Archive for Brian Keene

Occult Detectives are alive and well

Posted in Horror, Occult Detectives with tags , , , , , , on July 16, 2017 by Occult Detective


I keep hammering the point, but its one I never tire of. The occult detective genre encapsulates so many of my obsessions.

As a writer, I get to explore witchcraft, magic, and religion from the inside out, I get to delve into the mysteries of the universe and dissect the workings of mind, body, and spirit.

As a reader, I get to experience those same themes from the other side of the fence, peeking behind the veil through someone else’s eyes and experiences. I get to thrill at the mysteries these authors have dreamed up, and take a ride through their psyches.

Cover 01 First BornHaving a new book out, First Born: Tales of the Liber Monstrorum, has found me reminiscing about some of my favorite literary occult detectives, from John Constantine to John Thunstone, Harry Dresden to Harry D’Amour, Adam Sinclair to Diana Tregarde…

I have sang the praises of a near countless number of authors who have added to the genre and now, I want to shine that spotlight once more on five modern takes on the occult detective by authors who have made contributions to genre that are sure to be remembered.

5. James Brimstone (Jason Ridler)

Brimstone may have only appeared in one novel this far, Hex-Rated, but he sure made a lasting impression, largely due to the Brimstone Files being set in 1970s Hollywood and all that that entails.

4. Charles St. Cyprian (Joshua Reynolds)

St. Cyprian and his assistant, Ebe Gallowglass, shine in Reynolds’ The Royal Occultist tales. Set in the ’20s, they defend “the battered and dwindling British Empire against threats occult, otherworldly, infernal and divine”.

3. Derek Adams (William Meikle)

If you like your private eyes hard-boiled, look no further than Adams, who stalks the shadowy byways of Glasgow with the same cynicism one might find in Sam Spade…if he had to deal with witches and water demons.

2.  “Golden” Dawn Seliger (Nick Mamatas)

If ever a character deserved a follow-up novel, it’s “Golden” Dawn, who leapt off the pages of Mamatas’ brilliant “Love is the Law”. She’s a teenage devotee to Crowley and Trotsky. If that doesn’t sell it, nothing will.

1. Levi Stoltzfus (Brian Keene)

Stoltzfus is an ex-Amish magus who traverses the back roads with his dog Crowley in a magical Amish buggy, drawn by a horse named Dee, and armed with a magical grimoire called The Long Lost Friend.

There’s a whole host of other authors who “get it right” too. Folks like Steven Shrewsberry, Justin Gustainis, Charles Rutledge, Greg Mitchell, Nick Kaufmann, Amanda DeWees, Tim Prasil, Christine Morgan, and on and on. For that matter, pick up a copy of Occult Detective Quarterly and you’ll see the truth for yourself.

The occult detective genre is alive, well, and kicking.

Now, while I have your attention, maybe I can interest you in trying First Born on for size. It’s available in the following online outlets:

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback



The Occult Detective’s #LastWrites with… @BrianKeene

Posted in Last Writes with... with tags on January 2, 2017 by Occult Detective



Welcome to the tenth installment of LAST WRITES.

The premise is simple. My guests face their final rest, but before Death claims them they are granted a few earthly pleasures, the memories of which will travel with them into the great unknown.

brianToday’s guest is Brian Keene, a writer of novels, comic books, short fiction, and occasional journalism for money. He is the author of over forty books, mostly in the horror, crime, and dark fantasy genres.

Keene also oversees Maelstrom, his own small press publishing imprint specializing in collectible limited editions, via Thunderstorm Books.

He has won numerous awards and honors, including the 2014 World Horror Grandmaster Award, 2001 Bram Stoker Award for Nonfiction, 2003 Bram Stoker Award for First Novel, 2004 Shocker Award for Book of the Year, and Honors from United States Army International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan and Whiteman A.F.B. (home of the B-2 Stealth Bomber) 509th Logistics Fuels Flight.

