviews and novel submissions, and Hollywood’s ill-fated attempts to turn THE RISING into a movie, and what Paul Campion and I have planned for film adaptations for DARK HOLLOW and KILL WHITEY). When you listen to tonight’s show, you’ll understand why I’m speaking about it in public now. Everything I am willing to say in public about my experience I say in the episode, so note to media people — please don’t ask me to say more.

What I want you to understand is that this is something that can happen to anyone — male or female, Conservative or Progressive. And I want to echo what I said on the show — when someone tells you they have been sexually assaulted, whether you believe them or not, you owe them the respect of listening to them. Give them that much.

I will be offline from Friday morning until Monday morning, sequestered deep in the mountains of West Virginia, where I’ll be trying out my latest rifle, doing a bit of writing, and showing my eight-year-old son where his family came from — so there may be a delay before your comments on this post are approved. Thank you for your understanding.

Anyway, tonight’s podcast is — I think — our best episode in the two years we’ve been on the air. Listen to it for free.

2016 Scribe Award Nomination

I’m very happy to have received word that my X-Files story, “Non Gratum Anus Rodentum” (which you can purchase here), has been nominated by The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers for a 2016 Scribe Award in the Short Stories category. You can see all the nominees here.

I’ve written my share of media tie-in fiction over the years — everything from Phantasm to Hellboy to Doctor Who (and forthcoming stuff like Aliens and George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead), but The X-Files has always been a personal favorite of mine. It was an honor to contribute to that universe and its mythology. It’s an even bigger honor to have that work recognized in this manner. Thank you to all involved.

Why and When I Will Begin Boycotting the HWA (UPDATED x3)

The following does not necessarily reflect the opinions, stance, or beliefs of the Scares That Care charity, the Project iRadio Network, or any other group or organization with which I am involved.

The HWA (Horror Writers Association) is a non-profit organization founded in 1985, for the purpose of promoting the interests of Horror and Dark fantasy writers, publishers, and other professionals in the field.

In its thirty-plus year history, here are some of the ways it has promoted the interests of Horror and Dark fantasy writers, publishers, and other professionals in the field:

*Allegations of a former President embezzling membership funds.
*Allegations of a former President and Vice-President delaying publication of the newsletter until a story regarding possible malfeasance within their administration was dropped.
*Multiple, multi-year allegations of inaccuracies and inconsistencies in the Bram Stoker Award nominating and voting process.
*The organization’s failure to act or protect their members when the editor of an HWA anthology spent the advance on home repairs rather than paying it to the writers in the anthology.
*Former officers, including multiple Presidents, who used their position in the organization and official organization communications to lobby their own works for the Bram Stoker Award.
*The organization’s negligence in allowing known stalker Nickolaus Pacione access to the membership directory, which he then used to obtain the home addresses and phone numbers of a number of members, whom he then threatened and harassed, and the organization’s slow response to this despite increasing reports from members that it was occurring.
*Forgetting to hold elections for officers in 2016.
*Elections inconsistent with the organization’s bylaws.
*The organization’s refusal to respond to the Dorchester Publishing debacle, or to act on behalf of its members who were impacted by said debacle, until public pressure from their members forced them to.
*Ditto their Samhain response.
*Asking members to vote twice (and reportedly three times in some cases) in the most recent Bram Stoker Awards voting process. (NOTE: See update)
*The public relations disaster in which several prominent HWA members (including the then-President) cyber-bullied the innocent daughter of serial killer Dennis Rader, aka BTK, including body shaming and comments about her mental health, which was then picked up by national press.
*The public relations disaster of the current President’s exclusionary and dismissive essay on what constitutes a professional author, which earned the ire and recriminations of prominent members of the field including Neil Gaiman, John Scalzi, and Chuck Wendig.
*The organization’s refusal to let valued and prominent members of the community such as bestselling writer Carlton Mellick III join because he was self-published.
*And most recently (as of today) allowing an avowed white supremacist and fascist who has previously demonstrated a bias against others based on their race, religion, etc. to participate as a Bram Stoker Award Jury member — an award which will include candidates of various races and religions.

Those are some of the ways the HWA has promoted the interests of Horror and Dark fantasy writers, publishers, and other professionals in the field. These are the tip of the iceberg.

