What Are…Tales to Sorta Tremble By?

“Short tales to appease your monstrous hunger for suspense” is how we describe SWC Horror Bites, a series of digest-sized done-in-one stories and short-story collections that will be available in print and e-book formats exclusively from the StarWarp Concepts webstore, and at the conventions we’ll be attending next year.

whitefell-werewolf-cvrThe series, a mix of new and classic horror stories, kicked off this past February with White Fell—The Werewolf. If you’re unfamiliar with this story by Clemence Annie Housman—regarded by some literary scholars as perhaps the first feminist werewolf tale—here’s the back-cover copy from our edition:

A beautiful woman wanders into a snowbound village—and into the hearts of twin brothers, one of whom immediately becomes smitten by her.

The other brother, however, soon grows suspicious of the enigmatic White Fell. Where did she come from? Why does she always carry an ax? And is her sudden appearance somehow related to the recent sightings of a bloodthirsty wolf in the area?

He may come to regret being so inquisitive…

Tales-Sorta-Tremble-CvrIn October, we’ll be releasing our second title: Tales to Sorta Tremble By, a horror anthology of 13 mini tales that first appeared in 1950s comic books. Here’s the back-cover copy:

The Flower of Evil. Jardini’s Jaw. The Living Brain. The Walking Dead.

These, and many others, are the tales you’ve long forgotten—or never even heard of before. They were the text stories, sometimes written anonymously or pseudonymously, that 1950s comic book publishers inserted in each issue of their macabre series to meet postal mailing requirements in order to be considered magazines.

This collection spotlights a baker’s dozen of those time-lost terror shorts, so gather round the jack-o’-lantern and prepare to be a little bit shocked and a tiny bit horrified by these…TALES TO SORTA TREMBLE BY!

The contents of this anthology are: “The Walking Dead” (a zombie tale), “Jardini’s Jaw” (how can a jawbone talk when it doesn’t have the rest of the head attached to it?!), “The Lonely Place” (a haunted house), “Call for Claws” (kids vs. a homeless guy with a spellbook), “The Land of the Dead” (more of those damned zombies!), “Call of the Werewolf” (I think the title kind of says it all), “The Flower of Evil” (well, there’s this flower, and it’s evil—I’ve said too much!), “The Lady in Black” (a private eye tracks down a man for a mysterious woman), “The Living Brain” (mad scientists and brain transplants—never a good mix), “The Shadow in the Moonlight” (I’m not saying it’s vampires…but it’s vampires), “Death and the Maiden” (a woman attends a party and runs into…guess who?), “Just What the Doctor Ordered” (a study in psychological terror), and “The End of the Line” (sometimes those weird urban legends turn out to be true).

Tales to Sorta Tremble By goes on sale on October 13 (Friday the 13th!) exclusively through the StarWarp Concepts webstore, and will be available in print and digital formats.

King Kong Now On Sale!

King-Kong-Final-FrontCvrHey, Panatics! On sale today from the StarWarp Concepts webstore is King Kong, an e-book-exclusive reprint of the 1932 novelization of the original motion picture, and the latest addition to SWC’s line of classic books. Written by Delos W. Lovelace, based on the story by Edgar Wallace and Merian C. Cooper, the SWC edition features six brand-new illustrations by pulp-comics artist Paul Tuma (Tales of the Green Hornet, The Twilight Avenger).

Not familiar with the story of the king of the monsters and the woman with whom he falls in love, resulting in one of the strangest “beauty and the beast” stories of all time? For shame! I thought all monster fans knew Kong’s story by now. Well, no biggie—allow me to present you with the back-cover copy from SWC’s edition:

Ann Darrow was a down-on-her-luck actress struggling to survive in Depression-era New York City when she met moviemaker Carl Denham. He offered her the starring role in his latest film: a documentary about a long-lost island—and the godlike ape named Kong rumored to live there. Denham needed a beauty as a counterpart to the beast he hoped to find, and Ann was the answer to his prayers.

Mystery, romance, a chance to turn her life around, even the possibility of stardom—to Ann, it sounded like the adventure of a lifetime! But what she didn’t count on were the horrific dangers that awaited her on Skull Island—including the affections of a love-struck monster…

 Originally published in 1932, this fast-paced novelization includes scenes that never appeared in the final version of the classic 1933 film—the most famous of them being the gruesome Skull Island “spider pit” sequence, in which hordes of monstrous arachnids attempt to devour Ann’s rescuers!

