Death’s Garden contributor: Brian Thomas

Brian and I have known each other since high school. We wrote Star Wars fanfic together. We wrote Lost Angels and Angelus Rose — the novels about Lorelei and Azaziel — together. I’ve had the pleasure of publishing Brian’s essays in the original volume of Death’s Garden and in most issues of Morbid Curiosity magazine. Despite what he says about himself below, he’s a born raconteur.

His essay in Death’s Garden Revisited is about his adventure in Venezuela. He was in-country working on a low-budget movie, but he took a day off to visit a graveyard. It was a life-changing experience.

You can get a taste of him reading it on the most recent Horror Addicts podcast.

Brian Thomas writes when there is no way of avoiding the task. Over half a century, he’s explored more than his share of burying grounds, at all hours of day and night. He observes every Memorial Day by cleaning of family grave plots and endeavors to clean or uncover at least one neglected grave marker each occasion.

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

To look a bit closer for something I’d most likely miss.

Tell me about your favorite cemetery.

Forest Lawn Glendale. I never go back to Los Angeles without stopping by for a drink at Errol Flynn’s graveside (I also do my best to visit & toast the Fairbanks (père et fils) and Ty Power at Hollywood memorial (née Hollywood Forever).

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

Charles de Batz de Castelmore D’artagnan.

What would your epitaph be?

“Thought I’d be dead by thirty, but things didn’t work out.”

Do you have a favorite song about cemeteries or graveyards?

‘Cemetery’ by the Headstones

Loren again: I would love it if you’d check out Death’s Garden Revisited, which is for sale at Blurb.com. The book is really beautiful!

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Death’s Garden Revisited is on sale now!

I’m so excited to announce that my next cemetery book is available now.

Death’s Garden Revisited collects 40 powerful personal essays — accompanied by 80 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.

You can see a preview below:

You can order your copy of the book in paperback or in hardcover directly from Blurb. The ebook is coming soon.

Contributors and Kickstarter backers: The books arrived earlier than expected. I will get those into the mail to you as soon as I can!

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Authors Support Little Free Libraries

Do you have a Little Free Library in your neighborhood? You may have seen what look like oversized birdhouses or dollhouses on posts, filled with second-hand books. The idea is that you take a book if one catches your eye and leave a book if you have one to pass along. I love the idea that neighbors share books.

A bunch of Little Free Libraries sprang up in my neighborhood during the pandemic. There are six that I know of in one square mile.

A year ago, author Armand Rosamilia celebrated a Little Free Library Author Day. (Armand is a crime writer who hosts his own Little Free Library in Jacksonville, Floria.) I was inspired to participate, but wasn’t feeling well that day.

Still, I loved the idea of writers giving back to their neighbors and neighborhoods, so I’ve been inscribing copies of my books with behind-the-scenes trivia and leaving them in the neighborhood Little Free Libraries. It’s been surprisingly fun!

 

The first book I gave away was a first edition of my cemetery memoir, Wish You Were Here. I put it in a library that I passed nearly every day on my walks, one that had a charming book-shaped cut-out on its door. I inscribed it with a little historical tidbit about our neighborhood and sent it on its way with my best wishes.

Since then, I’ve gotten a lot of pleasure out of trying to match my books up with the books in the libraries. The library crammed full of strange San Francisco history got a copy of Lend the Eye a Terrible Aspect, the anthology I co-edited in the 90s about society in North America at the end of the century.

The library filled with thrillers got a copy of my space opera, Kill By Numbers. The library with science fiction got No More Heroes, another book in the space opera trilogy.

I’ve gotten my teenager involved in the adventure now. They really like picking through little libraries, so I’ve gotten them to come along to spot for me as I drive farther afield. We’re discovering neighborhoods we’re not family with, enjoying people’s gardens and marveling at how different the little libraries can be. We’re even getting in a little Mom/offspring time under the guise of doing something good for the neighbors.

And we found a beautiful new mural taking place in a neighborhood nearby.

The project is a win in every sense. I’m passing along books with bumped or creased covers that I couldn’t sell. They’re going into the hands of readers. I’m doing what I can to pass along the encouragement that real writers live and work in our neighborhoods, the inspiration that anyone could be a writer. I’m hoping some of my neighbors take up a pen or keyboard.

And if they get hooked and want to pick up another of my books? That’s the best!

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Tales of Nightmares is alive!

One night during a writers’ group meeting, Lisa Morton (former president of the Horror Writers Association and multiple Bram Stoker Award winner) was telling us about a series of horror anthologies she’d taken part in with four other authors. Each author edited one book in the series and contributed a story to each of the other four books. It sounded like a really fun premise.

Last December I woke up with a brainstorm: Why didn’t the Wily Writers do that? I’d joined the group of writers in September and it was really helpful for writing support and community. Why couldn’t we put together a series of anthologies to showcase our work?

By the end of the meeting of potential editors in January, we had titles, a publishing schedule, and various roles all sorted out. I was amazed how easily everything was coming together.

Last month, Lisa Morton’s Tales of Dread came out. It’s the first book in the Wily Writers Presents series. It includes my story “Guardian of the Golden Gate.” You can read the story behind the story here.

As of today, the second book in the series — Tales of Nightmares — is out! I had the honor of editing it and:

  • In “La Japonesa” by Lisa Morton, a college professor chasing tenure comes face to face with something with sharp claws and even sharper teeth.
  • Weston Ochse cuts deep in “Glue and the Art of Supermodel Maintenance.”
  • Officer Warren Hastings can’t escape the crime he didn’t prevent in Yvonne Navarro’s “Recall.”
  • In Jennifer Brozek’s “Twenty Questions,” Sara discovers some games must be played until the end.
  • E.S. Magill reminds us that every civilization has its myths of supernatural protectors of the natural world. During a hiking expedition, Harris Kimball encounters the spectral guardians of California’s Santa Lucia Mountains, whose mission is to stop the greatest threat to nature: humans.
  • In Angel Leigh McCoy’s “The Haunting of Mrs. Poole,” Amelia seems to have it all: wealthy husband, devoted sister, perfect daughter…and a gothic mansion on the shore of the James River where nothing is what it seems.
  • The line between reality and delirium blurs for an exhausted new mother in Alison J. McKenzie’s “Into the Quiet.”
  • In Bill Bodden’s “The House on River Road,” Ed and Jerry discover some urban legends are more than legendary…and some abandoned houses are better left alone.

You can score yourself a copy in paperback or ebook on Amazon.

Reviewers/bookbloggers/bookstagrammers/booktokkers, if you’d like a copy for potential review, please contact me and link me to one of your reviews!

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This Morbid Life wins an IPPY Award

My morbid memoir This Morbid Life brought home a gold medal!

The Independent Publisher Book Awards chose This Morbid Life as the first place winner for the IPPY Award for Best Regional Nonfiction E-Book.

It’s a tiny category, to be sure, but I’m still really proud and grateful that my book received the attention.

This Morbid Life was also featured recently on KALW’s New Arrivals podcast. (They call it a pocket-sized “socially-distanced book tour.”) You can hear me read a snippet of my 1989 earthquake essay here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/new-arrivals-a-pocket-sized-book-tour/id1531179124?i=1000565785493.

If you’d like to check out my award-winning memoir for yourself, here are the links:

Amazon paperback: https://amzn.to/3mhZajO

Amazon ebook: https://amzn.to/3kcFlrP

Biblio.com paperback: https://www.biblio.com/book/morbid-life-loren-rhoads/d/1424501894

Smashwords ebook: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1108218

Signed copies from my bookstore: https://lorenrhoads.com/product/this-morbid-life-autographed-1st-edition/

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