Archive for Neil Gaiman

Happy Birthday, Neil Gaiman

Posted in Writing with tags on November 10, 2017 by Occult Detective


Happy Birthday, Neil Gaiman, born November 10, 1960.

I’ve always found Neil Gaiman quite quotable. He has a distinct and enviable way of stringing words together that invoke a sense of whimsical gravitas. One of my favorite quotes, of which there are many, is this —

Tales and adventures are the shadow truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes and forgotten.

I have always been something of a pulp writer with literary aspirations. Gaiman, on the other-hand, writes from a different perch, where myth and fantasy meet reality. He lets you peek behind the curtain, to see the cosmic machinations where the surreal collides with the mundane. He, in a phrase, weaves magic, and admirably so.

If you’ve not read him, you should. If you have, then you should revisit an old friend. I mean, it is his birthday after all…


“Keep Writing.” — @neilhimself

Posted in Writing with tags on July 8, 2015 by Occult Detective


The Spirit of Hallowe’en

Posted in Archive with tags , , on October 29, 2013 by Occult Detective


Last night, while I was out of town for something of a clandestine writers meeting, my ten year old son regaled his similarly aged cousins with a Hallowe’en poem he wrote for the occasion. Needless to say, I couldn’t be more proud. And you know what, I think Neil Gaiman would be too. It is what All Hallow’s Read is all about — the sharing of stories.

allhallowsread2Connor is a naturally gifted storyteller. That he put so much thought into this and shared his gift with others at this time of year warms my heart. He has a bright (and dark) future ahead of him.

allhallowsreadSo, my friends, take this as a challenge. It is All Hallow’s Eve after all. Share your scary stories with your loved ones. Buy scary books and give them as gifts or write something dark and wondrous of your own… but share these stories. It plays to the very Spirit of Hallowe’en.

There’s just two days till Hallowe’en… Let’s make this year’s All Hallow’s Read something special.

Connor already has.

My Review of The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Posted in Archive with tags , on June 27, 2013 by Occult Detective

oceanI imagine this must have been a painful one for Neil Gaiman. There’s blood all over these pages. And truth be told, reading Ocean opened up a vein of my own. I am, after all, the same age as Ocean’s unnamed narrator and I’ll be the first to admit my feeling an instant kinship, not only with the forty-seven year old artist who pays a visit to his childhood home, but even more so with his seven year old self, duly resurrected through fractured memories.

This one, more than once, broke my heart, mainly because it had already been broken long ago and had never quite truly healed. Gaiman brings up all that long buried pain in this supernatural fable that is as fine a work as he’s ever produced. And that’s saying a lot.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is poignant and fantastic and brilliant and elegant and downright frightening. But for all its mythological cosmology, at its heart is a tender and painful remembrance of innocence lost and of childhood’s brutal sting.

But, by the gods, Ocean is majestic, in the purest sense of the word, and it’s got unbelievable heart.

There will be tears shed, I suspect, by many.

This is a book to be shared, to be treasured, to be revisited.

I could go on and on, but there’s a creek outside of Converse I need to visit where my own Lettie waits, and maybe, just maybe, she’s ready to come back to me, if only for a little while.

Magick Words

Posted in Archive with tags , , on May 24, 2013 by Occult Detective



Today on twitter I posted — “lot of talk about branding, courting readers, chasing trends — it’s really not so difficult — write what YOU want to read & just be yourself”. That’s the single most important writerly advice I could ever give someone who wants to hang a shingle outside their door that reads “storyteller”.

Of course, that’s some weighty stuff. To “just be yourself”, you have to know who you are. And by that I mean who you really are, and that’s not an easy task. It requires a lot of soul searching, a lot of deconstruction. Few people have the courage to peel back the layers and get down to the truth of it. There’s a very good reason why this is the very center of what magick is all about. And don’t kid yourself. Writing is magick. As Alan Moore so famously stated, “The very language about magic seems to be talking as much about writing or art as it is about supernatural events.”

So write from your heart. Write what you love and feel and want to express. Be true to yourself, but don’t be afraid to be the real you — the larger than life you. You only live once (give or take) so live to your fullest and be and write and tear down the pillars of heaven.

Neil Gaiman said, “Make Good Art!” I couldn’t agree more, but why not take it all the way — good, bad, or ugly — Let’s make some bloody magick!

Thought for the Day — Neil Gaiman

Posted in Archive with tags on May 16, 2013 by Occult Detective


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.

Read or Bleed – A New Tradition for Hallowe’en

Posted in Archive with tags , on October 3, 2012 by Occult Detective

If these walls could talk, they would recite a Neil Gaiman story.

And this is Neil’s library. I dare say, it rivals my own…
but just by a smidgen.

Anyway, to the point.

Hallowe’en is fast approaching and Neil has spearheaded a new tradition for everyone’s favorite holiday: All Hallow’s Read. You’ve heard me champion it before and I will continue to do so. It’s so brilliantly marvelous and simple, sublime and infectious. Want to take part? Not sure how? Here were Mr. Gaiman’s initial thoughts on the subject, as posted on his LiveJournal back in 2010:


I propose that, on Hallowe’en or during the week of Hallowe’en, we give each other scary books. Give children scary books they’ll like and can handle. Give adults scary books they’ll enjoy.
I propose that stories by authors like John Bellairs and Stephen King and Arthur Machen and Ramsey Campbell and M R James and Lisa Tuttle and Peter Straub and Daphne Du Maurier and Clive Barker and a hundred hundred others change hands — new books or old or second-hand, beloved books or unknown. Give someone a scary book for Hallowe’en. Make their flesh creep…
Give a scary book.
If you don’t know what kinds of books there are, or what would be appropriate for the person you’re giving a book to, talk to a bookseller. They love to help, most of them. (The ones that don’t tend not to be booksellers for long.) Talk to librarians. (Do not plan to give away their books though, unless they are having a library sale.)
That’s it. That’s my idea.
Scary book. Hallowe’en.
Who’s with me?
I sure as hell am. How about you?

All Hallows Read

Posted in Archive with tags , on October 24, 2011 by Occult Detective

Now Entering Historical Cairo

Posted in Archive with tags , , on May 15, 2011 by Occult Detective

“In the late afternoon the sun began to lower, gilding the world in elf-light, a thick warm custardy light that made the world feel unearthly and more than real, and it was in this light that Shadow passed the sign telling him he was Now Entering Historical Cairo.”

Neil Gaiman, American Gods

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