Critics have certainly enjoyed this novelization:

“A cracking adventure that shoots along at breakneck pace.”
—The Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation

“Lovelace’s novelization is an interesting read and moves with a breezy pace. Fascinating for fans of the film.”—Library Thing

“Recommended for hard-core Kongites.”—Sci-Fi Dimensions

King Kong is available right now for download, so visit its product page at StarWarp Concepts for further information, including a free pair of sample chapters.

StarWarp Concepts Celebrates Carmilla’s 145th Anniversary

Carmilla_CoverHey, vampire fans! Did you know that 2017 is the 145th anniversary of J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s gothic vampire classic, Carmilla? Well, now you do!

To celebrate that milestone, Pan’s publisher, StarWarp Concepts—who has an Illustrated Classics edition available through its webstore—is running a series of blog posts next week in which I’ll be reviewing various adaptations (comics, films, TV) of this strange and creepy paranormal romance.

If you’re unfamiliar with what is probably Le Fanu’s most famous work, here’s the back-cover copy from the StarWarp Concepts edition:

Before Edward and Bella, before Lestat and Louis, even before Dracula and Mina, there was the vampiric tale of Carmilla and Laura.

Living with her widowed father in a dreary old castle in the woods of Styria, Laura has longed to have a friend with whom she can confide; a friend to bring some excitement to her pastoral lifestyle. And then Carmilla enters her life.

Left by her mother in the care of Laura’s father, Carmilla is young, beautiful, playful—everything that Laura had hoped to find in a companion. In fact, the lonely girl is so thrilled to have a new friend that she is willing to overlook the dark-haired beauty’s strange actions…which include a disturbing, growing obsession for her lovely hostess.

Carmilla, it seems, desires more than just friendship from Laura….

Carmilla—the SWC edition, featuring six original illustrations by artist Eliseu Gouveia (The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0, The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1)—is available in print and digital formats, so visit its product page at StarWarp Concepts for ordering information.

SWC Horror Bites: White Fell: The Werewolf Now On Sale!

whitefell-werewolf-cvrHey, Panatics! As you know, February is Women in Horror Month, the annual celebration that shines the spotlight on the contributions of all the female creators—writers, artists, movie directors, producers, special makeup artists, special effects experts, etc.—who’ve brought thrills and chills to generations of fans around the world.

To do its part for the celebration, the literary researchers at Pan’s publisher, StarWarp Concepts, scoured the classic horror archives to find a title that not only would fit the occasion, but that would also make a fantastic launch title for its newly launched SWC Horror Bites series of chapbooks. And now it’s on sale!

White Fell—The Werewolf, originally published in 1896, was written by renowned author, artist, and suffragette Clemence Annie Housman, and is regarded by scholars as possibly the first feminist werewolf story. In it, a beautiful woman named White Fell wanders into a snowbound village—and into the hearts of twin brothers, one of whom immediately becomes smitten by her. The other brother, however, soon grows suspicious of the enigmatic White Fell. Where did she come from? Why does she always carry an ax? And is her sudden appearance somehow related to the recent sightings of a bloodthirsty wolf in the area? He may come to regret being so inquisitive…

Critics have consistently enjoyed it, right from its first publication—including a certain writer whose work has inspired generations of horror authors:

“Attains a high degree of gruesome tension.”H. P. Lovecraft

“An elegant, bittersweet story of twin brothers and the beautiful woman who comes between them. Housman effectively creates an atmosphere of dread and horror.”Goodreads

“For Housman, the female werewolf is a vehicle for her to present a strong feminist-inspired female character…. It is possible that Housman was telling the world that women had a hidden strength and that men should beware of their own hidden nature.”
The Nuke Mars Journal of Speculative Fiction

“White Fell is interesting because she subverts many of the tropes of the monstrous woman—i.e without maternal instincts, animalistic, lustful, etc. She is a femme fatale only in the most basic sense that she is a deadly woman.” International Gothic Association

White Fell—The Werewolf is on sale right now in print and digital formats, so visit its product page at StarWarp Concepts for further information and order it today!

