The Directory

Below is a listing of my books, stories and poems. Hitting the + symbol will reveal more detail and commentary about each title.

The Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB) also has a nearly complete listing of my work.

  • The Unnatural (1995)[+]
    • After many years of trying to get published on a professional level, this was going to be my swan song. And then the phone rang...Actually had a brief, mostly positive review in the New York Times Book Review. My first public reading ever was from this book, in New York City for the first time, as the warm-up act for Tom Disch. Won the Minnesota Book Award for Best Science Fiction Novel, which still puzzles me.
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  • Serial Killer Days (1996)[+]
    • My second novel was going to be a comedy about a homicidal president and a female high-school wrestler, but I couldn’t quite pull it off. In a panic I dug through my Clarion stories and found this. SKD was optioned for the movies many times over the years, and finally purchased by Paramount in 2010. The Hollywood Reporter did a story on it, which is posted in the Artifacts section of the Gallery.
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  • Second Coming Attractions (1998)[+]
    • Inspirational film companies battle for supremacy. Original title was The Fetal Detective. The publisher politely requested a change. Review copies were sent to Oral Roberts, but we never heard back.
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  • Dating Secrets of the Dead (2003)[+]
    Mini-collection, containing “Dating Secrets of the Dead”, “Carnyvore” and “The Last Horror Show” (the last two were written exclusively for this book). Also includes "Children of the Carp," a Clarion story which eventually became the novel Serial Killer Days.
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  • "The Girl of My Dreams Left Her Heart with Monsanto" (1983)[+]
    • Appeared in the poetry anthology Aliens & Lovers, edited by Millea Kenin.
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  • "The Floating Man" (1983)[+]
    • Appeared In Velocities magazine, edited by Andrew Joron. Same issue also included a Tom Disch poem. This was a cut-up poem, using a story in the old DC comic, House of Mystery.
  • "The Master Cylinder" (1983)[+]
    • Star*Line magazine. I was reading William Burroughs during this period, and playing around with cut-ups. Not sure what I used for source material on this one, though.
  • "Surrealist on the Freeway" (1983/1984)[+]
    • Can't find this one, but I believe it appeared in Star*Line magazine in 1983 or 1984.
  • "Dead Babies Can't Hear Carols" (1986)[+]
    • Owlflight magazine #5, edited by Millea Kenin. Happy holidays!
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  • "Alterations" (1981)[+]
    Owflight magazine #2. First story sale, got $50 for it (one cent a word?) Sort of a fluke. A gender-bending post-apocalypse story. Absolutely no humor at all in it. That came later. There was some pretty nice artwork done for the story--I posted it in the Artifacts section of the Gallery.
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  • "Fisherman of the Mind" (1989)[+]
    The story that got me into Clarion (I had unsuccessfully applied the previous year with a different story). I sold it to Pulphouse, but they pulled the plug on the magazine before the story appeared. I'm pretty sure I got paid for it. I remember Tom Disch critiquing the story at Clarion--he made a remark about a bologna sandwich that appears in the story. I think he believed the sandwich should have contained a higher grade of meat.
  • "Dating Secrets of the Dead" (2002)[+]
    • Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. I wrote it after part of a tooth broke off beneath an old filling. I’m falling apart, I thought. Even though I lost part of me, I realized I was still able to go about my normal daily business. What would happen if parts kept falling off? Included in the Best Fantasy of 2002 anthology (Haber and Silverberg). Also reprinted in Zombies: The Recent Dead, edited by Paula Guran.
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  • "Children of the Carp" (2003)[+]
    • A bonus feature in the Dating Secrets collection. Wrote it during the home stretch of Clarion ’89 at Michigan State University. The conclusion of the story was an event called Serial Killer Days. Don’t know why it took me so long to realize I could turn it into a novel. At one point a character gets pummeled by a plastic carp, and there was a long discussion at Clarion about whether a rubber carp would have been funnier.
  • "The Last Horror Show" (2003)[+]
