Death’s Garden contributor: Robert Holt

I “met” horror author Robert Holt through my blog at when he submitted a sweet, funny, romantic essay about his first date — that happened to take place in a cemetery.

I’m excited to reprint the story in Death’s Garden Revisited.

Robert Holt lives in St. Louis with his wife and daughter. He writes horror novels and stories. Follow him on Twitter at @HoltHorror.

What’s your favorite thing to do in a cemetery?

I am a hiker. I love to have cemeteries be the destination or a stop on a long hike. If it is a secluded cemetery nestled into the woods, forgotten by time and overgrown, all the better.

Tell me about your favorite cemetery.

The cemetery in my story is among my favorites. There’s a few others I love on hiking trails I venture on. They no longer have names. The dirt roads that once went to them have long been engulfed by honeysuckle and fallen timber. The stones are unreadable and cracked. They are lovely places to stop, wipe the sweat away, and listen to the wind whisper through the trees.

Is there a cemetery or gravesite you’ve always wanted to visit?

The grave of Edgar Allen Poe. I want to see if I hear the heart beating and the cat crying.

What would your epitaph be?

I don’t know. Probably something that would comfort my wife and daughter.

Do you have a favorite song about cemeteries or graveyards?

“The Green Fields of France” by the Dropkick Murphys.

Loren again: The contributors to Death’s Garden Revisited put together a playlist of their favorite cemetery songs. You can check it out on Spotify:

You can treat yourself to a copy of Death’s Garden Revisited:

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Death’s Garden contributor: Christine Sutton

Christine Sutton is one of the remarkable women I’ve met through the Ladies of Horror group on Facebook. For Death’s Garden Revisited, she wrote a wonderful essay about her visit to the St. Louis No. 1 Cemetery in New Orleans — and her interaction there with someone who might not have been of this world.

Officially, Christine Sutton is the author of multiple novellas and short stories ranging from ghosts to zombies to serial killers. She fulfilled her wish of visiting New Orleans a few years ago and found the beautiful St. Louis Cemetery. As you’ll see in the book, a piece of that beautiful place came home with her.

What’s your favorite thing to do in a cemetery?

Just walk amongst the history and soak it all in.

Tell me about your favorite cemetery.

Well, St. Louis is beautiful, but here in California I am surrounded by so many historic cemeteries. Gold miner cemeteries and indigenous/tribal burial grounds are all around me. It would be impossible to pick a favorite.

Is there a cemetery or gravesite you’ve always wanted to visit?

I would actually love to visit the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in LA.

If you have any say in the matter, what would your epitaph be?

She lived a good life and tried to be the best person she could be.

Do you have a favorite song about cemeteries or graveyards?

Not really about a cemetery per se, but I like “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry.

Loren again: The contributors to Death’s Garden Revisited put together a playlist of their favorite cemetery songs. You can check it out on Spotify:

You can treat yourself to a copy of Death’s Garden Revisited:

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Death’s Garden Revisited is available for preorder

Last September, Death’s Garden Revisited came out from in a glorious hardcover edition that I am really proud of. The cemetery photos are huge and lovely. The colors are exquisite. The edition was everything I’d dreamed of.

The book Death’s Garden Revisited collects 40 powerful personal essays — accompanied by full-color photographs — to illustrate why people visit cemeteries. Spanning the globe from Iceland to Argentina and from Portland to Prague, Death’s Garden Revisited explores the complex web of relationships between the living and those who have passed before.

Genealogists and geocachers, travelers and tour guides, anthropologists, historians, pagan priestesses, and ghost hunters all venture into cemeteries in these essays. Along the way, they discover that cemeteries don’t only provide a rewarding end to a pilgrimage, they can be the perfect location for a first date or a wedding, the highlight of a family vacation, a cure for depression, and the best possible place to grasp history. Not to mention that cemetery-grown fruit is the sweetest.

Here’s a tiny preview of it, courtesy of Blurb:

But I wanted to provide an ebook edition for people who couldn’t afford an expensive art book. In the past, Automatism Press has published paperbacks and ebooks directly through Amazon, but since I wanted the high quality paper and full-color cover that Blurb could provide, I went a different route this time.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that a book crammed with huge full-color photos made for an enormous ebook. The first several iterations we assembled were too big to upload to an ereader. Nothing would compress the file small enough.

Long story short: many hours of effort later (interrupted several times by family crises), Death’s Garden Revisited is now available on Amazon for the kindle.

Click on the image above or follow this link to preorder a copy for yourself: The book will be delivered to your kindle on September 15.

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Kill By Numbers turns 8

On September 1, 2015, Kill By Numbers, the middle book in my space opera trilogy, was published by Skyhorse Books. All 3 books came out in the second half of 2015: The Dangerous Type in July, Kill By Numbers in September, and No More Heroes in November. My publisher called it the Netflix Effect, like when you discover a new TV show and binge-watch ’til you’re done.

Kill By Numbers mixes a Philip K. Dick mindwarp with sweeping space opera that features aliens, androids, drug dealers, journalists, and free-running media hackers.

Former assassin Raena Zacari thinks she’s left the past behind. The human empire is disbanded and she is finally free. But Raena is troubled by nightmares that always seem to end with her shooting an ex-lover in the head. She needs to get her mind clear because there’s a flaw in the most commonly used stardrive technology — and the band of media-obsessed pirates she’s fallen in with is right at the heart of the controversy.

