Archive for the ‘Weird West’ Category

I’m beyond excited to reveal the cover of MELINDA WEST: MONSTER GUNSLINGER, coming in February 2023 from Brigids Gate Press. I have always been a fan of UK-based Carrion House’s artwork, so I was thrilled to see how Luke would interpret the vibe and story (check out more of his amazing artwork here). Aside from the compelling, creepy imagery, the intriguing font also immediately drew me in. Needless to say, I couldn’t have imagined a better cover for this story!

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Happy September! I hope the pumpkin spice is flowing freely and apple picking is plentiful. Read on for recent updates!

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Surreal western book cover.

My Weird Western story, “Old Habits,” is now available in Queer Weird West Tales (QWWT)! Edited by Julie Bozza, the anthology is a diverse collection of international Weird West adventures.

“Old Habits” description

To save her girlfriend from a monster’s infectious venom, Topaz must confront her tumultuous past and ask the last person in the world she wants to see for help—her ex.

Topaz is a side character in my upcoming novel MELINDA WEST: MONSTER GUNSLINGER. She was so dynamic and intriguing, she practically demanded a spotlight in her own story. This tale focuses on Topaz’s adventures after the novel, expanding on her newfound love as she faces a reckoning with her past.

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With the end of summer comes a rush of news. Here’s a few updates!

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It’s been a busy summer, with lots of updates. Let’s dive in!

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I am thrilled to announce my first book deal!

MELINDA WEST: MONSTER GUNSLINGER will be coming out in February 2023 from Brigids Gate Press.

The book is an adult “Weird Western” adventure featuring gunslingers, diverse characters and a menagerie of nightmarish monsters, with Bonnie & Clyde + Witcher + Supernatural vibes.

Original pitch: When monsters roam the Old West, there is one gunslinging couple who can tilt the odds in favor of humanity. Stoic sharpshooter Melinda and her easygoing partner Lance are pros at fighting everything from giant flying scorpions to psychic bugs. But when they accidentally release a demon that steals souls, they find themselves caught in a supernatural war. Melinda and Lance must battle a menagerie of monsters and hunt a notorious outlaw to save their friends and stop hell on Earth. 

Melinda and Lance are two characters I have featured in several published short stories and I am ecstatic that they will star in their own book soon. Aside from creating a fun, escapist horror adventure, my goal for this speculative world is to reframe some of the typical depictions of the Old West and build a world where women and diverse characters take center stage.

If this sounds like your cup of tea, sign up here for updates. Pre-orders will start in the fall.

Mood board for MELINDA WEST: MONSTER GUNSLINGER

I am so grateful to my family for providing early feedback and to my HWA colleagues and fellow writing colleagues for their support. The road to publishing can be a lonely one, paved with a billion or so rejections, so their guidance and encouragement is invaluable. 

Thank you for reading, and stay tuned!

Six Guns Straight From Hell 3 cover.

Six Guns Straight From Hell 3: Horror & Dark Fantasy From the Weird Weird West is now available and debuts my zombie story, “Death’s Horse.” The collection is edited by David B. Riley and J.A. Campbell, with a cover illustration by M. Wayne Miller. The Weird West is one of my favorite subgenres for a variety of reasons (you can read why in an article I wrote for Aurealis Magazine, more details here). “Death’s Horse” features the plight of gunslinging, monster-hunting Melinda Putman, first introduced in “Dusty Arrival,” cover story for Andromeda Spaceways Magazine in 2018. Weird West stories in this collection include tales by David Boop, C.W. Blackwell, Kristal Stittle and many others.

Description from the publisher:

Saddle up for a wild ride through the weird, weird west. As you ride our trails you’ll want to keep one eye on the path ahead and one over your shoulder cause there’s a bushwhacking monster creeping up behind you. If your horse gets eaten by a monster, you might be able to get a ride on the midnight train, as long as you don’t mind sitting with ghosts. If you don’t catch the train, maybe the devil can give you a lift back to town. Just be careful which place you head for, because the folks in one town are about to die. Staying on ranches ain’t much safer, especially at one girl’s birthday party. Then again, even going to outhouses can be deadly. If you happen to visit the local brothel, be sure and treat the ladies right or you’ll pay dearly. And Tombstone is no place to get your picture taken if you want to keep your skin.

Excerpt from “Death’s Horse”

Death rode in on a horse made of wood and bones, its joints screeching with every pound of its hooves against the sand. Death, otherwise known as Elliot Red-Eye Carson, raised his rifle, the sun a smudged glow behind him like someone had burned the sky with the end of a rolled cigarette.

“Found you.” Carson leveled the rifle at Melinda’s forehead. He wore a hat the color of day-old puke, with rags to match. He and the horse smelled of sewage, rot and all manners of decay.

“You look a little different, El.” Melinda eased her finger off the trigger of her six shooter and set it gently down. Beneath the wide-brimmed hat and duster she wore year round, her skin dripped from the heat. Even at sundown, the desert was hotter than the hubs of hell this time of year.

