The Five Unique Voices Behind I CAN TASTE THE BLOOD

ICTTB_052616Hello, Bloodhounds, it’s John again.

Since it’s fallen to me to explain all the machinations behind this book, let me introduce my esteemed colleagues whose work is included in I CAN TASTE THE BLOOD, coming August 23rd from Grey Matter Press.


Joe is as energetic and bombastic a piece of human flesh as you’re ever likely to meet. Energy, especially the drive to write, literally bleeds out of his pores like sweat. It shows in the gritty, noirish, transgressive fiction he writes. Joe is an author who has taken Hemingway’s admonition to writers—“sit down at a typewriter and bleed”—very much to heart.

Joe’s fiction includes collections—Joe’s Black T-Shirt, The Games Men Play, The Veiled Prophet of St. Louis—and novels, A Season Without Rain and Ladies and Gentlemen: Adam Wolf and the Cook Brothers. Read them.

You might be wondering why this kind of fiction in a collection that is ostensibly horror? Well, the entire idea of this project was to show a range of fiction to readers. Yeah, we still wanted to keep it in the horror wheelhouse, but transgressive fiction is at the very least on the shadowy borders of horror. It’s just real-world kind of stuff instead of spooky goings on.


Erik and I go back a ways. We met online (not that way) having both participated in a questionable fiction collection that seemed to go nowhere. Erik contacted me, we struck up a conversation, one that’s lasted nearly ten years now. We’ve never met in person—he in NYC and me out in the hinterlands—but Erik and I have an affinity for each other’s writing.

Erik is definitely in the horror wheelhouse. He’s had fiction published to much acclaim in magazines Space & Time Magazine, Tales of the Unanticipated, Polluto, Electric Velocipede, Structo, Morpheus Tales and Shimmer; and anthologies including Chiral Mad, Chiral Mad 2, Pellucid Lunacy, The Shadow of the Unknown, Box of Delights (with me!), Dead but Dreaming 2, WTF?! and Best New Zombie Tales 3.

Erik’s work is what I’d call the second outlier in this collection. Joe’s is the first, being more slanted toward real world bad people doing bad things and meeting bad ends. Erik’s work, on the other hand, is pegged firmly all the way over on the other side of the spectrum. Reading him is like ingesting peyote, taking a bite from a magic mushroom, or uncorking a bottle in Wonderland and downing its unknown contents. Sometimes, it’s all three. Erik’s work is heady, phantasmagoric and weirdly, deeply unsettling. I’ve loved his stuff since I first read it and continue to be amazed by it. Many of his lines will stay with you.


Daniel is the youngest among us, with two novels—The Absence of Light and  Blood Kiss. Another New Yorker, he’s had shorts published in various venues, too—Grey Matter Press’ own Dark Visions Two and Ominous Realities, Darkness Ad Infinitum, Tales from the Lake Vol. 1, Handsome Devil and Queer Fish Vol. 2.

My introduction to Dan was through reading The Absence of Light. His command of language, his poetic writing and his dark, absinthe-dripping characters reminded me of Poppy Z. Brite’s work—so lush, so dark, so sybaritic, so horribly sensual. Dan’s definitely going places, and his story here extends his reach.


Josh and I started our mutual admiration society whilst trading books during the consideration phase of the Bram Stoker Awards. He traded a copy of his debut novel, Bird Box, for my novella collection, The End in All Beginnings. Each of us loved the other’s work; each of us has been publically profuse in our admiration for the other.

Josh’s Bird Box is a tremendously ballsy high-wire act of fiction. You’re all probably aware of that old horror saw that says it’s best not to show the monster in your story too much, lest it denature the beast in the eyes of the reader from too much familiarity. But eventually, at least so goes the saw, you have to show the monster.

Josh, brilliantly, chose not to show the monster. At all. In fact, not showing the monster is central to the story. And it works, counterintuitively perhaps, but it works. Josh has another novel on the way soon, and I’m sure it will expand the borders of horror just as much as his first has.


And then there was one. How do you write about yourself glowingly? Simple, my friends, possess yourself of an oversize ego. Well, not really. I’ve been doing this for twenty-five years now, and I guess I’m some sort of an overnight success…a two-and-a-half decade overnight success.

You might know me, as Troy McClure would say, from such novels as The Bell Witch and Kill/Off.   Or maybe from collections like Little Deaths or The End in All Beginnings. Or twenty-five years’ worth of shorts appearing everywhere and anywhere. I’ve had a good run lately, one that I fully expect will continue and be augmented by this volume of novellas from me and my talented friends.


Speaking of talented friends, it also falls on my shoulders to express gratitude to the other piece of the puzzle here, the fantastic team at Grey Matter Press (GMP). And by that, I mean Tony Rivera and Sharon Lawson, both Stoker-nominated editors. GMP has published, I dunno, like ten or eleven books thus far, each one a humdinger. Readers are discovering what kind of quality stories a smart, dedicated publisher can bring to market. Thanks to them for seeing the promise in I Can Taste the Blood and bringing it to readers.

At the end of all this, after the stories, each of us has provided an Afterword about his novella. Also, and I thought this would be fun, each contributor shares what the title of the story would have been had we not imposed the umbrella title on everyone. Fun to read, but wait ‘til the end!

So, that’s it. Long winded, sorry about that. The only thing left to say is that we hope you enjoy reading these stories as much as we did putting this project together. It’s really you that we do this all for.


I Can Taste the Blood is already available for pre-order from Amazon sites around the world. If you pre-order trade paperback copies before the August 23rd release date, you will receive a discount of 22% off the normal cover price of $16.99.

Pre-order your copy of I CAN TASTE THE BLOOD today for only $13.23 (USD).
(Equivalent discounts through other Amazon international sites are determined by the retailer.)

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