Who is responsible for letting these things happen? The HWA membership, and the fact that new members don’t know their genre’s — or organization’s — history and are therefore doomed to repeat it.

But that excuse stops today. Today, the HWA released the following statement regarding their decision to allow an avowed white supremacist and fascist serve as a Bram Stoker Award Juror. Quote: “The HWA does not support discrimination of any kind, including discrimination based on political views. Not only is this form of discrimination specifically illegal in a number of U.S. states, HWA’s Board of Trustees also does not believe it’s in keeping with our principle of supporting and practicing freedom of expression. In specific regard to HWA’s Bram Stoker Award juries, the HWA will certainly act if/when a juror’s personal views have a provable impact/bias against a writer or his/her works.” End quote.

So, I’m speaking now to all current members of the HWA. If, after today, after learning that the HWA will allow this to continue– if, after today, after learning that the HWA will allow a person who has previously demonstrated a bias against others based on their race, religion, etc. to participate as a Bram Stoker Award Jury member — an award which will include candidates of various races and religions — IF AFTER TODAY, you intend on renewing your membership and paying membership fees when they come due again on January 1, 2017, or if you are paying to attend any of the organization’s Stoker Cons or awards banquet events in future years, then you are part of the problem.

Effective immediately, I will no longer work with the HWA or any of its regional chapters in any capacity, official or unofficial.

Effective immediately I will not participate in any HWA-sponsored event, including Stoker Con, Stoker Award banquets, or any future World Horror Conventions in which HWA acts as an official partner or underwriter.

Effective immediately I will refuse any future award I may be given by the organization, including any potential Lifetime Achievement Award. (“What about the two Bram Stoker Awards you already own?” several of you are asking. In truth, I’ll keep them, because it is my hope that when I die my sons can flip them and all my other awards on eBay and make some money off of them.)

Effective 1/1/17 (when the new year’s memberships become active) I will no longer work with anyone who is a then-Current member of the HWA, including writers, publishers, editors, etc on anything sponsored by, presented by, or affiliated with HWA. I will not give cover blurbs, introductions, or anything else. I will not promote events. If I am asked to be in an HWA-affiliated anthology, I will decline. If I am asked to submit a novel, and the publisher is a then-current HWA member and their line is being endorsed/underwritten/sponsored by HWA, I will decline.

So… if you’d like to work with me on anything in 2017, or you’d like my help with something going forward, I’m very happy to — provided it’s not something connected to, affiliated with, or supported/underwritten by the HWA as of January 1, 2017. Consider this an eight-month notice, which I think is more than fair.

I realize that this decision will put me at odds with both dear friends and fellow mutually-respected peers. That’s okay. It won’t be the first time that has happened. But this is my decision. I am not a Conservative or a Progressive, and I hold the extremists in both camps with contempt. But I am a human being, and a father, and I know what is right and what is wrong. Discrimination of someone based on their race, religion, gender, etc. is wrong.

We endorse things by our participation in them. This current debacle — and previous debacles — are not things I endorse, and I will not, in good conscience, contribute my name, my money, my talent, my draw, or my platform to them. I’m not asking anyone else to follow suit. But I have championed this genre for over twenty years, and I’d like to think I’ve done my part in promoting the interests of Horror and Dark fantasy writers, publishers, and other professionals in the field. It is my belief that the HWA has not, and that their actions impact not just their members — but all of us who make up this community. Therefore, I can no longer be involved in any aspect with anything connected to the HWA.

UPDATE #1: Nearly twenty years of posts like these have taught me one thing — wait a few hours, and invariably, the bits that people are misreading will become clear. This is especially true for Facebook skimmers. So, to clarify a few things.

*It was not implied above that all of these are recent grievances. Indeed, some of these stretch back to the late-Nineties/early 00s. The list is to demonstrate that somewhere along the line, the train came off the tracks and it has remained there, regardless of which administration is in power. I stand by my assertion that it is important to list these, as it demonstrates a pattern. And as Jeff VanderMeer said on my public Facebook page, ” I’ve had nothing to do with HWA for more than 15 years because of the pattern.” The pattern is the entire point.

*In some cases (self-publishing for example) the HWA eventually changed its stance. But it is a demonstrable record of being slow to act and respond to things that impact the interests of Horror and Dark fantasy writers, publishers, and other professionals in the field.