With humanity scattered across the galaxy, Raena’s going to have to rely on the alien crew members of the Veracity to help her put the pieces together. It doesn’t help that the Templars — wiped out by a genetic plague while Raena was imprisoned — left booby-trapped biotechnology scattered across the galaxy.

Kill By Numbers is available at AmazonBarnes & NobleIndie Bound, and Biblio, or anywhere that science fiction is sold.

Kill By Numbers is also available as an audiobook.  Here’s the link. There’s even a taste of the first chapter up for free.


For the Tell Me feature on her blog, Jennifer Brozek asked me to tell her about Kill By Numbers. That post got lost in a blog reorg, but I talked about relationships falling apart:

Have you ever gotten out of a relationship and wondered if the other person had been in the same relationship?  Or if he had a completely different relationship with you than the one you thought he had? That was my premise when I started Kill By Numbers.

At the end of The Dangerous Type, the first book in my space opera trilogy, Raena Zacari is free of the Imperial torturer who trained her.  She’s left the woman she’s loved most in the galaxy and the man who spent decades believing he loved Raena more than anyone.  She’s ready to start a new life on her own.

Then the nightmares attack. They begin as if she’s reliving a memory, then spin off into new directions. Almost every dream ends with her ex-lover trying to save her – and every time, she doesn’t recognize him until after she’s killed him.

So many books are written about when the characters fell in love. I wanted to explore the end of a relationship: How do you recover? What do you owe someone after everything dissolves?  What if the memories that mean so much to you meant something entirely different to your other half?  What if someone was willing to risk everything to save you, whether you wanted to be rescued or not?

They weren’t questions I was used to seeing in science fiction.  We’re all too familiar with the damsel who needs to be saved (I’m thinking of the original Sarah Connor) – or the strong leader who falls in love in the heat of the battle. (I’m looking at you, Princess Leia.)  So many stories end with the heroine surviving merely to settle down with the only person who understands what she’s been through.  (That’s you, Katniss.)  I wanted to spin the tropes so that the protagonist never thought she needed rescuing and the “hero” wasn’t a nice guy.

One of the things that struck me as I was writing Kill By Numbers was the speculation that a nice guy does things not because he genuinely likes a girl and wants to help her, but because if he holds the door for her and makes her dinner and listens when she’s sad and treats her like a friend, she will reward him with sex.  Friendship isn’t his goal. It’s a calculated means to an end.

That theory explained so many of the relationships I had when I was younger.  It pointed up a fundamental schism in the definition of friendship between two people – and I don’t believe it breaks down simply along gender lines.

So while Kill By Numbers is about learning to fit in after all the rules have changed, and what would happen if the chief stardrive technology in the galaxy has a catastrophic flaw, and an exploration of the responsibilities and integrity of journalists, and what’s it like to recover from years of violence and manipulation to claim your survival as a triumph, it’s also a deconstruction of the end of love.

Because why would I want to jam my story into one simple box?

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This Morbid Life turns 2

Two years ago today, I released the first volume of my morbid memoirs, This Morbid Life.

Its tagline is: What others have called an obsession with death is really a desperate romance with life.

I described it like this: Guided by curiosity, compassion, and a truly strange sense of humor, this particular morbid life is detailed through a death-positive collection of 45 confessional essays.

The book won a gold medal from the Independent Publisher Book Awards.

Reviews were good:


Behind the scenes:

Since this is the book’s birthday, I thought I’d revise an interview I did back in August 2021.

Tell us a little about your latest or upcoming release.

This Morbid Life is a death-positive memoir in the form of a collection of essays. The pieces were written for zines from Cyber-Psychos AOD to Chaotic Order to Morbid Curiosity magazine and for online sites like Gothic.Net, Jane, and Scoutie Girl.

The book starts with taking prom pictures in a cemetery in the rain and ends with falling in love with a sensory deprivation tank. There’s a lot in there.

Have you ever based your book or characters on actual events or people from your own life?

Everyone in this book is a real person! I’ve changed some of their names — maybe not enough of them. As Anne Lamott says, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

Is there a theme or message in your work that you would like readers to connect to?

I grew up really sheltered and spent a lot of time alone as a kid. It took me a long time to realize that it’s fun to get scared. One of the things that scared me most was the eventual deaths of my friends and family members, to say nothing of my own mortality. So I started to study death, to see if I could make it less frightening if I knew more about it. In the end, studying death has made me savor life even more.

What would your readers be surprised to learn about you?

I don’t dress all in black. My favorite colors are sky blue and grass green. I consider every day aboveground a good day.

If this book is part of a series…what is the next book? Any details you can share?

The series is called No Rest for the Morbid. This Morbid Life is the first in the series. The second one will be Jet Lag & Other Blessings. It will collect my morbid travel essays, from staying in the Hotel Esmerelda across from Notre Dame to wandering alone through Tokyo at night to attending a weekend music festival at an isolated anarchist commune to flying in a helicopter over a volcano. I can’t wait to share that book with the world.

There’s a whole lot more information about the book up here, including videos, reviews, and behind-the-scenes links.

Get a copy of your own!

Amazon: paperback:

Smashwords ebook:

Or order a signed copy from my bookstore:

Last tidbit:

Wayne Fenlon made this great animation of Lynne Hansen’s glorious cover for me.

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