now available: The Summer of Blind Joe Death, a coming of age novelette


My chilling coming of age novelette is now available as a standalone e-book:

Wade and his best friend Red Collins have only lived eleven summers, but the one they’ll remember for the rest of their lives is when Blind Joe Death visited their holler, spinning tales of deadly haints and black dogs that steal souls in the night.

Wade lost his father in the mines, and Red wishes his were dead. When the boys invite this strange hoodoo man into their lives they learn that the real monsters walk on two feet and sit beside us in church, and there is no darkness colder than what lurks within the human heart.

Inspired by the “Silver John” stories of Manly Wade Wellman and the music of John Fahey, this story set in the hollows of Appalachia is one of my favorites. I’m offering it for only 99 cents, because it’s a story I would love to be read far and wide.

It’s available now for Kindle and iBooks; it will take a few days for the rest to percolate through the ether. I’ll update the links here as they become available. If you don’t do e-books, this 35 page novelette first appeared in Protectors: Stories to Benefit PROTECT, as “Black Shuck,” and you can buy the paperback here.

Amazon Kindle

Barnes & Noble Nook

Apple iBooks

Kobo Bookstore



Manly Wade Wellman

manly wade wellman

One of the lesser-known giants of the golden age of pulp is Manly Wade Wellman. He is best known for the “Silver John” tales of a folk singer with a pure heart and a silver-strung guitar who wanders the hills and hollers of Appalachia seeking “the old music,” who often runs into evil magics and “the old ones” instead.

The Silver John tales evoke the purely weird through an American folk lens, where creatures of the age before mankind leave their footprints through the hollers and hoodoo men hold sway. John has only his wits, his silver-stringed guitar and his powerful faith in good to wage battle with evil. The tales are laced with subtle humor and Wellman masterfully describes a character or a place with few sharp words, bringing you into his fantastic realm where the world may have waged two wars and split the atom, but somewhere in the mountains there still lurk creatures we cannot begin to comprehend.

There were a few movies based on them as well, but none seem to have captured the magic. Wellman’s fiction was a huge influence on my long short story “Black Shuck” in Protectors: Stories to Benefit PROTECT.

who fears the devil

Manly Wade Wellman was an American original, a stunning fabulist who painted haunted murals of the Appalachian mountains using the language of the people who live there as his handmade oils and brush. His books are mostly out of print, but Baen has graciously included a collection of Silver John stories in their free electronic library:

John the Balladeer

I highly recommend the entire collection, but especially  “O Ugly Bird,” “The Desrick on Yandro,” and “Nine Yards of Other Cloth.” They are set after the second World War, but feel timeless and ancient, like the mountains themselves. He wrote several novels starring Silver John, such as The Old Gods Waken, and I purchased some on eBay. My local used bookstore didn’t have any. I look forward to seeing what John does with some room to stretch his legs in a story.

john the balladeer