    • Written exclusively for the Dating Secrets collection, really the only reason there was a collection. Semi-autobiographical novella about the death of show business, seen through the prism of midnight spook and magic shows. Nominated for an International Horror Guild award.
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  • "Carnyvore" (2003)[+]
    • Previously unpublished story included in the Dating Secrets collection. Circus freaks on a rampage after their way of life is eliminated. Think the idea came from reading a news story about how the midway at the Minnesota State Fair had been made more "family friendly."
  • "Big House on the Prairie" (2003)[+]
    • Sci Fiction. Ellen Datlow, editor. Dark, comedic fantasy about prison culture seeping into a small town in the Midwest.
  • "Rocket Fall" (2005)[+]
    • Sci Fiction. Ellen Datlow, editor. A dark, absurdist but good-natured riff on Bradbury’s "Rocket Summer."
  • "The Star System" (2006)[+]
    • Subterranean magazine #3. I wrote this one while the Serial Killer Days movie saga was playing out. Someday, grandma, you’ll be a star.
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  • "The Mask of '67" (2006)[+]
    • Salon Fantastique, Thunder's Mouth Press. Edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. Inspired by an episode of the Andy Griffith Show (one of the painfully awkward color ones), where a local girl who made it big in Hollywood returned to Mayberry for a visit. Got my best review ever--Elizabeth Hand (in F&SF) called it “one of the most memorable stories I’ve read in alone is worth the price of admission to this collection."
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  • "White Pumpkins" (2007)[+]
    • Cemetery Dance #57. A semi-mystical love story about Halloween and a strange visitor who keeps returning year after year.
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  • "Vivisepulture" (2007)[+]
    • Logorrhea, Bantam Books. Edited by John Klima. I remember being invited to submit to this book at a convention in Montreal. At that time it was scheduled to be a small-press title, so it was a nice surprise when Bantam picked it up. A weird love story about music and lost dreams and rotting corpses. Overlooked and underrated.
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  • "Show of Hands" (2007)[+]
    Subterranean Online. I started writing this nearly 7,000-word story on a Friday, wrapped it up on Sunday night and submitted it Subterranean, who accepted and paid for it on Monday. In truth, the idea had been in my notes for a long time, so it wasn’t quite as challenging as it might seem. I read something once in an old WPA guide about how farmers used to light bonfires along the tracks when the circus train came to town. The image stuck with me, and eventually evolved into this story.
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  • "The Midland Specter" (2008)[+]
    Subterranean Online. A botched alien invasion story. Dead alien keeps interrupting teevee broadcasts in a rural area, but instead of issuing warnings to the world, he just sits there and decomposes. Bridges of Madison County meets The Outer Limits.
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  • "Five Dispatches From the Third Word War" (2009)[+]
    Subterranean Online. Goofy little story about a world where words are literally used as weapons. Think I read something about World War II, and thought it said Word War II. "Old words took on new meanings. Even sunshine and lollipops could open a wound the size of your fist in a man's chest."
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  • "The Heaven and Hell of Robert Flud" (2009)[+]
    • Poe anthology, Solaris. Edited by Ellen Datlow. Stories inspired by Poe. Truthfully, my least-favorite published story. There was a headless chicken running around, and I should have given her the lead.
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  • "The Men of Summer" (2011)[+]
    • Welcome to the Greenhouse. OR Books. Edited by Gordon Van Gelder. There’s nothing funny about global warming. So I’m told.
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  • "A Pulp Called Joe" (2011)[+]
    • Subterranean Tales of Dark Fantasy 2. Great fun to write this one. A real nice workout for the imagination. I live in a small town with a paper mill, and often smell the pulp when I'm downtown. Submitted it to Subterranean Online, but fortunately Bill Schafer was putting together Dark Fantasy 2 at the time, and had a slot for the story. There’s an expanded version of this in my notes that would make a fine novel.
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  • "Vishnu Summer" (2016)[+]
    • Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Novelette in the Summer 2016 issue.