“I often write about characters who are afraid of their environments and themselves, and who want to disappear. This set of interests flies in the face of many contemporary narrative trends, which align with the mandates of social media; namely, the desire to be seen.”
At first it seems like the perfect place to quietly enjoy a secluded smoke, but three teens soon discover that their supposed safe haven is actually something downright sinister in Shelter for the Damned, the debut novel from Mike Thorn (author of the short story collection Darkest Hours). With Shelter for the Damned out now from Journalstone, we caught up with Thorn in our latest Q&A feature to discuss the journey of writing his new book, the influences that inspired him along the way, and his upcoming releases that readers can look forward to from Journalstone.
“The Pulse Pounders Thriller Bundle, curated by Kevin J. Anderson:
Take a breath and hold on. I’ve curated a new “Pulse Pounders” StoryBundle, 14 action-packed books, guaranteed to put you on the edge of your reading chair. Thrillers, suspense, action, dark fantasy, adventure—the common denominator is that they are all page turners—all for as little as $15. Name your own price, and the proceeds go to support indie authors and publishers, and a portion goes to support the Challenger Learning Centers.”
Geez, it’s been a while since we got spooky on the show, hasn’t it? High time we brought back Mike Thorn to talk about how Wes Craven fused meta storytelling and horror in two franchises: A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream. We’ll permeate the membranes of reality, disassemble Craven’s views on horror’s social and political value, and laugh about how Matthew Lillard yells “BOO-GAH” when he imitates a gunshot.
“The writing was excellent – the author fits multiple layers to the story while making Mark a sympathetic character, despite being the weird and aggressive kid in class. I couldn’t wait to find out where the story was heading and was satisfied with the ending.”
With the 2019 release of Inside the Castle, Josiah Morgan announced himself as a transgressive and exciting new voice, and Circles is further evidence. A freewheeling blur of poetry, film criticism, and visual art, Morgan’s latest work urges its readers to question what defines a text, and even what it means to read. Morgan pursues these complex problems through the attentive and varied use of typography, offering a mixture of blank-verse, concrete poetry, and essay fragments that gesture to the book’s title shape and its implications of auto-cannibalism and endlessness.
The content is as fascinating and rebellious as the form. Morgan draws on disparate media, religious references, and allusions both coded and explicit (I was particularly pleased to see one of my favorite lines from Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art,” and a reading of the vegan ethos in Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre). The author lays bare his frame of references in an appendix labeled ASSISTANCE [IN RESEARCH AND ERASURE], and his array of sources is fascinating and unique.
The result is not nearly as daunting or unapproachable as it might sound. In fact, I easily devoured the book in one quick sitting. Morgan’s work is energizing, animated by a vital and authentic voice, threaded with both coldly ironic observation and real despair. The author engages in some hilarious interplay between artificial designations of “high” and “low” art. Consider, for example, a prose-poem near the end of the book that describes a speaker masturbating to urolagniac fantasies of shock-punk icon GG Allin before reading Verlaine, Rimbaud, and Plath.
Much like Morgan’s excellent Inside the Castle, Circles is a powerful testament to this brilliant young writer’s talent. Keep your eyes on him.