A prolific public speaker, Keene has delivered talks at conventions, college campuses, theaters, and inside Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, VA.

The father of two sons, Keene lives in rural Pennsylvania.


My last meal would be a bit of a buffet, consisting of my mother’s cornbread, my second ex-wife’s meatloaf and mashed potatoes, author Mary SanGiovanni’s mother’s sausage and peppers, my grandmother’s venison tenderloin — and my grandmother’s fruitcake, various flavors of Turkey Hill ice cream, and a large pizza with pepperoni and extra cheese — but it’s got to be good cheese. Real mozzarella. Not that fake shit the pizza chains call cheese..


If I don’t die until I finish reading the book, then I’m going with all seven volumes of Stephen King’s DARK TOWER because in my opinion (and his) they make up one sprawling epic novel. (laughs). No. There’s a children’s book called A TEENY TINY TALE, based on an old folk story. I have a Little Golden Book edition of it from the late Sixties, that was read to me as a small child. I’ve read it to both of my children (now ages 25 and 8). I’d pick that, because if I was dying, thinking of my boys when they were little would help ease the pain and fears. 


Mike Judge’s OFFICE SPACE. It’s my all-time favorite comedy. I can quote the damn thing by heart, and yet it never fails to make me laugh. That movie has legitimately saved my life more than once. Maybe it would do so again…


“Purple Rain” by Prince, but it has to be the album version, with the guitar solo at the end. Not that radio edit that cuts off before the best part. That guitar solo makes the damn song, you know? Here’s a little something people (except for Mary) don’t know about me — since I was a teenager, I always thought that if I ever had to commit suicide — I mean like in a situation where the zombies are busting down the door or I’m in the same physical shape Hunter S. Thompson was in — that I would do it to “Purple Rain”, and I would squeeze the trigger right at the end, as the violins begin their drone before fading out. Seriously. That would be an okay way to die, far as I’m concerned. Not as adventurous as, say, being the first human to die on Mars, or as epic as blowing up in the Goodyear Blimp over the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day, but we can’t always get what we want.


 I have a very firm belief that the afterlife is sort of like the series finale to LOST. Everybody that was important to you waits together in a self-manufactured dimensional space until you arrive, and then you all move on together. I believe that the afterlife is a hotel convention bar, and when I walk in, I’ll see J.F. Gonzalez, Tom Piccirilli, Richard Laymon, Rick Hautala, and a bunch of other writer friends hanging out there. And that’s what we’ll do until the last person to die arrives. It’s going to be one hell of a party.


You can find out more about Brian from his official website, Amazon Author Page, twitter, and facebook. Or better yet, listen to Brian on The Horror Show with Brian Keene

The 2014 Occult Detective Awards: Fiction

Posted in Occult Detective Awards with tags , , , , , on January 2, 2015 by Occult Detective

5thawardsDay two of the 5th Annual Occult Detective Awards finds us looking into the senses-shattering world of horror fiction. I tend to read a lot. Not as much as some, but a helluva lot more than most. I made it through more than 80 works this year (fiction and non-fiction combined) but picking out the best of the lot is never easy. You’ll recognize some familiar names in the following list. Why? Because when you do right by me, I revisit the well. Great storytellers are hard to come by. Write a story that captures my imagination and I’ll be back for more.

Best Novel
Revival by Stephen King

King releases his inner Lovecraft in this superb tale of loss and madness. Disquieting, there is an almost infinite sadness in Revival that bears down on you. King is a master of character and you’ll find a rich tapestry of such within. As for the story itself, well, it certainly went places I wasn’t expecting, especially in the novel’s final pages.

Best Novella
The Last of the Albatwitches by Brian Keene

I am unabashedly a huge fan of Keene’s Levi Stoltzfus. Invoking the spirit of the late, great Manly Wade Wellman, Keene has delivered another tense thriller featuring everyone’s favorite ex-Amish occult detective by taking a local folk tradition and dialing it up to 11. Why? Because that’s what Keene does and he does it well.

