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Thomas Tryon’s classic HARVEST HOME was recently reissued in ebook format by Open Road.

In 1971, the year I was born, THE OTHER by Thomas Tryon spent six months on the New York Times bestseller list, side by side with THE EXORCIST by William Peter Blatty. This was the dawning of a new age of horror fiction that would last for the next 20-some years — a surge which largely started with the publication of Ira Levin’s ROSEMARY’S BABY in 1967.

Thomas Tryon followed up the success of THE OTHER with his second novel, HARVEST HOME, in 1973. The premise of the novel strikes at the core desire of many who crave a simpler life. I’m guessing it rang true for many back in those days — those who’d spent years watching or participating in the counter-culture movement, the battle for civil rights, the space race, Watergate, and Vietnam. The world probably seemed to be going mad. I’d venture to say it still rings true today; not a week goes by that my wife and I don’t discuss our retirement plans to move to a smaller town, get a simpler job, live a simpler life. It must be the dream of a lot of folks run ragged by cities and high-pressure corporate jobs: find some peace, get back to nature.

In the book, when Ned and his wife Beth are out driving in the countryside, they come across Cornwall Coombe, a quaint, old-fashioned village nestled in the hilly Connecticut countryside. The idyllic town calls to them with its preternatural charm. They eventually transplant their lives and their teenage daughter Kate to this world seemingly untouched by the advancement of time.

As any good reader can guess, this is all too good to be true. Ned soon learns that the community is set very deep in its ways. Despite the church bells every Sunday, the village’s ways are ancient, harkening back to a time of earth-worship and paganism. By the time he begins to discern the full scope of this truth, he and his family are deeply enmeshed in the community. Events that come to pass in the story are incrementally more mysterious and disturbing than what came before. The truth of what sustains this “peaceful” community is a foundation rooted deep in horror and superstition, perpetuated by the town’s matriarch, the Widow Fortune.

HARVEST HOME works well on many levels. It is a story of a marriage through good and bad times, a story of love and yearnings. It is a tale of friendship, the allure of “the old ways,” and teens who long to see the world outside their hometown. As Ned uncovers the town’s mysteries deep in the woods of Soakes Lonesome and the drifting ghosts of the Lost Whistle Bridge, as he watches the annual rituals centered on the sowing and harvest of corn, he learns the true nature of horror lying beneath the idyllic surface, a discovery that soon leads Ned into dangerous territory, and puts his family at the heart of it all.

This feels like a brilliant novel. It certainly helps to understand the climate of the time in which it was written — in the wake of the social upheaval of the 1960s, the 1970s also saw a heightened interest in paganism and the occult. In context of the era, with an understanding of the way horror novels were written in the 1970s, a reader can find a lot to love about HARVEST HOME.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The prose was fantastic. The story contains all the elements one hopes to find in a novel. I recommend this book to fans of literary horror, particularly those who enjoy the great horror novels of the 1970s.

ELDERWOOD MANOR, DarkFuse, July 2014, cover design by Zach McCain

ELDERWOOD MANOR by Christopher Fulbright and Angeline Hawkes, published by DarkFuse July 2014, cover design by Zach McCain

Our new horror novella from DarkFuse, ELDERWOOD MANOR is now available in limited hardcover and Kindle editions. This is my personal favorite of all of our novellas so far, tapping into all the things I love about creeping menace and old school horror.  We set out to write a story that evoked a genuine sense of fear, and, judging by the buzz, it seems people are “getting it.”  Here are just a few snippets from recent reviews:

“Dark and atmospheric horror … very scary.”
—The Examiner

“It is very rare for something to truly scare or creep me out, but this did it. I found early on in the story that I was huddling in on myself as I read and freezing at even the slightest noises from inside and outside my house. I had to put on something upbeat and funny on the television after I had finished in an attempt to stave off nightmares.”
The Arched Doorway

“ELDERWOOD MANOR was one of the few novellas I read this year that really managed to creep me out. Definitely recommended.”
I Heart Reading

“ELDERWOOD MANOR is a great haunted house/dark family secrets/evil-has-tainted-this-place story. There are no slow points. From a graceful, foreboding opening, the tension is ratcheted up at just the right points and the suspense is kept at the perfect pitch. This book kept me on my toes, wide-eyed and fingers-crossed almost from beginning to end.”
Coffee and Book Addict.com

“Fulbright and Hawkes bring this tale to life with some fine writing, a brooding sense of overpowering doom, a nice pace … ELDERWOOD MANOR is another fine addition to their body of work.”
—James Reasoner, Rough Edges

“Striking touches of originality … it engendered a shudder or two.”
Black Static Magazine #41

“If you are looking for something that keeps you turning the pages quickly and that will creep you out in many ways, I highly recommend this.”
On Top Down Under

Click here to see what other readers are saying and read more about the book.

LG_DevilBehindMe_215This is just a quick note to let everyone know about this Kindle Countdown Deal: our horror novella THE DEVIL BEHIND ME from Dark Regions Press is 99¢ this weekend only. To download it, click here.

About the book: Alex Brandt’s life is the stuff of lore and legend, but not the fairytale one would welcome. The sole survivor of the Krampusnacht Massacre, Alex was shipped away to America on the heels of tragedy. Childhood trauma followed him to an adulthood plagued with fear and self-doubt. The horror of his past affects him so deeply each holiday season that his girlfriend urges him to resolve his issues once and for all.

