“U of C alumni releases first horror short-story collection”: Interview in the Gauntlet


“Looking for stories to send chills down your spine? There’s no need to wait for the next blockbuster horror flick or nostalgia-based Netflix series. U of C master of arts alumni Mike Thorn is releasing his debut fiction collection, Darkest Hours, through Unnerving on Nov. 21. The collection consists of eight previously published and eight never-before published short stories that all fit somewhere within the vast realm of horror fiction.

The collection, which was written over the past two years, ranges in style ‘from satirical to brutal horrifying realist fiction, to more supernatural horror,’ according to Thorn. Darkest Hours has already received substantial praise from notable horror writers such as S.P. Miskowski and Robert Dunbar.”

Read the full interview on The Gauntlet’s website.

Calgary Readings & Book Launches: December 1 and 6, 2017

Darkest Hours

Two Calgary book launches/readings have been announced for Darkest Hours in collaboration with Bill Bunn (author of the upcoming YA novel Out on the Drink) and Randy Schroeder (author of a forthcoming novel, title unannounced). 

The first, “What the Writers Say: Fiction Edition,” will take place at the Mount Royal University bookstore on Friday, December 2 at 2 PM.

The second, “IGWIG Triple Reading and Book Launch,” is set to be at Owls Nest Books on Wednesday, December 6 at 7 PM.

Bill Bunn is an associate professor in the Department of English, Languages, and Cultures at Mount Royal University. He is the author of four–soon to be five–books, and many essays and articles. His next young adult novel, Out on the Drink, will be out in December of 2017. He’s published two other young adult novels: Kill Shot in 2015, and Duck Boy in 2012. His published essays were collected and published as Hymns of Home in 2013. In 2003, he published Moon Canoe, a children’s picture book. Moon Canoe was translated into French, and released as Canoë Lune, in 2005. When he’s not writing, Bill makes sausages, plays guitar, and wanders the hills of Millarville. He is a founding member of the Intensive Genre Writing Inquiry Group; he currently serves as the group’s first Superintendent.

Randy Schroeder is an associate professor in the Department of English, Languages, and Cultures at Mount Royal University. He is the author of one book of fiction, one co-edited anthology, many short stories, a few bits of poetry, and a moderate but curiously indeterminate number of scholarly articles. His new novel will be published in Fall of 2019 by NeWest Press. It has no title yet, but he can tell you that it concerns three aging punk musicians, a tour into the Canadian Arctic, a renegade CSIS agent, and a demonic snowman who may or may not be a hallucination. Randy is a founding member of the Intensive Genre Writing Inquiry Group. He splits his time between Calgary and The Porcupine Hills, where he frequently visits his coauthor and arch-enemy, A.M. Arruin.

Thorn’s Thoughts: Ugly Little Things by Todd Keisling

For the most part, the stories in Todd Keisling’s Ugly Little Things occupy the space and language of middle-class Somewhere, USA (sci-fi “The Darkness Between Dead Stars” excepted). Keisling’s narration often reads very much like the voices of his characters; these stories are as much about the routine and the quotidian as they are about their eventual diversions into terror.

Read the full review in “Thorn’s Thoughts,” a book review column on Unnerving Magazine‘s website.

Darkest Hours Available for Pre-Order in eBook Format

Darkest Hours by [Thorn, Mike]

Darkest Hours is now available for pre-order in eBook format. Click here to get your copy. Official release date for paperback and eBook: November 21, 2017.

Early Accolades
“In these sharply compelling stories Mike Thorn intertwines the bizarre and the quotidian to form seamless chronicles of personal disaster. The protagonist may not know the precise nature of the catastrophe heading his way, but you get the feeling he’s been anticipating something bad—and inexorable—for a long time. This rueful wisdom, a product of youthful disappointment and early trauma, informs each tale as it winds its way toward a natural yet surprising conclusion. The element of surprise is a tribute to Thorn’s ingenuity; the assuredness of his prose is due to his extensive knowledge of the horror genre. Perfectly paced from the first sentence, these stories grab you by the collar with the urgency of mortal danger. Highly recommended.”
— S.P. Miskowski, author of Strange is the Night

“Everyone has their own mythology. Most people, however, don’t recognize it as such. Mike Thorn gets it. His fiction seems to blur distinctions between horror and noir, between science fiction and fantasy. Between dream and reality. They’re all here. Demons. Monsters. Big ones, little ones. (Sometimes the things done to them are worse than the things they do.) When you first encounter Thorn’s writing, a number of qualities impress themselves: the macabre intelligence (brutal really), the chilling wit, the naturalness of the dialogue. Plus there’s the skill and style of the prose. It may all play out like a nightmare, but a terrible logic remains inherent. His characters make bad choices, and it’s those decisions that bring on calamity. At once, the reader recognizes this. Mike Thorn is inescapable, and he understands that most terrifying variety of monsters, the hidden ones, the inner ones. They’re on display here. Savor the experience.”
— Robert Dunbar, author of The Pines and Willy

Darkest Hours is for readers wishing to take a thrilling walk on the dark side. Mike Thorn has delivered a promising debut with this collection showing off his commitment to stories of nuance, heart, and of course… darkness.”
— Daniel Braum, author of The Night Marchers and Other Strange Tales

“I’ve long been a fan of authors who can create a style and allow it to be as important as the story itself. Mike Thorn is a prime example of an author who builds off the baseline mechanics of prose on his own terms, and in the process writes witty and honest, dark literary stories, as is the case with Darkest Hours. Mike Thorn’s debut story collection is not to be missed by those who enjoy an academic intellect with a potent flair for fiction.”
— Dustin LaValley, author of A Soundless Dawn

“Fast, fun and full of fear, Darkest Hours turns on a dime from a laugh to a scream. Terrifying and sly, Mike Thorn writes with refreshing originality and hides fangs behind a smile.”
— John C. Foster, author of Mister White

Devious Dialogues: Mike Thorn and A.M. Novak on the Child’s Play Franchise

From the 1988 release of director Tom Holland’s Child’s Play to Don Mancini’s 2017 film Cult of Chucky, the horror genre’s most famously devilish doll has lived a long and varied life. With their latest Devious Dialogues piece, Mike Thorn and A.M. (Anya) Novak look back at the series entries and provide their thoughts on the newest addition.

Anya: What’s the horror appeal with dolls? Everything from Annabelle (2014) to Puppetmaster (1989) to Dead Silence (2007) has been focused on creepy toy dolls with nasty intentions. Movies like Child’s Play (1988) seem to tap into a subconscious trauma in our collective psyche. Do you personally find dolls like Chucky to be unsettling?

Mike: Ooh, good question! Fundamentally, I think creepy dolls work on the fear of animating the inanimate, which upends our understanding of natural laws. They also tap into horror’s almost ubiquitous dealings with the uncanny (which, to grossly oversimplify, describes the familiar rendered strange); living dolls play on this idea in a number of ways, because they are vaguely human in appearance but assumed to lack human characteristics (most specifically, consciousness). There’s also the subversive idea of perverting or defiling the innocent — these kinds of horror movies work on our assumption that children’s toys should provide comfort and joy. These baseline fears are reconfigured in different ways by different films. I think the Chucky series is well-aware of all of these underlying anxieties, but it uses the possessed doll motif to various narrative and tension-building ends in all of its entries.

Read the full article in Vague Visages.