Best Collection
The Nickronomicon by Nick Mamatas

One of the things I love about Mamatas is that he’s a literary chameleon and with this collection of Mythos tales he gets to showcase this talent in strange, perverse, and subversive ways. Mamatas is always fresh and innovative, and The Nickronomicon finds him at his neoteric finest. With a knack for seeing not only the man behind the curtain, but also the ghost inside the machine, Mamatas is able to take the reader on a surrealistic ride through chimerical and apocryphal nightmares like few others.

Best Anthology
The Weiser Book of Horror and the Occult, edited by Lon Milo DuQuette

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better assemblage  of esoteric tales. Featuring 15 masterpieces of occult fiction from such notable authors as M.R. James, H.P. Lovecraft, Aleister Crowley, Arthur Machen, and more, this is an anthology I’ve already earmarked to be a Hallowe’en staple.

Best Short Story
“Bedlam in Yellow” by William Meikle (In the Court of the Yellow King, edited by Glynn Owen Barrass)

In the Court of the Yellow King is a brilliant Mythos anthology, but “Bedlam in Yellow” shines just a little bit brighter because Meikle does the unthinkable by writing a Carnacki tale that rivals Hodgson’s original stories. A neo-pulpist, Meikle is a consistent and reliable storyteller, regardless of genre, but he really sings when he delves into occult detective thrillers.

An excerpt from Brian Keene’s Invisible Monsters

Posted in Occult Detectives with tags , , on December 10, 2014 by Occult Detective

levi_smSo, as you know, I love the Occult Detective genre. Kind of obvious, no? Well, one of my favorites is Brian Keene’s Levi Stoltzfus, an ex-Amish occult detective skilled in the ways of powwow folk magic… accentuated by a command of various other magical disciplines.

A servant of God, Levi wields this impressive array of occult knowledge in a never-ending battle against the forces of darkness. He’s starred in the novels Ghost Walk and A Gathering of Crows, and appeared in Clickers vs Zombies (co-written with the late, great Jesus Gonzalez), plus he was the focus of the novellas The Witching Tree and The Last of the Albatwitches.

He’s slated to appear in two more novels in the near future, Bad Ground and next year’s Invisible Monsters.

Brian was kind enough to post an excerpt on Facebook. Enjoy.

Levi Stoltzfus

Posted in Archive with tags , , on August 14, 2013 by Occult Detective


Brian Keene’s Levi Stoltzfus
pen&ink by Bob Freeman

Brian Keene broke the Internet… again.

Posted in Archive with tags , on January 30, 2013 by Occult Detective

I had a plan for this week’s Writing in Theory & Practice, but then, as he is wont to do, Brian Keene blew up the Internet by posting the speech he gave at Borderlands Boot Camp. That sort of took the wind out of my sails a bit. I know Brian. I like to think of him as a friend. We’ve broke bread, shared drinks, and enjoyed several meaningful (at least to me) conversations over the years, usually about our mutual admiration for Whiskey, Cigars, Days of our Lives, Manly Wade Wellman, and Atlas Comics’ Planet of Vampires (among other things). So, rather than me boring you with my inane rants and ramblings today, I think it might serve you better to be bored by his —

My name is Brian Keene and I am a full-time writer.

I’m honored to be here tonight. As you all know, it almost didn’t happen. I was supposed to be one of your instructors this year, but due to the economy, that didn’t work out. In truth, it wouldn’t have worked out anyway because I would have spent all weekend sitting out there with you and sponging up knowledge from instructors F. Paul Wilson, Douglas Winter, and Tom Monteleone instead of telling you anything useful.