*HWA member Patrick Freivald writes “The extra voting this year was due to a technical glitch in the database–a regrettable thing but nothing even kind of seedy, painted as something rather seedy.” I agree it wasn’t seedy. But there were MANY HWA members who expressed frustration and confusion over how it was communicated and handled. Again, demonstrating a pattern.

*Things that are allegations are reported above as just that.

*Some of these things are old news to those of us who have been around a while. For younger writers and newcomers, this is their first time hearing about some of it. That’s why it’s important to have the conversation.

UPDATE #2: I have amended and clarified paragraph 12, which begins “Effective 1/1/17…” after a suggestion from Stephen Dorato in the comments below, because the way it was phrased was causing confusion with some (my fault — I should have communicated more clearly).

UPDATE #3: HWA have just released the following statement. Quote: “In regards to the situation involving David Riley, who announced on his blog that he would be serving on the Anthology jury: We’ve reached out to Mr. Riley, and both Mr. Riley and the HWA have agreed that it’s in the best interest of all for him to step down. Mr. Riley will be replaced on the jury immediately by Nicole Cushing. The HWA thanks Nicole for stepping up, and we would also like to thank everyone who has shared their opinion on this matter.”

My dear friend (and HWA member) John Skipp asked me if I will continue to personally boycott anything affiliated with, sponsored by, or underwritten by the HWA were this outcome to occur. Now that it has, in fact, occurred, my answer is yes. Yes, I will.

I used to be one of those HWA members who sought and battled to change the organization. As former President David Niall Wilson says in the comments below, there used to be a lot of us who sought to do that. We discovered that it was impossible for us to do so.

I believe there are a number of fine next-generation individuals currently inside the HWA who wish to change the organization (some of whom have also sounded off in the comments below), and while I respect and applaud their efforts, that is not something that will happen overnight or next week or next month or next year. There is a systemic pattern of incompetence (as demonstrated in the initial post) that goes back decades. Every time HWA steps forward to fix a scandal, things are forgiven, and everyone returns to normal, and then another scandal occurs. This is damaging to our industry and community. It is my personal belief that the HWA does more harm than good to our field and its practitioners, and my decision to no longer interact with it, endorse it, or lend my name, talent, or platform to anything officially associated with it stands.

I’d be happy to change that stance, but first you’ll have to prove me wrong…

As always, this is one person’s opinion. Your mileage may indeed vary.

3 Reasons To Be A Patreon

Over on Patreon, I’ve got a serialized novel called THE SEVEN: THE LABYRINTH BOOK ONE. A new chapter gets posted every month. Pledge one dollar a month and you can read it. All of the previous chapters are archived there, as well. Currently in the novel, Teddy from EARTHWORM GODS, Frankie from THE RISING, Tony from CLICKERS, The Exit from THE COMPLEX, Nelson LeHorn from DARK HOLLOW, Bloom from “Babylon Falling”, and Lucifer the Morningstar are in the ISIS-infested badlands between Iraq, Syria, and Libya, facing off against one of the Thirteen.

If that gets you excited, then head on over to my Patreon page, pledge one dollar (or more) per month, and start reading now.

While you are there, you should check out Project iRadio’s Patreon page, as well. Project iRadio is, of course, the network that hosts my weekly podcast, THE HORROR SHOW WITH BRIAN KEENE. If you pledge two dollars per month, you can win autographed show notes from episodes of my podcast. These are one of a kind items.

But wait! There’s more! When Project iRadio’s Patreon page hits $400 a month in pledges, all subscribers will receive a free, brand-new, original short story written by me.

If these things get you excited, then head on over to the Project iRadio Patreon page, bid two dollars (or more) per month, and be the envy of your friends.

Seriously. Think about that. Three bucks per month. Everybody has three bucks per month. And for three bucks per month, you can read my magnum opus novel as it is written, a brand new original shot story by me, and win signed stuff by me, as well.

AMONG THE LIVING

So, despite what you may have read online, I’m still alive.

