Friends! Good news. Now that the contract is signed, I’m happy to say that I have sold my second novel (3rd written) to acclaimed editor Don D’Auria at his new publishing imprint, Flame Tree Press. It’s been a long and winding road between books (a story I’ll soon tell), but I’m happy where it wound up.
The book’s title is a secret for now, though it is due out early next year in all formats. Here are a couple of snippets from two terrific authors who got an early look.
“…a tour-de-force of psychological suspense and terror. It scared the hell out of me.”
–Lisa Mannetti, Bram Stoker Award winner and Shirley Jackson Award finalist, author of THE BOX JUMPER
“Open this book carefully. It might be the last thing you do.”
–Stephanie M. Wytovich, author of The Eighth.
The podcast was hosted by author, Todd Keisling, who is one of Crystal Lake Publishing’s rising stars and, along with me, featured the following guests:
Doug Murano, editor of Behold! and other critically acclaimed anthologies, including Shadows Over Mainstream Vol. 1 & 2, and Gutted Beautiful Horror Stories, which was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award last year for best anthology.
Author Erinn L. Kemper who lives on the Caribbean coast in Costa Rica where she writes, runs with her dog on the beach, and drinks ridiculous amounts of coffee, at least until happy hour. Erinn has sold stories to Cemetery Dance magazine, Dark Discoveries and Black Static, and appears in various anthologies including You, Human, Shadows Over Main Street Volume 2, and Chiral Mad 3. Visit her website at erinnkemper.com for updates and sloth sightings.
And author Richard Thomas, who is the award-winning author of seven books—Disintegration and Breaker (Random House Alibi), Transubstantiate, Staring Into the Abyss, Herniated Roots, Tribulations, and The Soul Standard (Dzanc Books). His over 100 stories in print include Cemetery Dance, PANK, storySouth, Gargoyle, Weird Fiction Review, Midwestern Gothic, Arcadia, Qualia Nous, Chiral Mad 2 and 3, and Shivers VI. He is also the editor of four anthologies: The New Black and the Shirley Jackson-nominated Exigencies (Dark House Press), The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers (Black Lawrence Press) and the Bram Stoker Award®-nominated Burnt Tongues (Medallion Press) with Chuck Palahniuk. In his spare time he writes for LitReactor and is editor-in-chief at Gamut Magazine. For more information visit www.whatdoesnotkillme.com.
This was my second time being a guest on this podcast. The first time was to talk about my contribution in Gutted Beautiful Horror Stories, and that episode can be viewed HERE.
Not only does this anthology contain my latest story, “Wildflower, Cactus, Rose,” it features fiction from some of the most exciting contemporary authors, including Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell, Lisa Morton, Lucy A. Snyder, and more, with a forward by Josh Malerman.
Thanks, I’m excited about this one. I hope you’ll check it out.
The artwork for my upcoming story “Wildflower, Cactus, Rose” was released yesterday, and it is stunning. It captures the defiant attitude of the mother in the story, who is working to establish a new self identity after a botched surgery leaves her disfigured.
Many thanks to Luke Spooner at Carrion House for creating such a striking work of art. The story will appear in Behold: Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders, which includes stories by Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, Ramsey Campbell, Lucy A. Snyder, John F.D. Taff, Richard Thomas, Patrick Freivald, Kristi Demeester, Erinn Kemper, and more, including a forward by Josh Malerman. Look for the book’s release on July 28.
I read a lot of horror fiction, but the scariest book I’ve read is a work of non-fiction titled, The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat. This book relates several rare psychiatric cases, including cases of extreme amnesia where individuals have lost all ties to the past and live in a perpetual state of the present, uncertain of who they are or their place in a confusing world that lacks context.
Goddamn that gives me goosebumps. The thought of waking to a state of consciousness that lacks identity, recognizes nothing, and has no idea where it is or what it’s supposed to be doing. As Desirina puts it in her novella, “To live in this nightmare without a story would be too much to bear.”
The fine folks at Crystal Lake Publishing were kind enough to conduct this in-depth interview with me, where we cover everything from my prior con artist step-father (whom I hope is now doing well) to my aspirations as an author.
The anthology, edited by Doug Murano, is scheduled to be released through Crystal Lake Publishing on July 24, 2017. While the table-of-contents is still underway, some major names have already been announced, including: Ramsey Campbell, Clive Barker, John F.D. Taff, Kristi DeMeester, Erinn Kemper, and Patrick Freivald. I’ll update as new authors are added.
My story “Wildflower, Cactus, Rose,” is a quirky, and thought-provoking, tale featuring extreme surgery, weaponized beauty, and how self-image shapes the world we see. I can’t wait for its release.
This story has received quite a bit of praise from industry critics and readers alike, several calling it the strongest in a collection that includes some of my literary idols, such as Neil Gaiman and Clive Barker. Following are some of the things critics have said.
Story Illustration by Luke Spooner
“‘Picking Splinters From A Sex Slave’, pulled me/led me/dared me back to the wave of fear and awe and wonder I had upon my initial encounter with words so perfectly placed as to seem alive and moving across the page. In Kirk’s scant few pages of prose, I placed the book down at least four times: to recover, to reflect, to feel. To get it.” -Unofficial Alan Moore
“Picking Splinters from a Sex Slave by Brian Kirk really sets the tone for this collection. It’s one of the darkest, saddest stories I have ever read, with the father’s inappropriate humor putting a perfect edge on the drama.” -Beauty In Ruins
“Which leads into what I think is the best story in the book: Brian Kirk’s “Picking Splinters From a Sex Slave”. A story that illustrates what lengths a person might go to to accommodate a loved one, in exquisite detail. The actual tableau is revolting, but the internal logic is inescapable. The tone is perfect.” -Retrograde A
“One of the strongest stories in the collection, “Picking Splinters from a Sex Slave” by Brian Kirk. Kirk’s portrayal of a father desperate to help his daughter is at once alarming and moving, leaving you with a lingering disquiet.” -Eden Royce
“Brian Kirk’s “Picking Splinters from A Sex Slave” kicked me upside the head, leaving me truly considering the lengths I would travel to help my own daughter.” -Bleeding Cool
While making the recommended reading list does not ensure an eventual nomination for the Bram Stoker Award®, it’s still an honor, and I’m grateful to know that this story has made such an impact on readers.
My reading habits are all over the place. I’ll read modern lit, eastern religion, psychological horror, and old westerns in the same month. Mix them up in my psyche like some mystical stew.
Rarely do I read books the year in which they’re released, so my “Best of the Year” lists are misleading. I do, however, enjoy sharing the books that I found particularly enjoyable in a given year, even if some of the titles have been around for decades or more. I’ve missed them up until now, so maybe someone else has as well.
With that said, following are my ten favorite reads from 2016, listed in alphabetical order. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.