Seriously. I hope you know how lucky you are to have an opportunity like the one you’ve had this weekend. My generation didn’t have a Borderlands Boot Camp. If we wanted writing advice from these guys, we had to get it the old-fashioned way – by buying them drinks at a bar. I figure that method of learning has cost me over $20,000 over the last fifteen years.

You’ve spent the weekend learning how to become writers, or perhaps, to be more accurate, how to become better writers. I’m here tonight, at the invitation of your instructors, to talk to you about what happens after you become a writer—how to make a living at it, what you can expect when you write for a living, and more importantly, what not to expect.


Day Four of the 3rd Annual Occult Detective Awards

Posted in Occult Detective Awards with tags , , , , , , , on December 20, 2012 by Occult Detective

Four days into the Third Annual Occult Detective Awards and we’re getting down to the meat of it. As if you couldn’t tell, I read a lot. Not nearly as much as I once did, but I still managed to pore through nearly 80 books this year.

Best Novel

ENTOMBED by Brian Keene

“The dead are determined sons of bitches.” I’m not a fan of zombie fiction. Never have been. Doubt I ever will be. So how the hell did a “zombie novel” make it all the way to the top of the heap of  novels I read this year? By being one vicious, claustrophobic, psychologically draining mother fucker, that’s how. Keene does not write elegant prose, stitching together poetic words that elevate literature. He spins a yarn that punches you in your stupid face, drags you through the blood and mud and holds your head up to a mirror and makes you take a long hard look at yourself.

Best Novella

TORN by Lee Thomas

Read my review of Torn HERE

Best Short Story


Cullen Bunn’s love letter to Hallowe’en struck just the right chord with me. It’s my favorite day of the year. Bunn’s too, I imagine. There’s a definite homage to Bradbury here, something the author readily admits in a post-story note to readers, but in the end, it’s Bunn doing what Bunn does best. There’s a true sense of loss and real heart in Come Again, Halloween, but there’s also a shovelful of dread that will satisfy anyone with a thirst for such things.

Best Collection


Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire’s collection of Lovecraft-inspired fiction is quite simply — brilliant. Pugmire is in his element, with delicious prose that pays homage to Lovecraft’s literary legacy, along with that of many other literary heroes, but the heart of these works is all his own. From “Gathered Dust”, his inspiringly provocative sequel to J.V. Shea’s “The Haunter in the Graveyard”, to his spot-on delivery of H.P. Lovecraft’s Richard Upton Pickman and Robert E. Howard’s Justin Geoffrey in “Depths of Dreams and Madness”, the author’s words are pure poetry, dripping from his pen with an alluring decadence and infernal eloquence, I wholeheartedly encourage the purchase of this collection by anyone and everyone who appreciates clever, unique, and atmospheric fiction that not only honors Lovecraft, but redefines it.

Best Anthology

OCCULT DETECTIVE STORIES, VOL. ONE: A CAT OF NINE TALES edited by Tracy DeVore and Thaddeus Sexton

I had a hand in this one, tackling the art chores for Rookhaven Publishing and offering up an introduction of sorts, so there’s a part of me that thought I should pass A Cat of Nine Tales over as best anthology, but the heart wants what the heart wants. This one’s so bloody good. Four classic occult detective tales, from H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Algernon Blackwood, and Aleister Crowley, are joined with fresh takes from five superb storytellers — William Meikle, Greg Mitchell, Christine Morgan, Joshua Reynolds, and Steven Shrewsbury — in this outstanding collection that does the genre proud.

Best Audio Series

EDICT ZERO-FIS by Jack Kincaid and Slipgate Nine

With a deep and rich mythology and insanely compelling characters, Edict Zero-FIS is a crowning achievement in audio serials. The production values are brilliant, with a perfect marriage of sound effects, music, panning, and voice acting that makes this something really special. Best of all, the story itself is complex, labyrinthine science fiction that blends elements of a police procedural and psychological drama. Think Fringe meets NYPD Blue on the set of Blade Runner. If you’re not listening, you bloody well should be.