One of the good parts about being at death’s door for a month and change was the cutting off of communication. For the most part, I avoided Twitter, Facebook, and other social media. I avoided the forum. I avoided email. I avoided the phone (in part because my friends and family knew I was physically incapable of talking for long, so they refrained from calling). I still recorded a podcast every week (and spent much of the next subsequent day coughing up blood and feeling like someone had scraped a razor along the inside of my throat). But the podcast was pretty much my only communication with the outside world at large.

None of this could have happened at a worse time, of course. After all, I had a brand-new full-length novel, THE COMPLEX, to promote. I had a 2016 FAREWELL (BUT NOT REALLY) TOUR to finish setting up. I had manuscripts and Kickstarter stuff to mail to people. I had THE NAUGHTY LIST business to attend to. I had emails to answer and things with deadlines to write. Instead, I spent most of my time on four different antibiotics and being told things like, “It’s strange. You have all the symptoms and signs of H1N1, and yet we can’t find the virus in your system. Also, you shouldn’t be standing up.”

I felt guilty about all of this until the third week, when my eight-year-old commented that it was nice not to have Daddy’s phone dinging all the time (which it does every time I get a new email).

And that — that moment right there — is when I learned to quit feeling guilty and quit giving a shit what people say or think. I’ll promote that new novel and set up that signing tour and mail everything and answer emails and phone calls and respond on social media. Eventually. But it won’t all get done today, and I refuse to feel guilty about that anymore. And the moment I quit feeling guilty, I actually managed to start getting a handle on all of it.

I made some progress over the last week. Here is a picture of my email inbox.

That is 1,032 UNREAD emails. It’s important to stress the unread part. And when I started, that figure was at 2,185. But there are still a lot to get to, and I’m sorry, but I’m just not going to feel guilty about it anymore.

Entertainers — authors, musicians, actors, comedians, etc. — they get to a certain point in their career where they just stop responding to everyone. And then people turn on them and say how they changed, and how they used to take time to respond to each and every person, and now they don’t, and because of that they are an asshole. Well, no, they’re not an asshole. They just don’t have the fucking time. It becomes physically impossible to do, and unless you decide to stop feeling guilty about it, the mental and emotional distress it causes will subsequently stop you from responding to anything, even the stuff you HAVE to respond to. Worse yet, it can cripple your creative process, as well. You get to feeling that you owe everybody everything, and unable to cope with that, you give nothing to nobody. And the folks you really do owe something to suffer as a result.

Anyway… I’m alive. Not dead yet. Still going blind in that left eye, but that’s another medical problem for another day. Today I’m not coughing up blood or baking with fever or showing any of the signs or symptoms of H1N1, regardless of whether they can find the fucking virus or not. I might be dead tomorrow. After all, my friends are dropping like flies. But not today. If I owe you a package or an email or a phone call or a manuscript, I’ll do my best to get it to you. I’m making progress. But one thing the last two years have taught me, is that we all reach the Finish Line sooner or later, regardless of whether we run or walk. And the faster I run the more I seem to stay in place, so now I’m trying a different approach. It won’t stop the requests coming in, but it will allow me to focus on the ones that need to get done today, and the ones that need to be gotten to tomorrow, and the ones that can wait until I get there.

Of course, the beautiful irony of this whole thing is that I’m typing this as a Blog entry, and nobody reads Blogs anymore, so Facebook and Twitter will still be full of requests from people who didn’t read this.

When the apocalypse comes, it won’t be zombies or a virus or Nibiru or the Antichrist or a nuclear war. It will be social media. And it will be us.

***

THE COMPLEX is available in paperback and eBook. A lot of critics and fans are saying it’s the best thing I’ve written in years. Click here to buy a copy and see if you agree.

The 2016 FAREWELL (BUT NOT REALLY) TOUR is shaping up to be a beast. This will absolutely be the last time I do an extended, nationwide promotional tour like this. Click here to see where and when. Plenty of more states and dates to be added yet. Oh, and there’s even going to be tour t-shirts!

Exciting audiobook news coming, but I think we’ll save that for later in the week…

From the Deathbed of…

Pressure_HCmech

This is not Brian posting. Podcast listeners know that Brian has been very sick the last several weeks. He will hopefully return soon. In the meantime, above is the full dust-jacket for this summer’s PRESSURE, which can be pre-ordered here. Brian asked us to share it with you. (He also told us to call this post “From the Deathbed of…” which we cautioned him against but then he angrily coughed phlegm at us and passed out).