“Quit stalling.” Carson yanked his monster closer and Melinda wondered, as she had plenty of times before, if this would be the day she died. “Give me what’s mine.” 

Read more in Six Guns Straight From Hell 3. The book is available from Mysterious Galaxy bookstore or other independent booksellers, as well as on Amazon.

I’m pleased to share a fun print interview that Nico Bell, fellow horror author, conducted via email. In this Q&A, I reveal why the Weird West is one of my favorite subgenres, what I’m reading, and why my browser history would raise a few eyebrows. I also talk a bit about my current writing projects, including THE FINAL HOUR, a fantasy novella inspired by The Labyrinth; DARK TRAILS, a fun supernatural western; and two weird science stories.

Check out the other Spotlight Author feature for interviews with tons of horror writers, and my Q&A, here: http://nicobellfiction.com/featured-authors-meet-new-writers/2020/4/24/speculative-fiction-cosmic-horror-and-weird-western-author-kc-grifant-interview

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My nonfiction essay titled “What’s Next for the Weird West” is available in Aurealis Magazine’s last issue of the year, along with excellent speculative stories, essays and reviews.

This essay explores one of my increasingly favorite areas of fiction. I cover some of the crossover aspects of weird west fiction along with new and must-read books, and why the time is ripe for a resurgence in this fun genre.

Editor Dirk Strasser writes about this issue of the award-winning Australia-based monthly SF/F magazine:

We always like to go out with a bang in the last issue for the year and Aurealis #126 is no exception. In this bumper issue we feature ‘Marked for Life’, J.R. Schuyler’s powerful tale of blood magic, snowbeasts and transformation, Stephen Higgin’s quirky and enigmatic ‘Cradle’, and the dark science fiction of Eric Del Carlo’s gender and identity exploration story ‘Flesh of the Other.’

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Excerpt from “What’s Next for the Weird West” is below:

“Howdy, partner.”

A figure silhouetted in a hat and dusty jacket bursts into a bar. Poker players and prostitutes scramble as the loner saunters in, steely eyes prepping for a showdown.

The scene is all too familiar in Wild West stories, which usually incorporate iconic characters ranging from outlaws, gunslingers and law-keepers. On the frontier, where one must keep their wits about them and where anything goes, the stoic cowboy hero archetype helped set the foundation for some of today’s superheroes and modern American fiction. But the Weird West genre offers a fresh take on the iconic—and often overused—imagery and caricatures of the Wild West.

The Weird West genre—where Wild West elements mash with other genres ranging from horror, scifi and fantasy—has been around as long as the Wild West itself though never fully in the limelight. Something about the unknown wilderness invites more speculative wanderings; infusions of werewolves, demons, ghosts, aliens, magic and otherworldly elements seem right at home amidst wild mountains, endless desert and a vast, unforgiving landscape.

Issue #126 also finishes with reviewers’ picks of the best speculative fiction in 2019. 

To read the full essay and other pieces in this issue, visit here.

ASM_70 Cover

I am delighted to see that my story, “A Dusty Arrival,” inspired the cover art for issue 70 of the award-winning Australian publication, Andromeda Spaceways Magazine, edited by the talented Eugen M. Bacon. The story features a gunslinging couple intent on ridding the Wild West from an invasion of mysterious, mind-altering gremlins.

Excerpt:

A telltale glow that had nothing to do with the sunset bathed the western mountain gorge in unnatural shades of lavender. Melinda didn’t look directly at it from their vantage point on a foothill at the edge of town. The colour made her uneasy, as if it shouldn’t exist in this world. No one knew where the gremlins came from or what they wanted, just that the bizarre light always heralded their arrival.

As an author, it is such a treat to see your words brought to life in a different medium. In the case, artist Roan Carter really did the characters and setting justice.

This action-packed issue is described as follows:

Welcome aboard, voyagers. Sit back, fasten your seat belts, your odyssey awaits. This issue of ASM catapults you to a horde of ghost stories, satanic verses, time travel with dead musos and fairy tales with a twist. Yes, there are AI babies frolicking in their cots, as other tots drift fatherless in starlight. Is that a human host to Alludian larvae? Sci fi, fantasy and horror: we’ve got it all. Here you will find silvery pools bounded by galaxies, ornate havens to gaze out at the stars. Oh, see luminescent gremlins haunt the western mountain gorge, hear their hissing and ear-splitting howls. As the warm night sweeps over the black seas, a small glow emanates from the water, ushering a whole bunch of floating dead crew, mouths open and wide unblinking eyes. You fall back in terror and, just then, a timberthrall claws its way up, already bloodied from a feed, now driven by your screams. Calm down, look: here’s a shrewd poem. A discerning Writers Unearthed interview. A sobering book review. Get refreshments aboard the spacecraft, before facing off with the last monster you shall slay. That’s right, thrust with us to the Otherworld!

Issue 70 can be purchased here.