Seeking closure to the Christmas tragedy, with the help of his uncle and a retired German police officer, Alex returns to the scene of the crime in Bavaria. But what lurks in the Alpine darkness on the snow-swept mountain slopes knows Alex has come back, and it’s seeking some closure of its own….

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An Arkham House original copy of SKULL-FACE AND OTHERS, from the collection of Jeffrey Shanks.

Searching through photographs, I realized that 2014 marks the 8th year in a row that Angeline and I have made our pilgrimage to that charming little town of Cross Plains, Texas.  I actually made my first trip to Cross Plains 12 years ago, in 2002 (note: the wife in the linked article from 2002, if you read it, is not Angeline).  Only after Angeline and I were married did we consider this something we should do every year.

We love the drive.  We love the area.  We love the event.  We have our favorite hotel, our favorite restaurants. We see old friends, meet new ones, and enjoy the company of people knowledgeable in the ways of everything from pulp fiction to barbecue. And man is there some awesome barbecue — nothing beats that final day of the event, the food, the gathering, and the sunset over Caddo Peak.

Patrice Louinet delivers his speech at the Friday night dinner and silent auction.

Patrice Louinet delivers his speech at the Friday night dinner and silent auction.

The year we joined fellow attendees at the Cross Plains Community Center for the silent auction to benefit Project Pride, the local organization that does such a wonderful job preparing the town for the event. They also shoulder the ever-sacred responsibility for the upkeep and maintenance of the Robert E. Howard House and Museum.

We saw a whole long list of friends at the Friday evening dinner, then went down to the site of the old icehouse at sunset for the ever-popular boxing stories panel, and finished up at the pavilion with a few cold beers and lots of catching up. I had great conversations with our friends Mark Finn and Chris Gruber, talented editors and writers in their own right, Rusty Burke, Bill Cavalier, Ethan Nahté, Larry Atchley, Jr. and so many more. I’d like to list all

Mark Finn and Chris Gruber, with Joe Lansdale in the foreground, at REH Days 2013.

Mark Finn and Chris Gruber, with Joe Lansdale in the foreground, at REH Days 2013.

of the folks we saw again this year, but inevitably I will forget to mention someone and feel bad about it later, so suffice to say — we saw a lot of our favorite folks! I also managed to make a visit to a bookstore in Brownwood that I’ve been stalking for years, hoping to catch them when they’re open.  The wait was worth it — I came away with some Marvin Albert mysteries and Jack MacLane horror novels. Add to that my purchase of the Del Rey edition of the Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard from the museum gift shop, and I’d say it was an overall win.

Once again, we met visitors from countries afar. Patrice Louinet made the trek from France to be guest of honor this year. We saw our good friend Al Harron and his charming family from Scotland, plus a couple visitors that were from Germany and Japan.

Jeff Shanks and Al Harron in the grub line.

Jeff Shanks and Al Harron in the grub line.

On Saturday, we took our annual tour through the house and spent some time catching up with writer extraordinaire James Reasoner. After a final panel at the Cross Plains Library, everyone made the group pilgrimage up to Caddo Peak Ranch for that barbecue and sunset I mentioned. (This was a particularly special year, since my 6-year-old son climbed to the top of the peak with me, and we overlooked that long horizon and rolling Texas hills together.)

Cross Plains has started to feel a lot like a home away from home.  It’s very much a family reunion in every way, except that we are united not by blood relation, but by love and admiration for the work of Robert E. Howard.  It’s a cool way to build a second family if you ask me.

The boy and I after his first trip up Caddo Peak.

The boy and I after his first trip up Caddo Peak.

We had another great time this year. Thanks once again to all the folks who make this event a success.

I took a couple of panoramic shots of the front and back of the house. Click and drag the pictures to the right or left to see the full 360-degree view. It was kind of an afterthought, but they still came out pretty neat. I thought I’d share something new this year, so here it is. Till next time…

 

Panoramic view from the front of the house

Click and drag the picture to the right or left to see the full 360-degree view.

Panoramic view from the rear of the house

Click and drag the picture to the right or left to see the full 360-degree view.

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ELDERWOOD MANOR is set for a July 15, 2014 release. Click the image to pre-order for Kindle. Also available as a signed, limited hardcover through the publisher, DarkFuse.

Some nice reviews are starting to roll in for our upcoming novella from DarkFuse, ELDERWOOD MANOR. The book is scheduled to be released July 15, 2014 in hardcover and eBook editions. To pre-order the Kindle edition at a 15% discount, click here.

“A very dark and atmospheric horror novella with strong undertones of H.P. Lovecraft. The story took me back to the way horror was approached a long time ago … there is evil here. Everyone knows that it is there. The problem is that no one, either in the story or the reader, seems to know exactly what that evil is. This makes it even more frightening and is a subtlety often missing from modern horror … very scary.” –Josef Hernandez for The Examiner

“This short novella is packed to the brim with great atmosphere, strange creatures, and wall-to-wall scares.” –Nick Cato, editor of The Horror Fiction Review

“If you are looking for something that keeps you turning the pages quickly and that will creep you out in many ways, I highly recommend this.” –On Top Down Under Book Reviews

Keep checking back for more news as we roll into the summer. As always, thanks for your support!