Best Audio Short


My son and I gave Click-Clack the Rattlebag a listen a few days before Hallowe’en and were both equally thrilled and chilled by Neil Gaiman’s expert narration and masterful telling. Absolutely love love loved it. What a perfect seasonal treat, honoring one of my favorite causes — All Hallow’s Read.

Best Occult Detective of 2012


(The Jake Helman Files, Vol. 4 — Tortured Spirits / October 2012, Medallion Press)

Gregory Lamberson’s Jake Helman series kicks all kinds of ass. There. I said it. Personal Demons. Desperate Souls. Cosmic Forces. Tortured Spirits. And coming next year — Storm Demon. What do you need to know about Jake Helman? He’s a hard-boiled, tough as nails private investigator who so far has battled everything from demons to Lovecraftian beasties and worse. Last year, in my review of Cosmic Forces I said “Greg Lamberson is the most cinematic author writing today and The Jake Helman Files are nothing short of the most awesome movies that have not been filmed yet.” I stand by those words.

Occult Detective Classic

SPECTRE by Robert Weverka

One of my most prized possessions. My wife snagged this for me this year after I’d been searching for it since the late 70’s. Weverka’s novelization of Gene Roddenberry’s failed tv pilot is wonderfully written, capturing the spirit of the episode but adding depth to an already rich and compelling story. Occult Detective William Sebastian, a world renowned criminologist, along with his comrade in arms, Dr. Hamilton, travels to England to confront the demon Asmodeus. It really doesn’t get any better than that. The pilot is one of my favorite tv movies, and the book is more than equal to it. Hard to find, and quite costly when you do, but worth every penny.

How Cool Is That?

Posted in Archive with tags , , , , on April 13, 2012 by Occult Detective

What should you be watching tonight?

Brian Keene’s Ghoul
Chiller at 9pm

Don’t take my word for it.
Entertainment Weekly’s got it marked as
what to watch on Friday Night.

I just happen to agree.

Enter the Hexenmeister

Posted in Archive with tags , , on February 8, 2012 by Occult Detective

My take on Brian Keene’s Occult Detective Levi Stoltzfus.

Levi has appeared in the novels Ghost Walk and A Gathering of Crows,
as well as the novella The Witching Tree (Is There A Demon In You?).

Levi is slated to return in Clickers vs Zombies (co-written with
J.F. Gonzalez) and the novel Bad Ground.

I, for one, can hardly wait.

The New Voice of the Mountains

Posted in Archive with tags , , on February 1, 2012 by Occult Detective

“After reading The Witching Tree by Brian Keene, I can comfortably say that he has become the 21st Century’s answer to Manly Wade Wellman.”  — Bob Freeman via Twitter

Yep, that’s what I said, and I meant every word of it.

Manly Wade Wellman’s name is not so widely known these days, which pains me to no end. As something of an occult detective aficionado, Wellman’s tales of John Thunstone, Judge Pursuivant, and Silver John the Balladeer have always struck a chord with me, particularly Thunstone. For sixty years Wellman penned some of the best speculative fiction ever written, earning numerous awards and accolades (as well as the ire of William Faulkner after he was bested by a mere “sci-fi and horror writer” for the coveted Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine award). Talking to readers under the age of forty, I am amazed that so few of them have even heard of Wellman, let alone have read any of his work.

But you know what, those kids under forty are reading Brian Keene.

I see Keene as the literary successor to Wellman, capturing the essence and spirit of  “the Voice of the Mountains”, particularly in his novels Dark Hollow, Ghost Walk, and A Gathering of Crows, and the short story I just finished reading, The Witching Tree (starring ex-Amish Magus Levi Stoltzfus). Stoltzfus would be right at home on a page penned by Wellman and Keene infuses the character with so much warmth and gravitas that you are instantly charmed by the eccentric occult detective.

I fell in love with Levi from the moment I first read him.

I think you will too.

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