SWC Horror Bites: Something You’ll Want to Devour

whitefell-werewolf-cvr“Short tales to appease your monstrous hunger for suspense” is how we describe SWC Horror Bites, a chapbook series that will be available in print and e-book formats exclusively from the StarWarp Concepts webstore, and at the conventions we attend. The series, which launches in February (during the annual celebration of Women in Horror Month), will be a mix of new and classic horror stories.

And if you head over to today’s post at the StarWarp Concepts blog, you’ll see my explanation of what this program holds in store for fans of literary horror this year. A feminist werewolf tale, a classic ghost story from Charles Dickens (but not starring Ebenezer Scrooge), and an anthology of spooky stories that first appeared in 1950s horror comics are just the start of the menu for SWC Horror Bites. Go check them out!

Happy 2017, Panatics!

newyear-skeleton

Believe it, skeleton man—that’s what you get for sleeping through Christmas! Still, I hope Santa and the Krampus brought you—and you Panatics—everything you wished for (or wished on others…mu-ha-ha).

blood-and-iron-cvrTwo thousand seventeen promises to be a busy year for Pan’s publisher, StarWarp Concepts, whose plans include—you guessed it!—the much-anticipated release of Blood & Iron: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 3 this October. It’s the conclusion of Pan’s first literary adventure, which began in the first novel, Blood Feud, and continued into Blood Reign, and pits Pan, her family, and her friends—including immortal monster hunter Sebastienne “Annie” Mazarin—against the forces of monsterdom, who are led by the fallen angel Zaqiel—who’s also a former lover of Annie’s!

But starring in a new novel isn’t all that’s in store for Pan this year, and if you check out today’s post at the StarWarp Concepts blog, you’ll learn what SWC has in mind for our favorite Goth adventuress, as well as its other publishing plans. Head over there now and give it a read!

IndyFest Magazine Profiles StarWarp Concepts

IndyFest85-cvr

Good news, everyone! StarWarp Concepts is the cover feature of Dimestore Productions’ just-published IndyFest Magazine #85, in which Managing Editor Ellen Fleischer interviews author and SWC publisher Steven A. Roman (that’s me) about the company’s critically acclaimed releases—including my novel series, The Saga of Pandora Zwieback—and SWC’s first lady of horror, Lorelei. Just as exciting is the fact that the cover art is a special illustration of Pan crossing paths with Lori, by Eliseu “Zeu” Gouveia, artist of SWC’s The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0, The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1, and Lorelei: Sects and the City!

Although the print version retails for $6.00, you can obtain the digital edition of IndyFest Magazine #85 for free from Dimestore’s website; just download the issue from right here.

IndyFest is the brainchild of publisher Ian Shires, one of the mainstays of small-press comic book publishing. Back in the early, early days of The ’Warp, when it was just me writing and drawing Lorelei comics, publishing things like the original version of Richard C. White’s Troubleshooters, Incorporated, and printing everything on photocopiers, Ian was one of the fellow self-publishers I bought mini-comics from (I think it was his series Dungar the Barbarian). His Dimestore Productions house has grown significantly since then—as has The ’Warp—so it was nice to be in touch with him again. And special thanks go out to IndyFest managing editor Ellen Fleischer for setting up the ’Warp coverage!

Now head over to Dimestore Productions and get your free digital copy of IndyFest Magazine #85!

And don’t forget SWC’s latest releases, which are now on sale: my young adult, dark-urban-fantasy novel Blood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2 continues the monster-fighting Goth girl’s struggles to prevent a monster takeover of the world; and in Lorelei Presents: House Macabre, the flame-tressed succubus tries her hand at hosting a horror anthology comic, in stories written by yours truly and Dwight Jon Zimmerman, with art by Uriel Caton & “Chainsaw” Chuck Majewski, Lou Manna, John Pierard, and Juan Carlos Abraldes Rendo.

Pandora Zwieback: The Evolution of a Series’ Covers

Last week, I covered the importance of having an editor involved in the creative process of writing a book’s manuscript, in a trio of posts found here, here, and here. But that’s just one part of what’s involved in putting together a novel for publication. Today, we start talking cover design.