He would also like to remind you that THE COMPLEX and ALL DARK, ALL THE TIME are both on sale right now in paperback and eBook. You can order them here and here.

THE COMPLEX – Now in Paperback and eBook

From World Horror Grandmaster Award winning author, Brian Keene, comes an ultra-violent and action-packed horror thriller.

There was no warning. No chance to escape. They came suddenly. Naked. Bloodthirsty. Sadistic. They descended upon the Pine Village Apartment Complex, relentlessly torturing and killing anyone they could find.

Fearing for their lives, the residents of the complex must band together. A young trans woman, a suicidal middle-aged writer, a lonely Vietnam vet, a newlywed couple, an elderly widow, a single mother and her son, two on-the-run criminals and the serial killer known as The Exit. Eleven strangers. The only thing they have in common is the unstoppable horde that wants to kill them. If they are to make it through the night, they must fight back.

THE COMPLEX – Available now in paperback and on Kindle and Nook.

Five Minutes of Fame, Five Minutes of Friendliness

There are different kinds of fans. Most fans, you will never meet and never hear from. Other fans may reach out on social media and tell you they enjoyed or hated something. A smaller subset will follow you with fervor. And there’s an even smaller subset that you get to know so well — you find yourself becoming friends with them, or at the very least, familiar acquaintances whom you recognize right away and perhaps exchange holiday cards with. That’s how it started with people like Mark ‘Dezm’ Sylva, Stephen McDornell and Tod Clark. They were in that last subset at one time. Now, I consider all three friends. I trust them enough to let them pre-read everything I write. The same happened with folks like Valerie Botchlet, Paul Synuria, Mark Hickerson, and Deb Kuhn, who moderate the forum. I met them as fans, but over the years we’ve drank together, shared hotel rooms together, gone through divorces and break-ups together, and genuinely become friends.

Mark and Paula Beauchamp fall into that final subset, as well. I’ve known them since around the time THE RISING first came out (so 2003). I’ve talked with them many times, hung out with them many times, and signed many books for them. I haven’t hung out much with their daughter though, until last year.

I’m not going to mention her name or age here, because she’s a little girl and I want to protect her privacy, but Mark and Paula brought her to last year’s Scares That Care charity horror convention and I got to spend a few minutes being nice to her, and being a clown, and making her laugh, and signed a book for her. And the charity’s organizer, Joe Ripple, gave her a Walking Dead photo signed by some of the cast. And this little girl has carried those two moments with her throughout the year, telling classmates that she’s “friends with Brian Keene and Joe Ripple”.

She recently had a birthday. She asked her parents if, instead of presents, she could ask for money for the charity. And as a result, she raised nearly $350 for Scares That Care.

All because of five minutes of kindness from Joe and myself.

The moral of this story for you, the new writers, actors, musicians, artists and other entertainers reading this, is to make those five minutes count for the person on the other side of the signing table. It’s not always easy to do that. If you’re at a convention, and you’re seven hours into signing books and you’d really just like to go up to your hotel room and call home and maybe order some room service and just sit very quietly and not answer any more questions about when you’ll write another zombie novel — it’s not easy to remain on and affable. But do it anyway, because you’ll meet some great people out of it. Make those five minutes count. And the person you do it for? They’ll carry it with them long after those five minutes are over.

***

THE COMPLEX is out now in paperback and Kindle. GET SOME.

THE COMPLEX – Now in Paperback

My new novel, THE COMPLEX, is on sale now in paperback. eBook editions will follow in a few days.

There was no warning. No chance to escape. They came suddenly. Naked. Bloodthirsty. Sadistic. They descended upon the Pine Village Apartment Complex, relentlessly torturing and killing anyone they could find.

Fearing for their lives, the residents of the complex must band together. A young trans woman, a suicidal middle-aged writer, a lonely Vietnam vet, a newlywed couple, an elderly widow, a single mother and her son, two on-the-run criminals and the serial killer known as The Exit. Eleven strangers. The only thing they have in common is the unstoppable horde that wants to kill them. If they are to make it through the night, they must fight back.

From World Horror Grandmaster Award winning author, Brian Keene, comes an ultra-violent and action-packed horror thriller. CLICK HERE TO ORDER