Good stories are always essential, but from a sales point of view, one of the most important aspects of publishing is the cover. It’s the first thing a potential reader is going to see in a brick-and-mortar bookstore (unless it’s displayed spine-out on their shelves) or at an online retailer’s site, so it’s absolutely imperative that the cover be as eye-catching and intriguing as possible. The vast majority of small-press and self-published books often fail in that regard, choosing the laziest, most god-awful type-and-image designs they can throw together: photographs or paintings (or worse, silhouetted figures) that have nothing to do with the story; lettering taken straight from their computer’s font libraries; titles that are too long, or extremely pretentious, or head-scratchingly vague. (Truth be told, I’ve seen my fair share of books released by mainstream publishers that take the same approach.)

So in 2010, when it was time to transform StarWarp Concepts from a comic publisher to a book house, I knew that Job Two would involve using professional artists and designers to provide eye-catching covers (Job One was having quality stories to publish; can’t have the second without the first). The first person I approached was Bob Larkin, whose amazing cover paintings for Marvel Comics (Dazzler, Haunt of Horror, Vampire Tales, The Hulk!, Savage Sword of Conan the Barbarian, Crazy) and Bantam Books’ Doc Savage pulp-fiction reprints had created a fan base that included such luminaries as Alex Ross, Joe Jusko, John Romita Sr., Jim Steranko, and Larry Hama. I’ve been a fan myself, all the way back to the ’70s, and was thrilled when, in 2000, he agreed to paint the covers for my X-Men: The Chaos Engine Trilogy novels—and overjoyed when he did three cover paintings for SWC’s succubus character, Lorelei. This time, however, I wanted him to paint the covers for a series about a certain teenaged Goth chick.

LarkinArt02

Explaining the gothy nature of Pan took a bit of doing, since it’s outside the range of anything Bob had ever painted before, but he had two advantages going in to the project: Pan had already been designed by my creative partner, Uriel Caton; and Bob has an extensive history of painting horror-related images, from monster magazine covers for Marvel and Warren Publishing to monster movie posters for New Line Cinema, United Artists, and Troma Films (among other studios)—Piranha, Night of the Creeps, Humanoids From the Deep, and The Toxic Avenger II are just some of the poster images he’s created.

But why use painted covers? you ask. Why not go with a photograph of a model dressed as Pan? That’s what all the major publishers would do. And that’s the problem, because when all the major publishers do the same thing, they create a uniform look for an entire genre of books that’s extremely generic and boring. (To get an idea of what I’m talking about, check out this post about photo covers that I wrote back in 2011.) I wanted Bob Larkin originals for Pan’s series, and that’s exactly what I was gonna get. All I needed to get the process started was to show Bob what I had in mind…

Next: Creating the cover for Blood Feud, the first novel in Pan’s saga.

Blood Reign: Author Steve Roman Interview from NY Horror Show 2015

Blood-Reign-FinalCvrFor the past three days, I’ve told you the story of the editorial process involved in the creation of Pan’s debut novel, Blood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1—but now it’s time to focus attention back to the online promotional tour for the second part of Pan’s adventures in Blood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2!

Back in January of this year, I attended Long Island’s first NY Horror Show (you can read my show report here), where I met Kassandra Cosplayer. After introducing her to the wonders of Ms. Zwieback’s adventures on the first day of the show, Kassandra came back the next day with a cameraman and a microphone to find out more about Pan and StarWarp Concepts—and now you can check out the results of our one-on-one interview by going here.

Thanks for the interview, Kassandra!

Taking Care of Business

Welcome, Panatics, to a New Year and a new publishing schedule! It’s been a while since you and I talked, and let me deeply apologize for that. But as you saw here from that teaser posted yesterday, there’s some good news that I’m sure you Panatics were greatly interested in… 😉

blood_reign-coverYes, after many delays Blood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2 is finally being published, on Monday, February 2nd, and let me thank all of you for your patience. I know I was a right SOB for leaving you where I did with that cliffhanger ending of Book 1, Blood Feud, but now at last you’ll be able to find out what adventures lie ahead for our resident happy Goth.

(By the way, if you can’t wait that long, you can always download the Blood Reign free sample chapter from the StarWarp Concepts website, and discover what happened to Pan directly following Blood Feud’s ending.)

If you head over to the StarWarp Concepts blog and read today’s post—I’ve been referring to it as the State of the StarWarp Concepts Union address—you’ll find out exactly what’s been going on over at Pan’s publisher, as well as what’s going to be happening this year to get things back on track.

As for this blog…well, I’ve got some exciting stuff coming up, as Blood Reign’s release date gets closer. Stay tuned!